Have you ever contemplated whether you are a shepherd or a sheep? From the outset, I want you to know that I am not insinuating in any way that as a sheep you are a ‘dumb’ animal.

On the contrary, as I chewed on the notion of being a sheep, I realized that the lack of intelligence has nothing to do with being sheep-like. Nor do I believe that being a shepherd necessarily means that we are intelligent.

The more I considered the terms sheep and shepherd the more I understood that humans could be both sheep and shepherds. Let me begin by providing the dictionary definitions of both words.




1.     a person who tends and rears sheep.

synonyms: herdsman · herder · shepherdess · sheepman


1.     tend (sheep) as a shepherd.

2.     guide or direct in a particular direction:

“we were shepherded around with great ceremony”




a domesticated ruminant animal with a thick woolly coat and (typically only in the male) curving horns. It is kept in flocks for its wool or meat, and is proverbial for its tendency to follow others in the flock.

synonyms: ram · ewe · lamb · wether · bellwether

            a wild mammal related to this, such as the argali, bighorn, and urial.

            a person who is too easily influenced or led:

“the party members had become sheep, and she refused to be taken in”

            a person regarded as a protected follower of God.

If you are a ‘leader’ you may immediately think of yourself as a shepherd. If you are not a ‘leader’ you may hesitantly think of yourself as a sheep. That may be difficult to swallow.

So why do I believe that we/you are both shepherd and sheep? Because whether we realize it or not, we play roles of a shepherd in life, and whether we want to admit it, we all are sheep in at least some capacity.

Do you believe that you ever ‘guide or direct others?’  Parents, coaches, teachers, volunteers and many others are people of influence. If a person of influence, you are a shepherd. Shepherds have a rod and a staff.  The rod is a protection device or weapon to protect the sheep. The staff is a herding mechanism used to direct the sheep. Do you ever provide advice to others or give instruction to others? If so, you play the role of a shepherd.  If you ever stand ‘in the breach’ to defend or protect others, you are a shepherd. Since we don’t have to have a title to be a leader, we don’t have to officially be a shepherd or have a shepherding job to be a shepherd. There are many roles in life that require that we shepherd others. They each have a responsibility to protect, instruct and direct those that they are responsible for shepherding. Where in life do you shepherd others?

Are there times in life when you feel that you need to slow down or stop?  Are there other times when you know not which direction to go, road to take or path to follow?  Are you ever afraid? Do you ever feel that you are missing something or lack something that you want in your life? And finally, do you ever feel uncertain about your future?  If so, you need a shepherd to guide you and/or your thoughts in the way you should go!  You need something or someone to fill the void, provide direction or comfort and give you assurances about what is ahead.  Just as the sheep in the field need the shepherd to guide them away from straying you need to be guided in the way that you should go.  Where do you get the guidance?  Does it come from other people?  Does it come from God?  Does it come from books that you read or movies that you watch?  Is it reassuring, clear and inspirational or does it add to the clutter and confusion of the lives that most of us live?

When afraid, where does your courage and comfort come from? I grew up dealing with my fears in solitude and sometimes loneliness. I learned many hard lessons and made many more mistakes. When I look back on those lessons and mistakes, I know that I was reckless and often harmful. Being sheep means you are dependent on a shepherd for your guidance and protection. Having a shepherd is a great source for wisdom, guidance and protection. If you try to go it on your, I say ‘good luck’ because I’ve been there, and it isn’t easy. Look to a mentor or perhaps you can lean on God’s Word and His Holy Spirit and fellowship with other God-followers to help you.

Regardless of the source, there is powerful evidence that you are both shepherd and sheep, depending on the circumstances of your life. The critical part of this notion is that when choosing a source for your protection, guidance and wisdom, you choose wisely and observe closely. In the days, weeks, months and years ahead, those choices will be the driving forces behind determining your destiny.