In each of our own respective spheres of influence, we have people who are under our watch and care. Whether we want to or care to admit it, people are looking for us to shepherd them. As a noun, a shepherd is a person whose job is to take care of sheep. When used as a verb, shepherd means to guide, guard, tend, rear, and direct. Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Because He is the Good Shepherd, we should always look to Him for instruction on how to shepherd well. We can look to the Word and see how he cares for and directs His sheep.
Because we are called His sheep in scripture, I can identify in the qualities and characteristics of a sheep. I am the furthest thing from an expert on sheep, but there are a few things I do know about them:
They are simple.
Sheep know how to do one thing- eat grass. Like sheep we, in our flesh, know how to do one thing really well- sin. In our foolishness we, like sheep, are very slow to learn. Whether we’re slow to learn from our mistakes or slow to trust in God’s promises, our foolishness simply gets in the way of our thriving.
They are nasty.
You can see this from looking at pictures of sheep on Google Images. Yes, they may be so stinking cute when they are young, but even at birth their sheepskin (hide of a sheep) collects debris and is tainted. As sheep, we are marked by the nastiness of our flesh from birth- we too are unattractive when called by our sin. Yet in our nastiness, like a sheep, we can be looked upon as innocent and pure under the righteousness of Christ.
They are demanding.
Sheep in their foolishness are stuck in their ways. After reading up on the characteristics of sheep, I have seen over and over again the fact that they are extremely hard to move and demand to stay in one place. Like sheep my stubbornness often causes more harm than good.
They are restless.
The restlessness of a sheep typically stems from fear. If a sheep leaves their flock they are more likely to be attacked and killed. Sheep are smart enough to know that being within a flock is a form of protection, yet they can sometimes be paralyzed by their fear. When we are paralyzed by our fear, we become restless and forget to obey and listen to the Shepherd.
They are dependent creatures.
Simply put- sheep must be dependent upon the shepherd; otherwise, they cannot function. We must be dependent on our Shepherd.
I am thankful we have a loving and good Shepherd who cares for His sheep. He cares for us so much that He comes looking “for the one” when we stray. Because we have the true Shepherd, we have the greatest example to follow. Choose to live out 1 Peter 5: 2-4 with your flock each day.
Read these verses to understand your identity in the Shepherd: Psalm 95:7, Psalm 100:3, Micah 5:4, Ezekiel 34: 11-16 and 31, Luke 12:32, and Psalm 23.