The image of a shepherd and his sheep is not very familiar to us in this part of the world, except that we occasionally stumble across some of our herdsmen and our brethren herding sheep and cattle across our areas and usually from the northern parts of the country. Jesus was far more familiar with the image of a shepherd and sheep than we probably have today. We must understand this point for a shepherd to truly function; there must be some kind of unwritten covenant between the shepherd and his sheep. By the terms of that covenant, the shepherd commits himself to care for the sheep, to lead them to fresh and green pastures (Psalm 23), to defend them against the wolf and other potential predators (John 10). The sheep for their part are expected to listen to the voice of the shepherd and follows where he leads. The onus lies therefore, on the shepherd to lead with care, love, sincerity a true devotion and the sheep to follow in docility and tractability.
As a sheep or a shepherd you can either be good; exemplary or bad. He gave His life to free His sheep from clutches of the “wolf, the ultimate predator, our ancient enemy”, the devil. Today more than ever, leadership, followership and governance have to say the least being most problematic. As we have increasing numbers of people jostling to lead or shall I say rule, others have vehemently refused to be called to any followership. The scandal is all round and multifarious. This is happening in the religious circle as it is heating up or being over heated in the political arena. We painfully observe lies flying, pretenders in their praise singing best, people hiding away from the known truth all to shortcut and manipulate in their usual maneuvering to outsmart and outdo each other. In all these, questions need to be asked, where is the place of the sheep?
Apostle Peter understood the games being played by some religious and political actors and did not mince words when he openly warned “I appeal to you to be shepherds of the flock that God gave you and to take care of it willingly, as god wants you to, and not unwillingly. Do your work not for mere play, but from a real desire to serve. Do not try to rule over those who have been put in your care but be example to the flock” 1 Peter 5:2-3