You and I live in perhaps the most powerful nation in the history of the world. It has accumulated wealth and influence well beyond what the Founders could have ever envisioned. But we must remember this has not come without challenges. Throughout history, America’s shepherds have risen to meet these challenges, and if America, like any other nation, is to thrive it will need its shepherds of today to rise to their calling and lead the sheep, not where we want to go, but where we ought to go.
America is in a challenging place as a nation, yet the sheep are very comfortable. Sheep do not like to be moved from their comfort zone, even if the zone threatens their lives. They will just continue to lay where they are unless someone moves them. God often compares people to sheep, because it is in our nature to pursue comfort and stay there, even when we know it is killing us. The shepherds, therefore, must move the sheep, or they will die. This is not easy, and the shepherd is rarely liked, but the shepherd must do his job.
America’s challenges will require its shepherds to lead their people into dark, uncomfortable valleys. Healthcare costs, growing deficits, the immigration crisis, the breakdown of the family, and so much more will not take easy solutions and will require great sacrifice, but America needs its shepherds to lead her people through the dark valley.
Solutions will not be simple, and it will require forsaking partisanship to come together to find real solutions. Solomon wisely understood that he needed wisdom from above to govern the people of Israel. To align with God’s purposes, America’s shepherds in government must come together and fervently seek the Lord for His wisdom to solve America’s crises. Then after the wisdom is received, they must act on it. As the sheep’s guide and protector, shepherds must lead them through the valley.
Unfortunately, the sheep will not move easily, joyfully, or peacefully. The sheep want to stay comfortable. They do not understand their comfort is their doom. They do not understand that in that dark valley are sweeter and better waters. They do not understand that the dark valley leads to life. Instead they will fight the shepherd. But God has called His shepherds to lay down their lives and lead them anyway.
In America, this can be difficult because in America the sheep vote. These dark valleys will cost many of our elected officials their jobs. It will require them to lay down their careers and they may never be thanked for it. It will be very important for the shepherds of the Church to encourage America’s government leaders through this valley. Many pastors understand these things because they too have led their sheep through these valleys.
As the Church we must share with our governing shepherds that the shepherd has an extremely difficult job, but it is a rewarding job. The Chief Shepherd, Christ, has led the way, and He literally laid down His life for the sheep. He is cheering for the governing shepherds, and He will reward them for their sacrifice (John 14:1-3). Focusing on simply pleasing the sheep often leads to death. Instead, the focus should be to please the Chief Shepherd, for what He desires brings life. God desires governing shepherds that seek Him first. The nation desperately needs governing shepherds who embrace God’s calling.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4)
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:2-4)