Implementing a Theology of Work - Lesson 1

Shepherding Horses

In this lesson, you will explore the concept of implementing a theology of work and the role of church leaders in mentoring and guiding workplace leaders. You will delve into the analogy of shepherding horses, which represent strong, independent, and powerful individuals in the workplace. By understanding how to train and support these leaders, you will be better equipped to help them grow spiritually and make a meaningful impact in their workplaces. This lesson will also discuss the importance of trust, control, and focus in developing these leaders, as well as the challenges that can arise in managing their independent spirit, pagan associations, fearlessness in battle, and potential for false hopes.

Kent  Humphreys
Implementing a Theology of Work
Lesson 1
Watching Now
Shepherding Horses

I. Introduction

A. Relationships between church and workplace leaders

B. Helping people reach their workplaces for Jesus Christ

C. Mentoring the next generation of leaders

II. Shepherding Horses

A. Understanding God's plan for transforming leaders

B. Horses as independent and powerful creatures

C. Training horses in the church

III. Training Horses: Steps and Challenges

A. Earning their trust

B. Convincing the horse to be under control

C. Teaching the horse to focus

IV. Horses in God's Word

A. Independent spirit

B. Representing a pagan marketplace

C. Fearless in battle

D. False hopes

  • In this lesson, you learn about the importance of developing and supporting workplace leaders, likened to shepherding horses, and how to guide them to make a positive impact in their workplaces while growing spiritually. You'll explore the challenges of managing their independent spirit and potential pitfalls, and the significance of trust, control, and focus in their development.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain insight into God's purposes for us in the workplace, emphasizing the importance of relationships and the four key words the Holy Spirit highlights: Kingdom, Relationships, Community, and Transformation, helping you become an effective ambassador for Christ in your workplace.
  • This lesson teaches you how to naturally proclaim Christ in the workplace, emphasizing that the core mission is to love God and love people. You will discover the importance of evangelism and discipleship as ongoing processes, and how incorporating biblical values in the workplace positively impacts employees and business growth.
  • This lesson helps you understand and overcome obstacles to workplace ministry, emphasizing the importance of personal transformation, serving the community, and representing Jesus in daily life.
  • In this lesson, you will learn about Jesus' approach to work and leadership by examining the five things He did: telling everyone the good news, teaching many to understand God's principles, training some to do the work, equipping a few to reproduce, and modeling a relationship with the Father. These principles can help guide your own approach to work and leadership in various settings.
  • In this lesson, you gain insights on the significance of training spiritual leaders, using the Bible as a guide, and Jesus as a model. You will understand the value of influence over position and how to train leaders for different spheres of society. Embracing your uniqueness and learning about 12 styles of assistance for emerging leaders will equip you to effectively develop others in their spiritual journey.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the vital process of connecting church leaders and workplace leaders, fostering personal relationships, and understanding the six key responsibilities pastors have toward workplace leaders to create a thriving spiritual community and extend the church's influence beyond its walls.
  • Walking through open doors teaches you to bring Christ's kingdom to the workplace, developing relationships and fostering unity. Learn the four steps to successful workplace ministry, including prayer and responding to opportunities, while offering support during times of crisis.
  • In this lesson, you learn the significance of character in leadership, focusing on God, and the importance of building trust through relationships. You'll also explore the value of people and their gifts and understand how to hold others accountable and empower them as a spiritual leader.
  • This lesson highlights the importance of finishing well in your spiritual journey, emphasizing the need for a heart for God and an undivided heart, while providing biblical examples of those who succeeded in doing so, encouraging you to strive for the same in your own life.

With Kent Humphreys. Using the mental picture of a shepherd caring for his sheep, Kent Humphreys likens the shepherd to a pastor and the congregation to sheep, into which a few horses (strong business leaders) have been let loose. It is hard to understand these horses, who are just as capable of causing chaos with their strength and of standing quietly off in a corner of the pasture by themselves. How is a pastor to understand and equip these potentially powerful creatures to be part of the “flock” and then to go out into their workplace to minister and influence it for God? The answer to that question is the focus of this book. Taking the example of how Jesus handled His “horses”, a simple plan is offered that can build bridges between pastors and workplace leaders, impacting both the church and the community.

Recommended Books

Shepherding Horses, Volume I (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)

Shepherding Horses, Volume I (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)

Kent’s most well-received book yet! This 50-page guide to Understanding God’s Plan for Transforming Leaders is a must-read for any pastor and the strong and driven...

