You may be thinking, “What? I don’t like to fish, and I certainly don’t spend any time around smelly sheep!”
As a leader, you are likely a fisherman, a shepherd, or even a combination of both.
Let’s talk about the Peter – one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. Did you know he was a fisherman by profession? He was out trying to increase his catch when Jesus walked along the shore and called Peter to follow Him.
Toward the end of Jesus’ time on earth, Jesus is having a conversation with Peter. The conversation is a little odd, because we know Peter was a fisherman. But Jesus says to Peter:
“Do you love me?”
And Peter answers, “Yes, Lord”
Jesus replies “Feed my sheep.”
This happens 3 times – Jesus asked Peter if he loves Him, and when Peter answers in the affirmative, Jesus encourages him to feed His sheep.
You see, fishermen pursue. They go out to get as many as they can. Peter was a fisherman. He knew how to go after more. But shepherds are protectors. They know the name of every sheep, and they would do anything to keep them safe. Peter needed to learn how to protect.
Fishermen measure. They are concerned about how much, because they know that the more they have, the more can be accomplished. Shepherds manage – they are focused on helping those they already have feel valued.
Fishermen think about quantity. They know that numbers are important – because every number has a name, and every name matters. So the more numbers, the more people know they matter. Shepherds think about quality. They constantly ask “How well protected and cared for are my sheep?” Because every name matters.
Fishermen desire results. They want to see things moving in a positive direction, and feel they succeed when they’re able to quantify what is happening. Shepherds desire relationships. They feel they succeed when they are surrounded by meaningful relationships.
Jesus doesn’t ask Peter to stop being a fisherman. He asks him to start being a shepherd.
Neither one is great on its own – the true strength comes when a fisherman learns to shepherd, or when a shepherd learns to fish.
What kind of leader are you?
Do you focus on seeing more people added to your team (and maybe neglect those you already have), or do you focus on caring for your existing team (and maybe neglect anyone else to join you)? Whichever way you lean, I want to encourage you to ask yourself what you can start doing to lean the other way just a little more.
Need to learn to fish?
Need to learn how to care for sheep?
You’re in the right place, my friend. God has brought you here to learn both.