Packs vs Herds

By DANNY MINTON

My son Scottie and I watched the Ice Age movie one evening when one scene stuck out to me. The three main characters of the film are three friends, a mammoth (Manny), a sloth (Sid), and a saber-toothed tiger (Diego), an unusual trio, to say the least. In this one scene, Diego is trying to talk another tiger into leaving a pack of unruly friends and join them. She refused, not wanting to leave the pack saying it was wrong and that Diego had done wrong in leaving his pack and going with Manny and Sid. Diego looked at her and said he left a pack and joined a herd. She retorted back, “What’s the difference?” Diego looked at her and said, “In a herd, we watch each other’s back.”

Packs give the impression of selfishness and greed; the notion of a pack means doing what it takes to move to the top, fulfill personal desires or wander aimlessly around with no real direction in mind, attacking whatever gets in its way. When one falls or becomes weak in a pack, it is often destroyed by those with a pack attitude. You’ll often see packs fight each other over their individual desires. The leader of a pack leads them to prey and destruction.

On the other hand, a herd carries a sense of togetherness. Herds graze together, moving in one direction with one goal in mind. Yes, some wander from time to time away from the herd; that happens. Herds, for the most part, work together and even warn others of imminent danger. Rarely do you see members of a herd fight each other. The leader of the herd leads them to food and safety.

So what’s my mentality? Do I have a pack or herd mentality? I do not doubt that church groups want to be a herd, moving together with goal and purpose. But sometimes, we slip. Sometimes we take on a little of the pack mentality. This mentality happens in a herd, but the herd will always become a herd again once the issue becomes resolved.

Satan has the pack mentality. He wants Christians to devour each other. He accomplishes this through the subtle criticism that he puts in our mouths that causes division and dissension. When Christians criticize each other behind backs, when we give an ear to criticism of our fellow Christians without watching their back, or when we put personal agendas ahead of Christ’s plan, that’s when we become a pack. 

Jesus, on the other hand, had the herd mentality. I can’t remember anywhere where Jesus criticized his devoted followers unless it was face to face. He never publically ridiculed them, and He stood by them when others attacked them. 

One of my favorite songs is the acapella version of “The Greatest Command.” I like the acapella version since it brings out the purity of the voices. The unique thing I like is how by the end of the song, all four parts of harmony are blended, but at the same time singing a different tune. The combination is beautiful, and I mostly want to stop and listen. Another song, “Christmas Canon,” by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, blends different vocal harmonies with music, giving four different unique sounds but working together beautifully. Another favorite of mine is the Bronn Journey version of “Ashokan Farewell.” It blends various instruments one at a time until they play the same tune but a little differently. The interesting fact about all of these is that even though they all contain different parts, they continue to work in harmony. That harmony, in return, adds exceptional beauty to the music being sung or played.

For a group to be in harmony doesn’t mean that it must be full of those who are the same. Harmony means working together for a common goal. For the world to be a better place, people need to work together, knowing there are differences, yet working together for the good of all God’s children.  Instead of a pack mentality, destroying each other, and preying on the weak, we should have that herd mentality. A herd can be much like Manny, Sid, and Diego, all different, but working together for a common goal. 

Keep in mind the words that Paul wrote the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB)

How much of a better place would the world be if men and women took these words seriously? The place to start begins with our not letting our herds become packs but openly embracing each other despite our differences. 

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

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