Shepherds Are Sheep, Too
Copyright (C) 1989/2003
By Phil Scovell
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840 South Sheridan Boulevard
Denver, Colorado 80226-8017
Shepherd's Are Sheep, Too
By Phil Scovell
I have considered for many years the idea of pastors that
are not fulfilling their callings as shepherds. This in no way
suggests that all pastors are not doing their job or fulfilling
their calling. Readers of this will likely have forgotten what I
just said long before they reach the end of what I have to say.
If I were a wagering Baptist, however, I would lay down money
that more than fifty percent of pastors were never called by God
to the ministry. I am not suggesting that they don't have a
definite place in the body of Christ, everybody does for that
matter, but I am suggesting that their calling likely is not
pastoral in nature. I make these statements based up
familiarity, that is, traveling for many years and preaching in
many churches and meeting hundreds of pastors, and from personal
experience as a pastor.
I was a pastor twice, both for short periods of time, and I
loved it both times. The first time was a stop gap affair. They
didn't want me as their pastor, I was their assistant at the
time, because I was blind and they said a blind man couldn't do
all that needed to be done by a pastor. They requested, however,
I stay and fill the pulpit as their pastor until they could find
a full time man. I stayed for four months as a fill-in. Stupid,
I know, but I thought it was the Christian thing to do at the
time. They finally voted on the third man, out of desperation,
and he turned out to be the worst of the three they considered.
Well, four, if you count me as one of the candidates.
My hypothesis that more than fifty percent of pastors were
never called to be pastors starts with my own experience. I
wanted to be a pastor but not originally. I traveled for several
years as a guest speaker because I thought I was called to that
sort of ministry. Plus, I believe the lie that a blind man could
not fulfill the complete ministry of a pastor. Later, as an
assistant pastor, I learned otherwise and I began looking for a
Body of Believers to serve. Talk about rejection. Over and over
again I was turned down when it was learned I was blind. After
three years of trying, I gave up.
One day, many years later, a man pastoring a church I was
in, decided he was tired of being a pastor and furthermore, he
had gotten into a multi level business and was making more money
from that than he was pastoring. He turned his church over to me
and left the church and the ministry. He left the church in a
huge financial mess but he never bothered telling me that when he
turned it over to me. He also left his wife and five children
and began living with the former church secretary. She in turn
left her husband and nine month old baby to live with our former
pastor. In short, I had a spiritual and financial mess on my
hands but I loved the pastorate. I loved working with the
people, praying with the people, and preaching and teaching. I
felt honored, literally, that people would come every Sunday to
hear me preach and teach. I was even more humbled that they
would put money into the offering plate and support the ministry
God had given me. We did not hold a literal offering plate under
their nose either. Not that I think that is wrong, but we just
had a wooden box with a slot cut into the top of it sitting in
the vestibule. People put their offerings in so it wasn't like
we forced anybody into giving; they did it willingly and it
certainly wasn't due to my great speaking ability.
After all the passed due bills were caught up and we moved
to a more affordable facility, I began to sense the Holy Spirit
indicating that, first, I was not a pastor, and second, the Lord
wanted our church to close. this bothered me greatly since I was
the happiest I had ever been in my life. I did my best to ignore
the Holy Spirit concerning the church and my calling because I
wanted, with all my heart, to be a pastor because I absolutely
love people. I could feel what the Lord was saying, however,
deep within my spirit but I thought I could turn the church into
something that would glorify God if I just did everything right
and if I could do that, God would be happy and let me stay. My
mistake was not realizing that He was going to get His glory by
closing the church; not keeping it open.
As the months went by, I knew something was wrong. It was
me. I wasn't a pastor and I was pastoring a church that wasn't a
church. Additionally, the Holy Spirit was revealing to me that
the church I was pastoring was never supposed to be a church in
the first place. In fact, the Lord revealed to me that the
church was never His idea. Then why did 150 people, at one time,
go there? The pastor was a first class musician and he was a
first rate Bible teacher. He was likeable, friendly, had a great
sense of humor, and he was a good organizer. None of those,
however, are requirements for being a pastor. They certainly
help a ministry but they aren't requirements. God always honors
His Word no mater who preaches it. Plus, this man had started
the church by default. He admitted to me he couldn't get along
with anybody so he decided to stay out of church all together.
