What do you think of these two characters that you will regularly meet at work?
The first has the ability to notice your strengths and help you use them. He or she understands your weaknesses and tries to compensate or even cover your back. He predicts your needs and supports you in your project. He invites you to share in challenging and productive work. This person could be your manager, your coworker or your assistant, but whatever their role it involves a high level of trust and awareness.
The second character often leaves you or others discouraged, feeling defeated or in some cases in tears. He or she can manage to say something which is so insensitive and inappropriate that it leaves you astonished. He might forget your name or ignore you when you are present. He might not give you credit for good work nor notice your struggles. Worse, he or she may be almost oblivious to the damage done by thoughtless actions. They might give you grief but they will not give you time.
The difference in these characters is multifaceted but the issue is not so mysterious. The first, positive, character knows you and the second does not. Everybody wants to be known and understood. To be starved of such nutrients shrivels the soul.
But there is another dynamic at work here which is a precursor to such nourishment. See what you think.
The Son of Man described himself as The Good Shepherd. He then explains that he knows his sheep (and they know him).
Where does this begin? I suggest to you, that it starts with the Son of Man knowing himself. Because he is clear about the, I AM, he is able to know and be known.
What is the difference between the affirming character and the toxic one at the beginning of this piece? The first one knows himself or herself and the second one does not.
The Good Shepherd that Jesus describes knows himself perfectly well. It is because he is in touch with who he is at an exquisitely profound level that he can touch us in our deepest beings, in other words, he can know us. Similarly, because he knows who he is, he can accurately reveal who he is, so we can know him.
Take it up even further. Jesus explains that this knowledge is; “Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father”.
Remember, Jesus described this relationship as being one. He and the Father are one. Here is the model and the power. Because Jesus is so at one with himself he can invite you into that oneness.
This Good Shepherd is not just offering you a casual acquaintance, but oneness.
The more you reflect on that the more you will see that he is inviting you onto a journey whereby you become one with yourself as he did, one with the Father as he is. He is inviting you to be known and to know.
But don’t stop there. This journey is one which will enable you to be nourishing rather than toxic. It will empower you to be the first character at work, not the second.
Now ask yourself how good is it to feel known, understood, supported and encouraged? How good is it to be at one with who you are and be able to nourish others, bringing out the best in you and in them? How good is it to be connected to God all the time in all that you do? How good is it that Jesus will do whatever it takes, even laying down his life, to make this happen? Is that good or what?
That’s why the Son of Man uses the word good when he says, “I Am the Good Shepherd”.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.
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