Author: Ron Graham
We continue our lessons on shepherds and sheep. Last lesson we talked about the role of older people as shepherds in the community. We also looked at our nation's leadership and at shepherds in the churches. Now we look at more of such shepherding roles.
In the world of Bible times, skilled and unskilled labour was hired much as it is today. There were all the same varied employer-employee relationships that we know today —skilled tradesmen of all kinds, casual farm labourers, family businesses, self-employed persons, soldiers and army personell, and of course slaves. In all these relationships, God required the hirers, employers, or masters, to act justly and be considerate of the "sheep" in their charge.
We leave our children, throughout their formative years, in the hands of teachers who must lead and guide those children in a responsible way. Especially is the teacher's example of interest to God. If you teach children to do the right thing, do you do the right thing yourself?
Of course God is also concerned about what teachers impart. Is it the truth? And he is displeased when the students do not receive right teaching.
In all of the examples we have considered in three lessons, we have thought of the shepherds as in a different and superior class to the sheep they shepherd: parents over children, bosses over employees, teachers over students, and so forth.
However, we all know that in a flock of sheep there is one who tends to be the leader and whom the other sheep will follow. A shepherd knows that sheep, and knows that if he gets that sheep to follow him the other sheep will follow too.
In any group of peers there are one or two who tend to lead and the others follow. When I was at school for example, we had a prefecture. Prefects were not teachers, they were students, that is to say sheep. Yet they had leadership over their peers, their fellow students.
So even though one may be sheep among sheep, one may still shepherd one's fellow sheep or peers. The eldership of the church is like that too. Christ is the Chief Shepherd, and each shepherd of the flock under Christ is really a sheep of the flock himself, but he takes on the role of a shepherd overseeing his fellow sheep.
Whatever groups and communities we belong to, some members take a leading role among their peer group. What are the responsibilities of these leaders, and of the peers they lead?