It’s been about nine months since I started this blog, and I have yet to write about my initial vision for these posts. What is “The Modern Shepherd?” I mean, I titled my whole blog after this, and to this date I have yet to really touch on its meaning. Modern…. meaning contemporary, or current. And shepherd… a job that symbolizes leadership and is about as “un-modern” of an occupation as it gets. I wanted to create a blog that presented ideas about what attributes would make the ideal leader but for a year I’ve been silent on this probably because I was trying to figure out for myself what a leader does, or is.
Maybe it’s not really a particular skill-set that one can acquire that makes a leader. It’s a mind-set and a particular heart that will make someone successful. I believe that we are all called to be leaders in particular situations and in particular times. The questions we should be asking are “When and where will this opportunity present itself?” and “Will I be ready?”
These past two presidential elections, the term “relatable” has been thrown around more than I can recall in previous elections. Of course, I was much younger and less invested in them, but in a time of economic-turmoil and great struggles, the magnitude of the candidates’ relatability has taken precedence. How can an individual who never experienced scarcity and the day-to-day struggles of so many Americans properly lead this country filled with people living in those exact conditions? Or from the “glass is half-full” perspective, wouldn’t a leader who has been through these same struggles understand us and what we need more?
I am not trying to state that one party is greater than another, or one individual is greater than the other. On a side note, I would say that government is much more complex than appealing to the needs of one group and therefore relatability is not the sole reason for choosing a particular party or individual. But, rather this illustrates how we all look to a leader who understands us. We all want to be led by someone who shares in our pain, joy, struggles, and victories. We all believe in this ideal leader who completely understands us. We all believe in the Modern Shepherd.
It’s about being the leader you want others to be. Makes sense and it seems simple enough. Yet oftentimes, I find myself falling short here. Share in the happiness and struggles of the lives of your peers. Like a shepherd, be in the same field as your sheep. In each individual case this will look differently because the leadership itself looks different. Some environments are more formal than others. Some groups are larger than others and thus present you with more people to lead and invest in. Sometimes leadership is an informal relationship like being the friend or stronghold when a loved one is lost or life gets difficult. But no matter the scenario, there is a way to be relatable, engaging, in touch, and invested in others.
By no means am I good at being relatable. In the repetitive grind of school and extracurricular activities it is difficult to find the time to invest in others and just spend time with them. But I wonder what the world would look like if we all invested in others like this. What if we all were Modern Shepherds constantly looking out for those we lead?
As a wrap-up, four men experienced over 4 weeks what the lives of millions of Haitians had been for months at this point, in an attempt to understand how they can best help them. I think this captures relatability in its purest sense and sheds light on what leadership like this can do for others as well as ourselves.