Lessons From Granddad and His Sheep - "Protect the Flock"

By: Nelson Kidder

“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” (Paul; Acts 20:29)

As I have shared with you in previous articles, my Grandfather Kidder was a farmer, and a shepherd of Merino sheep. “Granddad” kept a flock of about 40 to 50 ewes and one buck sheep on his farm near Cadiz, Ohio. I have many wonderful memories of spending time each summer with my grandparents on that farm - and learning from Granddad and his sheep!

Another lesson that I learned from Granddad was that sheep have to be protected by their shepherd. Most other animals have some means of protecting themselves from predators. Rabbits and deer are fast and dart quickly; cats and squirrels climb trees; groundhogs and mice run into holes; birds and chickens can fly; and cows and horses will kick, and are much larger than most predators. But sheep have none of these traits! Sheep are quite slow compared to most animals. And when a sheep is cornered by an attacker, it does almost nothing to defend itself. Sheep, without a shepherd, are truly helpless prey for wolves, coyotes or dogs.

I do believe that God created sheep to be a perfect “natural” example for His people -- of meekness and gentleness, and of total dependence on their shepherd. We Christians often have trouble being dependent on God. Our worldly culture has taught us to think of “looking out for ourselves”, “standing up for our rights”, and believing that “only the strong survive.” We often aim to do it by ourselves. God’s word reminds us, “The LORD is my strength and my shield,” and “My grace is sufficient for you.” (Ps. 28:7 and 2 Cor. 12:9)

I remember how stray dogs would sometimes come at night during warm months when Granddad’s sheep were out in the pasture. These dogs would savagely attack the sheep, killing some and severely wounding others. Granddad would jump out of bed, hurriedly put on his pants, and grab his shotgun. He had to protect his flock! Granddad was a fine Christian man. But I can tell you that he absolutely believed in (and practiced) capital punishment for any stray dog that attacked his sheep. Once I expressed sympathy for a sheep-killing dog. Granddad kindly, but firmly, reminded me that the dog had shown “no sympathy” for the sheep, which it had viciously torn apart. He also told me he had to defend his sheep, because they couldn’t defend themselves against the dogs. (I got the lesson; and I have never forgotten it.)

Please read Ezekiel 34 – God’s word to the irresponsible shepherds of Israel. God’s sheep “were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field…” (vs. 5) Thus says the Lord God: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.” (vs. 11) No wonder God’s dear Son came teaching, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for (“to protect”) the sheep.” (John 10:11) True shepherds protect their flock from wild beasts!

Your shepherds (“elders”) here at Versailles take very seriously Paul’s charge to “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock,…to shepherd the church of God…” (Acts 20:28) God demands that His flock be protected; and “savage wolves” and dogs are still around today. Please pray for us that we will imitate the good shepherd of John 10, and never be like the irresponsible shepherds of Ezekiel 34!