The Shepherd's Voice

By: Nelson Kidder

Jesus, “that great Shepherd of the sheep,” (Heb. 13:20) said in John 10:4-5 about a shepherd, “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

As a newly appointed elder (shepherd) of this congregation, I plan to write blogs or articles for our webpage regularly. I know I speak for my fellow elders when I say that we truly desire for the flock at Versailles to hear and know the voice of their shepherds.

In my blogs, I hope to share with you some of the many lessons I learned from my Grandfather Kidder, who was a shepherd, or a keeper of Merino sheep. On his farm in eastern Ohio, “Granddad” kept a flock of about 40 to 50 ewes, and one ram, or buck sheep. I loved to spend time on that farm during my boyhood summers, helping with various chores, and watching Granddad tend his sheep.

One thing that always fascinated me was Granddad’s call. In his distinctive, rhythmic voice, he would call out, “Sheepy, sheepy, sheepy.” And every sheep in that flock would immediately stop grazing and start walking toward Granddad. As he walked before them, leading, they would all follow him. If any lagged behind, another call from him would have them hurrying to catch up. I have seen Granddad walk through the pasture, saying nothing. All the sheep would continue grazing, without paying him much attention. But as soon as he called, all his sheep followed that voice.

As a boy, I thought that was so neat! I wanted those sheep to come when “I” called them. I remember going out behind the barn so Granddad and Grandma couldn’t hear me, and practicing “my sheep call.” I thought, “Wow, I sound just like Granddad!” I was sure those sheep would follow “me” now.

So off to the pasture I went. In my “best sheep-calling” voice, I chanted, “Sheepy, sheepy, sheepy!” Well, at my first call, all the sheep stopping grazing, and turned and looked at me. “Ah”, I thought. So I called a second time. And honestly, every sheep started moving AWAY from me, in a rather quick pace for sheep! They just would not follow the voice of this stranger! Rather, they fled from me.

I did not really know or appreciate John 10:4-5 then. Now, I do! Jesus truly understood sheep! And that “great Shepherd of the sheep” truly knows and understands us. “We are His people, and the sheep of his pasture.” (Ps. 100:3) Don’t follow the voice of a stranger. There really can be “stranger danger” for Christ’s flock.