When I think of the first Christmas I have this image in my mind of shepherds tending to their flocks (probably because of all the Christmas shows I watched as a child seeing the shepherds arrive in Bethlehem). We know from the Christmas story in the Gospels that as the Magi were passing through Jerusalem and spoke with Herod about this child who had been born “King of the Jews”, Herod asks the priests and teachers of the law, where the Christ was to be born. They replied quoting the prophet Micah that he would come from Bethlehem – and out of there would come this ruler who was to be the shepherd of the people of Israel.
In this short exchange we have Jesus described as King, Christ (or Messiah) and Shepherd. As leaders who model ourselves off Jesus, do we pay enough attention to the shepherding responsibilities that we carry?
In many ways we more easily accept the role of “king”, in that we know there needs to be someone in charge and calling the shots. Even our role as “Messiah”, in the sense that we have the responsibility to lead people from their present situations into a better and more hope filled future is something that leaders are drawn to. But it is as a shepherd that we have the greatest capacity to make a difference in the lives of those we lead.
Jesus words that I learnt as a child in Sunday School ring in my ears, “My sheep hear my voice, and they know me and they follow me.” Do those who you lead hear your voice, your voice of care and concern, your voice of guidance, your voice of protection? Do they know you, and the desire that you have to look after their best interests?
An often quoted leadership saying is that you can assess how well you are leading when you turn around to see who is following you. While this may be a little simplistic, the truth that we learn is that if we as leaders shepherd well, people will follow. Shepherding well means that when we arrive at the destination God has given us, we will be there with a group of people who have shared the journey and been nurtured in ways of love and peace and compassion.
The team at Willow want to wish you and your families and your churches a blessed and hope filled Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our saviour. We also hope that over the summer months you have the opportunity to rest, relax and refresh as we look forward to serving God in 2012.
CEO, Willow Creek Australia