Author: Ron Graham

Responsibilities

Sheep Without Shepherds
—The role of parents in the home

Jesus was concerned that people lacked leadership. "Seeing the multitudes, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). When Jesus looks at our world today, no doubt he feels the same compassion for the same reason.

This lesson is about the responsibility of shepherding, especially in our homes.

1 The Shepherd of Bible Times

The Bible often likens the leadership of people to the shepherd leading his sheep. In our vernacular, when we say that people are like sheep, we mean that they follow others blindly. However in the Bible, the shepherd is pictured as dedicated to his flock, and his sheep hear his voice, and they follow him, and will not follow a stranger (John 10:1-5).

We are all familiar with the twenty-third Psalm which begins, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul; he guides me in the paths of righteousness" (Psalms 23:1-3).

So in speaking of people as sheep, and their leaders as shepherds, the Bible is not being derogatory, but is evoking the respect that rural communities of Bible times had for the shepherds who tended their flocks in a responsible manner. Good shepherds loved their sheep, called them by name, protected them from wolves, led them to pasture, rescued those who strayed. Of course such a lovely relationship with animals is not confined to Bible times. Many people today love and nurture their animals as though they were their own children. So the image of the shepherd and the sheep is a very good metaphor of leadership responsibility.

2 We As Sheep

In this lesson we are going to focus on the role of the shepherd, but the shepherd does not alone have a responsiblity. We, as the sheep, have a responsibility to accept and follow right leadership. This is especially true of our relationship to the greatest Shepherd of all...

The principle in these passages can be applied to lesser relationships where people are to subject themselves willingly to good leadership. There are many such relationships in our society and community. The shepherds in those relationships have responsibility, but so do the sheep.

3 Parents as Shepherds

The relationship between parent and child is extremely important. Society depends upon it. Although the State can educate children, it cannot substitute for the upbringing that good parents can give good children. That upbringing is a foundation of life, and does much to determine life's quality. God requires parents to shepherd their children well, and children to accept and submit to that good leadership.

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