From the wintry appearance of the groundhog to the biblical model of diligence, the ant, we are all about animals that inspire! As we shovel out from under snow, sleet, and wind damage, we are happy to hear birds singing and once again find inspiration in the Animal Kingdom. In a recent team-teaching session that I conducted for my friends on the Little Rock Baptist Health campus, we asked ourselves which of these wondrous creatures did we most identify with...and more at the heart of things, what does your team look like? But first, who made the list of Nature's Hardest Workers??
Honeybees! By far number one, who works harder than "the Busy Bee," swarming to fill combs, pollenate acres of flowers and vegetables, keep that Queen alive and well, and crank out enough honey to keep all our resident bee keepers with stocked shelves! My life is arrayed with "Do-Bees" and "Don't-Bees," thanks to the teachings of Romper Room in the early 1960s. Baby Boomers, can you hear the song?? "Do be a 'do-be,' don't be a 'Don't be,'..." all designed to motivate the Little Cathies of the world to work, serve, and to always obey parents and teachers. My own mom is affectionately known as "Doobie" for that song and her encouragement to be a doer! So honeybees top the list of hardest can-do workers, and Most Likely to Succeed in a Team. They work in close partnership with one another, for common goals, in season and out of season.
Ants were a solid #2, no doubt because they are also mentioned in the Wisdom Literature. Proverbs hails them so that even "the sluggard" can learn from how well they work in summer to prepare for winter, without supervision, and always on point in their purposeful planning. Instinctively, they prep for winter in summer and have what they need in harvest. Ever noticed how they attack the job again if you kick or disturb their structure? They get right back at it, undaunted by the mess you've just created. They, too, work extremely well in teams, and are able to lift weight many times greater than their own size and weight.
Salmon made the Top 5 as well. I guess you would too, if you spent your labors swimming up stream! Whether to assure the survival of their species, return to their birthplace, or survive the bears - wow there's a lot of lesson in there - we salute salmon as nature's unsinkable super-swimmers!
Hummingbirds! These beautiful little creatures never seem to rest, in fact, you'd be hard pressed to actually spot one sitting in the tree waiting his turn at the feeder. Their wings work at incredible speeds. In our backyards, they are normally competitive and territorial. Their little air-wars, dive-bombing one another around the feeders, give you the feeling you're in an Independence Day air battle with swarms from the Mother Ship. They may even buzz you or the dog in the yard if you are in their flight pattern. I'm entertained by their tiny chirping sound they make at one another, but gotta admire their spunk - and their grit - given their willlingness to fly as far south as beyond the Gulf of Mexico when October rolls around.
Something interesting about hummingbirds in the jungle though. In one of my missions' journeys, I had the priviledge of actually staying IN the jungle in the interior of Belize. The home I stayed in was far into the jungle, a number of acres alongside the river and on top of a hill, where the most amazing wildlife of flora and fauna were all thriving. That's for another post! But here, deep in the jungle, the hummingbirds had an abundance of drink - a huge feeder at my host's house for one thing, and an amazing array of flowers to drink from. The hummingbirds, not tiny like here, grew the size of my hand in the jungle, where everything was thriving. They didn't chirp at one another, nor fight for their turns. They just flew around and seem to hold themselves effortlessly in the air until they lighted for a drink. How amazing a life lesson, that everything thrives in the right environment - without competition, without territorialism, without struggle.
Lastly, our final entry on the list of Nature's Hardest Workers: the Beaver.
Pound for pound, he's a Packer alright - toting more wood than a wood chuck can chuck if a woodchuck could... yeah. No animal alters the landscape more than man than beavers. They can turn the course of a river, fell trees several stories high, and have earned the title, "Eager Beaver!" Proof that #LittleThingsMakeBigThingsHappen!
I can't help but remember and smile at the old-school Disney character, Mr. Busy Beaver in Lady & the Tramp. When Lady was muzzled by the sitter who thought she would hurt the baby, Tramp freed her by taking her to the Zoo, where Mr. Beaver ingeniously saw the value of this leather contraption as a better hauler than his paddle-rear. He happily gnawed through her leash and wound up flinging himself airborne into the next great addition to his beaver dam. Oh those good old movies, they don't make 'em like that anymore!
The animals who accomplish the most are ones who work as a TEAM, even the unlikely pairing of bees and humans, producing healthy flavor and body for your hot tea or cereal. So which of these lovely creatures does your team most look like? Do you have an ant-mentality, such that you can pull together and accomplish great feats? Or is there hummingbird territorialism over people and resources? Is there competition for attention, recognition and praise? Your hummingbird team may tell you something about the leadership environment. If you have some eager beavers, corral that motivation and keep worthy projects in front of them, something they can really sink their teeth into :)
Our brief study reflects the Judeo-Christian values of hard work, team work, sharing the load and the fruits of rewards, and appropriately fits what the Jewish sages said... "Great and small are equal, and one should never ignore his help..." Just as both the Tabernacle and the Temple were built by two men of both great and small families, ultimately, our Heavenly Father is the source of all Help. Whoever He chooses to send to you for help is up to Him. Don't refuse in pride.
May His Spirit always be with you in trouble, and bring you the source of strength, encouragement, and manpower you need. May He set you in the right team environment, and stir you towards greater depths of diligent, selfless service in your family and community.