Blue-Collar or White-Collar Shepherd

In a country like Korea, it can be desirable to be a pastor or "moksanim." It's a high-prestige, resource-rich profession in Korean society. People "bow" at pastors here as if they are gods and it can be tempting to toot your own horn! Prosperity, indeed, is graduate-level test of integrity.

As the scalpel begins to cut into my view of biblical pastoring, i also remember the hundreds of more common "blue-collar shepherds" I've been serving back home and in my international ministry over the years. Most of them face adversity and even persecution. Their life and ministry are simplified to the basics that often test their ability to survive.

Whether blue-collar or white-collar, in adversity or prosperity, the tilt of the neck needs to be the same! Both "kinds" of pastors should look up to see God. He is the judge over all of us. "For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation; but God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another" (Psalm 75: 6, 7). He is the one who gives or takes away. Ultimately, God is the one who raises up or brings down (1 Samuel 2:7, Daniel 2:21). This biblical principle actually does apply to all of us throughout our life journey.

A beautiful example is David. In Psalm 78, God took David as a "blue-collar," humble young shepherd and exalted him to the "white-collar" highest office of the land. David was just counting sheep. He was not wealthy, prodigious, or super-educated. But he was a shepherd with integrity. And once he became "white-collar" king to shepherd God's people, he proved time and time again that he was still a shepherd of integrity (vv. 70, 72 ... "so he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands").

David, the shepherd, says, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way" (Psalm 139: 23, 24). That's his secret of integrity. Not because he was always right or spiritually on fire, but because he continually laid his heart bare before God.