“With an upright heart, he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.” – Psalm 78:72
On our farm we have tended and loved sheep. Notice I didn’t say we raised sheep. In the Midwest that would imply we showed at the fair, sheared for fiber, or raised for meat. We tended and loved. Two of the sheep, I received as a Mother’s Day present and the other two were given by a family that didn’t have time for them anymore.
I tended by learning about nutrition, behaviors and how to shear. I loved by cleaning, feeding and just being with them to earn trust. You can’t care for animals unless your heart is in the right place. Animals can tell if you really don’t like them or are having a bad day. They react to your tone, your movements and your intentions. Each sheep was different. With Larry I couldn’t rush, I needed to give him space. With Faith I could go right in for a pat on the head and eventually a hug.
If you watch YouTube videos a skilled shepherd can shear a sheep in about 3 min…I don’t know that I got any faster than 30 min, but that is down from my initial 3 hours and the wool was not in any shape to prepare for yarn.
At Camp Tamarack this summer we explored this verse in many different ways with each Pastor and age group in terms of empowerment and leadership. What does it mean to have an upright heart as a leader? Does it always mean being right or really seeing the people in your care? To shepherd and guide, are you in the front or walking alongside or even in the middle of those you are leading? What skills do you need to develop and grow – not just in yourself, but with those who are also developing their leadership skills.
I encourage you today to think about the different flocks in your care whether you are a parent, coach, teacher, Pastor and take a minute to reflect on the shape of your heart, what is and isn’t working with guiding and what skills do you need to lean in to, learn and help others develop. One of our themes for the Annual Gathering this year is intergenerational leadership – what do we share and learn from one other. I invite you to sign up for this year’s meeting and engage with the “flock” of ABC-WI.
Grace and Peace – Rev. Carolyn Dugan