Sheep Among Wolves… Or Wolves Among Sheep?

Perhaps one of the greatest dangers we face as leaders in the church is failing to recognize the wolves from the sheep.

Jesus warned us that we’d encounter wolves- those who see the sheep as a source of personal gain. But how we handle them can be a matter of spiritual life and death for those we lead.

Jesus said,

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matthew 7:15

The trick here is to look past the outward to the inward because outwardly they look like sheep. In this case they’re prophets, albeit false ones. We need discernment. We need to be prayerful. And we need to keep an eye on the fruit of people’s lives, especially when it comes to how they relate to the “sheep”… God’s people.

  • Do they exert their influence to feel powerful?
  • Do they see people like a business opportunity?
  • Do they take advantage of vulnerable people?
  • Do they manipulate those who trust them?
  • Do their words and actions truly align?

Jesus forewarned us so we need to be on guard. “I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.” Acts20:29

But if we’re honest with ourselves as leaders, the wolf isn’t always ‘out there’ somewhere… we can allow things like agendas, selfishness, greed and anger to grow in our own hearts, and slowly become a wolf inside. Yet Jesus calls us to become quite the opposite. Instead of being wolves among the sheep here’s what he calls us to:

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Mt10:16

That sounds like a suicide mission! Naturally speaking, sheep have no chance against wolves. So Jesus tells them to be shrewd and innocent at the same time… so we use great wisdom, and we keep our hearts pure. I also believe the inference here is that we don’t need to defend ourselves, because God Himself is our defender.

So what are we as leaders? Sheep among wolves, or wolves among sheep?

Both look like sheep on the surface but their mission and motive are completely opposite. Motive is everything in leadership. It doesn’t just matter what you do, it matters why you do it!

  • When we do the right things for the right reasons we experience the blessing of God in so many ways.
  • When we do the wrong things for the right reasons we often experience pain or consequences, but you can also find that pure motives go a long way toward people giving you grace when you make innocent mistakes.
  • But when you do the right things for the wrong reasons you’re like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And every wolf knows how to do good things, say good things and act like a good person until they see their chance to pounce.

It’s a sobering reality that in the end we’ll be judged not only for our actions, but also for our motives.

Oh Holy Spirit, help me confront the wolf in me.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Ps51:10

Help spread the word: