The apostle Paul seemed to feel the same way. We get some insight into his heart in his letter to the Corinthians, where he reminds them of why he had to write such a stern letter of correction.
For I wrote to you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. (2 Corinthians 2:4)
The loving shepherd’s heart longs for the advancement, the betterment, of all the sheep under his care. He is hurt when his sheep are wounded. His approach to discipline is always gentle; not weak, but strength lovingly applied.
The loving shepherd looks at his own life first, before correcting the sheep, to address anything he may have done or failed to do which caused the sheep to stray.
The loving shepherd knows that discipline may be painful for a moment, but it is to bring greater life. Just as a parent will allow a child to suffer the momentary pain of an immunization injection, to spare that child the unbearable pain of a disease later on.
And the loving shepherd always approaches a time of correction with “confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy” (v. 3). The shepherd doesn’t view them as “dumb sheep” that cannot improve; rather, he is confident and assured that they will receive loving correction and make the change that leads to joy for all.
UPDATE: If you want to dive deeper into the ideas of being a shepherd leader, please check out my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter.