A Mule Can’t Kick When It Is Plowing

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I grew up in a small town in Mississippi. My grandfather had a farm in Alabama. I remember the joy of going to visit and ‘help’ plow with mules. Mules are bred as a work animal. When in the harness pulling a plow they were invaluable. When in the pen they could get fussy and kick(childhood memories resurfacing). The point of this article, and title, is found in the proper service of talents to avoid conflict and maximize potential or as we used to say, “A mule can’t kick when it is plowing and it can’t plow when it is kicking.”

We elect people to serve us in government and they often lose sight of uniting with other political servants to ‘plow’ together and wind up ‘kicking’ against one another serving no one well in the long run. Church members also get distracted on their purpose doing greater harm as their disservice has eternal consequences. People are often turned away from Spiritual truth and church in large numbers due to fighting and ‘kicking’ that goes on far too often when people who claim to be brothers and sisters should be ‘plowing’ together.

What causes the ‘kicking’? James 4: 1 asks the question “What causes fights and quarrels among you?” He then answers in verse 2 saying, “You want something but don’t get it.” It is pretty simple. We want things our way and have our own ego to serve. We do not GO to church to have things our way. We ARE the church as we go the way of the Father uniting to follow him as he sends us. Let’s go back to the country. My grandfather had a team of mules (two). They worked best when they were matched and were placed in the harness to work together. One worked best on the right and the other on the left. Rather than letting differences cause conflict their differences made them stronger as they pulled together.

I have noticed that those who make the most conflict in churches and communities are often the ones who are doing the least to pull together, and are not doing their share of the work. Remember one can’t kick and plow at the same time. God has blessed me to take mission teams around the world assisting third world countries and victims of disaster. One gains new perspective when one gets out of their own comfort zone to assist others. It is hard to argue or think about selfish ideas when you are in a genocide museum, killing field, sitting in a mud hut sharing a meal or helping people restore a home destroyed by a hurricane.

D.T. Niles described what we do as “One beggar showing another beggar where he found bread.” Those who go across the street or across the ocean to share bread with a fellow beggar are too busy plowing and scattering seed to kick. Try to match up with fellow brothers and sisters as Ephesians 4 urges and enjoy plowing together. It is what we are really made to do.

Bill Drees

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