When I visited New Zealand years ago, I saw a demonstration of the well-trained working sheepdogs who daily move the sheep from place to place. Incredibly quick and extremely tenacious, the dogs reminded me of some of the bosses I’ve had and unfortunately, of some of my own leadership early on. I thought I was leading, but I was simply barking, manipulating, scaring, and irritating those under my care.
Dallas Willard, in his book Hearing God, says, “the sheepdog forcibly maneuvers the sheep, whereas the biblical shepherd simply calls as he calmly walks ahead of the sheep.” I really like that picture. Lead by doing. Influence over authority. Calling to your followers . . . your family, “come with me.” “Do what I do, and we’ll be fine.”
Is that how you’re leading your wife? Your kids? Your family? Your employees?
Our leadership isn’t being cut down by axes and chainsaws . . . it’s dying through thousands of tiny paper cuts. We excuse small lies, inconsistencies, compromises, and hard-heartedness because “we’re so busy.” The reality is it’s easier to be a sheepdog leader . . . barking loud, continually wearing ourselves out running around the herd, and confusing activity with accomplishment.
But if we do the opposite, if we’re shepherd leaders who earn the right to lead and who call as we calmly walk ahead, we’ll look behind and find willing followers drawing their strength and confidence from walking in our steps.
So, are you willing to going first, living and demonstrating humility, consistency, discipline, and compassion? Are you willing to put on the shoes of the Gospel of peace with your wife and kids? To take on the responsibility for the spiritual growth and development of another man as his mentor? To seek out the least of these in your community and help meet their needs?
Scripture: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-28)