The Art of Shepherding

During the holidays, we are reminded of the famous story of shepherds watching over their flocks by night. Those lonely figures scattered on hillsides with mangy sheep seem foreign to most of us in the 21st century. But did you know that shepherds will still be roaming mountains and valleys this season while we enjoy holiday festivities with family and friends? In the western United States alone, some 1500 shepherds will care for countless sheep while the rest of the world celebrates.

Yet as distant as this profession may seem from most of our roles and responsibilities today, exceptional leaders also exhibit the art of shepherding on a daily basis. Let’s look at a shepherd’s job more closely to consider the similarities:

  • Each shepherd realizes he/she has the ultimate responsibility for the health and well-being of his/her flock.
  • Shepherds often feel isolated in their work. After all, it’s lonely in the wilderness!
  • Shepherds tend to sleep lightly and rise early. Their leadership doesn’t stop just because the sun set.
  • Sheep have a tendency to get into trouble when they wander too far from the flock, so shepherds check on their progress regularly and consistently.
  • Shepherds are protective of their flocks so that no outside enemy can sneak in, pick one off, or scatter the sheep.

While you may never have considered shepherding to be part of your leadership skill sets, reflect on how you can take a little better care of your own “flock” in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Who knows, just like those shepherds of bygone days, this leadership approach might result in a miracle or two in your life!

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