Eventually, someone asked him to start a Bible study in their
home and from there came the church. He never said he was called
or the Lord led him; people just liked his teaching.
My job, given to me by God, was to literally close the
church without any encumbering financial indebtedness and that is
what occurred. It was, however, the most difficult thing I ever
did. When we closed the doors for the last time, we owed no man
anything and the thousands of dollars of equipment and furniture
which remained, we donated to a couple of churches in need.
I cried rivers of tears and spent sleepless nights for
months. I sank into the deepest depression I had ever known. I
had failed myself, my people, my family, and worst of all, I had
failed God. Nothing was left. I became suicidal. I heard
voices. Anxiety attacks not only nearly killed me but it
frightened me in ways I can't even describe. I was still 35
years old and I knew there was a glimmer of hope that some day,
if I could just hang on, that I could be in the ministry again.
I started a small business which rapidly became so
successful that I found it difficult to believe. I was finally
happy again but I wasn't in full time ministry, which was my
greatest desire, so I wasn't really all that happy. When your
panic attacks, I didn't know what those were at the time, and
your anxiety attacks, which I did know what those were at the
time, subside, and the voices you hear drop back to a low roar,
and you are suicidal only once and awhile, that seems to be a
cause for happiness. It isn't, and it wasn't, but I thought it
was. Demons are patient. They don't mind waiting a few years,
or even many years, to launch a bigger attack, if that is, they
figure the next attack will be successful. They are fooled and
deceived, too, you know, by the master deceiver, but I digress.
During the years I was in business, I still tried everything
I could think of to get back into ministry. I tried starting a
church in my home. I tried starting a monthly tape ministry of
Biblical teaching which I would mail to subscribers. I tried a
live call-in Christian radio talk show. I tried a Christian
counseling ministry. Nothing worked.
One day, I had this funny feeling the Lord was calling me to
an office of ministry and that was the office of prophet. I
immediately said, no, of course, because I wasn't even convinced
in the ministry of modern day prophets. As time passed, the
feeling of being a prophet grew stronger. I forced it down to
the best of my ability.
finally, four years went by and I could not stand it any
longer. I told the Lord I didn't even believe in modern day
prophets and furthermore, I had no idea what a modern day prophet
was. I suggested, if the Lord could prove to me from His word,
using the New Testament, none of this Old Testament stuff, what
the office of a prophet was in relationship to today's church, I
might consider His calling. "Might" was the key word in my
prayer. So, after a few weeks of suffering, I went to my
computer and began to study the New Testament in relationship to
a New Testament Prophet. boy, was I surprised.
I well remember one night as I prayed in my office on my
knees, giving myself to the Lord. I told Him that He would
certainly have to direct me because I was walking on unstable
legs as far as the office of a prophet was concerned as it
related to the church. Nevertheless, I gave myself to the
leading of the Holy Spirit. In some respects, I was
disappointed. I wanted to be a pastor but it was not God's will
for my life.
Within thirty days of giving myself to the will of the Lord
concerning the office of a prophet, the Lord gave me my first
opportunity to minister to a pastor and his church as a prophet.
I won't detail all that led up to what happened that day because
it would take some time to explain. Needless to say, however,
the Lord open the door so wide, I could do nothing but walk
through it. It was a bombshell, a bust, a train wreck, a
backfire, a galactic stellar explosion, a volcanic eruption, a
munitions blast, a bomb burst, a nuclear detonation, and
resulting in a nuclear winter when it was all over. a I spoke
for nearly 45 minutes, the Holy Spirit leading me every step of
the way, and when I finished, the pastor was mad, the church
members, some of them, were upset, and I felt horrible. I blamed
God for calling me in the first place and I told Him what He
could do with his office of a prophet. the Lord laughed it off
and accused me of being a big baby. Well, all that happened in
so many words. So far, all these years, never once has any
pastor taken what I have said, when being led of the Holy Spirit,
seriously, spiritually valuable, or even usable. In fact, most
have been ticked off. You would think that response alone would
make me consider I was wrong. Oh, no, not me. I just plunge
right on like I know what I am doing and making enemies all along
this all could be due to a couple of reasons. first, I may
be 100 percent wrong, that is, maybe I wasn't led by the Holy
Spirit after all. The second reason is due to what we all have
been taught about the office of a pastor.
