I have been studying about sheep in preparation for the Take Heart Leadership retreat in January. Our theme is “Still,” and is based on the 23rd Psalm. You know the psalm; it talks about the Lord as our shepherd–and compares us to sheep!
Oh my! The more I’ve learned about sheep the more I’ve discovered how they (we) desperately need a shepherd.
Did you know that sheep are easily distracted? Or that they have a tendency to follow other sheep and just wander off? It’s true. Yet some amazing nuggets about sheep gave me reason to not feel so bad that Jesus compared me to an animal that did not have the brains God gave to a Billy goat…literally!
The sheep know their shepherd—the sound of his voice—and follow him. Even when several herds graze or sleep together, the voice of their shepherd has the power to separate them. When it’s time to move on, the shepherd calls the sheep and they come. They need no markings to distinguish them—all they need is to hear the sound of the shepherd’s voice.
Sheep follow the one they know. They come when their shepherd calls. They will never follow the voice of another shepherd.
We are the sheep of God’s pasture. May we not be distracted by duty or devices, or enticed to follow other sheep to illusions of greener pastures. Instead, may we listen for the call of the Good Shepherd who knows our name and leads us to want no more.
I am the good shepherd,” Jesus assures us. “I know my sheep and my sheep know me… My sheep listen to my voice. I call them by name and lead them. They follow me because they know my voice… I am the good shepherd. I lay down my life for my sheep” (John 10:14, 3-4, 11, slight paraphrasing of NIV84).