Show Horse or Plow Horse?

Harry S. Truman once said, “You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit” (David McCullough, Truman [NY: Simon & Schuster, 1992], 564).  Author Jim Collins (Good to Great [NY: HarperCollins, 2001], 21, 33) quotes him while describing what he calls “a Level Five leader – an individual who blends extreme personal humility with intense professional will.”  As an example he cites Alan Wurtzel, CEO of Circuit City, who was once asked what the difference was between himself and his counterpart CEO at a rival company, whose paycheck and publicity were much higher than his own, while Circuit City outperformed the other company by 18.5 times over the period 1982-1997.  Though Wurtzel was more prone to cite other people, or things like luck and being in the right place at the right time and being in a great industry with the wind at our backs, he finally summed up with this telling comment: “The show horse and the plow horse—he was more of a show horse, whereas I was more of a plow horse. “

Plow horse or show horse?  Is my following of Jesus all about me or about someone or something greater than myself?  As leaders and followers in Jesus’ community, what kind of horses are we called to be?

All I can say is I’m glad that if I’m called to be a plow horse, the one driving the plow could not possibly have the best interests of the spiritual soil (people’s hearts including my own) in view in a more beautiful way (Matthew 11:28-30; 13:1-9).

Ask yourself this question.  Last time you saw a beautiful farm field in full bloom, did you find yourself thinking admirably about, and wanting to heap accolades and praise upon a plow blade, or even the horse or tractor who pulled it?  Didn’t make the field any less beautiful, though, did it?

Just so.

O Lord, make me a plow horse leader among a plow horse community, that ever more beautiful things might arise in the hearts of people.

Grace and peace,


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