Every day, my mail box has a smattering of the notices.  I’m being followed.  Again.  And, then again.

I glance at the messages and click the button to relegate them to their proper domain.  Twitter.

I don’t understand Twitter.  I tweet a message and hope it will be noticed by my followers.  It rarely is.  On those rare occasions when someone likes a tweet or perhaps even retweets it, the result is short-lived.  If they’re actually following, they’re not following far.

I’ve finally figured out my problem—I’m not an influencer.  I didn’t realize until just a few days ago that I needed—or even wanted—to be.  Now I want it so badly I can almost taste it.

Influencer.  The description often follows the twitter handle—the name by which one is known in that strange social universe.  I’m not sure how one gains the title, but I want it.  The title carries weight; it has gravitas.

I don’t have gravitas.

I want to be an influencer.  Followers would actually follow.  People would value my input.  My opinions would matter.  I could make a difference.

Alas.  Influencer is not in my resumé.  Not on Twitter, anyway.

But, I’m wondering tonight—am I an influencer already?  Maybe the Twitter universe isn’t the only place that matters.

I came across a poem the other day which used a word I thought I didn’t know.  The poem spoke of a flock of sheep following one specific sheep home to where food and shelter lay waiting.  It called that one sheep a wether.

A wether?  What’s that? I searched my memory.  Wait!  No, it couldn’t be.  I’ve heard of a bellwether.  I wonder if it has anything to do with that?

BellwetherSure enough, the wether is a neutered sheep, usually an older one, that the shepherd trusts to lead the other sheep. Out to the fields where sweet pasture is to be found—then, back home again to safety and rest. The bell goes around its neck to let the shepherd find the flock any time they are on the move.  Bell—wether.

Ah.  The light comes on.  A bellwether is an influencer.  An influencer.

I want to be a bellwether.

But—and there is always a but—I’m wondering about a couple of little issues.  Well, just one actually.  And, of necessity, this part of the discussion may be a little earthy, perhaps even crude.  It must be.

You see, the wether is neutered.  Always.  A high price, one might think, for the privilege of leading the flock with a bell around one’s neck.  The fact is, the shepherd will not trust a ram with the flock.  Rams tend to be a bit self-centered, intent on doing what male sheep do.

Leaving for the moment, the earthy part of this discussion, one might wonder how it enters into the conversation at all.  We’re not, after all, going to be physically, nor even emotionally, neutered in our quest to be leaders or influencers.  

What is the point?

Simply put, in order to lead, to influence, without doing so in a self-serving and self-aggrandizing way, we will have to make a conscious decision to fulfill the role of the bellwether.  

In our case, there can be no consideration of taking advantage of those who follow or are influenced. We don’t get to personally advance our station or reputation as we serve.

Let this mind be in you then, which was in your Shepherd, who gave up His right to the green pastures of His Father’s land, to come and be one of you, going so far as to be slaughtered in your place.  (Philippians 2:5-8)  Sorry, the words are a little mangled, but you will see the meaning is nearly unchanged.

Our Savior, the Shepherd we follow, specifically and with purpose, gave up His claim to all rights and privileges so that He might lead us into His sheepfold.

How do we dare attempt to influence His people with any less assurance of selfless intent?

How could we even think that any person who is led by our influence might be called our follower, and not His?

If I want to influence, if I want to lead for Him, it will be on His terms.  

Not mine.

We don’t like to talk about this.  Our service requires the end to our self-centered plans, our platforms, our brands.  

And the Shepherd said, If any man wants to be my follower, he will deny himself, taking up his  own cross daily, and actually follow me.  (Luke 9:23)

Whoa!  I have to wear the bell.  And, I have to fulfill my calling with no intent on my part to benefit from it.

It is what He did.

I think I might be willing to wear the bell for awhile.



Perhaps someday.

Meanwhile, we all still follow the Shepherd—and He still leads us to good places.

Time to head for green pastures—maybe even some still waters.

You’re coming too, aren’t you?





My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 
(John 10:27 ~ ASV)


Every one comes between men’s souls and God, either as a brick wall or as a bridge. Either you are leading men to God or you are driving them away.
(Canon Lindsey Dewar DD ~ Scottish Rector)




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Bellwether

  1. Funny thing about Facebook. Many people read who never like or comment, but may be influenced nonetheless by a post. When I write and post a photograph, I release the gift with a prayer, “Glorify God and bless the viewer.” I trust that happens whether I receive feedback or not.

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