Now we turn our focus to the staff. No other item better identifies a shepherd than the staff. In our children’s Christmas programs we see shepherd in their Bible-time garb with the shepherd’s staff in hand. The staff is design specifically for the care and management of sheep. The rod has its purpose of protection and discipline and inspection but the staff is for the care of the sheep. It is primarily a symbol of compassion.
The staff would be used to draw the sheep in closer to the other members of the flock. The shepherds staff could bring a baby to its mother or help guide a young sheep back into the middle of the flock if its tendency was to wander. Our job as pastors is to draw our flock together in the fellowship of believers. We are to provide mechanisms for sheep to grow together because God grows people in flocks.
The staff could also be used to draw a sheep closer to the shepherd. This would be done to examine the sheep or to keep a troublesome sheep closer to the shepherd. In this way we are like the staff in God’s hands. We draw people in closer to the Good Shepherd. We only ask people to follows us as we follow Christ. We will let them down but He never will.
The staff could also be used to guide the sheep. Even a gentle contact with the staff would skillfully direct a sheep’s path. The Spirit of God within us provides that gentle nudge we need to stay on God’s path for us. Follow it and find God’s comfort.