Learning to Lead

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Learning to Lead

Ezekiel 34:1-5

The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. (NIV)

When we speak of leading most people think of leadership in the community or leadership in the Church. While it is true that leadership is necessary in those arenas it is also true that all of us lead in our own circle of influence. Parents lead in their homes; individuals either lead or follow in their group of friends. We want to look at the antithesis of these verses and learn to lead well.

I. The first principle: Feed the flock (v. 2,3)
The first indictment we can learn from is that the shepherds fed themselves.
The picture we are given in this rebuke is that of a shepherd who is self-serving and greedy. He has no concern for the needs of the sheep, and instead of serving, expects to be served by them.
Let’s look at ways the good shepherd denies himself, and gives to the sheep.

          A. Don’t eat the curd
              He is said to ‘eat the curd (or fat)’ in verse 3. Some believe it refers to the                   heavy taxation of the people, causing a hardship in their daily existence.               The priests were allowed to take a portion of the goods for their services,                       but in moderation. They were oppressing the people by their greed in                      taking the most and best. You could say they were “milking them for all               they were worth.”

          B. Clothe them with the wool
              In verse 3 we also see the phrase “clothe themselves with the wool. “                 What does this mean? The leaders were decked out in the purest, finest                 most expensive wool around. While the sheep were in rags, pilfering                  around to make due, shepherds lived in prosperity.  
              While the sheep were half naked and stripped of their dignity, their                              leaders paraded in honor that did not rightfully belong to them.

          C. Don’t slaughter the choice
              The next statement is probably the most appalling of all. It said they                 “slaughtered the choice” (v.3). This refers to the very rich people who                    brought accusations against the leaders for the injustices. Instead of                           justice, these wealthy men were slaughtered. The plush estates went to the              very ones they were trying to stop.

          D. Take care of the flock
              It is the shepherds’ job to make sure the flock is being fed. True shepherds        lead the hungry flocks to green pastures to be nourished. When they are                        thirsty, he leads them to watering holes. He seems to know the best places          and will go to extreme lengths to get them there. Sometimes they travel on          narrow paths, rocky roads, and high places which could be dangerous.

II. The second principle: do your job (v.4)

          A. Strengthen the weak -
              Shepherds would tend the ones that were weak. If the animals needed a                       place of quiet peaceful rest, he would lead them to such. Can you imagine                       how tired and weary the people were as they were homesick to return to                       their own land? They wanted to go back to Jerusalem. They were in a                 place not their own. As shepherds, we must strengthen the weak and                    dishearten. This world is not our home. We are strangers, aliens,                                 foreigners, longing for our home with the Lord. Some need                                   encouragement in their journey and walk.

          B. Heal the sick -
              Those in need of medicine, love and attention were left suffering. They                        were not cared for.

          C. Bind up the broken -
              Shepherds knew how to set broken bones and would tend it until they                         were completely healed. WE can help set broken places in people’s lives               that are broken. WE can help repair their relationship with God.

          D. Bring back the stray -
              Imagine a few sheep who stray away from the others, the shepherd would                   go over and gently nudge them back to the fold.

          E. Seek the lost -

III. The third principle: rule with love (4)

          A. Abuse stifles.

              1. Spiritually, people need to be nurtured and cared for in order to grow                         into healthy, normal Christians - ones who would go out and take the                       gospel to the world they see daily.

              2. Another way people are stifled is that their dreams and hope are                                  crushed.       

              3. Jesus, our true and perfect shepherd, is our model and example of how                       treat others. He was kind hearted, gentle, loving, healing, ministering to           people’s needs before his own.

          B. Abuse scatters
              Verse 5 says the sheep scattered because there was no shepherd. It wasn’t                  that there really was NO shepherd, for verse one says there was. What this           denotes is the absence of leadership.

          C. Love brings growth and unity

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