The ministry of ShepherdLeader.com flows from the following fundamental convictions:
The Bible has a lot to say about leadership. Christians should begin conceiving of their roles and responsibilities in the light of God’s Word, rather than popular leadership theories.
Scripture addresses leadership often by means of images and metaphors. More than mere literary artifice, these mental pictures are powerful, constructiveand often subversivemeans for activating our understanding, emotion, and will.
Shepherding is a durable, primary biblical image of leadership that deserves careful reflection, even in cultures without literal shepherds and flocks. While contemporary images are important for organizational leadership, none completely captures the nuances the Bible communicates by means of pastoral imagery.
All leaders are shepherds. Scripture employs this image to refer to those in “full time ministry” as well as to those in “secular” positions of leadership. It applies today to pastors of congregations, CEOs of corporations, and parents of families. Each of us should understand leadership as a sacred calling.
Shepherding is a robust, comprehensive way to describe leadership. It is not restricted to personal “pastoral care” and other ministries of compassion. Shepherd leaders are expected to martial and manage resources, to lead communities with justice and discipline, and to guide organizations with wisdom, vision, and vigilance.
Because alternative, non-biblical views of leadership pervade our contemporary cultures, shepherd leaders need to spend time together reinforcing a biblical view of their work and sharing best practices for facing the challenges they encounter.
The website provides an opportunity for leaders in ministry, business, medical, military, political, and family settings to purchase books and images designed for their personal growth and the training of others. However, the primary reason for this website is to provide a venue for Christians to discuss the specific challenges of leadership together in the light of Scripture. You will find the discussion forums located in “The Tent,” named after the safe, temporary places where shepherds interact over their common tasks each day. The only realistic hope for transformation and long-haul endurance lies in disciplined engagement with like-minded pilgrims. We need each others’ stories of failure and success and the insights that come to us in the context of ministry.
|My Journey: A personal word from Tim Laniak
As a young adult I responded to two deeply exhilarating interests. One was Scripture. The other was culture. I pursued higher education in biblical scholarship over the next couple of decades while ministering cross-culturally in America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. I discovered that my two interests overlapped. I found that the cultural world of the Bible became increasingly important as I sought to understand its teaching. Moreover, listening to Christian leaders in other parts of the world constantly challenged my interpretation of Scripture.
In 1997 I began teaching at the Charlotte campus of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Here comprehensive leadership development has become my central work. In 1999 the Gordon-Conwell Center for the Development of Evangelical Leadership (CDEL) hosted a three-year journey that engaged seminary presidents in leadership research projects. During the annual roundtables many participants lamented the gap between the burgeoning and mostly secular field of leadership studies, on the one hand, and biblical scholarship on the other. Though an increasing number of books on Christian leadership had emerged in recent years, too few derive from serious reflection on Scripture. Unfortunately, few if any Bible scholars had made contributions to remedy the situation.
My first effort to bridge the gap was a biblical theology of leadership for CDEL, Calling, Character, Competence, and Community, following a rubric developed by my colleague, Dr. Wayne Goodwin. I subsequently dedicated a full year’s research sabbatical in Israel to investigating the image of shepherd leaders used widely throughout Scripture. As annual professor at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research that year, I also engaged in anthropological interviews among the Bedouin tribes in Jordan, Sinai, and Israel. The exegetical work on biblical passages led to the publication of Shepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible.
Upon returning to the U.S. I began speaking at conferences and seminars on shepherd leadership, illustrating the talks with images of Bedouin herding practice. In each setting I have observed a deep-seated hunger for leadership principles grounded in Scripture, understood within its cultural context. In response to this encouraging feedback, I’ve packaged the images and insights into a richly illustrated forty-day journal entitled, While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks: Reflections on Biblical Leadership. This is one of several resources that ShepherdLeader Publishers will provide for the Church.
I will continue linking together leaders from different denominations, vocations, and cultures as we build a community of undershepherds seeking to serve the Chief Shepherd who gave his life for ours.
Tim Laniak, Th.D.
|Bio for Timothy S. Laniak, Th.D.
Dr. Tim Laniak serves at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina as the Dean, Professor of Old Testament, and Mentor for the Christian Leadership Doctor of Ministry Track. He received his bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College, his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and his doctorate in Old Testament and Early Judaism from Harvard Divinity School. Dr. Laniak has published a book on social anthropology and the Bible (Shame and Honor in the Book of Esther, Scholars Press, 1997), the NIBC commentary on the book of Esther (Hendrickson Publishers, 2003), biblical theological resources on leadership (through Gordon Conwell’s Center for the Development of Evangelical Leadership), and A Handbook for Hebrew Exegesis. His newest books, Shepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions in the Bible (InterVarsity Press, 2006) and While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks: Reflections on Leadership From the World of the Bible (ShepherdLeader Publications, 2007), are the result of a year’s research in the Middle East, including some fascinating experiences interviewing Bedouin shepherds. Dr. Laniak is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Institute of Biblical Research, and the Biblical Archaeological Society. He served as the Annual Professor of the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research in 2003-04. He began the ministry of ShepherdLeader.com in 2007.
After ordination in an independent evangelical church, Dr. Laniak and his wife Maureen began ministering cross-culturally, with short-term involvements together in over fifteen countries. They spent five years co-directing an international community of students and scholars in Boston with residents from over sixty nationalities. They also served an elderly immigrant community there for five years. Having lived in Israel for two years, Dr. Laniak frequently speaks to groups about the historical and religious dynamics of the Middle East, and occasionally takes educational and experiential tours to the region.
Tim and his wife Maureen are actively involved in public education in Union County, North Carolina. They co-founded Life Long Learning, a non-profit company that offered non-traditional educational opportunities, and Union Academy, a charter school emphasizing character education and community service. They live with their 3 children in Weddington, North Carolina.