Psalms 23 is one of those gold mines you have in the Holy Bible. And as a gold mine, it is always best to maximise your exploration when you’re there. Alongside the blessings that are embedded in those verses are some principles that God through David enunciated.
One such principle is the principle of green pasture. The Green pasture and the Still waters together will attract the sheep, feed them, refresh them and make them lie down, desiring to go nowhere else. This can apply to all spheres of endeavour – Church, business, politics, education etc.
So, here are the five principles of green pasture. These principles, when applied, get the sheep and keep them:
1. Grow the pasture:
David began that chapter by saying that God is his Shepherd, and as such he lacks nothing. Why? He went ahead to list the reasons. And the first is that the sheep need green pastures for food, so whenever they see some green vegetation, they want to visit.
There must be something that attracts the sheep to a place. When God needed the attention of Moses he caused the bush to burn without being consumed.
In the spiritual, one of the secrets to attracting people into your Church is satisfying the hunger in their hearts. Whether it is the hunger for God, salvation, healing, deliverance, knowledge of God or supernatural outpouring. Whatever the spiritual need of the people is, if the solution is made available, so many people will come for it. People want answers to their problems and they’ll always follow the man who can provide such answers. See what happened in the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles.
In business, getting people to come to you as clients requires that you are meeting their needs. If what you are doing isn’t satisfying people’s needs, they won’t come. Find out people’s needs and build your business around meeting those needs – it’s an ancient principle that works. Find out what the demands of the market are and provide solutions to them. When you satisfy the need of one, he publicises the testimony (John 4:28, 39).
In leadership, people gravitate towards that person that listens, encourages, empathises, has an understanding of his role and serves. Co-workers want to be viewed as humans, not robots that can be used and dumped at will. They want to be heard and understood, not abused and cursed at every turn. So, a good shepherd understands this and learns to adapt these qualities in his leadership style.
In Politics, people always follow the man that talks about their needs and offers solutions to them. Although many politicians are known for their lies, at every campaign season, the man that identifies more problems and offers ‘solutions’ seems to have more followers because the people view him as relatable. If artificial intelligence is the main focus of your campaign, some people will be excited, but chances are that you’ll lose the vast majority of the votes. Why? People want solutions to their everyday problems – how to put food on the table, send their kids to school, their healthcare, security etc.
A person who desires to be the Psalm 23 shepherd must identify a need to satisfy and show ways to satisfy it adequately. That is how to get the sheep in the first place.
2. The Pasture must be Green (Freshness of the pasture):
The sheep only lie down in green pastures. Why the Shepherd is sure that the sheep will remain close is because he has confidence in the meal he is providing. No one resists fresh bread or cake straight out of the oven.
In the spiritual, there’s a need for the freshness of the message and the freshness of anointing. No one comes back for stale discussions. That sounds harsh, but that’s true. Digging up treasures from God’s Word and receiving fresh oil from above each time is essential to keeping the sheep, else they’ll begin to search for another shepherd, and you won’t blame them. (Matthew 13:52; Psalms 92:10; Song of Sol. 7:13).
In Ezekiel 34:14, we learn that He will make the fold in the mountains, guaranteeing security from predators. In fact, in the new heaven, Jesus will still feed and give drink to those who endured great tribulation while on earth. Revelation 7:16-17.
So, a minister must constantly search for fresh things to serve at every meeting and when things are rehearsed, it’s because there’s a new awareness added. Else, people will know that it’s the same old thing and they’ll begin to search for someone who can offer them green and fresh pasture. I know this sounds harsh, but that’s it.
In business, there is a need for the constant freshness of your products and services. We live in an age where thousands of businesses close daily because they’re unable to compete for the attention of the customer. So, you must constantly find ways to make and keep your products green. What do my clients like now and what will they like in the near future? New designs? New ideas to sell? Better ways to offer my services? How can I improve my designs?
Freshness may not be in big innovations; it could simply be in your presentation, in making your business more eco-friendly, more customer-oriented, more healthy etc. The eyes are not satisfied with seeing nor are the ears heavy with hearing. So, if you’re not searching for ways to make your products look good, fresh and appealing or if your customer relations are poor, the clients can’t stay after the first encounter.
In leadership, freshness has to do with character. You must have principles, standards, and values that guide your life as a leader. If you aren’t honest or a person of integrity, your organisation will soon collapse. Freshness also entails a constant search for better ways to lead the group. You need to constantly update yourself on new and improved ways to manage people – so, you must get better at human relations, at your understanding of human behaviour and integrate such knowledge into your leadership.
3. The Pasture must Taste great:
If the grass is green and tastes bad, then the sheep won’t come back for sure.
In the spiritual, retaining the sheep requires that the pasture must taste great. I’m not talking about teaching unscriptural doctrines just to retain people. I’m talking about serving a wholesome diet of God’s Word that touches all areas of life. Sometimes, some preachers are mono-coloured in their teachings, assuming, that the only thing that the members care about is to be prepared for heaven. That’s certainly the central message.
However, the people you have in front of you are fathers, mothers, children, youths, singles, career-driven, talented people who are also searching for solutions to their everyday needs. If there’s an issue in one’s marriage or you have a single that is confused about how to make the right choice, your teachings on getting ready to go to heaven will be well accepted, but he or she will be praying so that one day, you’ll speak on their matrimonial matters as well. Or on career, networking, honing their skills, studying, child upbringing, finance etc. The Church should champion these and not delegate them to the secular world.
In business, your products must achieve the purpose for which they were bought and the services must be worth the pay. If I purchase a pen from you but it stops working on the second use, you can be sure I won’t be back. If I used your delivery services and they were late and the goods damaged, I won’t come back nor recommend you to anyone.
