I have been part of a church for roughly thirty-seven years. I always value visiting different churches, but I have called home to just four churches in my lifetime. I have called home to just two churches as a pastor. I have been around one church long enough to know what many church leaders really think about sheep. As I pursue my third degree with a focus on leadership, I have come to the conclusion that church leaders have communicated a minimum (at best) value of sheep.
I want to challenge that entire line of thinking.
For as long as I can remember, I have been taught that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. I remember flannel-graph of Jesus petting and coddling sheep. Jesus is called the Good Shepherd and we had those pictures because Jesus did a great job caring for people during his public ministry. He continues to care for me well, as he does for you. Everything I was taught in children’s church is true!
The problem is that too many pastors communicate that sheep are the dumbest animals on the planet. If Jesus is the Good Shepherd and he cares for us as his sheep, do those pastors communicate to their congregations that they are the dumbest creatures on the planet?
I think they do, but I also think they are wrong. Those pastors actually breathe life into a system they hate. Why should a congregation feel adequate to use their gifts in a ministry setting if they are dumbest creatures on the planet?
The truth is that sheep are very valuable and the job of a shepherd is to prepare a sheep to give of its value. According to http://www.sheep101.info/201/meatwoolmilk.html, a sheep is able to provide meat, milk and wool to others. I am smart enough to know that meat and milk provide necessary nutrients to sustain a shepherd and others. I am also smart enough to know that wool is the material that very warm clothing is made from. Again, the sheep provides a necessary item for the shepherd and others. Further, I am smart enough to know that if I want a congregation to perform to its level of value, I need to prepare a congregation to give its value.
The harsh reality is that if your church leaders call you “just a dumb sheep”, either you are in the wrong church or they are in the wrong field. If you stay in a church that refers to you as a dumb sheep, you will never reach your God-given design and you will never see yourself as valuable to the shepherd.
Ephesians 4 says that God set apart certain roles to equip congregations to do works of ministry. If I, as a church leader, do not speak to my congregation in valuable ways, I am not equipping them to be obedient.
Church leader, think about what you are really communicating to your congregation. The Bible says you will reap what you sow. If you communicate your congregation is less than valuable, you will have what appears to be a lazy congregation.
Church attender, I encourage you to see yourself as valuable. If you cannot have that view in your current church, it might be time to find a new church.
Life is a journey that takes other people investing in us and helping us to our value within the kingdom of God. How is your walk? Who are you walking with?