When God promises us peace, he doesn’t mean that he will make all our problems go away. In fact, when Jesus told his disciples that he was giving them his peace, he also said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Effective sheep listen.
The habits of highly effective sheep
Bible teacher, counselor and random writer.
As we read through the gospels, we find that there are times when Jesus makes a claim about Himself but then also goes on to call those that follow him to live up to that claim themselves. One example is when Jesus says “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) but also goes on to say to those following Him “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). We find that these characteristics that defined His life on earth are transferred to those that follow him. One of the best depictions of Jesus is as a shepherd. He says in John 10 that He is the good shepherd. He goes on to say in verse 27 of that chapter that His sheep hear His voice and listen. Again, this aspect of Jesus’s life is transferred to those whom He placed as leaders of the faith movement that had begun. He tells Peter to “feed my sheep” (John 21: 15-17). This same Peter then writes and encourages church leaders to be accountable shepherds of God’s great flock (1 Peter 5:1-4). But then Peter goes on in that chapter to exhort the church members to listen to their leaders and to be submissive.
Effective and healthy sheep / followers of Christ are those that listen well. They listen to God in prayer rather than having a prayer life that is filled with their own voice, words, ideas and opinions on how life and the world ought to be like. The Psalmist records for us the idea of being still and knowing that the Lord is God (Psalm 46:10); and Elijah finds that God’s presence is in the gentle whisper rather than all the noise that preceded it (1 Kings 19). So it is with us also, that if we want to be effective sheep and follow well, we need to train our ears and lives and to posture our hearts in a way that we can listen well to God’s voice.
Effective and healthy sheep / followers of Christ also listen well to the shepherds that the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, has placed over them. These shepherds are charged with feeding the community of God with the Word of God and they will be held accountable for this task. Healthy sheep make the most of the all the avenues that God has given them to grow their faith and to be effective. One of those avenues is to sit under the teaching of God’s word which is what the Sunday morning Church experience is primarily about. Another avenue is to find and enjoy a mentor / shepherd in your life who pushes you to be better in your obedience to the word and to a better reflection of Christ in your life. This again is a shepherd over you. Effective sheep run toward accountability rather than from it. It is within these shepherd-sheep relationships that effective sheep grow strong and mature in a godly way. It is vital therefore that effective sheep listen well to those who teach the Word of God.
But when it comes to listening and listening well, James teaches us in his letter that listening well is about more than just hearing. Listening well is about hearing, understanding and applying. It is in the application of what we heard that we show that we have truly heard or listened. It is only in this manner of truly listening that sheep/followers of Jesus grow. It is in their consistent growing that they are effective sheep.