Sheep…Smarter Than You Think

It’s a common misconception that sheep are not very smart creatures. Easily scared, we are often taught
that sheep will follow whatever voice they hear. But believe it or not, sheep are actually very intelligent animals. They have the ability to recognize the individual faces of people, other sheep and even to spot specific types of plants for eating. Very aware of their surroundings, sheep will not follow just anyone.

Jesus says in John 10:3-5, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers”. Jesus isn’t speaking as someone who has easily tricked the sheep to follow him, they are very aware of their shepherd and follow his voice.

Jesus’ sheep follow his voice because they have experienced the tender love and mercy of their shepherd. Sheep won’t follow a shepherd unless they believe that shepherd has their best interest in mind. In a similar manner, this is our role as parents. Our children follow our voice because they trust us and have experienced our love and care in their lives. We have a huge responsibility to shepherd them towards the ultimate shepherd, Jesus Christ. In theory, this sounds wonderful. In truth, we are not the only voice calling out to our children as they grow.

False Shepherds

Turn on Netflix and Youtube and your child is hearing one set of voices. Send your children to school and they receive another set. Let them spend time with their friends and they are exposed to other voices. In the words of theologian Cornelius Van Til, “There are no brute facts.” Put simply, everyone has a worldview and as soon as they open our mouths, they function as lawyers, making their case for that worldview.

This can feel incredibly challenging! How can we possibly expect our children to listen to our voice over the myriad of other voices, especially when they can often seem so enticing? My hope is that the resources provided for you here will help you in the process of discipling and shepherding your child. But I think it is important to remember two things as you go through all of this:

1. You have a much greater influence on your child than you often realize. They are watching your every move. So with this, you must ask yourself, are the words that come out of my mouth matching the actions done by my hands? Or does it create a dissonance? When people see a conflict between words spoken and actions performed, we tend not to take it seriously.

Do not take for granted the role you play in your child’s life. No doubt there may come times when your child seems to care little for you or your opinions. But even then, they’re watching to see how you respond when they seek to push the boundaries. Who you are is not only exposed to them in good times, but in difficult ones as well.

2. You cannot make your child a Christian, that is the work of the Holy Spirit. As difficult as this may be for some of us to hear, our job as a parents is to cultivate a love for Jesus much like water in the garden provides nourishment to plants but we are not the sun. Ultimately, you must submit your life and lives of your loved ones into the hands of the Father through prayer. Your faith must rest in the reality that God will bring to completion the good work he starts, even if that road has some twists and turns.

There are many voices in this world which are beckoning our attention, acting as counterfeit gods. As a Christian, you are a disciple maker and are called to lead those around you to still waters. May the Lord be with you and your family as you shepherd them towards Jesus, from whose mouth springs the fountains of living waters.

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