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Keeping Clear of the Pecking Order
Birds


Article Copyrighted - Debbie Porter (28th August, 2001)



“Like dogs in a wheel, birds in a cage, or squirrels in a chain, ambitious men still climb and climb, with great labor, and incessant anxiety, but never reach the top.”
~ Robert Burton ~



Tiger never gave me a second glance as I walked back into the house.

Although our little pup loves us more than anything else in the world, there are two times each day where his interest is held by something of greater importance.  Every other minute of the day we can be sure of his undivided attention and overwhelming love, but when it’s breakfast or dinner time and there's food in his bowl, his response is much more likely to be, “What family?”

With ten minutes to spare before we were due to leave for Church, I decided to make the most of the time by doing the small amount of washing up sitting in the sink.  :From my vantage point at the kitchen window I could see Tiger outside, still totally absorbed by his breakfast.  His little nose was burrowed deep in the bowl, searching for those biscuits that would most tickle his taste buds.

As I watched, a pair of birds fluttered down onto the Hot Tub Cover.  From their safe perch, the two Indian Minors were completely focused on Tiger and the contents of his bowl.  But they weren’t the only ones who were showing an interest.

Within seconds of “Heckle and Jeckle’s” arrival, a newcomer wandered into view.  Casually sauntering across the paving, the Wood Dove gave every impression of someone just passing through.  I smiled as the dainty bird sashayed from side to side.  Although trying to appear disinterested, it was fairly obvious that the little dove was jockeying for position in the Dog Food Stakes.

Now the two Minors were torn between their observation of Tiger’s breakfast consumption and the sneaky interloper.  Waves of nervous agitation and indignation were pouring out of the two hot tub sitters.  After all, they were first in line and no trumped up pigeon was going to crowd them out.

In the meantime, Tiger continued his happy munching, totally oblivious to the scheming and self-promotion that was going on behind him.

My hands lay completely still in the soapy water and all thought of washing dirty dishes had disappeared.  The tableau before me was way too interesting and when Kylie joined me at the sink she too became a willing voyeur.  The antics of these feathered would-be scavengers was definitely amusing.  But what really had us glued to the little window was the anticipation of our Miniature Fox Terrier’s reaction when he saw what was going on behind his back.

Suddenly a new arrival landed on the hot tub cover, sending “Heckle and Jeckle” into a spin.  Without stopping to see who the usurper was, they fluttered nervously down to the pavers and I laughed when the big bully turned out to be nothing more ferocious than the smallest of Sparrows.

Having lost their place of superiority, the Minors decided to make the most of their demotion by inching a little closer to the bowl.  The Wood Dove noticed that the push for position had been stepped up and quickly began to move in from the side.  All the while, the Sparrow watched from above, waiting for an opening to swoop and steal one of those delicious biscuits.

That’s when it happened.

Surrounded on every side, Tiger finally realized that he wasn’t alone.  Lifting his nose out of the dish long enough to look around, he zeroed in on the four birds and went straight into action.

It wasn’t his angriest bark.  That’s reserved for the neighbourhood cats who dare to trespass on his property.  But it was definitely his “who do you think you are, sneaking up on a dog when he’s eating his breakfast” yap and was more than enough to set each bird into frantic flight.

While Tiger was chasing the Sparrow and Minors, the Wood Dove fluttered over toward the bowl in the hope of grabbing a little biscuit in the confusion.  But our pup came straight back and with a very annoyed bark, sent the bird on her way.

“Knew that would happen!”  I chuckled, as we watched the four over-ambitious birds regroup in the trees.

All their attempts at pushing themselves forward and being in what they considered to be the best position, came to nothing.  In fact, the same comedy is played out every single morning and always has the same result.  It doesn’t matter whether they are the early bird or the last to arrive.  There’s not a bit of difference if they make their intentions obvious or are casually nonchalant.  Whether they’re nearest the bowl or furthest away, all their attempts to jockey for position, their best laid plans and schemes, always run aground.

Even though I laughed, the fact that this behaviour can be seen just as obviously in humans made me stop and think.  It's a very real part of life in the business world as well as in countless numbers of organizations world-wide.  Sadly, it even happens in churches.

Being ambitious isn’t necessarily a problem, provided that ambition is brought into line with the plans, purposes and will of God for our lives.  It becomes a problem when selfishness, greed, envy and pride become the motivating force.

When we step into this mode of striving, we leave the door wide open for frustration, disappointment and rejection.  No matter how hard we try, someone else always seems to take the “prize”.  Every effort made to “advance” just seems to push us further “backward”.

But the reality is that this is a failure on our part to understand that each one of us has been given gifts and talents that God desires us to use for His glory in a particular way.  It’s also a failure to understand the incredible wonder of ministry within the Body of Christ, as each member does what he or she was created to do.

Even more important, when we strive and struggle to obtain what we consider to be an important position in the life of our Church, we miss the fact that the only promotion that matters comes from the Lord.  As the Psalmist wrote:

“For not from the east nor from the west nor from the south come promotion and lifting up. But God is the Judge! He puts down one and lifts up another.”
~ Psalm 75:6-7 Amplified Version ~

We need to discover what God is calling us to do and then prepare ourselves to answer that call.  We also need to position ourselves so that we’re ready to respond the minute He makes the way clear.  But as for jostling and pushing to make it happen, there just isn’t room for that in the life of a child of God.  If we’re striving and struggling to squeeze into a place for which we were never designed, we’ll be missing out on the perfect fit that our Heavenly Father made just for us.

When it comes right down to it, all God really wants is all of you, doing all that He really wants you to do!



“Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.”
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ~



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