When trying to decide who should serve on your church safety team, there are certain character traits in their life that should stand out. If you do not see a certain kind of fruit growing on their tree, it would be best if you did not let them on the team. And if these traits are absent from those on your team, it’s time for a discussion.
You will never a compose a team of perfect people, but you certainly want to get as close as possible. This team, who assumes responsibility for the safety of the flock, has to be men and women of a particular type of caliber. If you fail to adhere to this rule, you may have someone on the team who is more of a burden than a blessing.
In my travels across the country (as of today, we’ve conducted Sheepdog Seminars in about 40 states), I have met more than one person who was on a church safety team, but probably shouldn’t have been.
Just as it is important that the leadership on your church staff possesses certain marks of character, it is equally important that those on your safety team also have manifested a type of character that honors your church and its reputation.
Remember: the members of your team are often the first to make contact with those who come to church. In light of this, the reputation of your church is at stake. It is wrong to judge; however, people will do it anyway. Knowing this, you must ensure that men and women of quality character are leading the way.
If I were responsible for forming a team, there is one trait that I would seek above others. If this particular feature does not stand out in their life, we will have a problem.
And what is that character trait of which I speak? They must be willing to wear a towel.
I don’t care if he wears ironed and pressed blue jeans, or if she is donning the prettiest dress in the house: if they are not wearing a towel, they cannot be on the team.
“A towel?” you ask. “What could you possibly mean by that?”
The towel is the symbol of servanthood and indicates your willingness to be the servant of all.
No one understood this better than Jesus. Read it for yourself:
“…he (Jesus) got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:4-5 – emphasis mine)
There, you have it. The Son God - God in the flesh - Jesus, the Creator of all mankind. Jesus Christ, who hangs the world on nothing and hurls the stars in their place: who created the rivers by running his finger down the side of the earth - and made the mountains by pinching the dirt! Of him we used to sing, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”
This Jesus, who has ALL POWER AND AUTHORITY…used his power to…wash feet.
In Jesus’ day the streets were filled with “poop.” In the place of cars cruising the roadways, there were oxen, horses, donkeys, camels, and herds of sheep being led about. These animals had no shame, and left their poop all about the city. As a result, a walk through any community caked the feet with poop and dirt.
Have you given this much thought: when Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, he was removing the dung and dirt from their smelly feet.
This may be why Peter, at first, rejected Jesus’ offer to wash his feet. He knew they reeked of such a foul odor. Peter knew, and had confessed, that Jesus was the Son of God, the Holy One, the Messiah. He wouldn’t dare allow him to wash the dung and dirt from his feet.
But Jesus had to show what true leadership (sheep dogging) looked like.
So, you want to be on the church safety team? Let me ask you: Are you willing to deal with “dirt and dung?”
Will you kneel before your brothers and sisters – and even the stranger who may not know Christ – and wash their smelly, stinky feet? If such willingness is no part of you, then do yourself – and the kingdom – a favor: resign.
Jesus went on to tell his disciples that they were to do as he had done. If he, the Son of God, was willing to stoop to such a “low,” then his disciples (church safety team members??), should be willing to do likewise.
Washing feet was reserved for the lowliest of servants. I have read some accounts of where the act was reserved not for the servants of the house, but for the servants of the servants.
I have encountered sheepdogs who exuded a sense of superiority. They acted as if they were above the rest. This is shameful, and may well disqualify them from the team.
I have met others who were marksmen with a gun, but had no skills in serving.
“Servant Leadership” is a popular subject these days. Books and seminars abound on the topic. But one thing I rarely see is this: the practicing of servant leadership. We hang plaques on our halls that highlight it, we talk about it in staff meetings, we preach it to the troops: but we just don’t do it! Indeed, it’s a hot topic, being talked about everywhere. But when it comes to its implementation, it becomes a foreign matter.
If you are a sheepdog, a true one, a legitimate one, then you must be willing to gird yourself with a towel and wash the feet of your family and friends – and even your foes (tradition holds that the first set of feet Jesus washed were those of Judas – his betrayer).
To wash feet means you are willing to be the servant of all. This must be your greatest quality – it must!
That includes serving your pastor. We regularly hear from people who complain that their pastor does not support them. “What should we do about that?” I'm often asked.
I know exactly what you should do. Serve your pastor; wash his feet. That’s right. Make no demands on him or her, simply serve them. In time, God will make a way for you to have a successful safety team. I have seen sheepdogs quit their church over this matter. My goodness, what’s wrong with us?
We are often asked another question, too. “What should we call our safety team? In response, we always urge them to avoid the use of the word “security.” We don’t even encourage the use of the word “sheepdog.” In my opinion, it is best to use something like Life Safety Team. This is actually the terminology used by some churches. And it states with precision what you are about: a group of servants who minister life and ensure the safety of others.
So, what would “foot-washing” look like as I serve on the team any given Sunday. What, exactly, might I be doing? Good question: and here are some ideas:
· Greeting everyone that crosses my path
· Extending a handshake to all who enter
· Offering to park cars for the elderly
· Walking the elderly and single women to their cars after the service
· Picking up any trash left on the grounds
The list is endless.
A few years ago, I noticed a particular opportunity to serve at my church. Each Sunday, before the minister delivered his message, the choir was dismissed to go and sit in the pews with their families.
Many of the choir members were elderly, and as they headed to their seats, they were forced to walk down several rows of steps. This, I noticed, made several of them nervous. You could tell that some of the women, advanced in years, were fearful of falling (it had happened on occasion).
As I saw this, it dawned on me that I could alleviate their fears. Girded with my towel, I brought the remedy to this situation. When the choir was dismissed, I hastily rushed forward and assisted each of them who needed my help. I took the ladies by the hand and ensured that they did not fall. They were more than appreciative.
As I did this Sunday after Sunday, I felt like a real sheepdog: my weapon concealed in my waistband - my towel hanging on my belt.
THIS IS WHAT SHEEP DOGGING LOOKS LIKE…
So, we encourage you to not only carry your concealed weapon with you in your goings, but to also make sure you have your other weapon as well: your towel.
UPCOMING SHEEPDOG SEMINARS
· Atlanta, Georgia – THIS COMING WEEKEND - May 18 and 19. Friday and Saturday morning
· Sabetha, Kansas – Friday, June 8
· San Antonio, Texas – June 22 (Saturday)