What Shepherds Teach Us In Regards To Godly Leadership


It’s interesting that God compares elders, pastors, and Israel’s kings to “shepherds.”

When God gives an analogy or tells a story, it is always to give insight into truths He wants us to understand.

The relationship between sheep and a shepherd gives incredible insight into what the role should be between those in oversight towards those under them.  (This can apply to elders/pastors in a church towards the laity, parents towards children, employers towards employees, etc…)

Shepherds have several responsibilities when it comes to their sheep:

  • Shepherds are to provide protection from the enemies of the fold.
  • Shepherds are to provide food for the sheep.
  • Shepherds are to provide water for the sheep.
  • Shepherds are to attend to any sick or injured sheep.

Shepherds also have a role when it comes to their relationship with their sheep:

  • Shepherds guide the sheep.
  • Shepherds teach the sheep to trust and follow them.
  • Shepherds teach their sheep to be attentive to their voice.
  • Shepherds work to keep their sheep calm.

Sheep have a wide variety of enemies that the shepherd needs to protect against.  The enemies vary according to geographic location and habitat.  The enemies can be wild animals, cattle thieves, poisonous weeds, uneven ground, and sometimes the sheep themselves — their own propensity to be easily scared and to bolt, thus resulting in injury.

Shepherds have various means of protecting their sheep.  In Biblical times and in nomadic regions, the shepherd’s staff or rod was used to protect the sheep, along with the sling-shot.  The rod was used to ward off wild animals or thieves.  The rod was never used against the sheep themselves. 

There have been some stories circulating about a shepherd braking the legs of a naughty sheep until it learned to obey.  I began to research to see if there was any substantiation to such a claim.  I read a number of articles on this topic and concluded that the claim of a shepherd braking a sheep’s legs is inaccurate.

Instead, we have the Biblical story of a shepherd leaving his 99 sheep to look for his lost sheep, the disobedient sheep who wandered off.  We see the shepherd returning to the fold and rejoicing over his sheep that was found.  Nowhere, do we continue to read that the shepherd then broke the legs of that naughty sheep to teach the sheep not to wander again.

Shepherds were to provide food and fresh water for their sheep.  This meant foraging for new pastures and good stream beds.  Sometimes, this meant keeping them at home in the winter and feeding the sheep themselves.  A good shepherd always looked after the physical and practical needs of his sheep.  If the old streams dried up or the old pastures became barren, it was time to move on to new fertile pastures.  The shepherd was concerned about keeping the food and water sources fresh and abundant for the sheep.

Shepherds also cared for the sick and injured sheep.  They knew the basics of “first aid” care for their sheep.  They knew what brought healing, and healing was always the goal.  The goal of the shepherd was always to restore the sick or injured back into full health.  This meant gentle and appropriate care.

Shepherds played a personal role in the lives of their sheep.  By spending hours near the sheep, the sheep learned to recognize the voice of their shepherd.  This was imperative for protection, provision, security, and guidance. Often shepherds would calm their sheep by playing musical instruments, such as the harp or a flute-like instrument.  Shepherds understood that a gentle and calm manner would protect the sheep against anxiety and help the sheep to follow the shepherd’s guidance more clearly.

The hours the shepherd spent with his sheep taught them to be attentive to his voice and to trust that voice to guide, protect, and provide.  Sheep that recognized their shepherd were much calmer and therefore able to be attentive to guidance.

Shepherds gained the trust of the sheep in order to effectively guide them. 

It’s interesting that God didn’t compare leaders to cowboys.  Cowboys tend to yell and crack a whip against the ground to scare cattle into submission.

Shepherds though never use force against the sheep.  They use a calm manner to guide their sheep.

Guidance implies personally demonstrating how something is to be done or leading towards help.




the act or function of guiding; leadership; direction.


advice or counseling, especially that provided for students choosing a course of study or preparing for a vocation.


supervised care or assistance, especially therapeutic help in the treatment of minor emotional disturbances.


something that guides.


the process by which the flight of a missile or rocket may be altered in speed and direction in response to controls situated either wholly in the projectile or partly at a base.
(From dictionary.com)

Guidance implies an ongoing relationship that assists the one being guided towards a positive direction.  It involves an investment of time, energy, and resources.

Guidance doesn’t just lead away from danger but purposely leads towards something positive (e.g., growth, provision, protection).

In the Bible, Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd.  Just reading what it means to be a shepherd gives us beautiful insight into how God sees us and how He interacts with us.

The voice of the enemy may try to convince us otherwise, but God’s voice is always that which lovingly steers us in a direction that is always for our good.  I love the following quotes, taken from Discerning the Voice of God, by Priscilla Shirer:

The Lord reminded me that He seeks to deliver me from the guilt of the past and move me toward the promise of the future.  His goal is never to bring guilt and condemnation by continually reminding me of my past sins but rather to bring healing and obedience by turning my attention to my future with Him.

God doesn’t point out our sin to condemn us.  God’s purpose in lovingly revealing our sin is to encourage us to acknowledge it and confess it so He can change us.  The Enemy’s voice brings condemnation.  You will know condemnation because it will bring guilt and offer no clear means of relief.  The Holy Spirit brings conviction that always provides a road map out and away from a specific sin.  His aim is always to lovingly steer us in the direction of His grace.

He doesn’t bring up the past without pointing to the future.

He doesn’t want me to come to Him out of guilt but out of love and affection.  I know He is wooing me when I feel a soothing conviction that tenderly urges me to respond to His love.

In First Corinthians 13, we are told that we can endure immense suffering through persecution, we can be able to preach a doctrinally-correct and eloquent sermon, we can do all kinds of good works for others, but if we don’t have love, it means nothing.  Ouch!

