Shepherds versus Cowboys
By David Cox v1 © 2012
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1Peter 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 1Pet 5:3 Neither as being lords over [God’s] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
Have you ever wondered why God used the illustration of a shepherd, rather than that of a cowboy? The reason lies in their differences. Their way of dealing with the animals is distinct. They reflect character differences that God wants to teach us. Lordship is an issue in leadership, and shepherds are humble examples rather than high exalted lords (like cowboys sitting high on tall horses). Shepherds are examples that cause a following. Cowboys push, prode, hurt, and only through that get anything done.
The Difference is in the Leadership Style
The great difference between the two lies in the different leadership styles, such as their motives and forms of working. Behind everything is this relationship between man and his animals, the style of thinking and working with his charge.
The Motive: Love of God, or Love of One’s Self
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. The biblical motive in ministering to the fold of God is because one has a profound love of God. There are many ministers that are easy and gentle when beginning the ministry, when everything is going well. But later, the problems with sheep come, and there the abandon the real ministry to God’s flock. Their focus changes from serving God because they love God, and they want thankfulness and cooperation from the flock.
In Ezekiel 34:2-5, we see the divine rebuke against these evil shepherds of Israel, …
Ezek 34:2… Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 … neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered.
The evil motive is condemned, that of self gratification in place of being a real benefit to the flock of God. The evil minister seeks prizes for himself, and he doesn’t do his work of taking care of the flock of God, but uses hardship and violence, causing the flock to scatter (not be integral to the group anymore).
Isa 56:11 Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter.
Cowboys normally do little with the cows. They let them wander in countryside until spring, and when they gather them up, they brand them (put their mark on them against their will), and they sell them to make money off of them. The “mark” of these evil ministers is that they are looking out for number one before sacrificing themselves for their charge. The “cowboy” always comes out in a minister when his hopes and priorities which are more personal and about him, that about the sheep or the work of the Lord. Ellos decide where the church is going instead of following the Bible’s guidelines of evangelism and spiritual maturity (sheep eat, grow, and reproduce).
How to move and motive animales
A cowboy does not have a love relationship with his animales as a shepherd does, but rather cows scatter by themselves. The cowboy has to gather them, because naturally speaking, cows don’t follow cowboys like sheep do shepherds. Moreover, cows just don’t get along very well among themselves eithers. So the “cowpoke” uses whips and “pokers” to get them to more. Cruelty (fear and pain) is what marks a cowboy, as well as always pushing from behind instead of leading in front (like an example of self doing first). The shepherd goes before by personally living the Christian life, and others follow.
Ezek 34:4 …but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.
God rebuked the evil pastors of Israel for treating the flock of God with violence and hardness. What motives sheep under a cowboy pastor is fear and violence (they say and do things without thinking of the damage it does to the sheep). Discipline is one thing, but public shaming to control is another. Fear (“respect and honor” is how the cowboy pastor will refer to it) is the main instrument. People act (giving money, work, time, etc.) because they don’t want their cowboy pastor to get mad with them. On the other hand, a good pastor motivates via a people love for their pastor, and this love is based on seeing Christ in him, and wanting Christ in their own lives. There is a draw to be close to the pastor which motivates them to work and change internally.
Jer 23:4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD.
The good pastor is a minister that uses his own life as an example to comply with God’s will as well as being a principal example for the sheep. “Dismayed” means to lack, or need things, to not be complete, to lack things in your spiritual life.
How to Relate to Sheep
Cowboy – Indifference
John 10:13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
The cowboy is a protector of the cows in the sense that he protects them from bears, lions, wolves, etc. When a predator comes the cows run out (anywhere but there) but they don’t see their leader as a source of protection and safety. They want to be free of danger, from the rest, from the cowboy. Cows are solitary animals, which don’t think as a unit (like a flock of sheep), nor do they work as a team. Sheep, on the other hand, are community beings, and their welfare depends on staying in the group, and their relationship with their shepherd. When frightened, they flee, regroup, and seek the direction of their shepherd. The unity among themselves and with the shepherd is what marks their character.
Shepherd – Love
John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
The good shepherd is somebody so dedicated to his flock that he will interpose his own safety, welfare, and even put down his own life for his sheep.
1John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
In a correct relationship between a good pastor and his flock, there is love, such that the sheep don’t fear him, but rather love him, follow him, and appreciate his ministry to them.
The Difference is also in the Nature of the Animals.
The differences don’t stop at the personality of the minister, but also extend into the nature of the animals. A cow is a brute animal, that has little intelligence. He moves when pain forces him to move, and the cowboy understands his animal and aflicks pain accordingly, because that is the only thing a cow understands.
A sheep does not seek to hurt others, and he moves and acts on the basis of love. As a Christian, we follow God because we love him because he died for us. We equally love our leaders because they show us a living example (in themselves) of the image of God. 1John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. True Christians are an example of Christ.
Sheep are loyal to their Pastor
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
Sheep know their good pastor, and they follow him from a love motive. Everything boils down to being a good pastor is in loving and serving the sheep, not the sheep serving the Pastor. In John 21:15 Jesus declared the principle of our love for Jesus as being seen and proven by our ministering to God’s flock, “feeding them.”
1Thess 5:12 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; 13 And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. [And] be at peace among yourselves. God has commanded us to recognize and have “esteem and love” for our pastors and leaders.
Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation.
A Christian should have an intimate relationship with his spiritual leaders. If he doesn’t have a good testimony, they should find another church with exemplary leaders (that live Christ in their personal life). In general a Christian should be loyal to his church and pastor, and support the ministry of that church and minister.
Col 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
“Angel” means “messenger”, and each pastor is God’s messenger to that group, but God prohibits “messenger worship”, or lowering (humbling) our will before these divine messengers (to their person). This verse is very difficult to understand, but the idea is that God prohibits the exaltation of God’s messengers over normal brethren. With cowboy pastors in the pulpit, it is very common that they act as primadonas or “stars” wanting worship and praise showered on them always. Paul says in Col 2:18, “vainly puff(ing themselves) up in their fleshly mind”. The person of the messenger (his exaltation, his will, his comfort) become the main goal of things instead of God’s work.
Jer 23:1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. 2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.
More Tracts from the Church Category
- Ch09 Our One another Relationship
- Ch11 True Praise
- ch13 Why we are Independent
- ch14 Finding a good church
- ch15 Congregating because we Love
- ch16 Example of the man of God
- ch17 Why do I Attend Church?
- ch18 Supporting your Pastor
- ch19 Marks of a False Prophet
- ch20 Why we call ourselves “Baptists”
- ch21 Will a man rob God? tithes
- ch22 Pastorless Flocks
- ch23 Paying the Pastor
- ch24 The power of an example
- ch26 Don’t touch the anointed of God
- ch27 Tithe Is it biblical to tithe?
- ch28 Difference between sheep and goats?
- ch30 man of God contentious
- ch31 3Bs of success: buildings, bodies, and bucks
- ch32 How to pray for missionaries
- ch38 Recognizing a good pastor
- ch39 What should we preach? sermon topics
- ch41 The marks of a bad minister
- ch42 Destitution of Pastor
- ch43 Time to leave your church?
- ch44 Why we don’t charge for Ministering
- ch45 Grading a Bible Teacher
- ch47 The Christian and His Money
- ch49 The Biblical Pastor: The Biblical Duty
- ch50 The Church is Built upon the Foundation of Evangelism
- ch51 Cowboys versus Shepherds
- ch55 Who runs the Local Church?
- ch64 The Church is not a Circus
Author Pastor David Cox
|Date:||January 26, 2016|
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