1 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:1–5

What do you know about sheep? For as much as sheep and shepherding are mentioned in the Bible, it sure seems as though we should know some things. This is especially true since you and I are referred to as sheep many times in the Scriptures. Honestly, even though I grew up in the church, I don’t remember giving much thought to the implications of being called a sheep. It wasn’t until my freshman year of Bible college when I was assigned to write a ten-page paper on shepherding that I began to appreciate the imagery.

What caught my attention about the assignment was how different sheep were from goats. The distinctions struck me because my grandfather used to raise goats. Living close by compelled me to join in on the stink of tending goats. If you’ve ever had questions about being called a sheep, just be glad you weren’t called a goat. Looking back, I have a fuller appreciation of Jesus’ parable of separating sheep and goats. Frankly, the goats were straight up annoying. They’d buck me with their horns, chew on my clothes, be stubbornly spunky, and almost always obstinate. As I wrote my paper, I saw how sheep were characterized in the exact opposite ways. Sheep are regarded as more docile and aloof. While goats portray spunky independence, sheep demonstrate a strong flocking instinct that can almost be described as needy. Left to themselves, goats will get into mischief, while sheep are prone to falling into danger.

The major takeaway from my paper was the sheep’s need, desire, loyalty, and love for their shepherds, and the shepherds’ devotion and love for their sheep. As we continue on in our Forged series, as you see in the passage above, elders and spiritual leaders in the church are called to shepherd the church through times of forging. And as God’s providence would have it, it seems fitting that this passage would fall on Father’s Day. For all the principles directed to elders as spiritual fathers over the church also apply to fathers who are called to be shepherds of their families as well. Take some time to read through the text again and consider the role fathers and spiritual fathers play in our lives as shepherds.

Love you, church!

Pastor Jerry