Monthly Archives: March 2015

Shepherd Leader

When one thinks of an airplane, there is some picture in mind of a specifically-designed flying object.  It can differ in size and style, but every plane has many aspects in common, perhaps most important is the transportation component that gets people from one place to another.

When one thinks of a leader, the pictures envisioned can vary greatly.  But, like a plane, a leader helps to get people from one place to another.  The means of transportation is that of relationship and influence (see blog post #5 on leading well).

Mental models help us remember and communicate.  When leadership models can be simple yet complete they crystalize vital concepts.   They enable one to live and lead more effectively by focusing on the few responsibilities that matter most out of perhaps hundreds of possibilities.

Metaphors are something regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, especially something abstract.  Leadership is clearly one of the more abstract concepts, seen by the multiple definitions promoted.  Once an image is grasped, a person can generalize that picture into other settings.

As followers of Jesus, we should first look to the Bible for our models and metaphors of worthy leaders and on outstanding leadership.  Such a study will force us to encapsulate insights and principles to identify who a leader is at the core.

Of all the leadership roles in the Bible, only one begins in Genesis and is woven throughout until Revelation.  In Genesis chapter four we learn that Abel was a shepherd, a keeper of flocks.  In Revelation chapter 7 we see reference to Jesus, the Lamb, as the Shepherd who guides.  The Bible Gateway internet program indicates 104 references to shepherd.  A study of this word “shepherd” throughout the Bible lists many good and bad character qualities as well as many responsibilities that either bring good when performed well or harm when neglected.

Shepherd Leader is a metaphor for godly, biblical leadership.  As a shepherd exercises the proper responsibilities toward those under his or her leadership, people thrive.  Just as sheep and other domestic animals need to be led, nurtured or developed, and cared for, so people need the same leadership for health and safety.  Although leaders in the Bible go by many names, none is more comprehensive in scope and affirmed in value than that of a shepherd.

When many people think of the term “shepherd” in religious settings, the default is usually that of a caregiver.  Certainly providing care is an important responsibility of a good shepherd, but a good shepherd is much more than that.  A godly, biblical shepherd both leads and develops or nurtures the flock so all can flourish.

So, from a study of the word “shepherd” in the Bible, one can conclude that the primary metaphor of a leader is that of a shepherd.  In the next few blog posts consideration will be given to other biblical leadership metaphors, the significance of Jesus being The Good Shepherd, and how leaders serve as under-shepherds.

Next Blog: Various Biblical Metaphors for Leadership

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Jethro Review

Jethro (see Exodus 18) was an effective consultant because, in the end, he enabled Moses to discover and implement a positive solution to an obvious problem.  The problem was real and urgent—Moses alone could not serve the scope of need represented by the nation.  The solution was simple and doable—identify and appoint qualified leaders to assist with judging the issues that people were bringing.  The process was agreeable and welcomed—both Moses and the people had their needs met in a way that seemed to satisfy everyone involved.

The effective consultant, who is able to influence positive change, must know—be—do certain things.  By way of review, consider these questions from a different angle.

Must Know:

  • Where can you contribute from experience and strength?
  • When should you defer to another?
  • How well do you really understand the context?

Must Be:

  • How genuinely concerned are you for the best interest of another?
  • What relational capital do you have or can you develop with another?
  • How impartial can you be with the solutions offered?

Must Do:

  • How well do you listen and observe?
  • How frankly yet diplomatically can you speak into a situation?
  • How articulately can you paint a picture of the solution?
  • How long will you stay engaged to help see implementation occur?

These process-consulting principles can be fully applied in the home, in social circles or in the marketplace.  A mother or school counselor can help a child develop a plan for higher education.  A friend can help another with a job search.  A consultant can help a supervisor determine a way forward through the complexities of business challenges.

How is a consultant different from a coach?  The big differences are in the areas of personal expertise and experience.  Consultants bring proven solutions to solving real problems; a coach brings a process of self-discovery to help a person get to a better place.

Unless “clients” learn to see problems for themselves and think through their own remedies, they will be less likely to implement the solution and less skilled to fix such problems should they reoccur.  The ultimate function of process consulting is to pass on the skills of how to diagnose and constructively intervene so that clients are more able to continue on their own to bring improvement to individuals and organizations.

What value do you currently place on the consulting process?  If time or cost is a concern, have you seriously considered the time and cost of forgoing the benefit of engaging a consultant?  If finding a credible consultant is a concern, seek to clarify your need so you can inquire of who might have the needed expertise to help you find solutions.  Far too often people live with problems that are solvable—like Moses trying to judge the entire nation by himself.  Good stewardship demands finding our best solutions, which are often outside of ourselves.

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