I have two youthworker friends who work with similar groups — roughly 100 students each. One friend is burned out and frazzled. The other is surrounded by parents and volunteers.
Asking for help is tough, but youthwork is impossible without it. Check this out . . .
The Bible uses “shepherding” as a metaphor for pastoral work. It’s a straightforward metaphor — but what does it look like? Here’s a description pulled from Ezekiel 34. Run your eyes over this list and note the impression it makes. Then, reread each point and ask yourself what it might look like for a group of students.
A good shepherd . . .
— is accountable for the flock
— looks after them
— strengthens the weak
— heals the sick
— binds up the wounds of the injured
— brings back the strays
— searches for the lost
— rescues them from the places they scatter to in times of clouds and darkness
— brings them together and tends them in good pasture
— makes sure they have rest, peace, and abundant food
— exercises justice
— eliminates abusers (the sleek)
— disciplines those who take the best and spoil what’s left
— deals with the bullies who plunder, butt, shove, and drive others away
— rids the land of predators
— provides freedom from fear
— blesses the sheep
An unworthy shepherd . . .
— rules harshly and brutally
— neglects the sheep, allowing them to scatter
— leaves them to their enemies when scattered
— allows them to wander wherever they want, far and wide
— doesn’t search for or go looking for them
— lets them become plunder and prey
— cares for himself rather than (or at the expense of) the sheep
— feeds off the flock
Impressive list, huh? Let’s say you were responsible for a group of students, whether 20, 70, 150, or more. How would you make sure they were all shepherded?
I can only think of one answer. Working together.