Leadership is a crucial theme in the scriptures. From Genesis 1 onwards we read story after story about men and women whom the Father raised up as His voice to display His glory and splendor. The Father harbors not even an ounce of insecurity, doubt, or jealousy regarding those He has called to lead His people. When the Father’s glory manifests in our lives, it reveals our weaknesses. Many cannot handle such a revelation and go astray in their own beliefs. They might profess to know God, but the truth is that they once knew Him yet proved either incapable or unwilling to make changes in their lives. They may speak in the name of the Father, even, perhaps, perform signs and wonders with results, but the Father is in no way moved by their words or activities. If the leaders’ hearts are deficient and they are blind to the truth, that is the way they will lead people.
Throughout the scriptures we find mention of sheep, lambs, and shepherds. The Father describes His people as sheep, and the leaders who lead them, shepherds. In fact, Jesus Christ Himself is said to be the Lamb of God, who was slain before the foundations of the world. This is language that was familiar to people who were of part of an agrarian society. They understood this language plainly. The job of a shepherd was to protect his sheep from harm, lead them to greener pastures to eat, provide water for their thirst, and most of all, provide great care for them. Their sheep became familiar with the sound of their shepherd’s voice and would not follow another. Sheep were a valuable economic resource for them in the form of their wool, milk, and meat.
One of the shepherds in the Bible who set the precedent for knowing the Father’s heart was David, a man after God’s heart. He was the 7th son of Jesse, one of the youngest and therefore the least significant—yet Samuel, at God’s command, anointed him as Israel’s second king. Before his anointing, David spent his time in the fields tending to his family’s sheep. Even when Samuel the prophet showed up at Jesse’s house to inspect his sons, Jesse left David in the fields taking care of the sheep. It took Samuel walking down the line inspecting Jesse’s seven sons before he asked him whether he had another son, because the Lord had not chosen any of the sons he had seen so far. David’s rise to fame began with his defeat of Goliath. While every other leader feared this giant, David was of another Spirit. He had the word of the Lord and walked with the Father. In defeating Goliath, he utilized skills and experiences he had gained while caring for and protecting his sheep in the fields. At different times he took down a lion, a bear and other wild beats. During those lonely years in the fields, David also developed a great love for the Father and set his heart to walk in obedience before Him. Even when he was irresponsible, he knew how to bend his knees and heart in deep, true repentance.
Shepherd leaders in the body of Christ are set in place to represent the Father. Without guile, deception, preconceived motives, or carnality, these leaders walk in awe of the Father with their hearts set to please Him alone. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Hearing His voice is a daily transaction because within it is all wisdom, knowledge, and understanding in caring for people. This care is not of the flimsy, superficial kind with which some “shepherds” take advantage of those whom the Father has given them to lead. Rather, correction with loving affirmation serves as a strength for people to excel in their spiritual growth. These leaders are bent on leading people to the Father rather than themselves.
The ultimate Shepherd Leader is Jesus Christ. He is the Lamb of God that was led to the slaughter to give His life for the entire human race: all those who have been born and all those who will be born. Even though He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, He is also the Lamb of God. His greatest issue was never with the world but with the spirit of religion that blinded the shepherds who were given the ability to lead the people, but who instead fell in love with their own traditions and lost the heartbeat of the Father. This was evident in their opposition to everything He did. After Christ ascended, He took of Himself and imparted into the next team of leaders who would be His voice in the church and around the globe. He gave them instructions to edify, equip, and build up His body until they came into maturity, fully prepared to hear Him clearly, follow His ways, and live their lives in complete obedience to the Father.