Cowboys make great Christians, but would Christians make good cowboys?

by Kevin on August 30, 2010

Sometimes the funniest things we come across aren’t really that funny. Many times these things are downright sad. Let’s take a look at one of those things here today. Let’s take a look at what would happen if the entire church institution became cowboys on a ranch. Let’s see how they would handle the day to day operations.

One Sunday morning, the foreman of the ranch gathered all his cowboys together and told them the things he wanted them to get done this week.

On Monday, the foreman wanted them to read the ranch history and learn how the greatest cowboy that ever worked the ranch did his job.

On Tuesday, he wanted them to go out and check all the windmills on the ranch. Cattle can live for a while without food, but not water. He placed a lot of emphasis on the need for water.

On Wednesday, the foreman told the cowboys to get some feed and go give a little of it to every cow and calf on the ranch. Every cowboy had a siren on his truck that the cattle would recognize and come to. When all the cattle were around the truck, the cowboy could pour a little feed out and get a good look at the herd.

On Thursday, the cowboys were told to get on their horses and check the fencelines and water gaps. He told them he didn’t want his cattle gettin’ out and someone else’s bulls gettin’ in.

Friday would be the day that all the cowboys would shoe their horses. They could shoe them all by themselves or team up with another cowboy and help each other out.

Saturday, they would go gather a particular pasture and doctor some sick calves.

Sunday would be a day of rest. The foreman didn’t want them to worry about anything on the ranch. He told them to get all their stuff done all week long and then take a rest.

All week long, the cattle foreman drove around the ranch doing his own work. As he was puttin’ the water at the bottom of all the windmills, he found it strange that he never saw a single cowboy fixin’ or even checkin’ the troughs. Many of them had holes in them and needin’ attention.

The next two days saw the cattle foreman furnish the feed that the cowboys were supposed to be feedin’, but he noticed the barns were still full. No feed had been taken out to the cattle. He also knew well that there were many water gaps that had washed away due to the rain that his ranch had needed so bad, but nobody was around to fix them.

The next day, he found many horses wanderin’ around the ranch that had no shoes on that had slipped through holes in the fence. He gathered them along with the sick calves–all by himself.

On Sunday, only a couple of cowboys showed up to visit with him. He asked where the others were and they said everyone was too busy to drop by. With such a hard week behind them, these cowboys needed some rest and time to play. The Lord, ummm I mean cattle foreman, asked the cowboys why no one had done the things that he had asked them to do. The cowboys looked shocked and a little hurt.

“Sir, we prayed that the cattle would be watered and fed. We asked that no rains would come and wash out the water gaps and let the cattle out. Some of us even got together and looked at a horse shoeing magazine and we all agreed that horses needed shoes in this rocky country. We prayed that someone would come in and heal those sick calves.” The Cattle Foreman just sat there and listened as the cowboys continued. They asked, “What else did you expect from us?”

The Cattle Foreman said, “I know better than you do what this ranch needs. I heard all the talkin’ you did before you ever uttered a single word. You prayed that someone would come feed and check the waters. You prayed that someone would heal the sick and that the horses needed shoeing. I heard and answered all your prayers before you even prayed them–and I sent you to do all the things you asked. You didn’t listen to me last Sunday, because if you remember, I told you all of this last week. This has been goin’ on since I left the ranch as a cowboy. When I worked this ranch before I became the foreman, I showed you how to do things, but none of you paid attention.”

The Foreman continued, “This week, I want you to check all the windmills. There are holes in some of the troughs and some of the mills are not workin’ properly. I also want you to check the fences and water gaps…………….”

James 1:22

But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.

(Don’t be fooled into thinking that this was written for someone else. It was written for you–and me.)

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  • GREAT, as usual! Not to pat you on the back too much, but you’ve got a gift for parables.

    This convicts me. I know I can talk lots more than I walk. I know what God asks me to do, but most of the time, I find myself sitting at a desk behind a computer reading or thinking about what I’m going to do or planning things for others to do.

    • Kevin

      I think those things are important Chris, but in the end we need to realize that God IS going to answer someone’s prayer through us. We must realize that when Jesus gave us the great commission, he told us to “GO and MAKE disciples of all men and all nations.” The thinking and praying aspect needs to precede these acts, but let us not just study, sit, and pray that someone else will go and make them.

  • Awesome Kevin well said. Something I’ve been struggling lately with, and maybe you can help me out with it. There are, at least it seems, people who have not yet matured enough in their walk with Jesus to really start doing anything more than like what you mentioned to Chris: pray and plan. But at what point do the elders or the pastors of the church look at someone and say “Enough, now go.” At what point does preparation and training become debilitating?

    • Kevin

      I for one, am not a “classroom” kind of guy. I like hands on stuff and I think many confessed believers in Christ do to. I say put the people out there right away, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go overboard with it. The way I see it, people need to be shown the love of Christ first and then told where this love comes from second.

      It’s the pastors and elders jobs to determine what someone can do. Just Sunday, I stood up and asked for two volunteers to just take lunch and supper to a young couple who’s baby was in the hospital. One of these volunteers had never done anything for the church, but they got the biggest blessing out of takin’ some Dairy Queen hamburgers to that family.

