Do not be misled by our modern day image of a shepherd as some sort of passive, congenial person. Shepherds led the sheep to areas where they could graze. They slept in the open fields with their flocks, in all weather, when they were far from home. Shepherds guarded against and fought off thieves, wolves and other dangerous predators--a shepherd's staff was not for show. A shepherd also nurtured the sick and new-born sheep, and when headed for home, carried those that were too young and weak to make the trip. The good shepherd was a fiercely rugged and responsible man, conditioned to hardship.