Together in Christ: 'The Test of a True Shepherd' — John 10:10-11

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

[Jesus told his disciples:] "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep."
— John 10:10-11 NLT

Key Thought

Jesus made clear to His closest disciples the test of a true leader: they must be willing to give up their lives for their sheep. God's leaders are not in leadership to acquire status, receive accolades, gain notoriety, or exercise power. [1] While those honors may come to godly leaders, that must not be their motive for serving! They lead because they love Jesus and His people. They want to bless, protect, and mature Jesus' followers to become like Jesus. [2] Godly leaders serve following Jesus' example of serving; they lay down their lives to bless His people. [3]

When selecting leaders for God's people, His church, or groups, we need to use Jesus' standard for leaders — the greatest in His Kingdom is a servant, [4] and those who wield authority and bully people must not be selected as leaders of God's people. [5] Business success is honorable, but it is not necessarily the proving ground for godly leaders. The faithfulness of a potential leader's children and the spirituality of their families is one of God's proving grounds for godly leaders. [6] We do not want to select folks who lead for their self-interest but have the spiritual well-being, care, and protection of God's people at heart. Bottom line, Jesus' example must be our leaders' leadership style:

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on the cross.

Jesus came to give us life to the full, a rich and satisfying life, and He sacrificed His life to lead, serve, and save us. God's leaders follow Jesus' servant leadership style, which is why we should honor them for their service! [8]

[1] Luke 22:25-27.
[2] Acts 20:28-32.
[3] 1 Corinthians 10:31-12:1; Ephesians 4:31-5:2.
[4] Matthew 19:30, 23:8-12; Luke 22:26-27.
[5] Luke 22:25-26.
[6] 1 Timothy 3:1-5; Titus 1:5-6.
[7] Philippians 2:5-8.
[8] 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17.

Today's Prayer

Almighty God and tender Father, thank You for sending Jesus to show us Your deep love for us and Your desire to save us. I recognize Jesus as Your great example of who a leader should be and how they should lead. Forgive us for all the times we have made choosing leaders into popularity contests, partisan selection, and choices determined by someone's worldly success. Open my eyes and the eyes of Your people to see Your choices for leadership as we seek to find leaders who follow Jesus' example of selfless and sacrificial service. I pledge to encourage Your leaders and help others do so as well. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings

  • Luke 22:19-30
  • Philippians 2:1-11


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Illustration of John 10:10-11 NLT — [Jesus told his disciples:] "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.   "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep."

About This Devotional

Together in Christ is a daily devotional that focuses on what Scripture teaches about godly living in relationships.

'Together in Christ' is written by Phil Ware.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.