Gentle Nudgings Monthly Coaching e–letter and Weekly BLOG
What a rich subject “Care Deeply” is as it applies to our relationship with the Lord and with people! The analogy which comes to my mind is SHEPHERDING (some equate to discipling, mentoring and leadership). In our personal walks with the Lord we are not only encouraged to grow personally but to, once mature, to be “spiritual mothers” to the “younger women.” We are called in Titus 2 to put our love into action; to live our lives out in obedience to the Lord and also to teach and encourage the younger women. You could call this shepherding I think. (Smile) Caring deeply enough to invest one’s life in another in loving and guiding younger women to enjoy know and enjoy their freedom in Christ.
You may know that I grew up on a cattle ranch in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. My family has had ranches in that area for well over 100 years. Both sides of my Dad’s family were involved in politics (doesn’t surprise you, right? 🙂 ) and … my great grandfather at one time had nearly 1000 sheep!
When I came along and was in the 4-H Youth Program my wonderful Uncle Bill and Aunt Georgia gave me sheep from their herd for my 4-H projects. Yes! I was a shepherdess of sorts! My little lambs were Ko-Ko and Sampson. I learned a lot about sheep during the many many hours (years with Sampson) taking care of them.
Why am I telling you these fun family facts about my story? Well, for a number of reasons this month but it completely fits with Caring Deeply.
You see Shepherding to me and to many is a bit like discipling and mentoring and surely relates to leadership. In John 21:17 Jesus tells Peter to “tend my sheep.” And yet it is also amazing to me that in discussing this topic of shepherding … sometimes even in the church setting … we don’t really understand it. It is not exactly how most of us live our lives today, true, although shepherding is still happening around the world. In fact, several years ago it used to be that on our way to church on Sundays there was a modern day shepherd tending a flock for years within a mile of our church!
As one who actually owned sheep and trained them as 4-H projects I can tell you that sheep follow gentle / kind leadership. If you are kind and gentle, generous with food and water and shelter, quiet spirited … you can successfully shepherd sheep as they will trust your guidance, your direction and they’ll follow you anywhere! I knew my sheep’s voices and they knew mine! On the other hand if you are harsh, mean-spirited, loud, demanding … you will chase the sheep away and they will not follow you, cooperate with you or feel safe with you.
Some facts to “wet your whistle” about sheep and shepherding in the Bible from Scouting the Divine: Searching for God in Wine, Wool and Wild Honey by Margaret Feinberg: (Great book and Bible study by the way!)
- “Some of the Bible’s greatest leaders kept sheep. Think about it … Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and King David and shepherds were even included in the short-list at the birth of Christ. When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said “Behold the Lamb of God!,” Jesus used stories and parables about shepherds and sheep, Peter and Paul use this imagery on how to care for God’s people, and in the book of Revelation Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God.
- Sheep are the most frequently mentioned animal in the Bible.
- There are nearly 700 references to sheep and shepherds.”
Margaret mentions the stereo type that we all tend to think of when we think of sheep … that sheep are dumb. In actuality they are not dumb but they are defenseless. No sharp teeth, no claws … absolutely no way to defend themselves.
Isn’t that just like people … defenseless? People are in many ways … maybe really ALL ways … defenseless but GOD is our Good Shepherd. We are His sheep as it says in the Bible. We know He will take care of us as He promises in His Word. We know He will protect us!
Here are a couple of foundational questions and facts about shepherding:
(Yes! I DO have a staff!)
What does a shepherd have? They travel light but they always have a rod and a staff. The rod is for defense against predators. The staff is to GENTLY take care of the sheep; guiding, tending.
Who are Shepherds these days? Well, I believe that it is those given to us by God in our care in some way. As parents we are to be shepherds of our little flocks / family, in our churches as pastors or leaders we have “flocks”, as women in a circle of influence those in our care could be our “flocks,” as teachers we have classrooms of students under our care, as employers we have teams of people under our guidance, etc.
What does a shepherd do? They protect the sheep. They take care of the sheep.
We can disciple / shepherd others the Lord has put in our care when we develop relationships with them that show we can be trusted and that they are safe with us. Showing them that we care deeply about them and will use our “staff” in life to lead them to green pastures, safe places and “still waters” is part of our God-given calling.
What does a shepherd NOT do. Logistically, let’s look at what shepherds do not use as leadership styles. They do not use the staff to hurt the sheep, to threaten the sheep, they do not yell or even raise their voice to their sheep. That would send the sheep away running for cover! They reserve the above tactics of bullying, harshness, yelling and inflicting pain for predators alone. What if that is their given personality? Well, either they would learn to adapt and change or … they would need to change careers. Shepherds don’t chase sheep, they gather sheep and then gently herd them.
- Had I yelled at, been harsh with or inflicted pain on my sheep they (A) Would not have come to me when I called because they would not have trusted me nor felt safe with me (B) They would have run away from me when it was essential that they follow me or come to me for nourishment, for care and when in danger for safety.
