I'm an ox

May 18, 2023

I hope that anyone who knows me isn't surprised to learn that I am a Christian. To borrow a line from a song by Anne Wilson, "Let me tell you about my Jesus" if you'd like to know why I've made that choice. Part of my faith has led me to strive to read a few chapters of my Bible each day for many years. During this time, I have come to believe that, in addition to providing guidance in faith, personal principles, marriage, family, and discipline, the Bible is also the greatest business book ever written.

This morning, while reading from the book of Proverbs, I came across Proverbs 14:4. It is one of my favorite verses and states, "Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but increase comes by the strength of an ox." This verse forms the basis of my thoughts for this week.

If you're wondering whether I'm calling you an ox, the answer is yes. But worry not, I'm an equal bovine slanderer. I, too, am an ox. This metaphor closely follows our path, as we do our work for the farmer and the fields are where that work is performed. Although I'll focus on the work team for this week's thoughts, in my opinion, the trough can be anywhere good things are accomplished. Now that we're on the same page regarding our roles in the story, let's unpack the rest of the verse.

Early in my career, a mentor told me that running a business is easy except for dealing with people—those you buy from, employ, and sell to. It's a humorous thought, but not entirely wrong, and it aligns with the first half of the verse. Personally, I believe that it shouldn't be easy. We all have different hopes and dreams, and we are all doing our best for our families and personal lives. The difficulties that arise from our differences should be embraced. To truly enable success for the entire team, it will take effort from all the "oxen." That's where the mess comes from, but also where the work gets done. Now, let's examine each of our roles in this process.

Wes serves as the stable hand in our organization, responsible for managing the supplies that enable the oxen. Continuing with the metaphor, the supplies required by the oxen to complete their work can be viewed in this way. They need food and water (money), bedding and care (benefits), a plan (leadership), and the plow (equipment and technology). However, things become interesting at this point. Putting food in the trough is futile if the oxen refuse to eat it. Providing bedding is pointless if the oxen choose to lie outside. Offering a plan and providing the plow is meaningless if each ox decides to go in their own preferred direction. To truly be an effective stable, the necessary resources must be available, and the oxen must willingly take advantage of them to maximize their potential.

Beyond the resources, great stables provide support to one another. We all experience difficult times and have bad days, often spending more time working than at home. This makes supporting our fellow stable members crucial. As a team, we have the opportunity to help shoulder a greater load, offering encouragement, ideas, and support that benefit the entire team.

This brings me to the challenge for this week. Take a moment to reflect on your stable. Are you fully utilizing the benefits that Ag Partners offers? Are you pulling in the same direction as your team, or are you creating more work for everyone by pulling in your own way? Are you making a positive impact in your work, home, church, and community? Are you contributing to the increase that comes from the collective effort of the oxen?

I’m thankful to be one of the oxen with you because ultimately, my stable may be messy, but it is worth it, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I’m thankful that you were willing to go to work today, that you took the time to read this, and for being a part of what makes Ag Partners the world’s greatest cooperative! 

Have an amazing day!