I have a friend who is a cattle farmer. I’ve always fancied myself to be a tough guy, but I’m not as tough as my friend Laslie. He’s been hardened by a life on the farm. Rain or shine, freezing or an Alabama “summer sauna” kind of day, he meets all his challenges with a steady and consistent force.
If I’m honest, his manliness makes me jealous. When I’ve stopped by for visits I’ve found him covered in mud moving cattle in a lower field. Under his truck replacing parts. Baling hay with neighbors. And, sitting at his kitchen table eating liverwurst on saltines, drinking Dr. Pepper from a mason jar wrapped with a rag held by rubber bands, and telling me about helping a heifer birth her calf around 2 am.
Laslie is a man’s man. Maybe that’s why I’ve always been drawn to him…hoping I could pick up some more manliness by hanging around him. I think that’s the same reason I loved watching westerns as a kid.
I probably am a little tougher from being around Laslie, but his friendship, more than anything, has taught me how to be loving.
I didn’t know Laslie as a young man, but in our conversations together, he has let a few things slip out that let me know he made some bad choices and lived with their consequences. Haven’t we all. But, at some point, God grabbed Laslie’s heart and introduced him to His Son Jesus, THE REAL MAN!
Jesus took toughness, duty, commitment, and sacrifice, fueled by love and compassion, to its highest levels when He died the sinful death we all deserve and secured eternal life for those who believe in Him. Laslie believed and today Jesus is the Lord of his life.
Because of Jesus, Laslie would rather give than receive and serve others rather than be served. I’ve seen him deliver food to the poor, welcome community groups to his farm, teach Sunday School, and even get under my truck to repair a few parts. Once, he even opened his gates and let me put on an all-day Christian music festival for youth where there might have been a few city-tired vehicles stuck in Alabama prairie mud. Thankfully, Laslie helped with that too.
I admire toughness, but Laslie taught me what Jesus taught him… tenderness towards and sacrifice for others are even greater.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:3-6