Nobody messes with the pastor because that would be like
messing with God. He is number one. He is the top of the
spiritual food chain. He teaches and preaches the best because
he is called and anointed and lead and blessed and gifted of the
Holy Spirit and who wants to mess with the Holy Spirit? Come to
think of it, the pastor is even filled with the Holy Spirit and
you sure can't say that about everybody in the church, that's for
dead sure. Plus, he is humble. Nobody is as humble, works as
hard, and is as dedicated as the pastor. He's been to Bible
college and seminary and he has sacrificed everything for the
church. You haven't noticed how much he has sacrificed for his
people but that's because you are selfish and unspiritual and you
aren't a called and anointed pastor. Plus, you are too busy
being critical of everything he does and doesn't do.
Additionally, he lives on peanuts for sake of the church. He
could be pastoring some big mega church some place but the Lord
led him here so he lives on bread and water because you need him.
Nobody is as gifted as the pastor. I know this because any
time I have seen someone manifest a gift of the Holy Spirit which
the pastor of that church does not have, conflict is the result.
It is ok if a person from the outside comes in and has a gift
which the pastor doesn't have but let that person be a member of
his own church, and there is hell to pay, sort of speak, any time
that person uses the gift God has given them. I know this from
personal experience. I understand why this is now but over the
years, I was totally confused by this pastoral attitude.
Something else worth your consideration is how much the
pastor does? I mean, he hangs dry wall, he paints, he cleans, he
runs the sweeper, he cleans the toilets, arranges the song books,
correlates all the Sunday school materials, shovels the snow from
the walks, counts the offerings, that goes without saying, fills
the toilet paper hangers before church each Sunday, polishes the
pulpit all alone, is the last one out, turns out all the lights,
locks all the doors, checks all the windows, and he spends long
hours surfing the internet every week for materials to include in
his sermon. Not only that, look at the millions, well, hundreds,
of dollars he has spent on his personal library.
Don't say anything about the pastor because if you do, God
won't bless you. Besides, if you say anything, that's gossip and
the Lord is going to get you if you gossip; especially about the
Last, but not least, he is the man of God who hears from
God. Try and top that one and see where it takes you.
I realize that it is possible the somebody is going to think
I don't know what I am talking about even if I was a pastor once.
Well, twice. First, let me point out that not all pastors are
this way. I have known of at least two pastors who were not.
Well, one of the two was like this but only half the time so I
guess you could say I know one and a half pastors who weren't as
I have described. Of course, I am exaggerating but tell me; am I
wrong? If you have been a church member more than a month
anywhere at any time, you know what I am saying is the truth.
Why is it true, therefore, if indeed it is, that many pastors are
this way? Because they were taught it is supposed to be this
way. blame the Bible colleges they attended, blame their
pastors, blame other pastors who teach it, or blame their wives.
It makes little difference who gets the blame. By the way, most
people blame the pastor's wife anyhow no matter what the truth
is, so you might as well get started blaming her now and get it
"So, what's your real opinion of a pastor?"
I'm glad you asked. I think pastors are the greatest people
on earth. I love pastors and they have one of the greatest
callings a man could ever have in the body of Christ. To their
chagrin, however, they are not the king of the hill or even the
top of the heap; that is reserved for apostles and prophets. If
you doubt this, read Ephesians Chapter 2 and pay close attention
to whom is attributed the foundation of the church in verse 20
and of whom Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone. That verse
pretty well tells the story of rank in the body of Christ. If
that doesn't confirm it for you, then thumb over to First
Corinthians Chapter 12 and read along about the body of Christ
until you hit verse 28 and see what it says. In this case,
pastors aren't even mentioned. That's kind of scary, if you are
a pastor, that is. If you are still unconvinced, them zip over
to Ephesians Chapter 4 and read about the body of Christ in that
chapter. When you get to verse 11, stop and think about what you
just read. then try and use the Bible to prove to me that the
pastoral office is the top of church governmental structure.
