I came across an unpleasant article about a struggle that sheepherders are having in the United Kingdom. Crows are attacking the ewes in their flock pecking out their eyes as the mother lays defenseless on her side during the birth process. After pecking out the mother’s eyes, a flock of crows, appropriately known as a “murder of crows”, goes to work on the newborn lamb’s eyes and tender tongue. The end result is a blind ewe and a dead lamb.
Crows are protected birds in the United Kingdom. As a result, their numbers have increased. Shepherds are forced by law to obtain a permit to shoot crows to protect their livestock. Because the law of the land is a slave to special interest groups, politics, and a long and laborious permit process enabling shepherds to shoot the predatory birds, a great deal of frustration and anger has emerged.
The sad situation in the UK is, in one respect, a metaphor for pastoral ministry. A shepherd’s primary job is to protect the flock. David in Scripture never waited for anyone’s approval or group consensus to do the right thing. He risked his life to stand between the predatory animals of his day and his flock. Pastoring is not for the faint of heart. It requires courage.
Many things can become predatory against a spiritual flock. One of the worst forms of predation is against a person’s ability to see and speak with personal conviction an opposing opinion, even if what is seen and spoken is contrary to a shepherd’s point of view. True shepherds protect that freedom. Hell has always tried to peck out the eyes and eat the tongue of the Church, especially those young in the faith, leaving them as blind and speechless believers. This sadly happens when a shepherd tries to appease a governmental system, their special interest groups, and the special interest groups within a local church that align closely with the pastor and his/her worldview.
The images I saw in the article showing the bloodied corpses of innocent lambs struck a sad chord in me. If we lead a group at work, pastor a local church, or have been entrusted with the safety and security of a family, these callings require courage to do the right thing especially when a law or sadly, the attitude of some within the Church choose to wait for permission before they act to protect those under their care. This kind of unnecessary spiritual carnage is not only unpleasant for any of us to see or experience, it is most unpleasant to the Lord. That should be our greater concern.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins