Shepherding Versus Meddling
Deut. 18:20 says, "But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die." 1Pet.4:15 puts the meddler in the same sentence as the murderer, the thief and as an evildoer.
Not only does the last syllable of shepherding and meddling rhyme but these two verbs have a lot in common. What is the difference between shepherding and meddling? Surely the one can look like the other and the other can look like the one. The shepherd/meddler is involved in lives, the shepherd/meddler is listening and is directing, approving and disapproving, giving input, teaching, helping… So what’s the difference?
The meddler is the one who thinks he/she knows… including the will of God for others. The sin of meddling is the sin of presumption. Do a word study of the word presume or presumption, I’ve never seen it in a positive light. The meddler presumes to know what is best for others. David’s example to us has been one of the meddler. He meddled in others lives. Let me explain. He believed he was gifted as one of God’s chosen to see into others lives, to see what was their sin and what they ought to be and do. He knew for them.
He would jump to conclusions without a basis for such conclusions, time and time again. If you disagreed, you just weren’t walking with the Lord close enough. You would either come around or you would fail completely. His insulting barbs, threats and his insinuating tones would communicate this. David controlled others lives in this fashion. He controlled his family with abuse and he controlled the saints with the fear of God’s displeasure, threats or personal insult.
David’s meddling has been marginalized by the consequences of his life, but does his example remain? Are his methods still used? Does the leadership still meddle? The meddler is sincere and believes his/her meddling is for the best, obviously because they know best.
The last meeting I had with Greg Holder I asked him what he had learned from the tragedy that has transpired here in SLO. His response was a firm opinion that the leadership here needed to learn to lead the people in the will of God and not tell them what they thought it was. David taught us how to tell them. Instead of encouraging the Lord’s people to find out what the will of God is for themselves, tell them. Of course wisdom comes from counsel and shepherds are called to provide counsel and wise guidance. Here is the some guidance of the recent past (last few weeks).
• Concerning Tom’s decision to go to Grace Church, "It is a mistake." Like we know.
• The ethnicity of the woman Toni should marry should be Mexican. Like we know.
• Toni should go to Cuernavaca to get a wife. Like we know.
• After seeking some input from Jeff B. concerning his sister, Toni is given liberty to "go for it." Jeff B. tells him yes she is going to school, but she would like to get married. He travels to N. Calif. Spends time with the Benton’s in an effort to get to know Cristina and returns to be told, no, let Cristina get her education don’t pursue her now, why would an American girl want an uneducated man like Toni. Toni is jerked all around, feeling that the leadership here is not for him and cannot trust them. When Toni communicates his concerns to someone he trusts he is accused of being divisive and entreated in the same breath that a request for forgiveness is given.
• Sheila visits the saints. She has never demonstrated any divisiveness; in fact from all the rumors she had heard she intends to talk to leadership directly with her concerns. Yet, all the saints are warned to be careful around her. This warning not only demeans Sheila’s character putting the saints on-guard in awkwardness with her presence but also is a demonstration of no-good will to the saints. The meddlesome shepherd is presumptuous and knows that the saints are weak and unable to converse with someone as divisive as Sheila. Isn’t this offensive and meddling behavior?
• When there are few volunteering at an outreach meeting, instead of setting the example for the saints, the brethren are goaded to be volunteers. This only promotes guilt and once again the meddler knew they should be volunteering better than themselves.
What patterning remains of David? (What I was finding out was that David was not an anomaly, but a window into his father’s ministry). Only proactive repentance will recover appropriate shepherding where the sheep look to the shepherds for care. When there is meddlesome shepherding people are eventually offended and when there is such a hands on approach in the shepherd, who wants to confide, to ask for guidance or to request prayer for personal needs. It will cultivate ones who want a clergy / laity environment where the priests will find the will of God for you, just submit to their meddling and you’ll be in the center of God’s will.