The Sheep Aren’t Stupid

| February 22, 2016

Pastors sometimes say stupid things. Sometimes those stupid things are catchy and wind up being repeated by many other pastors. One of the more preposterous statements I’ve heard many preachers say is, “Sheep are dumb.” They say this as shepherds in reference to the sheep of the church—the congregation. The idea is that sheep are dumb, and must be led well. We shouldn’t be surprised when they do stupid things.

My problem with this statement is that it disrespects people made in God’s image and redeemed by God’s Son. Its mocks the church and exalts the self. The church isn’t stupid. Sinful, yes. Stupid, no. Speaking of the church in this way will get a chuckle from some leaders (who aren’t already bored by the worn-out expression), but will create distance between leadership and the people pastors are called to lead.

The sheep aren’t dumb. In fact, we would do much better if we thought of the sheep the way the Puritan Thomas Watson (1620–1686) described them in his sermon, “The Good Shepherd.

Sheep Are Innocent

Sheep aren’t harmful creatures; they’re harmless and peaceful. Christians are, by their new nature, peaceful and peacemakers (Matt. 5:8; Rom. 12:18; Gal. 5:22). As Watson observes, “They would rather…

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