EPISODE #94 – CAUTIONS FOR SHEPHERD LEADERS
The guys are back in action after celebrating the 4th of July! They talk about favorite fireworks, Bob nearly getting arrested and Jimbo’s near death experience with a church member who loved him some fireworks.
In today’s episode the guys get down to offering some key cautions for Shepherding Pastors as they lead their congregation.
Here are the quick points, give them a listen and give us your feedback.
Cautions for Shepherding Leaders
- Lead at a pace faster than you might normally prefer
- Realize that you may not ever have a unanimous consensus around decisions – If God has spoken, move forward
- Shepherds may become “flock” focused rather than “Father” focused – get away from the flock (congregation in order to hear from God and get His vision
- Bring courage with your calm and clarity as you lead. Expect pushback and proceed when God has clearly spoken about His direction for your church.
- Be ready to deal with negative and divisive people who persist in their criticism, negativity and antagonism-do this according to Colossians 1:28-29. Proclaim the gospel, warn and teach.
- Know your time frame- a Shepherd Leader may be tempted to stay beyond the time of his effectiveness-be sensitive to God’s leadership and direction if it is time to go.
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[00:00:00] JimBo Stewart: Here we are back at the bootcamp yet again, by the time you’re listening and that’s, we will have thoroughly enjoyed some great food celebrating independence day. and just had that great time with family. We’re recording this a little ahead of time so that we can do that without having to spend, uh, 17 hours that goes into every episode that we record.
To make sure we have this quality, quality material out to you guys. Well, ahead of time.
Bob Bickford: Hey, 4th of July question. So, one, what is your favorite firework? And two, can you shoot them off in Jacksonville or do you have to go somewhere else to shoot them off?
JimBo Stewart: so one, I think probably my favorite is the ones that shower down and the different colors. I like that. Uh, especially when they are LSU purple and gold. Uh, it’s just a beautiful, It’s just a beautiful color combination. Uh, and it works out really well. and so I w I would suggest that, and then as far [00:01:00] as can you shoot them in Jacksonville?
I’m not sure what the law on the books is, but I do know people do it. I mean, to the point that, uh, especially in the part of Jacksonville where I live it’s around this time, we, we start playing the, is that fireworks or gunshots game And, and we got to figure out, you know, you got to listen and you still have to learn how to listen and to be able to differentiate the difference and know whether you to bring the kids inside or not.
Bob Bickford: Yeah. Okay. Yeah, we play that. sometimes we play that game here in, uh, in what’s now it’s illegal. As you would imagine in, if you know anything about my city, we’ve talked about it. Some it’s highly illegal to shoot off fireworks in my city. And a couple of, couple of things. One is, is we w we had a firework show one year Jimbo, where we we’ve gotten some people from the church together to watch it.
all of a sudden we know that it seemed like man, we had never seen a finale occur that quick. [00:02:00] And, uh, what happened is that somebody miss lit the sequence of all of the giant displays of fireworks. And they all went off at once. It was like the shortest firework show in the world and we’re going like, wow, that was something.
And then a year later, same company, they hired the same company. somehow one of the fireworks blocks, I guess, the way it works is you, you glue these things or fix these giant fireworks into a. Some kind of stand or set up or something. And one of them went off and it knocked it over and it started shooting those big fireworks off into the crowd that was watching in, in.
So that was, uh, two years in a row. We have fireworks disasters and then COVID hit. So. No fireworks during COVID, uh, because they canceled the community. So this year they’re, they’re returning the fireworks. I think they’ve hired a new company and they’ve got a giant buffers safety zone in case something like that [00:03:00] happens again.
So we’ll see what happens. But my favorite firework of all time, Jimbo is the BottleRocket the bottle. Do you know what the bottle rocket is? It’s
JimBo Stewart: I used to have a model rocket wars.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, me too, man. Me and the me and the Withrow boys. They live behind me. We have bottle rocket wars in one 4th of July. Um, my dad was a photographer, had a police scanner and he said, you need to get inside because the cops are coming in.
Cause you’re not be supposed to be shooting our fireworks Cedar neighborhood. Right. And so I went outside my backyard to shout at the Withrow boys to get inside. And Justin got hit with the spotlight from the cop and he made my dad come out. And that was not a fun 4th of July for this guy. Right.
JimBo Stewart: so I’ll tell you one fun, fireworks story. We dive into the actual content. I had a church member at redemption that invited my family over to his house for the 4th of July. And here’s how he prefaced it. He said, look, I don’t bowl. I don’t hunt. I don’t golf. I [00:04:00] don’t do drugs. I don’t drink, but I do fireworks and all that stuff. All that money that everybody else would spend on all those hobbies and habits. I spend it all on fireworks. And so I was like, okay, let’s see what happens. So we get to his house and in his little bitty backyard, I mean, small backyard, he has us, his family, some other neighbors is probably like 25, 30 of us kind of crammed into this backyard.
