“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.” John 21:15
Shepherding is driven by seasons and necessity, not by our will.
A little background – Winter is about looking after the core breeding flock through the worst weather of the year, feeding the sheep when needed. Our people feed on the word of God. They’re like sheep which only eat grass for much of the year until it disappears in the winter months, when the shepherds need to feed them the hay. I hear the Lord say, “Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:52
Now, late winter or early spring they tend the pregnant ewes and prepare them for the lambing time. Spring revolves around lambing on the best land they have, and looking after the young lambs. You feed the lambs, and look after them with love.
Late spring/ early summer is marketing, vaccinating and worming the ewes and lambs, and pushing them to the fells to take advantage of the summer grass, while freeing the valley bottoms to grow the hay for winter.
Anyway, Jesus said, “Feed my lambs!” because sometimes the ewes are traumatised while giving birth and they reject their young ones. There is a lot that happens, and so it’s your responsibility as shepherd to play that motherly figure.