So, HBO (Home Box Office) gives me a call a few months ago. They had seen an article about Sheepdog Seminars, picture included, on the front page of the Los Angeles Times. The Sheepdog “thing” had caught their attention, and they wanted to know more.
Assuming we were all about guns, they call me. The caller worked for VICE NEWS, a division of HBO.
It wasn’t long before they delved into the question about guns. “Do you guys carry guns?” she asked.
“Some do, some don’t,” I replied. “But we don’t just wear guns: we also wear towels.”
My response threw her off. Apparently, the article had led her to believe that we were all about guns. And though we are certainly believers in the 2nd Amendment, I told her, we are about so much more.
I then went on to explain the “weapon” called a towel.
If you’re a sheepdog and serve as such in your church (or anywhere for that matter), you must also wear a towel. This is true for all who are adherents to the Christian faith. Throughout scripture, the towel is repeatedly emphasized. As a matter of fact, if you profess faith in Jesus, it is far more important that you wear a towel - more so than a gun (I know some Christian sheepdogs who are far more acquainted with their gun than they are the towel).
What, then, is the towel? It is explained in the gospel of John, chapter 13:
“Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.”
The towel is the “weapon” we use to wash the feet of others. Jesus made this clear a few verses later:
“…since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.”
Yes, fellow sheepdog, this is your high calling. You must not only be good with your gun: you must be good with your towel. And the power of the towel is clearly seen in Jesus’s use of it: he washed feet.
Consider this carefully: Jesus is the Lord of all. He is the Creator of all thing. He rules the heavens above, and the earth below. Yet, even though he possesses all of this authority and power: he chose to wash the smelly, dirty feet of his disciples.
Washing feet in Jesus’ day was reserved for the lowest of the servants. It was the task of the “slave of the slaves.” If you washed feet, you were on the bottom of the totem pole.
And yet, here is Jesus, the Son of God, girded with a towel, washing the feet of sinful men.
Consider just how dirty their feet were. Walking around the streets of Jerusalem, one would often step onto the manure left by the various animals. This is one reason why foot-washing was necessary. Someone had to remove the “crap” from the feet of their guests. Thus, the lowliest of the slaves was summoned to the room, and there he engaged in the most unpleasant of tasks: removing dirt and dung from the house guests.
And this is what Jesus did.
And this is your calling, too.
Fellow sheepdogs, next time you’re at church, see how many feet you can wash. Now, I don’t mean that you need to ask those who enter to remove their socks and shoes so that you can do so. There are other ways to “wash feet.” The whole idea of washing feet implies that we are willing to be the servants of all men.
When at church (or anywhere), make an attempt to “out-serve” everyone else. Here is a way you can do so…
Everyone who enters the house of worship should see your extended hand. A handshake is a powerful act. It conveys to the recipient that you have acknowledged him/her, and you’re thrilled that they have come to church. Some churches have realized this and have established what is commonly called the “first impressions ministry.”
Remember this: before they do anything else inside your church, they will have an encounter with you! And some who enter your house of worship may be “at the end of their rope.” They may be there as a last resort, hoping to discover something that may lead them to believe that there is “hope.” And their first contact is … YOU!!!
Let me add something important about this. One of the reasons you’re doing the sheepdog thing at church is because you’re aware of the threat of violence. Chances are, this Sunday or the next, someone somewhere is going to attend a church and create a disturbance of some sort. If they enter your church and receive a hearty handshake, and you look them straight in the eyes as you speak, you may well have prevented an act of violence.
Those who enter a church with evil intent want to keep a low profile. They don’t want a greeting, a handshake, someone looking into their eyes, or, worse, having to engage in a lengthy conversation.
Thus, if you have a “bad feeling” about someone who enters, quickly extend your hand. Offer not only a handshake, but your name. The longer they are engaged with you, the more uncomfortable they will become (and this is good if you suspect trouble). Thus, if they have evil intent, your contact with them may thwart their plan.
There’s something else you need to know about your handshake. This may be something you have never given any thought to, but it is worthy of your consideration… so, here goes… get ready…
Research has revealed something very interesting about the human heart. The heart of every human being emits “waves.”* These waves travel at least 10 feet from our body and, furthermore, strike the brain of everyone within that radius (it is suspected that they travel even further, however, technology only allowed them to measure 10 feet. Research was conducted by Heart Math Institute).
If a person is happy, compassionate, and caring (along with other such attributes), then the waves that proceed from them contain those particular emotions. Your “joyful, happy waves” will strike those within 10 feet and may result in lifting their spirits.
You’ve heard the phrase, “when he comes in, he lights up the room.” There’s actually a ton of truth in that statement. He “lights up the room,” or “spreads darkness,” depending on what’s in him.
Now, consider this. Jesus talked about these “waves” when he walked the earth. He said of those who believed in him that “rivers of living water” would flow forth out of their innermost being (i.e. heart). What does this mean for you as you serve as the church’s sheepdog?
It means this: your handshake is no mere handshake: “rivers of living water” are coming out of your hand – and your heart. Or, as our researchers discovered, “waves” are pouring out of your you, striking everyone with whom you come into contact. If you’re happy, caring, and compassionate: if a smile is on your face: if joy is springing from your heart, then, that is what you are passing on to those whose hand you shake!
So, go for it. After-all, it’s Christmas: “Tis the season to be jolly….”