play to their gifts: teaching vs. shepherding

summertime in campus ministry is a strange beast. after the crazy marathon of the academic year, things just stop in may. and you are left with a lot of time to regain your equilibrium, rest, and plan.

one of my biggest tasks each summer is to decide which students will lead our family groups and our small groups during the next school year. and each year, i have had the same thought: "we just don't have students naturally inclined towards teaching a family/small group."

this leads me to attempt to dream up solutions. i could train a couple of students to teach a small group…and they could each train a few more during the school year. and soon, through multiplication, we might have some teachers. but, how should i train them? and, i really need several RIGHT NOW, and so waiting a few years to have a handful is not appealing.

it's not that our students are not capable. they are very smart and very loving. in fact, we have LOTS (10+ in our group of 70) who i feel are incredible shepherds of the group. these students love and lead the others well. they meet their needs. they pray for them and stay up late into the night talking with them. they pray for them and follow-up with them when the others have needs. they are shepherds.

and that's when it struck me.

i have shepherds. and what our family and small groups need are shepherds. they students involved in those groups need a student shepherd to really invest in their lives. to connect with them and challenge them and set an example for them. and while these shepherds may not naturally be teachers, i can play to their strengths. 

why try to force a shepherd-shaped student into a teacher-shaped hole? i can give these shepherds materials that will help them lead discussions in their family and small groups…without going through the hours needed to spend reading a passage, studying it, preparing a lesson on it, and then teaching it. i can give them a DVD curriculum or a ready-made to Bible study and they can facilitate discussion in their groups. and the time they DON'T spend preparing a lesson from scratch, they can spend doing what they do best: shepherding. eating lunch with their students, praying with them, playing ping-pong, and all that.

ultimately, i want to have students with the gift and desire necessary to prepare and lead a Bible study from scratch. but i know there are HUNDREDS of campus ministers who would kill to have students like mine…with huge shepherds hearts.

i am going to release them this year to shepherd like crazy!
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