One of my favorite pictures of true leadership is that of a shepherd leading his sheep. The Bible contains many references to shepherds.  In Psalm 23, David declared, “The Lord is my shepherd.”  Jesus called Himself “the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11).  The writer of Hebrews called Jesus “the great Shepherd of the sheep” (Heb. 13:20). While we understand that Jesus is our shepherd, we should follow His example and display the same spirit. Indeed, a leader motivated by love for the people under his or her responsibility will carry a shepherd mentality.

This reality first hit home with me when I decided to pursue a career as a teacher.  As I sought God to understand the purpose for His calling, I came across this verse about Jesus in the book of Matthew: “When  He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).  To me, that verse painted a vivid picture of our society today in which many people are “like sheep having no shepherd.”  I began to understand that perhaps the reason Jesus was calling me into the world of education was because He wanted me to serve as a shepherd.  While you may serve in a different arena than education, that same call can operate in your life as well.

What does it mean to act as a shepherd?  A shepherd is committed to a flock and the one responsible for guiding the sheep, protecting them, and attending to their needs.  So, to serve as a shepherd means to demonstrate commitment to the well-being of others.  It involves watching out for them, helping them, and teaching them.  Indeed, when we look at the world today, we understand that the need for shepherds has never been greater.  Too often, a void exists where strong leadership is needed.  Whether it’s in a home, an office, or a church, the impact is tremendous when leadership is lacking.

That’s where we come into play.  In the account from Matthew, after Jesus saw the multitudes who needed a shepherd, He told His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).  Jesus realized a great need and commissioned people to pray for more workers to meet that need.  Now, even 2000 years later, we are the fruit of those prayers!  We are those laborers being sent into His harvest.  When we serve as a shepherd who sacrifices for the benefit of others, we point people to the Good Shepherd…Jesus!

Never discredit yourself as being unimportant to the kingdom of God; realize that people need you!  That’s why it is so vital to follow through with action when God gives you a vision for helping others.  Otherwise, the people remain weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd.  So, let yourself be moved with the compassion of Jesus, and reach out to help others.  Your “flock” may be your children, your family, your co-workers, your students, your clients, or your congregation, but whatever it may be, step into the fields that are ready for harvest and be a shepherd for God today!