The dogs bark but the caravan moves on.

April 19th, 2010 · by Tom Stuart · Leadership, Relationships, TOP TEN ALL TIME Posts

Some decision making is hard enough, but having someone second guess or criticize your decision after the fact makes it even harder. This old Arabian proverb puts things in perspective.  The dogs bark but the caravan moves onIn other words once you’ve wrestled through all the pros and cons of a difficult decision and made it, you need to IGNORE THE NEGATIVE INPUT and keep moving on!

When I was growing up we had a mongrel dog named Sam.  We lived on the edge of town and there was a gravel road that went by our home.  Sam loved to chase cars.  Anytime a car drove by Sam would bolt out of our yard, run right up along side the car and barking his head off try to stop that car and tell it a thing or two.  As you can imagine, on more than one occasion he was nearly run over.  

As a kid I feared for Sam’s safety and did everything I could to train him not to do it.  “Sam, this is ridiculous.  Number one you are never going to stop that car from moving on and number two you wouldn’t know what to do with it if you caught it!”

Now some people are like Sam.  No matter what you do or what you decide they are going to challenge it.  It’s second nature for them to bark.  They bark because they think it was not a smart decision.  They bark because they think they know something you don’t.  They bark in resistance to change. 

But let us not become so focused on the dogs out there that we miss what could be a barking dog within us.  It’s been said – don’t dig up in unbelief what has been sown in faith.  Buyer’s remorse is a good illustration of this.  Once, after a long and careful search, we purchased a gently used window van that was to be our family vehicle for the next ten years.  After we bought it I found myself second guessing the purchase, not based on its performance, but on its appearance and length.  The barking dog within me, second guessing our choice, made me miserable for days until with God’s help I finally came to peace about our purchase that had been made after much prayer.

The Achilles heel of some leaders is self doubt stirred up by barking dogs.  At times I have been one of these leaders as well.  The truth is that distrust of personal judgment and guilt for exercising authority are the bane of effective leadership.  Every leader knows that you can please some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time.  But you can’t please all of the people all the time.  It’s just that barking dogs are an irritation and often get more credence than they deserve.

There is an instructive illustration in the Bible of a leader who ignored the negative and moved on.  It is the story of Saul when he was selected by the prophet Samuel to be the king of Israel.  When the announcement was made the people rejoiced and God touched the hearts of many valiant men who joined him.  “But some troublemakers said, “How can this fellow save us?”  They despised him and brought him no gifts.  BUT SAUL KEPT SILENT.” (1 Samuel 10:27)  I love that.  He just ignored them.  He chose not to expend the positive energy generated by a great decision in addressing negative input.  The dogs barked, but the caravan moved on. 

How are you fairing with difficult decisions in your life?  What have you learned about second guessing yourself or others?

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3 Responses to “The dogs bark but the caravan moves on.”

  1. I have learned that very often barking dogs bite. It depends largely upon why they’re barking. If they bark from fair disagreement, it’s generally safe to ignore the grumbling and move on. If, however, they bark from jealousy or injured ego – look out. Those who bark from jealousy are not generally content until they have supplanted their rival in some way. It is not safe in such circumstances to simply ignore or turn your back on them. Ignore it and the barker will likely begin a campaign of agitation to make dissention in the ranks. Such dissention is the destroyer of congregations, relationships, friendships and some times even families. Not all dogs bark just to be heard; some dogs bark with other agendas in mind.

  2. Thanks Candace!
    This is definitely experience talking and worth listening up. In the light of this I will likely have to write another blog post about the dogs that have an agenda and bite when they don’t get their way. Great insight!
    Any others who have dog stories please speak up! 🙂

  3. Thank you for that scripture reference! What a wonderful and practical example of how to face resistance and negative feedback. Keep silent!

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