The imagery of leaders shepherding and caring for their flocks is replete throughout Scripture. Leaders are shepherds. If you shepherd sheep, you probably gain wealth from their wool. If you shepherd goats, your livelihood probably comes from their milk. But it is important for leaders in every capacity to remember that wool and milk are not the greatest things you produce. The sheep and goats themselves are much more valuable.
“Know well the condition of your flock, and pay attention to your herds, for wealth is not forever; not even a crown lasts for all time.” (Pr. 27:23-24, CSB)
Do you know the people God has given you to lead? I mean, do you know them? Do you know what makes them feel valuable and what makes them anxious? Do you know their specific giftedness, or are you only concerned that they follow orders and perform to your standards? Do you pay attention when they give feedback or offer ideas? Do you care about their families and their friendships?
If the people under your leadership are nothing more than a means to an end, you’re missing it. The wool, the milk, the wealth, it comes and goes. But the people in whom you invest your life, they each possess an eternal soul. Every product you sell will eventually shrivel up and die – no matter its quality. But people are an eternal investment.
“When hay is removed and new growth appears and the grain from the hills is gathered in, lambs will provide your clothing and goats, the price of a field. There will be enough goat’s milk for your food – food for your household and nourishment for your female servants.” (vs. 25-27)
The best shepherds are those who genuinely care for their sheep. You know, the kind that will rescue them when they are in peril (Ez. 34:12), give them rest in seasons of trouble (Ps. 23:1-2), serve them selflessly and eagerly (1 Pet. 5:2), leave everything to find the lost one (Mt. 18:12-14), and even carry them on their shoulders when they are weak (Ps. 28:9).
Leadership isn’t about wool, milk, or money. Leadership is about people. Until you value the people more than the product, you will not lead well. I know we live in a culture of bottom lines and target audiences. But the people God has entrusted into your leadership are infinitely more valuable than dollar signs, number signs, and bell curves. Pour your life into them, and they will follow you. And together, you’ll navigate pastures you otherwise would have never known existed.
Grace and Peace,