Chapter 6: The Rod of the Shepherd & Chapter 7: The Heart of the Shepherd
The Challenge of Trust
If a person never indicates they need help when you inquire about their progress, it means either that they don’t trust you enough to be honest with you or that you haven’t sufficiently challenged them to grow. - Page 93
I recently had a close friend ask how I was doing. She quickly read past my automatic response of, “I’m doing very well,” and encouraged me to confide in her as a friend. The interesting thing is, I have no problem being open with her. We’ve had many ‘life’ conversations. I trust her enough to be transparent. Yet I still responded with a vague, surface level answer because while my life faced some unexpected turns that week, I could honestly say I had peace. But it was my friend’s persistence to share my struggles - even though I didn’t need help - that showed me the value it instilled in her as I shared what I was going through.
I believe we, as leaders, phase the same problem. How many times do we ask our sheep if they need help and we get a quick response indicating they’re okay? And how many of those times do we walk away accepting the, “I’m doing well,” as a sufficient answer? In order to establish trust which assures our sheep they can be vulnerable with us in their times of need, we must be intentional with drawing deeper answers from them even when they’re doing great. A simple, “I’m well,” should never suffice.
This persistence to embrace transparency between our flock and ourselves cultivates the delicate balance of trust as we position our flock in situations which apply pressure on their capacity for the sake of growth. Just as a shepherd looks for greener pastures to lead his/her flock, we should always be looking for new opportunities to strengthen the gifts and talents of our sheep - opportunities which should be uncomfortable. We’re not leading correctly if we’re keeping our sheep stagnant, feeding of the same bare pasture. But if a trust of transparency isn’t established before the challenge, how can we expect our sheep to ask for help?
Let Your Heart Lead
If you’re looking for the difference between me and the other man and why I’m willing to pay a price that he is not, there it is. He tends sheep for the money. I do it because I love the sheep, and that makes all the difference. - Page 101
I read this and all I can think about is 1 Corinthians 13:13 which says, “…the greatest of these is love,” and how God so loved us that He gave His Son (John 3:16). Shepherds give themselves to their flocks. They empty themselves of their time and strength for the purpose of leading their flock to provision, safety, health and a greater pasture. We are only able to give all of ourselves to our employees, teams and families if we truly love them. Love embraces the sacrifice. Love is not self-seeking. Love covers a multitude of sins. If we allow greater profits, a larger team and a checked off list of chores to motivate us, we’ll abandon the sacrifice of giving up ourselves so our flocks may be successful, grow in family and develop a discipline of strength in the storms. Love holds onto the hearts of those we lead.
Establish Your Identity
Because they don’t know if the stranger is someone they can trust. Ted, you could be the greatest shepherd in the world, but if they don’t know you as their shepherd you’re just a stranger to them. - Page 105
As shepherds we can’t afford to let our title or position come in between the relationship and familiarity we have with our flock. Yes, shepherds have a position of power and leadership, but if we ask our flock to define us our hope should be a response revealing the residence we have within their hearts. When our name is mentioned, our flock should be reminded of what we’ve helped carry them through, the life we’ve spoken into them, along with the vision we’ve imparted in them.
How well we are equipped to lead people and the tenure of those who trained us will not determine how successful we are in getting people to follow and respond to our voice. Our employees, children, and team members will respond to us when they’ve spent enough time with us to know our motives are in line with their best interest.