L E A D I N G   T H E   P A C K

Leadership. What a necessary word. What a great subject to address. America so needs true leadership. My hone needs leadership. My children need leadership… and so do I. I also need to become a great leader for those that look to my direction for guidance. So what is this thing called leadership that we all need and need to become?

A close and competitive friend of mine once said, “Hank, there is only one dog on an Alaskan sled team that actually gets a change of scenery, and that is the LEAD DOG.” He then said, “…and do you know what the rest of them are looking at?” Now, it is difficult not to smile when you think of that but that’s a potentially deceptive description of a leader. We in America tend to picture the lead dog on a leisurely slow run through the country side. When in truth the lead dog is not enjoying the scenery. He is on guard for those that are behind him. His eyes are consistently searching for perils, holes, drop offs, weak ice, and slides. It his legs that clear the path of vines for the others to follow. It his body that blocks the blinding snow for those behind him. It is he that finds the trail, holds the trail, and faces the risk on the trail first. It’s a life that few are prepared for or even want. Great leaders have multiple characteristics but there is one common characteristic among all of them. The are always meek. Isn’t that a surprise? I thought it was the alpha, the dominant, the fastest, best athlete, most intelligent that got to lead. No, it’s the meek. However, most leaders do have several of those qualities but those skill sets alone produce terrible self serving leaders.

So what does the word meek mean? It does not mean weak, frail, or afraid like America thinks it does. Meek is an ancient agricultural term the describes the condition of a farm animal. When a powerful animal, such as a bull or horse, chooses to use it’s strength to serve others, it was said to have become meeked. This is the most important characteristic a leader can posses. The use of talent, strength, and special abilities to serve others.

So where do we find it? Are we born with it? Can we buy it? I’m not sure about us but in the dog world, leaders are not born, they are taught. Yes, they have skills and talents, but leadership goes far beyond skills and talent. I can actually teach puppies the skills they need to lead but I cannot put into them character. Character must come from somewhere down inside their hearts. I find it interesting that leaders are not better, they are different. They are not so much independent as they are aware of what is going on around them, and contrary to popular belief they don’t always have to win or lead. They are excellent followers. They seem to need “truth” more than acceptance from others. They never cut their hair funny, or wear their collars down around their hips to get attention. They also don’t look for the easy path because they are not trying to go around the obstacles of life. You can out run them. You can out fight them. You can even out think them, but the point is you will always have to beat them because they will never quit or give up. My pack leaders are not always the smartest, best athlete, or prettiest however, they are always about to focus on the task at hand. If I were to summarize what makes them different I would say they know three things.

(1) Who they are. (2) Who they belong to. (3) Where they are going.

That brings you and me to an important question. Do we know who we are (what were we made to do)? Do we know who we belong to? Do we know where we are going? Are these answers on our refrigerator? Would our family agree with us? Would the life that we are living say the same thing? Are we meek or self serving? Who are we trying to make famous with our power, money, looks, talent; ourselves or Jesus Christ?

I hope you and I both get to hear these words from Him someday. In the mean time, be careful how you respond to those words because, just like my puppies, your response to them will determine the direction of the rest of your life. If you are not leading I suggest you follow well or get out of the way. What a shame to have to watch as other dogs disappear on an adventurous trail into the excitement of the unknown that is only found in living by faith. There is a race to run. Let’s harness up and finish well.

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