I remember years ago I was a part of a ministerial fellowship group. Every month a group of local pastors would get together for breakfast. We’d pray for each other, talk, laugh and even tried to find projects we could work on together.
A few months in “it” happened. One of the pastors was voted out by his board of deacons. Things changed that day. That poor defeated man began to change the course of our group that day. He showed up and berated his deacons. He berated people in his church. Our group as a whole embraced him but no one stopped his negativity.
In fact it seemed many in the group joined in the “sheep beating” as I began to call it. As a young minister I sensed this wasn’t healthy but I honored my elders as I knew the Bible commanded. Things grew worse. It seemed to be contagious as other pastors in the group also lost their churches. One pastor in the group had a small flock and all these displaced pastors joined his congregation. He allowed them to speak at his church.
The bitterness grew to the point where my fellow staff member (a youth pastor) and I left the group. We couldn’t take it anymore. The continual verbal beating of their sheep was just too much. Their bitterness multiplied as they shared their horror stories. Instead of speaking life they had all worked themselves into a fury.
I’ve been involved in kids ministry group talks where the discussion turned to sheep beating. I’ve heard kids pastors go on and on about their horrible leaders. It’s no wonder with such a leader that these volunteers were so miserable. I’ve made a personal commitment to not participate in such negativity. I won’t allow it anymore in my prescence. These aren’t our sheep, they are His.
Jesus told Peter in John 21 to “feed His sheep”. It’s hard to feed the sheep when we are beating them. Primarily we feed His sheep through our words and actions. If our words and attitudes towards them are hostile we won’t have any sheep left to feed. We do have times where we need to correct them, guide them, help them and even pick them up to carry them. Never are we to beat them down with our words.
I know people let us down.
I’ve been let down more than I can count.
I know they will hurt us.
I’ve been hurt so much.
I know they can get a little wild.
I’ve been a little wild myself.
Someone loved me and that love is what drew my back to the Good Shepherd.