I like clean.
I like neat and organized.
My greatest problem is that leadership is messy–all the time.
I think that is largely because leadership necessarily involves people–people like me.
The word “ox” or “oxen” is listed some 70 times in our English Bibles. The ox in the Ancient Near East was a prized and valuable animal. The ox was used for plowing, transportation and threshing.
Oxen were often yoked in pairs. Lighter work might only require one pair of oxen. But for more difficult work oxen were sometimes teamed together up to ten pairs.
Do you see the leadership implications? Teams of oxen equally yoked together can produce abundant crops. They also create a lot of mess, if you know what I mean. Of course, where there are no oxen, the stable is clean.
I see two strong principles from this proverb for leaders. Leadership is about leading people, teams of people. A leader will never get far without a team. Leaders must build teams to accomplish much. Leaders must also be the primary person who insures that the “oxen” are equally yoked, moving in the same direction, equally pulling their weight. These two functions are required basic tasks for every leader.
In many cases this is the hard, daily work of leaders. I think there is a prerequisite to be successful.
Matthew 11:28-30 seems to be terribly relevant to this discussion. Listen to the words of Jesus.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.