I have loved Jesus ever since I can remember. He was, and will forever be the greatest gift in my life. He is the hope of humanity, and my very source of joy, strength and purpose. At around 18, I felt a call to ministry and started serving in my local Church in Cairns. Shortly after I became the Senior Pastors P.A and began working full time at Church. I genuinely loved it. Admin was a strong suit and I made a pretty good cup of tea! At 20, I became a Youth Pastor on the Gold Coast (and married the man I said I never would). He just happened to be the Youth Pastor too! What can I say, God set us up, and it's been fireworks and friction ever since. 11 years later and we are still loving Jesus and serving His house together. The journey has been wild! In a rollercoaster steal your breathe (but leave you a little bruised and battered) kind of way. It's been full of ups and downs, trials and triumphs, disappointments and successes. He has remained faithful through it all.

I hope that who I am today is different to the woman I was when I first started, and I hope that tomorrow I am different again.
Because growth never stops. We never arrive, no matter how long we've been in ministry. A good friend, Joshua Bradford recently preached a brilliant sermon called "10 Lessons on how to be a great Shepherd." It wrecked me, and reminded me that:

Being a Pastor has little to do with title and position, and everything to do with service and sacrifice. It's really less about you, and more about the people you lead. 

When all is said and done we are stewards over Gods greatest resource: people.  We don't own them, use them or take advantage of them.

Great pastors genuinely love and serve people. 
Great pastors ask God to change them, before anyone else.
Great pastors build God's kingdom, not their own empires. 

I don't want to be spend my life serving me, and pretending it was for God. I want to be known for building His Church and His people. To the best of my ability I want to love, disciple and empower people. I want to walk with humility, knowing that without God I am actually nothing. I can do nothing. I want to walk in integrity, and be the same person in private, as I am on the platform.

The truth is you can be a gifted leader, but a dreadful pastor. You can have the most charismatic personality, magnetic vision and greatest preaching gift, but not actually love and nurture people! What a dichotomy?! What a tragedy. Those talents may attract people, but it won't keep them, and it certainly won't build them. 

The New Testament often depicts spiritual leaders as shepherds of God’s flock. It is an appropriate image, because a shepherd leads, feeds, comforts, corrects, and protects the sheep under his care. In fact, the word pastor means shepherd.* 

The New Testament often depicts spiritual leaders as shepherds of God’s flock. It is an appropriate image, because a shepherd leads, feeds, comforts, corrects, and protects the sheep under his care. In fact, the word pastor means shepherd. The body of Christ is a beautiful collection of gifts, graces and leadership roles, this particular article hones in on the heart of a Shepherd. 

So here are 10 traits of a great shepherd (Pastor) that I aspire to outwork in my own life.

So here are 10 traits of a great shepherd (Pastor) that I aspire to outwork in my own life.

1. Good shepherds have no hidden agenda. 

John 10:1-16 "I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep."

Shepherds have no hidden agenda. When the shepherd has nothing to hide the sheep have nothing to fear. No alternate agenda. The bible teaches that Jesus had incredible exhousia authority because his agenda was to serve people. His boldness and confidence in relationship with the people he was leading came because he genuinely had their best interests at heart.

He wasn’t using them to serve His agenda. He was giving His life to serve their best interests.

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2. Good shepherds know the names of their sheep. 

John 10:3 "The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognise his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."

The bible says God knows us by name, that our names are recorded in the Lamb’s book of life. He doesn’t know us just by face, or by a number He knows us by name. There’s something powerful about using and knowing people’s names. Names are part of peoples sense of identity and are part of what makes them unique. Shepherds need to keep their eyes on numbers, but numbers are only important because names matter. 

3. GOOD SHEPHERDS HAVE A VOICE THAT'S RECOGNISED BY THEIR SHEEP 

John 10:3 "The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."

If they don’t know your voice then they’re probably not your sheep. There are so many voices in the world today speaking into peoples lives. Now of course it’s the responsibility the individual to choose which voices they listen to but great shepherds are always talking to their sheep.

I used to live on a farm and the reason the sheep are familiar with the voice of the shepherd is that he is the one who feeds them. They relate the satisfaction of good food with the voice of the shepherd. Jesus said to Peter. “Do you love me? Then feed my sheep.”

