Scripture beautifully gives us analogies that reveal what God wants us to understand about life, relationships, and our walk with him. Recently I was intrigued as I studied what it means for Jesus to be the shepherd of our souls. In John 10, he used the example of a shepherd that cares for his sheep as a way to illustrate the relationship he has with his followers.
As Christians, we need Christ to lead and care for us like sheep require a shepherd simply to survive. What can we learn from this concept of the Lord shepherding us? What does life look like when we depend entirely on Jesus to keep and protect our souls? How would it affect us daily? Living a life that wholeheartedly depends on the Lord means letting him be in the “driver’s seat” of your life which allows him to truly shepherd your soul.
The Role of a Shepherd
A shepherd is simply someone who tends, herds, protects, and feeds sheep. This role is essential because sheep are commonly known for their defenselessness and lack of intelligence. In fact, sheep are skittish and fearful. They don’t hear or see well. They require a shepherd’s help because they frequently go astray and are not able to fend for themselves. We need a little help along the way, too.
First Peter 2:25 states, “For ‘you were like sheep going astray,’ but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” What a simple parallel and easy to understand as we consider how a shepherd tends and cares for his own, just like the Lord does for us. In John 10:11, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus leads, equips, protects, and loves his followers, even to the point of paying the ultimate sacrifice by dying for them.
The Overseer of Our Souls
Our souls are uniquely different than our bodies because they are not dissolved by death. In fact, they were created for everlasting life. When 1 Peter 2:25 references Jesus as the Overseer of our Souls, it speaks of more than just our earthly bodies.
The Lord protects our souls and knows those who belong to him. Even as we struggle with the flesh and sin, Christ’s followers are able to sense his presence and return to him. Like sheep, we easily go astray. The word astray means to be led away, wander, or roam. In addition, it can mean to be led away from truth toward deception.
Once we have gone astray, we have no direction. The picture of a shepherd and sheep is powerful. Just as sheep get off track, lost, and wind up in danger, the call of the shepherd brings them back to the flock and safety. We can likewise respond to the Overseer of our souls as he calls us back to him.
Complete Dependence on Jesus
A life that is characterized by dependence on the Good Shepherd is one rich with blessings and often free from worry. Trials will come in this life, but we need not be fearful. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control” (Revised Standard Version). He wants us to lean on him, trust him, and to have faith that he is ultimately in control.
Depending on Jesus means letting him navigate as you follow his call upon your life. This is easier to do when things go smoothly. However, when the storms of life set in, our human nature desperately wants to take back control in pursuit of our own agenda.
When struggling to depend on Jesus, read Hebrews 13:20, 21 which beautifully explains how our Shepherd cares for and equips us. This passage states, “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Trusting in him will bear fruit in your life in a variety of ways and you’ll see that it will impact your life regularly.
Daily Effects on Our Lives
True dependence on Jesus means believing that he is capable to keep and protect your soul. The blessings and peace that follow this mindset will daily affect your life as you work to completely rely on him and continue to build your relationship with him.
In John 10:14, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” The word know from that verse is ginosko in the Greek, which means to have an intimate knowledge of someone. Jesus used a special word there to help us see how he wants a close personal relationship with his followers.
To know someone in this way is a learning process that takes time and effort. People typically spend more time cultivating and growing close relationships, and it should be the same as we consider the one we have with Jesus.
Do the following each day as you surrender your will to his and the fruitful results will bless your life and growth in him.
Pray Daily.Be someone who prays often. Daily prayer is essential to keeping an ongoing relationship with the Lord. Imagine if you only spoke to your spouse or best friend once a week. The relationship would be distant and not one that you enjoyed very much. This is true when it comes to Jesus and we should seek him regularly with our praise, prayer requests, and questions. He is listening and eager to lead us.
Refuse to Worry. Philippians 4 encourages us to “not be anxious about anything” (v. 4). Our loving Savior is more than able to assist in every area of our lives. Truly believing this means you’ll have a life marked by faith and trust rather than fear. You’ll feel more peaceful, be more Christlike, and give him honor by trusting him rather than worrying.
Read the Bible. God has blessed us with Scripture that directs us, comforts us, encourages us, and so much more. Reading the Bible daily is essential to growth in him and having the ability to put all your trust and dependence on him. Like sheep, we quickly forget and need the assurance, reminders, and presence of our loving Shepherd. Those who feed on the Word each day are able to enjoy closeness with the Lord.
Trust Our Shepherd
Above all else, take heart because 1 Peter 5:4 reminds us “when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” We can rest in the One who is able to save us and is the Overseer of our souls. Jesus is more than able to handle anything we are struggling with. He never changes. He loves us unconditionally. A life that reflects absolute dependence on him will not only be a life of joy and peace but one that brings the Lord glory.
Kelly Cox is a professional writer and a blessed wife, mom, and homemaker from North Carolina.