Who cares about the sheep...
Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. - Acts 20:28
(Tim) I was discussing leadership with a friend who'd served a number of years in the Navy and Marines. A Viet Nam vet, he was wounded twice during the Tet Offensive's Battle of Hwa.
My friend said the military teaches men to make decisions, and
that the worst thing an officer can do is to avoid making a decision. He
illustrated the principle with a story about a patrol he'd been on
where the men came under fire. Instead of maintaining command and
assuring his soldiers' safety, the officer dove for cover.
From the way my friend told the story and the silence at the story's end, I knew this was about as bad a thing as an officer could do. "So what happened to the guy?" I asked...
"When we got back, someone reported him and he was reassigned," he responded.
"Who reported him--was it you?"
"Yes," he said.
"But weren't you afraid to report an officer--that he'd be mad at you?"
"He was just happy he was alive."
"Happy he was alive? Weren't you all happy you were alive? What are you saying?"
"If an officer did that, a lot of times he'd be killed," my friend responded.
I hadn't caught on yet. "Killed? By whom?"
"By one of his men," he replied. "If a squad comes under fire and their officer abandons command to run for cover... That's about the worst thing he can do. A lot of times in Viet Nam, he'd never come back; one of his men would kill him."
* * *
Through the voice of the church, the Holy Spirit has called and set pastors and elders apart to guard His precious flock. The sheep are under fire and it's our duty to lay down our lives for their protection. We are not to run for cover, but to maintain command. The lives of the sheep depend upon us and we don't have time to think about ourselves.
Well actually, no. We are blessed
to live in a time when the roaring lion has stopped roaring and roaming,
seeking whom he may devour. He's satiated and asleep over there in the
shade of that Baobab tree.
Anyhow, what good does it do for the pastor to die? Then who will protect the sheep? If the pastor dies, who's going to be around to hand the congregation's keys and organ and grand piano and new roof and 52-page-a-minute color copier and iPhones and satellite congregations down to the next generation?
Anyhow, when stoles and collars and chasubles are stained with blood, they don't look good. A pastor should look safe to the children and their mothers. He should have a soft reassuring voice.
Put the guns away, brother. I know you mean well, but we live in
a different--a more gracious time.
Sunday morning worship is on our turf. No one argues; no one fights; no one even raises his voice.
The rest of the week is enough of a bloody mess; who wants that mess in the sanctuary on Lord's Day morning.