Feed My Sheep

December 15, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 11:16 pm   Category: Feed My Sheep,Scriptures

I like the idea of writing posts in the series. I’ve tried on several occasions. The problem is that after the first post or two, I usually lose interest and the series peters out. Well I’m going to try it again with this “Feed My Sheep” series.

One feature I have recently added to the Thang is categorization of my posts. You’ll notice that under the title of every post there is list of the categories in which the post fits. If you are interested in posts on Eternal Progression then just click on that category and all the posts discussing that will pop up together. I think it’s a pretty nifty feature. I’ve given this miniseries its own sub-category as well.

So to get started, let’s look at the injunction from the Lord to feed his sheep:

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21: 15-17)

In the series of posts to follow I will discuss the following questions:

a. Who: Just exactly who are the Lord’s sheep? Who is not the Lord’s sheep? How can we tell the difference (about ourselves as well as others…)?
b. What: What are we supposed to feed his sheep when we figure out who they are? What is the sheep food?
c. How: How do we actually go about doing that sheep feeding? What are the best sheep feeding strategies?

Sheep and Shepherds

In this post I want address the interplay between sheep and shepherds in the gospel. It seems that half of the time we are being told to be shepherds and to feed Christ’s sheep, and the other half of the time we are being asked to be the sheep of the Good Shepherd. So which is it? Are we supposed to be sheep or are we supposed to be shepherds? Apparently we are supposed to be both.

The Sheep Role

It seems to me that playing the role of sheep mostly requires having some faith in Christ and seeking to hear his voice (we’ll discuss this in detail in the next post) . In any town in the US a person can find a church that requires little more from its members than to show up for an hour or so on Sunday for church and occasionally donate when the plate gets passed. The role of sheep is largely the role of the one being fed; it is the role the recipient; it is the role of taker. But being a sheep is a gospel requirement. Christ insists that we be his sheep and take that which he freely has to offer us as our shepherd and through his under shepherds.

The Shepherd Role

If becoming like Christ and strengthening our personal relationship with him requires being a shepherd then Mormonism provides its members with a leg up in being Christ-like. With our lay ministry and the visiting programs and other assignments members receive in the church, we Mormons spend a lot of time attempting to feed the Lord’s sheep in official capacities. And when you combine that with the time and effort many Mormons spend trying to feed Christ’s sheep in unofficial ways we tend to be relatively good at the sheep-feeding portion of following Christ.

That must be a good thing…

Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation. (Lectures on Faith, Lecture 6)

So we are asked to be shepherds and to be sheep. If that seems odd to you let me remind you that that our great Exemplar, the Good Shepherd, is also The Lamb of God.


  1. Nice Post Geoff. I sometimes like to think of going from sheep to being shepards as part of our progression in this life. There comes a time when we need to contribute to the knigdom instead of just benefiting from it.

    I remember teaching a lesson on this in EQ and one of the men really didn’t like being referred to as sheep. He viewed this as an insult.

    Your comment about churches that require almost nothing of it’s members is addressed in a recent post I made. I look forward to following your series.

    Comment by Eric — December 16, 2005 @ 6:36 am

  2. Thanks for the link Eric — good illustration of the point that these things happen in a progression. Still, while we progress from the role of sheep to the role of shepherd, the scriptures seems to make it pretty clear that we must never stop being a sheep (just as Christ never gave up that role). There is no question that being called “sheep” is tantamount to being called lemmings in the world today though.

    Comment by Geoff J — December 16, 2005 @ 8:37 am

  3. I also posted on the nature of shepherds and hirelings here.

    Comment by Jeffrey Giliam — December 16, 2005 @ 9:39 am

  4. In a real herd of sheep, some of the sheep take the responsibility of leading smaller groups and making sure everybody stays with the big group. I think that’s what we’re supposed to do.

