Don’t Whine About Sheep If You Want to Be a Shepherd

The Bible talks about God’s people as sheep. Out of all the animals he could have used, he compares us to helpless, defenseless, fluffy, clumsy sheep. It seems rather accurate.

  • We know we are the sheep of his pasture (Ps. 100:3).
  • We drift away from our shepherd (Luke 15:4).
  • We are harassed and helpless sheep (Matt. 9:36).
  • We have all wandered away like sheep (Isa. 53:6).

In addition, God’s Word often implies that spiritual leaders are to view themselves as shepherds. While Christ is the good and perfect shepherd (John 10:11; Ps. 23:1; Heb. 13:20), pastors and other leaders are supposed to serve as under-shepherds (1 Pet. 5:2; John 21:16; Acts 20:28).

If you want to be a shepherd, why would you whine about having to care for sheep?

Too often do I hear that pastoring and church leadership seems like a burden rather than a blessing. What did we expect? God has called spiritual leaders to serve as shepherds to those who can’t do a whole lot on their own. Why are we surprised when they need help?

I notice the dangerous trends when I hear pastors bemoaning the fact of having to serve those who seem to have great troubles. Our attitudes reveal that we don’t make shepherding a priority or count it as a privilege. 

As a pastor, I can often become impatient and want people to “get it.” I can get frustrated when they don’t get it. I realize that any leader is in a bad place when they start to use phrases like: “They need to grow up…we can’t baby them…they ought to know better by now…”

Maybe they would know better by now if we would have taught them better by now.

You don’t throw steak on an infant’s high chair and expect them to stay nourished. You help them until the time when they can cut and chew on their own.

If we treated our physical children like some of us treat our spiritual children, they would have died from starvation.

Care for them. Instruct them. Be patient with those God calls sheep of a pasture (Ps. 100:3) or babes in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1).

Do not decry a sheep’s “sheepness” without being willing to patiently shepherd them. Shepherds smell like sheep, and they don’t whine about it. Think about the patience the Great Shepherd has had on you, and try to replicate that with the people he has entrusted to your watch.

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;” (1 Pet. 5:2).