God has created many animals and species. Why would He liken us to sheep? Sheep have many characteristics that are similar to mankind. Just to name a few, they display an arguable lack of intelligence. They are directionless, restless, needy, and sensitive.
Lack of Intelligence
Sheep are not known to be smart or cunning animals when it comes to safety. Rather, they are susceptible, and they tend to wander away from the protection of the shepherd. People are not inherently unintelligent, but they do tend to wander away from God, and from everything that is right and holy.
Sheep get lost easily, and so it is with those outside of the Lord. There is simply no sense of spiritual direction in their lives. They cannot find their way to the Lord by themselves.
Sheep become restless because of hunger. They become restless when food is scarce. An individual who hasn’t eaten after a period of time becomes anxious and oftentimes disgruntled; it is difficult and cumbersome to communicate with people who are unsettled because of hunger. Individuals become spiritually hungry when the word of God is lacking.
Sheep need someone to protect them. They must stay close to the shepherd. People are spiritually weak, and they need THE Shepherd to care for them.
Sheep respond to and follow the shepherd’s voice. The voice of the shepherd brings comfort and security to the sheep. Individuals may never have a complete understanding of their circumstances, but they will understand the love of God and the importance of following him.
One can identify with each of these traits. Some may think that children are the only ones who are needy, but the state of necessity is no respecter of person. Whether one is a Christian or not, people have the tendency to lack the understanding required to adapt to their environments or circumstances, and are generally in need of someone to instruct or give guidance in life. Everyone needs to be protected from outside dangers, as well as inside dangers (i.e. oneself). Although some individuals may believe that they function well alone, mostly everyone appreciates the love and care shown towards them. Lastly, people are familiar with the voices of loved ones and friends. They will immediately react and respond to that which is familiar, and ignore a stranger who is vying for their attention.
God has always protected and provided for His sheep. According to these human and spiritual attributes, His intent for pastors is to serve as shepherds and to tend to His sheep.