The Essence of Coaching (pt. 4): Cultivating the Heart of a Shepherd

Today we wrap up our series “The Essence of Coaching” which was based off of Bill Donahue’s and Greg Bowman’s book Coaching Life Changing Small Group Leaders by talking about one of the most important aspect of small group leadership: shepherding.


The Essence of Coaching – Cultivating the Heart of A Shepherd

Today we are going to be turning to our Bibles (surprise!) Because in the Bible we get a picture of what the heart of a Shepherd looks like.

Think through who have been the most influential models for shepherding in your life… Has it been a Lifegroup leader you have had in the past? A parent? Maybe a particular pastor? Now I want you to order those in terms of the impact they have had on your shepherding style. Done? Great. Now where does God himself fall on that list? The point of that brief exercise is to show you that God should be our primary model for shepherding. In fact, God calls himself a shepherd MANY times throughout the Bible. So lets take a look at how God shepherds his people. Choose 1 of the following passages to study and meditate on:

Read Psalm 23

  • What Characteristics of God’s shepherd’s heart do you see here?
  • Here is what I see
    • God guides to rest and refreshment
    • God comforts in the face of difficulty
    • God assures us of his presence

Read Ezekiel 34:11-16

  • What Characteristics of God’s shepherd’s heart do you see here?
  • Here is what I see
    • God leads the sheep to places of rest
    • God searches for the lost
    • God binds up the weak

Read John 10:7-18

  • What Characteristics of God’s shepherd’s heart do you see here?
  • Here is what I see
    • Jesus Provides protection
    • Jesus is willing to make sacrifices for his sheep
    • Jesus is committed to the wellbeing of the flock

All of these characteristics of a shepherd are not exhaustive. You could add many more characteristics to the list of how God shepherds and how we should shepherd.  Regardless, our heart as shepherds for God’s people should reflect God’s heart as a shepherd for his people. After all we are called to be God’s under-shepherds. So as you gather to shepherd your Lifegroup Leaders, remember God’s heart as a shepherd for you! Then lead out of that same heart!

Some Questions to Reflect On:

  • Who are some shepherds that you look up to? Watch how they deal with people. How do they reflect God’s heart as a shepherd?
  • What are some other passages of scripture that reveal God’s heart as a shepherd? Read and mediate upon these passages.
  • Looking back at the passages that we read (Psalms, Ezekiel, or John). Which characteristics do you display as a shepherd? Which characteristics would you like to/need to grow in?


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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