The Value of Sheep

The Value of Sheep

“… they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:16

The camp we served in New York had a farm on it. We used the farm to teach urban children about animals, food sources and traditional crafts. On this farm was a small flock of mismanaged sheep. At one time, they were used for sheering to make yarn for traditional crafts. Eventually, they just became an animal to pet and feed.

This flock taught me, when left to their own devices, sheep do not make good decisions. In the absence of a shepherd or a pen, they would run away without a clue of where they are going. Once, when the gate was accidentally left open, the sheep  ran away and were lost for over a week.  They only returned when it started to rain. Somewhere in those small minds was the memory of a shelter in the sheep pen.

A member of my internship congregation had a large professional sheep operation. I took my children to visit the farm and watch how they trained border collies. This owner was a good shepherd. She understood the value of the sheep and the dangers threatening them. Coyotes prowled the perimeter of the farm, constantly seeking an opportunity to kill . Sheep do not have much for self defense. They are vulnerable and in need of protection.

Some might be offended to be compared to sheep. But, I’ve noticed we don’t always make the best choices in our lives. Even the brightest of minds can be susceptible to addiction, debt, time mismanagement, fractured relationships, etc… We do not always take care of ourselves and our own health. One only has to look at statistics of violent crime to understand, there are forces seeking to harm us. People need good neighbors and other resources to help us navigate the difficulties of life.

It was difficult to provide good leadership of the camp farm. We lacked both knowledge and passion for the sheep. As a result, the sheep were not well tended. A good shepherd sees the value of the sheep. Even when resources are tight, a good shepherd will protect and care for the sheep. There is an interesting feature in today’s reading often lost in our current religious attitude. The good shepherd sees value and cares for all sheep. Both his own and the ones that do not belong to him.

Click to read: John 10:11-17

Reflection Questions:

  • How does it make you feel being compared to sheep?
  • Where do you go to find help on how to live better?
  • Where do we fail to see value in all sheep?
  • What does it mean in this current social climate that Jesus cares for all sheep?

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