Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Working Sheepdog in Training

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
(Psalm 23:1-3 ESV)

One of the most rewarding benefits of having a blog is the interaction with readers behind the scenes.  Sometimes readers send private notes explaining their comments or share stories.  Sheep-Dog is one of those readers.  He sent me this video and it made me smile.  We'll learn a bit more about Sheep-Dog and his life as a boy who raised sheep in the future, but we'll go with this for now.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Sheep-Dog created a storyline narrative of the video.  Keep in mind that you are reading the words of one who spent many years up close and personal with sheep.  He knows what he is talking about:

Hi, welcome to my story. I’m a Border Collie, AKA sheep dog.  My momma and poppa were both sheep dogs too.  I am now well-trained and know how to do my job.  I love my master and my work.  Someone took some pictures of me when I was a puppy.  I start out cute and cuddly like all pups.  I played with my sibling and then at about 9 weeks my master started to train me.
He is always kind to me and gives me little treats when I do well.  When I got to be 5 months old he took me out to see the sheep.  I had fun!  I chased those sheep and they ran in all directions.
But my master stopped me and petted me and took me back home.  I am embarrassed for you to see me  because that is not how I was supposed to handle the sheep.  I was just a puppy and had more training ahead of me.  I can’t tell you how I was trained.  It is a secret between only me and my master.  But look at me at 9 months.
You can see I have learned a lot since I have matured.  See how I bring the sheep in.  In the video I help the master keep a ewe from running away while he checks her lamb.  Aren’t those little lambs cute?
My job is to keep the sheep together and not let any stray from the flock, and to keep them close to the master.  If he wants them to go in the barn he will stand close to the door and I will gently chase the sheep through the door.  Or maybe he wants them to go through a gate.  Those sheep aren’t too bright, so I help them know where the need to go.  Have you ever seen a sheep do any tricks?  Sheep just don't learn much.
My master says I am a lot like a good pastor.  He says that a good Christian pastor will always point the people to their shepherd (God), and try to keep them in the “flock”.  My master says that a bad pastor will scatter the people just like I scattered the sheep when I was a puppy.  He says pastors need to be trained too.  How about that?    
Now I realize that I may look a little like a wolf, but there is a big difference.  My master feeds me and I never bite a sheep.  Not ever.  The wolf, even though he may be a very distant cousin of mine, is out for a meal.  He will kill the sheep and eat them.  I hope I never run up against a wolf.  They are larger than I am.
Well, I hope you enjoyed watching me at work. I would rather be working with the sheep than anything else.   But it is fun when my master’s grandchildren come over and take me to the woods.  I love to chase the squirrels.  But they run up the trees and make fun of me.  Silly squirrels! But that is just a hobby.  Sheep are my job. I get paid well too.  Food, treats, petting, tummy rubs, and free medical care. 

Sheep-Dog sent me this private note (posted with permission).  I appreciate his perspective.

JA-If you can use any of that, go for it.  It shows the dog's role in herding the sheep. The dog does control the sheep, but in a good way, and for their own good because they are too dumb and helpless to know what to do on their own. 
As I first watched that video, I sat and looked at what has happening, asking myself, "What are these dogs really doing?" I had watched several sheep dog videos by this time. The dogs just seemed to know when to lie down and when to stand, and how to move.  I have to admit my eyes go damp when I realized that the dog is doing what I said above, keeping the flock together and close to the master/shepherd.  
What a beautiful analogy of a good pastor. Maybe we have had it wrong for a long time. Maybe the pastor is not the shepherd, maybe the pastor is (like the dog) an instrument that the Shepherd/Master (God/Jesus) uses to keep the flock together and pointed to HIM. Just food for thought. David didn't say, "The pastor is my shepherd." But he says "The Lord is my shepherd." 

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
for he will despise the good sense of your words.
(Proverbs 23:9 ESV)

Apply your heart to instruction
and your ear to words of knowledge.
(Proverbs 23:12 ESV)


  1. Sheep-Dog

    Thank you so very much for this video and commentary.

    And a big amen...
    "Maybe we have had it wrong for a long time. Maybe the pastor is not the shepherd, maybe the pastor is (like the dog) an instrument that the Shepherd/Master (God/Jesus) uses to keep the flock together and pointed to HIM. Just food for thought. David didn't say, "The pastor is my shepherd." But he says "The Lord is my shepherd."

    I agree with David - TheLord is my Shepherd.

    1. A. Amos Love-

      Thanks, glad you liked the "Sheep Dog Seminary"

    2. Amen, Balm to my soul. Thank you.

  2. Excellent! I love the illustration of the untrained sheep dog scattering the sheep. The hard reality here is that pastors need to be trained. Seminaries can do some of the training, but they can't give the love a pastor needs which must be developed within the context of a real church.

    1. Yes, exactly, but also in the context of a real church with elders who understand the important task of holding their pastor accountable. I'm reading more and more stories of pastors being put in churches or assuming positions without having any oversight. That is a dangerous situation for all, the pastor and his congregants.

