Shepherds, Sheepdogs, and Sheep

Have we forgotten the role of the shepherd?


Going back to the early days of, you will find some thoughts and words expressed by some guest authors on the importance of being a “sheepdog” and guarding the “sheep.” Although there was no intent to make a value judgment, many leaders are drawn to the sheepdog when asked to describe themselves and given the choice between the two options.

But what about the shepherd?

Yeah, what about the shepherd? Where does he fit into all of this? My experience in animal husbandry was as a hired hand on a dairy farm back in the late 1970s. I don’t have a lot of experience with sheep. But this much I do know. It is the shepherd that leads the sheep. It is not the sheepdog. The sheepdog serves a vital function. The sheepdog is quick and agile and is able to run so much faster than the shepherd. But note that the sheepdog takes commands and directions from the shepherd and then goes out and performs them with great energy and efficiency.

Sheepdog Strengths

Many times the sheepdog acts without explicit direction from the shepherd. The sheepdog, having been trained by the shepherd, sees that the sheep that are wandering from the rest of the flock and will instinctively go and round them up. The sheepdog will jump into the fray and into the face of danger in order to protect the sheep from wild animals or predators.

Sheepdog Shortcomings

But the sheepdog does not survey the land and choose the path that the flock will take. The sheepdog cannot select the greenest pastures. Because the sheepdog’s diet is not the same as the sheep and therefore it cannot judge the quality of the grazing land. In fact, to be completely honest, the sheepdog could be completely content to eat one of the sheep that it guards. Just let that sink in for a second. These are just several shortcomings of the vaunted sheepdog.

Strengths of the Shepherd

So, what are the strengths of the shepherd?

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Manday: Two Men in the Lion’s Pit-Part Two


The pursuit of Biblical Manhood can be very elusive.  It can be like trying to excel at all the gifts of the Spirit.  Pile on top of that leadership imploring that you need accountability and mentoring just to survive until next Sunday.  Every proclivity is treated as an addiction and a week of spiritual rehab and repentance is needed, again, just to survive until next Sunday.  As being a Heralder of Men’s Accountability, I have had to take a deep breathe and try to simplify this whole process.

The Bible paints an amazing picture of accountability with the example of two men on a roof.  Recall King David alone on a roof when he should have been leading troops to war.  Instead, he lusted after a woman, slept with her, murdered her husband, and then tried to cover it up.  Another man lying on a mat, paralyzed, is carried onto a roof by four friends and lowered through the same roof to be healed by Jesus.  Amazing opposites.  Imagine how King David’s tale would have been different if he had four men advising him to be at war instead alone drooling over bathing women.  An amazing portrait of accountability.

I scoured the Bible to locate a portrayal similar to the two men on a roof that portrayed an example of Biblical manhood.  Over the years, I have noticed two camps in the church-a ‘gentle’ man and a ‘rough’ man.  I’ve heard the Jacob and Esau example used and it did not sit well with me because God loathed Esau.  Still I believe there are two kinds of men. Those that run toward danger and those that stay back and fortify the front. Both are needed and both fill our pews of our churches today. One is not better than the other.  God’s Word gives two examples of two different men that God chose to write about.  Both warriors entered a lion’s pit and lived to tell about it.

Many have heard about Daniel in the Lion’s Den.  Daniel was a slave so favored by King Darius he was chosen to govern the government. Details mattered to him. He was submissive to the authority he was under but he obeyed God’s law.  Daniel never lifted a spear or took a human life. But…Daniel was a prayer warrior on his knees.  He abided in God’s laws, not eating the Babylonian food, and choosing to pray despite a law forbidding him.  Daniel was thrown in to lion’s den as punishment for breaking that law but God protected him.  God shut the lions mouth shut and Daniel survived a night in a lion’s pit.

The other example is Benaiah.  In scripture, we read of a valiant warrior turning the tables and chasing a lion into a pit, and, then killing the large feline.  This man is different from Daniel but needed.  This man runs towards gunfire.  He is a warrior in a different manner.  He is a man of action with his physical nature.  He is a man that seizes opportunity. His hands are calloused and a hard days work for him is the soreness in his muscles.  This man is needed as a warrior.  And our pews are filled with this type of man.  He is a risk taker.  Ironically, he was King David’s head of Security.  Do you not think he knew David was on a roof by himself.  Hmmmm.

