Tight Places – Conversations with Stella

I am Stella, Queen of the Olde English Bulldogges. It was a dark and stormy morning. Rain rattled the windows as I set off for my special rainy-day bathroom spot by the driveway in the side yard. I entered the shadowy garage. Suddenly, the way before me stood blocked.

Me:        Not really. Substantially narrowed, I’ll grant, but still passable.

Stella:    Are you a bulldog?

Me:        No, I think we have established that.

Stella:    Try to see it from my point of view. To the left of me lurked a barrel monster, menacing my every step.

Me:        Not a barrel monster. That is the same short grill that has been there every day that it hasn’t been in use.

Stella:    Once again, Lady Human, try to see it from my point of view. Bulldog. Wide. Remember. To my right and squeezing my path was an I-don’t-know-what. It was huge, towering above me, threatening to crush me if I tried to pass by.

Me:        That is a large cardboard box. Tall Man has to cut it up before he can put it in the recycling bin. Did you notice that you were able to pass between those two impassable objects?

Stella:    Only after you led the way.

Me:        A lesson for all of us. Why were you willing to follow my lead when you weren’t willing to go on your own?

Stella:    I don’t want to say.

Me:        Was it because you trust me?

Stella:    I don’t want to say.

Me:        Aw, Stella, I’m touched.

Stella:    Yeah, you would have been touched if that tall box had fallen on you. In narrow places, always let somebody else to go first.

 

 

Copyright 2017 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

 

 

I’m Not Asking. I’m Telling.

I’m not good at giving direct orders. My style is softer. (My kids would disagree with that, but this is my story so I am telling it my way.) I’m better at offering suggestions, even strong ones, or asking questions that point a discussion in the direction I believe it should go.

I am more successful at giving direct orders to the bulldogs. If humans did not take their authority seriously, I can see bulldogs taking over the world. If you think we are in trouble now, imagine the government in the paws and mouths of a gigantic pack of bulldogs. They would carry off and lose everything. None of us would ever be able to find our stuff. Even if we stumbled over any of it, it would be chewed up, wet, and dirty.

Having said that, I found myself falling into a bad habit around the dogs. I started asking them if something I wanted to do was “okay”. “I’m going to eat now, okay?” “I’m going to the store, okay?” “I’m just going to sit down and read a little, okay?”

Let’s be honest.  I was going to do what I needed or wanted to do no matter what the bulldogs thought about it, but my words betrayed a strange mindset that bothered me. I let the question bleed over into what the dogs were going to do. “Let’s go outside, okay?” You had better believe it’s okay. The days of pooping and peeing in the house are officially over. Understand? No, of course they don’t understand, not to the extent that I do.

And that’s my latest lesson from the bullies.

Bulldogs are stubborn. Bulldogs are pigheaded. Bulldogs are bullheaded. In a word, they’re bulldoggy. And there is something that they are not. They are not in charge.

When you are in charge, be in charge. You are going to bear the responsibility of it anyway, so DO IT. You don’t have to be mean. You don’t have to be rude. You don’t have to be abrupt. Those behaviors are counterproductive.

You do have to be decisive. You do have to act. You do have to be strong. You do have to carry through.

Why did the LORD introduce me to bulldogs? Because a teacup toy poodle would not have taught me some of the lessons that I needed to learn, lessons that apparently I could only learn through a pack of big, broad-shouldered, resistant, argumentative bulldogs. Again, why? Because I had become pretty resistant and argumentative myself toward God so He chose some bulldogs to break through to me.

I am in charge over a pack of Olde English Bulldogges. When it is time to go outside, “No” is not an option. I’m not asking; I’m telling. Okay? (Forgive me, LORD. This may take more time and practice.)

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.

The Leaders We Did Not Elect

Leadership – people discuss it all the time, ponder it, lust after it, fight over it. That’s because it is significant. Leadership is imperative at every level of life. Chaos reigns without good leadership and chaos reigns under bad leadership. Jesus said that if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a ditch. (Matthew 15:14)

First, what is not leadership?

  1. A leader is not one because of a title. There are too many wearing a title as a badge or a reward who are not leaders.
  1. Position does not a leader make. Even without the title, someone in a leadership position actually has to lead.
  1. Leadership is not aggression.
  1. Leadership is not simply issuing orders.
  1. Throwing a fit is not leadership.
  1. Manipulation is not leadership.
  1. Doing nothing is not leadership. Watch a ship that has no one at the helm and see what happens.

Our bulldog pack, so far as I know, did not hold a caucus and elect a pack leader. As the dogs came along, they argued a little among themselves from time to time, but the consensus came about naturally. Which dog “cared” more for the others? Which one watched over the safety of the whole pack, including the sometimes clueless humans whose senses of hearing and smell were not quite as developed? The answer was obvious, even to humans who were observant.

Snoopey.

She stepped into the position without hesitation. The others defer to her. Whenever she comes back from having been separated from the pack, she makes a quick inspection tour. Is everyone there? Is everyone in place? Is everyone all right? Only then does she settle down.

And as for those silly humans in her life, she really has to watch out for them. If a stranger is outside, she hears it and barks appropriately. She has an alarm bark for oddities and emergencies, and she has a regular notification bark for things like, “Wake up, sleepyhead humans, it’s time for breakfast and bathroom.”

As with all leaders, Snoopey is not perfect.

She is suspicious. She keeps a keen eye out for everything. That may be the result of experiences in her young life before she came to us or it may be an inborn trait.

She is stubborn, but that is bulldoggy of her and not much different from the humans with whom she associates.

She jealously guards her prerogatives which include her food and her bedding. Oh, and don’t come sniffing around her face when she is napping. She’ll set a dog straight on that in quick order. On the other hand, if you’re a human, that’s fine. Feel free to stop by anytime.

When Tiger started to challenge Snoopey a few months ago, Snoopey put her feet down, all four of them, and took her stand. I am the pack leader. Tiger, you are young and full of energy, but that is not all that a leader needs to be. I am in charge. It took a while and some human guidance along the way, but Tiger seems to be growing up and has backed off the challenge for now, though we always remain vigilant. Ambition is a terrible mistress.

Nobody elected Snoopey. She didn’t run to convince anyone of her worthiness to lead. She just led.

May God grant us, not the leaders we deserve (that would be too horrible), but His leaders.

“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3 KJV

 

Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.