Christians, like Belgian draft horses, get more done together
By Gene Andrews
Saturday, November 3, 2018
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
I love word games and puzzles. My favorites are crossword puzzles and cryptic quotes. If you know me, you know I am also prone to making puns. Since I am a preacher, teacher and writer, I guess you could say that words are my life. In sermons and lessons, I like to provide background on words to see how certain words come into our language. This helps us have a fuller understanding of what we are saying.
My favorite is the word “sophomore.” It is the combination of two Greek words, “sophia” which means “wisdom,” and “moros,” which means “fool/foolish.” In other words, a sophomore is a “wise fool.” If you have ever worked with sophomores, you understand. They have enough education to be wise in some things, but not enough education to speak and act with wisdom. I say that one of the worst things a church can do is hire a preacher who has just a sophomore level of education. It is also why we speak of someone as being sophomoric, which speaks of one who is conceited and overconfident of knowledge but poorly informed and immature. In my opinion, much of what passes as humor in sitcoms on television was written by those who only went to the level of sophomore in college.
A recent Sunday cryptogram in our local newspaper was: "LOKG TPZOB XCJA WZIIZC AVZK ICOKBHMOKIZP TKIJ OKJIVZC LTKP IVOK TK IVZ JKZ AVZCZ IVZG BHCOKX DH." The person who this is quoted from is JMTEZC AZKPZMM VJMLZB. If you would like, go ahead and decipher this, then come back and finish reading this article.
Did you do it? This quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes says, "Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprang up." An adage that might be related to this is “two heads are better than one.”
The idea expressed by Holmes is also a biblical concept. Solomon stated in Ecclesiastes 4:9 that “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.” On another occasion Solomon states that three is even better when he says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) There is strength in numbers. In numbers there is more productivity and clearer thinking. Another benefit is accountability.
This is carried even further in the teaching of Scripture on spiritual gifts. No one Christian possesses all the gifts. It takes our working together as a body, with each member doing his or her part, to accomplish the work to which God has called us.
A word used to describe what we are talking about is “synergy.” Again, understanding the derivation of this word helps us to grasp the fuller meaning behind it. Synergy is the blending of two words from the Greek: “syn” = together and “ergos” = work. Thus synergy means to work together. It speaks of strength in numbers. The idea of synergy is explained with the story of Belgian draft horses, as related by Dave Ramsey in his book, “EntreLeadership.”
According to Ramsey, "One of the largest, strongest horses in the world is the Belgian draft horse. Competitions are held to see which horse can pull the most and one Belgian can pull 8,000 pounds. The weird thing is if you put two Belgian horses in the harness who are strangers to each other, together they can pull 20,000 to 24,000 pounds. Two can pull not twice as much as one but three times as much as one. This example represents the power of synergy. However, if the two horses are raised and trained together they learn to pull and think as one. The trained, and therefore unified, pair can pull 30,000 to 32,000 pounds, almost four times as much as a single horse."
Are you pulling your share of the load in your church, your community, or your place of work?
Gene Andrews is an adjunct professor at Mid-Atlantic Christian University. The opinions expressed in this column belong to the author and may not be those of MACU.