Jump Start # 2946
1 Peter 5:2 “Shepherd the flock of God among you, not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.”
Lately, we have focused several of our Jump Starts upon the work of shepherds. There is a need for that and the more we try to improve the better things ought to be. I know a preacher recently who has just been preaching his heart out lately. He’s been on the road and in some challenging situations. He is giving it his all. The people he has been with have been so grateful and kind to him. But when he returned home, hardly a word was said. His shepherds paid no attention to how much he has been working in the kingdom, nor how he has gone out of his way to do things that made the added touch. Nothing. No compliments. No thankfulness for his dedication. And, in listening to him it made me realize of yet another component of shepherding that is rarely discussed.
God’s arrangement and order of leadership in the church is directed by males. Both Timothy and Titus makes that very plain. “If any man…” not only eliminates children, but it eliminates women. But herein is the challenge before us. So many men keep things to themselves. Men tend to be action based and not feeling. Put on a Hallmark Christmas movie, and men are bored and the women are grabbing the tissues. Women talk. Men don’t. Women share their insides. Men don’t.
And, so, how can a group of male leaders understand, connect and help when they may not excel in expressing feelings and emotions? How can they notice what needs to be done, when such things do not cross their radars? As long as the preacher is paid well, what else does he need? Very business like. Very professional. Very corporate. And, what that preacher may need, as so many others in the congregation, is that emotional support. Money is nice, but so is love expressed and work appreciated. How can a group of men understand what a young mother is going through? How can a group of men understand the needs of a widow?
Some might be thinking that I am building a strong argument for having female leaders. That is the solution that many have turned to. Guys don’t get it. Guys just can’t be touchy feely. With a balance of male and female leaders, the whole of the church can be taken care of. That sure seems logical. It makes sense, at least to us. But there is no Biblical leg to stand on. There is no example of female leadership in the church. Yes, there were some who were servants and others who risked their necks for the kingdom, but in the capacity of elder or shepherd, we don’t find anything. We must be careful of substituting our thoughts and logic for the will of God. What makes sense to us, may not be what the Lord wants.
So, we are back to the problem. How can men provide the emotional help for others? We have a hymn, “Does Jesus care?” We know the answer to that. Even the hymn provides the answer. “Yes, He cares.” But how about the male leaders in the congregation? Do they care? Do they show that they care?
Here are a few things to consider:
First, it is interesting that shepherds are to be married. Maybe right there the beginning of help is found. The wife of the shepherd can remind him and help him to think of areas that he has overlooked. Maybe he can bounce some things off of her. Compassion is something that all of us can learn. Caring is not a male or female issue, but a faith issue. Follow up with people. Check in on them and ask how they are doing. After the funeral. After the divorce. After the child moves away. Life goes on for most of us, but for some, time stands still. Put on a heart of compassion is something that men can do. God said so.
Second, remember that golden rule. Maybe you felt there should have been a thank you coming your way, but it didn’t. Maybe you thought a “that’a boy” was deserved, but no one noticed. Rather than sulking, be sure that you are the one who is the cheerleader for others. The Lord knows and that’s always what matters the most. Heaven sees and Heaven doesn’t forget. That cup of cold water, as insignificant as that may seem to be, is recognized in Heaven.
Third, put yourself in the shoes of others. Because you are doing ok, doesn’t mean others are. We are not wired the same. We are not in the same place spiritually. Our needs are not the same. Don’t assume that others are ok. Don’t assume that others will reach out if there is a problem. Most never do. But they will remember that no one called them. No one looked after them. No one was there.
Fourth, God tells us to be tender–hearted. That may be tough for some. That may require a lot of work for some. Rough is not the way to go. Running over people isn’t the Biblical approach. Tender, careful, gentle, even in correcting. Even in discipline. Even in dealing with troublesome people. Now the people we are working with likely will not be that way. They may be loud, closed minded, aggressive, threatening and demanding. God’s shepherds won’t be that way. Calm cools down a heated discussion. Love lessens the threats. Caring builds bridges.
For the preacher who felt neglected by his shepherds, my advice is to keep busting it for the Lord. Give 100%. It’s not the praise of man you are seeking, but the honor of the Lord. Too much praise, like too much sugar, can just ruin something good.
Men who lead need to get out of their comfort zones. They need to consider the emotional side of things. They can do this, because God has put them in that position. God bless those who understand this and working on this.