Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Shepherd Leader

The shepherd leader is a concept practiced by all famous social and religious leaders. Whether they practiced it consciously or unconsciously is not sure. Some great political leaders also adopted certain aspects of this concept in their life. Hence these political leaders are better known as social leaders. A social leader has a dedicated life for the welfare of the society, devoid of any sectarianism. He may have preferred views on social welfare, but is not sectarian. When a religious leader turns sectarian, he goes out of the concept of shepherd leadership.

Shepherd leadership is based on the life of shepherds in the Middle East. The practice of shepherds may vary in other places. Middle East has presented to the world many beautiful concepts of life. Marriage, family, celebrations, self sacrifice, social laws etc. are valuable contributions of the people there. Since the understanding of them by West and East differed, many concepts were misunderstood in the past. Now we have better understanding of both West and East because of many knowledge sharing mechanism.

The shepherd in the Middle East is one who goes in front of the sheep.
I do not know how it is practiced in other areas. But in my place, we go in front and drag animals behind ud. If the animal is willing, it comes along with us. Still we used to tie a noose around the neck with the intention of dragging the sheep and controlling it. But in the Middle East, the shepherd goes in front of the sheep herd signaling them to follow him. He does not tie a noose around the animal. As he goes forward, with rod and staff, he examines the ground before him for pitfalls. He chases away poisonous reptiles. His presence is a warning for wolfs to keep out of the way. He is leading the sheep through a safe way. The sheep walk fearlessly.

A shepherd leader walks in front. He never drives his sheep forward.
Walking in front of the crowd signifies more than one thing:
The leader is a model for courage.
If there is some undetectable danger, he is the first one to suffer.
He is ready to sacrifice his life to protect the life of his sheep from wolfs.
He is sure of the path. He has made enough home work.
He is sure of the success. He is convinced of the means and the end.

The shepherd leader ties no noose around his sheep.
He does not want to drive or drag others with him.
He wants genuine followers. He has presented an idea, a dream. He believes in its profitability and success. He explains the successful path to it. Those who share his dream may follow. He does not expect the entire crowd to follow him. He knows that he has a sheep herd and at the same time there are many other sheep outside his herd.
He moves forward on his own conviction.
He uses no threat and no temptations. He never tries to emotional trappings. Never offer savors. All he has to offer is his dream.
He appoints no spies to find the backsliders. He entrusts no squad to check the fall out.
He trusts his dream.

He has no agenda other than the realization of his dream. His priorities are not money, fame or power. His life is spent for the welfare of the people. His dream is not localized, it is not sectarian. It flies beyond national boundaries to all humanity.
He is speaking to the whole humanity, thinking for them and living for them.

Where is he leading the sheep to? To still waters and green pastures. The sheep are sure that they are being led to food and water. They have absolute faith in their shepherd. So they follow him at his beck and call. They learn his call, recognize his sound and follows.

He knows the place. He knows the way. He has no doubt of the safety he can provide throughout the way and in the pasture.
His dream is not just a dream. It is an experience. It is not a Utopia, it is a truth. It is not an experiment, it is a reality. His dream has substance like the Promised Land offered to the Israelites in the Egypt.

The green meadow is not a place impenetrable for enemies like wolf. Enemies are there, in the thick forest around the meadow. Their eyes glitter through dark leaves. Their growl is heard. But the sheep are not afraid. They feed on the green peacefully to their full. The very presence of the shepherded is safety for them.

The shepherd leader is protection. His presence keeps wolfs away. The scowl and the rumble of wolfs are music for the sheep. They enjoy a feast in the presence of their enemies.

The shepherd leader is ready to sacrifice his life for his sheep. If a sheep is caught by a wolf or lion, he goes after the running enemy. He fights with it. He risks his life to rip open the enemy’s mouth and save the sheep. His dedication for the safety of his sheep is the cause of the fear of him among his enemies.
He never leaves his sheep in dangers. He never let his sheep caught by wolfs. He never throws his faithful followers to his enemies. He fights for the safety of his sheep to his last drop of blood.

A shepherd leader cares for his followers. Their safety, welfare, future etc. are his first concern. If he is worried of anything, that is about his followers.

During dark and cloudy evenings, the sheep will loss the sight of their shepherd. They will have to follow the voice of their shepherd. The voice of their shepherd is different from others. There may be many other leaders going through the same path, but to other destinations. But the sheep are following one shepherd, sharing his dream, to the destination he has promised. So the voice of their shepherd must be distinct and different from others. Sheep distinguish it.

A shepherd leader must have a distinct and different voice. He is not an imitator of voice or dreams. His dream and his destination are unique. He conveys his dream in distinguishable voice. He will not be misunderstood. No one who recognize and follow his voice will miss the way.

But sheep are sheep. Some may miss the voice too or confuse it with other voices. They may miss the way. At the close of the day, while counting them at the sheep pen the shepherd finds out the missing. He knows that the sheep was misled by a false or confusing voice. The shepherd goes back, searching for the missing sheep among rocks and thorns. He knows where to the confusing voice may lead the sheep. He finds it among steep rocks, bruised by thorns, crying for help. He picks it up, carries back on his shoulders and rejoices at the reunion.

This is the most beautiful picture of a Shepherd leader. He understands human nature. His concern is not the punishment of the misled, but the reunion of it.

The concept of shepherd leader has many more aspects. But a blog should not run too long.

A business or industrial boss, social or political leader and any religious leader, all can practice the concept of shepherd leadership.
The concept fits the leader of a family.
It is fine for the leader of small groups and large groups.
It is good for professional leaders….

I hope that this short message has added more refinement to our character, leadership and dream?
Live a blessed life.

Further readings:

Professor Jacob Abraham

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