Some wise guy once said, "the church is the
only army on earth that shoots it's wounded." It is too bad that this
is often the case.
It is not true, but it seems true more often than not.
What do you do with your weak...?
The First Tool
The first tool in a Shepherd's tool box is "compassion." Without it you are just
another cattle rancher looking out for the bottom line - numbers. What is your compassion
capacity? Are you easily irritated? Are you demanding? Are you impatient with failures? Do
you give up and "write off " people who donít quickly get with the program?
The first thing to learn about compassion is that the Good Shepherd calls his sheep by name.
Do you know your flock by name?
Knowing someone is the first step in being a shepherd. You have got to care about them.
Learn their names (and be sure it is the name they go by, not their formal name). Sheep
love to be called by name.
In a larger church congregation it is easy to get lost in the crowd. As elders we
periodically sit together and go over the church phone list and talk about each
family. Often our elders don't know the people, so we describe them; where they sit
and what they look like. When they don't know a family or individual we give them
the task of sitting in that location and purposefully meeting them. If you have been given
a flock it is a good idea to have a photo of the family or individual to remind you to
pray for them. Put it on your refrigerator or in your prayer journal.
I mean do you really know them at all? Do you know their children by name? Do you
know them so well you know where they work, what their hobbies are,
what foods they like, the problems they face, and even their pet's names?
Their Problems, Cares, Weaknesses
The old negro spiritual woefully wails, "Nobody knows the trouble I see. Nobody knows my
sorrow." Don't let that be the song of your flock. Get to know their ups and downs. Where
are they struggling? Where are they weak? How are they doing spiritually? What is their
heart-cry? A caring shepherd knows!
Are You Listening?
An old Indian proverb says, "Do not judge a man until I have walked a mile in his
moccasins." Jesus spoke of going the extra mile. Perhaps the extra mile for a shepherd
is to walk with his sheep. Only walking with them and feeling their hurt can you become
a compassionate shepherd.