By Tom Warner
In his classic book, A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23 (Zondervan, 2007), Phillip Keller recounts an occasion when he stumbled upon three of his neighbor’s sheep lying helpless under a tree, near death. Being a shepherd himself he did what any other true shepherd would have done. Hoping to save them, he picked them up and carried them to their owner, though he feared the sad state of the sheep was likely the result of the owner’s heartless neglect. Sadly, he was right, and the favor of returning the lost and dying sheep was met with scorn. Keller writes, “He took out a knife and slit all three of their throats. He couldn’t care less.”
A Model for the Church
Frequently the Scriptures compare the church leader to a shepherd. Jesus, the supreme leader and model, calls himself “the Good Shepherd.” Yet, we seem to have too few church leaders who are shepherds. Some who have been called or paid to be church leaders don’t seem to have time to be shepherds and care for people.
It’s as if they have more important things to do, relegating the care of people to someone else. The mindset seems to be that of the executive leader who turns over the lesser things to subordinates. That may be true in the corporate model of leadership, but I still believe in the biblical model of church leadership where those who are elders, pastors, and ministers follow the Jesus model and make people their top priority.
Helping the Hurting and Wounded
God has a plan for the care of his people: to save them and deliver them from harmful, uncaring leaders. He was the Righteous Branch in the Old Testament and the Good Shepherd in the New Testament. And he showed us how to love people and care for them. As a leader, how will you deal with needy, often helpless, sometimes wounded and dying sheep—the Lord’s people? Will you carry them to the Good Shepherd, or “slit their
Tom Warner serves as Senior Vice President and Relationship Manger with Church Development Fund. He and his wife Brenda live in Carmel, Indiana and have two married children (a son and a daughter) and three granddaughters.