Shepherds had to fight off wolves, lions and thieves. Clubbing to lions to death and pulling a lamb out of the jaws of a bear are not for the fainthearted.
Apparently, first-century Palestinian shepherds even would break the leg of a wandering sheep to correct its errant behavior.
Try that at your next congregational meeting.
In an association we often miss, David himself claimed that shepherding prepared him to fight Goliath and, arguably, even become King. He saw it more as leadership development than anything, and leadership in one field ultimately opened leadership in others.
The job was demanding enough that, as Jesus himself said, it might require your life.
Run this description by any effective CEO and they might tell you, “That sounds like my job.”
Maybe a first-century shepherd was more like an effective CEO than we think.
This Is What It Means to Be a CEO?
So are CEOs inherently brash, impatient, selfish egomaniacs? Well, not effective ones.
Jim Collins’ exhaustive study of truly great companies (companies that outperformed their competitors substantially and significantly) discovered that the great companies had what he called Level 5 CEOs.
Collins and his team were shocked to discover a rare and endearing quality among the CEOs of the truly greatest companies: They had deep resolve to do whatever it took to advance the mission AND a deep, personal … are you ready—humility.
To quote Collins:
[Level 5 CEOs] are somewhat self-effacing individuals who deflect adulation, yet who have an almost stoic resolve to do absolutely whatever it takes to make the company great, channeling their ego needs away from themselves and into the larger goal of building a great company.
It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interest. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution and its greatness, not for themselves.
The most effective CEOs are the most humble CEOs.
I ask you, isn’t that exactly what a Christian leader should be?
Sounds an awful lot like the Apostle Paul to me. Or like Moses. Even like Jesus (if you’re willing to strip away your stereotypes and read what scripture says about Jesus).
Consequently, isn’t that exactly what a great pastor could be?
Saying the model of pastor-as-CEO is bad for the church is like saying leadership really doesn’t matter. It’s also saying business should get all the best leaders.
The mission of the church is too important to be stunted by a poorly thought-through stereotype of a CEO.
If All We Do Is Care for People Until They Die, the Church Will Die
The next decade of the church is critical.
While it’s Christ’s church and God is sovereign, we leaders have a role to play. As even committed church attenders attend less often, the church requires the best leadership, not the most passive or the most friendly.
What often passes as ‘pastoral’ is not pastoral in the first-century sense of shepherding; it’s passive.
If all we do is recruit pastors who love to care for people until they die, the church will die.
I realize this is somewhat hyperbolic, but perhaps it’s less of an overstatement than you think. We’re closing churches in record numbers, largely because pastors want to ‘pastor’ but not lead.
I believe we should care for people until they die, but the pastor doesn’t need to be the sole person to do that.
Ninety-eight percent of pastoral care is having someone who cares. It doesn’t have to be the pastor.