This blog is not about using super-spiritual language referring to the congregation or a fellowship, but is actually about being a shepherd.
Now this is not my normal employment, my job takes me all over the country delivering support and training for businesses, but every year I take a couple of weeks off and look after a good friends flock of sheep whilst the mothers try and run away from their lambs.
In many ways I simply teach sheep to count up to 2 (the ones I look after have twins) and sometimes the advance class can go up to 3!!
So for the past two weeks I have been looking after these sheep. Now sheep are not as thick as people may think. In truth they are cunning, plotting and planning animals that will take advantage of you as soon as you as you drop your guard; running through the smallest of gaps because you didn’t quite tie up the gate as well as you should; deliberately aiming for your knees rather than going round you as they run past, ignoring their lambs so you need to bend down to their level just in time for you to receive a swift blow to the temple by one of their horns.
Believe me, sheep are not thick – they know exactly what they are doing!!!
It was after just such an instance that I found myself beginning to lose my patience with one ewe in particular. She had been nothing but trouble all day. First she forgot she had two lambs and was ignoring one of them, then she bolted as I was moving her to a place where we keep mother and lambs closer together, she had butted me as I tried to get her own lambs to suckle and finally she had jumped out of her pen whilst I was feeding other sheep.
I was tempted to pick the flippin’ thing up and chuck her back in the pen with the sort of force that reminded her that I was meant to be the clever one in the shed, not her!!
As I lunged for the ewe (and I was actually quite proud of how quickly I made it across the sheep-shed to catch her) I was suddenly reminded of a bit of scripture, which I later found was in Matthew ch. 25: “You were faithful in a few things, come and be in charge of many”.
Here was I getting frustrated with an animal, and deep in my heart I want to be able to guide my fellow believers. If I can’t control my frustrations with sheep, how will I cope with the complexities of leading people?
Every day we have a choice to respond to the opportunities we are given in a few, small things to learn how to deal with the many, bigger things God has in store for us to be part of. I don’t want to lose my opportunity to serve the Living God – even more because I can’t deal with the frustrations of the few things He gives me to do now.
Steve Laugher – Area rep for Ripon and the Dales, Methodist Preacher and member of the Leadership of Masham Methodist Church.