In a previous post we discussed the fact that we are all leaders in some way. Someone is following you, directly or indirectly, and you should be intentional about what you do and say in light of that fact.
One of the realities of being a leader is sacrifice. As a leader, the welfare of your followers is your concern. The Bible actually gives us a great example of this is Psalm 23. Though we usually paraphrase scripture to modern speech, we will use an older translation in this post because of its beauty.
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside quiet waters.”
A leader provides for the needs of the follower as a primary concern. Finding “green pastures” and “quiet waters” often takes time and effort and I think we are all surprised when our “sheep” need convincing to make use of the resources we have created or found for them; but whether they appreciate our effort or not, it is still our responsibility.
“He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake.”
Not only is a leader concerned about the physical welfare of the follower but also their emotional and spiritual health. Providing an environment of wholeness and peace allows followers to grow and thrive. In today’s chaotic world, thought and creativity are certainly required to find that place.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.”
Along with wholeness and peace in the emotional realm, the leader provides physical safety for the follower. Many times this means that the leader is putting his or her own safety at risk to protect the follower. King David, a shepherd as a youth, killed a lion and a bear and no doubt routed a pack of wolves in the course of protecting his father’s sheep. Once again, our “sheep” may not appreciate the sacrifice we make but we must make the sacrifice just the same. They are our responsibility.
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.”
At times the leader goes overboard and provides special things for the follower. In providing a feast in rough times, honoring, and giving extravagant gifts, leaders show followers that they have special worth and are highly valued. Everyone lives life better when they know that someone cares for and about them.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Not only does the leader provide for the present needs of the follower, but also plans ahead for their future welfare as well. Planning for someone’s future involves sacrifice now, and often that sacrifice falls to the leader.
This kind of shepherd leadership is a lifestyle – one of sacrifice for the welfare of those around us. Let’s be honest, most of us are not naturally good at this. Pray for us as we strive to live our lives this way. We’ll be praying for you too!