Before we begin on this journey of “Smite the Shepherd” we need to define some words so that we can all remain on the same page. The first word is an old school expression that surprisingly has a double meaning. The word is Smite:
1. To hit somebody or something hard: to hit somebody or something with a hard blow.
2. To affect or afflict somebody: to affect somebody strongly or disastrously, or afflict somebody with something.
3. To fill somebody with love: to fill somebody with love or longing.
Although filling people with love is a very good thing, today we will be focusing on the other definitions, which are incidentally closer to the Old and New Testament meanings. Unfortunately, to hit somebody or something with a hard blow or to affect somebody strongly or disastrously is the direction this topic is headed in. So keep the word “Smite” in mind while we move on to the next definition which is Shepherd:
1. Somebody tending sheep: somebody who looks after sheep
2. Somebody providing guidance: somebody who is responsible for caring for and guiding a group of people, especially a religious minister
Being a shepherd is a large responsibility and calls for one who is not only caring, but is also able to guide others. This however does not come naturally, it has to be taught; and if not taught properly the shepherd could cause more harm than good.
I guess if placed in modern terms this topic could read, “Attacking the fathers,” or “Eliminating the men.” Presently, I am surrounded by at least 1300 men every day, young and old, educated, uneducated, black, white, and others; they all have the potential to be Shepherds. Some are fathers, all are sons; and some, regardless of age, are still in transition from adolescence into manhood. Some have grown to be father figures in an environment filled with men who grew up without a caring shepherd to guide them through some of the toughest times in their lives.
Never underestimate the value of good guidance. Without it, an entire flock of sheep would most likely starve and die of thirst. It is also needful that the members of the flock understand that their lives depend upon how well they listen and obey their leader. When looking around this prison I see flocks of men, young, old, educated, uneducated, black, white, and others, which are thirsting and starving for something.
Statistics report that one of the most common denominators among prisoners is that they grow up without a father. Some say that this is the leading reason that the United States of America has the highest incarceration rate on the planet. Even though most become a statistic, it was not the intention of all for their children to become statistics; but without the proper guidance how could this be avoided? Most grow up in a single parent home absent of a father’s guidance; and in turn become fathers that create a home absent of a father’s guidance. I wonder how far this cycle extends back into these family trees. The Bible states in part that when you smite the shepherd, the flock will flee. In other words, take out the stability of the father and the children will stumble.
Taking out the father burdens the mother. I applaud strong mothers. If not for them, then all would be lost; however, they were never meant to do this alone. In too many families, children are having children and our sons and daughters are making bad decisions that lead them into the claws of addiction, abuse, and incarceration. “The cycle must be broken!” Having a father in your life to encourage and believe in you can make a tremendous difference for a child.
Has your father been struck down? Are you a shepherd that has been struck down? Have you been victimized because there was no father there to teach and protect you? Have unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness, and shame found a place to fester in your heart? No matter what condition you are in, you are not alone. You can be restored.
I discovered that when a biological father fails, I have a heavenly Father who will never fail me. It is not by mistake that Jesus called himself, “The Good Shepherd.” He states that, “The good shepherd gives his life for his sheep.” It is never too late to change and as a good father, I will give up my life and or life style for my children. Just because we fall doesn’t mean we have to stay down and I refuse to stay down. Even though I failed my children in the past, there is help I can offer right now.
Today, I encourage all those affected by fatherlessness either as a child or as an adult: “Never give up!” There is a good reason that God presents Himself as our Heavenly Father and is concerned about the fatherless. There are at least twenty verses in the Bible where those that are fatherless are remembered by the Lord. When a biological father is absent for whatever reason, I have been sent to announce, “You have a Father in the Lord.”
In closing, I would remind you that the effectiveness of any father in your life is based on your ability and willingness to obey his guidance and it is no different with a Heavenly Father. The time has come for you to commit to breaking the cycle. Search out God’s guidance in your life, practice forgiveness toward your father, and take responsibility for your own actions.