“The Way of the Shepherd”

30 Jul 2021 | Lt j.g. Jonathan Gentry Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

One of the images we see throughout the Bible is that of a shepherd. During the time of the Bible, this was a job held by numerous people. Many are familiar with the first words of the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd;" In John 10, Jesus calls himself the "Good Shepherd." A shepherd's job was to look after his sheep. He would make sure they had enough to eat and drink. He would make sure they were safe from animals and other things that could harm them. Shepherds would know their flocks like the back of their hands. Good shepherds would do anything to keep them safe, even if that means using their staff to correct them.

Many leadership principles can be taken from how a shepherd leads and guides his sheep. A phenomenal book was written by Dr. Kevin Leman and William Pentak, The Way of the Shepherd, teaches seven principles that can help guide all leaders. The authors encourage leaders to:

  1. Know the Condition of Your Flock.
  2. Discover the SHAPE of Your Sheep.
  3. Help Your Sheep Identify with You.
  4. Make Your Pasture a Safe Place.
  5. The Staff of Direction.
  6. The Rod of Correction.
  7. The Heart of the Shepherd.

Although I do not have the time to explain all of these keys to leadership, I want to discuss a few of them. First, as leaders, no matter what level of leadership, we must know the condition of our flock. Of course, we want to know how well they work, but do we know our people? Do we know what their skill and interests are? Do we know about their families? What are their goals and dreams? Do we know them at an individual level? This takes time to do, but all great leaders will take the time they have and get to know their people.

Second, make your pasture a safe place. How can we do this? The authors recommend several things: Keep your people well informed. Infuse every position with importance. Reassure your people by staying visible and don’t give time for problems to fester. As a leader, are you doing everything you can to make the place you work a safe place? Are we taking care of our people to know they matter?

Finally, the heart of the shepherd. What separates good leaders from great leaders is often their hearts. Are they willing to pay the price to be a great leader? Are they willing to put in the long hours to serve their people and still do a good job? Great leaders have a heart for their people and want to see them succeed. Put in the hard work of giving your time, commitment, energy, and involvement of your people. Go the way of the Shepherd.