Fear, doubt, and uncertainty are inner foes that regularly thwart forward progress. Fear out in the world is presented constantly in the daily news cycle and is legitimate when mass shootings have become almost common place. But succumbing to that fear or choosing a life built around fear limits us in every way. Fearlessness is the strength we build inside.
In the movie “American Sniper”, Chris Kyle’s dad makes an important point about how we act when faced with fear. He says, “there are three types of people in this world: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world, and if it ever darkened their doorstep, they wouldn’t know how to protect themselves. Those are the sheep. Then you’ve got the predators who use violence to prey on the weak. They’re the wolves. And then there are those blessed with the gift of aggression, an overpowering need to protect the flock. These men are the rare breed who live to confront the wolf. They are the sheepdog.”
Becoming the Sheepdog
These remarks can be used in a lot of different ways to build our strength against the wolf of fear. As we are striving to find our human potential, we must often confront our inner wolf. Every time we feel fear or think we might fail by taking a chance, the wolf inside is trying his best to take over our minds. How do we use our attitude of a sheepdog to overcome that? A simple tool is to use mantras or positive statements to redirect our minds. Simply saying to ourselves, “I will act with intention and be true to myself” allows us to evaluate fear that arises in uncomfortable situations or daily interactions. Then, we can take a minute to connect back to our true intention and purpose.
Most of us take on careers where the approval of others is necessary (sales, service industry, doctors, lawyers, teachers). But when that approval invokes fear, we go about our working lives as sheep – waiting for threat, easily attacked. The sheepdog understands that mistakes happen but when we put forth solid effort with good intention, we have offered ourselves to our work in a meaningful way. The fear of rejection or disregard, this is my personal wolf. I must confront that wolf many times through the day and have the courage to redirect my mind to my mantra, “lead with the guidance of the Lord”. Why would I or anyone else want to live a life that is limited by what other people think?
Seeing the Wolves Around Us
There are wolves all around us, trying to hurt us physically and emotionally. How do we protect ourselves from these people or situations? It is our responsibility, especially as an example to our children, to make sure we have a way to protect ourselves from wolves inwardly and outwardly. We can start with simple things like how we speak about people. Positive language about those around us helps our children see that negativity or bullying is not the norm. Another tool is service. When we help others, we help combat the wolves that affect our neighbors and community. We build physical strength so that if danger ever knocked on our doorstep, we would be capable to handle it. These tools allow us to combat the wolves in the world and help teach our children how to do the same. Then, when they go out into the world and see negativity, they quickly recognize it as a threat and have the courage to address it or the understanding to remove themselves from the situation.
We can help each other become the sheepdogs of our communities. When we act with intention and use our purpose in service, the whole community is stronger. Every day that we confront the wolf – the fear that limits us from more – we build the strength of the sheepdog. The sheepdog protects the pack which for us is family and community. The sheepdog in you is ready.