Sunday, 10 February 2008


I will return to the subject of belonging and community soon however I have been thinking a little bit about leadership today so thought I would blog on this.

We can't escape from the biblical image of shepherding. Jesus says

"the gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice." (John 10:3,4)

This morning as we were worshipping in this glorious hubbub of community at HGS I was reminded of this passage (esp.v3) and here's a number of things that I am thinking about in response:

1) Leadership has to be legitimised - we earn the right to lead. You don't get to lead the sheep unless you are in some way or other authorised/allowed to lead. Too often this has been construed as a way of keeping leadership to a few 'special ones' - we are mad to go down this route - I prefer to say that all can lead but our leadership has to be legitimised. I think we often earn the right to lead through loving service of others, through exercising initiative and taking responsibility. As we do these things the gatekeepers allow us in... then we can lead further.

2) Leaders are listened to - the sheep listen to the shepherds voice - she/he is legitimate, trusted and they are open to guidance and help. So a leader needs to ask whether they are being listened to - if they aren't it could be because their leadership isn't legitimised (hasn't been earned) or conversely because the sheep have decided not to be sheep (not open to guidance and help). I'm only to aware of how stubborn and proud we/I can be - unteachable - and how it seems to me that sheep are uniquely designed to need guidance and help and not to is to reject all that is good for them (I think Neil Coles in his book 'Organic Church' says something along these lines).

3) Leaders call - a leader identifies those who are their sheep (remember Jesus talked about being called to the lost sheep of Israel - he was quite specific about who he aimed at and who he called - 12 disciples). I believe that a leader calls people to the vision that the Lord has given them. Am I/are you calling people to my/your vision?

4) Leaders lead out - leading has to have a direction to it and I am sure that it has to be an outward movement - the sheep aren't meant for the sheep pen they are designed for the pasture. In my last church someone gave me a prophecy that I was to be a shepherd who led the sheep from a pasture that was finished with (pastures can be overgrazed and therefore unable to provided nourishment) to a new pasture but that we would have to go through a valley to get there... how true! I was able to leave my previous church with a new pasture to graze in (though there were still sheep who hankered after the old pasture!)

5) Leaders go on ahead - here is what we need to do once we have led our sheep to new pastures... we continue to go on ahead. We don't get waylaid by the demands now of maintaining the flock... we need to go on ahead as by now the sheep are willing to follow us to new pastures because they know us and trust us.

Of course all this needs to be reflected on in the light of Jesus being our true leader. He is the model which is why this passage of his teaching in John 10 is so important for us. True leadership is learnt from the true leader ... the good shepherd.

1 comment:

Jackie B said...

What about the 'gatekeepers' - who are they?