Monday’s blog posts are specifically crafted as excerpts from books on Sunday School, small groups, and general leadership. Today’s post is from a book that I co-wrote which will be available in early December. Here is a sneak peek at a part of chapter 2 where I made comments on a verse from the book of Amos. Amos was a shepherd, and the book, Shepherd: Creating Caring Community, was written to group leaders to encourage them to think of themselves as the shepherds of their flocks. Here is what I said in this part of chapter 2:
A few years ago I came across an often ignored verse of prophecy in Amos 3 that gives us a glimpse into the life of a shepherd:
“The Lord says, ‘As the shepherd snatches two legs or a piece of an ear from the lion’s mouth, so the Israelites who live in Samaria will be rescued…” (Amos 3:12).
What is interesting about this verse is that the Lord inspired Amos to write these words (Amos was a shepherd by trade). The Lord used a shepherd to describe a shepherding situation that sometimes took place to speak to Israel about the way it would be rescued.
As I read the verse I wondered, “Why would a shepherd bother to rescue pieces of an animal that had obviously become lunch for a predator?” As I pondered the verse, I couldn’t reconcile why a shepherd would risk his life to wrestle pieces of a dead animal away from a predator like a lion, bear, or wolf. I wouldn’t. Let the predator have its lunch! Move away so that you don’t become lunch.
But as I kept thinking about this, it became clear why a shepherd would risk life and limb: He was the shepherd. He wasn’t the owner. He was a temporary custodian of his master’s sheep….As teaching shepherds, you and I are temporary stewards of God’s people, His sheep. When He trusts us to shepherd ten, He wants us to know we are accountable for those ten. When our group grows and He sends us twenty, we are responsible for those twenty. Shepherds cannot risk viewing the people in our groups as “ours.” They are the Lord’s sheep. You and I are temporary stewards who, like shepherds of old, are responsible to our master. That’s a sobering thought.
It’s one thing to teach a Bible study. It’s another thing to shepherd a Bible study group. See the difference? If I’m a teacher, I can simply teach a lesson, move on, and teach another one the next week. If I’m a shepherd-teacher, I not only guide my people through a Bible study, but I have a sense of stewardship – I believe those people in my group are mine for a season. I’m their shepherd. They were given to me by God. And I am responsible to the Lord for them, because they are ultimately His, not mine.
I hope you’ll visit lifeway.com in early December and pick up a copy of the new book Shepherd: Creating Caring Community. There are free PowerPoint slides and conference plans so that you can use the book to train your group leaders.
If you like, I can travel to your church and provide the training first-hand. It would be an honor to encourage your group leaders to become even better teacher-shepherds!
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