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. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23, NIV)
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Take a moment to think about the “leaders” in your life.
Your parents, your boss, your teachers...think about them. Think of their leadership. Think of how they try to guide you. Think of how they shape you.
Now, pause. Really allow your mind to go there. Remember the interactions. Remember the conversations. Remember it all.
After thinking about how I have been led by the people in my life, a lot of their strengths come to mind. I’ve been privileged with many encouraging, smart, and dedicated leaders. I remember many instances of being loved and positively shaped by them.
At the same time, I can’t help but think of the ways I’ve been let down by my leaders. Though I look to them for guidance, direction, and counsel, they are still humans. Just like me, they are imperfect.
Sometimes my leaders are even the cause of pain for me and those around me. Because of their humanity, they are capable of making decisions that can be harmful.
When I read “the Lord is my shepherd,” I immediately jump to the idea of a leader. A shepherd guides and protects their sheep. If the Lord is my shepherd, it means that the perfect Creator of the universe is my leader. I sometimes have trouble really believing this promise from the Lord.
The reason I have trouble with it is because I can often see God through the lens of my earthly leaders’ qualities...their strengths and their faults. However, this Psalm reminds us exactly what kind of leader God is.
God has wired us to rest.
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 hHis name’s sake.
He makes us lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside quiet waters. God has formed us in a way that requires us to rest in Him. In His perfect shepherding and leadership, He shows us how to rest and leads us to places where we can do so.
God promises to be with us in our troubles.
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.
God doesn’t deny or overlook our trials, but walks through them with us. He shows us the best guidance and leadership by actively involving Himself in our lives despite our circumstance.
God rewards and protects.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Yet another facet of the Lord’s leadership is to show us love through the giving of good gifts. He feeds us and fulfills our needs in ways that Satan and our enemies cannot destroy.
Everyday, we need this reminder of who God is and how He shepherds and leads us. It is a simple, hopeful, and clear reminder of His character.
He shepherds in a way that fulfills our every need. He leads in a way that none of our earthly leaders could measure up to. He has chosen to be invested in the lives of His creation. He follows through on His promises. And he is worthy of our trust.
When I remember that kind of leadership, I can’t help but be thankful. Today, let us rest in this promise; that despite our perception, our God is leading and guiding us.
[guest writer: Steve Sullivant]
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