Shepherd and Sheep, Company Men,
Staying On the Rails No Matter What

by
Sally Marshall

This page is about a weakness of mine that you might share. Whether you do share it or not is determined by your personality. Some people are dominant, bold leaders while some people are submissive, meek followers. Of course there are all sorts of people in between those two extremes and all sorts of combinations. But the bold types enjoy changes in life and the meek types don't. They want things to stay the same. Most of us are not the bold type. Most of us like continuity. I know I do. But like everyone else, life has dealt me some cards where I have had to accept unexpected change. "The Master's Template"  in the previous article calls for change. Thinking about how to deal with those changes reminds me of some of the stories of my past.

Stay On the Rails No Matter What

I used to have a children's book about a little train engine who loved to cavort in the fields and flowers despite being told to always stay on the rails no matter what. Loyalty to the rails was paramount. Safety and progress were at stake.

That concept is right and true as long as the rails are in good shape. If the rails are damaged, then we have to make a decision. What is the nature of the damage? Is it dangerous? Does it prevent forward movement? Is it easily repaired? In the secular world, damaged rails are common and staying on them is normal even if there is danger. So much of the time the damage is kept secret and hidden. That's the game of Babylon. Conspiracies greedily suck off the situations created by damaged rails.

The spiritual world doesn't operate by Babylon's rules. There, efforts of secrecy will never accomplish a righteous goal. Into the "light of day" is the slogan. Damage still needs to be evaluated as to its nature, its danger, whether it prevents progress, and whether a solution exists. But in the realm of the spiritual (and probably the secular too), staying on damaged rails no matter what, is a mistake.

Company Men

Over half a century ago, my father was a company man who suffered from staying on the rails of the secular world. A senior design engineer with top-secret clearance for Pratt and Whitney Aircraft, he designed both piston and jet engine parts that are still used today. If he had received even small royalty for one, I would be a wealthy woman now. He got the patent papers, he got a plaque, but he didn't get more than that. He had agreed to that when he signed on, and so it was OK.

It was working on the engines of the Enola Gay type Super Fortress planes after WW II and later the engines of rockets for carrying nuclear warheads that was not really OK. It interfered with his deep personal belief of what is right and wrong. It gave him nightmares. Then there was the hierarchy of the place, the insanity of the politics and the "hurry up and wait" routine - being pushed and rushed to produce designs that decided the safety of people high above the earth only to then watch his finished designs sit untouched on a desk for months.

But - Dad was a company man. It was what he knew. It was his life, it was his income, and he stayed on the rails, no matter what. He felt he could not do otherwise, and it is understandable why many people make that choice.

Shepherd and Sheep

In the spiritual world, there are stories in scripture that draw the analogy between God's people and sheep. I have had goats, but never sheep. However I did study sheep in pursuit of perhaps acquiring a few. Sheep will follow either the lead sheep or their shepherd. In the absence of the shepherd, they will follow the lead sheep anywhere, even off a cliff. As long as the lead sheep is keeping it together, the herd is OK. They are not OK if their leader is off course, nor are they OK alone, away from other sheep.

I suppose this might explain much of the behavior we see in Christian society today. But sheep are pretty dumb animals and I don't think that God meant to imply that His people are dumb and no good without a lead sheep. Instead scripture says, and so I assume that the analogy really was about sheep knowing and trusting the voice of their shepherd and following it, wherever it took them.

It might appear to some that "The Master's Template" in the previous article strays off the rails. You have to decide for yourself whether those rails are damaged, and if they are, is the damage temporary or permanent, insignificant or dangerous. Staying a company man or woman just because it is what we originally signed on for and are familiar with could be a big mistake in the spiritual world.

By definition, Christ's sheep hear His voice. Any other criterion alone is flawed. We are not dumb sheep that have to have a lead sheep, because our Shepherd is absent. We have access to the Shepherd all the time through the inner spiritual guidance of Holy Spirit. But if, because we are loyal company men, we choose to stay on the rails no matter what, riding damaged rails, we can end up off that cliff.

Yes, "The Master's Template" calls for change. A small change that will have dramatic results. It urges each one of us to quit fighting, drop our idols, focus on developing our own direct personal relationship with the Master, find that inner guidance, trust that voice more than the arm of flesh, and change our life accordingly. But doing that is scary. We might make mistakes. Alma16:149-173 tells us how to deal with that. And following His voice may take us to where we've never been. But then, we have never been in a state of union yet, nor to the Kingdom, nor have we been to Zion.