      I think with too much preparation and training, the simpleness of lovin’ on someone becomes lost. We teach how to share Jesus. We prepare them for mission trips. This is fine for those who are spiritually mature. But let’s get everyone involved right away, but not by sendin’ them to Africa. Send them to a nursin’ home to just sit and visit. Give them one side of the church and ask them to take care of the flower bed if they like gardening. Every single act of every day can be just as important as anything else when doin’ things for God. It may not be as effective. Our little online ministries are just as important to God as Paul’s ministry was. It may not be as effective, but it is just as important in God’s eyes. Discover the talents that God gives everyone and let the people use them. They will let you know where they need guidance and training.

      Sorry if this doesn’t accurately convey what I am thinking. Whole books have been written on this very subject. I want to hear your thoughts (and everyone) on this matter also. Feel free to totally disagree. When dealing with Christians and the lost, there are so many variables that I don’t know that there is an absolute right or wrong answer.

      • I wonder if part of the conflict we find is rooted in people who don’t actually know their calling. We are all called to show the love of Christ, to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers and cast out demons, but that doesn’t mean that people know where their mission field is. To use your metaphor (which I love btw) they don’t know where the windmill is. And of course, because we’re people and like to complicate things, SOMEONE is going to sit around asking “but what else?”

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for just booting people out the doors and saying “get to work” but having had that method fail on me a number of times I’m wondering why.

        • Kevin

          I’m right there with you on a couple of your points. First off, we do complicate things way too much. I guess really I was talking about Christians that do have a measure of spiritual maturity. In my example, they saw the need for prayin’ and healin’ the sick. They had hired on the “ranch” which indicates that they wanted to do the work. But when they were given the job to do, they never got beyond the prayin’ and studyin’ part.

          The second part is a little tougher. I too have had the “get to work” mentality fail, but I’m learnin’ new ways of gettin’ people involved. There was a young lady that wanted to get involved in our church. She said she would do whatever we needed her to do. Instead of just putting her somewhere there was a need, I talked to her and discovered her love of takin’ pictures. She started doin’ that and is sharin’ what we do as a church with others through her pictures. This has lead to her gettin’ involved with fixin’ meals for those that are sick in our community.

          I say start off with somethin’ real small that they enjoy and not very difficult and let them grow out of it. Put them with someone who knows what they are doin’ and can show them the windmill. We’ve got to put these people that work on the ranch on gentle horses first if they have never ridden. Gettin’ them bucked off right out of the gate will just send the wrong message.

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  • Sorry I’m so late to the conversation here. You have made good points in the parable and the comments so far. Here’s my thoughts:

    “Non-involvement is the antithesis of authentic Christianity!” Jesus was “a man who was so involved with humanity, with its aches and pains and diseases, with its tragedy and hunger and alienation, that He was an enigma to His contemporaries and a bother to the religionists who took pains to parade their piety” (Halverson). That is what Jesus was all about, being a servant. The Christian who is following His Lord will do the same. Servanthood is synonymous with greatness in the Kingdom of God.

    But it’s not easy. It can take up so much of our time. It can get really messy when we get involved in loving our neighbors. Which is probably why Jesus Christ is taken seriously by so few. I think we have to use Jesus’ method. Call people to live in loving community with us, to serve alongside us, and to release them to serve in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives in them. That way they see us do it; help us do it; go out to do it; then help others do it.


    • Kevin

      I agree Richard, but I had to go look the word “antithesis” up in the dictionary. Sounded like a disease to me and although that’s not what it meant, I was pretty close.

      I love Buck’s comment: Jesus invested three years in some good friends and it seems to have paid pretty good dividends.

  • buck

    You know when I was growing up most of the time someone allowed me to work with them and I was either doing it myself quickly or found I did not have the tallent to do that job. In the church we don’t invest enough time investing our time in our new hands sometimes. Jesus invested three years in some good friends and it seems to have paid pretty good dividends.

    • Kevin

      I think problems usually arise in the church when someone tries to do something that they don’t have a talent for. God gave us all talents and we must discover our own and help other people discover their talents as well. This isn’t my opinion, it’s the Apostle Paul’s words straight from God. (1 Corinthians 12 and 13)

  • Like Richard, I am sorry to be late to the conversation. I am an advocate of people showing the love a Christ right away. I think that we confuse the call to ministry with the call to teach or preach the gospel. It is true that immature Christians are not prepared to teach a class, preach a sermon, or perhaps even lead a bible study, but everyone comes equipped right out of the box to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. There are a lot of things that God’s creation is equipped to do right out of the box.

    I think that we have placed too much emphasis on being able to explain the atonement or sanctification than we have in loving our neighbor and sharing how Jesus changed my life. No one needs any training to do the latter.

    I am also and advocate that experience is the best teacher. What I have seen however, is that when new people or new Christians come into a church, they are tossed into a position with no one to walk beside them and that ultimately lead to failure. We could introduce people into more difficult ministry settings more quickly if mature Christians would walk beside younger Christians instead of just handing them the reins.

    Great thoughts. Great conversation.

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