There are many references to shepherds throughout the Scriptures and yet shepherding seems to be an afterthought in most churches. In my life, I have sat under many different styles of leadership. I have been a part of a mega church that was too focused on other “more important” things to be concerned that the elders were not shepherding the flock. In fact, the only time I saw the elders and got to know their names is when they were promoting a church money campaign or disciplining someone (sadly sometimes it was elders who did not agree with the senior pastor). I have been a part of a smaller church setting where the elders seemed to lord over everybody in the church. They controlled every aspect of your life from what you posted on social media to even which family members you could see or not. I know I am not the only one that has sat under these types of leadership. Perhaps you are right now.
Reason for the book:
The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Witmer was written for those who are called to ministry, but I believe it would benefit even the lay person in the church. He has done an excellent job in providing a very Biblical and yet practical resource for how to shepherd the flock well. His thesis for the book this: “The fundamental responsibility of church leaders is to shepherd God’s flock.”
Witmer starts off with Biblical and historical foundations and then presents a matrix for ministry. In this matrix, he presents 4 categories (Knowing, Feeding, Leading, and Protecting) and the two ways to view them (Macro and Micro) with the foundation being prayer and ministry of the Word.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the chapter on leading the sheep. Witmer writes, “It is important to pay attention to your own growth in godliness and character in order to be effective in your ministry as a shepherd. After all, if they don’t see that you are following the Good Shepherd, why should they?” What a very convicting and true statement. If our lives are not exemplifying that we are following after the Good Shepherd, then certainly those under our care are going to think it’s not important. The shepherds who follow the Good Shepherd lead like Him and the result is well-shepherded sheep who do not stray.
Who should read this book?
I recommend this book to anyone in the church. Pastors and elders will benefit from this book by being challenged, convicted, and encouraged to be the shepherds that God has called them to be. It will remind you of the important things that you may have forgotten in the busyness of ministry. It will help you develop or revamp a plan to be intentional about shepherding. Church members will benefit from this book by knowing what you should expect from your pastors and elders and/or to be thankful for the faithful shepherds in your church.
You can get this book through Amazon for a great price.