Shepherd's Tools

Tool #3 - Words

What is the language of sheep? The words you use tells a lot about you. Words mean things! Jesus said we will be judged by our words. Words wound. Words heal. Words leave lasting impressions. Words are forever - once uttered they can never be taken back.

Words are either tools to build or to destroy. They build up or tear down. They harm or they help.

How to Hold a Conversation
One of the weakest areas in the life of a new shepherd is in the area of conversational skills. What do you talk about with someone you don't know very well? How do you go about striking up a conversation? What do you talk about when the conversation wanes after the "How are you?" and the weather? Too often shepherds talk too much about themselves rather than inviting the sheep to tell something about themselves or what they think.

It's Not an Interrogation!
How do you get someone to talk who doesn't seem talkative? Now that's a problem. Too often we resort to the interrogation questions. Where do you live? What kind of work do you do? Have you lived here long? Where did you live before? Are all good questions and you would like to know but it often sounds like a police interview.

Learn to Prime the Pump.
When I was little we lived for a time in my grandmother's old rural farmhouse and had no running water and an outhouse. In the morning the pump had lost its suction and we would have to take a cup of water and pour it down the neck of the pump until it was primed (got loosened up) and the water flowed freely. We need to learn to do that with our sheep. Prime the pump. On rare occasions you will find that the well is dry, but usually there are things inside people like to share.

Negative Comments Are Not Helpful
Whether you are talking about the weather, your health, or politics, negative comments are not helpful to "friend-building." Complainers have few friends.

The Art of a Compliment
My mother used to say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." So I never said much! If you are a negative person, a critical person, an analytical person, or a melancholy personality you may have trouble conversing without that shining through. The Psalmist (a shepherd) said, "Praise is comely." Paul urged, Let you speech be grace seasoned with salt." The Lord also teaches us to cultivate a thankful heart - "Whatever things are pure, lovely, of good report, if their is any virtue, anything praiseworthy, think on (and talk about) these things."