Shepherd-less Days — A Poetic Leadership Parable

(For Zechariah, who understood)

In the lovely days before,

The flock had all it wanted, and more.

With someone to care and pleasures galore,

In those days before shepherd-less days.

Then suddenly times were no longer fun.

They looked for their shepherd, but he was gone.

The flock no longer had what made them one.

Those days were their shepherd-less days.

There was no protector to keep wolves at bay.

For lions and bears, this flock became prey.

Some fled straight into danger as they ran away

Because of fear in these shepherd-less days.

Then one day a man suddenly came near.

The flock prayed he was the end to all their fear.

But as he worked among them, his motives became clear:

He was a hireling, for the shepherd-less days.

The man sold the best sheep the flock could produce.

He lured in the rest, but it was only a ruse.

He chewed upon some; for the rest he had no use,

In the horror of those shepherd-less days.

Finally the hireling wandered away.

Some best sheep were gone, others scattered away.

The remainder wondered, would there ever be a way

Out of the misery of shepherd-less days?

To the flock, another man came.

Was this one different, or was he the same?

Was he another hireling to play the game

Of herding sheep in shepherd-less days?

The man first began to care for the lost.

To help them he suffered much personal cost.

For them, he was savior and the end of the worst

Of the times known as shepherd-less days.

The youth were next, and for them he did seek.

He gently guided the young and the weak.

They came to see the gentleness in his heart that was meek

As a shepherd’s, ending shepherd-less days.

He loved all the wounded, and did carefully bind

All the hurts he could see, and didn’t seem to mind

If, thinking he was done, more wounds he would find.

His love was healing their shepherd-less days.

He fed up the healthy, making them grow quite strong.

And every ewe, lamb and ram was made to belong.

And all rejoiced as their fears about him were wrong:

He was their shepherd, ending shepherd-less days.

Applications Now Being Accepted

Every time we hunt for a job, we see it:

Applications now being accepted for the position of . . .

It doesn’t matter what the position is; while the wording may change, the intent remains. There is an open position for which qualified people may apply.

Life has open positions, too. Only life doesn’t advertise its positions. It simply has them open for anyone with the eyes to see and courage to accept what life has to offer. The position life most often offers, the one that most often goes wanting to be filled, is that of leader.

What is leadership? Entire libraries of books have been written on the topic!

Orrin Woodward

Orrin Woodward

I have read some of them, including the best-selling Launching A Leadership Revolution by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, as well as the latest best-seller, LeaderShift, by Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille.

Chris Brady

Chris Brady

In Launching A Leadership Revolution, a leader is characterized by being hungry, hone-able or teachable and honorable. The leader seeks mastery in their craft through the Trilateral Leadership Ledger of Character, Tasks and Relationships. In LeaderShift, a leader is further characterized by having a vision. The leader applies the vision to the Trilateral Leadership Ledger for the desired results. According to both Launching A Leadership Revolution and LeaderShift, a leader sees not just the problem at hand, but the root causes and the steps required for solving it. In LeaderShift, these root causes are reflected in the 5 Laws of Decline.

We live in a world of terrorist bombings, attempted poisonings of our public officials

Oliver DeMille

Oliver DeMille

through the mail, assassination attempts, slander, politics from both sides of the spectrum being malicious and dirty, free-falling economics, wars and rumors of wars, natural disasters, eroding relationships, emotional distancing, societal decay and family disintegration. We are attacked from without, and attack one another from within. Our world as we know it is in chaos.

It is into this chaos void leaders walk. Leaders bring solutions, not more problems. Often, the solutions may look like more problems, but they aren’t. These are challenges needed to solve the underlying difficulties causing the problems in the first place. These challenges are also hard because most people find change of any kind hard, and leaders are catalysts for change.

Launching A Leadership Revolution

Launching A Leadership Revolution

Leaders polarize people into groups for and against their leadership vision. That’s because as Orrin Woodward recently said on Twitter, “In leadership, the cause always comes before the applause.” Also on Twitter, Chris Brady said, quoting Mark Driscoll, “The more people you influence, the more people who hate you.” It is the actions and expected behaviors of leaders that polarize. As Orrin Woodward recently said on Twitter, “Some people say they have to see it to believe it, but leaders have to believe it to see it.” It is this belief in the vision which polarizes others.

I believe in the vision Orrin Woodward and Oliver DeMille set forth in LeaderShiftI am striving to be one of the leaders, one of the 10% who will step forward and change the world around me for the better. It’s a call open to anyone who will hear it and respond. Because if people don’t respond, things will get worse. The 5 Laws of Decline, as described in LeaderShift, clearly point that

LeaderShift

LeaderShift

out.

So, if not now, then when? And if not us, then who?

Give and Take

How does it happen

when I lose myself in You

it is only then I find my true self?

How does it happen

when I abandon all I am and all I have

to all You are and all You have for me

it is only then I have everything I want and need.

It is in the giving up

            that I find.

It is in the relinquishment

            where I gain.

It is in the abandonment

            where I gather everything.

I give it away

and You give it back better.

And even when You don’t give it back,

what You give is so much better,

I don’t care about or miss what I gave at all.

I give You what is shattered and broken,

            and You give it back, whole and better than new.

I give up what I cannot hold, anyway,

            and You give what I cannot contain,

                        Because You give me Yourself.

You have a right to demand it.

You have a right to insist.

