We continue our series of posts on “Leading Like a Shepherd” and now we turn to one of the most prolific psalms in the Bible, the 23rd Psalm. David wrote these verse from the perspective of a sheep. David would know because he was a shepherd guiding over his father’s flock for years. We too are called to guard over our Father’s flock. One of my favorite books on this passage is “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller. In each chapter he breaks down a part of the verse.
The Lord is my shepherd
It is common among shepherds and ranchers etc. to mark their livestock. A practice today is to “earmark” the sheep. Of course we know that cattle are marked with a brand. A certain brand or shape is used to identify the livestock as belonging to a certain person. Verse 1 of the 23rd Psalm starts off with the sheep making its mark know. The Lord is the Shepherd of this sheep.
He calls us His sheep, and we call Him our shepherd. We must always rely on His strength and not on our own. This is a foundational truth for us at leaders that may even seem too obvious or basic. We are marked by God. It is important for us to always remember that even as we lead God’s flock we are a part of His flock. A mark is a symbol of surrender. We surrender or authority, our control, our way for His.
The symbol that God marks us with is the mark of the cross. It is a mark of total surrender. It is a mark of dying to yourself. It is a mark of pain and suffering. It is a mark of laying down my way, my will, my plans. Paul put it this way in Phillipians 3:10
I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death,
The only way we can know Christ and experience resurrection power is to suffer with Him and share in His death. Jesus prayed “not my will, but Yours be done.” Power in ministry comes as we lay our lives down as Christ did. The resurrection released more power than any other event in this age. It isn’t power that is seized or strategized, it’s power that is only found through total surrender.
When the sheep are marked there is a temporary pain involved for the sheep. The shepherd pushes through any thought of guilt he might have in causing this pain in the lamb because he knows that the pain lats only for a moment and will help this sheep throughout its life to be identified if it gets lost or stolen.
Let us proclaim as leaders that we are a sheep of the Good shepherd. Let’s be bold in surrendering to Him and depending upon His providence.