The Lord is My Shepherd, sang David. He sang it well. He knew its truth.
All sheep know the truth. We know our fragility (at least we should). We can’t see very far. We get tired easily. We suffer raging diseases. We are easily tempted to wander after whatever glitters. And when we get lost we can’t find our way back without a shepherd.
We are needy.
My wife’s new favorite song “In Need” says it well. We are…..
“In need of grace, in need of love, in need of mercy raining down from high above, in need of strength, in need of peace….”
“In need of Christ, the perfect Lamb”
The song ends plainly: “I am in need.”
Hardly the words of a champion. No great nation here strutting its claims to power. No great football team barking out its superiority over its opponents. No mighty conqueror claiming its prowess.
Just a bunch of sheep in need!!!
What are we to make of this mighty army called Christianity?
Its just a bunch of sheep following a Lamb? Is that crazy or what?
A “sheep army” isn’t much of a threat to anyone….or is it.
And if that wasn’t enough of a mystery, it appears the army seeks needy sheep to be leaders.
In the book of John, the last book written, records one of the last calls of Christ on earth. He turns to Peter and many others: “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17).
How is a man ravaged by fear and guilt suppose to speak with conviction on forgiveness to others?
How is a man full of sexual drives supposed to safely shepherd the flock without abusing the sheep?
How is a women fighting depression suppose to encourage her lambs?
How is a mentally feeble teen supposed to navigate his way to lead others into “battle”?
Wouldn’t it be better if we hired some angels to do this important work?
They have more experience, less misdirected passion, more positivity, and better training. They don’t have to sleep or take naps, get hungry or taking potty breaks. They can rise above the fragility of flesh and bone realities. Couldn’t we get a lot more done?
But maybe that is the point. Maybe sheep were called to shepherd because they could identify with needs and work to meet those needs.
There is nothing like a thirsty shepherd to cultivate a deep conviction that the sheep need to be lead by still waters.
There is nothing like a shepherd who has been attached by a wolf to know that sheep would like protection from wolves.
Maybe that is why Jesus, the Lamb, is the leader most to be trusted and why he calls sheep to be trained by him to shepherd. It is a better design for true leadership. He works not to remove us from the feelings of need but to keep us near them so we could lead better.
Jesus prefers the embedded and even the disabled leader to the confident strutting one because it keeps the leader a learner instead of puffed up as a person more interested in being a champion boasting greatness then a quiet shepherd nursing the sheep’s sore feet.
Away with the wicked Satanic view of false leadership. When leaders are more focused on their fame as leaders they have lost sight of the sheep!!!
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” (Heb 4:15). Though he NEVER EVER sinned, he felt the pain of being a sheep. In fact, he was the lamb, a specially sheep with the difficult task of being the sacrifice.
“My sheep here my voice, and they follow me” was his bold claim as he walked alone to the cross. (John 10:27).
And the true sheep followed.
Then he calls those sheep to be shepherds, because their more sheep to serve.
“Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17).
In the next few posts, I will be outlining what it means to be a leader in the Christian tradition, a sheep-shepherd model.
I recommend reading these passages:
Zechariah 10, 11
1 Peter 5
Prayer: Jesus: We are in need of you. Help us hear the need of others and respond to those in need in the strength you can provide us.