A Hawkish Shepherding Metaphor

This morning I was reflecting on what a good time of prayer and Bible reading I had. It shaped my mood and freed me to love my kids well as we prepared for the day.

Then, as I made lunches for the little ones, a hawk lands on our patio outside the kitchen window with a Eurasian Ringed Dove in its talons.

You expect our hawks to be after vermin, the mice and rats going from the fields to the fruit trees. But here a hawk decided on a heartier meal for the morning. Perhaps the dove was hunted because it was sick and already weak, already vulnerable to attack.

I made eye contact with the hawk (its a thing) as I yelled through the window for it go away, essentially saying “not today hawk! Not it my yard!” Quickly then I ran outside and came upon not only the hawk but two crows vying for the dove. They fled at my presence and the dove shook off the attack and flew ten feet to our fence. There he rested but we noticed that blood was dripping on the fence and ground. He was wounded and losing a lot of blood for a small bird.

Now I know this won’t land me any invites to hunting trips but you have to know that I prayed for the bird, very specifically that Jesus would stop the bleeding. I attempted my best Dr. Doolittle voice and told the dove he was welcome to stay and rest as long as he needed.

He stayed on that fence for well over thirty minutes… as the hawk stayed in a nearby tree waiting… hoping for another chance at the prize. Our family left for school out of the front door as to not disturb the dove and we prayed and hoped for the best.

When I returned from walking to school the dove was gone from the fence but the evidence of the ordeal remained. I think he was on the power line across the street, hopefully gaining strength. He will still die, someday. But not in my yard, under my “care.”

Thinking of this wild experience I can’t help but think of shepherding in the church. The call to protect one another and specifically how the elders of the church are to keep watch for the hawks and protect the doves. Or wolves and sheep if you prefer.

The key is that we don’t befriend the hawks but get in their way. We stay close enough to the doves that we can proclaim truth where lies fester. Where we can minister with our presence and time. Where we can pray for healing and care for them. Blood may be drawn but we are stubborn to say that no one will die in our yard.

Of course our strength for this work, for the call of shepherding comes from outside of us. Because the good shepherd witnessed the hawk of darkness with talons deep in his prey. But instead of shooing him away to wait for another kill, our shepherd, Jesus gave himself in the place of the doves, in our place. The hawk drove his talons deep, blood was drawn and poured out to death. But that death is a victory. Because the hawk is forever defeated. His talons no longer have power over the flock of Christ.

So on we go, looking out, protecting, restoring and caring for those we are called to in the name and power of Jesus.

Find yourself these kind of shepherds. Join this kind of flock.

Worthwhile November 15, 2019

The calendar pages keep turning (unless you have a calendar on your phone then you have no idea what that means). Here we are approaching Thanksgiving, at war with our family and friends over how soon is too soon when it comes to decorating for Christmas and playing the appropriate music for the occasion.

Leaving all that alone, below are some worthwhile bits to check in on as you saunter into the weekend.


As our elder team has started to evaulate ourselves, and I have been thinking through how to lead and form the right team to lead the church into the next season, this bit from Seth Godin has me thinking.

Allies and accomplices.

To be an ally means that you won’t get in the way, and, if you are able to, you’ll try to help.

To become an accomplice, though, means that you’ve risked something, sacrificed something and put yourself on the hook as well.

We need more allies, in all the work we do. Allies can open doors and help us feel a lot less alone.

But finding an accomplice–that’s an extraordinary leap forward.

I have plenty of allies and now I am on the lookout for accomplices.

Read the two paragraphs I haven’t quoted here.


Next up, John Starke’s occasional email newsletter was on point this week. It is on sleeping, or the lack thereof.

“Sleep is a gift. It really is. You can’t make yourself sleep, you can only receive it. I have to put myself on my side and wait for God to give this gift that comes only because he loves me. When that happens an exchange occurs that I neither witness nor oversee: he takes my cares and exchanges them for rest. If only for a little while.”

We all need more of it. Before the lightbulb was invented we slept on average 11 hours a night. Let’s get some of that back! Starke gives a good perspective here and you should check it out.


In the vane of church leadership and being healthy, Faithfully Magazine has launched a series on multicultural churches.

Turns out, a multicultural church is not something you can checklist your way to, but it is something you become when your team is healthy and thinking rightly about the essence of the church.

“…every member of the core leadership team must believe that diversity is God’s desire for the Church universal and the guiding principle for the local congregation. Every aspect of the church’s ministry must be conceived and planned with this in mind, including hiring and leadership development, outreach and missions, discipleship and spiritual formation, preaching, teaching, worship, and fellowship. Leaders must understand this and have a passionate and proven interest in learning about and working across cultures.”

It begins with leadership.

And that is just the first order of things… Read what Chanequa Walker-Barnes has to say here. And let’s have more multicultural churches!


