Shepherds in Action

Have you ever been inspired? I mean, really inspired?

It happens when you hear a comment or read a statement or see a picture. The spark plugs in your brain start firing…and you have to act! That’s inspired. “Imbued with the spirit to do something, by or as if supernatural or divine influence” is how defines it.

That’s what happened to me when I read the recent “Friday Fragments,” a blog written by Dan Wolgemuth, President of Youth for Christ USA.

I immediately saw a shepherd in action; a shepherd principal who provides more than education. She protects beyond what’s required in her role, and demonstrates presence at a level that changes everything.

Yes, everything.

Brelinda Sullen is a shepherd leader in action. She lays down her life for her sheep every day. All day. She is the first to be featured in our new “Shepherds in Action” series.

May Brelinda Sullen’s story inspire you. May it spur you on to live into your calling. And may you find an inspirational nugget in every new shepherd in action story.

Thank you, Dan, for so beautifully portraying your experience for us below.


There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13, NLT)

A hero.

Someone who trades their own life for the life of others.

Warriors. Soldiers. First Responders. Courageous bystanders.

A high school Principal.

Brelinda Sullen.

Tuskegee, Alabama. Booker T Washington High School (BTW).

Against the odds. In the face of opposition. At the risk of personal peril and professional failure…

Brelinda. Ms. Sullen.

I watched as 550 high school students filed into a gymnasium. I listened as Ms. Sullen addressed her students, “her babies.” It was 8am… it doesn’t matter what day, because every school day at BTW starts this way.

Every day.

The Pledge. The Star-Spangled Banner. The school song. An admonition to flee foolishness and pursue excellence. An expectation of character.

Brelinda didn’t modify a culture, she reinvented it. She didn’t raise expectation, she redefined it.

The energy was palpable.

98% of the students on free and reduced lunch and an empty student parking lot are no measure for what’s possible in Tuskegee. Because Ms. Sullen refuses to grade on the curve, to lower the standard.

Love is… what love does.

These words are tattooed on the heart of this unsung school administrator. The unfettered love of Christ unleashes a courage and commitment that transforms students into family. “My babies.”

At 8:30am on Tuesday morning, I stood in front of the students at BTW, microphone in hand. Different by nearly every measure from the young people in front of me. But love. But Brelinda. But God… And a moment. Something beyond my wildest expectation. God moved. The Spirit tugged. Jesus broke through. And I’m talking about in me. No sugar coating necessary. No cutting corners.

Sugar coating and cut corners don’t work at BTW… or anywhere else for that matter. Brelinda Sullen had paved the way. Love had paved the way.

Brelinda Sullen is a hero. She has voluntarily laid down her life for the young people of Tuskegee. She has used her own resources to cover the expenses of her athletic teams. She’s written checks to pay the utility bills for the families of her students. She’s stayed when others have fled. She has loved when hate is the language of the day.


My hero.

No greater love.

In Tuskegee. At Booker T Washington. Purple and Gold. Go Golden Eagles!

Go Brelinda. Go Jesus.




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