When Life Gives You Lemons…Learn to Shepherd Horses?
When Life Gives You Lemons…Learn to Shepherd Horses?

When Life Gives You Lemons…Learn to Shepherd Horses?

We all know the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  

In January of this year, I wrote an excited blog about the growth of our US team, with three new team members.  Two short months later, all three of those team members were gone.  While the reasons for their departure are not pertinent here, I was left feeling discouraged and dejected, like I was holding a bucket of lemons.

But around the same time, a new friend from India suggested that I read a book called Shepherding Horses, by Kent Humphreys, and this book gave me insight into how to turn these particular lemons into lemonade.  It talks about different roles that we might find in the body of Christ:

  • Shepherd pastors – Giving care, guidance, protection, and feeding of sheep.
  • Sheep – Loyal members in a church who support the pastor and follow his/her shepherding.
  • Horses – Leaders by personality, background, and experience.  Don’t really feel like they fit in with the sheep.  Passion is often aimed at what is done outside the church walls.
  • Combinations of the above – Specifically in this book, the combination of a shepherd and a horse: a shepherding horse.  When trained, they will multiply the ministry of God’s work in the marketplace and community.  (No surprise why this book was recommended to me!)

This book then reviewed what is probably familiar to most of us – the five ways in which Jesus did his ministry on earth:

1. He told everyone to respond to the good news.

2. He taught many to understand God’s principles.
3. He trained some to do the work.
4. He equipped a few to reproduce.
5. He modeled a relationship with the father.

DML is seeking to respond to everyone (#1) with the reminder that “work is worship” and that we were created to work and care for the earth (Genesis 1:28, 2:15).  We are teaching pastors, denominational leaders, and marketplace ministers to understand God’s principles relating to being the church from Monday-Sunday (#2).  We have training teams across fourteen countries in many different cities who are training others (#3).  We have the leaders of our implementing partner organizations/denominations who are showing an incredible ownership of this message as they desire to disseminate this information not only within their own church, denomination, community, and even nation – but to go beyond that to neighboring countries.  They are hungry for this message of freedom from “work as drudgery” to “work as worship,” breaking down barriers of purposeless life and work, to joy every day in and through our work.  

This brings us to #4, “equipping a few to reproduce.”  Rather than hiring new people in the US and trying to develop loyalty to the DML ministry, we have decided to divide necessary tasks among ourselves (as a team of 18 key leaders) across 15 countries.  We now have one of our leaders leading chaplaincy and media, someone leading metrics and reporting, someone helping with research, and so on.  But what is most exciting to me is the starting of what I’m calling “missionary journeys,” as our leaders are getting requests to take this message to new places and countries as the Spirit leads.  Two of our leaders have given up their local churches and are now going fulltime with DML, and God is opening doors to them throughout their own country and in neighboring countries. As conversations naturally happen across borders, we are seeing connections made more naturally and authentically than when someone randomly sees something about DML on the internet and writes to us.  

We have many shepherding horses on our team!

And that brings us to the last one, #5:  Modeling a relationship with the Father.  This is something that all of us must do within our own spheres of influence.  But as I travelled on this last trip, I heard the DML leaders express both joy and fatigue at the many opportunities that they are receiving.  So we are starting what I’m calling a DARE club (Discipleship and Accountability for Rest and Energy).  When you work amongst the poor and vulnerable, there is a “tyranny of the urgent.”  To not answer your phone can be perceived as a sign of disrespect.  It is DARING and it takes courage to set boundaries!  We want to model sabbath, rest, and balance, just as Jesus did.  We recognize that we are not God, while still loving and serving with excellence.

There’s much more that I can write, but I’ll leave it here for now.  I wanted to catch you up on some of these changes and to hear us say as a team that God is good!