Lead Like a Shepherd: The Original and Still Powerful “Peter Principles”

2017 RightNow Conference Orlando


In ministry leadership, we can easily lose focus or become driven by wrong motivation. But we are called to lead our people, the Church, like a shepherd leads his sheep. In this 30-minute session from the 2017 RightNow Conference in Orlando, Larry Osborne paints a picture of what it looks like to lead like a shepherd, serve with enthusiasm, and have a long-range perspective. 

Dr. Larry Osborne has served as one of the senior pastors at North Coast Church in Vista, California since 1980. His books include: Innovation's Dirty Little Secret, Sticky Teams, Sticky Church, Accidental Pharisees, Mission Creep, 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe, Spirituality for The Rest of Us and The Unity Factor.

As you watch this session, take notes and write down thoughts about how this session can impact your ministry. 



We are called to lead our people like a shepherd leads sheep. With the help and example of our Good Shepherd, Jesus, we are enabled to lay down our lives, serve with enthusiasm, and have a long-range perspective.  

Larry made the crucial point that ministry is about the sheep, not the shepherd. As a shepherd of your local church, what is your attitude? Do you ask, “What do the sheep need?” Or is your concern, “What do I need?”
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How have these implications worked out in the life of your church?
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A good shepherd cares more about what the sheep need than whether they are happy. At the end of the day, shepherds don’t take a poll to see where the sheep want to go, they simply lead them there.  

Are you willing to be misunderstood? Or do you work to save face and recover your reputation?
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In what ways do you care more about popular opinion than the state of your people’s souls? Why? How can you begin to repent of this?
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In what ways are you leading the sheep in an unpopular, but good and healthy direction?
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Sheep have unreasonable weaknesses and fears. Larry told the story about sheep refusing to drink from a running water source. Their fear is completely unreasonable and ridiculous. But the shepherd does not berate the sheep for this. Rather, he meets them where they are, dams up the water, and gives them a still pool from which to drink. 

What are the seemingly unreasonable weaknesses and fears in your congregation? What has been your attitude toward these things?
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In what ways have you met your sheep where they are? Where do you still have room to meet them where they are?
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How has God met you where you are, in your unreasonable weakness and fear?
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Larry warned about the dangers of allowing one sick lamb to destroy the flock. Many pastors are afraid of the collateral damage caused when one does the hard thing. Yet if we refuse to do the hard things commanded of us, sin becomes a cancer that spreads. We must weigh whether we would rather bear the brunt of collateral damage, or risk the loss of the entire congregation to sin.  

Are there areas of difficulty from which you have shied away in fear of collateral damage? Where do you need to do the hard thing to confront sin and divisiveness?
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What will be the result of not confronting sin and divisiveness in the flock?
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It is imperative for a shepherd to serve with enthusiasm, not under constraint. You are doing what you only dreamed of doing someday! How can we ever gripe about that? 

Have you allowed a victim mentality or an entitled and complaining spirit to kill your enthusiasm? If so, how? If not, what have you don't to prevent it?
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How could you begin to guard and cultivate a spirit of thankfulness and enthusiasm?
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We are to lead by example. We get what we are, not what we ask for. Who we are is typically reflected in who our people become. What fruit, sin, or attitudes do you see from your people?
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What sins or attitudes do you need to root out in your own life for the sake of your people?
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What qualities will you prayerfully cultivate and pursue in hopes that your people will reflect them?
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As ministers, we need a long-range perspective. We must view ministry as a glacier, not as an avalanche. An avalanche is momentarily impressive, but ends in a moment. A glacier looks as though it is doing nothing, but underneath, it is carving out a Yosemite.  

Is your ministry reflective of an avalanche, or a glacier? Which is your aim?
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How are you viewing your people and ministry with a long-range perspective?
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The reward for ministry is when our Good Shepherd, Jesus, returns. Until then, we must labor to look like Him, and shepherd our people well. 


For more information about the RightNow Conference, or to find out how to attend next year’s event, visit rightnowconference.org


For more from Larry Osborne, see his study Thriving in Babylon, or visit larryosbornelive.com.