Know Thy Sheep

Image result for the good shepherd

Core scripture: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:14-15)

Message: I knew it was that time.  Bet you have, too.  Those moments when you just know something is up.  Rumblings of thunder in the classroom get louder as unruly behavior starts to escalate.  Then you’ll get those flashes of lightning, those quick bursts of kids pushing your buttons.  For me it is the grinding of my pencil sharpener.  Sometimes I think they hold the pencil there loosely just to grind my patience.  You look outside to see if it is a full moon day.

It’s not.

It’s just the aftershock of 3rd quarter—that quarter that can never seem to find a rhythm.  Do you feel me?  How do we get past these difficult times?  We must take a step out of our own shoes and attempt to slide into the shoes of a student.  Get to know them.  Find the root of their problems.  Be understanding, and know that the things you are seeing are certainly not done on purpose.  They are just a spillover of the stresses affecting your students’ lives.

Every class period my students write a sentence or two on their bell work.  I knew I had to be intentional here, so I flat out asked them what was stressing them out.  Many said school.  Friendships.  Trouble at home.  Relationships.  The straight A kiddoes felt pressure to perform, and the thespians were anxious about their upcoming performance.  And of course the cheerleaders and dance team members had anxiety about the pep assembly.

It was something different for each kid.

Sure, some of them didn’t open up too much; however, there were others who poured out their hearts.  I laughed at some of their comments.  What … THAT is stressing you out?  WHY?  Let those thoughts dissolve away.  Be sympathetic.  Encourage them.  I wrote little comments next to their stresses like Hang in there! or Don’t let those immature boys bring you down.  I actually had two boys thank me for asking.  Did you hear that?  BOYS!

We are all shepherds of many sheep.  What did Jesus say about the lost sheep in Matthew 18?  For that one that gets away, the good shepherd will go out and find it.  He protects his sheep.  Jesus even went to the extent of saying he would lay his life down for his sheep (John 10:15).  He does this by knowing each one of them intimately.

We should do likewise.

Ask your students about their lives.  Have them tell you about the events of their weekends.  Celebrate the excitements they have.  Empathize with the pain they share.  Use that as an opportunity to tell a quick story to illustrate a point.  I have even gone as far as playing a song about forgiveness, encouraging two best friends to forgive one another.  It took five minutes to play the song and discuss it briefly, but it was worth it.

Our God knows us so well that He can count every single hair on our heads (Luke 12:7).  God knows everything about us; He even knows the intentions of our hearts (Proverbs 21:2).  We may not have that power, but we have the power to show we care.  Get to know your sheep this week through sincere, deliberate caring for them.  Believe me, they will have no choice but to begin to fall in line.

Scripture: Read Matthew 18:12-14 and John 10:11-18.  How does Jesus use the analogy of a shepherd taking care of sheep to compare to God’s love for us?  How can we use this as a roadmap on showing authentic love for our students?

Challenge: Make it a goal to get to know your students this week.  Find out what is making them tick.  Ask them about their stresses.  Encourage them in their trials.  Give them suggestions on how to tackle life.  Prepare them intentionally for the next day, showing an authentic and genuine caring for each and every one of them.

Song application: “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury

Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

Prayer: Father, help me to get to know my lost sheep better.  Allow your infinite knowledge to guide me in taking care of them.  Amen.

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