Jesus tells us that love is the key, love is the foundation, love is the “vehicle”  or “instrument” that helps to communicate God’s message accurately to His people.  What is that message?  It’s a message of grace. 

Jesus didn’t come to condemn sinners.  He came to save sinners.

Our sanctification is an ongoing work of redemption in our lives.  It’s not a work of condemnation and fearful subservience to a narcissistic god.  Our God is Love Himself.  What He does is always, always for our good.  Even His voice of conviction is only so that we can be brought into a more abundant life of true freedom.

I leave you with the following descriptions of love:

  • Love pursues.
  • Love heals.
  • Love empowers.
  • Love motivates the recipient towards personal growth
  • Love inspires.
  • Love frees.
  • Love endures.
  • Love thinks the best, regardless of past or present failures.
  • Love believes.
  • Love forgives.

When Life Seems To Be In The “Hold Pattern”

The clock on the mall.

According to my digital camera (which has never lied to me in the past), this picture was actually taken at 10:33 p.m. - NOT at 7:48, as the clock would have you believe. In fact, I can say with 100% confidence that it was ...


Maybe, you clicked on my blog because life right now seems to be at a stand-still for you.  Your dreams don’t seem to be coming true.

If you are like some of my friends, you are suffering through chemotherapy, waiting for your husband to get a job before you get kicked out of your house in a week or few, you are longing for a baby to hold in your arms and heart, you are wondering when the guy you love will finally awaken to the fact that you can be something other than his best friend, you are wondering when your spouse will finally be awakened spiritually and will be able to share in all the blessings of knowing Jesus personally, you are clinging to hope that your rebellious child will finally surrender their life to God, you’re wondering when all the physical pain will finally end or if the doctor will finally discover something to truly help…  I hear all of those cries…  I know how hard simply waiting can be — perhaps it’s one of the hardest things we have to do at times.

Perhaps, waiting is so hard because waiting requires us to surrender and to trust.

Waiting means we have to let go of our own plans, our own timing, and we have to submit to and wait on a Higher Power.

When we grow anxious in our waiting, we have to camp ourselves — our minds and hearts on the truth of Who God is and of who we are in God. 

God is Jehovah Jireh — our Provider!

God is Jehovah-Shalom — our Peace!

God is Jehovah-Rophe — the God Who heals!

God is Jehovah-Tsidekenu — our Righteousness!

God is Elohim — the Sovereign One!

God is Adonai — Lord and Master!

God is Jehovah-Shammah — the God Who Is Present!

God is Jehovah-Tsebaoth — the Lord of hosts!

God is El-Shaddai — our Abundancy!  God is the One who abundantly supplies all of our needs.

In the blog, https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/when-waiting-seems-to-be-the-only-action-occuring, it is mentioned that God’s timing is just as important as His answer or His specific will.

So often when we are waiting on some future dream or hope or relief, we seem to think that our present is just an “empty” time that needs to be filled, endured.  We think we are just “passing time.”

God though is concerned about your now.  Your now is not outside of His Presence or care.

I love the following quotes from Discerning The Voice Of God by Priscilla Shirer:

God has invited you to join Him in His plans.  The purposes of God not only include specific plans but also very specific timing.  He orchestrates both events in your life and their timing.

The timing of the call was just as important as the call itself… I would have tried to rush ahead of God instead of waiting for His timing before I was emotionally or spiritually equipped for the demands I currently face.

God will use the appropriate means to reveal His will in His timing. 

Much of the heartache and frustration I have encountered in discerning God’s voice came because I wanted it before God was ready to give it.  I wasn’t willing to trust God’s timing in revealing His plans for me.  I tried to place my time constraints on God.

His timing is best.

Knowing too much too soon can be detrimental.

When we feel rushed and hurried to make a decision not rooted in a deep confidence of inner peace, God probably has not spoken.  Nowhere in Scripture does God tell anyone to rush into making a decision.  On the contrary, He patiently and persistently gives us clarity before requiring obedience.  If you feel an overwhelming urge to act spontaneously, pull in the reins.

I love that quote!  “God has invited you to join Him in His plans.” 

When life seems to be in a “hold pattern,” it’s not because God is keeping you from something good or that He is unaware of your plight.  It means that God is doing something good in you while you wait, if you surrender to Him.

Discerning the Voice of God also says, “Our shepherd leads, He doesn’t drive.  One difference between the Enemy’s voice and the Shepherd’s is that Jesus doesn’t coerce us with fear or intimidation.  He gently encourages and woos.”

John 10:2-4

But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

In John 10:2-4, it says that Jesus, our Shepherd, calls us by name and leads us.  He shows us the way we are to go.

  • God invites us to be a part of His will.
  • He leads us and guides us in His will.
  • His Presence accompanies His will.

There is protection and provision for the sheep that follow their Shepherd.

There is joy and peace when we traverse the paths that our Heavenly Shepherd has for us.

Dear friend, no matter your circumstances today and when things seem hopeless right now, believe the truth.  The truth will anchor your soul and keep you secure in the midst of the tumult.

One final excellent quote from Elisabeth Elliot:

My acceptance of His timing was a rigorous exercise in trust.  I was tempted to charge the Lord with negligence and inattention, like the disciples in the boat in a storm.  They toiled frantically until the situation became impossible and then instead of asking for Jesus’ help, they yelled, “Master, don’t you care that we are drowning?” They weren’t perishing, they were panicking.  It was not too late.  Jesus got up and merely spoke to the wind and sea.

“They weren’t perishing, they were panicking.”

Today, when you feel the drudgery of the monotony, the worries for tomorrow, the pain of today, hang on to the truth.  God is not too late for His will. 

His will is always accomplished in the perfection of His timing.