THE GOOD SHEPHERD

Part 1

By Bill Click

Jesus came in obedience to His Father for our sakes. Christ said, "I am the good Shepherd, the good Shepherd giveth His life for the Sheep" (Jn.10:11). Our Lord had a mission, and it was to better the people, not worsen them. And thanks be to God forever that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He made it clear: "I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly" (Jn.10:10). Christ not only wants you alive, but also to live, and carry an overflow of Himself that will spill out into others.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus gave us many parables to unveil what that life would look like in action, the priorities we would have to possess, the decisions we would be required to make, and the commitments we would live out. Through all this, Christ emphasized that by following Him we would have an infinitely better life the one originally desired and designed for us by God (Jn.1:12).

Don't look at Life Carnally

God's people were needy in the day they heard Jesus' message. They lacked healing, deliverance, restoration and wholeness in their spirit, soul and body. God's people were also without revelation in that day they had no understanding of their deepest need, let alone how God was going to meet it. They tended to look at life carnally: meaning externally and shallowly. Better living conditions, a more suitable political environment, etc., were at the center of their concerns.

But because of what they were devoid of in heart and mind, they lacked the grace to be established and prosper as God intended. Enter Jesus' message: that because of God's choice of Him and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, that which had been missing among the people could be their's. Christ made it clear that they need not wait any longer (Lk.4:18-21).

Somewhere and Sometime

Though I've briefly described the season of Jesus' earthly ministry, that's also the "now" of God, isn't it? Isn't this where God's people find themselves today in that season of somewhere, sometime, and someday needing to become right here, right now, today? That same grace of the Lord which was there in Christ needs to be issued today. It must be released in a fresh breath of Prophetic promise from Heaven now in order to establish God's design and desire for us as an Apostolic reality in the earth.

But even though Jesus has come and made good on every promise God ever made, religion has continually worked to insure that God's people are still needy, living beneath the level of their destiny. God, however, has promised all of us a "right here, right now, today" in Christ.

We love the prophetic anointing. We are drawn to it. We are ordained with a specific company of anointed people who are primarily prophetic in gifting and calling. That is not only our "spiritual watering hole" but also our source of connective relationship with the Body. Apostolic giftings and calling truly emerge from within it as well. As folks called to Apostolically establish a specific facet of God's move, we draw from the support of those whom we submit in order to keep the resource of maturity, wisdom and leadership open to us. And we are grateful for it. We are shepherded. Or as we like to say, we come under the specific under-shepherds who listen and yield to the Good Shepherd whom we are in relationship with.

In the same way, we then spread the mantle of our anointing, insight and leadership over those who come to us for restoration, advance, and establishment. Restoration is sorely needed, but it cannot come without direction. Advance is God's plan, one which comes from His heart so that His specific will and way can unfold and manifest. Being reproductive is always God's ultimate intention for the Church, it is an essential aspect of what it means for abundant life to live and spill out of us into others.

But to be established in a mature level takes more than just knowing what to do and become good at doing it. As the type and shadow of being built according to pattern was binding upon Moses (Ex.25:8-9), it is even more incumbent upon us through the One who says, "I will build my Church" (Mt.16:18). This means that planning must be more a response to revelation than substitute for it. This calls for the Good Shepherd to shepherd the under-shepherd, even (sometimes especially) when the sheep see something they want to go after that would be either out of time or out of order.

Awaken the Sheep

Sometimes, what under-shepherds hear from the Good Shepherd is very specific for getting the sheep back on course (when the sheep would rather have the blessing to remain on their own path). Other times, what under-shepherds hear from the Good Shepherd is specific for calling the flock forward in an unfamiliar way, one which causes them to deal with unresolved issues of heart and new issues of growth in faith and grace. Still other times, the sheep must be awakened to move by the alarm of strong exhortation. Correction is never fun, but it is sometimes necessary and even mandatory. Clear teaching and personal example from leader's own lives pave the way for engaging what's previously unresolved or the unexperienced prospects which can seem so threatening. Exhortation clearly has its role, and it can motivate people into motion.

Being an under-shepherd is not always enjoyable. Perhaps the most unpleasant aspect of being an under-shepherd occurs during those times when it seems as though correction or exhortation must overshadow the "follow me as I follow Christ" of teaching backed by example. But at times staying in one mode for longer than anyone is comfortable is absolutely necessary. Did you know that being on course is so important to the shepherd that he sometimes (as a last resort) has to break the legs of the one(s) prone to wandering? To cause further pain to those who are already suffering from their disobedience is perhaps the most unpleasant of all aspects of shepherding. Why would such drastic action ever be necessary? In order to preserve the life of the sheep and the flock protecting both from the wolf. That is very vivid imagery and clear typecasting, isn't it?

True under-shepherds will have to face the reality of the appearance of a wolf in sheep's clothing, however. Even (& especially) when the other sheep do not even have a clue, this can become very important. God is so very, very, good, but at times the way He requires us to receive His goodness can go well beyond our understanding of love and appropriateness, however. And Scripture says, "behold the goodness and severity of God" (Ro.11:22).

We should realize that being shepherded is not always going to help us with our "problem." (Instead), more often than not it is going to help us not to become (or remain) our own problem. This can be such a disappointment to those who come to the shepherd. But by thinking about it for a moment, it can begin to make more sense. For example, it is often easy to observe the difficulties of children and teenagers as they are faced with what is necessary for their growth (that which is both easy to deny or refuse to handle alone). In that same way, we believers often act much the same way. Our Good Shepherd sees what we are blind to just as we see what young ones are ignorant of and inexperienced in dealing with. When it comes to progressing past stumbling blocks or needing to rise up responsibly and face what we did not choose to experience, we all need loving care. Children need parents; the sheep need the Good Shepherd.