    2. It's very dangerous. I can't prove it, but I suspect it can produce wolves.

    3. What constitutes a "real church". Four walls. A building? Pews? A bully pulpit?
      The real church is simply the people which Jesus called out of the world to be his own. A people that need not to relate to each other in terms of buildings, or institutions, or seminaries and degrees that find no basis in scripture.

    4. Craigvick-

      When I was growing up I attended a little country church. We always got the newbie pastors. Normally they were still in seminary and in need of real-life pastoral experience.

      We had a little parsonage where they could live during their time with us. We shared them with at least one other small country church about 3 miles away.

      We may have had some duds but never one who was abusive. We never had a "wolf", thank God.

  3. Julie Anne -

    Thanks for posting this video and my comments.

    And readers -

    It was an Ah-Ha moment for me when I saw the common thread through all of the videos. The dog aims the sheep toward the shepherd. When those little dogs bring sheep from the field, it seems to always be in the direction of the shepherd.

    1. True. That is interesting though how the Harlot Religious System that Jesus called His people to come out of only exists to point people towards the institution, and not the shepherd. The programs that divide the family by age and sometimes by gender. Where did Christ divide His listeners by age or gender? Christ called men to come to Him. The H.R.S. calls people to "come to church".
      Jesus promised to meet His church's needs. The H.R.S. appeal to the world through fundraisers. Jesus taught for free.
      The H.R.S. charge money for their seminars, and plagiarized sermons. The church of Jesus Christ is all about serving the Savior. The H.R.S. is all about serving the building, the grounds, the vehicles, etc.
      No wonder Jesus called his people to "come out from among them and be seperate."

  4. DRIVEN, DRIVEN, DRIVEN -- The battered sheep cry out, "I don't want to be DRIVEN!"

    I wondered if people might perceive the sheep being "driven" (and they are) by the sheep dog and may be a bit turned off. I know I hate being driven. In the work-a-day world that we live in it seems there is always something to cause stress and to cause us to "feel driven".

    I tried to read a little of Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life" at one time. I couldn't hack it. That word "driven" just kept coming to mind like a bad dream. I chose not to feel driven to read the book and returned it to the library. Good choice!

    I had visited a spiritual abuse forum around that same time. I noticed the folks on the forum were not taking kindly to the book. They all seemed to be turned off by the thought of being driven.

    Seems like in Christian circles people are still pretty much looking for the next great "Christian" book to give them a religious fix. Whatever is popular at the time... All have to read it. -- Can anybody say "sheep"? Sheep follow the lead sheep and as my dad would say, "Dumb sheep, one falls in a hole, and all the others follow after it". *The lead sheep is whichever one happens to be out front at the time. They are all equally stupid.

    How much are we like sheep? Do we follow other sheep? Do you get tired of the sheep analogies in the Bible? Do you feel like the pastor is calling you a dumb sheep at times? These are rhetorical questions and only my opinions and not meant to start a debate.

    Rick's next book: "The Purpose Driven Sheep" (Just joking)

  5. This is a very good picture. Thank you, Sheep-Dog.

    In light of Sheep-Dog's story, I'd like to splice two passages of Scripture together, with a little modification, to show what all too often happens in the real world:

    "What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not...stay with the ninety-nine so that no others stray?...For, they went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us." Splice of Matthew 18:12 and 1 John 2:19

    Sheep that leave a flock are all too often associated with unbelievers, even when it's the shepherd's fault.

    1. Steve-

      I have wondered about that. Jesus is talking about going out and finding the one lost sheep. He says he came to save the lost.

      I have wondered also, what happens to the 99 if the shepherd is out looking for the single lost lamb? He can't be in two places at once.

      Drum roll please! The trusty sheep dog is there to help the shepherd. Ok, that my story and I'm sticking with it.

      I see your point. In the world of people some will leave for whatever reason, bad shepherd, wrong worship style, personal reasons. This does not make them "lost".

      Sometimes these analogies just fall apart. And we were made in the image of God. -- We aren't sheep. --

    2. Sheep-Dog,

      Yes, there are a very many metaphors and analogies that describe the relationship between God and his people. If we focus too much on just one analogy and take it to its logical conclusion, it can have bad results.

      Like, shepherd/sheep, and temple/stones, to name just two. Sheep stray, but stones stay put.

  6. I've been tied up a good bit today. We've been at family camp this past week and are now driving home from the green side of WA state to the brown and dry side - a 5-hr drive. I've been enjoying the discussion on this post and the previous post. I learn a lot here.

    1. HI JA!

      I went out and mowed my lawn and was thinking, "Where's Julie Anne?"
      Thought we were going to have to send the dogs out to find you. lol

      We haven't had a lot of rain. But an even an inch once in awhile is better than none. And the grass has really came back to life here in Indiana.

    2. Hey Sheep-Dog - I'm cracking up that you're thinking about me while mowing the lawn :)

      I'm glad to hear things are coming back to life in your area. We live in the desert, but there is a lot of life along the rivers here so we didn't have the drought problems as the rest of the nation. Oh my - that box of peaches I bought at a fruit stand along the way - delish - - - you have to slurp up the juice with every bite or you make a big ol' mess all over the place.


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