There are many model leaders in history. Every nation has a surfeit of them in all generations. Good leaders inspire people even beyond their immediate environment or sphere of influence. One type of leader that I find most inspiring is a leader with a shepherd’s heart.
Perhaps one of the best examples of a good leader is found in the famous Bible Book of Psalm 23. Written by the renowned shepherd boy, David, a famous king of Israel, this psalm, a short narrative of the psalmist’s portrait of the Lord’s (that is, Jesus) leadership qualities, has never ceased to fascinate me.
The relationship between the shepherd and his flock is a perfect portrait of how a leader should relate to the people they lead. That’s probably why David used the shepherd to illustrate the lordship and leadership qualities of Jesus in this classic psalm.
If you read Psalm 23 with an open mind, you’ll see why it is the most popular chapter in the Book of Psalms. Apart from its poetic beauty, it gives us a profound lesson on leading rarely found in any book or dissertation on leadership. Psalms 23 is a great work worth studying by all students of leadership. Space constraints won’t allow me to relate the lessons of the shepherd psalm to the reality of leadership in the contemporary times we live in, where true leadership is lacking everywhere.
Let’s look at this psalms in full to capture it’s essence: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, he maketh me to lie down in green pasture, he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul, he leadeth me in the path of righteousness, for his name sake, yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they comfort me, thou prepareth a table before me, in the presence of my enemies, thou anointeth my head with oil and my cup runneth over. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me, all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
This poetic prayer is about a follower (David) giving a testimony about his leader or shepherd (Jesus). We can see the intimate spiritual relationship that they had, which invariably inspired David to declare in the opening paragraph. The Lord (Jesus) is my shepherd; I shall not want (lack).’ It is very much like saying because “Muhammadu Buhari is my President, I cannot lack.” That’s what David is saying in the above poem about Jesus even though David never saw Jesus physically; he was actually speaking by the spirit.
In that case, a President doesn’t even need to campaign for office at all. The followers know in advance what the leader could do because of their record, in or out of power. All a leader needs do is to present themselves for election and get elected even without a manifesto because people know all along what the leader stands for. David knew that if Jesus was his shepherd, he would never lack. Thus, the most important thing any leader should do is to render service to the people.
If a leader is unable to provide services, protection and provision, such a leader is disqualified ab initio. That’s a fact as clearly seen in David’s short thesis on leadership. It is amazing that in about 120 words, this famous king of Israel gave us a template of leadership from his own testimony about his relationship with his Lord. This Psalm is based on an experiential relationship by faith.
The psalmist wrote in verse 2: “He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters,” and then in v4, he said: “He restores my soul: he leads me in the path of righteousness for his name sake.”
Great! Good leaders are so caring that they give enough green pastures for their sheep (people) to feed on; so that their people have no need to travel abroad to seek greener pastures. It is the leader’s responsibility to seek green pastures for their people; that’s what the pastoralists we see here do for their flock.
Today, largely because of failure of leadership, millions of green pasture seekers go abroad and perish on high seas before they reach their destinations. Millions of migrants, including Nigerians, who make it to those better governed European nations are economic refugees seeking greener pastures in places where they are not even welcome.
The difference between European nations and developing countries is leadership. If nations are well governed, their citizens won’t migrate to other countries in search of the golden fleece. That’s why we do not see European or American refugees anywhere. Rich, well managed countries, whether developed or developing, do not produce economic refugees or labour migrants.
Dubai was a desert. Today, it is a business hub in the Middle East. Millions of tourists, including Nigerian business people, go there for shopping. Israel is a desert country under siege from hostile Arab neighbours, but it is industrialised. It is well managed. Nations like Japan that are supposed economic wastelands due largely to inclement weather, are models of economic prosperity because of good leadership. They have good shepherds. If you aspire to a position of leadership, read Ps. 23. It will inspire you.
Weekend Spice: The things which hurt, instruct – Benjamin Franklin
Ok folks, let’s do it again next week Friday. Stay motivated,
•Ayodeji is an author, rights activist, pastor and life coach. He can be reached for
mentoring and counselling on 09059243004 (SMS and