A Prairie Dog Parable

 There once was town of prairie dogs. The prairie dogs always had much to do. Burrowing, seeking out food, watching out for predators, and caring for the pups were always important tasks that needed to be done.


But one day some of the prairie dogs became disgruntled. They were tired of burrowing, seeking out food, watching out for predators, and caring for the pups.

One of the disgruntled prairie dogs said the the chief prairie dog, "I don't want to burrow! I want design a whole new system of tunnels."

"But we don't really need a new system of tunnels," replied the chief prairie dog. "What the town really needs are workers who are willing to maintain the tunnels we have. There may come a time when we need new tunnels, but that time ins't yet."

But the first disgruntled prairie dog wasn't hearing it. "I was given a gift by the Creator and you are keeping me from fully using my gift of designing new tunnels. Why would I bother maintaining the tunnels? Other, less gifted prairie dogs can do that."

A second disgruntled prairie dog stepped forward. "I'm tired of wasting my time seeking out food. What I'd really like to do is something really meaningful and important. Any prairie dog can search for food. I want to do something important. I want to do something memorable."

A third spoke up. "I've been on predatory patrol for two years now and I'm tired of it. Shouldn't some of the younger pups be taking over by now?"

One more piped, "And don't get me started about having to care for the pups. If I'm having to spend all of my time caring for the pups then when do I get to do the important work?"

The chief prairie dog looked at them in disbelief. "You're all saying you want to do something meaningful and important, but you don't want to do the meaningful and important work that others need you to do. If you love your fellow prairie dogs and this town, then we need you to do those tasks!"

One of the disgruntled retorted, "We were made for more than the mundane! We're tired of that kind of work. We're ready to do big, important things for the town."

The chief tried once again to reason with them. "If you don't maintain the tunnels, they'll fall into disrepair and the whole town will suffer. If you don't search for food, the town will go hungry. If you don't watch out for predators or protect the pups, the whole town will be at risk!"

But they weren't going to be persuaded. So they began to neglect the tasks the town needed them to do. Then others saw what was happening and followed their lead.

The results were disastrous. Soon the tunnels were caving in while several prairie dogs spend their time planning new tunnels. Hunger was rampant as prairie dogs neglected gathering food. The number of prairie dogs began to plummet as predators picked off unalerted individuals.  But the pups and the other most vulnerable prairie dogs suffered the most of all.

Why?
Because the service to the town had become about the one serving rather than the ones being served.

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Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
    -Philippians 2:3


How can you do meaningful, important work for the Creator? By fulfilling your God-given vocations (father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, worker, church member, etc.) and by selflessly serving for the benefit of others (church cleaning, serving on altar guild, regular tithing, teaching Sunday School, doing whatever needs to be done, etc.). 

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