Over the past month, we’ve been considering the Bible’s use of shepherd language in making a unique contribution to understanding the role of a leader. The final category that the Bible emphasizes is the seeking heart of a caring shepherd. While negligent shepherds will scatter the flock or be content to make a living from the gathered flock, a good shepherd will risk comfort and safety to seek lost sheep. While the primary applications may be related to church ministry, the implications for relating to disgruntled customers, disillusioned constituents, and prodigal children may be just as relevant.
If you describe someone as being “very pastoral,” it implies a warm tenderness towards people. And these are qualities that are certainly a part of the shepherd image, but they’re not at the forefront. In fact, if a shepherd spends all his time nuzzling with the cute, little lambs, or binding up the sick ones, the flock will scatter, starve and die. A shepherd is pre-eminently called to lead.
Over a number of weeks, we’re considering the metaphor of the shepherd for understanding how God views leadership. We’ve seen how the idea of a shepherd points to the need for accountability but also compassion. Today, we look at productivity and provision: how a shepherd feeds the sheep.
A key part of a shepherd’s role involves providing water for the flock. This points to a sometimes neglected aspect of leadership today.
We’ve come up with many different titles for leaders today. And the titles matter. But while each of these titles have value, the Bible defines leadership in a unique way that may help people serving in all levels of leadership better understand their task. The primary metaphor that the Bible uses for leadership is the shepherd. Today we consider one of the implications of that metaphor.