When you read Jesus' description of himself as a Shepherd, the Shepherd, in John 10, you see the absolute, vital, and definitional characteristic to protect His sheep. His sheep are in the fold of false shepherds or unqualified hirelings, one hundred percent susceptible to the intentions of wolves and thieves and robbers. He leads them out. His gives His life for His sheep. On the other hand, the hireling flees.
I have something in common with Jesus in that I am a shepherd, a small ''s" version, an under-shepherd, but a shepherd nonetheless. There is interest in the shepherding of the true, the best, the model Shepherd, Jesus. Sure, He leads His sheep to pasture. However, most characteristic of the Shepherding of Jesus in the classic shepherd passage of John 10 is His protection. He separates His sheep unto safety away from the possibility of harm. Before they can be taken or injured or killed, He brings them out of their vulnerability to a place of safety. If the threat arises, He stands up to it, even giving His life.
The shepherds of modern church growth technique recruit wolves. Jesus' sheep know His voice. His voice is the test, the directive through the door and out of danger. His voice is all about getting into safety. 2016 shepherding offers an allure that broadens the appeal to more than the protective voice. It's not just hirelings asleep at the opening to the fold. It's a multi-beastial invitation. The walls are lowered for easier access either way.
The hireling is soft, a sort of metro-shepherd, who vanishes at the possibility of protecting. He's got great excuses though. Not only is he soft, but he's sentimental. He doesn't take criticism well. You can only be positive, which is akin to his philosophy of protection. It's not really about protecting the sheep but about protecting his job or reputation or popularity.
The true shepherd would want only his sheep in the fold. He's not about adding anything and everything that can breathe, as long as it possesses anything between two to four hooves or paws or appendages. And they are only his sheep. His fold isn't designed for whatever furry thing happens to come along. He wants only his sheep.
In this age, it just isn't popular to be a protective shepherd. A true shepherd doesn't mind a challenge to his safety practices, some quality control. I'm noticing that men who call themselves true shepherd's don't want to be questioned. Many times they claim autonomy. This is my flock. Is that what's really important? That you have a flock? That you're in charge of it or that you actually shepherd that flock? I wonder about any man, who calls himself a shepherd, who has that position, and he can't handle a direct conversation from someone who does care about him, who actually loves him. How could anyone expect that shepherd to deal with actual threats, when he can't handle evaluation from someone not on attack, who just replays the voice of the True Shepherd?
If you had a shepherd's conference, and the leaders of the conference couldn't listen to scriptural counsel, what can be expected of sheep under their care? Are shepherds such a dainty lot today that they must be handled in such a delicate fashion? Maybe its a hireling conference for hired hands posing as shepherds. It's possible I'm referring to any number of pastor's conferences, but I'm talking about thin-skinned unaffiliateds too, who think their ideas and their voices of personal opinion read as genuine shepherd instruction.
Because acting shepherds won't endure any sort of appraisal, the quality of shepherding goes down. The protection of sheep depreciates. Flocks weaken. The next generation either shrinks, dies off, or finds itself in the fold of a false shepherd.