Your goods and services should leave me wanting more after I’ve tasted them. A simple example is that of a restaurant. No matter the location, cost and decoration of a restaurant, if the meal doesn’t taste great, your clients are less likely to return. This also applies to the service you provide. Everything about your goods and services should leave your clients desiring to come back soon.
Added to tasting great is presentation. Having a good product is not enough for it to sell. Goods that are of a lesser quality but better packaged may even sell more.
As a leader, working with you should taste great. People should feel that they are part of something important. Also, you have to be a team player and encourage teamwork. You also need to be humble, patient and accessible.
Also, the ‘taste’ in leadership has to do with the perception of the genuineness of the leader’s actions. If the co-workers perceive that your empathy is a guise to get them to work more or to know their private lives, then they won’t trust you again. So, a leader must have genuine intentions, or else everyone will perceive you as being fake – you’re only interested in the quarterly reports and getting more bonuses for yourself.
In politics, this is the most difficult part for many career politicians – keeping to their campaign slogans. After the promises come the fulfilment. The campaign slogans were great, your solutions attracted us to vote for you. Now fulfil your pledge, or else no one will take you seriously next time.
So, the pasture shouldn’t just be green, it must taste great as well for the sheep to come and enjoy.
4. The Pasture must be Comfortable for lying down:
Although it is green, it has to be dressed. There’s a need for organisation, and putting things in the right place. And the pasture shouldn’t have thorns and thistles.
Your Church needs a proper organisation that will make someone come and stay. Such organisation begin with the personal life of the minister before it extends to the Church he or she is leading. You may have a great sermon, fresh from the ovens of heaven, but if the entire liturgy is zig-zag, the ushers doing what they want, and people going to the podium uncoordinated, you won’t retain anyone.
People will love you and may even come to visit once in a while, but to stay? No. They’ll choose that other place that has a proper way of doing things although the man teaching doesn’t have the Word as much as you do. So, prayers are wonderful. Knowledge of the Word is ultimate. Anointing is of great essence. Holiness paramount. But you need a bit of organisation to retain people.
In business, your product could be the best in the market, but if your management and customer relation skills are poor, none will stay. Your business will soon close up, although you have the best food in town. Your restaurant can have the best cooks/meals in the world but if the environment is filthy, customers are unlikely to return.
You could have the best skills in your field, but if you lack a good understanding of human relationships, people are likely to seek the services of others who may even be less skilled than you are.
Making the pasture comfortable also entails training and updating yourself and your staff; you need to constantly update yourself on what’s going on in your field. Regularly evaluate your services and don’t be afraid or critical towards asking for feedback from your customers and staff. Talent is not enough on its own; it needs character, it needs presentation, and it needs proper management.
In leadership, the sheep becoming comfortable entails people following your vision and trusting your leadership. This is not an easy thing to build. But with clarity of vision, character, humility, resilience, optimism and servanthood, you’ll certainly get people around you, and who will comfortably stay.
Comfortability of the sheep in leadership also entails creating an environment that promotes teamwork, innovation and growth. Your co-workers should be comfortable giving feedback on your job. And you must be willing to listen.
5. Proximity to the still waters:
It’s important to note that the green pastures in Psalm 23 were close to a body of water. So, the sheep feed and get refreshed as well.
The Word (grass) and the Spirit (water) need to go hand in hand. After eating, I need to take in some water for proper digestion. There’s this relationship God’s Spirit seems to have with the water – at creation, He moved upon the face of the water before God spoke the Word; when Jesus was coming out of the water after His water baptism, the Holy Spirit alighted on Him. In John 7:37-39, the Good Shepherd promised to quench our thirst with rivers of the Living Water.
So, the Word must be mixed with or accompanied by the manifestations of God’s Spirit. This is how to retain the people. Jesus as the Good Shepherd applied this. He served His Word and served miracles also. The waters also are important for peace, comfort, and refreshment- the Holy Spirit does all these and more.
In business, you need to identify if your goods and services need co-adjuvants. By adjuvants, I mean goods and services that your potential clients would want before or after tasting your product. For example, if I run a gas station, it’s only wise that either I locate it close to a restaurant or I open one. Why? Because most people who travel, need both things. And having them in the same place is time-saving. I may also open a car washing service by the side.
If I have a clothing firm, I can get one of my friends to sell footwears a few meters away because potential clients may also want to know the footwear that can go with it. If I run a bed and breakfast, I can also have an ethnic cuisine close by because my clients need food. Whatever is your business, find things that your potential clients think are necessities and either open one or get someone to do that. That way, you complement one another.
May I also add that food is a basic human need? So, whatever sector of business you’re into, if you can locate it close to a restaurant or have your own eatery or a dispenser of snacks, it wouldn’t be a bad idea. Having some refreshments close by is always a good idea. Obviously, this applies to physical shops.
Giving premiums and other forms of incentives, including promotion for good performance, encourages co-workers. When Peter asked Jesus what they’ll gain seeing that they had forsaken everything to follow Him, He replied that they’ll be made judges over the tribes of Israel, they’ll be paid a hundredfold for all that they’d forsake and they’ll receive eternal (God’s kind of) life. (Matthew 19:27-29).
The disciples had bought into Jesus and His vision of salvation for mankind, so they deserved some reward. In the same vein, your co-workers have bought into your vision for the organisation/institution, so, it’s only legitimate that you reward their efforts. These rewards refresh, encourage and give a sense of belonging too.
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God bless our day in Jesus’ name. Amen.