I hate being stereotyped.
“She’s fat –she doesn’t care about good health.
She’s old so must be senile.
She doesn’t work- she must be lazy, or uneducated.
And worst of all she’s a woman. They don’t count!
Recently I have had a couple of stories brought to my attention by two friends. The first felt slighted in church because her husband divorced her. Friends still welcome her husband but she feels invisible.
The second was following the directions given her in her calling in church, but another member verbally attacked her, correcting her behavior. She became fearful of him and won’t go to church anymore. Her minister left her feeling like the other person’s feelings were more important because he was a powerful man.
I was reading an old Ensign magazine when I came across and article
Me? A Shepherd in Israel?
By Elder Daniel L. Johnson of the Seventy
“One of the practices that distinguishes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that of having lay shepherds. We have no paid clergy in the wards, branches, stakes, and districts of the Church; rather, the members themselves minister to each other.
Every member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a calling to be a shepherd in Israel. Member-shepherds serve in bishoprics and branch presidencies, as priesthood and auxiliary leaders, as clerks and secretaries, as teachers of every kind—including home and visiting teachers—and in countless other capacities.
Lay shepherds have several things in common. Each has sheep to nourish, encourage, and serve. Each is called by the Lord through His appointed servants. Each is accountable to the Lord for his or her stewardship as a shepherd.”
“We are shepherds watching over Israel. The hungry sheep look up, ready to be fed the bread of life. … Our task is to reach out to those who, for whatever reason, are in need of our help.”
Two breeds of sheep came to my mind.
Shropshires are gentle in disposition. The ewes are prolific and long-lived with wonderful mothering and milking abilities.
Their adaptability to all kinds of pasture land, hardiness to withstand our variable climate, close, oily wool to shield them from the snows and sleet, their longevity and prolificacy and many other outstanding qualities made them widely popular in the States
Merino, breed of fine-wool sheep originating in Spain. It was particularly well adapted to semiarid climates and to nomadic pasturing. Many new breeds come from them.
As shepherds do we just look after the Merinos and ignore the Shropshires?
Or are we responsible for all breeds?
We can relate this not to just the religious stories of finding the lost sheep but also to the different religious and ethnic and economic backgrounds of those we meet and work with.
In one book I’m reading a woman was terrified of the Indians because she had heard stories of savages in the old west.
In our country there are many who fear Muslims because of the actions of some.
We avoid the homeless and the mentally ill.
We turn away from immigrants. We ignore the handicapped, and the poor.
So I asked my cousin whose husband is both a sheepherder and a bishop if he was able to treat his Shropshires and Merinos with equal love. She said they raised Rambouillet/Suffolk sheep.
May we remember our responsibilities as shepherds so that we can give a good accounting to the Lord regarding our stewardship over the sheep He has assigned to each of us.