Cow or Rhino?

As a college and high school coach for almost 15 years, it was my job to push my athletes to become their best.  Some people refer to this as ‘getting the most out of your athletes.’  I was always looking for the best strategies and approaches to find what worked best with each player.

When I was coaching volleyball at SFASU, the track coach’s office was across the hall from mine and she had this saying posted on her door … Cow or Rhino?  I asked her what it meant.  She told me, “It’s all about helping my athletes to be aggressive and NOT passive.”

I got it … I wanted the same for mine.  However, now … some 30 years later … I see alternative applications of this metaphor to our Christian walk … and some of my conclusions might surprise you. 🙂

Rhinos are usually loners, but some species live in crashes (herds) consisting of a mother and her offspring.  Babies stay by their mother’s side until they are 2-3 years old.

Rhinos’ best friends are the birds that they have symbiotic relationships with. The birds alert them of potential danger and in exchange graze on insects on the rhinos. 

Because their eyes are on the sides of their heads, rhinos are very nearsighted and as a result, aggressively charge at objects until they can tell what they are – they attack and ask questions after.  Just looking at them you can tell why they don’t have any natural predators.  They take charge of their territory – especially the males.  I wouldn’t want to be in this situation: Rhino vs. SUV

Did you know that cows are very social … to the point of recognizing over 100 individuals … they are very picky in their relationships – yes, I know, I’m personifying these animals, hang in there with me 🙂 Not only do they bond to some members of the herd members, but they will also avoiding others. They “moo” to stay connected when their peers are out of sight and they will even communicate using different facial expressions and body positions. 

My husband I were bicycling on a winding country road in Solvang, CA and heard what we thought was singing.  As we got closer to the sound we realized it was cattle mooing – they were being corralled and branded.  We wondered if they were warning each other. 

In the last few years it’s become very popular to have cows as pets. Check out this video of people and their pet cows: Cows Acting Like Puppies.

So which is it for you … cow or rhino? 

I say we take the best from both and be responsible to discern  character.  Then once you get close enough to see that someone is safe, be loyal to that person and the relationship.  Let’s avoid the negative characteristics, especially the rhino’s poor vision.  I’d rather be like the cow with panoramic vision; that is, wisdom.

This reminds me of Jesus’ charge as he sent his disciples out, “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves.  So be as shrewd as snakes and  harmless as doves” (Matt 10:16 NLT). 

It’s all about balance, and the more we approach our Lord for wisdom and His insights, the more we can fulfill our responsibility for being harmless in our shrewdness.