Authentic Christian Leaders as Caring "Shepherds"

Authentic Christian Leaders as Caring "Shepherds"

If you are a leader (church or secular), you occupy a role of privilege and responsibility, for your business and for people.

The image of Jesus as the "Shepherd Leader" is one of the most effective metaphors in the Bible. (The same image is used in relation to God, Psalm 23, 80:1; Moses, Psalm 77:20; and David, Psalm 78:70-72). It was understood in Jesus' day; many people were pastoralists. I have observed sheep with Bedouin shepherds in the Middle East; the close relationship is powerful. In Australia, where flocks run into thousands, the lesson is lost. Some men and women lead people (valued as people) in a New Testament way; others drive human resources (commodities) like graziers.

In a modern market/industrial world it is crucial that leaders who are Christians care for followers according to a Biblical paradigm, leading rather than driving.

Most Christians who are leaders operate in a secular environment. They do not run Christian organisations. But they are called to be "salt" and "light" and understand how to "practice the presence of God" in the workplace, in their vocations - that can be a balancing act. Christians who are leaders do not stop being Christians (temples of the Holy Spirit, manifesting His fruit in their lives, with a Christian world view) simply because they are in the marketplace. As leaders they have a "pastoral" role that involves people. They mentor teams, care for individuals, provide direction, counsel and manage performance and output. The question is: how can they lead in a non-Christian environment (subtext = in a "Christ-like way")? The Shepherd model shows how the world operates and how Christian leaders ought to do so.

Two Types of Shepherds (Ezekiel 34)

Society's Model:

"This is what the Sovereign Lord says: woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed those who are ill or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally.

So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them."

God's Model

"I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and make them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice...... I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken."

Shepherding is often viewed through a narrow "church lens".
All leaders have pastoral functions.

Jesus the Shepherd Leader (John 10)

What do we see about Jesus' role as our shepherd leader (Hebrews 13:20)? Think about these in terms of people you lead.

Jesus is our model of caring leadership (for leaders both inside and outside of the church).

Shepherding in a Secular Society

"People" are more than "human resources".
Leadership involves loving and caring for them.

Leaders who are Christians are ideally located to:

this is all very well but .......

Who Shepherds the Shepherds?

Leaders also need shepherds?

People follow leaders, not programs. They need to know their leaders are themselves being well led.

Living Your Faith and Caring for People in a Secular Environment

Ten Tips

Most Christians interface with non-Christians in secular settings every day. Such contact may be the only time these unbelievers (who will have a range of views about God and faith) see and hear what a Christian is really like.

Leaders who are Christians have unique opportunities to reach other leaders (political, military, public service, business, education, community) and express their faith genuinely and non-confrontationally in a message their hearers can understand. Consider the following Ten Tips.


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