(THE “JOB DESCRIPTION” OF A SHEPHERD)
BY MARJORIE J. KINNEE
After studying the “job description” of a shepherd, I came to some interesting conclusions. First, the Bible says Jesus is the “Good
Shepherd” and the “Chief Shepherd.” Second, it’s easy to see the parallels between the “Good Shepherd” and pastors. Third, I want to identify one more type of shepherd. Finally, as human occupations go, shepherds are unique. Let’s look at their duties:
1. Day-to-Day Care of the Flock – A shepherd provides the basics; food, water, shelter, and protection. He knows what food is best for his flock in every season and where to find it. He can find water even in drought. He plans the construction of the sheepfold and erects short-term shelter while in the field. He daily lays his life on the line in defense of the sheep.
2. Dealings with the Outside World on Behalf of the Flock – The shepherd is first responsible to the owner of the sheep. The owner has the master plan for the flock. The shepherd is entrusted with the details; additions to and subtractions from the flock, the time and place for fleecing and wool sales, and selects and trains assistants and helpers, and discharges them if they create harmful situations or cause any harm to come to the flock.
3. Foresees Danger – The shepherd trains the flock to know and follow his voice. This is his first line of defense. To wayward sheep, he administers discipline and takes preventative measures to correct fatal tendencies. He researches and develops methods and measures to improve the present flock and prepares for future flock needs.
4. Leads and Guides the Flock – Because sheep tend to overgraze, the shepherd moves them on to fresh pasture. To do this, he may have to lead them through danger; enemies – within (pests) and without (marauders), hazards wind and weather, and obstacles – mountains and gorges. Here his experience is a prime factor. He’s been this way before and is not surprised by danger. He knows what to do and how to proceed in dangerous situations.
5. Oversees – The flock is the focus of the shepherd. He is responsible for their physical well-being. So he sets the pace, aware of the particular needs of each sheep. There are ewes. – heavy with new life, lambs – inexperienced and frisky, young rams – stubborn and territorial (always pushing), the aged and sickly – those needing extra attention, and the wayward – who oppose everything (even their own best interests). Shepherds study the breed. He learns the strengths, weaknesses, and personality of each one. A thriving, peaceful flock is his blessing and reward.
Whether his flock is few or thousands, his responsibilities never let up. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, year in and year out; the shepherd cares and shares the life of the sheep. It is a lonely occupation. He must be gentle, but he must also be confident, resourceful, and decisive. He dare not be nervous or flighty if the flock is to flourish… Seeing all this, who would apply for such a job?
The comparisons to Christ, the Good Shepherd, are obvious. It is also easy to see the commonalties between the Good Shepherd and our spiritual shepherd, the pastor. But there is one more comparison to draw – and that is with fathers. A father’s flock is usually small but he faces the same awesome challenges as his comparative counterparts. He is the day-to-day provider, he deals with the outside world in caring for his flock, he foresees and deals with danger, he leads and guides his family, and he oversees all that pertains to his family. The question arises: Why “do men take on the challenge of shepherding? For fathers, the answer is partly, it’s their lot in life. But for all faithful shepherds, the best answer comes from God Himself: who toils in the ministry of a shepherd “for the joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2). Happy (Joyful) Father’s (Shepherd’s) Day!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY APOSTOLIC WRITERS’ DIGEST, JUNE 1999, PAGE 12.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.