Have you ever played the game follow the leader? You know, the childhood game where one person leads and everyone else follows- mimicking exactly what the leader does? Maybe you loved being the leader, maybe you enjoyed following or maybe you didn’t play at all- instead staying in the shadows doing your own thing?
Regardless of your preferences in childhood games, life sometimes requires a good leader. Take for instance, an officer leading his unit into battle. The leader is vital as the success of the mission and the lives of the soldiers are at stake. If you are one of those soldiers, you can bet you want a good leader who can be trusted, has proven themselves and will put the lives of his men before his own to be the one leading you into combat. You’d be foolish to follow a leader that cannot be trusted.
Proverbs 14:28 says, “the mark of a good leader is loyal followers; leadership is nothing without a following.”
When you think of great leaders, who comes to mind? Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Joan of Arc or Alexander the Great?
What about Christ?
Where did He fall on your leader list?
The last published study on the size and distribution of the world’s Christian population in 2011 reported 2.18 billion Christians, representing nearly a third of the global population of 6.9 billion. (Pew Research Center)
That’s a big following!
If Christ is worthy to be followed by so many, then why is it so difficult to see Him as a leader and treat Him as such?
Jesus, himself declares that He is a leader. He says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” ~ John 10:11
Ok, Jesus used the term shepherd and for most of us that doesn’t bring up images of a great leader, but that is because most of us don’t understand what it means to be a shepherd.
A shepherd is someone who devotes their life to caring for creatures who cannot care for themselves. It is a 24/7 job that requires time, attention, patience and compassion. A shepherd’s role involves being a watchman, protector, guide, provider, physician and a savior to the sheep. A good shepherd intimately knows and loves every single sheep in his care. He assisted with their birth, he named them, he inspects them daily to ensure they are healthy, he feeds them, he leads them and he fiercely protects them. Because of his great care, the sheep intimately know their shepherd and respond to only his voice. In fact, the sheep will follow their shepherd anywhere because they recognize their shepherd’s love.
I recently heard a story about a tourist group traveling in the Holy Land, during their visit they witnessed a flock of sheep being driven through the town. As they watched, one tourist questioned, “I thought the shepherd led the sheep from the front. Why is he in the back?” The guide replied, “Sir, that is not the shepherd. That’s the butcher.”
What great imagery to help us apply a bunch of sheep, a shepherd and a butcher into our lives!
You see, we are the sheep, Jesus is the good shepherd and the butcher is Satan.
A shepherd will never drive or push his flock- he will always lead and his sheep will follow.
To the contrary, Satan loves to drive us, pushing us onto the wrong path. He loves to distract us, to segregate us from the flock and from our Shepherd. He loves to whisper lies into our lives getting us to doubt Jesus, to doubt His goodness and provision. Satan wants us to believe the grass is greener in another pasture and that we don’t need a leader because we can do it on our own! Satan delights in butchering your life!
I love this quote, “A life led by God is one of confidence. We know His call and understand His voice. As a result, we feel pulled forward in life to live for the Lord in new and brave ways.” – Gregg Matte.
The Good Shepherd's leadership enables us to walk the right path, to achieve the best in this life now, to perform tasks of eternal importance instead of aimless wandering, mindless distractions or being pushed over a cliff!
If Jesus is your Good Shepherd, you can live with confidence and hope because Jesus never pushes, never punishes, and never misleads.
Friends, when we see and understand Jesus is the Good Shepherd, we can have assurance that He is a leader worthy to be followed and that standing alone in the shadows is where the butcher would love for you to stay.
Father, thank you for providing a Good Shepherd that loves and cares for us, His sheep. May we seek security in His gate and never be misled into thinking we can do life alone without a leader, that the grass is greener in other pastures and that there is another way to life absent Christ. Reveal the lies of Satan in our lives and make our Good Shepherd's voice easily distinguishable so that we may always follow His leadings.
“I am the good shepherd. I know My sheep and My sheep know Me.” ~ John 10:14