As we continue on into Psalm 23, verse 2:
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
Sheep need to be free from four things to lie down peacefully. As we lead people they aren’t much different.
- They must be free from fear.
- They must be free from fighting and friction with other sheep.
- They must be free from pests, flies and other parasites.
- They must be free from hunger.
The shepherd is key in the sheeps ability to experience each one of these things. It is up to the hard work and care of the shepherd to provide these to their sheep. As biblical leaders our hard work and care must be directed in the same manner. God desires for His sheep to rest in His provision. We can’t do that if we aren’t free from things that cause us to focus on them instead of His total care.
Free from Fear
Sheep are easily spooked. Even if they are in a unfamiliar with a situation they will stand ready to flee at a moment’s notice. It is important as leaders to be amongst the people doing our best to get ahead of anything that causes fear. Consistency breeds trust. If our flocks can’t trust us and rely on us they will get easily spooked and we will soon find ourselves without a flock. Do we have safe attitudes that people can trust?
Let’s be sure to point people back to Jesus as our ultimate shepherd. We know we can trust Him no matter what. I have a saying when things get rough in life and ministry.
I ask: “Is Jesus still on the throne?”
Then I answer my own question: “Yes, He still is. OK then we will be fine. He promised to take care of us and we can trust in His care!”
When I remind myself of His sovereignty and trust He knows best I calm myself as a leader and therefore calm those I lead. If I get my eyes on the waves and the wind and start to fret I will spread that attitude amongst the flock I lead.
Free from Friction
As Keller says in his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23;
In every animal society there is established an order of dominance or status within the group. In a penful of chickens it is referred to as the “pecking order.” With cattle it is called the “horning order.” Among sheep we speak of the “butting order.”
I see the reoccurrence of this problem again and again. Whether it be amongst staff, volunteers, or other church attenders. As I coach pastors around the country I hear of ridiculous reasons that sheep fight. I was speaking with one youth pastor about how his church was unhappy about a hot dog fundraiser they did without all the input of various boards and committees. Seriously? We’re fighting over hot dogs? This was just one of the petty things his church was constantly fighting over. They had their eyes off Jesus and on to each other and fighting was nonstop.
When you aren’t fulfilling the great commission you have time to pick on all sort of nonessential things. When we get our eyes off Christ and put them on our brothers and sisters we can’t help but to try and fight our way ahead. The presence of a shepherd will end all fighting amongst sheep. When I get the feeling of friction or rivalry I take it to His presence in prayer. When I get my eyes on someone else and the “ministry success they have” I turn that over to God in worship. When I start to fall into the trap of comparing myself with others, I stop and remind myself what the Word says and demands of me.
We will continue on the next two freedoms in next week’s blog post.