I realize this makes a lot of pastors nervous because the
bible seems to rank them a few notches lower than they originally
thought when the Lord called them to preach. It's all right,
however, because it's like I told a friend of mine once.
Shepherds are sheep, too.
It is like the issue of women submitting to their own
husbands. I have heard every imaginable theological explanation
of this Biblical principle but there is only one that works and
that is, the husband is the spiritual authoritative head of his
home. Take my word for it, I don't even like that position. I
would much rather my wife take all the blame for everything that
goes wrong while I get the glory. I would much rather have my
wife stand before God some day to give an account of why my
family turned out the way it did. I'd even pay her to take my
place, if that would work, but you know? God made me the head of
my home. Yes, I have heard hundreds of sermons on this topic but
I have never once liked my position.
It finally hit me one day as I thought about it. The Holy
Spirit spoke to me and said, "You know what, Scov, it don't mean
a thing that you don't like it; I'm holding you responsible for
your family." I realized then, I can kick and stream and cry and
become a drunk or sleep with other women or blow dope until my
brain falls out through my ears and I will still be responsible
to God for my family. This means, if there are demons in my
house, I have the most authority over them. This means if my
kids, now grown, bring people into my home which are
unacceptable, I am responsible to do something about it. Need I
Let's turn this around. I've known some women that like
their position in the family. They would prefer to be the head
and to take the responsibility and some try their dead level
best, too. Just as the man does not take his rightful place and
the line of authority is distorted, so it is if the woman tries
taking a wrongful place in the relationship. I understand the
old man isn't doing his job according to Scripture but that's
between he and God. I can't take the blame for everything and
certainly not for your own family. Look, I didn't write the
bible. If this bothers you, take it up with God. My wife can
stand in our living room and curse all the demons she wants but
if I don't stand up and take the greater authority given to me by
God and I sit over in the corner saying, "Boy that's good," the
demons are going to laugh themselves silly and they aren't going
any where for very long. Why? Because, if my wife does it for
me, she is out of order and demons and Satan and even God will
not function when things are out of Biblical order.
So, pastors, start acting like sheep and if you have been
called to be a shepherd, then act like a shepherd. Jesus, the
Great Shepherd, left the 99 sheep and went out after the one who
had lost his way. When, pastor, was the last time you went after
one of your sheep who isn't coming to church any more? When,
pastor, is the last time you went, taking your wife, and went to
visit a woman who lives alone with children who won't obey her
and do nothing but make her life hell on earth? When, pastor,
was the last time you cried yourself to sleep at night because
one of your members is living in sin and doesn't seem to be
If you are wondering what I really think about pastors, let
me tell you a story.
A few years ago, I was in my office running my high speed
cassette duplicator making copies for a church with whom I had a
contract. The Lord said, "Call Rayburn." I explained to the
Lord that His timing was all off because it was the middle of the
day. You see, back then, long distance rates during the day, in
state, were like 25 cents a minute. Nobody called anybody in
their own state during the day time back then. The Lord said,
"Call Rayburn." I suggested I call him later that evening when
the rates would be affordable. The Lord said, "Call Rayburn." I
asked why I should be calling Rayburn in the middle of the most
expensive call time of the day. The Lord said, "Because he is
financially broke and needs some encouragement. Get on the phone
now." I stopped what I was doing and walked to the phone and
dialed Rayburn's number. He answered. We talked for a good 45
minutes about little things.
finally Rayburn said, "Phil, why are you calling me just to
visit in the middle of the day when it cost so much?"
I himmed and hawed around but he was still suspicious and
pressed me for a more definite answer. So I finally suggested I
might be calling because he was discouraged. He admitted he was.
