5 lessons for Shepherds
John 10 v 14-21
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” 19 The Jews who heard these words were again divided. 20 Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?” 21 But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
5 Lessons for Shepherds from these few verses.
There are so many things a Shepherd needs to know!
- Develop relationships, v14
I know: No one can be known for the time they spend in a church building. Go visit. Visit them in their homes. Home-visiting is not an old-fashioned thing to do. Even those with hundreds in their churches do it. Raise pastoral teams to support you in this. Know them in their work places and in their leisure. Relationships take time but there are some easy ways that don’t take years.
My sheep: It can be a powerful thing when a shepherd owns their responsibility. That’s the difference between them and a hired hand. It means the shepherd puts others first and themselves second. However, remember these sheep are Jesus’ sheep and so we take care lightly, gently and with deep love for Him.
They know me: Take down the mask. The thought that you cannot minister to those who are your friends is not the lesson that Jesus teaches us. Be honest. Let them call you by your first name or another name of endearment. It isn’t disrespectful. Have fun as well.
- Mission, v16
There are more sheep – don’t just look at who comes on a Sunday. Look at who isn’t here yet. Know the demographic of where you live. Know your reach. Let the sheep in the pen realise they are going to have to move over and create some space. The world doesn’t exist for them but they for the world.
- They listen to the voice, v16
They too will listen to my voice: Do you have a recognisable voice? What is the sound that you are creating? Yesterday someone asked me if I was always this happy? Of course to be always happy could be irritating and it isn’t true for me anyway. But they noticed the sound of joy that was coming from me. The shepherd’s voice is crucial. It can build or tear down.
The shepherd walks in the authority given by God. The heaven sent confidence that they are on earth to do His purposes. They are not controlled by any other force whether by man and their hidden agendas or by the evil one with the attacks of fear and doubt. No one can take this authority it belongs to God. It can be wasted and given away but not robbed. This confident authority means the shepherd can make powerful decisions such as to lay their life down, to surrender for the good of people. But also the authority to take it up again, to rise and stand tall in the victory that is theirs.
- You won’t please everyone, v19
(They) were again divided: It is just how it is as a shepherd. Sometimes the sheep know what they would do if they were shepherd. But it works for the shepherd too as they are also sheep of their own shepherd. Shepherds look to those who lead them and can be divided over decisions taken. Of course we are all sheep and during our lives we often look to the good shepherd and question why? We do it because we all like sheep have gone astray.