So which man are you?  Are you Benaiah or Daniel?

I think all of us have a traits of each.  As I posted last week-I am no gentleman.  You will tolerate a man like me because you sleep better at night knowing I hunt the lions you believe don’t exist.  My life resonates with Benaiah’s.  I hunt those lions.  But when I find myself surrounded or thrown into a lion pit will I have lived my life like Daniel to be spared the tearing of my spirit?

Simplified?  Maybe.  I just prefer these two men as examples of Biblical Manhood instead of Jacob and Esau.



Manday: The Lions That Don’t Exist Part One


On February 23, 2013, I posted an article about two men on a roof as part of my accountability series on Manday. To this day, I have been looking for ways to follow that up and continue my series on Manhood.  It has been a long journey since then.  It is no secret that at Leadership Voices there are different kinds of men that post to this website.  We come from different walks of life.  Some subscribe to the gentleman theory and some subscribe to the “kick in the door first-ask questions later” theory.  We stubbornly subscribe to these theories to a fault.  But ironically, we are great friends. And we are an encouragement to each other.

I am no gentleman.  You will tolerate a man like me because you sleep better at night knowing I hunt the lions you believe don’t exist.

I spent the past month in a class being taught how to investigate crimes against children.  The mental images that are imprinted in my memory still haunt me.  The Bible says Satan prowls like a “lion seeking who he may devour”. There are lions out there seeking to devour you, your wife, your finances, your job, and your health.  And if the lion claws, roar, and teeth can’t phase you and penetrate your comfort zone…it will hunt, seek, and destroy your children.

Lions don’t lick their prey to death.  Lions tear the flesh, break bones, then suck the marrow and life out of their prey.  Then they lick the sinews and blood off their fur.  They are happy like a child with ice cream all over their face.  But it’s not ice cream.  And it’s not a child.  It is a vicious animal who tears at its prey until it can be devoured.  Are you getting the picture?

Christians in Roman times were very familiar with this tragic portrait.  They were often thrown to the lions as halftime entertainment in the Coliseums between Gladiator battles.  So when Peter wrote that Satan is like a prowling lion; that imagery resonated with the early persecuted Christians.  Today, we don’t see the lions or we swat them away thinking they are an inconvenience and can be easily scheduled out of our lives.  Or we just change geography and the lions don’t exist anymore.

Lions don’t exist because we move to the suburbs.  We live in gated communities.  We can watch our property on our cell phones.  We have alarms on our houses and vehicle.  We can locate our children through GPS.  Even our motor vehicles will stop on a dime if we aren’t paying attention to the road in front of us.  If I live my life clean…I won’t see any hardship.  This clean Christian living is easy.

As leaders and men to your family, I caution you as Peter did to be alert and sober.  Always mindful, that you are a target for the enemy.  Be mindful of the lions outside your tent.  Be sober and alert.

(BTW-have you ever kicked in a door…it is an awesome feeling!)

Some Thoughts on Hemingway and Hunters

Some Thoughts on Hemingway and Hunters - 1Recently, there has been somewhat of an uproar over police officers embracing a quote from an essay written by Ernest Hemingway. The quote reads, “There is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter.” Many people seem to be frightened by an us versus them mentality that, without explanation, the quote seems to highlight. It has been said that it gives the appearance that police enjoy killing to those that do not truly understand the sheepdog mentality. Please allow me a few moments to explain it through the eyes of a veteran police officer/sheepdog/wolf hunter.

Although Hemingway was an avid hunter, you’ll note that at no point in the quote does Hemingway use the word killing. In fact, at no point in the essay does Hemingway mention killing a man. The majority of the essay is about fishing, hence the title “On the Blue Water.” The key point that people seem to take issue with is the word “hunt.” Merriam-Webster lists several definitions for the word. Here are a few:

  • to pursue with intent to capture
  • to search out
  • to attempt to find something

Some Thoughts on Hemingway and Hunters - 2In fact, Merriam-Webster uses the following as an example of the proper use of the word, “Police hunted the escaped prisoners through several states.” There are instances that the term is synonymous with killing, but when in modern times has that been the case in law enforcement? Even the media, which is so quick to attack our use of the quote, often reports that law enforcement officers are “hunting” for a suspect? Why then is it so shocking when we acknowledge that we are, in fact, hunting?

