Normally we think of “shepherding” as the responsibility of the Pastor. However, anyone can have this spiritual gift. When I discovered that this was one of my gifts I understood why I enjoy leading small groups and being the spiritual gifts coordinator for our congregation. Here is some information about this gift from my Fanning the Flame material.
Literal Meaning: To shepherd a flock
Description: The gift of shepherding is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume a long-term personal responsibility for the spiritual welfare of a group of believers.
- Take responsibility to nurture the whole person in their walk with God
- Provide guidance and oversight to a group of God’s people
- Model with their life what it means to be a fully devoted follower of
- Jesus Christ
- Establish trust, loyalty, and confidence through long-term relationships
- Lead and protect those within their span of care
People with the gift of shepherding have the following traits:
If you have this spiritual gift you might use it as a small group facilitator, Sunday School or Confirmation class teacher; leader of a program for New Members of Discipleship training.
For references to this gift see: Ephesians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:12 or 1 Timothy 3:1-7
For other posts on spiritual gifts see:
The Spiritual Gift of Leadership
The Spiritual Gift of Service
What are the Spiritual Gifts?
This little book is considered something of a classic. I read it as a morning devotional for a while, one chapter at a time. In it, Keller relates his own experiences as a shepherd to the concepts in the 23rd Psalm. Many of us have grown up far from a farming or ranching life and know very little about animals, their habits, and what owners do to keep their flock or herd healthy. Original readers and hearers of this psalm would have had a wealth of background information that modern Christians have lost. For example, did you know:
- Sheep are timid and easily frightened into stampeding by the smallest of animals (for example a jackrabbit jumping into their midst); they are also disturbed by infighting among the flock — nothing quiets down these anxieties and tensions down as much as the presence of the shepherd among them.
- It is not unusual for a sheep to accidentally become turned over on its’ back and be unable to get up by itself. The old English term for this is “cast” or “cast down.” A “cast” sheep is helpless and dependent upon the shepherd to find and restore it.
- When sheep are left to themselves they will destroy their grazing fields. They stay in the same location, follow the same paths, overgraze and pollute the area until it is ruined. They require the attention of a good shepherd to move the sheep continually so that they and they and the land are preserved.
- Sheep are troubled by flies, gnats and other parasites during the summer months. To alleviate their discomfort, the shepherd will apply a remedy including linseed oil to their heads–he anoints them.
Throughout the book, Keller parallels our lives with God and the life of the sheep with a good shepherd. He says:
“… it is not mere whim on God’s part to call us sheep. Our behavior patterns and life habits are so much like that of sheep it is well nigh embarrassing.”
“When all is said and done the welfare of any flock is entirely dependent upon the management afforded them by their owner.”
VERDICT: 5 stars. I think most Christians will enjoy this book and develop a deeper insight into a Psalm we repeat so often that we seldom stop to meditate on the deeper meaning.
Our life is full of acronyms and I’m going to teach you a new one. We learned this from the recent CD that the Fanning the Flame team reviewed together. MBWA = Ministry By Walking Around. What does this mean? Well, leaders must be visible and accessible. You’ve heard of managers having an “open door policy”? This takes it a step further. Leaders must go out and mingle with their followers; they must hear what they have to say; they must know what’s going on in their lives; they must be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. This develops relationships and trust. It helps the leader accurately access where his followers are now and how to guide them to the place he wants them to be.
Maybe that’s why Jesus is sometimes called our shepherd. A shepherd lives with the sheep: he knows them and they know him.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
Sheep trust their shepherd — they are willing to go where he leads because they have learned that he has their best interests at heart.
In our church, I notice my husband, the Pastor, doing some of this MBWA. Every Sunday he is in the sanctuary early to meet people as they come in. He takes time to ask them how things are going, and take prayer requests for the service. Even if he is not working at a particular congregational event, he tries to spend some time just being there. He often chats with people when they stop by the church during the week to do some chore or drop something off. I have also learned the value of just taking an interest in the hobbies or interests of others. It goes a long way toward building friendships.
Woody Allen once said, 80% of success is just showing up. There’s some truth in that. If you’re in a leadership position, do you show up? It’s a good question to ponder and pray about.