In recent years, I have become increasingly concerned about the attitude toward pastoring that seems to be prevalent in church ministry. The model of the pastor seems to have shifted from a Biblical “shepherd” to a corporate CEO. This transition has been harmful to the church as a whole, the “sheep” within the church, and, ultimately, to the pastors themselves.
Those of you who have young children or grandchildren are likely to be familiar with the story of “Babe”. For the uninitiated, Babe is the endearing story of a lovable little runt pig who is taken from his mother, to be raffled off at the county fair. The contest is won by “Farmer Hoggett”, who takes Babe home to Hoggett Farm. There, a family of sheep dogs adopts Babe as one of their own.
The tension throughout the story is the constant possibility that Babe will be shot, butchered, and eaten by the farmer and his wife. (Do you begin to see the analogy of pastoring?)
In the sheep field with his adopted mother, Babe discovers an unexpected talent for herding sheep. At first he tries to follow the methods of the dogs by driving them through fear and intimidation. The sheep are both amused and angered at the little pig, but refuse to budge. Through the wisdom of an old sheep, Babe finds that through kindness he can persuade the sheep to do whatever he asks.
By the end of the story, everyone is amazed at a simple pig that is able to so successfully lead sheep. Babe competes in the national sheep herding competition and wins. As the crowds cheer in amazement, he stands by the side of his master who quietly says, “That’ll do pig. That’ll do.”
Despite the fact I am one of the runts in God’s family, and even though I may not look like “shepherd” material, God has given me the responsibility of caring for one of His flocks. My task is not to drive God’s sheep by fear and intimidation. It is to lead them with a kind, Christ-like spirit. I must have the loving, servant’s heart of a shepherd.
When I do, I will be a successful shepherd. Instead of being impressed with me, observiers can only give glory to my Master. All I will need to hear to know I have pleased Him are the words, “That’ll do child. That’ll do.”