And we’re like, 15 feet from his fireworks set up and he’s shooting off like professional grade, like insane fireworks ashes falling on us from the sky. It was fascinating and terrifying all at the same time.
Bob Bickford: Did you have earplugs or were you just grinning and bearing
JimBo Stewart: Oh, yeah, no, we all had to put in earplugs and, uh, and everything and I mean, [00:05:00] you’re literally getting rained on by debris. And so you’re constantly like wiping debris off of it? You’re making sure that nothing’s catching on fire. Uh, it was interesting to say the least it was,
Bob Bickford: Third.
JimBo Stewart: I declined his invitation the next year.
It was a.
Bob Bickford: Yeah,
JimBo Stewart: It was, it was a good time. I enjoyed it. I’m glad I did it once. It’s one of those things you want to experience one time, but maybe not beyond that.
Bob Bickford: that’s awesome.
JimBo Stewart: All right. Jumping in. So last week’s episode, we talked about, maybe some of the points that visionaries can do to think about the importance of balancing being a visionary and a shepherd and not just one or the other.
And I think one of the things we see people do sometimes is they lean so heavy into whichever side. Is there more natural strength that they can. Lead to the neglect of the other side. And so we wanted to do a couple of episodes, emphasizing the importance. Of finding a balance there. So last week’s episode, if you haven’t listened to, it was on visionary leadership.
And if you’re more of a [00:06:00] visionary than you are a shepherd, we had some points of kind of counsel advice for you from us in our experience, as both of us are more visionary than shepherd. On ways to think about not being so impulsive, not just doing big ideas, without execution, things like that. And so I’d encourage you to go back and listen to that episode.
But what we have also seen and encountered a lot is people who are more shepherd than they are visionary, which is wonderful. and. it’s a great thing, but just like being more visionary than you are shepherd, there are things you need to think about and things that will help you make sure you stay balanced as a visionary shepherd in that.
And so one of the things that I think could be important, Bob, for people who lean more towards shepherd than they do visionary is, is something. They could be slower to make decisions and more hesitant to kind of lead things forward. And so we told visionaries, Hey, you’re going to have to lead at a pace that [00:07:00] slower than you want.
And if you’re a high visionary, and you’re not leading at a pace of slower than you want, you’re probably moving too fast. Uh, as a matter of fact, I would just say, if you’re a visionary, more than Shepard, you probably are just flat out are leading too fast. but shepherd shepherd sometimes can have the opposite problem.
At least that’s what I’ve observed.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I think so shepherd wants to be able to manage the flock and keep people together. And one of the things that most people don’t like is change, right? So people have a lot of questions about change. And so a shepherd wants to make sure that everybody’s on the same page. So though they might have an idea, they’ll test it out a little bit, then they’ll think about it and test it out again.
And yeah. They think, man, I probably need to run this by everybody and we need to have everybody on board before we move. And that’s sort of a shepherd mentality, right? We don’t want to leave anybody behind. So, I think you’re right there. They, they can view the Ford progress of the church through the lens of, are we going to have everybody [00:08:00] be on board with this?
And for that reason, I think shepherd might wait. To launch an initiative or here’s another thing I think visionaries typically, and this kind of goes back to a podcast that we did about holy discontent, visionaries really kind of tap into holy discontent. They see something mentioned, be this way, or here’s an opportunity.
We got to take care of it. Shepherds don’t view the world that way they view the world. Hey man, is everybody okay? Everybody with us? Are we taking care of everybody’s everybody’s maturing is everybody have what they need. Uh, we didn’t, you know, et cetera. And so I think it’s the different difference in orientation.
So sometimes shepherds you’ve to they’ll they’ll realize there’s a problem in the, in the church too late, right. Because the body doesn’t give the feedback loop quickly enough to see that, oh my gosh, here’s a, here’s an issue. And so that’s a problem.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah, where as we talked last week, about how a visionary. Well, he thinks is the most brilliant idea in the world in the middle of a sermon and pitch that out to everybody. A shepherd may [00:09:00] think here’s where we need to go. And so I’m going to preach a six month sermon series to, to help us think through. Considering a decision like this. and so somewhere between announcing it, when it comes to your mind in the middle of the sermon and a six month sermon series, somewhere in between, there is probably where we’re wanting to land on that kind of timing. All right. So I would think one of the other things is, We tell visionaries, you need to bring things to the group and make sure that everyone in the group of your leaders is really helping you. And you’re not making decisions in isolation. like you alluded to a few minutes. You go shepherds will sometimes wait.
