I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.John 10:11-16
I don’t know much about what it takes to be a shepherd but, a years weeks ago, I heard an Israeli teacher speak about shepherds and leadership, so when I considered the passage above, I referred to my notes and found the parallel passage from Ezekiel, who warned long ago about shepherds who look out for themselves at the expense of their flock.
“Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness, you have ruled them” (Ezekiel 34: 2b-4).
But the sheep are not forgotten as God promises to “be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak…” (Ezekiel 34:15b-16a).
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who did in reality lay down his life for us.
There are well-intentioned, capable leaders in churches today, but there are also bad “shepherds” who craft a message with smooth words that sell to ears that are all too often longing for a positive word of affirmation because, after all, “God is love”(1 John 4:8).