Imagine hundreds of sheep blocking the road, keeping you from your destination. You anxiously wait for them to pass, watching to see just who is in charge of this soft and smelly road block. Hundred of sheep pass with no sign of a shepherd. Dogs yap at the sheep keeping them moving lazily along.
Finally at the rear of the wool parade you see the shepherd on his horse. You can't believe your eyes. He is asleep! He is not even holding the reins or giving the horse direction. You realize the horse and dogs are in charge as the shepherd dozes.
Thomas S. Monson, leader of a worldwide religious organization and a past newspaper executive witnessed a similar scene. Many years later he recalled seeing another herd of sheep in beautiful Munich, Germany.
First he noticed the shepherd, with his staff in his land at the head of the herd of sheep, leading them. The sheep followed him no matter which way he turned. They knew their master, the sound of his voice and readily obeyed.
Monson said, "I made the comparison between the true shepherd who led his sheep and the sheep herder who rode casually behind his sheep...Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep." He provides for us the perfect example of what a true shepherd should be."
At the time of the Savior, the shepherds knew their sheep by name. They would call them and the sheep would follow as the shepherd walked ahead, leading the way. His step and his staff gave his sheep direction.
In the book of John, the Savior tells Simon Peter, "If you love me, feed my sheep." He is not talking about literally feeding sheep. He is talking about taking care of his followers, or those of us who choose to follow Christ.
Who are the Savior's sheep? The sheep the Savior wishes us to care for are the lost and found. Our family and friends who know him and those that need to be led home to the Savior's flock.
Ask yourself: Do you love the Savior? If you do, how do you feed his sheep?
Monson shared ways to "feed" the Saviors sheep
Watch over the flock
We all have friends and family that fall under our watchful care and are a part of our lives. Focus on others, pray for them and look for opportunities to serve them. Be mindful of their needs, wants and desires.
Be respectful of others
Communicate with those you watch over. Let them know when you are coming, call and keep in touch. Dropping in uninvited may be fine on occasion, but can become disrespectful of others schedules. Out of respect call head when you visit.
Don't go through the motions. Express genuine interest in those you choose to bring into your flock of friends and family. Ask questions, reach out and offer help when you see others struggling. Be selfless and give compassionate service.
Never give up
Hang on when friends are far away or family pushes you away. Families go through ups and downs. Teenagers love us and sometimes they hate us. As you lead your flock, when you feel that you are losing some of your sheep, don't give up on them. In the scriptures, the Savior reminds us that when a shepherd loses one of his precious sheep, he will do what ever it takes to find the lost sheep and return it to the flock. Let those that aren't present know you miss them.
Use the power of prayer and heaven to look after your flock. You don't have to do everything alone. God is waiting to answer prayers. Listen patiently for inspiration and direction. Know God wants to help all his children and will be by your side if your goal is to love others.
If you are aware of God and all that makes you happy, don't be afraid to share with others. Don't be ashamed of what you believe and who you are. Respect other's beliefs, but if you love yours, share with the flock.
Love all your sheep
. There was once a great man who invited sinners to his dinner table and befriended government officials that no one else would talk to. Be like that man. Be like the Savior who ate with the tax collector and other undesirables.
Become like the greatest shepherd of all. Monson said, "There is one teacher whose life overshadows all others ... He lived not to be served but to serve, not to receive but to give, not to save his life but to sacrifice it for others ... his laws were not inscribed upon stone but upon human hearts ... I speak of the master teacher, even Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind."
Be the kind of shepherd that leads with love and by example. Protect and go after your lost sheep or family members. Feed, love and care for each of your flock, your children, family and friends. Know them by name and know what is in their hearts.
Remember, if you love the Savior, "feed his sheep." Feed them love, knowledge and understanding so that they will choose to follow you. Lead by becoming a walking, living model of the greatest shepherd of all.
Shannon Symonds, Author of Safe House due to be released July 2017 by Cedar Fort, has 15 years experience working as an Advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence while raising 6 children in Seaside Oregon. She loves to write, run and Laugh