You know how the best-laid plans go? Yeah. Awry. Oft. This will be the third time composing this one blog post.
I’ve been thinking about sheep this week. Not for any real reason. It’s not even lambing season or anything. I think it’s probably because I’ve encountered so many crossroads this week, so many opportunities to either go with the crowd or stand apart.
But that’s life, isn’t it? In life, you only have two choices. You do what everybody else is doing, or you do something because it’s right (and it’s right because God says it’s right).
If you’ve never been around sheep, you may not understand the significance of just how freakin’ stupid they actually are. People say sheep are stupid. But you really won’t grasp how insanely stupid they actually are until you have to raise them and train them and run them and chase them and so on and so forth.
Sheep. Are. Stupid.
Cute when they’re young, yes. But just about every creature is cute when it’s a baby. Just wait until it gets older and you have to scrub its armpits….
So when the Bible calls us sheep, you may not understand how insulting that is until you’ve raised them. But if you’ve been around sheep enough to understand that being called one is an insult, you’ll know enough to realize that it’s 100%, absolutely true.
I raised and trained 4-H market lambs for two years when I was in junior high, but before then, my neighbor would run a herd of sheep on our land. I’ve mentioned before that Safe Haven Farm has a separate well dedicated for stock. It’s handy since watered pastureland is a premium out here.
But those crazy sheep, usually two dozen of them, refused to stay in the pasture. They’d knock their fences down and get loose and run all over the yard, eating the orchard trees, eating the flower bushes, eating things they weren’t supposed to eat. And who had to chase them back into the pasture?
You got it. Me.
It was great exercise, don’t get me wrong. But it was certainly not what I wanted to be doing when I had homework to do (or novels to write, if I’m being honest ;-)). But that was part of my responsibilities while Dad was at work, so I did it. I chased those stupid sheep from one corner of our property to the other, trying to get them to go back into the pasture where I could shore up the fence temporarily.
It took me a few months to figure out how to chase them. There’s a strategy to it, you know. The trick about chasing sheep is to spook one and get it to go the direction you want. And the others will follow.
Sheep suffer from herd mentality worse than just about any other critter I’ve ever worked with. If you spook one and get it running, the rest of the herd will follow. The one running doesn’t have a clue where it’s going. It’s just running. And the rest of them are following because they don’t know what else to do.
And it doesn’t even matter if the lead sheep tries to go through a door that’s too small. It’ll barrel through the door, and the others will follow it. Three at a time. I remember watching that happen once, just staring in awe at the sheer stupidity of these woolly morons.
Sound familiar to anyone else? Maybe like our current American culture? Maybe like people in general?
Following the herd is easy. Being a creature of habit is easy. Blending in to your surroundings is easy. You just keep your head down and don’t rock the boat.
I don’t want to be a sheep.
At least, I don’t want to be a sheep in the negative sense. There are a few Bible verses that explain why it’s good to have the mentality of a sheep–knowing your master’s voice, being safe in your shepherd’s care, etc.
But when it comes to following the crowd, I don’t want to. I want to be the one who stands out, not in a bad way but in a way that people know I stand for something. I don’t want to be someone who always does what everybody else is doing. I want to be known as someone who does what’s right because it’s right.
It makes life difficult, though. It’s so much easier to follow the herd, but the herd doesn’t know where it’s going. It’s just running. And just running never gets you anywhere that matters.