Four Oxen, A Lion, and the Church

What can we learn from this tale?

What can we learn from this tale?

In Leader's Eat Last, by Simon Sinek, Sinek spends a fair amount of time speaking to creating a culture of belonging in the work place.  As in, gasp, the secular world!

Safety within an organization is a higher value in successful organizations that it used to be.  Looking at organizations that DO create that feeling of safety, security, and accountability, I figure the church - particularly the UMC in which I am clergy - have a lot of work to do.

We do discuss accountability a lot these days in my denomination, or rather, a lack there of.  And don't get me wrong, I think that's all well and good.  Accountability is an essential value to life in the church.

But ... accountability goes wrong when shame comes in.

And shaming each other seems to be a current specialty within the Body of Christ.  Nobody can tear itself down faster than the community of Jesus.  

When we do that, when we resort to shaming those with whom we disagree, when we choose indirect communication, sarcasm, and satire in public over real conversation person-to-person, we lose another essential value of the community Jesus created:


If you can't trust those who say they love you to protect you in the public sphere, what do you have?

Sinek, to illustrate this, brings in Aesop's tale of "The Four Oxen and the Lion."  It goes like this ...

A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.

When we forget that we're here to protect each other, to circle up around each other we lose

Is the church still safe?  Is it a safe place to learn and grow?

Or do we only seek to protect those who are just like us?  What kind of community would Christ rather us create?