Book Review: They Smell Like Sheep

They Smell Like Sheep was a book recently recommended to a friend of mine. I did not hear the original recommendation that got my friend turned onto the book, but he asked if I could pick up the book when I was at a recent book sale. I grabbed the book for him and proceeded to read it myself.

The book’s premise is that a good spiritual leader will smell like his flock just as any shepherd would smell like the sheep he is pastoring. In fact, the sheep would probably just see the shepherd as one of their own who happens to be able to walk on two feet and protect them from danger.

It was a well outlined book and would make a great text to teach from for church leadership.

The book did not focus on just pastors either. It was about leadership in the church at any level. He even made the point that a church leader could possibly be someone who has not had any official authority appointed to him. If one will simply find an area in which to serve others he can be a spiritual leader.

My favorite quote from the book went something like this “We need to follow Jesus’ leadership style. He recruited 12, graduated 11 and focused on 3.” I really like that attitude. While some people may be able to effectively “pastor” 50 or 100 people, it is fine to put a greater effort into a few.

My one caveat about the book is the way he handles the last couple of chapters. He goes through some detailed word studies in the final pages. I loved his conclusions, but have great reservations about his process. He details how that some words in the Bible are interpreted wrongly by pastors and leaders, but in so doing questions the translation of God’s Word into our language. It would be easy for a reader to fall into the trap of wondering if we really do have the Word of God preserved for us today, or if every word in our translations have to be scrutinized for their accuracy.

I do not at all think that the author is claiming that we can’t know what God’s Word is, but I think he leads the reader down a dangerous path with the way he questions translations.

Though that is a strong warning, I really enjoyed the book and think it is spot on to where we need to be as church leaders. I also agree with his conclusions on how God’s Word has been interpreted incorrectly by many in the past.

They Smell Like Sheep: Spiritual Leadership for the 21st Century, Lynn Anderson, 248 pages, Howard Books, 2002.

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