Cowboys drive cattle.
Shepherds lead sheep.
There is a difference, but occasionally in our efforts to minister we confuse the two.
One way to assess whether we resemble cattlemen or shepherds is to observe our reactions when people fail to perform up to our expectations:
- Are we irritated by their failure, or driven to our knees in intercession?
- Is our approach characterized by law or grace?
“The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
Jesus, like Moses gave us the truth… but shrouded it in grace:
“We all have received grace upon grace” (John 1:16)
That is, we have received grace that is continuous and never exhausted.
Surely that is also to be our approach in ministering to others.
When our primary objective in ministry is to help people toward an intimate relationship with Christ, the tenor of our service will be that of tender care rather than demands for rigid compliance.
If, however, we view people primarily as an important cog in achieving our ends of building a larger organization, or enhancing our image as a spiritual leader, those under our charge will be driven toward external conformity rather than nurtured toward internal transformation:
Driven like cattle rather than led like sheep.
When Jesus asked Peter if He loved Him, the Master suggested that the way to express that love was to feed His sheep. Shepherd His flock.
And that is our calling as well.