In order to lead like Jesus, we must become shepherds. But the people of Jesus' day did not think much of shepherds. Because of their work, shepherds were often ceremonially unclean and not permitted in the temple courts. Most self-respecting Jews considered shepherds dishonest, transient, and unsavory. As a result, shepherds were often treated as outcasts. So disregarded was a shepherd, his testimony was not even admissible in a murder trial even if he were the only witness.
Why then would Jesus relate His own ministry to the job of a shepherd (see John 10:1-16)? While a shepherd might not appear to be of much consequence to the world, he is the friend, protector, and defender of his sheep—even to the point of death. To be more like Jesus, we must be willing to humble ourselves in order to care for those we lead.
A true shepherd-leader knows, serves, and sacrifices for the sheep.
The Good Shepherd even lays down His life for the sheep. Jesus quoted Zechariah 13:7 when He predicted His death to His disciples. He said, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered'" (Matthew 26:31). When the Good Shepherd was struck down, He ensured the safety of His sheep. He willingly sacrificed His own life to save the sheep.
It's true that leaders must lead. Leaders must cast the vision, set the direction, inspire and motivate, and give orders. However, the leadership style of Jesus shows us that a leader does much more than that. A true shepherd-leader knows, serves, and sacrifices for the sheep.
Prayer: God, forgive my prideful ways. I turn to You as the right example for servant leadership. Instill Your attitude within my heart, that I may lead others with a Christlike character. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" (Philippians 2:3-4).