Dear pastor: You call yourself a shepherd. I wonder…

I love cats. I’ve cared for well over 50 at various times. They aren’t all mine; if I see a cat that is hurt or hungry, I take care of it. That’s who I am. Would you do the same for people who attend other churches or don’t attend at all, unless you thought you’d convince them to come to your church? I can’t imagine a real shepherd seeing a lamb caught somewhere and not taking it with him back to the fold, looking for it’s shepherd and returning it to it’s flock. But many pastors won’t do that. Those that do… I also can’t imagine a shepherd realizing that lamb had been abused and sending it back to an abusive shepherd. There are pastors who would.

I love cats. But the neighbor has a dog. The dog loves to chase the cats, but I don’t hate the dog. He’s doing what comes naturally to him, and though I’ll try to deter him from the cats, I wouldn’t hurt him. Most pastors I’ve known quickly label people “goats” and push them away, even deliberately hurt them, saying it’s “for the safety of the flock”. Goats have their benefits, though, and tend to get along fairly well with sheep from what I’ve seen. So many pastors who call themselves “shepherds” unfortunately don’t know sheep from goats, and kick the ones they label goats away. I’ve never known someone who cares for animals to only care for one type of animal and be mean to other kinds. How can a pastor do that to people?