Shepherds and Worshipers - Printable Version

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Shepherds and Worshipers - DeanZF - 08-19-2009

One of my all-time favorite books is former shepherd Philip Keller’s A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23. It was early in my Christian walk, in my first very spiritually aware state. It was a huge revelation and the first time I really “got” the concept that the Bible was very relevant to my life today, hundreds or thousands of years after it was written.

Keller talked a lot about the sheepies and how people were embarrassingly like them. He spent a lot of pages proving that pretty conclusively. He also talked about interaction of the sheep and included some of the reasons that shepherds did what they did and some little bits about the responsibilities of those shepherds. Those little bits and other info that I’ve gleaned from several sources over the years have expanded (at least in my mind) Keller’s discussion of the shepherd’s role in the lives of the sheep.

There are so many folks who have a strong sense that they want/need to be pastored, but I have a strong sense that many folks really could not define or enunciate what that means! Yes, there will be some who can share certain hopes or aspects of the relationship, but some I’ve talked with just have the gnawing sense that the pastoring or shepherding is incomplete.

We know that Messiah is “the” good shepherd, and that Father God desires that His sheep have good human shepherds, too. What do they look like? What do they do? What does that mean to at least one particular group of people, those involved in the worship arts? Do the worship arts folks need to be shepherded in ways other than what the other sheep need? I think so! Why? The worship arts folks are part of the “up-front” team and because of that, we’re held to a higher standard. That’s part of modeling the Christian life-style. If you’re facing the people, you’re leading and if you’re leading, people will have higher expectations.

We have a friend who was a worship arts pastor. He shared recently about the intensity of watching the worship arts flock. Folks with any level of artistic personality might need to be tended differently than non-artistic folks. “Sensitive”, “over-sensitive”, and “needy” are a few of the words that people have used as weapons against the artistics. To some degree, it’s true that we’re sensitive. That’s part of what makes us artistic! Don’t accept the delivery on that. “Needy”? Aren’t we all?! Like all sheep, we need to have certain things in order to be our most productive. Nursing ewes are needy. If they don’t have enough of the nutrients they need, the milk they provide the lambs will not be sufficient in quality or quantity.

What’s a shepherd to do? In a true ovine situation, the shepherd ensures that the surroundings are conducive to individual growth and safety. Good and safe food, calm and fresh water, plenty of room to romp or rest, shaded areas to retreat from heat, freedom from hidden places from which the sheep might be ambushed or attacked. What do sheep do? They eat, they fertilize the ground around themselves, they produce wool, they produce baby sheep, they interact within the flock, they lead, they follow, and only have a little interaction with the shepherd. Most of the interaction is initiated by the shepherd as he works at keeping his sheep healthy and able to do what they do. Visual inspection doesn’t tell the story. Regular contact—maybe even daily contact—is part of the job description. Once the wool is more than say a quarter of an inch, the skin is not visible. The shepherd’s fingers run through the wool and give each sheep a little affectionate massage while searching for healthy, unblemished skin and the quality of the wool being grown. If the shepherd finds fevered skin, wounds, scabs, or bumps, the sheep needs treatment. If the shepherd feels the ribs showing too strongly, the sheep is not getting correct nutrition or may have worms. If the wool is not greasy enough with lanolin or if the wool is thin and weak, there might still be a dietary issue. The shepherd looks in the ears to make sure that there are no ticks or mites that would make the sheep uneasy. Are the eyes clear and without excessive secretions? All these things and others tell the shepherd about the health of each sheep. It is his task to ensure that those who are to bear wool are doing their job, that those who are feeding the lambs are producing milk, and that those that will be bred soon are healthy and ready for bearing young.

Think about the greater worship team as its own little flock for a minute. We do need to be about producing the things we were designed to produce. If God gifted one person as a song writer, their “wool” is music. If another is a dancer and choreographer, their wool is solo or group dance pieces. The banner team’s wool is banners and pageantry. The drama team, the mime team, the clown team, the fine artists, all of them have wool being produced. If our wool suddenly changes quality or is not coming forth as expected, we need someone who’s looking out for us to find out why. If we have a relationship with a pastor who understands the worship arts, that pastor is going to be running fingers through the wool and looking at the eyes to seek out the issues and help us work through them. That pastor will be watching to ensure that the flock is about the intended business and not leading others to escape from the pasture and lead innocent lambs astray in the process. Pastor will be watching out for and dealing with bullies and rebels in all the inner-flock relationships. Part of the job is management, part of it is expressing care, part of it is making a place for the sheepies to successfully do the things that sheepies do!

This is an oversimplified version of what my friend shared over several days, but I hope enough to give you some ideas on how you as a pastor might be working with your worship arts folks and how you as worship arts folks might expect your pastoral relationships to work.