A REVIEW & INTROSPECTION: They Smell Like Sheep


THEY SMELL LIKE SHEEP:
Spiritual Leadership For The 21st Century

by Dr. Lynn Anderson
Howard Publishing; 1997
ISBN: 1-878990-73-X

With 235 pages, Lynn Anderson admonishes the more pastoral members of the Church (as well as the more sheepish), "In the body of Christ, we all play the roll of shepherd to someone." [p.4] Lynn begins to identify the hireling trouble [p.31], decries our propensity to bog-down elders in the work of deacons [p.97,180,181], delivers an insightful brief for courage and self-control [p.160-167], includes a challenging list of building functions for church elders [p.201-202], provides the reader with eye-openers to the church office myth [p.188-189], defines difference between shepherding and administration [p.178], and with confessions that "The Bible doesn't charge shepherds with the responsibility of 'having meetings'" [p.175], and, "He [Jesus Christ] calls the signals and sets the pace." [p.183].   



    SPECIFIC PROBLEMS:

ƒ Lynn opens his introduction to They Smell Like Sheep with a list of excuses for how & why "some leaders throw in the towel." [p.3] Will we ever find a just rationale to personally "quit" the call of God?

ONE SHEPHERD

ƒ Whose voice will be heard by the sheep of His pasture? The voice of Jesus Christ alone. They know no other, because they are His. Each faithful under-shepherd must do and speak with the voice of Christ, if he is to be known by the Lord's own sheep. In Section One: Shepherds, Anderson starts out with "Jesus as Shepherd", [p.15] only to rhetorically yield to a flocks & shepherds practice. Among spiritual men, a shepherd is a man who tends the flock of God, not "someone who has a flock!" [p.22]

MENTORSHIP or DISCIPLESHIP?

ƒ Although the Scriptures present trust as a thing granted by one to another (as in stewardship), and which may be further extended or withdrawn over time ("built over time"), Lynn has included in his book a "trust is earned" clause for shepherds & sheep. [p.25] With contrast, love requires that we begin with [grant] trust, while allowing grace & wisdom to prevail over so many would-be attempts to earn favor with God or men. Western folks like to earn what they receive, while Christians come to understand how they will not earn what is (to be) freely given.

ƒ In Chapter 3, Dr. Anderson fails to show that fast-lane cyberworld shepherding can be acceptable or accomplished in the eyes of God. The inspiring anecdotes supplied in Lynn's recounts cannot serve to define the life of a faithful shepherd.

ƒ Lynn writes, "Shepherds feed, protect, and care for the sheep" [p.49]. Yet, Who feeds the sheep? It is God who feeds and protects the sheep of His pasture. (As also affirmed by Anderson, p.25-26)

ƒ Relationship-based mentoring develops a quicksand in what may be described as hero focus. Mentoring is not prescribed by the Word of God. Rather than mentoring per se, we are instructed by Christ to "make disciples" for Him. [Matt.28:19] In discipleship, relationship serves as an assist. With mentorship, relationship most often operates as primary. Given the common volatility of human relationships, I am glad that our Lord chose for us discipleship over simple mentoring. Discipleship attains the goals of mentoring (and more), without mentorship's limitations or burdens. Dr. Anderson (and others) may call it "mentoring", while Jesus Christ calls for "disciples".

WHO WAS EQUIPPED?

ƒ Lynn's tale of "disfellowshipped Jerod" [p.69-70] let slip aide memoire against our willingness to approach peacemaking with a bloody sacrifice of truth-telling. George's letter [p.77], though rough-edged, speaks to a profound negligence we have won for ourselves. When love remains the "greatest of these" among us, truth will be spoken and our promises kept. Love builds on those things it requires, even for infrastructure. [p.80] Godly love makes for healthy church [p.81-82], reliable assimilation [p.80], and a spiritual (rather than organic) support & accord of the whole Body [p.84].

THE RELATIONSHIP DISPLACEMENT

ƒ Elucidating (through contemporary-cultural lens) Jesus' use of relationships, Dr. Anderson may have left some readers with a sense of relationship as shadowing or tandem to Christian faith. (Once again with attending frustration, cart leads horse?) More correctly, bi-lateral godly relationships (as discipleship concomitant) develop as an outcome in our personal (and corporate) devotion & service to God.

ƒ Lynn Anderson writes, "…the relationships through which Jesus' equipping ministry flowed were natural human relationships." Yet, we must find His relationships to be (have been) quite extraordinary, and well beyond "natural human". In conducting relationship, His choices reflect the will of God (ref: the transfiguration), rather than emerging from selections governed in human preference or comfort. "Not even Jesus was capable…"?!? [p.93] Overall, spiritual relationships cannot be correctly understood as approximating the natural forms.

