25 May 2020
Where Have All the Deer Gone?
How does your behavior reflect on your life and reputation as a Christian church leader? Too often we hear it said with dismay that, " and he is a Deacon (or whatever function you might wish to use) in his church ", as some inappropriate behavior or characteristic is recalled. I heard such a story yesterday while my brother and I visited a cousin in Port Alto, a tiny village on the coast of Texas.
Roy (not his real name) is a beer drinking, hard living, hot rod driving 78 year old Texan. (Think of John Wayne or Robert Duval.) His language would challenge a salty sailor. On the other hand he has an innate sense of right and wrong and will fight to the end for the right. While not having much time for "churchy people", this cousin would literally give you the shirt off his back if the occasion called for it. Like his younger brother he carries a piece of paper in his shirt pocket that contains a list of people who could use his help. So, I was dismayed to hear him tell the story of "Where have all the deer gone?"
Among other things, Roy has a 170 acre ranch that contains about 30 cattle and a salt water creek where one can relax while fishing for trout and redfish. My brother and I were visiting to see what fishing opportunities exist in the area. Roy was delighted to serve as our fishing consultant. Part of that included driving to his creek. This entailed going through a couple of gates and then literally driving through the herd of cattle that included seven newly born calves. The path was muddy and rough, just right for my brother's pick up. Sea gulls floated silently overhead as we approached the creek. It was a "just right place" for one who enjoys being out in nature. Along with the fishing advice, Roy offered us use of his property. And we were welcome to stay in his recently renovated cabin in Port Alto.
As we drove around the ranch, Roy told us stories. He pointed out a lone horseshoe hanging on the fence. It seems they had been working on this section of the fence when his brother collapsed and died at that spot. There used to be a fishing platform at the creek, but it had been washed away in the last hurricane. The property has recently been put under a 35 year lease to the electric company that intends to construct a "solar panel farm" on it.
And then there was the story about the deer. It seems that Roy had offered the use of the land for an individual to visit. He explained with disdain that this individual is a Deacon in his church and, without Roy's permission, had gone back and told his entire congregation that they could come there as well. One day the Deacon commented that they had shot about nine deer but since then had not seen any more. He wondered where all the deer had gone. Roy was shocked and appalled. You see, he had been caring for a small herd of nine deer and this guy and his congregation had killed every one of them! One can imagine the anger and disappointment Roy felt. And one can imagine how this experience reinforced his already negative view of "church people".
So, what does your behavior say to others? Would you rather be a church leader who shoots the man's herd of deer, or would you rather carry a piece of paper containing a list of people who could use your help? One thoughtless behavior can do so much damage, can't it? Let us "walk the talk" this coming week.
Blessings and peace,