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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

Can We Hear the Sheep Bleating?


  Mark Lauterbach has a great series of posts going on things he's learned from the sheep.  Typical to Mark, the posts are humble and insightful.  Bleatings from the SheepOne of the great temptations of pastoral ministry is to treat the congregation, the members, as "stupid".  We may not use those words, but we act like either they are slow to grasp truth and need constant prodding or nagging, or they are children and we pastors are fathers who must care for them.  Both bear bad fruit -- both create a clergy/laity division which, it turns out, is not just a Catholic problem.  Both can lead to a spirit of distrust and excessive carefulness in how pastors shepherd their flock. Bleatings from the Sheep: OUCH!I have a "clever" side.  I once liked to preach in a way that debunks myths people believe.  In my first year as a pastor I did a series of messages on prayer. There are lots of prayer myths -- slogans that I found as easy targets for my brilliant critique.  Each message was a shot at wrong thinking and a declaration of truth.  I took down some major myths and applauded myself for prophetic courage.About a year later a member of the church asked to come see me.  It was clear that she was full of fears in doing so.  I assumed she had some personal problems.  Read the entire post.Bleatings from the Sheep: Slow to ChangeOne of the most godly people to enter our pastoral world was a woman in the church named Helga.  She was 20 years our senior but far more our senior in maturity in Christ.  I had all the seminary degrees.  She knew God and knew herself before God.  Read the entire post.Bleatings from the Sheep: ToneCreating downhill paths to the pastor's office and heart is critical.  By downhill, I mean easy easily traveled. My office, my most visible role behind the pulpit, and the call to be submissive create for my people large obstacles and a steep path to travel to my heart. It takes intentional effort to hear what they have to say.But there are observations that are overheard as much as heard.  These are worth mining, as what is overheard is as significant as what is heard.  Read the entire post.Bleatings from the Sheep: Birthday CardsOne of the marks of arrogance is viewing all of life through my eyes, not considering how others see things.  I find it all too easy to assume that my perspective, my abilities, my limits are the truth for all.  It is not so!  I am not the center of the cosmos.  Read the entire post.

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