of shepherds and sheepdogs
perhaps you’ve heard this one already.
there is a great difference between the way a shepherd and a sheepdog deal with their flock.
the sheepdog barks, forces, intimidates and manipulates. the force of teeth and aggression.
the shepherd calls, invites, and moves the herd by influence.
I don’t often write about leadership, but the reality is that if we have people who look towards us or seek direction from us, we are leaders. bidden or unbidden.
as a leader, I really don’t want people to follow me.
that may sound contradictory but understand that sheepdogs want people to follow them. they press and push and force, all in the effort to bring the flock along behind.
Jesus proposes something different. He says there’s only one shepherd, and those of us who lead should long for that Voice, the lone Voice of goodness in a directionless wilderness, to come through us.
I don’t want people to follow me. I want to invite people to follow with me.
sheepdogs lead by intimidation.
shepherds lead by invitation.
shepherds still lead, they chart a course and envision the beauty of that which can’t be seen, but the movement is different.
parents who constantly use force on their children lead them to be fearful, subservient, and longing for escape.
parents who invite children to something better, being a voice of goodness, lead their children to understand why the direction - the greener pastures over there - makes sense.
husbands who lead in their marriage by force create bitterness, resentment, and cynicism even if it stays below the surface and never translates into action.
husbands who lead by invitation, listening to the deep wisdom of “loving their wives as Christ loved the church, giving Himself for her” (Eph. 5:33), create a dynamic partnership where tasks become teamwork and not “man’s work” and “woman’s work.”
men and women who lead their organizations or companies like sheepdogs will constantly fight to stay invincible because when you lead by force, eventually the force will be returned.
men and women who lead by the voice of the Shepherd, inviting people towards something better and standing side-by-side as they walk, create a place where eyes are looking forward and not backwards watching for an attack from behind.
Jesus says, “I will draw all people to me.” (john 12:32)
if we lead, if we influence others today, who is drawing us?
have we created the space in our day, our life, to listen to the voice of the shepherd?
if we have spent most of our days as a sheepdog, how well has the barking paid off, honestly?
is there a secret coup brewing in our flock because they’re tired of being snarled at?
perhaps this season, a time when folks in the US are looking to elect a new leader, we should first discern who are the shepherds and who are the sheepdogs?