Not until there is a consensus, but a unanimous. decision. And as they want everybody to be 100% everybody on board with the direction. And so sometimes as a shepherd, you, when you hear clearly from the Lord, this is what needs to be done, or it’s just clear in scripture what you need [00:10:00] to be doing.
Sometimes as a shepherd, you’re just going to need to step in and pull the trigger quicker than you want to. If you’re a visionary, you may not have even listened to last episode. And you just heard what I said, and all you heard was just pull the trigger. and so. Visionary pull the trigger, slower shepherd, pull the trigger faster, thinking through on that.
Whereas visionaries struggle with execution at times. sometimes what we’ll see shepherds do is just grind, man, and they just grind and grind and they just stay. At the same kind of thing, for forever. So what advice would you have Bob for the shepherd leader who’s been grinding and he’s, and he’s just not seeing a momentum in the congregation.
Bob Bickford: Yeah, I think I would encourage them to, take some time with, you know, the scriptures and maybe get away on a personal retreat and just ask the Lord to speak to them, speak to them about the, the condition of the flock. The Lord wants the church to go et cetera, right? Because so [00:11:00] much time we can be so many times we can be a flock focused and not our heavenly father focused.
And so I think it’s an audience issue, right? If, if my first thought goes to how will our people respond rather than the, what does God want? I think that that can be problematic. And so a shepherd by gifting and by personality is always going to be flock folk. And pro first. and I think that to reverse that you probably got to get away from the flock in order to focus on what your father wants for you and for the church and where he’s being, where he we’ll be leading.
JimBo Stewart: Yeah. So I would say if you’re a visionary, then you ask the Lord for patience and wisdom, and to make sure you’re hearing from him before you step forward. If you are a shepherd, I would say you ask them. For courage and clarity. because when we talk about vision, all we’re really talking about is clarity.
and I think sometimes when we talk about vision, it can sound so businessy that our, our [00:12:00] shepherd or shepherding side of, of our group maybe even has like a foreign tissue rejection feel to the word vision. And they feel like I’m not leading with vision. I’m just leading.
with the Bible, which we would say, man, amen.
Amen. Lead with the Bible. We are not asking you to do anything outside of what the Bible calls us to do. and if you don’t want to use the phrase, vision or visionary, that’s fine. Don’t use those phrases. I don’t really care. But what we do need to know is clarity about where God is calling us to go.
And, and so if you are a shepherd minded leader, What I would encourage you to do is just ask the Lord to give you that clarity, from his word, and then to give you the courage, to take those steps, to make sure that the things are moving forward, where God is calling you to go as a congregate.
Bob Bickford: I think it’s important. This, this one thought came to my mind as we’re talking about vision. I think we need to make this, understand that this statement. Cause I don’t know if we [00:13:00] specifically made it in the last podcast, but vision is not about my vision for the church. It’s about what God wants for the church.
And what God wants for the church has specifically been stated in the scriptures that speak about the mission of God in proclaiming the gospel and making disciples who make disciples and being a community of believers who by their lives declaring and demonstrating the gospel. Bring glory to God and work for the good of their community.
Right? So I want to say that’s like the, that’s the, that’s the framework of the vision, right? How you live that out as a church is usually contextual to your location. The people whom God has called to be a part of your local body and the resources you have and the needs of the community. Right? So those things are so intersect.
So I just felt like it was. Maybe going back and just clarifying that as we talk about [00:14:00] vision. And so, shepherding people towards that involves reminding people of God’s purpose for the church, but also not stopping there because shepherds can stop there. And this is what God wants for us. He wants us to witness.
Yeah. We all agree. Right. Or he wants us to be, to be engaged in mercy ministry. Yeah. We all agree. All right, well, let’s go do that. Right. Well, that’s not going to help that to take place. And so shepherd has to really have a vision lean into the vision side of things to send me in how, how are we going to live that out in our context with our people, with our resources, with our time, with our building, et cetera.
And so I, I think we would, uh, shepherds. If you’re high on the shepherding, you need to make sure you’re, you’ve got a plan to specifically live that out with your people and you involve your people in helping you think about how to live that out.
JimBo Stewart: I think about it like this, that a visionary brings kind of energy and direction and clarity to a congregation, but a Shepard serves by bringing a [00:15:00] calm. In the midst
storm. and so, so we’re not, so here’s clearly, if you are a shepherd type leader, we’re not telling you that you’re wrong. And if you’re a visionary type leader, we’re not telling you that you’re wrong.