Shepherding Horses, Volume I (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)
Shepherding Horses, Volume II (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)

Shepherding Horses, Volume II (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)

In this book, Kent encourages pastors to invest in the incredible resource they have - the business leaders in their churches. The book is full of practical and possible...

Shepherding Horses, Volume II (A Pastor's Guide to Equipping Workplace Leaders)


Mr. Kent Humphreys
Implementing a Theology of Work
Shepherding Horses
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:05] Hi, I'm Kent Humphreys. I'm a business leader from Oklahoma City, and I want to welcome you to this series. In this series, we're going to be talking about three specific areas. The first area is really talking about relationships between leaders in the church and leaders in the workplace. And the second area, what we're talking about, the workplace and how you as a workplace leader or you as a pastor can help your people more effectively reach their workplaces for Jesus Christ. And then in the third hour, you will be talking about mentoring, how that you as a pastor or workplace leader can mentor the next generation of leaders, whether they be a seminary student or someone in the workplace or any person in your church. So today we're going to do the first session of shepherding horses, helping understand God's plan for transforming leaders. I've shared this message around the world. And in fact, I was just in Kenya, in Nigeria just a few weeks ago and found that this message has really it's applicable to pastors around the world and helping you to understand workplace leaders like me who are a little bit more like a horse than a sheep. The Bible says in some 20 verse seven, some Boston chariots and some horses. But we will boast in the name of our Lord. My family loves to ride horses in Colorado every summer. And in fact, I was just up there just a couple of weekends ago. And horses are independent and powerful and strong, and the rider needs to keep that horse under control. And the horse can only reach his full potential if the rider and the horse work together. Now, when you if you've been to seminary and been trained as a pastor, you were trained how to shepherd a congregation of sheep.

[00:01:44] But what if among that sheep, among those sheep was a horse that suddenly appeared? What do you do with the horse? Well, Isaiah 53, tells us that all of us, whether I'm out in the workplace or whether I'm a sheep or a horse, whatever analogy you want to use with me, all of us are sinful and rebellious and we've gone our own way. And Jesus had to die for each of us. But specifically, you as a pastor have been asked to not only shepherd the sheep, but also train the horses. And as a pastor, you can care for the sheep, you can guide for the sheep, you can rescue them constantly. But a few leaders in your church are more compared to horses rather than sheep. They're not better, but they're just different. As I begin to share this analogy, the first time I shared it was in Singapore with 700 pastors from all over Asia and really around that part of the world, and all of a sudden they started talking about horses and sheep and donkeys and cattle and chickens and and they really carried the analogy. But often we as workplace leaders can be compared to that. So if you're a pastor, you have the responsibility for leading the sheep, but also training the horses. And it's not an either or choice. But while shepherding the sheep, you've got to train the horses. Now, a horse trainer must do several things. My nephew Zac is a horse trainer and he has to do. I said Zac. He trains a horse in just a short period of time. He's really good at it. And I said, Jack, Zac, what do you do to train a horse? And he said, Well, can't you got to do three things.

[00:03:20] Number one, you have to earn their trust. Number two, you have to convince that horse that he's going to be a roping horse. And number three, you've got to help that horse to focus. Those are the three things that he does. First of all, he earns their trust. And the goal is to make the horse want to be a roping horse. The second thing is to help the horse understand that really you as a trainer have his best interests at heart. Secondly, you've got to convince that horse that getting under control with a bridle saddle is a good thing instead of being able to just do your own thing. But you've got to be firm but not cruel. You've got to give that horse a room to be free for himself so that he can be a good roping horse. You have to convince him that that's what he should do. And finally, you have to teach him to focus while he's distracted. So Zac will actually take that horse and ride that horse close to calves. He'll take him close to wildlife. He'll take him for a ride in a trainer. He'll be patient with him and spend plenty of time with that horse so that that horse can focus on what Zac wants him to do. So to get the horse to focus. Now, here's the sad part of it about it, Leader, is that the horse trainer, my nephew Zac, spends more time one on one with a horse in a period of 30 days than most pastors or church leaders will spend with an individual in their entire lifetime. So we really have to change the way that we train leaders in our churches. So horses trained when we've earned their trust, trust is earned.

