Monday, February 17, 2020


I heard someone say once, when we hear about "shepherds" in Scripture, our minds should go back to Genesis 31:38–42. That's a tough job! It's about sweating in the summer and freezing in the winter. It's about sleepless nights and bearing the lost of what is stolen. That's what it means to be a shepherd.

It seems to me there's another part of shepherding, in Genesis 33:13. Jacob tells Esau, if you overdrive a flock, it will die. That's the voice of experience. That's someone who had had to bear the loss of dead sheep.

I don't think I've truly appreciated how incongruous it is that God took Jacob and made him a shepherd. He's not a patient man, he's not a particularly honest man, he's not a particularly selfless man. But here he is after twenty years, and he insists on keeping a slow pace, lest he overdrive his flocks.

We've almost certainly seen shepherds trying to overdrive a flock. I take that to mean, not necessarily leading a flock astray, but trying to lead them at a pace they just can't keep up. There's an old saying about good intentions, and I think there are good intentions under a great deal of the wreckage we see among Christians.

I'm not a shepherd by gift, nor by calling, nor by office. But I have known some pretty amazing shepherds over the last forty years. I've seen it done right, and I've seen it done wrong. And there is no lack of shepherds who haven't really learned the lesson that Jacob learned. There are many who think of themselves as shepherds, but don't know what it is to bear loss themselves. They haven't frozen in the winter and sweated in the summer. They haven't learned that you can't overdrive sheep.


Robert said...

Moses trained to be an administrator in Egypt. God gave him a flock of sheep to retrain him as a shepherd. It was only when the administrator mindset got removed that he was entrusted with leading the people of God through the wilderness.

Susan said...

very insightful