A Shepherd’s Dilemma

8 July 2013 by Ed Delph-


Psalm 23 is probably the most famous Psalm of in the Bible. You have probably heard it at some point in your life.

"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…" This Psalm was written by David. He was reflecting on how God leads his people (himself included) like a shepherd leads his sheep though many toils, trials and snares. Actually, one of God's names is Jehovah Rohi; The Lord my Shepherd. David had an epiphany that as both a pastor and the leader of a nation, he is a leader led by the Leader who leads like a shepherd.




The Apostle Peter uses the shepherd metaphor in his writings to pastors and shepherds in the church. "Here's my concern: that you care for God's flock with all the diligence of a shepherd. Not because you have to, but because you want to please God. Not calculating what you can get out of it, but acting eagerly. Not bossily telling others what to do, but tenderly showing them the way. When God, who is the best Shepherd of all, comes out into the open with His rule, He'll see that you've done it right and commend you lavishly."

Did you notice the shepherd's dilemma in this verse? The pastor is both a sheep and a shepherd at the same time. The shepherd is a sheep too! The pastor has a dual role, a dual citizenship. Being a pastor since 1980, I've learned something. As a shepherd, I tend to look at everyone as a sheep and forget that I'm a sheep too! I struggle with my 'sheepness.' 




I'm supposed to lead others into still waters, protect, prepare, rest or move, know the answers, lead people through the good time and bad times in their lives, find the table in the wilderness, and all that other shepherd stuff. But, there's a difference between sheep and cattle. You drive cattle but you lead sheep. 

The fact is that I'm one of those sheep too! I need The Shepherd too! I need all the stuff that sheep need and more because, I'm both a sheep and a shepherd. Sometimes I forget my 'sheepness.' That has effects that affect the rest of the flock.

Here's an example of a shepherd that forgot his 'sheepness' and was reminded of it by a sheep. The minister stormed into the vestry and flung his sermon notes on the table. "Today," he shouted to the church officer, "I have preached to a congregation of jackasses." The church officer nodded, "So that was why you kept called them 'beloved brethren.'"




Why do so many pastors have a hard time in ministry and even fall, much to the delight of others both inside and outside of the church? They forget their 'sheepness.' They start driving sheep rather than leading sheep. Sheep starting biting each other when that happens. Then sheep quit following the leader and believe me, they need a leader. They are sheep! 

So, if sheep need rest, to lie down beside still waters, have their souls restored, led on paths of righteousness, guidance through valleys of shadows of death, then pastors need that too. Why? They are sheep.To the sheep I say, pray for, honor and follow your shepherds for they keep watch over your souls. 

And, let them be sheep too! To the shepherds I say: Dude…embrace your 'sheepness.'


Note: Ed Delph is the founding pastor of Hosanna Christian Fellowship church in Phoenix, Arizona. He received his Doctorate of Ministry in February 2003 from the Phoenix University of Theology and is also currently the President of Nationstrategy, an organization that unleashes the potential of leadership in community. He has also authored many books such as the 5-minute Miracle, Learning How to Trust and Church @ Community to name a few. He has visited Malaysia several times as a speaker as well in churches.


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