We Let the Dog Out
By Ed Delph
September 20, 2021
One of my challenges as a speaker and writer is that some people think I’m an expert. Like me, many experts have more degrees than a thermometer in one area, but that doesn’t make us experts in everything. It’s easy for experts to believe their press. As a result, experts feel they have an excellent plan for our lives. However, many experts became ‘ex-spurts’ after the whole truth becomes known. Consider this story.
Once upon a time, a sheepherder was tending his sheep at the edge of a country road in rural Wyoming. A brand-new Land Rover screeched to a halt next to him. The driver, a young man, dressed in a costly suit and tie, designer shoes, Gucci sunglasses, a Rolex wristwatch, jumped out and asked the herder, "If I guess how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?" The herder looked at the young man, then looked at the sprawling herd of grazing sheep and said, "OK."
The young man parked his vehicle, connected his notebook and wireless modem, entered a NASA site, scanned the ground using satellite imagery and a GPS. Then he opened a database and 60 Excel tables filled with algorithms, then printed a 150-page report on his high-tech mini printer. Finally, he turned to the herder and said, "You have exactly 1,586 sheep here." The herder answered, "Say, you're right. Pick out a sheep." The young man took one of the animals and put it in the back of his Jeep.
As he was preparing to drive away, the herder looked at him and asked, “Now, if I guess your profession, will you pay me back in kind?” “Sure!” the young man answered. “You’re a consultant." "Exactly! How did you know?" asked the young man. "Very simple. First, you came here without being invited. Second, you charged me a fee to tell me something I already knew. Third, you do not understand anything about my business, and I'd really like to have my dog back."
Notice the herder wasn't impressed by the 'give 'em the old razzle-dazzle' approach of the geeky, affluent “expert.” Why? He knew with flashy consultants, after all is said and done, more is said than done. The herder depended on his 'thinker' rather than his 'feeler.' The excellent presentation didn't spellbind him because it was an excellent presentation. Just because something looks cool doesn’t mean it is true. Charles Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. Discernment is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”
A Native American elder once described his inner struggles about what he sees and feels going around him in this manner: "Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time." When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, "The one I feed the most."
Look at the title of this article again. Notice I started with two dog ideas. Now comes the third dog concept of this article. Remember the song which asks, "Who Let the Dogs Out?" I agree with the Native American elder. We let the dog out of us that we have feed the most. But, it affects us and others also, constructively or destructively.
And many powerful voices are trying to influence you to feed the destructive dog inside of you. A wise man once said, "Be careful who you let on your ship because some people will sink the whole ship just because they can't be the captain." Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted (mean dog) whenever I am contradicted." Choose to be teachable, not offended. The good dog in you chews up the meat and spits out the bones. Accept that you have some toxic traits too. It’s not always the other person.
Would you like some calm in the chaos? Start feeding the good dog. Someone once said, “I’m not interested in whether the glass is half empty or half full. I’m interested in figuring out how to fill the glass.” I like that. You glow differently when you have good people with honorable, truthful, and good intentions in your life.
The mean dog says everything is canceled. Not true! Sunshine is not canceled. Spring is not canceled. Love is not canceled. Relationships are not canceled. Reading is not canceled. Naps are not canceled. Devotion is not canceled. Music is not canceled. Dancing is not canceled. Imagination is not canceled. Kindness is not canceled. Conversations are not canceled. Hope is not canceled. Truth is not canceled. Don't let the cancel-culture, FOMO, or social media madness cancel the good dog in you.
Think of this. Your terrible job is the dream of almost every unemployed. Your house is the dream of nearly every homeless. Your smile is the dream of practically every depressed. Your health is the dream of almost every chronically ill person. Your lifestyle is the dream of somebody else. So don't let difficult times make you forget your blessings. Don't think like everyone else. When you operate in your gift, you don't have to be at the head of the table; for wherever you sit or stand, the table and the room will shift to you.
If you're not willing to feed the good dog in you, no one can help you. But if you are eager to learn to feed the good dog in you, nothing and no one can stop you. We let the dog out. It’s our choice. Do you know what that good dog is? It's God's nature built into us all. Let God reveal it to you and others. Remember, the giant in front of you is never bigger than the God who lives inside you.
So, learn to discern the next time a 'razzle-dazzle' expert comes to you without being invited, telling you something you know is not valid, and get your good dog back.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com