What makes A true Leader

One morning, as I was readying myself for the day the thought occurred to me: "what makes a true leader is the willingness to be led by a leader of leaders." Of course, first and foremost that leader of leaders must be Christ the Word of God Himself, as experienced through the Holy Spirit. But instead, it is so often taught that leadership is a matter of skill and resource. We then try to equate "shepherding" with skill sets that result in a specific type of administration. But fronting, organizing, administrating, delegating and directing does not in itself reveal Christ. Therefore, skill and resource define managing much more than it reveals those leading. Many with skill and resource struggle with being shepherded by the Leader of

Leaders because they believe they are "in charge." But without That Someone to lead your life, you have not really begun to understand what a leader is, what a shepherd is . . . a servant.

To be good under-shepherds, we must also listen to the voice of those who've been given oversight of us, but also (& always) to the Good Shepherd Himself. True under-shepherds emphasize that listening to God is the absolute, irreplaceable aspect of what it means to walk with Him. They also emphasize that the way to balance what believers hear from God directly as compared to what is coming from their "leader of leaders" must be in agreement, or the personal revelation is not yet ready to be moved on.

Why is this an issue at this time? For the last few years we have been in a unique time and season in the Church. Those within our own sphere of influence have been receiving continual exhortation to check the nature, extent and commitment of their life to the Body. The Lord has been continually prompting me to ask people questions about their shepherding relationships. I have not wanted to do this, because not everyone understands the distinctions between simply "going to church," having an under-shepherd (being part of the church), or even relating to "The Good Shepherd." Also, many do not understand that an Apostle's heart is not limited to one particular congregation or ministry, but for the greater good of the larger body of Christ. Because they can misunderstand, they can sometimes see such questions as preludes to proselyting. And truth be told, many leaders do not understand that they put burdens on people's backs they do not themselves carry in this regard (because they have no oversight for their own lives and ministries).

Putting all the possible objections aside, I will ask you: Is the environment where you "feed" or "graze" really supplying you with adequate spiritual resources in the anointing, revelation, and inspiration for growing into the call of God? Are you confident that if what is happening there right now continues to happen, that you will become who God wants you to be? Is the leadership you have submitted yourself to dedicated to you- does it desire to see you come forward in the destiny God has for your life- or are you a "tool" of resource for them in program, statistic, finance and number?

These are hard questions, but what lay underneath them is the motive of the hearts of those who lead. And God is bringing ALL the dross to the top for refinement. We've NOW entered a time in the Body of Christ that it will not ever again be possible to continue as before. The past is gone. Over. Religious striving to be the biggest, best and most bountiful was never ordained by God, but NOW these efforts will come crashing down with more painful noise than ever before. Why is this the case?

Simply put, many under-shepherds' live beneath the deposit that is within them, continually compromising for the sake of "having a ministry," "growing the ministry" or staying in control of their environment. The form of this can range from making financial decisions calculated as either more exorbitant or pragmatic than the Kingdom, to always being able to fill slots for existing programs, or to tailoring God's Word for manipulating people for reaching a desired audience. All this is contradictory to the Good Shepherd, in fact it is manifestation of the hireling. Protection of self, preservation of comfort and staying in the middle of the road when God is calling for advance is manifestation of that self-orientation that God is calling all to abandon and expose. Such mindsets insure that God is not allowed to have His say or do as He is leading because of the imagined repercussions of such a course. But God not will not bless less than obedience to His Voice.

God will increasingly chastise what is less than Him and His, and in this season it will come unexpectedly, thoroughly shutting down many who have been trying desperately to stabilize the ship by keeping it under their control. But the boat of religion is sinking, and God will not save it, because it is not His. The religious church- regardless of it affiliation or name or popularity- will continue to scramble for resources and life because Christ is not building it. Therefore, it cannot withstand Hell's assault. Even though God will give ample opportunity for "all hands" to be rescued, the vessel itself will be not be salvaged, because it cannot sail in the same waters with the Armada called "the now of God." Whatever is not seeing, hearing, and saying as a prelude and clarion call to move into that which He is going, moving and pioneering will be found dead in the water.

Why must so much sink and never again resurface? The Good Shepherd values His Sheep more than anything they could ever do for Him. Wealth, buildings, property, lands, personal gain and possessions, these are all given as tools for the Kingdom, not as the goal of the Kingdom (Dt.8:18). If the under-shepherd over-prioritizes that which the Good Shepherd is not invested in, over time the gap between them will begin to be clearly seen. If the Good Shepherd is not allowed to have His way among those who have the position, He will increasingly call (instead) on those who will let Him have right-of-way in the anointing. Jesus will instead visit and abide among those who value being true to Him above being successful in "the ministry."

Much is Required

The resources we need for intimacy, maturity and authentic representation of the Good Shepherd have already been provided (2Pe.1:2-11). To not develop these under His oversight is to set ourselves up for chastisement (Heb.12:4-13). Jesus said, "For to whom much is given, much more is required." We are accountable for whatever we have been given from the Lord. We are to be a living witness of Him and manifest multiplied testimonies of His loving kindness (Lk.19:12-27). This we must do, regardless of whatever prospect it may bring for furthering, lessening, threatening or even eliminating our personal stake or status.

I must ask you: Is your "church" a place where worship is made of itself by primarily talking of self-oriented dreams, visions of great visibility, influence and hope for its own self-advancement? Or is your place of worship an environment where people are encouraged and exhorted to "act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly" with God and trust Him to come through in whatever way He specifically calls? (Mic.6:8). Does your leader of leaders fill you with Christ's own heart, or just their own?