The Good Shepherd


 

Good Shepherd

Good Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I am the door of the sheep— Joh_10:7

 

The Man Born Blind and the Good Shepherd

 

Chapter nine of John’s Gospel tells about the man born blind. Then in the following one is the lesson of the Good Shepherd. And I dare say it seems at first as if there were no link between the two. But if it is hard for us to find a link, it was all plain as daylight to the man born blind. He hid in the crowd and drank in every word that Jesus said; and as he heard that wonderful talk about the shepherd, he said to himself, “Every syllable of that is meant for me.” Had not the Pharisees excommunicated him? Had they not slammed the door of blessing in his face? “I am the door,” says the Lord Jesus. Had not the Pharisees been mad with rage that he, a poor lost sheep, should dare to teach them, the shepherds of the people? “I am the good shepherd,” said Jesus. Christ knew what had happened. He knew the treatment His beggar-friend had gotten. It stirred His heart into this noble eloquence. And as the sunflower springs from its seed, so all the wealth and beauty of our chapter spring from the healing of the man born blind.

 

Many Were Called the Shepherd of the People

 

Of course, when Jesus calls Himself a shepherd, He is far from being first to use that figure. The originality of Jesus does not lie in saying things that were never said before. Old Homer (whom I hope many of my readers love) is fond of calling his heroes shepherds of men. It had been used of Cyrus in Isaiah; of rulers and prophets in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. It is the name given to the teacher of wisdom in Ecclesiastes. It comes to full bloom in the twenty-third Psalm. I wonder, too, if you have ever thought how many of God’s great leaders had been shepherds. Abraham and Jacob both had to do with sheep. Moses was keeping Jethro’s flock when God spake in the burning bush. When Samuel came to seek a king, the king, a ruddy lad, was shepherding. Amos the prophet was a simple herdsman. And Jeremiah, the prophet most similar to the Lord, would seem to have been a shepherd too. Did not Christ know all that? Had He not brooded deep upon these shepherds, as He wandered among the hills of Nazareth? Now, at the touch of need and under the impulse of a great compassion, He glorifies and crowns that ancient image by making it the express image of Himself.

 

As a Shepherd, Christ Knows His Sheep

 

Now you will note that Jesus knows His sheep. That thought was clearly before the mind of Christ. There was not a Pharisee who knew the blind beggar although they had passed his begging-place for years. But beggar or prince, it is all one to Jesus; as the Father knows Him, He knows His own. Mr. Moody used to tell about a girl who was very ill, and her mother sang to her and spoke to her and shifted her, but the little patient still tossed and fretted. And then her mother stooped down and took her in her arms, and the child whispered, “Ah, mother, that’s what I want!” You see that even a mother, for all her love, can never be sure what her little one is wanting. But every want and every need, and every trial and every hope, of every separate boy or girl who trusts Him—it is all known to Jesus. The day is coming when Christ shall say to some people, “Depart from Me, I never knew you! “But that same Jesus is saying today, “I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep.”

 

The Sheep Know Their Shepherd

 

Note once again that the sheep know their shepherd. There is a story of a Scottish traveler in Palestine who thought he would try an experiment upon the sheep. He had been reading this chapter of St. John, and he was eager to put it to the test. So he got a shepherd to change clothes with him; and the tourist wrapped himself in the shepherd’s mantle, and the shepherd donned the tourist’s garb, and then both called to the flock of sheep to follow (in the East the shepherd goes before his flock). And the sheep followed the voice and not the dress. It was the voice and not the dress they knew. So you see that every sheep in the flock has got an earmark—it can tell the voice of the shepherd from a stranger’s. And every sheep in the flock has got a foot mark—they follow the shepherd because they know his voice. Have you been branded on the ear and foot? Are these two marks of ownership on you? Samuel was but a child when he cried out, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth!” The Shepherd called him and he heard the voice.

 

The Good Shepherd Lays His Life Down for the Sheep

 

We never think of a shepherd as a hero. But in the East there is never a day that dawns but may reveal the hero or the hireling in the shepherd. Tonight there may spring a lion on the flock. Or who can tell but that yon swirling dust betokens the galloping of Bedouin sheep-stealers? If that be so—come, trusty blade! It must be battle now! For all my watching and my watering shall be vain unless I am ready to combat to the death! So is the Eastern shepherd faced with death. Serving amid fierce beasts and fiercer bandits, he may be called to die for his sheep tonight. And I am the Good Shepherd, says Jesus, and the Good Shepherd gives

 

Church of the Good Shepherd - explore front pa...

Church of the Good Shepherd – explore front page 🙂 (Photo credit: Adam Foster | Codefor)

 

His life for the sheep. Learn, then, that the cross is Jesus’ noblest deed. It is not an accident; it is an act. It is the crowning service of the Shepherd to the sheep, whom He loves too deeply ever to let them go.

 

There Is Only One Fold

 

Then, lastly, mark that the shepherd has sheep outside our fold. In the early Church there was a fiery saint, some of whose books our students study yet. And this “fierce Tertullian,” as one of our poets calls him, said, “The sheep He saves, the goats He doth not save.” But in the very days when Tertullian was writing, there were humble Christians hiding in the catacombs. And they loved to draw the figure of the Good Shepherd, and many of their rude drawings are there still—and often the Good Shepherd is carrying on His shoulders, not a lamb, but a kid of the goats. To the Jew there was but one fold—it was Israel. Jesus had other sheep outside that fold. And whenever we send a missionary to China, whenever we pray for the savage tribes of Africa, we do it because the Good Shepherd has said this: “Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.”

 

 

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Attitude


 

Inspiring leadership is defined by an inspiring attitude. Inspiring words and acts are preceded by an inspiring attitude. Like it or not, our thoughts and interpretations of people and circumstances directly influence our beliefs, and ultimately, our leadership actions.

Yes, bad things do happen and they sometimes “just show up.” Any leader would be hard pressed to remember a week when no curve balls were thrown at him or her. However, it is our interpretation that makes a situation negative. A surprise event or a challenging moment doesn’t have to drag us down. The way we choose to think about what happens determines the ultimate outcome. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or cannot, you’re right.” In other words, your attitude reflects your past, describes your present and predicts your future.

Our experiences are much less important than our attitude toward them. Our interpretations of experiences either limit or enable our future success. Here’s an example: A mission-critical project you are leading has “promotion” written all over it, but it bombs – it’s over budget, past its deadline … the works. How you choose to interpret those facts is how you shape your future. Do you see yourself as a failure, a poor leader who is maxed out and on the way out? Or are you a great leader in the making who is learning some tough lessons that will help ensure success on the next project?

Think the best ALL the time. What’s the harm? If you choose to protect yourself from disappointment by always thinking the worst, you have also chosen disappointment as the filter through which you view all things and people … and that’s just what you will get. On the other hand, you can choose to think the best all the time. Sure, you might be disappointed occasionally but, most of the time, you will be programming your mental attitude to achieve your best. This creates a tremendously powerful chain reaction that looks like:

You think the best of your team

Team performs to meet you expectations

Customers’ expectations are met

Better business results

You think the best because you have seen the benefit of doing so.

We must manage our attitude as carefully as we manage our money. At any moment during daily leadership, we can fall victim to our own attitude. Self-doubt and fear are the enemies of inspired leadership. Instead, choose an attitude of victory and your team’s performance will follow.

Action Questions:

1. What does my attitude today say about the results I can expect tomorrow?

2. How does my attitude toward my own capabilities, my team and my goals affect my leadership?

 

 

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