Then I suggested he might be broke and in financial need, which I
could not do anything about, and he said, he was, in fact, flat
busted broke. He told me he was two months behind in his house
payment and he didn't know what they were going to do. I said,
"Rayburn, have you told any of the men on your board about this?"
He said he hadn't. You see, Rayburn wasn't really a sheep as
much as he was a chicken but I digress. I suggested that perhaps
the men of his church might like to know that their pastor was
going under. He said he could never talk to them about such
matters. Pride is a terrible thing and it looks worst when a
pastor wears it, too.
By the way, Rayburn is one of the finest soul winners I have
ever known in my life. I've been with him as he shared the
Gospel with people. He is a master at winning people to the Lord
because he has the gift of evangelism. He loves people, too,
before and after they get saved. I know that is rare but it is
true with this man. We talked awhile longer, until my bill was
25 dollars, and hung up.
I had preached in Rayburn's church a few times and I also
got to know some of the men he pastored. Furthermore, this
church was running about 100 members, at the time, and later it
reached 150 and they had to go to two services. The town had
1500 people in it and the church building was small. Rayburn had
led nearly every church member he had to the Lord personally.
Like I said, he was one of the greatest soul winners I ever knew.
So, since I knew some of the men in his church, I called one of
"Hello, Ray, this is Phil Scovell."
"Well, hello, Phil. How are you doing?"
"Mighty fine, Ray."
"Well, it is sure good to hear your voice, Phil. What
brings you to these parts? Are you here to preach?"
"Naw, Ray. I'm in Denver at home."
"Oh, I see. Well, hows come it is you are calling me?"
"Well, Ray, have you talked to your pastor lately?"
"Sure," ray said, "I talk to him most every day. Why?"
I said, "Well, how does he seem to you?"
"Now there's an odd question," Ray replied. "He sounds just
like his old self. Why?" he wanted to know with some suspicion
to his voice.
"Because," I replied, "Rayburn is flat busted broke. He's
two months behind on his house payment and Lord only knows what
else he is behind on."
"My, I surely didn't know that, Phil. How'd you find out
all this and when?"
I said, "I found out today when I called him on the phone
and asked him."
"Boy," Ray said, "I surely didn't know this and nobody else
in the church knows it either."
"Well, Ray," I said, "I have no idea of the financial
condition of the church. I don't know if you boys can help your
pastor or not but if you can, I am asking you to do whatever you
can for him and his family."
Ray said, "Phil, the church is in fine financial shape.
Why, this is no problem at all. We can fix him right up so don't
you worry none about that. I sure wish he would have told us
though. Why do you reckon he didn't mention this to one of us,
I said, "He's proud. He didn't want anybody to know how
broke he was and that he was going to lose his house. He
probably feels as if he is a lousy financial steward."
"Well, shoot," Ray said, "if a man needs help, he needs help
and he should be asking for it. I'll tell you one thing, Brother
Phil, we sure will take care of this. I'll get some of the men
together, we'll fix up his bills and get him caught up, and make
sure his family has all the food they need, too. So I don't want
you to worry about this any more because it is a done deal.
Thanks for calling to tell me, too, because otherwise, we never
would have known about it."
A couple of weeks later, I called
Rayburn to see how things were. He told me they caught up his
house payments, paid off his other bills, got food for his
family, and gave him a raise. He thanked me but said I shouldn't
have done it. Pride again. I'll tell you, pastors are riddled
with it. I reminded my knuckle head pastor friend that
shepherd's are sheep, too. I told him, "You've taught them well
and you continually feed your sheep. So, it is payback time.
Let them feed you and care for you and meet your needs because
shepherds are sheep, too." He admitted that was true and that he
had never thought of it that way before but it made sense.
does it make sense to you? Are you a pastor or pastor's
wife? Have you forgotten you aren't number one? Have you
forgotten Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone and everybody
else comes last? Have you forgotten shepherds are sheep, too?