[00:04:57] We've convinced them to be under control, and we teach them to focus and not be distracted. And that's how a leader is. When we earn their trust. Now, God's word has a lot to say about horses. And unfortunately, men and women, it's not very good because the God's Word said that we as horses and are self-sufficient and discontent. We represent a pagan marketplace. We're fearless in battle. We're independent spirit. We have false hopes. How many of you have been given fossils by one of the marketplace leaders in your church? And many times we as leaders in the workplace represent man's effort versus God's provision. So let's look at each one of these briefly. In Deuteronomy chapter 17, the Bible says, Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he causes people to return to Egypt to multiply horses. Since the Lord has said to you, You shall never return that way again. In the Bible, horses represented go in an independent way versus God's way. And so the Israeli people, the Israelites, would depend upon the horses instead upon God. So a horse represents this independent spirit, and that's not good in Egypt. Symbolize the past life, and God wanted Israel to depend upon him. The biggest problem that you're going to have as a leader in the church is convincing those leaders from the workplace to depend upon God instead of on the own talents and gifts that he's giving them. The Bible also said the king was not to take many wives and to accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. And workplace leaders will often depend upon their own strength and upon their own wealth and fall to those pitfalls of lust and greed and power. And we, as leaders in the church many times even encourage that, looking for them as a source of financial resources, but not helping them deal with the problems in their life that God wants to deal with.

[00:06:59] Secondly, horses represent a pagan marketplace and God talks about that in Second Kings Chapter 23, when it said he did Away with the Horses, which the Kings of Judah had given to the sun, and they burned the Chariots of Son with fire. So many times leaders from the workplace represent a pagan marketplace instead of holy living, so we kind of want to keep them out of the church and not have them contaminate us. But we like to have the money and the revenue that we bring from them. Josiah was part of cleansing the temple and horses had been used in pagan worship in the Old Testament, and many of our men and women live in a dark pagan marketplace with their coworkers did not follow God, but God has uniquely placed them there to be salt and light in the community. The third thing we see about horses that they're fearless in battle. And if you've ever been involved in a church fight, you'll know that the leaders from the workplace will come out fighting. And in Jobe chapter 39, it says he goes out to meet the weapons. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed and he does not turn back from the sword. These men and women, they are fearless in battle. In Jobe, 39, he goes on to say, The quiver rattles against him, the flashing sphere and javelin with shaking and rage. He races over the ground. He will not stand still at the voice of the trumpet and as often as the trumpet sounds, he says, Aha! Since the battle from afar, in the thunder of the captains in the war, Cry Joe, Chapter 39, verse 23 The horse is definitely fearless in battle. Now the unique thing is, is that as a horse in the marketplace, as a strong leader, God gives me my strength.

[00:08:43] The horse has great leaping ability. He takes pride in his strength. He's been trained for years in the workplace to show no fear. So when he comes into the church situation, he's normally not shy about giving his opinion, his or her opinion, and they thrive on challenges. So if you want someone to take on a challenge, get the horse to do it. A next characteristic in a horse is they have an independent spirit. Some 32 verses 89 says to not me like the horse or the mule, which I have no understanding but must be controlled by the bit and bridle, or they will not come to you. A horse has an independent spirit versus a submissive spirit. And so what God has to do is he has to spend time breaking our will, but not our spirit. He wants to get that spirit to submit to the Holy Spirit so that it can be used by God. We're stubborn. God has to put a mitt a bit into our mouth to control us, and that bit is the Holy Spirit. We have to really learn to respond to the Holy Spirit instead of our own strength. And God gives us that instruction so that when I have a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit, I can see what God is doing for me, and the Holy Spirit nudges me. Another point is that we get false hopes. This has hurt so many pastors over the year when a business leader comes in. Makes a promise to a pastor is going to do a certain thing financially or lead a certain effort, and then he gets involved in his everyday work and he gives false hopes, a false hope of victory and versus trust in the Lord.

[00:10:19] We begin to trust in the horse and trust in man instead of the Lord. But our eyes need to be both for leaders in the church and leaders in the workplace. Our eyes need to be on guard on him alone because only he will never fail us. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. And so we must humbly learn to depend and gain our strength from God alone and not from our own efforts. And that's the final thing, is man's effort versus God's provision. Isaiah Chapter 31. Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses and trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong. But they do not look to the Holy one of Israel nor seek the God. So we have to be careful to look to God. So it's a constant battle. It's a battle of that We have to be in the world, but not of it. We have to be impacting the culture but not becoming like it. We have to know what our gifts are, but not to rely on the gifts instead of God. And we have to serve God, but not take glory for it. That's the battle that those of us in the workplace have, and that's the battle that you, as a pastor or a leader in the church, have to help us and to equip us to make us effective in the workplace. Now that I can be in the world, but not of the world, how that I can impact my culture is I go to the workplace Monday through Friday or Monday through Saturday or seven days a week in some cases, but I need to impact it to be salt and light but not become in like it.

