I have often heard the remark that leading missionaries is like herding cats. Yet are we in the herding business? As followers of the Good Shepherd we are to shepherd, not herd those in our care. Even if we shift the imagery from herding to shepherding, we can still go astray because of our cultural perception of shepherding.
Last year, my pastor was preaching on the Good Shepherd from John 10. He told a story of watching a sheep dog demonstration at the state fair. The dogs would circle the sheep barking and nipping at their heels to get them to go in the desired direction. If we look at shepherding from this cultural perspective, we lead by threatening and scolding (barking and biting). This is not the model of shepherding from a Middle Eastern perspective in biblical times or today and not at all what Christ was suggesting. The Middle Eeastern shepherd goes before the sheep and leads them by voice. “