God has wired you to be who you are, but, but do not use your fleshly wiring as an excuse to. Fulfill the calling that God has. And we’re convinced that God’s called you as a replant or revitalized pastor to be a visionary shepherd together. And which means at some point you have to lead outside of your comfort zone, whatever that is.
And so as a shepherd, bring that calmness to the storm, but bring some clarity and courage as well to lead some direction for the congregation. And with that, it means that not everybody’s going to like what, what you do when, when you lead with any level of vision. Or direction, a change of any kind. there will always be people who are against that change.
And, while visionaries may lead a wake of casualties [00:16:00] behind them because they put progress over people, shepherds may, uh, resist pushing the gas on what they’ve heard clearly from the Lord to do, because not everybody’s on it. And they don’t want to lose sheep and they don’t want to lose people and they don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings.
So, Bob, how does a shepherd type leader that’s stronger and shepherd and visionary know when to press the gas. And what advice would you have for them that? Right.
Bob Bickford: yeah. When I think one of the key factors is, you had mentioned with. There’s somebody in the body who, or a group of people in the body who are always pulling the brake, the emergency brake or complaining or resisting change and that sort of thing. And so as a shepherd, one of the things that I think is important is you have to realize what is the impact to the flock, right?
The health of the flock and the wellbeing of the flock as we pursue God’s mission. And so, as you were kind of introducing this part of it, it reminded me of the church or reminds me of a [00:17:00] church I’m consulting right now, in the church, there’s an individual, who’s been part of the church for a long time.
And he typically votes no on everything, right? Just about no. And he’s kinda Mr. No. And, many of the churches that I have consulted, there’s always one or two of those folks who just feel like it. Spiritual gift to vote no, on an issue. And what happens is they really have an impact on the body and the body just kind of gets used to them.
Right? And so the, the metaphors that we have for the church and the flock and the, the people of God, some of the metaphors that we have with illustrations of, you know, you need to watch out for wolves who come in and attack the sheep. Right. And then you also need to know the difference between the sheep and the goats.
Here’s, here’s what I’m gonna, I’m going to go out on Olympia. If you’ve got somebody who is divisive and who constantly votes. No, just about no. And just to, just to be the contrarian in the room, I’m just going to go out on a limb here and say, you might have a goat in the sheet then. [00:18:00] Right. You might have a Wolf in the sheet pen.
Right. And as the shepherd, you’re going to have to deal with them. And so probably one of the first things you’re going to have to do as a shepherd. Is examine the flock and walk through the flock in real life. Am I not pursuing what God has for us because somebody’s making noise about it. And I don’t know, I have the courage to deal with them in a way that scripture calls me to deal with them.
Right. So I go back to Colossians 1 28, 29, him, we proclaim, it’s all about the gospel. And then it says warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, right? So there’s two functions there, warning and two. We do the latter. We neglect the former and I think sometimes a shepherd fails to warn the flock against the influence of somebody who is perhaps not truly regenerate or divisive or resisting, you know, forward movement.
And so I think one of the first things the shepherd has to do is have the courage to say, are those in our flock who are continually against everything causing me? Press the [00:19:00] gas, so to speak and move forward. And if so, why am I tolerating that? Why am I dealing with it? Why am I making excuses for it? And typically what I find is, is there’s going to be a clash point ahead at some time that develops over time.
And then in that, after that big conflict or that clash happens, If, if the pastor the shepherd and the shepherds deal effectively with that person, who’s been resisting change and causing trouble in the body. Once they deal with that person, that person leaves all the rest of the folks go, whew, man, it’s about time.
Somebody did something, something about right. So, so I think my response, I see people who had pastors who just tolerate that kind of stuff and they’re burdened by it. And maybe they’re not, maybe they’re conflict averse. And maybe that’s the reason why they’re just not moving forward in and they prioritize, peace before progress.
Not just people before progress, but they prioritize piece before progress and you cannot have progress without people and you cannot have [00:20:00] progress and maintain peace. Right? I think you’re, you’re, you’re gonna upset someone.
JimBo Stewart: That’s a good way to put that as you were talking about, wolves and sheep, and that I was thinking, as we’ve talked about this, I w would you say this is true? if a visionary and a shepherd are gonna make a mistake in identifying a Wolf or a sheep, which we, we have to do that, right. We have to be able to identify who are wolves, who work sheep, when it comes to, especially if they’re going to influence the direction of the church in any way, if we’re going to air, the visionary is usually going to err on assuming that wounded sheep are wolves. When maybe they’re just wounded sheep and the shepherd is going to assume that wolves are wounded sheep and they’re going to try to, so visionaries may be too fast to kick out a wounded sheep thinking that they’re a Wolf sometimes when that just needs to be really, they’re just a wounded sheep that needs to be shepherded.
