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Why A Lion Tamer Uses a Chair

By Russell McKinney

Mitchell CountyRussell McKinney Mitchell County Roan Mountain Baptist Church

“O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God, my God.” (Psalm 43:3-4, K.J.V.)

Most of us have watched the scene of a lion tamer using a chair and a whip to help keep a lion at bay. But have you ever wondered why a chair is used? It’s because a chair has four legs, and that confuses the lion enough to keep it from attacking in earnest. The lion will jab at one leg of the chair and paw at another one, but he won’t lunge forward in full attack because he’s unsure of his target. If lion tamers used brooms or mops, we’d hear more stories about mauled lion tamers.

This tidbit from the field of lion taming illustrates a profound lesson from life: It’s hard to do your best when your focus is all over the road. While diversity can be a wonderful thing in its proper place, it can actually become a hindrance that can cost you “your best” in a singular field as you settle for “pretty good” in a variety of fields. The truth is, you minimize your effectiveness when you spread your talents, abilities, and gifts too thin.

I’ve always loved our text passage because in it the unnamed Psalmist, most likely David, says, “Upon the harp will I praise thee, O God, my God.” That thought begs the question to each of us, “What’s your harp?” In other words, what is that one thing that you can do to the glory of God? What is your talent? What is your skill? What are you really good at? That is where your focus needs to be.

Of course, I realize that life forces us to play many roles. For example, if it was David who wrote Psalm 43, he certainly played more roles than just harp player. He was also a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a king, a soldier, a builder, a musician, and a writer of Psalms. Likewise, I myself play the role of husband, father, son, brother, pastor, radio preacher, and blogger. Still, I know deep down that if I poured 100% of myself into any one of these roles, I’d do a better job with it.

So, my purpose with this article is to get you, the reader, to examine your life and see if you’ve got too much going on these days. Ask yourself, “Do I need to simplify my life by eliminating some of the things I’m doing?” You see, doing more isn’t necessarily better, especially if you are doing it in a half-baked way. That old saying, “Less is more” rings true if you do a better job with the “less.” Unfortunately, we’ve got too many confused lions running around out there, people who can’t strike an ideal lick because they can’t narrow their focus enough to do it. But that doesn’t have to be you, and it won’t be if you will figure out what your best “harp” is and play it to the full extent of your ability.


Russell Mckinney lives in the English Woods area of Spruce Pine and serves as the pastor of Roan Mountain Baptist Church in Bakersville.

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