Psalm 23:1a The Lord is my Shepherd…
There is no lack of imagery today for a leader. You have heard leaders described as coach, manager, mentor, guide, conductor, quarterback, cowboy, cheerleader, philosopher, and director. If we turn to the Bible we find a few more terms like servant, soldier, apostle, pastor, teacher and elder. But not many of us would consider Shepherd as leadership material.
When we hear the term shepherd we may incorrectly picture a gentle person in a pasture surrounded by fluffy white sheep enjoying the beauty of the lush grasses, blue skies and singing birds. The reality of shepherding is one of long days watching and protecting. The shepherd was a man tough as nails and ready to take on any threat to his flock. David, a shepherd, was a man of strength and determination.
The 23rd Psalm was written by King David at a time when he was a very satisfied follower. David had lived through much change in himself and the world around him by this time. He knew that life as a shepherd was dangerous, physically demanding, and a round-the-clock responsibility. It was also a business that if done poorly would bring financial and temporal ruin to himself and his family.
Shepherd leaders live with the truth that their actions and decisions can improve the quality of life for their followers. This applies at home, in the community, or at work. Sheep (people) are not always good at strategic planning and anticipating the future. Shepherds work to be a good travel guide in this life that all their followers will accompany him to the heavenly pasture.
Shepherding is a way of thinking, doing and being. Shepherds have the mental ability to shift from deep analysis to quick decision making after just a few minutes of reflection. They provide an environment of contentment and abundance for those around them to be nurtured and grow. Lastly, shepherds lead by being with their people. They are able and willing to place themselves in the shoes of those they lead. Shepherds labor with their flock, lead immortals, cultivate loyalty and exhibit the ability to both lead and follow.