Following the Shepherd’s Lead

By Barry Davis

[1]Kitty Anderson told the story about Jerry, whose parents own a sheep farm, who frequently took a few days off from work every spring to look for sheep. She asked why he would have to look for sheep. Don’t they know how to get home?

He told her that whenever a pregnant ewe goes into labor, she immediately sits down. But if she is facing downhill when she sits, she will stay in that direction, fighting against gravity to push the lamb out of the womb. If no one helps her, she will die in that position rather than simply turn around.

Jerry said every night his family has to carefully count the pregnant sheep. When even one ewe is missing, the whole family goes out to search for her. They either bring her home or stay with her until her labor is over. If the weather is harsh, they have to build a shelter around her, while using their bodies to keep her warm.

We, as pastors, are like that stubborn animal. We often face trials in ministry with the attitude that we can conquer the obstacles by ourselves. We fear for the flock God has given to us and worry about the various trials and tribulations in their lives. We fret over whether or not they are faithful. Perhaps it is a matter of pride, or of being overly self-confident, but we feel that there is something that we must do, say, or pray, that will lead our sheep in the right direction. The good news for us, as well as for our flock, is that Jesus has the answers for every single one of them.

If we would just stop, as under shepherds, and look to our lead Shepherd, we will discover that we can solve our problems by simply turning around and following His lead. God has a simple solution already prepared for us. We are not the solution makers, but our Shepherd is. Consider the following four truths, and acknowledge that God has this under control!


“So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as elders.” — Acts 20:28 (NLT)


“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.” Luke 15:4-5 (NLT)


 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me.” John 10:14 (NLT)

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27 (NLT)


He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. — Psalm 23:2-3 (NLT)


[1] Kitty Anderson, Lakewood, California


By Thom Rainer

The pastor’s wife in many churches carries heavy burdens.

Sometimes they are impossible expectations.

To be fair, this post could refer to any church staff person, male or female, so it could be called ministers’ spouses. For simplicity, and because I primarily hear from this group of people, I refer to them as pastors’ wives.

So what are some of these unfair expectations? Here are the top ten expectations imposed upon these ladies.

  1. “I am expected to attend every function at the church.” One wife told us that church members resent it when she is seen doing anything outside the church.
  2. “Many church members expect me to know everything that is happening in the church.” In other words, they should know everything their pastor/husband knows.
  3. “We have several church members who feel free to complain to me about my husband.” So her church has several members who are lacking in emotional intelligence.
  4. “Church members utilize me as a de facto assistant to my husband, giving me messages for him.” One wife shared with us that she received eleven messages to give to her husband after a specific worship service.
  5. “I am still amazed how many church members expect me to function as an employee of the church.” Some are expected to lead music or play piano. Others are expected to act in a specific ministry employee role such as student or children’s director.
  6. “Some of the members expect our children to be perfect and act perfect.” One wife explained that she and her husband were new to a church when a church member confronted them about their misbehaving children. Their outlandish sin was running in the church after a worship service.
  7. “I am always supposed to be perfectly made up and dressed when I leave the house.” A church member expressed her dismay to a pastor’s wife who ran into a grocery store without makeup. You can’t make this stuff up.
  8. “I have no freedom at our church to be anything but perfectly emotionally composed.” This story really got to me. A deacon chastised a pastor’s wife for shedding tears at church four days after her dad died.
  9. “I think some of our church members expect my family to take a vow of poverty.”She was specifically referring to the criticism she received for purchasing a six-year-old minivan after her third child was born.
  10. “So many church members expect me to be their best friend.” And obviously a pastor’s wife can’t be the best friend to everyone, so she disappoints or angers others.

These are some of the comments we have received at this blog over the years from pastors’ wives. And it seems as though these trials are more gender biased. For example, the husband of a children’s minister commented that he rarely has the pressure and expectations that he sees imposed upon female spouses.

But more than other staff positions, the pastor is naturally the focus of attention and, often, criticism.

And the pastor’s family, by extension, becomes the focus of unfair and unreasonable expectations.



This article was originally published at on September 4, 2017. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at

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