Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righeousness?—?by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24–25—NKJV)

There are multiplying voices out there calling Americans “sheeple.” It is a sarcastic term invented to identify the masses of people who just do not seem to be the slightest bit aware of the dangers that are mounting all around our nation, dangers both within and without. The sheep-like nature of our neighbors is alarming to the rest of us. They are asleep in their self-centered stupor and cocooned in an existence with every immediate need met, blissfully unaware that both the nation they were born to inherit and the free lifestyle they have lived is hated by ever more powerful enemies. The minds of the enemies are entwined with the mind of the “prince of the power of the air” and this is why they have no regard for the sanctity of every human life or sanctify any God-granted freedom.

Sheep are easily exploitable. It is bound in their nature and determined by the lack of tools available to them. Sheep are defenseless creatures, easily frightened, dependant upon husbandry, always at the mercy of those who will genuinely care for them or of those who would fleece them and who would butcher them for the next meal. Sheep have need of a shepherd. Sheep in the form of people need to awaken to the fact of their own vulnerabilities and follow a true shepherd, one who is a shepherd by nature and by choice.

The reason people need to reckon with, and react to, their own vulnerabilities is because God has given us a nature that can grasp the fact that we need a shepherd. Animal sheep are fortunate when they fall into a kind shepherd’s flock. In the realm of men, it is a different story. A thinking man recognizes that he cannot possibly know everything in order to assure his success. No one lives long enough to gain the requisite full body of knowledge on his own. As an illustration of how long it takes mankind to gain wisdom, all one needs to do is read chapter 4 of Genesis. Those men lived hundreds of years each, and the words recorded of their “wise” conclusions concerning the meaning of life are woefully lacking (13–24). Is that all the further they got in their moral sensibilities in the ages before myths and erroneous dogma?

We all must stand on the shoulders of other wise men who have gone before us in order to gather the building blocks of knowledge with which to build our life. We need earthly shepherds because we cannot hope to start from scratch investigating everything—our time on earth is just too short. There are things that are beyond our control, and knowledge beyond our reach, the most crucial of which is the determination of the eternal destiny of our own soul and the souls of all whom we love (2 Timothy 1:12).

“Sheeple-dom” is a fallen man’s natural state. Isaiah 53:6 plainly states, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him [Jesus Christ] the iniquity of us all.” Our natural condition begs the question, “Just what characteristics do we need to search out in those we would desire to be our shepherd?” The Bible plainly teaches every listening ear what to look for in those we would have lead us, by looking to the One who was sent to lead us, the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord’s example of shepherding is applicable in every realm of leadership, whether parenting, politics, or church:

  • Shepherds guard the sheep. “The Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (1 Thessalonians 3:3).
  • Shepherds are very “hands on” and personally involved. They meet needs and advance the sheep’s interest. “He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:11, Jude 24).
  • Shepherds are totally invested by laying their life on the line for the sheep. “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them” (John 10:11–12).
  • Shepherds give guidance beyond the “felt” needs of a sheep to the sheep’s real needs. As the text quoted above found in 1 Peter 2:24–25 clearly states, Jesus Christ took care of our needs even before we were born or were aware of them.
  • Shepherds among men are rightly related to each other and to their Chief Shepherd. “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:1–4).

Who do you allow to shepherd you (Psalm 23:1)? Is he a shepherd after the Great Shepherd’s heart (Hebrews 13:20)? Do you follow in the footsteps of the Great Shepherd as you invite others to stand on your shoulders and reach ever higher heights of useful service for Christ (Matthew 9:36–37)? Trust and obey.