Lastly, around Christian social media a meme has been popular this week. “I can do all things through Christ… But you don’t go to church when it rains.” This is funny, but extra because in San Diego it never rains and people freak out when it does, undoubtably keeping some from the community of believers.

To stir our thinking on not forsaking to meet together, Tim Arndt has written a list of 28 biblical reasons why you should go to church. Read up, set your alarm, and we will see you Sunday!

It also wouldn’t hurt if you came to any midweek services, small groups, or Bible studies!


There you have it. Enjoy the weekend. Laugh when you can. Let the tears flow when needed. Hug someone a second longer than you usually would. And go to church!

I have spoken.

Building a Team For Momentum

I have been spending the last several days thinking through the way we evaluate the team we are assembling as a church for leadership and carrying out a vision for multiplication into the future. It is stirred by prayerfully evaluating an elder candidate and desiring to create a system to prepare men and women for leadership at Reservoir.

I have as of late talked a bunch about laying foundation stones in the church for future health and just like some of the other blocks we build up, the team responsible for leading the church is a vital stone that must be nurtured and shaped along the way so as to prevent unnecessary roadblocks or division down the road.

Of course we have biblical guides for elders and deacons in the church but I want a list of keys to give us concrete metrics in reviewing the team. In this nurture and shaping then I have leaned on some others’ expertise for categories to use in evaluation of health of a team and have come up with 6 C’s (which is silly because everyone has C words as their list). And of all places, I found a Rotary article helpful toward this end.

Here then is my list, character, competency, chemistry, capacity, courage, and calling.

Character – This is our biblically outlined set of attributes of being above reproach respectable, hospitable, uncontentious, not greedy, just, and clinging to what is good (1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9).

Are the members of the team people of character? Are they trustworthy and reliable? Have they endeavored to make the priorities of the team their own and are they willing to pursue what is right over self? These are important questions and while character can seem surface level you actually get a better sense of it over time. Things of character are revealed as difficulties arise and decisions are carried out. This is why Paul in his elder qualifications has the man’s reputation in mind. What do those that know him best say of his character?

Hopefully by the time the person joins our team their character has been proven but like anything, we can slip or let sin linger and go off the rails. We must remain watchful over not only doctrine but our lives as well.

Competency – We can never assume that because someone has character they also have the competency to actually lead. Do they have the life-refined experience and gifting as well as Spirit-infused ability to accomplish the tasks required? And more than just the ability to do it, does the candidate possess the will to do it. Are they willing to lend their expertise for the greater good and glory of Christ rather than their own name?

This can be taught with training and apprenticeship but we have to be careful where this lacks because it will be a definite drag on momentum of the team and church they are leading.

Chemistry – Often neglected in the church because we are all suppose to get along, chemistry is vital for healthy teams to move forward. This is not about forming a team of lemmings but people that trust each other and have the best interests of the team and church in mind and heart. This is a single-mindedness that defines a group that can be noticed in personalities, process, and productivity.

If we have to keep coming back to the table to discern why things unfold so poorly it might be a chemistry issue. This one requires gracious care because it might be an indicator that the person should not be on the team. just as Paul and Barnabas separated, some times the Lord changes the mix of personalities for healthy chemistry in leadership teams.

Capacity – While this key is related to whether the person is competent it has to do with the availability to serve and the margin to go beyond mere competency in leading with the team. Does this person have the time necessary to lead and do they have the capacity to grow as a leader?

The person that never grows or never seeks opportunities to develop as a leader is indicating they may not have the capacity for it. Without it only stagnation happens and momentum is stifled if not killed.

Courage – This key might also be called creativity in that not only should the leader be courageous enough to tackle difficulty and hardships, they also need to creatively face opportunities to make a difference.

Especially as elders, these are the leaders responsible for protecting the flock against false teaching or harm and if the individual doesn’t have the backbone (confidence in humble reliance on Christ) to stand for truth they don’t have what it takes to lead. For the health of a team this courage has to be spread around and while the vocational leader, or paid pastor, does have an obligation to take the bulk of hard situations, he can’t be left alone in it. All members of the team need the courage to work with each other and those they lead, even when things get hard.

Calling – The last key for me is probably the most important. Is the person, man in the case of elders, called to be in the office or role they are pursuing? Forming a team of leaders just because they have the resumes for leadership will get the church nowhere. They must be called by God for the time and purpose of leading.

More so than an individual call they should be able to recognize and submit to the Lord’s calling for direction of the church, the vision he has place on their hearts.


These are six keys that we can use to evaluate the health of a team or the addition to a team. By reviewing these aspects of life and leadership a team should be more equipped for moving in the direction the Lord determines for the church.

Of course all of this, in the church context, must be thouroughly bathed in prayer as the team trusts the Spirit to empower and lead them.

So what do you think? What are missing elements of healthy teams or leaders and how do we go about evaluating them?