When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Then he began to teach them many things. – Mark 6:34
Who is called to be a shepherd? Who is called to be a dog?
When I was seven-years old, my mother had legally kidnapped me and my baby sister from our dad’s home, and taken us to Missouri. My mother had a white German Shepherd named, Jake (which was coincidentally my older brothers name that lived with my dad).
Jake was a strange dog. Unless my mother was outside with us, we couldn’t leave the gate or even go to school in the morning because this massive white dog would completely block the gate. If we tried to go around him to leave the gate, he would grab onto our school bags or our clothing, and he would not let us leave our boundaries.
I recently came to the realization that, although my dad is the one called to be the shepherd (i.e. the pastor), I don’t believe that my calling is for ministry. I don’t know how to speak to people like a pastor. Although I am very well mannered, I cannot sell salvation like a well-suited salesman (so to speak). I’d rather see people surrender to God and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
But my calling is to be the Collie that the shepherds depend on. In modern times, farmers use mainly fences to keep their sheep in a predetermined boundary, but 400 years ago in Scotland, that wasn’t the case. If some of your sheep were to try to leave the boundaries or if your sheep were in danger, the dogs would keep the sheep safe and bring the strays back to the rest of the herd.
My dad is a shepherd today, but as a pastor in a new town, he doesn’t have a congregation or a flock to call his own. He moved to the town I reside in to be near me.
He left behind a great position to take a job as a maintenance man. He is extremely overqualified for his position. I am not only his first born, biological son, but one of twenty one kids that call him dad. Growing up, there were approximately eight of us kids in the house, but so many more began to call him dad because of his ministry and his ever outstretched hand to pick someone up.
I am an army veteran with a past criminal record so the company I’ve chosen to keep in the past hasn’t always been ideal, and they weren’t the kind you wanted to invite over for dinner! But it dawned on me recently that I’m the Collie.
If I’m little more than a dog to God, I will happily take that role. I try to lead someone to my dad all the time that may need his help. I may not have the calling to be a shepherd, but God needs all kinds to spread His word. Some people need a shepherd. Currently, I am trying to set dad up as a volunteer chaplain at the county jail. At one time, I was the thief and resided in that same jail. We each play different roles.
One person might be called to lead, another could be called to build, while yet another is called to balance the accounts. If every man has a job building houses, there wouldn’t be any man to make the tools to supply the builder or keep their trucks running. People work in sync with other people everyday. When a fortune 500 investment banker goes to a dinner meeting with a prospective client he depends on another persons’ skills to help him from the cooks and the busboys to the bankers and stockholders. We all need each other to work together and Christianity is no different.
We need Shepherds to speak.
We need dogs to go to the streets to pick those up who really need Jesus but are too proud to see it, and lead them back to the Shepherd.
My name is Steven McReynolds, Jr. I am the son of Pastor Steven, the Editor of the men’s column. I am a man that has fallen from the Lord like so many of have done. But thanks to His grace and forgiveness, I now daily seek to get back with Him.