The Shepherd that Leads Us
In the month of June we celebrate Father's Day. We give cards telling our fathers how great they are and that they are the king of their castle. It's all great and proper, for we are to give honor and respect to our fathers. But what about the fathers? If children are to respect and give honor to their fathers, and wives are to obey their husbands, then what about these fathers and husbands? What are they to do to receive such honor and respect and obedience?
Let's look at Colossians 3:18-21. Paul begins by telling us, "Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged."
So we see that husbands are supposed to love their wives and be gentle. Fathers are not to embitter their children. Ephesians 6:1-4 tells us, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother'—which is the first commandment with a promise— ‘so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.' Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
Again we see that Fathers are not to exasperate their children. Fathers have a big job, and when the family works together as a unit they are united and ultimately happy and prosperous. So why is this article entitled "The Shepherd that Leads Us"? Because that is exactly what the father is, a shepherd, and we are the sheep of his flock and we must follow him as he follows the Good Shepherd Yeshua (Jesus). The father represents God in the family structure, so we want to look at what are the duties of the shepherd.
1. Every shepherd has to lead his sheep and the best way for a father to lead is by example. He must show his love for his wife so that his children will learn to respect their mother. He must lead by authority so that his children will grow up to respect authority. He must be a man of prayer to show his children that he seeks God for all that he does and obeys God according to His word by living by God's ways. He will set the tone and direction for his family and so he must not endanger them in any way, for he will be accountable to the Good Shepherd on judgment day.
2. The shepherd must feed their sheep. Yeshua tells Peter, "If you love Me then feed My sheep." Now you may say, "This scripture has to do with pastors," and I would say absolutely. But as pastors pasture a large flock, his congregation, fathers pasture their flock, their family. So how does a father feed his flock? Well, in two ways. First, his family needs to eat regular food, and so the father goes off to work so he can provide for his family (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Second, his family needs to eat spiritually, and so he must feed them the Word of God. Just as we saw in Ephesians 6:4, the father is to train up their children in the way they should go and they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6, Deuteronomy 11:19). Genesis 18:19 tells us, "For I have chosen him (Abraham), so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him." We see here that God chose Abraham because he knew that he would teach his children and train them to live by God's ways. We see this throughout the Book of Proverbs.
3. The shepherd is to water the sheep. This of course means that fathers are to see to it that his family is well taken care of in the area of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, but spiritually this represents the Holy Spirit. The father, like Abraham, needs to not only train up his children in the ways of the Lord, but to see to it that they are walking in the ways of the Lord by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and that they grow also in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).
4. The shepherd grooms his sheep. This process involves keeping them clean and free of the contamination that may harm them. What kind of friends do your children hang with, and what kind of TV do they watch, and of course what do they see on the internet? This also has to do with his wife and himself. He must raise his children to have a clear conscience (Acts 24:16) and a pure mind and heart (Matthew 5:8). The Bible tells us not to conform to this world but to transform our minds into the likeness of Messiah (Romans 12:2), and so the father must be part of this process in his children's lives.
5. Shepherds are suppose to shear their sheep for without this the weight of the wool will become so heavy and burdensome to the animal and cause it much stress. We see that the father is not to embitter his children or cause them to become angry. Now we all get angry at times, but this is not what Paul was talking about. Fathers are not to cause one to be so burdened down that the child or even his wife becomes embittered and not only turn away from the family, but from God. Remember, the father's job is to keep his family healthy in body, soul and spirit.
6. The shepherd also has to deliver new little lambs into the world. So too does the father. Yes, this can also mean enlarging his family, but also seeing to it that he is raising up children who will be disciples that will go out and make new disciples. He is to see to it that his children will live their lives as an example by being the light to the world.
7. The Shepherd has to protect his sheep. The wolf is the main predator to sheep. In Acts 20:29, Paul says this: "Know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock." Paul warned against false prophets and teachers who would lead them astray. Much like the grooming process, the shepherd must protect his little flock from those who may lead them astray: pastors, teachers, friends. The shepherd must stay alert. He must be on top of his game, never letting down his guard. For the predators are out there waiting to see who they can devour, and no shepherd wants it to be one of theirs.
8. The shepherd must go after those who stray. At times there may be one who may wander off the path, but the shepherd who knows his sheep must go and leave the ninety-nine to seek the one who is lost. We know that we live in an imperfect world and there are times no matter how much we set the example or even keep watch and pray for our children, children still go astray, but we can not just let them go off. We must do all that we can to bring them back gently and lovingly. The shepherd carries his staff and his sword to accomplish his task and he must use these tools in leading his family and always depending on the Good Shepherd to help him on the journey of life.
Now that we looked at children, let's look at mothers and wives. This I say: If any husband is a good shepherd, seeking God and diligently following after Him, his wife will follow him and help him to do his job. She will be by his side in all he does.
So this Father's Day, may all the shepherds in this world keep their eyes on the Good Shepherd and follow Him. And I say to all the sheep in this world, let us pray always for those who shepherd us that they may be up to the task, for our families depend on them. And the greatest reward of the shepherd is to see his sheep multiply from generation to generation, all following the One True Good Shepherd. Let's leave with the thoughts of Psalm 127: "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it: unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate."
Happy Father's Day to all of our loving shepherds, our fathers!