I suppose that it is because sometimes we are forced to kill.

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Captain America Never Existed


As we come out of Halloween filled with Superheroes and the determined pursuit of ones own self(ish) interest (trick or treating), I and few Americans look forward to a more hallowed day that has become a hollow day to the majority of Americans.

Veterans Day, the red headed step-child of its much cooler Father, Memorial Day (probably due to booze/bbq/and the Summer bikini) will come and go without much notice by the average American with the possible exception of the Post Office and a few banks here and there being closed.

It wasn’t always that way.  November 11th 1918, Veterans Day originally called Armistice Day originally celebrated and memorialized the Service of some twenty million American men sent abroad and away from home to fight “over there”, in the big war, in the war to end all wars.

We late 20th Century Americans sometimes forget that America wasn’t always the military steamroller it is today. World War I was for most of 1914 to the final German Spring Offensive of 1918, a really close call, I mean razor close. We didn’t know we were going to win as in all our military entanglements of the past forty years; it wasn’t a given or foregone conclusion.

And that’s where Americans came in, spurred on by calls of service, sacrifice and a good bit of jingoism, American young men by the hundreds of thousands, the millions left the farms, the factories, and the universities to fight over there. They did it because they were ordered, because they were threatened, because of selflessness and perhaps the raison d’être for military enlistments since the Greeks and Spartans.

Chicks love a man in uniform.  These men traveled by train and by ship across a sea they had never seen. These men traveled by train and by ship to a beach they had never been to. These men traveled by train and by ship to a land they had only read about in books if they could read at all. Mind you, this was the time that the average blue collar American never traveled more than twenty or thirty miles from their home in their entire lives because the plane was less than 15 years old.

These men, using grit and a farm boy work ethic charged the Hun and their Maxim guns and in short order, about a year and a half, finished a job the British and French were unable to complete. If World War I were a movie, it would be Star Wars-where a ragtag bunch of Farm Boys traveled to the other side of the Galaxy and came home with the big win.

Speaking of coming home, today we complain about being gone for a three-, six- or nine-month deployments. But back then, you kissed your sweetheart goodbye and didn’t come back until you were dead, missing a limb or got the job done. Today, less than 1% of Americans will serve in uniform in their lifetimes. Things have changed. Attitudes have changed.

Through Vietnam and into Present Day, we have forgotten what we can do for our country. We continuously ask with our outstretched hand, “What is our Country going to do for us?”

This became readily apparent after the events of September 11, 2001. I was in the Navy at the time and posted to the Arabian Gulf and as we occasionally got the chance to watch CNN, I was waiting, waiting, and waiting to see the lines and lines of young men in line at the Recruiting Stations to meet this new enemy on their own turf. It never materialized and that’s become the problem.

Captain America never existed.  SEAL Team Six can’t rescue us from everything and anything that comes down the pipe. Real life doesn’t work like that.


Today, there are 2 million Captain Americas in all shapes and sizes doing all manner of jobs daring and mundane and they leave the Service one way or another. They stand in Boardrooms and Classrooms and Street Corners, they rarely talk about their experiences whether it’s the challenge of feeding 5,000 servings of scrambled eggs every morning on an Aircraft Carrier for 6 months or surviving a bloody ambush in the streets of Sadr City.

Remember them and honor them in your own private way whether it’s a handshake or a door hold or a tip of the hat to the old timers that wear their Korean Veteran trucker Hats with 60 shiny pins going through them displaying every facet of their lives as fighting men.

The greatest gift we can give our Veterans and our children is to teach our children that Captain America never existed. There is no Super Soldier that we can call on in a time of war. Everyone that has ever worn the uniform, heard the jets exhaust, witnessed rounds crack overhead, and seen peoples bodies turned inside out owns a small tiny piece of that Red, White, and Blue Uniform. They deserve a small sliver of that Red, White, and Blue Shield.

