There is a very powerful scene in the beginning of the movie American Sniper, where Chris Kyles’ father (Wayne Kyle) instructs his sons at the diner table one evening. His little speech went like this:
“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 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.”
The movie, through relating Chris Kyle’s story, very aptly demonstrates that he was a heroic sheepdog. He lived up to his father’s ideal.
For those of you who saw the film, it was a powerful movie which really shows just how daunting it is for those men who decide to “protect the flock.” I remember, when the movie ended, my wife and I looked at each other silently. We were visibly shook up. But the scene that stayed with me the most, was the scene with the dad instructing his sons.
I loved that speech. I thought it to be very sensible and straightforward. But I found it incomplete. Nevertheless, I want to address the types of people he discussed because I think these types of people go beyond just the physicality of ‘eat or be eaten’.
First, The Sheep
If you look at a flock of sheep, they outnumber wolves or sheepdogs by 50, 100, even 500 to 1… and often more. Those are facts. This is also observable among people. Most people are sheep. Some even call them sheeple. What are sheeple? Here is a definition from Wikipedia:
Sheeple (/ˈʃiː-pəl/; a portmanteau of “sheep” and “people”) is a derogatory term that highlights the passive herd behavior of people easily controlled by a governing power which likens them to sheep, a herd animal that is easily led about.
While some of you might find this offensive, keep in mind that Jesus also referred to us as sheep. I know; It’s not very flattering. Why? Well, like the definition of sheeple, sheep are:
- Dumb (mostly by choice).
- Too trusting.
In the movie, the father merely talks of their lack of physical defense. In the larger sense however, sheep are also very vulnerable to mental or spiritual abusers. Sheep are easily led to the slaughter or the shearer. In a very real sense, the sheep are those with no discernment or no desire to think. Those who trust the talking heads on the ‘fake news’. Those who think what others think, read what others read, and do what others do. They are described by the saying: “Those who don’t stand for anything, will fall for everything.” They are those who make up the stats about the average TV watcher (over 5 hours a day). They are… the majority, the average man, and the man on the street. They are also the prey of…
I like where Kyle’s Father bluntly says: “Some people prefer to believe that evil doesn’t exist in the world.” I am a lot like that with my own kids. While I don’t aim to pervert their innocence, I want them to be fully aware that evil does exist and I tell them so. Why? Because I don’t want to raise sheeple. I want to raise smart, discerning children, who may one day decide for themselves to stand up for the weak and confront evil.
That said, the wolves in our world are a lot more than just bad guys with guns. I often tell Jason, my 8 year old son, that those whom he calls robbers (or bad guys), don’t always wear a ski mask or a prison outfit – most often they wear a very expensive suit, live in very nice homes, and look very slick. He doesn’t quite get it yet, but he’ll catch on soon enough.
Yes, the wolves that prey upon the sheep often seem like upstanding individuals. Sure, we still have to contend with outright ‘evil’ individuals the likes of Charles Manson. But for every deranged psychotic killer and murderer, there are also shrewd and wicked luciferians whose deeds are done in utter darkness. They are the wolves in sheep clothing (i.e. Armani suits). They are the ones in high places of business or even religion who some would call ‘leaders’. They often make the laws, control the news, make wars, and direct the thinking of the sheeple through massive media influence. Those are the predators. Those are the ones that you need to be wary of.
They are characterized by the following:
- Always look out for number 1.
- They love money.
- They do not love God and deny Jesus Christ.
- They operate under one commandment only: Do what thou wilt.
Jesus said of the wolves: You shall know them by their fruit.
And then there are The Sheepdogs
These are those ‘blessed with the gift of aggression and an overpowering need to protect the flock.’
What? Is aggression a gift? It can be – absolutely!
I, for one, am not a big guy. That said, if I ever found myself in the wrong part of town, at the wrong time of night, surrounded by the wrong kind of people; I know I would be glad if my friend was a sheepdog. You know, the kind of guy who is able to handle himself well, who looks out for his fellow man, and who is blessed with the gift of aggression. That would definitely be seen as a gift to me.
King David, who was a skilled and able warrior himself, liked to surround himself with sheepdogs. The Scripture refers to them as ‘David’s mighty men’. They were skilled in the art of war. They were what we call today badasses. Sheepdogs have a tough exterior, and a kind heart. They have the ability to be strong, and yet gentle. They are the men’s men who love God, family, country – in that order. They are also… becoming more rare. Unfortunately, in a society where true masculinity is less and less admired, these valuable men are making themselves more scarce. But that doesn’t diminish their importance. As the saying goes:
“The best defense against bad guys with guns, are good guys with guns.”
We will always need sheepdogs in a world full of wolves.
Now, there is a fourth type of individual that wasn’t addressed in the movie. This fourth type is extremely important…
The shepherds are those men who guard the flock’s thoughts, beliefs, spirit, understanding, and values. They are the godly thought-leaders, pastors, leaders, writers, teachers. They give direction, faith, encouragement. They provide comfort, truth, and wisdom. But they also oppose and reprove. They oppose unrighteousness, greed, and foolishness. They stand against tyranny and ungodliness. And last but not least, they point others to God as The Good Shepherd.
In short, the shepherds comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. That is their M.O.
I once made a meme that said the following:
Some said to me: “In a world full of sheep, become a wolf.”
But I chose to become a shepherd instead.
Now, after reading this, you will probably recognize yourself in one of these four categories. If you saw yourself as a sheep or wolf – you need to reform. God has always proven faithful in such instances where people decide to change for the better and ask Him for help.
If you saw yourself as a sheepdog or shepherd, a thank you is in order. Thank you for putting other’s needs ahead of your own.
I like to remember Jesus’ last conversation with the apostle Peter as an encouragement to those who look after the flock whether as a sheepdog or shepherd:
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.”
(John 21: 15-19)
Let us follow Him as well.
Be Blessed and Thrive On!