[00:12:04] I need to know what my gifts are, but not depending on my gifts of my talents. But for you to help me to understand that those gifts and talents have been given to me by God and how to serve Him, but not taking His glory for that. It's a daily dependance. As a business leader, I've been asked to submit my stubborn will to the King of Kings and God of Gods to Jesus Christ, so that every day I get up in the morning and I surrender my will to him. Do you realize that we have small groups that I work with around the United States, and I've traveled in the last five or six, seven years to 20 or 25 nations that small groups of business leaders and workplace leaders from Hong Kong to Nigeria, from Eastern Europe to South America. And when these groups meet, when they meet across in the United States, we find that the average business leader, it takes 12 to 18 months for him or her to handle their business and surrender it over to Jesus Christ, because you ask a man or a woman and by the way, 50% of the new start ups in the United States are done by women. Over 50% of the business owners of new start ups are from the women in the United States. But you're asking that man or that woman to take a business that they've sacrificed their health for. They've sacrificed their marriage for. Perhaps they've sacrificed their children, and you've asked them to turn their hands over and put it on the altar and to give it to God, to submit that stubborn will and say, okay, God, I no longer control this business or my position. I humbly give it to you and ask you to use it for your glory.

[00:13:55] So it's a daily dependance. We have to allow ourselves to be broken. I said at a conference a few days ago, Never trust a leader who doesn't walk with a limp. You know, most of us are going to come to the time in our life where we have to be broken before God. He takes us through experiences, could be financial, could be in our marriage or with our children. It could be with our health, it may be with our job. Whatever it is, he allows us to be broken so that he can redefine us and allow us to be broken, to be usable by him. A daily dependance. We have to listen to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has to yield to some of us because we're not listening. We're not very good listeners, those of us who are leaders in the workplace. Some of you as pastors have learned well, you have you've learned a lesson of God from God and from His Word and from the Holy Spirit. You've learned to listen to him. But some of us, we're so activity oriented. We want to do something for Jesus, even when we love him so much, we as leaders say. God, I love you. You've helped me. I want to do something to show it to you. And God says, What I want you to do is to be more than do. And I want you to listen to my spirit. So it's hard. And so then we have to depend on his strength, not ours. And that's difficult for us to do as a leader. A daily dependance of surrendering our submitting our will to God, allowing us to be broken by Him, to be useful for Him listening to the Holy Spirit, relying on him, his strength, not ours.

[00:15:37] And so in Jeremiah, Chapter eight, sometimes we're out of control. No man repented of us. Witnesses saying, What have I done? Everyone turned to his course like a horse charging into battle. But my people do not know the ordinance of the Lord. So here is your assignment as a pastor. Your assignment is to shepherd these horses and to train them to voluntarily submit to the Holy Spirit. That's your assignment as a shepherd, as a pastor. That's what you're to do. Or you may be a leader in the workplace who's leading a group of other horses. And your assignment is to train those leaders. The most valuable thing that you can do as a pastor or as a leader is to train the leaders, to train them, to get in step with what God has for their life. And only the living God can equip you to do that impossible task. Now, I've got some questions for you. Here's some questions. Number one, are you particularly if you're a pastor or if you're a leader in the church, are you spending most of your time with the sheep or have you set aside some time for training and equipping the horses? Now, I've been sharing this message for about four years as we've gone around the world. And what I found is this is one of the questions that pastors seem to ask, Well, can't how do I do this and how do I have the time? Well, here. Here's some suggestions for you. Number one, realize that the congregation has given you a job description that God never gave you in the United States today. We've given pastors an impossible job description. We've asked them to take care of us 24 seven. We've asked them to meet every one of our needs.

[00:17:28] But God has given you a responsibility, Pastor, in Ephesians 411 and 12, that you are to equip the Saints for the work of the ministry. And we're going to be talking about that in future sessions. But the way you train horses is you have to do it on the side because the sheep want to be taken care of. So what you've got to do is to spend, continue to spend 70 to 80% of your time in doing what your job description is being done, even though many cases it's not biblical. We have to you can't change a boat and change the direction of a ship very easily. But while you're doing that on the side, you have to take some of those horses, some of those leaders, and train them on the side. Now, here's another thing about those leaders. They may not necessarily be leaders in your church. In fact, if they're a strong horse in a workplace leader in the workplace, probably they're not going to be taking a lot of responsibilities in your church. So they're a leader. They're a leader in the community. They're leader in the workplace. They may have a leadership responsibility in your church, but they're not going to probably be there all the time that the sheep are. So what you do is while you're shepherding the sheep, you also train the horses. You have to do them simultaneously. Now the next thing you do is which of the horses are the leaders in your church has recently been broken through circumstances allowed by God, and He or she appears ready for some personalized training. You, as a pastor have to be constantly alert for those people that have been broken, because if you try to train a horse before he's willing to be trained, you're going to have some problems.