- We cannot demand our sheep follow … sheep plain don’t respond to that these tactics. May I say … nor do people! Just like with people sheep trust you when they know you are safe to be around, will protect and care for them. They trust you when they know you Care Deeply for them.
We get our clues about HOW TO shepherd and disciple others from the Word of God and we watch HOW the Holy Spirit guides us … gently. He gently gives us direction and cares for us and sometimes He firmly guides us out of danger as our Shepherd.
Question: Which kind of shepherd was Jesus? Which example shows the fruit of the Holy Spirit?
We (as His sheep / flock) are to follow Him and obey Him and we do so out of love for Him (He first loved us!) and out of trust in Him. We as His “sheep” know we are safe in His care. He shows us His great love … as we are to show our love and concern for others. We are to emulate Him. Check out Galatians 5:22 … gently, kindly, patiently, in love, in self –control … not provoking one another and acting conceited or envious.
Check out these verses from Biblegateway.com (Not an exhaustive list there are many more!):
But He led forth His own people like sheep And guided them in the wilderness like a flock;
So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture Will give thanks to You forever; To all generations we will tell of Your praise.
For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice,
Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
[ The Restoration of Israel ] For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.
As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day.
[ A Tree and Its Fruit ] “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.
[ Ninety-nine Plus One ] “What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?
To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.
even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.
[ Benediction ] Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,
1 Peter 2:25
For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Psalm 23 [Full Chapter]
[ The Lord, the Psalmist’s Shepherd. ] [ A Psalm of David. ] The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. …
God in the Bible is shown to us to be the Good Shepherd. As His sheep when we feel defenseless He is there for us through His Holy Spirit to guide and direct us, to protect us and to teach us. The Holy Spirit, although firm with us when we are going astray (see Isaiah 53:6), is never harsh and demanding … He is gentle and deeply caring in His ways of guiding us.
- Do you know that in some areas of the world that all the shepherds keep their sheep in the same pen or corral at night? The only way into the pen for predators is the gate which is guarded at night. Then the next morning each shepherd, one-by-one, go to the gate and calls his/her sheep. His / her sheep know their voice and make their way to the gate to follow their own shepherd out to green pastures for nourishment … how about that! Just like us as people we need know the voice of the Lord to follow Him!
We are to be gentle and deeply caring, as God has shown us in His Word, in tending the hearts of those in our care in our families, our churches, our neighborhoods, our communities, our circles of influence and yes, even strangers! Rather than just “random acts of kindness” how about proactive and planned acts of kindness?
Again … it cannot be understated that the fruits of the Holy Spirit according to Galatians 5:22-26 are: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”
“True Strength is Delicate”
In these days where there is much harshness not only on the TV, in politics and in societal discourse … people are hiding behind computer screens to say things on email or FB that they’d never be so rude to say to someone’s face … the bullying is palpable. And yet because of “PC speak” others are afraid to even speak the truth of God’s Word. Wow … confusion reigns, right?
No. Only God is sovereign. He alone reigns. Our hope is to be in Him alone and our focus on Him alone (see the first commandment) and He says in His Word to CARE DEEPLY (Love: Him first, others and ourselves Mark 12:28) and to follow Him.
Again, in caring deeply let us emulate Him as a good shepherd to whatever flock He has graciously given into our care. Maybe that is our family, our church, our classroom of students, our neighbors, the fellow employees at work, the other Moms at the school, etc. as well as strangers.
Coaching Questions: (Journal)
- Who is in your flock (s) requiring your care today?
- How will you care proactively for your flock (s)?
- How has God shown you His gentle care through the Holy Spirit?
- What does Care Deeply mean to you?
- What will your planned, proactive act of kindness be this week? Today?
Coaching Resources of the Month:
- Scouting the Divine: Searching for God in Wine, Wool and Wild Honey by Margaret Feinberg.
- A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by Phillip Keller
- Check out my BLOG on www.PersonalRetreatCoaching.com for weekly Gentle Nudgings. Recent blog topics have been on: Live Joyfully, Laugh Abundantly, Love affectionately and Give Generously.
As I wrap up this month’s Gentle Nudgings Coaching E-letter may I say to you that as a coach, as a sister-in-the-Lord and as a friend or family member I do care deeply for you. You are in my prayers!
I am here if you need me for prayer, for coaching or for encouragement in your walk in the Lord. Nope, not perfectly as I am “made of mud” just like you, but … I do care deeply that you find encouragement and hope in Jesus Christ and the courage to follow Him and lead those in your care!
- Remember that little King David faced down and destroyed the giant Goliath after protecting the flock he had been given from a bear and a lion! Then when he encountered the giant in his life (we all have them from time to time) … he reflected back on how GOD had protected him in the past and thus had courage for his future victory over the giant Goliath …not because of himself but because of the God he loved and served!
May you have COURAGE over your giants! May you lead your God-given “flock” like our Good Shepherd Jesus by Caring Deeply!
Master Certified Christian and Professional Life Coach