Have you been impatiently waiting for part 2 on sheep? If you are like me, you weren't really! I have a tendency to want to avoid any mention of how I am prone to behave at times. Those short-comings and flaws that I would prefer to have hidden away keep me from looking forward to hearing about them!
However, I did say in Part 1 how 'sheep' like we as Christians are. Today I am going to expand a bit. Sheep graze and follow each other around. They wander away from the group. They get angry when you try to shear them. The tend to just keep their heads down, eat their grass, and wander.
My favorite breed of dog is the Shetland Sheep Dog. They were bred to herd sheep. Their whole job is to keep the sheep together and help the shepherd move them, as a group, from once place to another. My Shelties live with my family. They have no sheep or little children to herd. So, they spin in circles, and put a lot of effort into convincing ME that I "need" to be herded to wherever they think I should be. When my nephews visit, they routinely try to herd them towards their parents. This is actually hysterical to watch!!!
This past summer we took my Sheltie Mira out to my parent's house for an afternoon. She broke the "no dogs on the pool deck" rule as she got very nervous about my one year old nephew walking around. Every time he got near the edge of the deck, she would place herself between him and the step or the edge (it has a large, open stairway the width of a smaller deck). She hovered as he played in the 1" of water in the baby pool. She followed and circled him as he walked through the yard. He is only 1 and fairly containable. Now imagine trying to 'herd' a bunch of adult humans.
Pastors are often referred to as the 'shepherds' of God's children, or flock. We are often just like real sheep. Pastors then must behave like my Shelties. They must circle around the people, keeping them moving in the direction God has said to move. They must go rescue the 'stray' folks, keep the others grouped together, and watch for wolves.
I've heard sermons about shepherds and what their job looks like. Maybe if you only have 50 sheep you can manage it on your own. If you have 1,000 sheep, you have dogs to help. The shepherd trains his herding dogs. He also starts with dogs that are specifically bred for their natural herding instinct.
There are a ton of people who want to be the leaders of others. They want people to see them as mature, capable, strong in their faith, competent, etc… They want to be in charge because they "know" what needs to be done. Some of us were created to lead. Some of us were not.
We as believers spend far too much time attempting to position ourselves to appear a certain way. We spend a ridiculous amount of time vying for attention and fame and position. We seem to think we know better than everyone else. I think I could stop writing right here and we would all be happy. Who really wants to be called a sheep anyway?
The thing is, all of us sheep become the responsibility of the pastor. Unlike real sheep (you know, the animals), we use other people to get to the pastor. Or we bad mouth him and his staff. Or we treat people differently based on what we think will get us closer to him. Or we get cliquey.
I once had a pastor friend give me a list of things I should make sure not to tell anyone else about his family's home life, simply because he didn't want anyone to judge him….and it was all nonsensical stuff that no one should have cared about anyway!
We want our pastor's to survive on no pay, be available 24/7, live as paupers as proof of their commitment to God, while we want bigger houses, nicer cars, and more comfortable chairs to sit on. We whine and complain about how they do their job, while standing in judgement of them. If only we were as content to just walk around eating grass, and laying in the field all day like the animals.
We complain when they attempt to herd us back towards God. We complain when they use the word sin. We whine about how they don't meet our needs, make us more comfortable, and on goes the list.
We place unrealistic expectations on leaders in the church, then get mad when they fail to live up to our ideals. If I was judged as harshly as most of my pastor friends, I am not sure I would survive it well. I would be tempted to tell a few people off, and certainly would not want to kindly pray for them!! (Here is also why I DO NOT and WILL NOT do counseling or Pastor on Call. I have limited patience for constant whining!)
So to be friends with a pastor, means dealing with all of the other sheep. The judgements, the false friends, the wanderers, the social climbers, the everyone. It means listening to, and sometimes wishing you hadn't heard, the whispers and murmurs and judgements. This is hard friends. It's hard enough to be a sheep that doesn't always go along with the crowd, but it is super hard to be the sheep that has to listen to all the others complain about the shepherd! It hurts!