Monday, October 02, 2017

"Guard dogs who cannot bark"

Dr. Timothy S. Laniak's While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks: Forty daily reflections on Biblical leadership is a wonderful resource, using the world of shepherding as the metaphor for understanding leadership. One of the reflections I particularly liked is entitled "Dogs." Here is an excerpt from that section which is particularly relevant to our work in facilitating the inclusion of persons with disabilities in local churches.  It begins by quoting Isaiah 56:10.

Isaiah 56:10 "Israel's watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark."

"Israel's watchmen are "all mute dogs that cannot bark." While the prophet's condemnation of a particular generation of leaders is negative, he presumes a positive role for spiritual watchdogs. Perhaps Isaiah had in mind the ruling elite here, but the metaphor of a guard is especially suited to prophets. Ezekiel, for example was appointed explicitly as a "watchman for the house of Israel." Prophets were heralds of coming judgment, sounding an alarm when the community drifted from its covenant obligations. They "barked" when they sensed danger. Though typically unpopular, prophets told the truth about the present and the future. In contrast, false prophets were more interested in popularity and superficial peacekeeping. They slept while danger approached.
...I've reflected often about the marginal role of prophetic watchdogs, perhaps because I've found myself sounding a continuous warning that others decided was misplaced. They saw peace and I saw trouble. But I've also ignored dogs whose warnings were grounded in irrefutable facts; the truth was just too inconvenient. God gifts the church with prophets who "see what's coming," but I'm afraid the majority of us resist the caution and tire of the incessant yapping. History has exposed a church slow in responding to warnings about racism and materialism, to name just two threats.
...Has God called us to make noise about a specific issue? Has our intensity waned because of a growing reputation that we bark too much? The destiny of a prophet is to sound the alarm when necessary, and for as long as necessary. Often alone... The community cannot be left with...guard dogs who cannot bark." (p. 147-149)

Partners in ministry, many of us have been "barking" for a LONG time. For myself it seems like almost every conversation I find myself in somehow revolves into a discussion of the critical place of persons with impairments in the church and community and how they have experienced exclusion. I am confident people tire of me and that subject. But that's ok. I am responsible for my "bark" as are you. To be satisfied with the way things are when you see they are not as they should be, is to be in need of being awakened to the injustice. Have you ever wondered why you see the injustice when others do not? That question alone should make you pause. Why do you see it? I am confident that you see it because you are called to attempt to do something about what has been revealed to you. Please don't tire of your work! Keep barking!!


1 comment:

  1. I love this! I often find myself guilty of being a guard dog who does not bark and this post reassured me that I always need to bark no matter who I’m barking at or what the situation is. I love the question you asked, “Why do you see injustice when others don’t?” That is an amazing question everyone should ask themselves. Everyone has their own fight that they need to fight in God’s honor and it is our duty to bark. Very welll put.