Captain America never existed but every year several hundred thousand young men and women, not old enough to drink a beer, line up at Airports the same way their predecessors lined up at train stations to take the challenge of doing something for their country. They line up like their predecessors to take a journey that has an unknown fate and unforeseen outcome asking not what their Country can do for them but what they can do for their Country.

This Veterans Day, if you want to thank a Veteran, buy them a donut or a cup of coffee.  Noticing and acknowledging their Disabled Veteran License Plates or their Vietnam Sticker, is nice and all.

But if you really want to honor a Veteran, join the fight yourself, grab a rifle, a shovel or a spatula and do your part overseas to keep America safe.  If you are too old or missed your chance, have an honest conversation with your children or a young person about service and sacrifice and what they can do for their Country.

David T.  11/11/2013

Manday: Hemingway Quote

Our own Billy wrote an amazing article based on Col Grossman’s evaluation of the three types of people. Billy’s Sheepdog article is one of the most popular articles at Leadership Voices.  I am a Police Officer.  I consider myself a Sheepdog. I hunt things that go bump in the night.  While you sleep, we, sheepdogs, own the night.

There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter. -Ernest Hemingway

Recently, I ran across the Hemingway quote emblazoned on the back of a t-shirt designed for Law Enforcement personnel.   The shirt is produced by Certified Wolf Hunter.  I thought I would share it with the leadership blogoshpere.


Billy and I had a discussion about this…with our leader Kevin stirring it up.

So are you a Sheepdog…or a Wolf Hunter?



The Modern Sheepdog

In today’s society there are typically three (3) types of people, there are sheep, there are wolves and there are sheepdogs.

All 3Most of the people in our society are sheep, they are kind, gentle, productive souls who are truly only able to hurt each other by accident.  Occasionally they will be provoked into hurting one another under extreme circumstances, but the vast majority of these crimes are committed by a very small element of society based on the total number of citizens.

I mean no offense by calling the majority of population “sheep”, but I compare it to the pretty blue robin’s egg, or the vibrant green butterfly cocoon.  Without the firmness, rigidity and protection of these hard outer layers, the beautifulness would never be able to flourish.

If we have sheep, (the good) we must have wolves, (the evil). There are people in this world with evil in their hearts, who want nothing more than to feed on the sheep, they are the wolves. They are capable of evil deeds, they will descend on the flock without mercy, and the moment you turn your back or pretend they don’t exist, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

If you have no capacity for violence, and are a productive member of society, then you are a sheep, if you have a capacity for violence and no compassion or empathy for your fellow man, you are a wolf, but what if you have compassion and love for your fellow man, you are a productive member of society but you have developed a capacity for violence?

Then there are the sheepdogs.  The real issue with sheepdogs is they look a lot like the wolves, so the sheep tend to keep their distance.  They have fangs and a capacity for violence and do not fear the wolves. The difference however is a Sheepdog, either by design, by will or by shear understanding of their position will not and must not ever hurt a sheep.  If a sheepdog ever was to hurt the tiniest of little lambs, he must be punished and removed.

The sheepdog disturbs the sheep, he asks questions, and enforces rules and trains in ways that disturbs the lives of the sheep.  The sheep don’t always like the sheepdog because he is a constant reminder of the wolves lurking nearby.  The sheep don’t like it up to the point where the wolf shows up.  Then the entire flock expects to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

Please know there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog, it is simply a choice.  They are typically the people that are willing to work late, they are the ones who volunteer.  You can usually find them out on the perimeter sniffing the breeze, barking loudly at things that go bump in the night.

Here is how the sheep and sheepdog think differently; recently there was a horrible shooting at a certain movie theatre in Colorado.  The sheep are all thankful they were not in that theatre and had to witness the terrible things that went on there.  The sheepdogs, while praying for peace for the families that were affected, wish that they had been there, as maybe they could have made a difference.

Some people may be destined to be sheep, and others may be genetically predetermined to be wolves or sheepdogs, but I believe most people can choose which one they want to be, and I am proud to say I strive every day to provide the best protection I can to my flock.  Be a sheepdog.

The Modern Sheepdog Concept,. Interpreted by Billy Long, originally by Lt. Col Dave Grossman, US Army Special Forces (RET) as told to US Navy Special Warfare Group 10 in 1990.