by Greg Baker
Across all of His creation, the divine nature of the Good Shepherd can be clearly seen (Romans 1:20). From businesses to schools, governments, families, churches, sports, and even entertainment, when leaders are good shepherds, their organizations thrive. Why? Because God designed the world to have shepherds. That is why changing a head coach can turn a failing football program into national champions. Or why a new CEO can save a company.
The world needs these good shepherds. And yet, shepherds in every facet of our society have fallen under attack, with many missing and our nation suffering. If we are to restore our nation, it must include the return of good shepherds to all facets of our culture, including our government.
Why are shepherds under attack? Because Satan knows if he gets the shepherd, he can get the sheep. We saw this when Jesus died on the cross: After His death, His disciples fled and cowered, and it wasn’t until the Chief Shepherd was resurrected that we began to see the building of the church.
In God’s institution of government, the shepherd is the head of state. The head of state sets the example of what it means to be a citizen of a country, and the people will rise and fall with that standard.
In America, presidents serve as our heads of state. They have what President Roosevelt called “the bully pulpit of the nation.” The American president is the face of America, and people watch and follow their presidents’ examples.
A good shepherd in this role doesn’t merely reflect the character of the people, but leads it, setting a standard of righteousness that inspires the people toward greater things. For example, under the poor leadership of King Ahab, the people were led to worship Baal; while King Josiah worshipped only the God of Israel, and the people responded and tore down their idols. In the kingdom of God, the heads of state matter. They matter greatly.
And I’d argue the head of state is perhaps the most important job of the president of the United States as well. Yet we too often overlook it. We focus instead on the commander in chief and chief executive components of the position. Not only the voters, but the candidates lose sight of the power of the shepherd.
If Satan truly wanted to tear our nation down, he could hardly develop a more effective strategy.
President Abraham Lincoln, however, understood the significance of his shepherd position as head of state. Throughout his presidency Lincoln called America to prayer and repentance. He understood that the Civil War was far more than a physical war, but a spiritual battle raging in the spiritual realm as well.
America needs a head of state today who understands the shepherding components of the position. As Christians, we must not choose chief executives only, but remember the importance of the shepherd and seek to elect men like Abraham Lincoln: heads of state who not only fear the Lord, but who are setting an example in pursuing righteousness.
An even wider battle
Unfortunately, shepherds are not only under attack in government, but in all of God’s institutions, including His church. Satan has filled denominations and seminaries with all manner of false doctrine and teaching, compromising the shepherds of the church, the pastors. In too many congregations today, rather than standing up and protecting their flock from false teaching that undermines the Word of God and proclaims salvation outside of Jesus, pastors defend it and teach it. Rather than warning their congregation from sin and defending them, they encourage it. Rather than correcting the sheep about to enter a raging river, the pastors not only help them get in, they join in. Satan knew if he took out the pastors, he could get the church. Imagine the millions of Americans who go to church on Sundays but who will never hear the gospel. Why? Because their shepherd has no clue how to guide them to it. The church must have its shepherd in order to be strong and healthy.
Francis Asbury, one of the founders of the Methodist Church in America, understood this when he was sent to America in the 1700s by John Wesley. He knew the poor spiritual condition of the American church was a direct result of not having good shepherds. Asbury gave his life to raising up pastors in America, and by the time of his death, he had ordained over 4,000 ministers.
America needs men like Asbury today, men committed to discipling future good shepherds in God’s church. If good shepherds return to churches in America, the church will be revived.
God’s third social institution, the family, is similarly hurting in America, and again, one of the main reasons is the physical and mental absence of fathers, the shepherds of the family. Either dad is gone, or if he is present, he is doing little to lead his family. Rather than being the visionary, guide, and primary example in the family, dad has taken the back seat. Many men now do not know how to be fathers and some feel they are not even needed. Satan has fed lies into our culture and into our men. He understood that if fathers were out of the picture, he could devour the family.
The church must engage in raising up and supporting fathers again. The church must train men to be leaders in every facet of their life and to start in the home. If the American family is to be restored, it will be restored by fathers returning as shepherds of their families.
Our world today is in desperate need of shepherds. The sheep are lost, sick, and being ravaged by wolves. Without the shepherd they will perish. We must pray for the shepherds of our nation. If you have good shepherds in your life, be thankful. Honor them, and do not make their job more difficult. Pray that God would protect them and that He would raise more of them up. Pray for the good shepherds to return.