A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to teach the current, as well as up-and-coming leaders, at Redeemer Fellowship on the topic of servant leadership during our monthly Leadership Lab. As Redeemer endeavors to train up leaders we desire to pour into them what that calling requires. Before I even got to the text, I had to make sure that the guys understood that our calling to lead is really that of "under shepherd". Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd" not "you are shepherds." We are to take our cues from Him and follow His example.
The text for this important topic was a no brainer, John 10. It's in this text that we get 2 of the great "I am" statements from Jesus which he repeats (vs. 7,9 and 11, 14). Both are full of meaning and impact the way we lead. I'll be dealing with half of the first one in this post.
The Door Protects From Exterior Threats
What is the purpose of a door? There are 2 ways to answer the question. First, it provides protection. In my research of this passage, I discovered that sheep pens of the day were a semi-circle of rocks. The "door" of this pen is where the shepherd would physically lay down in order to protect the sheep. The second answer to this question, is to prevent entrance and exit. The shepherd used his authority to determine who could enter and who could leave.
This leads us to ask a couple questions. What do the sheep need protection from? What specific external threats is the shepherd trying to prevent? Verse 1 describes the thief and robber who try to sneak in; verse 10 reminds us why they are there, to steal, kill, and destroy; and finally verse 12 mentions wolves who look to snatch sheep away. The shepherd must protect the sheep by keeping the threats all out.
Typically this is seen in the life of a church by those who try to enter with different doctrine. What we are talking about here is those from the outside that look to exploit the church or it's people for their own gain. This can take many different forms, too many to list here. The point is that the people we lead need protection from outside influences seeking to destroy the church through exploitation. This requires that shepherds know theology and can spot different doctrine and defend truth.
So those are the exterior threats that shepherds need to protect the sheep from. But what about threats on the inside, what about the sheep? How can the sheep potentially harm each other?