Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Leadership (03/14/05)
TITLE: At the Feet of the Shepherd
By Lois Jennison Tribble
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"Watch your language -- and you are not!" Stan scolded, maneuvering Amy downhill through the field where Hank, Chief Shepherd at Camp Winnasole, was delegating tasks to an assembly of eager campers.
"Well, then, if I don't sue, my mother will! I've been to six different leadership camps, and none were like this! WHY didn't Mom read the fine print?"
"I'll bet none were Christian," muttered Rex, the camp's Top Ram.
"It's not the camp's fault you broke your leg: it was an accident," Bev interrupted.
"Nevertheless, SOMEONE has to pay. I didn't expect to be babysitting a bunch of stupid sheep!"
"Sheep aren't stupid," Stan interjected. "I read. . ."
"Oh, shut up. They are too, but people in charge here are even dumber! They don't know BEANS about leadership. They don't even have a model!" Amy stormed.
"What's a model?" Bev asked.
"A basic framework with stages that teach leadership skills. Other camps use games, ropes, climbing walls and stuff like that to train leaders."
Stan, Rex, and Bev exchanged puzzled looks, and shrugged.
Amy was irritated. "You work in groups building trust through trial and error."
"You don't need that, Amy," said Rex. "Our model is Jesus: we learn to lead by trusting Him."
"Horsefeathers! What did Jesus know? HE failed with only twelve <i>people</i> to push around, but you expect me to motivate a thousand stubborn <i>sheep</i>!"
"Sheep have always trained leaders. God used them to prepare Moses and King David -- and even the prophet, Amos," Bev offered.
"So what?" Amy shrieked.
"Calm down, girl: you're like a boss ewe spooking the lambs," Hank said. He whittled on a new shepherd's rod as he assigned tasks to expectant campers. "You three move out -- help prepare pasture in that next field. Leave Amy here with me: she's cast down with heavy wool in need of shearing."
Rex smiled, understanding Hank's meaning. Wool pictured the old self, rank with pride and self-will. He herded Stan and Bev out of earshot.
"Jesus doesn't <i>push</i> people around, Amy: He <i>leads</i>. That's your first lesson: a shepherd doesn't follow the sheep; his sheep follow him. He moves in front, setting the example. Jesus said, 'I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep' (John 10:11 NIV). Leading is serving, sacrificing for those who follow. People <i>want</i> to follow someone like that; they don't need to be forced."
"Look, Hank. I can lead, even sheep I'll bet: but I'll do it MY way!"
"I got a ewe here was just the same. Prettiest little thing, but proud; didn't trust me -- thought she knew best. But I know better: I'm her shepherd. I not only guide and direct; I also control the movement of my sheep so they'll be safe, well-fed, and nurtured. You wouldn't be here, Amy, if Jesus hadn't led you. Jesus is your shepherd and He knows you. The problem is, you don't know Him. You'll never be good for much, especially leadership, until you do."
"How's that relate to the ewe?" Amy asked, hoping to change the subject.
"I love her -- but she was misleading my lambs. I had two options: I didn't want to kill her, so I broke her leg."
"Sounds cruel, doesn't it? But I'm also the one who set it, giving her intensive care while she heals. By then, she'll desire me so deeply she won't look elsewhere for fulfillment. It's extra work for me, but I know she's worth it. Stick with me, Amy, and you'll learn."
Amy studied the injured ewe. She looked so satisfied snuggled up to Hank, contented and secure. Something stirred in her, a longing. . . almost jealousy. All Amy knew was butting heads, bullying to the top to feed her insatiable hunger.
"By the time you leave here, Amy, I'm praying you'll know more than the meaning of Psalm 23: I'm praying you'll know the Good Shepherd behind it, and will be glad to follow as one of His sheep. That's what it's all about here, Amy: learning to lead as you follow."
Peace and contentment marked Hanks sheep. I wonder. . . she thought. What if sheep aren't so dumb after all?
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