SHEPHERDS LEAD ON RIGHT PATHS
THROUGH THE VALLEY
Psalm 23:3-4 He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Shepherding people is more like shepherding cats. People value independence above everything else. Yet, no one wants to end they’re life like the man who spent his whole life trying to climb the ladder of success, only to find that it was leaning against the wrong wall. It is almost never sufficient simply to announce the path to everyone one time. No, in a seemingly never-ending pattern, you have to keep sharing the path over and over… you must lead a few sheep up the trail, and then you have to go back and gather up some more. One frequent lament of leaders is that they feel like they are saying the same things over and over… And the truth is, they probably are. You feel the energy drain out of you every time you must go back down to the valley, share the message, and lead another group up the mountain. There are times when you feel you absolutely cannot make that voyage even one more time. But leading folks along the right paths is highly personal business, and there is no substitute for the shepherd leader making many trips from the mountain to the valley and back again. It is, in many ways, the most difficult element of leadership.
Failure is a better teacher than success. Therefore, we better not rush through the valley’s troubles. While in the valley, we tend to put on blinders in order to focus on the way out at the distant end, ignoring circumstances and people in order not to be pained. We should throw away the blinders and become aware of our surroundings. Look for insights to the darkness in the valley. Be honest with others about your thoughts, hopes, frustrations and other valley experiences. Talk to others about these things. Invite others who may not be in the valley with you to come along side to walk with you. Talk with others that are in the valley with you. Through all the difficulties of valley living, find ways to develop and maintain optimism and hope. Be proactive in tackling the struggles and activities required to get through.
Shepherd Leadership: Wisdom For Leaders From Psalm 23 by Blaine McCormick & David Davenport, pgs.35-40.