“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.”
There are several leadership styles that are important for leaders to have or to avoid. The servant leadership style is one of the most prominent leadership styles discussed, and it should be; however, one of the great leadership styles that every leader should embrace is shepherd leadership. In John 10, Jesus shows us the characteristics of shepherd leadership. Let me share with you these characteristics.
First, shepherd leadership leads by principle. Jesus shows how some leaders avoid entering by the door, but shepherd leaders enter through the door. Any good leader will learn to do things right, and they do things right by allowing principles to guide their every decision. You cannot help those you lead if your followers don’t know what to expect. Followers need leaders who lead by principle, and principled leadership will be predictable because principles don’t change.
Second, shepherd leadership communicates with the follower. Verse 3 says that the “sheep hear his voice.” You cannot lead through technology because the follower needs clear and concise instructions which you cannot give by communicating through technology. The shepherd leader will always communicate with the follower so that the follower knows what is expected of them.
Third, shepherd leadership gets to know the follower. Verse 3 says that the shepherd “calleth his own sheep by name.” The best leader will get to know those they lead. You cannot be distant from your followers and expect them to follow you. Great leaders spend time getting to know those they lead so they can better help the follower to become what God wants them to be.
Fourth, shepherd leadership leads by example. Verse 3 says that the shepherd “leadeth them out.” The best leader always leads by example. The poorest leader leads through intimidation and fear. A leader by nature means that you are out front showing the follower what to do. If you love those you lead, you will show your followers what they need to do by the example you live.
Fifth, shepherd leadership leads gently. Verse 4 shows how the shepherd is gentle with the sheep as they follow him. Poor leadership abuses the follower and drives them to the point where they are scared to be around the leader. This is not the way anyone should lead. You want to be a leader who leads gently so that the follower grows into the leader they need to be.
Sixth, shepherd leadership teaches the follower truth. Verse 5 shows how the sheep don’t know the voice of the stranger, and the reason is because the shepherd taught the sheep to follow his voice. Great leadership teaches the follower truth so that the follower easily knows what is wrong because the truth they have been taught exposes the error.
Seventh, shepherd leadership protects the follower. Verse 12 shows how the shepherd protects the follower from the wolf. A good leader will be willing to be uncomfortable just to protect their follower. You cannot be a shepherd leader if you are not willing to protect those you lead at all costs.