A shepherd is somebody who leads, teaches and cares for people. Are not all Christians commanded to lead people back to God and also help others along the way? That is the role of a shepherd. Of course the prime example of a Shepherd is that of Jesus Christ - the Great Shepherd.
How God and Jesus are Shepherds
In Psalm 23, we see that God is our shepherd. The quality, characteristics and activities of God Himself, are those of a shepherd. Jesus Christ said in John 10v10, that He gives His life that all those who follow Him, will have it more abundantly. Jesus as the Great Shepherd came to earth in order to bring sheep back into the fold; that is to bring people back into a full relationship with God. Jesus here in John 10, is looking ahead to His death on the cross as a means of facilitating the way for people to come back into a living relationship with God. The focus in Hebrews 13v20-21 is on the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, working in you, to produce that which is well pleasing in His sight. All Christians are like shepherds, being moulded by the Holy Spirit.
How are you to be a shepherd?
Nurture (Psalm 78v72 & John 21v15-17). Jesus is always concerned for the welfare of the weak, the small and the young. If you love and follow Jesus, you also should be concerned to care for the weak, oppressed and poor.
Feeding & nourishing (John 21v16-17). This means to tend, manage, and govern people, feeding and nourishing them. As a shepherd, you are to be interested in the care and welfare of others, both physically and spiritually.
Protects (Acts 20v28-29). The job of a shepherd is also to be watchful (Proverb 27v23). This means to be alert, quick to respond and care for people who may well be going through physical or spiritual dangers unaware.
Cares for Needy (Ezekiel 34v4). Prominent in biblical shepherding is caring for the weak and healing the wounded. The Great Shepherd retrieves rather than abandons. He restores rather than rejects. You, and I, are to do likewise.
As you are to be Jesus to people, you are to be their shepherd. The shepherd highlights a care for God's people. The shepherd persistently obeys God, wisely using available resources to accomplish God's purposes and to carefully nurture the people God has provided. This nurturing could be by leading them into faith by evangelism. If they are already a Christian, it is leading them through a life of faith by discipling. When you give care to the poor, needy and oppressed, you are sheperding, just as God does. His concerns are to be your concerns. May it be so, for by doing this, Christianity can make a difference, in a world which is seeking to kill the Great Shepherd by making Him an irrelevance. This Christmas, be a shepherd, just as Jesus was and is a Shepherd.