I recently heard a speaker talk about how bison and cows respond differently to a storm.

Bison actually run into a storm. Yet their cow cousins turn and run from a storm.

Think about the impact of their direction and possibly their emotions. As a cow runs from the storm, which rapidly catches up to them and overtakes them, they are running in fear and are even in the storm longer.

Conversely, bison run into the storm, and with a determination that builds confidence and courage. (And they get through the storm more quickly.)

A question worth asking ourselves is how do we deal with earthly storms—challenges in our families, work, callings and more. Do we respond to life’s storms in the way a cow would or more like a bison?

Address the Challenge Right Away

Let’s consider applying the “bison solution” to our life challenges in a way that we may have more of an opportunity to grow and progress and be powered by courage and not fear.

The first lesson we might learn from the bison approach to challenges is they don’t avoid the challenge or wait around as it grows into something bigger. They lean into it and take action.

Especially in regard to relationship challenges, it helps to address the issue before it becomes any more difficult. The longer the issue sits and stews, the bigger it may seem.

The scriptures are an inspired reminder on the importance of acting sooner, rather than later, in our efforts to repair or improve a challenge in a relationship.

  • Resolve it quickly: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26)
  • Set aside other things and reconcile quickly: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” {Matthew 5:23-24}

You’ll notice I described it as leaning into the challenge, not stampeding into the challenge. Leaning implies movement with intention, not just wildling jumping in headlong without taking the time to consider how to approach the problem.

Whether it’s a challenge with another individual, or some other life challenge, seeking a solution sooner, rather than later, will be most beneficial to our physical, spiritual, and emotional health.

The Gift of Herd Mentality

The concept of a herd mentality is often given a negative connotation, but there are uplifting benefits to be found in how a herd of bison cares for one another.

Bison run into the storm together. Together it’s so much easier to face that challenge with hope and courage and stay the course. Whether we are there as a family member, friend, neighbor, or church leader, we can help support another in their challenge so that they are also better able to stay the course with hope and courage.

If there is a predator, the female bison circle the young bison and the male bison circle around the female bison. Thus, two rings of defense for those who are weaker and deeply loved.

When we are faced with difficult things to overcome, it is so much easier to have a herd, or a support system as we navigate this challenge. For example, I’ve had the privilege, and challenge, of caring for my aging mother in my home for the past nine years. It would have been impossible to do were it not for my “family herd,” my “church herd,” and my “neighborhood herd.” I have felt Fathers’ love, support, and inspiration through their hands. Additionally, my mother has had a “village” provide her care and loving kindness.

Imagine the impact we can have as friends, neighbors, and Church leaders, when we circle and support those around us as they face challenges. Perhaps we should change the name of “ward council” to “bison circle.” Well, maybe not, but you can certainly see the inspired wisdom in both.

Adversity Brings Us Closer

As we look at some of the bigger challenges that we have faced as individuals, in a family, or as a church unit, we will discover that to navigate our challenges well we need to pull together. Thus, as we counsel with our family, trusted leaders and friends, our “herd” is strengthened and blessed.

For 25 years we were privileged to live in Texas and experience the epitome of “southern hospitality.” It’s real! We always had a village to help raise our children, and a herd to face challenges.

Because of how close we lived to the Gulf Coast, we experienced several devastating hurricanes and tropical storms that left a great deal of destruction in our town and those around us. It would have been overwhelming for any one person or family to clean up the impact of flooding and wind damage. But in Texas, they know how to “get ‘er done.” Although the Church was well represented in their yellow-shirt clean-up-crew efforts, they were cleaning side by side with thousands of big-hearted Texans of all faith traditions who truly cared about their neighbor.

These epic natural disasters were a catalyst to lean into challenges with our neighbors, community, and church leaders. For example, a tornado struck an apartment complex with mostly Hispanic residents. There were so many needs to be met in addition to a language barrier. Picture this: a huge circle of responders (a mixture of apartment residents, Spanish-speaking Latter-day Saint missionaries, and community leaders) holding hands in prayer as a community leader was the voice for a prayer for help, comfort, and courage. The Red Cross was there to help with much needed immediate resources for the residents, and the community was there to do the rest.

Or a local town that had an inspired emergency management team that invited local churches to create a plan on how to help that community when disaster struck. That city couldn’t clean up the impact of the storms on private property, but because of pre-planning with the local churches, when the storm arrived, so did help. The different churches came together and designated one to manage the hygiene donations, another the food donations, another to organize the volunteer work crews, and another to feed the volunteer crews. This community circled their herd as they cared for the needs of their citizens.

Caring for Our Herd

As we do these things, we will be drawn closer together with other individuals, families, and neighbors. Then when the next challenge comes—which it will—we are stronger and better-able to face this new challenge. Plus, a natural side effect of these efforts is the creation of deep and lasting relationships in our families and communities.

Remember, what happens to one individual, to one family, happens to all and we need to be a support and strength to our herd. We are now better able to show more compassion and seek to be more caring because we have had our own personal trials and experiences as well as helping others in theirs. Thus, we have more to draw from during difficult times.

As we look back at the lessons learned from our challenges and the challenges of others, we will discover that we are indeed better people, spouses, parents, co-workers, friends, ministering sisters or brothers, and neighbors. Plus, with our growing herd, we will be able to more fully embrace our next challenge and the lessons to be learned.

Beth Young is a convert of 45 years; served a mission in North Carolina; has been married for 35 years to her sweetheart, Bob; has five adult children and two grandchildren. She raised her family in Texas for 25 years where she served in various capacities in church and in her community. She moved to Utah five years ago and loves writing, teaching, and inspiring others to make changes to their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Beth serves as the written content manager at Leading Saints, and is a master gardener.

How do we help leaders

Pin It on Pinterest