Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: Mission Leadership

Shepherding or Herding?

The Shepherd-leader

I have often heard the remark that leading missionaries is like herding cats. Yet are we in the herding business? As followers of the Good Shepherd we are to shepherd, not herd those in our care. Even if we shift the imagery from herding to shepherding, we can still go astray because of our cultural perception of shepherding.

Last year, my pastor was preaching on the Good Shepherd from John 10. He told a story of watching a sheep dog demonstration at the state fair. The dogs would circle the sheep barking and nipping at their heels to get them to go in the desired direction. If we look at shepherding from this cultural perspective, we lead by threatening and scolding (barking and biting). This is not the model of shepherding from a Middle Eastern perspective in biblical times or today and not at all what Christ was suggesting. The Middle Eeastern shepherd goes before the sheep and leads them by voice. “

Leading multicultural teams

Just a few years ago, we could find very little that had been written about multicultural mission teams.  The subject has been of great interest in our mission organization, since our membership is becoming increasingly international, and many, if not the majority of our teams, already include members from countries other than the USA or Canada.   But very few resources for guiding the team leaders of such teams were readily available.

A few would know of Lianne Roembke’s work, Building Credible Multicultural Teams.. Unfortunately, Roembke’s book has still not been released in digital form, and I cannot seem to find anyone who has written a review of it.  Then in 2011, Sheryl Silzer of SIL published her book, Biblical Multicultural Teams: Applying Biblical Truth to Cultural Differences. Silzer’s work focused on the formative nature of one’s childhood home and how that experience has impacted one’s view of what is right and wrong.

Do Not Make Me a Leader!

A man will seize one of his brothers in his father’s house, and say, “You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!” But in that day he will cry out, “I have no remedy. I have no food or clothing in my house; do not make me the leader of the people.” – Isaiah 3:6–7

When a nation experiences God’s judgment, no one wants to become leader. Formerly leadership in Israel had been a desirable role because leaders used their positions to enrich themselves (Is 1:23).  But in the future when God’s judgment falls on these disobedient and ungodly people, Isaiah prophesies that no one will want the responsibility.  The need for leadership will be urgent, for all those in leadership roles will be killed in battle or taken away in exile (Is 3:24-26).  In these hard times, the bar set for leadership is very low.  You have a cloak – you’re qualified!   But the desire for leadership roles will also be very low, down to nil. There will be no benefits to leadership, only responsibilities.   No one will have any solutions for the problems they were facing. Whatever resources they have will be needed to take care of their own personal needs.

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