The Heart of the Good Shepherd

In John 10:11-13 Jesus presents two kinds of leaders, or shepherds:  the good shepherd, and the hireling. In this post, I want you to ponder over the following two questions:

  1. What kind of Shepherd are you?
  2. What kind of shepherd are you following?

Hirelings versus Shepherds

Essentially, the difference between the good shepherd and the hireling is that the good shepherd loves the sheep with God’s love; the hireling doesn’t.

There are hirelings in positions of leadership in practically all fields of human endeavors: ministry, politics, business, and otherwise. Hirelings are there just for the wages. They are there for the fleece, the milk, and the meat of the sheep. Observe how Jesus Christ describes them:

“The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
~ John 10:12,13

A lot of people in political leadership today in every nation are crooks, and thieves. They do not even qualify as hirelings! The hirelings at least work for their pay; these thieves, on the other hand, add no value to the sheep. They are there just to loot and squander the treasuries of the nation. This is the plague of particularly third world nations. As a matter of fact, no nation can rise to greatness – regardless of the potential of their human and natural resources – as long as they are led by thieves and hirelings; and this is equally true of families, corporations, churches, and so on.

The shepherd, on the other hand, is there for the owner of the flock, and the welfare of the sheep. Thus he will give his life for the sheep. Men like Moses, and David are blessings to those they lead, because they are willing to give up their privileges and rights for the masses. The greatest nations of the world today attained their heights chiefly through the sacrifices of privileged men and women who selflessly gave up their rights, privileges, and even lives in order to protect, defend, provide for the needs of the helpless masses.

This is my prayer for Nigeria, and for all other nations of the world who are plagued by corrupt, selfish, profiteering, exploitative, and manipulative leadership. May the Lord raise good shepherds to lead us. I also pray the same for churches, companies, homes, marriages, organizations, and institutions, and all other various human communities.

For the good shepherd, the sheep is not there to be fleeced, milked, or cooked; they are rather there to be fed, nurtured, bred, loved, and protected. Jesus Himself has provided us with a clear model of the good shepherd: Himself.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
~ John 10:11

Hearts filled with God’s love

We need leaders everywhere today whose hearts are established in God’s love for the sheep. This need is even greater in the church. By nature, the sheep is so trusting; so vulnerable; often weak; and frequently foolish. It’s so easy to take advantage of the sheep; or to get irritated by them. Instead, the good shepherd will love and protect the sheep.

sheepGood shepherds are also seriously needed in business, in politics, in families, in marriages – leaders whose heart are filled with, and established in God’s love; who would never exploit the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of their followers.

Transformational leaders

It’s so easy to exploit the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the human nature; and this is exactly what most church, political, and business leaders do.

The truly great ones among us, however, those who truly care and love, do not exploit and manipulate human nature. They transform it.

Do you love me?

Three times in John 21:15-17, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter responded, “I do.” Then Jesus told Him, “Take care of my sheep.”

In other words, “Peter, I love my sheep so much. They matter to me; so much that I gave my life for them. The way to show that you love me is to take care of my sheep.”

As I conclude this message, I would love to point this out: No matter how much anyone claims to love you, it would never ever come close to matching the love of Jesus Christ for you. As He spread His hands wide in agony on the cross, bruised and disfigured by the Roman whips, thorns, nails, and spears, He was saying to you, "This is the eternal evidence of my love for you."