The Good Shepherd

Some people call it micro-managing, some call it accountability while others will call it babysitting; but looking after our flock is an essential function of leadership. The real issue is how you do it; as a herder you can walk behind them as they walk along the path and keep the strays in line or you can walk in front leading the way knowing that you’ll still have them when you turn around as a Shepherd does. How do you lead? The Shepherd concept of leadership is also important to how your people respond to you. Sheepherders use dogs to chase around the edges to keep the herd moving forward; if you find yourself chasing around the edges after your people, check your leadership style.

You should be looking after your people but you shouldn’t have to chase them down. Maintaining accountability of assignments without chasing them down can be a real challenge. Using a good coaching model combined with a strong vision will help you lead from the front. The concept of rescuing them means that you will put yourself at some risk to help them. The best strategy for performing a “rescue” is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Spend time in the beginning to give them the training and tools needed to execute their jobs.

Ezekiel 34:12 “As a Shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all places where they were scattered…”

We are God’s sheep and it is great to have a Shepherd that cares about us as much as He does. He gave up His son for our salvation and ever lasting life. God is always present in our lives and will come to our rescue, even when we’ve put distance between us. God’s “rescue” does not mean that we will get what we wanted, it may mean that we get just enough because the real rescue happened on Easter Sunday. We need to do our best and prevent the need for a rescue in the first place. We should be spending time with God, praying, reading the word and spreading the good news.

The bible is a coaching tool that has eternal implications. Imagine Jesus as your supervisor, what kind of leadership would He provide? Jesus would be patient with us as made mistakes but He’d also hold us accountable as He did with the disciples. In the end, no matter how many mistakes we make, Jesus will rescue us (usually for ourselves) as the Shepherd does with His flock. On Easter, we were given the grace of God in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While you are focusing on being a good Shepherd in your vocation, focus also on being a good sheep (follower). Rejoice that your Father cares so deeply that He will risk a lot to rescue you from all of the places that you can scatter to.

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Eighteen year old wisdom

Our son decided to get a tattoo for his 18th birthday. When he made the announcement months earlier about his intention, I think he expected a huge negative reaction from us. This was his opportunity to rebel against us – a rite of passage for all boys. But we didn’t object. We simply asked him to honor a few requests: nothing objectionable, something meaningful – now and in the future, in a location that won’t be embarrassing for him, at a reputable shop and to speak with a couple of my friends that are very experienced with tattoos. He complied and was ready to go a month after his birthday; we still didn’t object. He designed his own symbol that represents – be positive and keep moving forward, period! Two bent lines and a dot in the center (the period). When he looked up similar symbols he found that it is almost identical to the Viking symbol for “create your own destiny”. It was very meaningful to him and he had the two lines and a dot placed on the underside of his left wrist (covered by his watch). He told us that he was surprised that we didn’t say no. We had no reason to object.

The verse today describes how most of us feel on a regular basis – hard pressed. Since the start of the New Year, I’ve focused on the opportunities that come with a new beginning. I learned from or was reminded by “a kid” that I need to be positive and look forward in all things. He’s obviously much smarter than I ever give him credit for. So ask yourself, are you looking forward to what is possible or are you looking behind at what could have been? As they say, “out of the mouths of babes”, came great advice from someone who is choosing to see the rest of his life with great optimism. Maybe we should all do the same.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” 2 Corinthians 4:8

My guess is that this verse describes most of our lives – hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. We are however, not crushed, not in despair, not abandoned and not destroyed and we have God to thank for that. Life can be hard and challenging but God is working with us to help us navigate the troubles in our lives. I can’t help but wonder if I let all of the negative things that happen in my life to gain the advantage, how miserable I would be. I can’t tell you why I wasn’t upset that our son wanted to get a tattoo and those that know me; a tattoo isn’t exactly in keeping with my “old man” persona. It wasn’t the worst thing that he could have done.

God is in control of our lives and He has a plan for us. While we can’t create our own destiny, we do have the ability to influence the things that affect that plan. We can choose to ignore God’s plan or we can choose to follow it. Our son’s tattoo is really a symbol of what God’s wants for us – stay positive and keep moving forward. We will not be destroyed by this life or by the sin of our lives. God sent us a savior to make sure that we would be close to Him; forgiven for all sin and innocent in His eyes. This is enough reason to keep moving forward and to stay positive.