Being my Creator God gives you that right.

But You don’t demand,

You ask.

You don’t insist.

You request.

Yours are the gentle prompts of my Friend,

the Lover of my heart,

the One who knows me better

than even I know myself.

You ask for the sake of my good,

not for ulterior motives to harm me.

In the face of such love,

how can I refuse?

Related articles

Because I’m Me, That’s Why

At different points in our lives, particularly in our childhoods, many of us have heard it. We’ve heard it from a parent, a teacher, or some other authority figure. Or even from someone we thought was our friend. “It” was a question, in some way phrased to say,

Why can’t you be more like so-and-so??

As grow, if we are aware of such things, we understand we hear it daily from our culture. As adults, we are told we are just not good enough, that someone is more attractive, smarter, more successful, better than us. Our culture has applied its ruler to us, and we’ve been found wanting. We just don’t measure up.

For people who start from a basis of a low self-image, this is a devastating message! Even for people whose self-image is good, the message can be hard to drown out. The constant barrage of negativity will wear even the most confident of us down eventually, leaving secret vulnerable places in our souls. It will, unless we apply a cure. But what can cure such devastating and pervasive attacks? What, or who, can help us?

Some seek to actually try to measure up. As I mentioned in Our Endless Pursuit of Perfection, it’s a frustrating and fruitless end. Others turn to psychology and counselling. Having been through these paths, I can tell you that while they teach valuable skills, they don’t get to the heart issues. And when heart issues aren’t dealt with, the problem remains. Still others turn to religious efforts, trying to measure up to the standards set by the religion or its founders, and only finding frustration. Because if you follow the laws of a perfect God using the ways of men, I’ve learned we doom ourselves to disaster. By now, I am sure you are asking by now, Is there any good news in all this??”

I wouldn’t be writing these words if there was no good news to be found, no answer I’ve discovered for myself. I would be a hypocrite and charlatan (and a very bad blogger!) if I would post such thoughts and not offer something.

Chris and Terri Brady

Chris and Terri Brady

In her recent blog post, The Stranger’s Sketch, Terri Brady spoke of similar ideas. She said,

Any time we are measuring ourselves and our worth based on bones in our chins, (yes, I’ll leave that plural for the fun of it), our skin tone or eyelash length, we are doomed for unhappiness. True joy doesn’t change.

What is neverchanging is our real worth. What really matters is not our self-description, but who we are in the Lord’s eyes. “Whose we are” should radiate!

It was only when I began to cultivate a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ that I began to find my own true self-worth. For years, I’d compared myself to smarter, more athletic siblings and schoolmates, more attractive and successful fellow entrepreneurs and others against whom I felt I just didn’t measure up. As I told Terri in my comments to her post,

I remember I used to look at the slender, lovely women on stage (such as your beautiful inside and outside self!), and compare you all to me. I compared what I saw as your perfections to my obviously glaring imperfections, and became convinced I could never be like you, never be that lovely, that accomplished, that successful.

It took a while, but finally I listened long enough to what you all were saying, and what God was telling me in my heart through you. God didn’t want or need me as a carbon copy of any of you. He had you. He needed and wanted me as ME, just as imperfect I was, willing to grow, learn, change and be used by Him for His glory. Like clay with the Potter, my job is only to coöperate with His process. As I become His more finished handiwork, the glory is His, and not mine, because He is doing it and will have done it in me.

If you struggle today with your self-image, dear reader, the chance to be free of it is available to you. The God Who made the universe, Who spun the stars, Who holds all creation in His hands, cares for you with a fiercely tender love. He is fierce, because He wants you to love Him and no other above Him. He is tender, because He is the greatest Gentleman, and will never force His will or way on you. You have to ask. Let Him in and begin this marvelous work in you! Learn for yourself that no matter what you look like, no matter what you’ve done, no matter who you are, you are completely and forever loved.

As you learn God’s love for you, you will know the freedom to be wholly and completely yourself. You will be able to look at your critics, those who ask why you cannot be like someone else, and say, “Because I’m me, that’s why.” You will be free to grow and discover all you were created to become. Because if we’re wise, we’ll always be growing, changing, striving for more. It will be a life-long process. And instead of trying to measure up to impossible and even unrealistic standards set by others, our efforts to grow will be our very realistic expressions to become the best us we can be. They will be our loving response to the immense love first shown to us by God.

The Pursuit Of Excellence

I’m in pursuit of excellence,

Seeking out the best way,

Seeking to be all I can be

Every single day.

I’m in pursuit of a high mark;

A great calling I want to find,

And take hold of it with both hands;

I want to make it mine.

I’m chasing after a promise

My God gave me one day,

When He said He’d make me like Jesus,

In every single way.

So, I’m in pursuit of excellence,

With all that I can give,

Because excellence to me is Jesus,

And the life He gave me to live.

I want to be more yielding

To His gentle, merciful touch;

I want to be more obedient,

Because I love Him so much.

I want to let Him teach me

The way that I can share

His wonderful life with others,

By showing that I care.

I want to be more in His presence.

When I worship and praise His Name,

Then go out and show the world

His love is ever the same.

So, I’m in pursuit of excellence,

But it’s not a heavy thing,

Because I’ve no fear of punishment

Should I ever fail my King.

My excellent goal is a high one,

But to find it, I don’t have to fuss,

Because when I pursue excellence,

It’s always to be more like Jesus.