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Shepherd Leaders

Shepherds

“Followership is the beginning – and end – of effective leadership!”  Dr. Timothy S. Laniak

The resources available these days on leadership are overwhelming!  Go into any bookstore or take a look at Amazon and the list is almost endless.  There are blogs, web-sites, seminars, and countless definitions of what biblical leadership looks like.  There is a picture of leadership in the scriptures that begins in the book of Genesis from the perspective of shepherding.  I was recently given a copy of When Shepherds Watch Their Flocks by Dr. Timothy S. Laniak and it has challenged me to reexamine my view on how I lead and how I teach others to lead.

We cannot afford to ignore the shepherd metaphor used repeatedly in God’s word.  This figure of speech defines for us what kind of leaders we should be and the concept of shepherding does not need to be replaced but rather revived.  In the Old Testament God was unhappy with shepherds who only thought of themselves and He even promised that He would provide His people with shepherds who were after His own heart.  A shepherd must grow spiritually to where they transition from being focused on their own needs to focusing on the needs of others.

The image of shepherding continues in Matthew 9:36 where we are given an inside look at the heart of God; “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”  In Matthew 10 Jesus sent the disciples out as shepherds to the lost sheep of Israel.  Their mission was defined as an extension of Jesus’ pastoral service.   This should not surprise us because we read in Psalms 95:7, “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”

Here are some observations about shepherds that I was reminded of by Dr. Laniak.  His book is a forty day journey of devotionals reflecting on biblical leadership:

  • Jesus is referred to as the “Good Shepherd” in John 10:11, 14 and the “Great Shepherd” in Hebrews 13:20.
  • Great leaders in the word of God were shepherds first – Abraham, Moses, David, etc.
  • Shepherding requires a wide range of skills but it begins with a compassionate heart for the sheep.
  • Shepherding requires touch.  Are the sheep that are suffering the most getting touched the most?  We are called to get dirty helping the people Jesus came to recover.
  • Shepherds need to realize that maybe they are looking for “greener” pastures because they are overlooking the provision right in front of them.
  • Shepherds must make sure the flock is receiving the right kind of food and not filling up on empty calories.
  • A good shepherd knows the condition of their flock and can counter every affliction.
  • A shepherd desires for every sheep to experience life and realizes that he will have to fight for some to live.
  • It is the shepherd’s roll to sacrifice his life for the sheep.
  • The shepherd counts by ones because every sheep has value and worth in God’s kingdom.
  • Shepherds gather the scattered sheep and refuse to come home without every single one of them.
  • Shepherds provide life-sustaining gifts to their sheep even while they are living in the desert and the wilderness.  Remember, that for 40 years the children of Israel lacked nothing.
  • A shepherd cannot run from his responsibilities to his flock because if they are left alone they will become victims.

Psalms 78:70-72, “He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: From following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance.  So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.”