Those of us in other than rural areas may need to use their imaginations on the parallel here. Not having seen either a shepherd or sheep on the hoof and in action, what the heck does that mean?
Let's look to other domesticated stock for clues. Surprisingly, there are none. Get the lead horse in a herd to move and the rest will follow; that goes for cows, pigs, even a gaggle of geese. Not so with sheep. It's quite an egalitarian society, really. Some would suggest that - on a scale of the animal kingdom - sheep are down there near the bottom of the brain chain. Not one of their own kind rises through the ranks to establish dominance and leadership. Huh. Just a bunch of followers....
You never hear, though, of sheep needing a cattle prod. No, they bond with the shepherd - the voice, the smell, the touch of the shepherd who provides for their needs and insures their safety. That shepherd knows the individual characteristic of each sheep - can pick one out in a crowd of wooly comrades.
The sheep are His - He will call them by name and they will follow Him.
For all our sophistication, our 'independence', our striving for individuality... don't we still long and search for that leader who will guide us in right paths? When I lose my way, I can pray in my heart of hearts and hear the voice of the Shepherd call me back into relationship, into a place of safety. Even as we are on the verge of choosing a new shepherd from among us, let us, in the words of scripture '.. Hearken to His voice'... the voice of the One who calls us all.