“A LION AMONG SHEEP”
Extracted from “The Spirit of Leadership” by Dr. Myles Munroe
There was once a farmer who lived in a village and also was a herd of sheep. One day, he took his sheep out to pasture, and while they were grazing, he heard a strange noise. Led by his curiosity, the old shepherd went to see what was the source of this insistent sound, he found a lone shivering lion cub, obviously separated from his family. His first thought was the danger he would be in if he stayed too close to the cub and his parents returned. However, after the sun began to set, and there was still no activity to secure the lion cub, the shepherd decided that, for the safety of the lion cub, he would take him to his farmhouse and care for him.
Over the next eight months, the shepherd hand-fed this cub with fresh milk and kept him warm, safe, and secure in the farmhouse. The lion cub grew with the sheep and became a part of the herd. After fifteen months had passed, the little cub had become an adolescent lion, but he acted, sounded, responded, and behaved just like one of the sheep. In essence, THE LION HAD BECOME A SHEEP BY ASSOCIATION.
One hot day, four years later, the shepherd watched over his flock as they waded into the flowing water of a river to drink. The lion who thought he was a sheep followed them into the water to drink. Suddenly, just across the river, there appeared out of the jungle bush a large beast that the lion cub had never seen before. The sheep panicked and as if under the spell of some survival instinct, leaped out of the water and dashed toward the direction of the farm. They never stopped until they were all safely huddled behind the fence of the pen. Strangely, the lion cub, who was now a grown lion, was also huddled with them, stricken with fear. While the flock scrambled for the safety of the farm, the beast made a sound that seemed to shake the forest. When he lifted his head above the tall grass, the shepherd could see that he held in his blood-drenched mouth the lifeless body of a lamb from the flock. The man knew that danger had returned to his part of the forest.
Seven days passed, and then, while the flock grazed, the young lion went down to the river to drink. As he bent over the water, he suddenly panicked and ran wildly toward the farmhouse for safety. The sheep did not run and wondered why he had, while the lion wondered why the sheep had not run since he had seen the beast again. After a while, the young lion went slowly back to the flock and then to the water to drink again. Once more, he saw the beast and froze in panic. It was his reflection in the water.
While he tried to understand what he was seeing, suddenly, the beast appeared out of the jungle again. The flock dashed with breakneck speed toward the farmhouse, but before the young lion could move, the beast stepped in the water toward him and made that deafening sound that filled the forest. For a moment, the young lion felt that his life was about to end. He realized that he saw not just one beast, but two—one in the water and one before him. His head was spinning with confusion as the beast came within ten feet of him and growled at him face-to-face with frightening power in a way that seemed to say to him, “Try it, and come and follow me.”
As fear gripped the young lion, he decided to try to appease the beast and make the same sound. However, the only noise that came from his gaping jaws was the sound of a sheep. The beast responded with an even louder burst that seemed to say, “Try it again.” After seven or eight attempts, the young lion suddenly heard himself make the same sound as the beast. He also felt stirrings in his body and feelings that he had never known before. IT WAS AS IF HE WAS EXPERIENCING A TOTAL TRANSFORMATION IN MIND, BODY, AND SPIRIT.
Suddenly, there stood in the river of life two beasts growling at and to each other. Then the shepherd saw something he would never forget. As the beastly sounds filled the forest for miles around, the big beast stopped, turned his back on the young lion, and started toward the forest. Then he paused and looked at the young lion one more time and growled as if to say, “Are you coming?” The young lion knew what the gesture meant and suddenly realized that his day of decision had arrived—the day he would have to choose whether to continue to live life as a sheep or to be the self he had just discovered.
He knew that to become his true self, he would have to give up the safe, secure, predictable, and simple life of the farm and enter the frightening, wild, untamed, unpredictable, dangerous life of the jungle. It was a day to become true to himself and leave the false image of another life behind. It was an invitation to a “sheep” to become the king of the jungle. Most importantly, it was an invitation for the body of a lion to possess the spirit of a lion. After looking back and forth at the farm and the jungle a few times, the young lion turned his back on the farm and the sheep with whom he had lived for years, and he followed the beast into the forest to become who he always had been—a lion king.
Takeaways from this story:
LASTING CHANGE CAN OCCUR ONLY WHEN IT TAKES PLACE IN THE SPIRIT OF THE MIND: Until this attitude change happens, the lion will still think, act, respond, and live like a sheep instead of the king of the jungle.
A GENUINE DECISION AFFECTS THE FUTURE: Just as the young lion watched the beast walking away and knew that he had to decide his future, you have a choice to make about your future.
ATTITUDE CREATES YOUR WORD AND DESIGNS YOUR DESTINY: The story of the lion and the sheep demonstrates the power of attitude. We live our attitudes and our attitudes create our lives. The difference between the attitudes of a lion and a sheep determines their place in the scheme of the animal kingdom.
In conclusion, we make decisions depending on who we believe ourselves to be. In the story above, if you truly feel that you are a sheep, you will remain inside the boundaries that either others have set for you or that you have set for yourself. If you have the mindset of a lion, you will push through artificial boundaries and lead the life you were destined to live. Within your natural area, you will grow into a person who inspires and influences others.
By Gloire KONGA
Author, Entrepreneur & Public Speaker