Sheep. I had dreamed of having woolly little friends grazing on acres of glorious green grass. After ten years, that dream became reality as I drove our pickup truck onto the field with a load of sheep my sons and I had just purchased.
There was a little problem, but just a little one. The fence we built for this sheep pen was not finished yet. It only had about 10 feet left to put up and it would be ready to go. I began working on finishing that last section of fence but did not think those sheep should be left caged up too long, so I told my children to let them out.
That went fine until the dog got excited and started chasing them. Uh-oh. They let those sheep out on the opposite side of the field from where I as finishing the fence. I figured it would take a while until they ate their way to where I was. They made a dead run toward me and the gap in the fence.
Stupid dog. Stupid sheep. Stupid me for not finishing that fence first.
So, our next problem was rounding them all back up into the pen. Sheep-herding was suddenly not so fun. After running through the woods in the heat and wanting to kick that dog, we got the sheep rounded up. Well, all but two of them.
The lost sheep(s)
I knew I had to get that fence finished to keep the sheep in. As we went back to finishing the stretch of fence, my son asked what we were going to do about the stray sheep. I repeated some great wisdom I had learned somewhere, “Leave them alone and they will come home, wagging their tails behind them.”
An hour or so later, that did not prove true. Those two black sheep did not return. The sun was falling at that point.
The next morning, something dawned on me (other than the sun). I was using nursery-rhyme wisdom to manage my farm. I suddenly felt stupider than those sheep.
For one thing, they were not alone. Second, they did not know where home was. Third, they were followers, not aggressive trailblazers. If they were going to be found, someone with skills would have to do it.
Jesus said to leave the other sheep in the pen (with a good, secure fence) and seek after the lost sheep (or two, as the case may be). I never found those sheep. I don’t know where they went or what might have eaten them. I searched for hours and hours over acres and acres. Nothing.
Seek the lost
This caused me to rethink how I served the Lord. Too many people I have looked at with a “leave them alone and they will come home” mentality. Who is missing from the flock in your church? Are you waiting for them to come home on their own? Do they even know they are lost?
How do you seek those who have wandered off? Where do you look? What have you learned about what it is that causes people to wander off? Where is it they have gone and what will it take to get them back?
If you are not leaving your comfort zone, you probably will not get them back into the fold. They need to be led back. They need to sense the acceptance, safety, and nourishment of being under the shepherd’s care.
When you lead in the Kingdom of God, remember you have to do much more work—and good thinking—than those who are following. The burden is on the leader. Otherwise, they will wander off.
After you build a fence, seek the lost. Protect the found. Lead with love.
If someone does not reach for them. They will be destroyed.