Whereas a shepherd may be too quick. Two or too slow and they may, they may just assume that it’s a wounded sheep and they try to shepherd them and shepherd them and shepherd [00:21:00] them. When in reality, it’s a Wolf that keeps biting. And so just be mindful of that whichever side of that you fall on to make sure you’re identifying that.
Well, uh, the last thing I would point out, Bob is. Replanting and revitalization is a five to seven year process is what we say. And I would almost say that that five to seven years is the window. If you’re really high as a visionary, that’s a fast five to seven sounds long, but it’s fast. as a shepherd, it might be more like a seven to 12 year type thing or seven to 15 even, or something like that.
Uh, and so one note. No, that it’s probably progress may be slower under, under heavier shepherd leadership than visionary. And that’s not even a negative thing. I’m not saying that as a bad thing, that slower, very well may mean a healthier growth process. and so know that if you’re a Shepard type leader, more than visionary, don’t beat yourself up.
if it’s going slower than you see some hyper [00:22:00] visionary doing it, what you may be doing may actually be healthier. but the other thing I would say. On the flip side. if I’m gonna coach a visionary leader and they’re trying to leave, I might, I might pause them and say, Hey, let’s just make sure this is the Lord leading and not just you getting bored.
But I think I’ve seen shepherd leaders that out of like this sense of loyalty to the sheep stick around maybe longer than they really needed to stick around and, and stay longer than maybe the Lord desired for them to stay there. I don’t know. I might be wrong about that. What are your.
Bob Bickford: I don’t think so. I think you’re, you’re right about that. And that’s, um, that’s one of the hardest things to determine is how, you know, one is God calling me to stay and stick this out, or as God calling me to leave. Right. And I agree with you that the visionary among us. They tend to move around. They’re a little more apple style like, and gifting.
They want to go start something and get it heading the right direction and then go do it again. Right. the shepherds among us, you know, one, one sense of community, one, a sense of togetherness. One, a sense [00:23:00] of peace, want a sense of, you know, love and all those things in the body. And, and so sometimes I think it’s easy for a shepherd just to stay for a long time and feel obligate.
to that particular location and call. And I think the shepherd can forget that it’s not his people and his church. It, those are God’s people and it’s God’s church. And so, they don’t, the church will not fold and the church will not crash. If the shepherd God moves that particular under shepherd to another location or moves them to another ministry.
And I think the shepherd has a harder time thinking. and coming to grips with that because out of a love for the people. And so it’s, it’s a perspective issue. So I would guess, you know, I think a shepherd would do himself well by asking the questions. have I, have I arrived the point where I, have led where I can lead this church and where it needs to go is beyond my capacity.
Have I faithfully discharged all the things that God has called me to do [00:24:00] here with this group of people and is God, given me permission to lead them in his care and entrust them to his care and how I developed other leaders who can care for them, you know, for my absence, is there is there a move of God in my life to just maintain or to move forward?
Right? So those are some questions maybe that a shepherd needs to wrestle with Mike on the other side of it, you set a vision. Yeah. Yep. Am I just wanting to leave? Because I want to I’m bored. I want to do something else or I’m, just a little dissatisfied at the pace of progress, all those sorts of things.
So I think whatever position you come from, what’s your primary lens. You’re going to have to ask questions to help you evaluate your longevity.
JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. I hope you guys have enjoyed these last two episodes. We’ve talked about. Visionary shepherd leadership. And the, the main thing we’re saying is whichever side of that, you fall more naturally to, don’t neglect. The other side, have self-awareness have restraint, how self-control and understand that you’re going to have to lead outside of your comfort zone and at a different pace than you desire slower.
If you’re a [00:25:00] visionary than you desire faster, if you’re a Shepard than you desire. But also know, and be comforted in that God has wired you the way he’s wired you. and he didn’t. If, if you’re more of a visionary and you really struggle with shepherd, God didn’t make a mistake in you. And it’s an area for you to grow in.
If you’re more of a shepherd and less of a visionary, God didn’t make a mistake in you. And it’s just an area for you to grow in and submit to the Lord as he uses you as your under shepherd. So thank you guys for certain faces laid out on the front lines. Here’s the bootcamp. We love you. And we love being able to walk this with you.
That’s a reach out to us. If we can ever be of help to you in any way.