One passage in the Bible that I always struggled to understand is Luke 15. It is where Jesus tells a story of a reportedly good shepherd who is in charge of 100 sheep. One of the sheep goes astray, and because this shepherd’s love for his sheep he is willing to leave the 99 to go search for the one wanderer.
What I always found hard to understand was how this shepherd could be counted as a loving shepherd. Sure, to the one lost sheep he is loving, but what about to the 99 he left unguarded and out for wolves, jackals, hyenas, thieves, or whatever else to come and get? To me this never seemed like a good shepherd, it always seemed like a neglegent one. That was until I learned more about shepherds.
I never knew that the most sheep any one shepherd can handle by himself is about 50. Once a shepherd has more than 50 sheep he has to go and find an assistant to help him. Someone from the first century who heard Jesus tell this story would know this. They would know that the story implies the shepherd didn’t leave the 99 out vulnerable to go search for the one, rather he entrusted the 99 to the care of his unmentioned assistant. To put it another way, shepherding is a team effort. It can’t be done alone, at least not without neglecting some of the sheep from time to time.
Which highlights the value of teams in the church. I am privileged to work at an amazing church with a top-notch team of people. However, despite all the gifts and talents each person on our team possesses, none of us by ourselves could meet all the needs of our church. Together though we are able to do a pretty bang-up job. It is true at Calvary, and it is true in every other church as well….In caring for the church, we can’t do it alone, at least not without neglecting some of the sheep from time to time.
The problem is so many people try to do it by themselves. They are afraid to trust others, or to delegate responsibility. The result is that when they have to go take care of the one, they neglect the 99. That is why it is so important to be bringing people along with you. To always be building up a team. To always be recruiting. To always be pouring into others. To always be mentoring someone else. Without a good team to back you up, you will always be less effective than what you could be.
What about you? Are you building a team to help you with what God has called you to do? If not, what do you see happening to the 99, when you have to go after the one?