Sheep dog trials serve as my favorite event at the Fort Worth Stock Show. Sheep dog trials are a timed event during which the dog must maneuver three sheep around the pen and two different barrels, through a narrow shoot, and then into the pen while the shepherd gives commands. Shepherd and sheep dog teams have a five-minute time limit. I don’t know which provide more entertainment, the dogs or the sheep.
You can tell the novice pups from the experienced dogs. Novices rush the sheep. They sprint when they should trot. They walk when they should wait. The sheep get antsy and often bolt—in the wrong direction. Seasoned dogs take their time, position the sheep for success, and nudge them in that direction.
Still, I’ve seen wonderfully experienced dogs who missed the time cutoff because of a stubborn sheep. Skittish and flighty, sheep tend to bunch up but can break in every direction at any moment. Stubborn as well, they can stand by an open gate and refuse to budge as precious time ticks away.
Here are some leadership lessons from the stock show for us sheepy people who need to follow:
1. The Shepherd leads you. At the stock show, the dog does all the legwork while the shepherd gives commands from a set place by the pen. Scripture tells us Jesus leads from the front.
“When he [shepherd/Jesus] has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:4 NIV
Your Shepherd promises to lead you. Anything that comes against you must go through Him first. Will you follow?
2. The sheep dog directs from behind.
“Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6
The word picture in this verse comes from the military and actually depicts how an army would chase down its enemy. Yet here, David used the picture to show God’s unrelenting loving chase after us. The sheep dogs of Goodness and Love follow us, guiding us from behind. Will you receive their direction?
3. God goes before and behind you.
“You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5
The sheep dogs, Goodness and Love, are an extension of the Shepherd himself. You cannot take a step apart from His presence. Forward. Backward. Sideways. Our God has positioned Himself next to you. Will you bolt or will you trust Him?
4. Sheep and Shepherd have a bond.
“‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—’” John 10:14
At the stock show, the sheep are randomly selected. They have no connection to the shepherd or the sheep dog. That’s not the case with us. Though the flock of believers appears vast, Scripture says our Shepherd knows us—by name.
So, follow. Simply follow. You’re more than a number to your Shepherd. The Shepherd surrounds you with Goodness and Love as He leads from the front. So follow Him.
Workout of the Week: Lessons in Leadership for Followers
Memory Verse: “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6
Do It: Follow Him.