    Comment by Ariel — December 16, 2005 @ 11:25 am

  5. I haven’t posted on sheep or shepards before. Understanding what a shepard was like in Christ’s day and how sheep were treated and how the sheep acted (compared with sheep raising today) is very helpful in understanding the meaning of Christ’s message.

    I’ve never given much thought to Christ being both the shepard and the lamb…interesting…thanks.

    Comment by don — December 16, 2005 @ 11:36 am

  6. Well, I feel rather sheepish on a regular basis, so I guess I “herd” what you are saying. Bad grammar and bad puns though they are . . .

    In some ways I can’t ever imagine becoming a shepherd, but in others, I can maybe see: the stewardship I have over the rearing of my daughter, the awesome and humbling responsibility of that, is a shepherdship; also, while I am not a mental health professional or expert, I feel very strongly that if I can somehow communicate, express, describe what it is like to be mentally ill in a way that increases the understanding of others, that in a way, that is kind of a shepherdship, to lead anyone who wants to try to understand, towards a greater understanding of and compassion towards those who suffer from mental illness.

    Sort of. Not sure I explained that right. I don’t see myself as an instructor, but more of a, if I can convey something that is helpful, that is illustrative, that is informative, that can increase understanding of these things, then that is one way I can find some kind of purpose in my suffering.

    Anyway, I think education, both formalized, and life-experience, can kind of lead one to a sort of shepherdship, especially when situations and people come up in life, that their needs seem to sort of fit how they are interacting with you, and with what you KNOW from either type of education, that can help them.

    I’m probably confusing you all, but now that I’m in my 30’s (almost 34, eeeeee!), I have enough life behind me now, just, to see that there have been people who come into my life and somehow are just what I needed at that time in my life, and that there may perhaps be where other people have come into my life and discovered that there was something useful I could be and do for them.

    Anyway, just kind of what I was pondering on shephership.

    I still feel so small, so “young” in terms of capability, that I can’t see myself ever growing to shepherdhood (shepherdesshood?), but then I guess I already am, with my daughter. Especially with trying to navigate her special needs, and realizing that some of the crap I went through as a child is finally coming clear to me that it helped me become the person who is most perfectly suited to parent a child such as mine.

    Anyway, sorry to ramble on so! Thought-provoking indeed.

    Comment by sarebear — December 16, 2005 @ 3:20 pm

  7. It might be a little or very late to comment on the feed my sheep issue and this might be a little off the subject but I’ll go with it anyhow. I am not a shepherd. At least not in the sense that you are using the term. I am an old ewe who has in the past had to receive help from the church. I am not knocking the Welfare system. I think it is a wonderful that the church has helped so many people all over the world. I will not elaberate on the subject. I am sure you are aware of all that has been done and will continue to be done.
    I know I am going to step on some ones toes with this one but the subject that I would like to touch on is the quality of the food that one can get at the Bishops store house. Granted you will not starve to death and as I said to my bishop “I guess beggars can’t be choosers” but I do wish the quality could be better. I cooked a pot roast all day and still could not chew it. I’ve seen the herds of fat shinny cattle on the ranch here. Who gets the steaks and sirloins? I can tell you it is not the bishops store house. I only hope I will not need help again. Enough said. You get the point.

    Comment by Ruth — June 26, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

  8. My guess is that you are a shepherd in one way or another, Ruth. Anyone who has any children or family at all or any assignment in church has some kind of shepherding role after all.

    BTW – I hope you won’t need storehouse help again too.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 26, 2006 @ 1:41 pm

  9. No doubt they are in high demand. I had a bishop who would know – I don’t think there is some grand conspiracy here.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 26, 2006 @ 11:49 pm

  10. this website is is posting some of the most interesting things about Shepards and sheep and I thought to share with you this site….www.thedaiylily.com…your site and their site have soooo much in common you should check it out….and I have to say I had never stopped to think about Jesus being the Lamb in this light before……thanks for making me think….

    Comment by DailyLily — April 29, 2008 @ 6:41 am