I often find our Mini-Australian Shepherd barking from his bed on the porch around 4:30 in the morning. We deal with coyotes, I hope he is warding them off. But is he doing his job, or simply being lazy? We have around 60 chickens on our humble farmhouse homestead and he loves herding them all day long.
In the beginning, his behavior troubled me because we have lost more chickens than I care to admit to dogs loving the taste of fresh meat. Bailey, on the other hand, has yet to harm a live chicken. He will spend all day running around making sure these birds don’t violate his, or our, space. So calling him lazy probably isn’t fair.
I realize that we could all learn a lesson from Bailey’s barking each day. He boasts about 25 pounds and stands a tall 12 inches. So no, his intimidation tactics is not in his size, but in his bark. The coyotes around our place will get about 100-200 yards from our yard and Bailey knows that if they see him they will not hesitate to approach. However, if they hear him they might think twice.
So barking is the solution?
No, barking at your family or loved ones from bed is not the solution to all your problems. I would argue it is the solution to none of your problems. The lesson we can learn from this tiny dog is he knows two things. He knows his strengths and his weaknesses. Bailey is aware he is a tiny dog and the only animals intimidated by his side take flight from time to time.
If he were to charge out to the fields and confront these coyotes nose to nose, he would lose. He might even be a better snack than one of our laying hens. His strength lies in his ability to appear larger than he actually is. Barking from the porch, he has the advantage of being a large dog without actually being a large dog. And by the way, it is working. We haven’t had a lost chicken since he’s slept outside.
Discover your own strength and weakness
So how can we apply this mentality to our own life?
I encourage and challenge you today to take a step back and first make a list of your strengths. Go ahead, feel free to puff up your chest a bit and boast to your piece of paper how awesome you are. Myself, my strengths are in the written word and reading the behaviors of others. These combined with my constant reading and self-improvement has allowed me to positively impact other’s lives.
Now, take a breath because this is the hard part.
Sit down and write your weaknesses. And if your reaction is that you have no weaknesses, I need you to go and read my recommended books blog post. If you can get through those books and think you have no weaknesses, then will you please be my mentor!
For me, my biggest weakness is in my attempted control in every aspect of my life. Whether it is my relationship with Jess and the kids, or our finances, I have a hard time of letting go of control. And when I don’t have that control, my second biggest weakness comes out strong. Even though I boast that I have great patience, I quickly lose it when I have no control.
So for me to be successful and fulfill my God-given purpose in life, I have to remind myself of both my strengths and weaknesses in every situation. I need to know that I can’t control everything, but I have the strength to influence my situations.
I encourage you to do this small exercise today and evaluate some past situations where you have failed. Did you lean on your strengths or your weaknesses. Not all situations are life and death like Bailey’s everyday life; but we never know which ones are.
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