Abraham demonstrates many of the characteristics of a man of faith that Paul will later indicate are important for the man of God who will shepherd and lead his people. That these characteristics are evident not only in Abraham’s life but in the lives of others in the Old Testament and New Testament who serve the Lord, both in leadership and out, shows us that these qualities are qualities all Christians, especially men, should see cultivated in their own spiritual lives.
So how exactly is Abraham a good example of the character that a shepherd should have?
Abraham answers God’s call in faith, a faith that is more than mere belief or agreement, but which results in Abraham’s abandoning all that he is close to and all that he knows. Not only must he abandon these things, he goes out not knowing where he will end up. This is the call that every servant of God, especially his shepherds, must answer: to go anywhere and to give up any ambitions of their own and instead live by faith as they realize the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Abraham is a man of faithfulness. Though he sometimes falters and lives in disobedience (he lies twice, presumably because he wants to protect the promise, he goes in to Hagar to make the promise happen), the overall pattern of his life is one of faith.
Abraham is also a man of prayer. He is known as such (Gen. 207) and honored as a man of devout faith.
Abraham is also a preacher (Gen. 12:8, where “called on” is better understood as “proclaimed”) and is respected as a prophet (Gen 20:7).
Abraham is a man concerned about his reputation and who desires to remain blameless. In Genesis 14, he refuses to take part of the spoils because he doesn’t want to give others an opportunity to speak of him in a light that would diminish his commitment to his God (Gen. 14:23).