As a small group leader, your main role is to be a shepherd, yet it is essential for you to understand that you are not the real shepherd, the chief shepherd. That role belongs exclusively to Jesus.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep,” and my sheep know me. . . . I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:14-16, my emphasis).Jesus is the head shepherd of the group. Yet God designed his church as a partnership with human beings. You are called to represent him, carry out his plans, fulfill his commission, and perform the ministry he gives you to do. He is the king; you are his ambassador. He is the owner of the group; you are his steward. He is the chief shepherd; you are his “subordinate shepherd.”
Jesus’ Role as the Chief Shepherd
Your Role as a Subordinate Shepherd
· Knows his sheep and makes it possible for the sheep to know him
· Lays down his life for the sheep
· Calls the sheep by name
· Seeks after the lost sheep and draws them to himself
· Provides eternal life and abundant life
· Follow the Chief Shepherd
· Model following the Chief Shepherd
· Help the sheep under your care to hear and respond to the Chief Shepherd’s voice
· Guide the sheep under your care to follow the Good Shepherd and reach out to sheep without a shepherd
· Encourage the sheep to live the abundant life
Your main role as a small group leader is to be a shepherd. But not the shepherd. As you shepherd the group he has put under your care, your main responsibility is to follow your Chief Shepherd very closely, so that you can clearly hear his voice and then respond as the shepherd he has called you to be.
"And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away" (1 Peter 5:4).
MORE HELP ON BEING A SHEPHERDThe Psalm of the No-Good Shepherd
Portions of this post adapted from my book, I'm a Leader ... Now What? How to Guide an Effective Small Group (Standard Publishing, 2007), chapter 4.