A few people have heard me use this phrase recently – “Sheepdog.”
Let me explain it.
Sheepdogs are the guardians and protectors of the flock — they are the ones who hear the shepherds voice & lead others the right direction. Sheepdogs are aware of the presence of an enemy, but they aren’t afraid. They stand firm, face danger, and they listen to the voice of the shepherd, even when it means going against the crowd.
I first heard this analogy when watching the movie, “American Sniper.” By the way, I LOVED that movie! VERY inspired by Chris Kyle. Later I learned the phrase was originally coined in an essay by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. And I can’t help but consider the application of this theme within my local church.
Sheep or Sheepdog?
Most people are like sheep; nice, gentle, and amicable. Sheep people are just trying to do the right thing. They don’t want to make waves, rock the boat, or be seen as the “bad guy.” Sheep people only hang out with others who are a lot like them, and they behave like everyone else in order to be socially acceptable. Their primary desire is to live in a world that is safe, predictable, and routine. If anything disrupts that world, they set out on a quest to find safety and predictability again. This metaphor represents the MAJORITY of people. And it represents the MAJORITY of the church. There is nothing wrong with this, either. It’s perfectly normal to be a sheep person.
Sheepdogs are different, however. Not better, just different.
The sheepdog lives and does life with the sheep. They are one of the sheep.
They are the protectors and leaders. Just their presence alone deters the enemy and brings comfort to the flock. In times of need, the sheepdog is there…always alert and ready to take action. Sheepdogs are gentle and trustworthy by default, yet aggressive and forceful when necessary.
Identifying the dogs.
If being referred to as a “dog” in a metaphor bothers you, then you are probably not a sheepdog. But IF this metaphor kind of excites you in some way, then you might be one of us. Here are some other ways you can know who the sheepdog is, and who is not.
- The sheepdog doesn’t bolt when trouble arises, but rather confronts the issue at hand seeking a resolution.
- The sheepdog doesn’t roam around the flock trying to impress all the sheep for affirmation, but rather is confident and gets his identity and purpose from his relationship with the shepherd.
- The sheepdog doesn’t mope around when they don’t get their way, they simply do the task at hand, rain or shine…and they do a damn good job.
- The sheepdog isn’t offended by the word “damn.”
- The sheepdog shows up early and stays late.
- The sheepdog is mentally tough, prepared for a fight, but still committed to peace and the betterment of others.
- The sheepdog thrives under pressure, in dangerous situations, and in risky business.
- The sheepdog is morally strong, especially when faced with a moral predicament.
- The sheepdog is committed to the flock. To them, it’s not about what they can get from it, but rather what they can contribute to the flock.
I’m a sheepdog.
I hear the voice of my shepherd, and I obey. I see danger, and I confront. I feel the presence of an enemy, and I defend. I smell conflict, and I resolve. I taste the goodness of God, and I share.