When I was ordained at the tender age of 22, full of excitement, eager to ‘save the world’, ready to fight the devil himself, I don’t remember that passage being read. When I took those leadership courses in seminary, I remember most of the biblical illustrations given, and I have used them, but I don’t think the sheep and wolves were ever mentioned.
No one warned me about the wolves!
In my 52 years as a pastor-president-counselor-educator, I have discovered that the best illustration of these words of our Lord is what happens to a young leader in a Christian organization, ministry or church. The one who has vision, as well as the passion and the energy to go with it, is literally ‘thrown to the wolves’!
Let me warn you of the ways of the wolves:
1. The idea that others are going to buy into your vision and get as excited as you may disappoint you.
2. The critics of your style or ideas or the way you say something hurts. They will miss the point.
3. Other leaders who are threatened by your youth or energy and are trying to hold on to their ‘leadership’ roll.
4. People who just don’t want any change.
5. Friends who become jealous of you or, fellow workers who try to use you to get something they want.
6. People who dump unwanted and often un-doable jobs on you.
One of the first things you learn in the military is, “Good leadership is critical and can’t be wasted”.
So, how do we protect our leaders?
1. We pray for and with them.
2. We speak kindly of them to their face and behind their backs.
3. We allow them to lead us.
How do you prepare to be that lamb among the wolves?
1. Make sure God has called you to ministry.
2. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
3. Trust Him to take care of you and your critics.
Paul advised young Timothy, “Don’t let anyone despise your youth, but be an example of the believer…” 1 Timothy 4:12