If ever you have an opportunity to hear Lt Col Dave Grossman explain the relationship between sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs, please jump at the opportunity. He does it with such passion and conviction you will never look at yourself, the armed citizen, quite the same.
Ever have one of those moments when you let your mind wander just a little farther than usual and it comes back with a realization so clear and obvious you feel a little silly for not having seen it sooner? I had one of those moments today. It had to do with the sheepdog paradigm I’ve heard repeated many times in the last few years. This realization felt important enough to share, so here I am. I’ll see if I can do it justice.
First off, if you aren’t already familiar with this metaphor I’ll briefly explain.
The story goes something like this.
In this world there are 3 basic personality types.
There are SHEEP.
Most of the people you know are sheep. You might be one yourself in fact, and the truth is there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being a sheep. The sheep are incapable of violence. Sheep do not live in fear, they rarely contemplate what dangers are lurking just along the perimeter of their world, they have their routines and their priorities and for the most part things are pretty wonderful in the life of a sheep.
But there are WOLVES.
A very small percentage of our population falls into this category. Wolves are not only capable of violence, they live by it. They are driven daily by one primal directive – prey on the passive sheep. They take advantage of the sheep’s docile nature, waiting at the perimeter of the sheep’s world waiting for the right time to “put on the sheep’s clothing” and strike fear into the heart of the defenseless sheep.
Fortunately, there are SHEEPDOGS.
But the sheep fear the sheepdogs. Sheepdogs are also capable of violence. They lurk warily at the perimeter looking into the darkness as if there were some evil that can’t be seen instead of basking in the joy of the sheep’s peaceful world. Sheepdogs can be loud, fast, and have sharp teeth – just like the wolves!!
For most the metaphor stops there. Good guys, bad guys, and the thin, sometimes-dangerous line of defenders standing between them.
This morning I realized… there is more to the story. In all the times I’ve heard this story, a key player was left unmentioned. More important than the differences that divide sheep and the sheepdog is the one common thread that binds us eternally:
We BOTH belong to the Shepherd.
What drives the sheep to graze in the pasture and bask in the sun is love. Love for the Shepherd who tends and cares for them. Love for a life of peace.
What drives the sheepdog? A love so convicting it will push the sheepdog to that dark perimeter – not without fear, but without hesitation. A love that will cause the sheepdog to run to the wolf, rather than away, praying he can get there in time to protect the sheep.
The sheep that he loves.
Because they belong to the Shepherd.
What binds the sheep to the Shepherd is a mindset of servitude.
What binds the sheepdog to the Shepherd is a desire to serve in ways that go beyond that which is safe. Beyond that which is normal.
At least, in the eyes of the sheep.
Not because of what the sheep think of the sheepdog.
Not because of what they can do for him.
ONLY because they are loved by the Shepherd.
As is the case in many childhood parables it struck me that what makes us different is far less valuable than this critical way in which we are the same.
So that’s it. My epiphany for the day. I would encourage you to check out the foundation for the story in his own words on Grossman’s website: http://www.killology.com/sheep_dog.htm and then follow up by reading A Time to Kill: The myth of Christian pacifism by Greg Hopkins.
~It’s not about the odds. It’s about the stakes.~