Herding cats

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by Stan Mitchell

Do you remember that marvelous advertisement that had a bunch of cowboys herding cats? Thousands of cats ran helter skelter across the prairie, with those hapless men in chaps waving their hats and yelling, “Git along little kitties!”

The words “cats” and “orderly,” do not usually appear in the same sentence. Cats are independent, unwilling to be trained, taught or led.

Did you ever see a cat bring in a pair of slippers? Have you ever heard of a “seeing eye cat,” a “sheep cat” or a “watch cat,” or one that would even acknowledge his name? A friend has the theory that all cats think their name is “Dinner time.”

Our cat, as empty-headed a ball of fluff as any, would survive in the wild exactly six minutes. She is uncoachable, uncontrollable, yet dependent on us for nourishment, protection and shelter.

Not that she would acknowledge any of it, or express gratitude of any kind. I notice that every time it rains, though, our little bundle of indifference saunters in again, making herself at home on the most freshly laundered clothing.

There is a book on leading the church entitled, “Herding Cats.” In churches, everyone wants to be nourished, pampered and allowed to sleep for days on end. No one wants to be directed, corrected or trained in righteousness.

We expect and never thank, we wander all over the neighborhood yet expect attention on demand, and if the food in the old kitty dish is not the finest cuisine, we “walk” next door, or down the street requesting neighbors to give us what we want.

All of which is to say that as members of the church, we should expect more of ourselves than the average tabby. We should make the job of our elders easier, the success of our church more assured.

“Obey your leaders, and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy, and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17, ESV).

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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