Game-Changers: A shepherd’s heart…

Part of the series, Game-Changers


Newspaper and coffee by Tony Cyphert

I just wanted to read my paper…

But the distractions were simply too great.

I had awakened that morning in my usual state of irrational anxiety, deeply worried, wondering what would go wrong that day. Terrified of whatever it was I’d forgotten to do (every day it was something). Spent an hour or so reviewing scripture memory verses—just about the only thing capable of getting me close to some kind of emotional normalcy. These particular verses were about becoming more Christ-like: love, compassion, and so forth.

Then it was off to breakfast at Seminary Diner, where the wonderful folks let me in early, before they opened, and fed me cheaply and with unearned affection.

As I was leaving, a man walked up and asked me if the place was open. Unsure, I turned to look at the Open sign and said “Yes, it looks like it is.”

Then I was on my way back to campus, headed for the Student Center to check my mail and read the paper.

Before I could reach my destination, I was interrupted by the sound of someone scurrying after me. Turning around, I saw the man who’d asked me if the Cafe was open. I couldn’t believe the look of irritation on his face as he confronted me about my “rudeness,” demanding to know why I had treated him so badly.

I don’t remember what I said to him, but it didn’t satisfy.

As if that wasn’t anxiety-producing enough, an uninvited guest joined me at my table where I’d hoped for a moment of isolation to try and get ready for the day. A fellow student who evidently couldn’t afford his own paper and decided to share mine. Without asking.

I was thinking about how awful the morning had been so far, when the contrast occurred to me about how different I was from Jesus. I thought of one of the verses I had just reviewed.

Matthew 9:36

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Then this…longing…rose up inside me.

“Lord, I wish I was compassionate.”

Let me assure you I did not frighten the young man who was sharing my paper by expressing this sentiment out loud. All this took place inside my head.

Then I heard the Voice.

The best way I’ve been able to describe this is to say it was like remembering something someone you know well said. It sounded like a natural voice, but it wasn’t audible. It just seemed audible at the time.

The Voice said “I have given you a shepherd’s heart.”

Needless to say, I was taken aback.

After a moment of internal silence, I said—again, inside my head—


“I have given you a shepherd’s heart.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No. I have given you a shepherd’s heart.”

My thoughts, of course, raced through the events of that morning. The paralyzing anxiety.  The breathless man I had somehow offended. The young man sharing my paper (who somehow seemed a tad less irritating to me right then).

Frankly, my life was far from being a model of compassion. Of shepherding.

A shepherd’s heart!

“Lord, I’m not a shepherd…”

“Not yet. But there’s time.”

“But how will I do it?”

“You won’t. That’s my job. I will teach you.”

And that’s how the adventure began.

To be continued


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