When Calvin and Barth begin to bore you and Brueggemann’s new book is still sitting in your queue, here is a new and quirky suggestion for you to read:
Scott Alexander wrote a book entitled Rhinoceros Success. It is an easy read with silly artwork, yet delightfully profound. It not only deals with motivation and professional advice – but touches on issues of identity, calling, and purpose. It is an odd book to have leaning against my BDB Hebrew lexicon, but in many ways it has been more helpful to me and my ministry.
Scott reveals the simplicity of a successful life:
“The secret of success is, naturally, becoming a rhinoceros. In fact, my wish for you is that you wake up tomorrow morning as a full-grown, six-thousand-pound rhinoceros!”
Every pastorate is different and all types are needed in ministry. So my aim is not to tell you the type of pastor that you should be, but to simply offer up a new model for you to consider: the holy rhino.
Here are a few of the reasons why becoming a rhino has helped me in ministry:
- charge massively … There are not many things that can stop a charging rhino when they get moving. They charge massively. Rhinos are intense, passionate, and focused. Rhinos get things done. Rhinos do not spread themselves too thin. Rhinos do not get sidetracked or distracted from what is important. They keep charging … massively.
- think big … Make sure what you are charging towards is worth your time. Think bigger than what is right in front of you. For you are bigger than that (and your God is MUCH bigger than that). Rhinos are huge. Don’t limit your ministry by thinking too small.
- do not be a cow … Cows are average. Cows are ordinary. Cows are defenders of the status quo and want everything to remain the same. Cows are content to stand around, chew the cud, and keep their heads down for their entire life. Rhinos are created for more than this. You are created for more than this. Be better than normal.
- embrace your thick skin … Rhinos have two-inch-thick skin. As a pastor, you too will need your two-inch-thick skin on occasion. From the off-beat remarks to the derogatory asides, pastors receive a lot of unofficial, unsolicited (and often unhelpful) feedback. We need to be careful to not let what others think or say consume us. Remember God calls you the beloved and God calls you to ministry … all the rest is just commentary.
- don’t run from problems … Most problems are a good sign – they indicate that progress is being made. And rhinos do not run away from problems. They identify the problem, see what needs to be done, then get into high gear.
- use your horn … Rhinos use their horns, but only when necessary. They are not predators or hunters, they are defenders and protectors. In your ministry there will be times in which you will need to protect your flock, guard the vulnerable, and stick up for what is right. When those times come, do not be afraid – for God is with you, you are gigantic, and you have a horn.
- be alert … Rhinos are ready and waiting for every opportunity that comes their way. Rhinos won’t survive long in the jungle if they are not alert and able to respond quickly to what is happening around them. Your ministry won’t survive long in this world if you are not alert and able to respond contextually to what is happening around you.
- develop persistence … Rhinos never give up. Rhinos are tenacious. It is in every cell of their huge, charging body. We need to have their invaluable strength to keep going despite the circumstances.
- have a rhinoceros faith in God … Scott quotes scripture in various chapters and writes about Jesus being our safari guide, the Spirit charging with us through life, and how God is the best bet around! He even spends time on why rhinos might want to consider tithing. Next time someone asks you to describe your faith, please respond with “rhino-like”.
“All I ask is that if you decide to become a rhinoceros, commit yourself to it and go all out.”
“Choose to be a holy rhino fully dedicated to the ministry for which you have been called. Develop tenacious persistence, depend on your thick skin, don’t run from your problems, don’t sit idle like a cow, use your horn when necessary, stay alert, think big and charge massively.”
If you have chosen to embrace your calling as a holy rhino, please let me know. Scott tells us we should stick together and I would love to know you.