The Cheyenne Indians of the 1800s, living on the Great Plains of the United States, had six warrior societies. Perhaps the greatest of these was known as the Dog Soldiers. English journalist Henry Stanley, upon viewing them, described the Dog Soldiers as the "Spartans of the plains." Each one wore a sash around his waist, called a dog rope, with a picket pin at the end. This picket pin was a pointed stake, typically tied to the end of a rope, that could be driven into the ground to tether a horse, which could then graze but not wander off.
In the case of the Dog Soldiers,
The pin was driven into the ground as a mark of resolve in combat. When a Dog Soldier was staked to the ground in order to cover the retreat of his companions, he was required to remain there even if death was the consequence. The Dog Man could pull the pin from the ground only if his companions reached safety or another Dog Soldier released him from his duty. (Richard S. Grimes, "Cheyenne Dog Soldiers" )
Try to imagine being a Dog Soldier. The tribe is under attack by a strong enemy, and the battle has turned against it. Everyone must flee to preserve his life and the lives of his loved ones, but the enemy is pressing the fight, eager to wipe out every man, woman, and child. So, despite being alone against hundreds, perhaps thousands, we turn to face the adversary, uncoil our dog rope, and drive our pin into the ground, prepared at least to delay the enemy so that others can escape.
Realistically, what chance do we have? Maybe it would be best to pull the pin or untie the dog rope and turn and run. But we cannot, for we are Dog Soldiers who had committed to give our lives, if necessary, when we were welcomed into the warrior society.
David charges Solomon to be strong, to be a man. God charges Joshua to be strong and courageous. Each of these men was being called to take up the mantle of leadership and guide God's people faithfully. That takes courage and strength, for often the leader will find himself as the only one staked out and willing to fight and protect his people.
But not only are the high profile leaders called to be strong and courageous, each and every man and women is called to be strong and courageous in their service to Christ. We are all called to lead in the fight against encroaching darkness.
Sometimes we may find ourselves alone, the only one dogged in and willing to stand. Nevertheless, our call is to fight to the end.
"Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them" (Joshua 1:6).
BBC News, Uraguay, reports that in at least one corner of the world, a politician choses to live like the masses:
It's a common grumble that politicians' lifestyles are far removed from those of their electorate. Not so in Uruguay. Meet the president - who lives on a ramshackle farm and gives away most of his pay.
Laundry is strung outside the house. The water comes from a well in a yard, overgrown with weeds. Only two police officers and Manuela, a three-legged dog, keep watch outside.
This is the residence of the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, whose lifestyle clearly differs sharply from that of most other world leaders.
President Mujica has shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provides for its leaders and opted to stay at his wife's farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo.
The president and his wife work the land themselves, growing flowers.
This austere lifestyle - and the fact that Mujica donates about 90% of his monthly salary, equivalent to $12,000 (£7,500), to charity - has led him to be labelled the poorest president in the world.
"I've lived like this most of my life," he says, sitting on an old chair in his garden, using a cushion favoured by Manuela the dog.
"I can live well with what I have."
His charitable donations - which benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs - mean his salary is roughly in line with the average Uruguayan income of $775 (£485) a month.
"I'm called 'the poorest president', but I don't feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle, and always want more and more," he says.
"This is a matter of freedom. If you don't have many possessions then you don't need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself," he says.
"I may appear to be an eccentric old man... But this is a free choice."
Sadly, Majica is not all together popular--his approval rating has fallen to below 50%. But his desire to live a simple life, to give all his wealth beyond meeting his base needs to the poor, and to live in such a way as to identify with his constituency, is reminiscent of another leader of a couple millennia ago, Who, despite His selflessness, also suffered in the public opinion polls.
"Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6-8, NLT).
An interesting statistic (from a decade ago, May 2000, but nonetheless a telling trend): “Almost 75% of school principals believe their schools are drug-free, while a mere 36% of the students at the same schools believe their schools are drug-free."
The "experts" aren't always the ones with an accurate grasp of the truth. Sequestered in their ivory towers, they are often far removed from the realities over which they consider themselves to be the final word. This can be true in any field, but it seems to be especially true when the issues are moral and spiritual. Take, for example, the Pharisees of New Testament times, the recognized "experts" of all things pertaining to the Scriptures and spirituality. In their attention to the the minutia, they failed to grasp the truly important things. That's why Jesus would say of them, "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel" (Matthew 23:24). To discover the truth of what God is really doing in our world, we can't look to those who declare themselves to be righteous as our guildes, but must instead look to the humble and the repentant.
"Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray" (Isaiah 9:16).