Be Yourself

Once upon a time, the animals of the forest decided they should become better educated so they could deal with the problems of a changing world. They hired a consultant whose report urged them to form a unified school district. An election was held, and a rabbit, a squirrel, a duck, and an eagle were elected. In the first school board meeting, the new members discussed the curriculum. Of course, each one had their own ideas about which subjects would be taught. After a great deal of discussion, they adopted a curriculum of running, climbing, swimming and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all students would be required to take every subject.

In the beginning, the duck was excellent in swimming; in fact, he was better than the instructor. However, in the rest of the classes, it was a different story. The duck got average grades in flying, failed the climbing class and was very poor in running. In fact, running caused his webbed feet to become so sore that eventually, he became only average in swimming. But average was quite acceptable, so nobody worried about that, except the duck.

The rabbit started at the top of his class in running but soon developed cramps in his leg muscles because of so much make-up work in swimming. Before long he couldn’t run as fast as he had before he started school. But that was all right with everyone, except the rabbit.

As you would guess, the squirrel was excellent at climbing. However, he got so beaten up from jumping out of trees trying to learn how to fly, that he didn’t have the energy or the strength to climb like before. So he only got a “B” in climbing and a “C” in running. These were passing grades, but he remembered the good old days when he was the best climber.

The eagle was a problem student from the beginning and was severely disciplined for being a non-conformist. In climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree but insisted on using his own way to get there. The running coach accused him of not even trying. After swimming practice, his feathers were so wet that the duck got better grades for flying than he did. The great symbol of America was being humiliated, and it hurt.

Important conclusion: A duck is a duck and only a duck. It is built to swim and fly a little, like from one lake to another. They don’t run very well, and they can’t climb at all. If God made you a duck, don’t compare yourself to an eagle. Just swim like mad and enjoy your uniqueness. Rabbits have the ability to change speed and direction better than most other animals. That is a very desirable ability when you have a non-aggressive personality and want to stay alive in a hostile world. Squirrels are unchallenged in the trees but if you demand that they swim or fly, it will drive them nuts.

The moral of the story is simple. Each creature has its own abilities at which it will naturally excel unless of course, it is expected to do something for which it wasn’t designed. When that happens, frustration, discouragement, and guilt bring overall mediocrity or sometimes even complete defeat. We can learn much from this story…God has gifted us each with our own abilities, and we will excel if we concentrate on developing those gifts.

“…When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (II Corinthians 10:12 NIV)