Every one of us has our own ‘shepherd’s bag’, our own unique journey preparing us for our particular race. We have all come different ways, from different backgrounds, with different experiences and training to equip us for our own special destiny. As I renew my own journey, on many occasions I have been tempted to put on anothers armour because I felt my ‘shepherd’s bag’ wasn’t sufficient. What I have come to realise is that if I am to function the way God designed me to, I have to have confidence in my ‘shepherd’s bag’.As for my own unique preparation, when I first started my schools ministry I would preach the gospel to young people in such a way as not to offend my Christian friends and peers. I would be very religious and speak to these searching young people in the way I would to Christian youth, using phrases that were easily understood by believers but totally alien to my young unsaved audience. Then, with much misunderstanding and criticism from the Christian world, I started to fight from my ‘shepherd’s bag’. The years spent entertaining in the rock group, my particular sense of humour and my natural ability to communicate were employed to their fullest and the results were amazing. Unorthodox, yes; offensive to some religious people, yes. This was my shepherd’s bag and it worked for me.
I discovered that I had to maximise the brief time I was given, usually only five to ten minutes, to communicate the gospel in a relevant, palatable way, allowing the power of the gospel to have its full effect. As I sat there, a being from another generation facing a thousand complete strangers, I began to realise the invisible wall of acceptance had to be broken down within the first minute if the hearts of these young people were to be reached. I fully understand that before people accept your message they have to accept you, so I had to find a way to stand before a group of prepared, receptive hearts.
The secret was discovered accidentally while I was being introduced by the headmaster as ‘a Christian coming to address the assembly on a religious topic’, which only built the invisible wall higher. I felt something inside my nose causing it to itch like crazy, and as I attempted to relieve the itch with a well-targeted scratch with my finger, I heard ripples of laughter peal across the assembly hall. I quickly realised that the audience of bored teenagers thought I was doing the unthinkable behind the headmaster’s back – picking my nose. I had stumbled upon the divine key to demolish this wall of unacceptance even before I stood to my feet. Nose-picking! The headmaster, still in the middle of introducing his guest speaker, was totally oblivious of the reason for his pupil’s inappropriate sniggering in assembly. I continued to be the morning’s clown, exaggerating each scratch vigorously, and every time the headmaster turned round to try to discover the source of disturbance he found me looking back at him in total innocence and, like himself, totally bemused as to the reason for the pandemonium. When he returned his attention to the assembly, I proceeded with the new-found key God had given me to open up the hearts and minds of my hearers, taking my acceptance level well up on the ‘I like this guy’ acceptometer…“
I had better stop there or I will end up re-writing the book! It’s awesome isn’t it, how God uses each of us just as we are. Now God may not have given me a nose picking ministry ha ha, I am just not that funny, but I know he has given me my own shepherd bag & I intend to use it. What is your shepherd’s bag, are you using it?