[00:19:05] But look for those who have recently gone through some difficult experiences. God's gotten the attention in their life. Come alongside that horse and find out if they're ready for some additional training. And then which of the leaders in your church appear to have it all together, yet they're in need of a trainer. You've got to be sensitive to that person. It looks like he or she particularly they want to put on a front to you as a pastor. They're going to say, you know, Pastor, I've got it together. My family, which is falling apart, I've got it together financially, which they're in debt. I've got it together my business. And many times you as a pastor, we'll talk about this in a later session, that building bridges. But you look at us as horses and you think that guy's got it all together. But in fact, you look at us and you say there's a person of wealth and power and influence. When we're actually in trouble in our business, we're actually not feeling very powerful at all. And we're actually maybe losing our influence because we're not representing Jesus Christ and following his. Principal. So we may come to church and appear to have it all together. But you're doing other things for us. So those are the questions that we have. So you are a horse trainer and this type of training takes a lot of time. But, Pastor, when you leave that church and one day you will either to eternity or to another church or whatever God has for you next, the things that you're going to remember and the investments that you're going to have is not with the sermons that you preach to hundreds, but the investment that you've had in a few lives.

[00:20:41] Which Jesus model for us. And we'll be talking about that in our next next session or a later session. So you as a horse trainer, you're going to have to eliminate a little time with the sheep. And are your leaders sufficient? Are they dependent upon God? Are they worldly or are they becoming the holy? Are your leaders walking on the track, whether becoming a man or woman of God? Are your leaders fearless? Are they relying on the Holy Spirit? Are your leaders independent? Are they under the control of the Holy Spirit? Are they a lone Ranger trying to do it on themself? And by the way, most of us as leaders are a lone ranger. Most of us as leaders, just like you as a pastor, do not have two or three people that we have an intimate relationship with, and probably most of us are not involved in a regular small group. We'll be talking about that in later sessions. And then are they stubborn? Are they broken and usable? One final thought. You know, when you get these leaders trained and you allow them to use their gifts and abilities of leadership, then they will help you in caring for the rest of the sheep. And your schedule will become a lot more sensible because we in our churches and our paradigm that we're in are relying upon you as a pastor to be all things to all people. And what God wants you to do, just as Jesus did, is to equip a few leaders so that they can help you in that task and they can help you reproduce. So I hope that you've enjoyed this session, and let me share some things with you before we leave. There's a couple of resource books that will be available to you through the places where you're taking the seminar.

[00:22:28] Great place where you're taking this course. The first resource book is called Shepherding the Horses to Understand God's Plan for Transforming Leaders. This little booklet, the chapter that we've just covered in this session, is in this booklet, as some other classes will be slow. The book has now been translated in ten or 12 languages and printed in nations around the world, and so this will be helpful resources for you. And then we'll also be this tells basically the issue of horses and sheep. But then a second book, Volume two, helps you as a pastor with some specific tools that you can use of how you equip the horses. What are some of the specifics of doing that? And as we go through these series, we'll be covering a number of those things that are covered in that of the book. So we want to thank you for being with us in this first session and later sessions. We're going to have them targeted to workplace leaders, and we'll also have them targeted, some of them to pastors and targeted to both. So in this first session, I hope as a workplace leader that it's been helpful for you to understand the task that a pastor has. And as a pastor, I hope it will be revolutionary for you to be able to understand those horses that you've never been able to understand before. And so let me just pray for you as we conclude our session today. Father, I thank you for this time that we've had together. And Lord, I pray for every pastor that's in this class today, for every leader in the workplace, Lord, that they would have a new understanding of each other for each one of us who are as horses, have to submit our rebellious spirit to you on the altar.

[00:24:07] Lord, may you help many business leaders, men and women around the world understand this principle that we can only be used as we're used by the Holy Spirit. And Lord, would you equip pastors around the world with this principle to equip reproducible leaders in the workplace that can impact their workplaces for Christ? And we pray these things in Jesus name. Amen. Thank you for being with us today.

Log in to take this quiz.