Spending ten days in community with young, up-and-coming leaders of the township, I have been meditating on leadership in broader terms. Our East Mountain vision is to identify, raise up, and grow the next generation’s leaders for the enrichment of the Body of Christ in Africa.
Leadership is our goal. Shepherding is our theme. The Good Shepherd is our model.
And then our cultures get in the way.
Meditating on biblical shepherds: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and David--each with strengths and foibles--is a powerful path for understanding what Jesus meant when He told Peter to feed His sheep and care for His lambs.
But we are in the 21st century and the photos of Bedouins that we study seem like something from a time warp. Nobody does that these days? Do they? Really?
Books abound on leadership--many offering solid principles and perceptive advice. There is so much to tell young leaders of today. We have to be watchful, however, that our pursuit of excellence does not become informed by our milieu, and the cultures we know and value.
Shepherding is light years from coaching and managing and implementing action plans. A shepherd is not guiding a team, he’s caring for a flock. He is not running a department, he’s looking out for the weak ones. He’s not CEO of a corporation, he’s the door to the sheep fold and protector against lions and bears.
Once again, Nelson Mandela’s example comes to mind. He was aware of the magnitude of the burden he carried. The least of those in his care was his concern: and the welfare of his people was his business. He paid a high price to put his flock before himself and his family’s welfare.
Leadership has become a larger-than-life job in the modern world. Leaders are important movers and shakers, women and men of power. Their concerns are the goals and victories of the team, the profits and losses of the company, the inevitable bottom line. Leaders of the world are honing skills, eliminating the weak, streamlining the process, and producing better products to wipe out competitors. Their path is strewn with the bodies of those who served them and wore out or were cast aside.
Against this backdrop, at East Mountain we are trying to infuse the gentleness of the shepherd. He is not counting victorious games or profit margins or acquisitions. He is encouraging the potential, protecting the weak, strengthening the inter-connectedness that makes a flock a healthy flock. He’s guiding, protecting and providing.