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Four Faces of a Leader: The Shepherd

This is the first in a four part series on the book, Four Faces of a Leader by Bob Rhoden.

Let me begin by saying, don’t skip over the introduction. Many readers have grown accustomed to foregoing this portion of writing, perhaps feeling that is is irrelevant to the book. But as I learned in grad school, the introduction is the most important part because it sets the framework for what you’re about to read. We like to get to Chapter 1 as quickly as possible, but reading the introduction is like warming up before working out. It preps the mind for the heavy lifting. In this instance, Rhoden offers three concerns he has personally in regards to himself as a leader. They are must reads. He also offers three concerns about today’s church. Another must read. Now, onto the First Face of Leadership.

The first face of leader discussed by Doc (see previous blog) is the face of the Shepherd. This is an engaging chapter filled with motivational imagery of the Shepherd and his relationship with the sheep. There are plenty of takeaways regarding the Face of a Shepherd, and when you read this book you may highlight some things I did not. Here are some lines that impacted me as I read about the Face of a Shepherd.

To be an effective Christian leader, I have to function within the borders of my calling. The point is not to move up some ladder; it is to fulfill what God has ordained for me to do. (Page 12)

Rhoden sets out to first define what it means to be a leader. The line shown above was a sharp kick in the pants to begin the book. Many view leadership as a destination of position. But according to Rhoden, effective leadership simply means being obedient to what God has called you to do, whether great or small. Keep in mind that this definition of leadership is based on a biblical foundation. It echo’s the proclamation of missionary William Carey, “I’m not afraid of failure; I’m afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”

The second quote from the book that incited a great deal of thought and personal reflection is:

When confronted with a challenge, the committed heart will search for a solution. The undecided heart searches for an escape. (Page 23)

The heart of a Shepherd does not run when times get tough. He fights even harder, because the sheep matter. Those who don’t really care about the sheep will ultimately find a reason to leave. Being a part of a church plant, this statement speaks loudly to me. My church, Christ Chapel Mountaintop, is about to celebrate it’s 9th birthday, and we have seen shepherds (leaders) come and go, typically at the sight of conflict. I remember hearing Glenn Reynolds from Bethel Temple A/G in Hampton, VA say, “Those who leave remember the ordeal. Those who stay remember the adventure.”

I’ve always set my heart and mind to be a person that had stick-to-it-ness. When there is an option to run or fight, I choose to fight, to defend. When the dust settles and the battle is over I want people to say, “He fought for me and did not leave when times got tough.” That is the Way of the Lion (my latest book idea based on Proverbs 28:1).

Finally, be sure to pay attention to this story:

There is an old story of a well-dressed young woman sightseeing in New York City. At one point, the tour passed through a slum area, and the tourist became upset at the sight of a ragged little girl playing in the filthy gutter. “Look at that child!” she cried. “Why doesn’t someone clean her up? Where is her mother?” “Well,” the tour guide explained, “it’s this way, miss. The mother loves her child, but she doesn’t hate the dirt. you hate the dirt – but you don’t love the child. Until love for the girl and hate for the dirt get into the same heart, not much is going to change.” True shepherds love the sheep, even dirty sheep, enough to work for a change regardless of what the clock says. They might have to do it all over again tomorrow. But that’s all right. It’s part of their calling. (Page 29)

In the chapters three and four Rhoden outlines “What Shepherds Actually Do” and the “Sacrifices of a Shepherd”. These chapters add practicality and clarity of application to the imagery of the Shepherd Leader. What stood out in this section? Sacrifice.

Sacrifice has a way of driving something deep down in your soul. It reinforces that you belong here, God planted you here, and you’re not going anywhere else. (Page 55)

The Shepherd Leader is willing to sacrifice himself for the sheep again and again. Even if the sheep ignore him, bite him, or stray away. Their actions do not dictate his sacrifice. I love that.

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