I heard about a preacher who went into children’s church to talk to the children about Psalm 23. He told the children about sheep, that they weren't smart and needed lots of guidance, and that a shepherd's job was to stay close to the sheep, protect them from wild animals and keep them from wandering off and doing dumb things that would get them hurt or killed.
He pointed to the children in the room and said that they were the sheep and needed lots of guidance. Then the minister said, "If you are the sheep, then who is the shepherd?" He was obviously indicating himself.
There was a silence for a few seconds. Then one of the children said, “Jesus. Jesus is the shepherd.”
The minister was obviously caught by surprise and said to the boy, "Well, then, who am I?"
The little boy thought for a moment and then he said with a shrug, "I guess you must be a sheep dog."
That’s not a bad answer! I know that the Bible refers to the elders in the church as "pastors" (shepherds), so it's fully appropriate to refer to them in that way. But Peter referred to Jesus as the "Chief Shepherd" (I Peter 5:4) so as to draw a sharp distinction between Him and the other shepherds of the church. But I also like this idea of our spiritual leaders being "sheep dogs" because it pictures both their role of watching over the sheep and their role of submission to the Chief Shepherd, ready to follow His every command.
If you are a pastor, I hope you connect with the concept of the sheep dog. If you're one of the flock, I hope that you will "obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account." (Hebrews 13:17). And may we all take comfort in our Shepherd who watches over us and provides all that we need (and so much more!).
In his book, "I Shall Not Want", Robert Ketchum tells about a Sunday school teacher who asked her group of children if any of them could quote the entire twenty-third psalm. A little 4-year-old girl raised her hand.
The little girl came to the front of the class, and she said: “The Lord is my shepherd, that's all I want.” Then she bowed and sat down. She may have overlooked a few verses, but that little girl captured David's heart in Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd, that's all I want.”