“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd
lays down his life for the sheep.”
– John 10:11 (ESV)
What are the duties of a shepherd? First, they take care of sheep. Shepherds usually work independently and are on call for their animals around the clock. The safety and welfare of the flock is the shepherd’s primary responsibility. There are always predators like coyotes, wolves, mountain lions, and wild dogs that pose a constant threat to the safety of the herd. The shepherd is also responsible for the basic medical treatment that his sheep might require. As I look at the responsibilities of the shepherd, it is amazing how similar they are to the responsibilities of a coach. As coaches, we each have our own flock. Head coaches are charged with taking care of the entire herd or team. Assistant coaches or position coaches may be responsible for fewer athletes, but the responsibilities to their flock is not diminished. While coaches do not have to worry about coyotes and wild dogs, there are constant distractions that can separate athletes and cause the team to stray or lose its way. Selfishness, poor attitudes and lack of commitment are just a few of the dangers that coaches must guard against daily. Coaches must also be equipped to handle unexpected injuries in addition to monitoring weather conditions, nutrition and hydration. As shepherds and coaches, we must understand that our flocks are vulnerable in many ways.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus is depicted as the “Good Shepherd” who lays down His life for His sheep. The requirements for this title are clearly defined. The Good Shepherd takes His role seriously. He is not just a hired hand tending His sheep for the money. The Good Shepherd’s motivation is love. He cares for His flock above all else. The flock is His responsibility, and He is totally committed to caring for them. The Good Shepherd is not just doing a job, He loves His flock so much that He is willing to sacrifice His own life for their protection. Jesus is setting the bar high if we as coaches chose to be called a good shepherd too. It’s not about the money, prestige or our own gratification. It’s about leading and protecting our athletes. It’s about loving them as God’s children, not for their athletic ability or what they can do for us. Do the sheep in your herd consider you to be a good shepherd?
Lord, thank You for the opportunity to tend Your sheep. Give me a servant’s heart as I watch over and protect them today. Amen.