Shepherd or Sheep?

“A truly strong person does not need the approval of others any more than a lion needs the approval of sheep.”

—Vernon Howard

Today’s story is contributed by Katie Landon.

My sophomore year in high school. I forget what theater. I forget what movie. But I will never forget what Dad did that day.

sheperd or sheep

Katie and her dad, showing off creations from the Indian Princesses summer camp they attended in Dallas

A group of people were standing in queue, waiting to buy tickets. I instinctively looked for the back of the line and proceeded that way. But Dad? He walked right around them!

I paused for a second, figuring he would see, come back, and join me in line. But Dad gave me a wave and marched on. I reluctantly followed. I could feel the scowls. The accusatory stares. Line standers glaring at us with condemning eyes as we passed. So embarrassing.

But when we got to the front, we discovered that the line was actually for a special screening of a new movie! Dad and I walked right up to an available counter and bought tickets.

As we were entering the theater, a manager came out and announced… “This line is for the special screening only. If you are seeing another movie, please proceed to the front to buy tickets…”

Guess what? …About half the people in that line scurried up to the front, grumbling about having to wait so long.

“Sheep,” Dad chuckled under his breath as the attendant tore our tickets.

Sheep, I pondered? I asked Dad what he meant as we waited for the movie to start.

“Honey, most people live like sheep. They stay close to the flock. They like the security and comfort of groups. They gravitate to the back of long lines. Many years ago, I decided to live my life as a shepherd…not as a sheep.”

As the movie started, I looked around at the people sitting in rows. Sheep? Was I one of them?

Driving home, the subject came up again. “Ok,” Dad said, “next week I want you to test the theory at school. Be first to your classroom after lunch, close the door, and simply stand there waiting to go in. See how many people line up behind you, just assuming that the door is locked…”

shepherd or sheep

Katie and dad on her 22nd birthday

The following Monday, I did just that. I made it a point to arrive at my English classroom first after lunch. The door was already closed, but unlocked. Let the experiment begin.

I stood outside, waiting for sheep… The first student took her place in line behind me, without even asking or trying the door handle. Then another. And another.

Within minutes, a long line formed behind me…a flock of sheep. No one asked. Nobody tried to open the door. They all just assumed.

Finally, the teacher arrived. At last, a shepherd to lead the sheep. She certainly knew the door was not locked. But when she saw all of us standing there, she started fumbling for her keys to unlock the door! She then proceeded to insert and turn her key in the lock, only to discover that she had just locked the door.

That day at the movie with Dad. A life lesson I will never forget…

With all that I do — am I shepherd, or am I a sheep?

Katie Landon was raised in Dallas, Texas, by her parents with her three siblings. She graduated from the University of Arizona and recently moved to Scottsdale with Roxie, her Golden Retriever. Katie works as a kindergarten teacher for the Scottsdale Unified School District.

*Special note: Katie accepted a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Adam, on July 26th, 2013!

shepherd or sheep

Adam and Katie minutes after he proposed.

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