13 August 2015

"You filthy sheep-herd"

by Frank Turk

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Frank back in June 2006. Frank offered his thoughts on the "shepherd" metaphor and its relevance in 21st-century America.

As usual, the comments are closed.
I was having a discussion with my pastor, and I related it to my wife (who is the greatest blogger who never typed 1K of bandwidth). The discussion was about church leadership, and whether the metaphor of the shepherd was useful in a society like America where 95% of the people have never seen one sheep, let alone a flock, let alone a person who was herding sheep.

So, for example, is there a 21st-century American equivalent to the shepherd about which we could say, “Look: most of you have never seen a shepherd, so rather than try to unpack what a shepherd does, let’s think about [Profession X] which is just like being a shepherd”? My opinion is that there is no equivalent, and we have to unpack the metaphor Scripture has for us. But we took away the challenge to think about the matter and report back.

So, I took the matter to the Holy Spirit, which in my house is manifest most often in my wife. She slept on it, and she came up with two great conclusions:
1. Men would probably like it if the shepherd metaphor translated into “Staff Sergeant” or “General” or “CEO.” It would make macho sense to them. But they would be wrong: A shepherd is much more like a Kindergarten teacher than like a sergeant or a CEO. Of course, you can’t sell a lot of books to men in business if your thesis is, “Jesus really is a lot more like a good Kindergarten teacher than a superhero or a king when it comes to dealing with us stupid sinners.”
2. The biggest separation, however, between the Good Shepherd metaphor and the CEO is that the shepherd lives with his sheep in every way. That is, the shepherd has to get dirty and do distasteful and even degrading things to make sure he takes proper care of his sheep.
I don’t know a lot of CEOs who are ready to degrade themselves, for example, by working in the same conditions as the hourly single parent who has to work on the line. “But cent,” you might say, “the CEO does a pretty radically different kind of work than the hourly employee,” and I’d agree with you. Christ does a pretty radically different work than I do, but you know something: though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

If you are looking for the model of leadership demonstrated in Christ, look there at the dirty sheep-herd who lives with his sheep, and sleeps with his sheep, and has to personally stand between his sheep and the wolves.