Sure, it's humbling but if the shoe fits, well, you know the
rest. If you want your ministry to glorify God, you better kick
the pride right in the head and while you are doing that, tell
the devil where to go, too.
My personal opinion about a pastor's job is pretty simple.
Sure, you, as a pastor teacher, need to do both but you aren't
even commanded to do either well with precise execution or
flowing allocution. You need to win people to Christ. When you
get someone in the church who has the gift of evangelism, you
won't have to do this all alone. Until then, win souls and
disciple them even if you have to do it on a one-to-one bases.
Later you can teach others how to win souls and disciple people
and this becomes something you won't be singularly responsible
for as a pastor.
While you are at this, figure out through prayer and
observation, what gifts of the Spirit each of your people have.
They all have at least one, you know? Well, if you don't know,
it's true. I say, pray about it, because observation alone often
will not yield an idea of their gifting in the Body of Christ.
So praying for them individually is going to be your only true
method of discovering their gifts. Then, once you know their
gift, you need to allow them to use that gift in some way in the
Body. If they don't know how, you will have to teach them. This
does not mean, as the pastor, that you have to have the gift
yourself but you should know, from your Biblical training and
study, how that gift works in the church.
Finally, pray more than you do anything else as far as
church work is concerned. If you spend more time hanging dry
wall, painting, sweeping the carpets, and hanging toilet paper,
then you are too busy at the wrong things. Get back to praying
and from your times of prayer the Holy Spirit will show you what
to preach and teach and whom to minister to at the right time.
Get these four basic elements out of order, or wrong all
together, and your ministry won't be worth spit to anybody
including you. What were those four things? Pray, preach, win
souls, and determine the personal gifts of your people. when you
have done all this, keep repeating it all until you get it right.
One more thing. You are a sheep, too. If you do not allow
your people to minister back to you as you minister to them, hang
it up now and resign. They need to minister to you. How is this
When you are discourage with ministry work and pressures,
tell them and request they pray for you. No, not when they go
home after church but right now. Invite them all, every single
one of them, to the front, have them lay hands upon you, and pray
their hearts out for their discouraged pastor. The same goes for
your wife. You forget her, and the trouble is about to begin.
You think the enemy is after you and the church? You bet he is
but if he can, he will target your wife first and most often.
She is a sheep, too, so don't forget to minister to her and don't
forget to allow your people to minister to her. If you need
money, say so. If you are sick, say so and ask for your people
to anoint you with oil and to pray for you. If your kids are
causing you some problems, tell your people and get them to pray
over your children. I don't care what age the children are just
do it. If the church needs an increase in offerings, tell them.
Pastors simply often get weary of ministry work. That's normal.
what is abnormal is not remembering who you are and forsaking the
ministry of your own people for and to you.
Let me finish with this story. I was visiting a pastor and
his church here in the Denver area many years ago. The church
ran about 150 people. That Sunday morning, during his sermon,
the pastor said he had been mowing the grass of the church
property Saturday morning and complaining about it the whole
time. He kept telling the Lord, "Why don't one of my church
members offer to do this job so I could be doing more important
things like praying and reading the Bible and studying for my
sermon." He kept this diatribe up for quite awhile as he angrily
shoved the growling lawn mower around the church lot during
the heat of the day.
Finally, he said, the Lord answered his prayer. That is,
the Lord responded to what he was saying. The pastor told his
people, the Lord said, "Son, who gave you this church to pastor?"
The pastor quickly said, "Why, you did Lord."
He said, the Lord replied by saying, "Then I can take it
away from you if you feel you are being mistreated and
The pastor said his whole attitude suddenly changed. He
praised the Lord for giving him such a wonderful church and he
thanked him for allowing him, of all people, the ability and
privilege of mowing the church grass. He sang hymns and whistled
and glorified God the whole rest of the time. Plus, he said, he
now loves mowing that church grass and wouldn't have it any other
I don't think there is any interpretation required of this
true story. God is good and so are his sheep of which pastors
are one. They just have the extra privilege of being a shepherd,
Now, go back and read the first paragraph of this article.
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