Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The pastoral metaphor

Gordon MacDonald has a great article on CT this morning. He walks pastors through what it means to be a shepherd of their flock. I love the shepherd metaphor. It is so much better than the CEO metaphor that we have been using in the church. In the next few months, I hope to work on the Christian leader metaphor some more. While I like shepherd, I also see that we need to return to a parenting role as Christian leaders. MacDonald lists the characteristics of the Apostle Paul's leadership at the close of the article. I'll relist them here. MacDonald sees these as characteristics of "guarding the flock." I conclude these are the same characteristics that make one a father or mother of the family of God.

How Paul Guarded The Flock

As I made my way through Paul's letters, I saw, once again, that he was a missionary-apostle (church planter), a theologian, a developer of leaders. But most important, Paul was a shepherd-pastor. He clearly understood-like the shepherd of Psalm 23-the significance of congregational feeding and protection. Here's how Paul practiced what he preached about guarding the flock.
Affirming: quick to identify evidences of God's work in persons and peoples;
Thankful: ready to express gratitude for any act of generosity;
Corrective: never reluctant to identify sin and rebuke it;
Prophetic: warning of consequences if people were bent on making bad choices;
Instructive: enlarging the theological base of peoples' faith;
Protective: quick to defend those who were vulnerable;
Transparent: unashamed to speak of his own weaknesses and sins;
Affectionate: anxious for people to know how much he loved them;
Prayerful: frequently praying "aloud" in his letters for people and their needs;
Developmental: identifying, raising up those who might become leaders;
Observable: presenting a model of the Christ-following life that others could copy. -GMac
You'll notice that organizer, programmer visionary, and change agent aren't listed here. That's because those aren't primary tasks for Christian leaders. God is the visionary/change agent. Relationship is the program that we should organize our churches around.