There is a great deal of talk about being a leader these days. Conferences, books, and a general pressure to perform great feats of strength abound. It’s funny how Jesus didn’t have much to say about “being a leader”.
He spent much more time talking about how to be a good follower and a good servant. Probably because he knew that the “leadership” position wasn’t on the kingdom job-posting corkboard. That slot was filled…he was the leader. He would do the leading.
I know that we still need good leaders, but the best leaders are great followers, great servants. They let God shepherd them and we know from John 10 that the best sheep know the Shepherd’s voice, they’ve learned how to hear his voice in the midst of white noise. The difference between God’s voice and a god’s noise couldn’t be more distinct. When the sheep hear that voice, they follow the voice no matter what it’s saying or where it’s leading. Following that voice is more important than leading. All leading, if there is such a thing, comes directly from our listening to the Leader’s voice.
Sheep aren’t leaders. There isn’t an Alpha sheep to my knowledge. We are trained to look for the Queen bee or the dominant male, the type A personality or the one who commands respect and attracts followers with flamboyance and charisma. This doesn’t fit the sheep metaphor “whatsoever”. They are dependant on the shepherd. They actually are quite helpless without their leader.
So many want to be leaders, so few long to be followers.
And in this passage the leader is guiding us along side the peaceful brook. He desires to get us to a place of peace. A place of refreshment.
Have you ever been beside a gentle stream, a rippling riverbed? I don’t know if there is a sweeter spot among sweet spots for me. It might be just me, but I might as well have an IV drip of hydration to my parched soul. It serves to massage knotted muscles and sooth strained tendons. And I’m being for real…it’s every bit as therapeutic as going to a counselor or taking meds. Actually, before meds there were “still waters” and the more you walked beside them, the more calm seeped into your soul.
Would you speak of your own heart as “still waters” or “raging rivers”? Do you ever wish someone would just lead you toward calm and calming waters? When God leads us he first makes us lie down and sleep. When we wake up, he gets us to a place of stillness quieting us, whispering “peace be still” to the tempest between our ears.
I crave calm. I’m starving for stillness. I can’t move until I stop moving.