It’s like herding pigs

longarm-1Being a pastor is sometimes like herding pigs.  I’m not going for the cheap joke here, although I’m sure there is one.  I’m serious.  Apparently pig farmers have serious difficulty getting pigs to go into the barn in an orderly fashion.  Farmers can use cattle prods and big sticks to drive pigs, but this makes the pigs mad, and if you’re surrounded by 3,000 pigs, you don’t want them mad at you. 

Another tool in the farmer’s arsenal is a longboard.  A longboard, just like it sounds, is a longboard up to 30′ in length and really heavy.  Takes a big burly farmer to swing the board like a moving gate which guides the pigs in the right direction.  

Stay with me now, the payoff is coming.

But, Mary Haugh wasn’t a big burly farmer.  After multiple heart attacks left her husband incapable of swinging the longboard, Mary needed a pig-guide that she could manage.  She noticed that as pigs walked by the red longboards, they hesitated.  Mary thought, “Maybe it’s the color, not the board.”  So she came up with another idea.

Mary bought a roll of red fabric, secured it at one end and held it at the other.  She used the 30′ of fabric like a flexible fence, guiding the pigs through the barn into the holding pens.  

Mary’s solution was soft, light, and effective.  Watch the video to see how this works.  Okay, here’s the payoff:  

Church leadership needs new thinking in times of change.  While you can drive people, they might get mad.  Rigid leadership longboards might also work, but there may be an easier way.  Try soft, easy, and flexible.  It just might work, and then you’ve got happy pigs   members who go where they’re supposed to.  

(HT to

7 thoughts on “It’s like herding pigs”

  1. Great post! Soft, easy, flexible leadership–I like it. I wonder if it would work on my kids. Nah, they’re smarter and more ornery than pigs! JTM

  2. Interesting post. Just a question, “Do the people in your church read this blog”? If they do, you are a very brave Pastor!

  3. Chuck, Grace and Peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    I stumbled upon your blog while searching for some updated statistics on Millenial’s for a presentation I am giving on them at a technology trade show. I am 30 and just outside of this demographic and a practicing Christ follower. Yet I can relate to them greatly since I do anthropologic research on them for the technology industry.

    I found your few posts on Millenial’s interesting as well as you last post. I don’t normally post comments, but for some reason I felt like sharing some thoughts with you relevant to Gen Y and this your more recent post.

    I am convinced that we the “Church in America” need to wrestle with and get to the heart of a single question. This question is “What does it mean to be the people of God in the 21st century?” Maybe even more specifically “What does it mean to be the people of whom the Lord Jesus Christ is Sovereign.” Then relate that to the 21st Century.

    I have a missionary friend in China who said this ” What I see in China is Christians who know a little and obey a lot, what I see in America are Christians who know a lot and obey a little.” I fear that we are not taking our responsibility as image bearing humans of the most High God, whose sole responsibility is to imitate Christ to the world, seriously at all. The fact of the matter is that since Jesus Christ is the Lord and King of the universe which is very good news needs to be communicated to a world desperately in need of hope.

    I have found living in the Bay Area and working with pastors to make God relevant again to their youth that people simply need inspiration, they need hope. They need to see and catch a vision of the Kingdom of God that was inaugurated by Jesus on earth as it is in heaven with his death and resurrection. People need to feel like they are apart of something bigger then themselves.

    This is exactly what God’s Kingdom project is and how he desires to use his image bearing humans to participate in this project of healing, redemption, renewal and reconciliation of the whole cosmos.

    May God continue to bless you as you shepherd His people. May God use you to inspire people to become the humans He intends them to become.

    “Jesus is Lord of all or He is not Lord at all” – Bishop N.T Wright

    1. Ben, I could not agree with you more. Well said and thanks for taking the time to comment here. I like the quote from your friend. I have traveled in China and realize that we Christians in the US take for granted our freedom of religion and access to churches. Thanks for your comments. Let’s pray that we will get the Kingdom idea and get serious about following Jesus.

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