Shepherding vs. Ranching: Part 1

In the last post I looked at these two definitions:

Dictionary Definitions:

Shepherding: To herd, guard, tend, or guide as or in the manner of a shepherd.

Ranching: To manage or work on a ranch.

I like the words used in shepherding: herd, guard, tend and guide. Where as a rancher manages or works.

So when I’m asked the question, “Are you a rancher or a shepherd?”, the implication for me is whether or not I want to manage people, or guide them. Managing people is indicative of larger groups, more of a hands off model of leadership and overseeing. Where as guiding and tending reminds me of a very personal hands on experience of walking through life and mentoring people. Because of this, ranchers oversee larger spaces of land and people, and shepherds tend to smaller areas and less people.

This is what I believe is underneath the questions, and the observations of the two metaphors.

A few more questions:

  1. When you think of the tasks of being a pastor, which metaphor is best?
  2. Which metaphor do you prefer in your church leadership?
  3. Can a pastor be both a shepherd and rancher?  Or are they exclusive of one another?  Why or why not?