Middle Eastern shepherd-boys had to travel lightly. So they carried only two pieces of equipment for their work: a rod and a staff. The rod was chosen from a sapling which was whittled to match the boy’s size and strength. He would then practice throwing this club with amazing speed and accuracy. In other words, the shepherd wields a dangerous club, in order to protect the sheep. This goes against the usual anemic ideas about pastors always being nice. The rod was used to protect the sheep from hungry animals.
This reminds me of Friedman’s latest: “A Failure of Nerve.” He says the current leadership crisis exists because we are suffering from a failure of nerve. Leaders need courage — prophetic boldness to step forward and take a few blows for what is right — the courage to stand up to the bullies on behalf of the sheep.