Feeding sheep is really about meeting them at their point of need. And great shepherds have built a relationship with those that follow them through service to them. Our voices should be the most familiar voices to the people in our Church. They should easily recognize our voice and hopefully relate it to their needs being met.  

4. GOOD SHEPHERDS MAKE SURE THE SHEEP ARE COMFORTABLE IN THEIR PRESENCE

John 10:3 "The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him."

People feel safe and secure in the presence of great shepherds. If people have to fake it around us then we have a problem. If people don’t trust us then we have a problem. If people don’t feel like we are listening to them then we have a problem. Look, here’s the deal, sheep bleat. They whinge, they complain, they cry, they do dumb things, they get themselves in all sorts of trouble. Great Shepherds make sheep feel secure in their relationship with them.

Don’t lead out of the bleat but don’t disregard it. Sometimes when you’ve been a shepherd for a long time you can almost tune out to the voices of the people you are leading. Like being a parent of small children. Bleating is actually how you know the sheep are still with you. Great shepherds are approachable. Great Shepherds make sheep feel secure in their relationship with them no matter how they behave.

5. GOOD SHEPHERDS LEAD FROM THE FRONT AND DON'T DRIVE FROM BEHIND. 

John 10:4 "After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice."

Modern day sheep farmers use sheep dogs, quad bikes and electric prodders to round up sheep and drive them in the direction they want them to go. They get behind them and drive them in a direction. But shepherds in Jesus time led sheep from the front. They would walk ahead of them and sheep would follow their voice and their call. There was no need to drive them, the sheep just followed.

Great shepherds don’t push from behind they lead from the front. Don’t ask someone to do something or go somewhere you’re not prepared to do yourself.

6. GOOD SHEPHERDS ARE GREAT GATHERERS.

John 10:4 "After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice."

It’s interesting that part of the job description for a Deacon in a Church outlined in Timothy is that they practice hospitality. It makes sense in light of a correct understanding of what the Church really is. The Church is a gathering for a purpose. And so it would make sense that a key job description for those who lead in the church is that they be great gatherers and practice hospitality.

It’s interesting that it says that leaders must be lovers of hospitality. Now of course not everyone has the gift of hospitality but everyone of us should be believing God to grow in our grace to gather people.

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7. GOOD SHEPHERDS LEAD RELATIONALLY

John 10:4 "After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice."

Vision and programs are important, but relationship trumps everything.

People may follow us because of the vision we present but they will stay with us because of the relationship they develop with us.

When Jesus called his disciples he said: “Come follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” In other words He gave them a vision for their life. But he discipled them through relationship as he did life with them. He ate with them, travelled with them, lived with them. Vision attracts, programs hold, relationship grows.  

Sheep follow shepherds because of relationship, not fear, not force of the shepherds will but because they know their voice. Let’s be leaders who do life with the sheep. The shepherds in Jesus time slept where the sheep slept. They did life with them. They allowed themselves to get beyond the veneer and become close to the sheep.  

8. GOOD SHEPHERDS AREN'T STRANGERS

John 10:5 "They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

In my early days as a pastor I was running the creative department and we were doing some massive things. Citywide Events, set up/pack down church, albums and I became so busy that the only time I ever called people was to ask them to do something for me. I found out that some of the team I was leading had stopped answering my calls because the only reason I was calling was to ask them to do something for the Church.

I’d become a stranger to them. I called one guy one day and asked him to help and found out he’d left the church 6 months earlier. 

Sheep won’t follow a stranger. If you want to lead sheep them you need to get to know their story, as well as their name.  

9. GOOD SHEPHERDS PUT THER LIFE ON THE LINE FOR THE SHEEP 

 John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep."

A great Shepherd is willing to put His life on the line for the sheep. Get uncomfortable for them.  A hireling has the luxury of detachment. A shepherd cannot detach himself from the sheep. When the sheep hurt, he hurts. When the sheep are in danger he puts himself in harms way for them.

10. GOOD SHEPHERDS LEAD FLOCKS TOGETHER

John 10:16 "I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd."

Finally let’s remember it’s Jesus flock. And we are a very small part of His church. As shepherds of His sheep, let’s always be leading people from the revelation that we are a part of something greater than the part we play. We have a unique call and a unique part to play. As we play our unique part, let’s remember that we are a part of His church.


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