In our training for counseling and Christian leadership the emphasis can be on getting others to do what we want them to do. To be focused on managing people in manipulative ways is not the same thing as leading them. This can be likened to being like a sheepdog. The job of a sheepdog is to forcibly scare by barking and maneuvering the sheep to get them to go in a desired direction.
A biblical shepherd calls his sheep by name and calmly leads the sheep along the path. A sheepdog and a biblical shepherd have two distinctly different perceptions of how leaders view their role.
It is crucial for us to ask which role we are fulfilling.
When we lead like shepherds our confidence and foundation for leadership and counseling is in only one person, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Great Shepherd. The Word of the Great Shepherd must come through us as we lead and counsel, (John 10:1-16). As we lead we do not want them to follow “another” even if that “another” is us. We want them to follow the Good Shepherd because they know His voice.
This truth gives us wisdom as we counsel because we know that every plant the Lord plants will never be uprooted, (Matthew 15:13). We can counsel with confidence knowing, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out,” (John 6:37). If we are leading and counseling, as the Good Shepherd teaches us, we will never lead in pride of our strength trying to force things to go the way we want. We will lead as 1 Peter 4:11 instructs, “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
We can minister Christ only as we teach what He taught in the same way He taught it. If we have the spirit of Christ the people who follow us will have a correct and formative model of how they should respond to God and communicate with Him.
In your counsel and leadership have you been a sheepdog or a shepherd? The most effective method of leadership and counsel is not to just preach the gospel but to live it. The people we lead don’t want to just listen to us they want to see the Gospel in action. How is the Gospel active in your life and leadership?