ƒ Dr. Bessire's story begs the enduring need for the "sending out"; to fully participate in the work of Christian mission. Jesus didn't even hold 120 in their place, but rather sent them into the fields of souls. [Acts 1&2]

ƒ Anderson further writes, "Obviously, most church leaders -- who are busy, professional people with families -- cannot be expected to duplicate Jesus' pace." Obviously, if I cannot (or, will not) keep pace with Jesus, where does that leave me? Obviously, not with Jesus. If your business-professional-family life remains as dominant in you, are you then also God's full-time shepherd? How may this be done? Do we imagine the 12 disciples as largely occupied with their own careers & families after they had been with Jesus?

WHO IS AN ELDER/PASTOR?

ƒ Lynn writes, "Paul would likely be shocked to see his material used as a checklist." [p.131], while suggesting a switch from qualifications to qualities for the acknowledgement/appointment of elders (and deacons?) in reference to instructions from Paul [Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9]. An interesting distinction, which may well be applied… with some qualifications:

Qualities & Qualifications
Above reproach
Temperate
Prudent
Respectable
Hospitable
Not pugnacious
Gentle/Not Violent
Uncontentious
Dignity
Sincere/Not double-tongued
Not fond of sordid gain
Not self-willed/overbearing
Not quick-tempered
Loving what is good
Sensible
Just/Upright
Devout/Holy
Self-Controlled/Disciplined
Holding fast to the faithful word
Having children that believe
Children not wild or rebellious
Able to teach
Able to exhort & refute
(Wife worthy of respect)
(Wife not prone to gossip)
(Wife temperate)
(Wife faithful)
Not a new convert
Husband of but one wife
Not addicted to wine
Free from the love of money
Manages his household well
Keeping his children under control
Good reputation with those outside
Faith with a clear conscience
Able to teach
Able to exhort & refute

The Apostle Paul includes items of up-or-down fact (i.e., not a new convert, not addicted, one wife…), and many more things which may primarily examine character. Little is to be achieved in our making of this difference, as Paul would more likely be "shocked" today to hear that his God-breathed instructions will be received but with reservations.

ƒ Following Lynn's qualities notes, a series of presumptions are presented to us [p.147-150], including the successful family presumption [that quality child-parent relationships may proxy for "having children that believe"]; the little children presumption [that Paul could not be making reference to young children at home]; the grown children presumption [that grown children may not be so kept "under control"]; the exclusion presumption [that four well-behaved children with just one renegade should not be denied]; and, etc.

ƒ Dr. Anderson further writes, "When it comes to selecting elders, if you ask me to choose between leadership and compassion, I'll take compassion every time." [p.150] Yet, genuine leadership is compassion demonstrated. These things need not be sequestered as exclusive from one another.

VISIONS OF MEN

ƒ Lynn Anderson also writes, "In fact, some churches may even need a spectrum of different kinds of shepherds within one church. Then, in a pluralistic church, some of the elders may relate well to wealthy people, others to blue-collar people, while others may effectively shepherd professionals…" [p.172] Yet, for church to be of one accord, there can live no pluralism. While the members of His Body are different, and the gifts He gives diverse, it is the Word and Spirit of Christ who brings all into a divine unity estranged from the old plurality.

ƒ Under heading of Welcoming Leadership, Anderson writes, "Today's enlightened and empowered people will not be attracted to a church where they cannot own and determine some of the mission. This is, after all, compatible with the biblical concept of the 'priesthood of believers'". [p.173] Ownership and personal control compatible with the Christian priesthood of believers? Lynn continues, "…many are looking for life resources -- for coping tools in the midst of life stress, for meaning and purpose, for hope and the feeling that things can get better, for authentic circles of relationships." From such a mixed set, what of these may the Church offer authentic to Christ?

  NO  God's YES  Ref:
ownershipstewardshipLuke 12:42; Titus 1:7
personal controlsubmission to Christ & one anotherEphesians 5:21-24
copingovercoming, conqueringRomans 8:37; 12:21
 -meaning & purposeRomans 8:28;
Ephesians 1
 -hopeI Peter 1:13
circles of relationshipsone family relationship circleJohn 15:15
I John 1:3-7

We ought to give people what they need (according to Christ), rather than furnishing things they believe themselves to be looking for. The wisdom & discernment to apply what is needful (over/beyond what is desired) remains a vital dynamic to spiritual leadership, and congruent with Jesus style. Possibly, we may see more extended mention of these in the next Sheep edition.(?)

ƒ In a section titled Authority, Lynn presents an authority of moral suasion. [p.200] Yet, is there such a biblical authority? Might we suggest that our brother is describing something akin to the authority of Christ in us, and as it may impact others.(?)

ƒ Bravely, Lynn Anderson approaches the dreaded confrontation challenge in a section titled, When a Shepherd Gets off the Path. Yet, by inserting assumption ("by threes and fours") and limitation (that a public discipline information be brought only before the elders), the biblical steps and directives associated would thereby be undermined.