Let an Actual Shepherd Teach You to Pastor

Paul House | February 6, 2017

When I was a boy in the 1960s and ’70s I sometimes rode to church with my paternal grandparents. My grandfather, born in 1901, was a stockman trained by his maternal grandfather. He raised cattle, pigs, and sheep in Southwest Missouri. Even then, small farms and diversification were becoming rare. My grandfather was among the last of the local shepherds. By the time he had to quit, the closest sheep market was four hours away. 

Once when we were on the way home after a sermon on Jesus as shepherd, I asked my grandfather for an assessment. He replied, “Our pastor is a good man. But he knows little about sheep.” Surely he could have added, “Or shepherds.”

Hopefully, most ministers know the word “pastor” basically means “shepherd.” They will have keen interest, then, in learning more about their vocation’s governing metaphor so they can grow into it. They will need to know more about sheep, shepherding, and land in ancient and modern times. So they could well use a shepherd’s guidance. 

Way of the Shepherd

James Rebanks, who lives in northern England, offers such help in his book The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape. He details the shepherd’s work through the year’s seasons. While doing so he discusses several…

To read the rest of this article, visit https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/book-review-the-shepherds-life.