Are You Reining in Thoroughbreds or Pushing Pigs?

As I often tell my leadership audiences…usually to great howls of laughter…:

“It’s easier to reign in a thoroughbred than to push a pig!

horse racing

As Jesus built what many consider the greatest team in history, he did so in some unique ways. He began with Jewish fishermen (businessmen), then a hated tax collector, some brothers, and then recruited several somewhat counter-intuitive “team” members including some extreme political and polar opposites of one another.

Each one a specialist. Each one unique. Each one needed. Yet in the end, all passionately worked together toward the same goal (less one turnover issue).

You too can grow a team of thoroughbreds.

Here are four ways Jesus transformed what appeared to be a pen of pigs into a team of thoroughbreds.

How Jesus Trained His Thoroughbreds

1. He taught them to love one another.

“The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31

Part of the “Greatest Commandment” is to love others even more than your love yourself. I listed this one first, for when we can get our team to understand that even if we don’t really like one another, we should still love one another and only want to best for them.

As an executive coach, here is where I focus everyone on unleashing their individual strengths (what makes them a thoroughbred) and find ways to minimize their weaknesses (which could be a strength of another team member).

2. He taught them to serve one another.

“For the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve.” Mark 10:45

Does this really need an explanation?

The quickest way for a team to become a pen of pigs is when one or more members think its all about being served rather than serving others.

3. He taught them to learn from one another.

“I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” John 13:16

Thoroughbreds like hanging out with thoroughbreds. They admire others who are skilled and successful in their unique ways. Shared learning is a powerful way to build stronger teams.

Pigs seldom care to learn more – they’re happy with just getting a pay check.

4. He taught them to be willing to die for one another.

 “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Jesus taught his team to be willing to sacrifice to help the team win.

Pigs usually focus one what is in it for them.

Change Your World in One Question

Jesus grew a team of thoroughbreds and, in the end, emancipated them toward a world-changing goal.

So the question becomes:

Are you investing time into growing a team of thoroughbreds or spending too much time pushing and prodding a pen of pigs?

In either case, know you know what to do.

About Dr. Jim

Dr. Jim Harris is President of The Jim Harris Group, an international speaking and advising firm dedicated to helping believers in business unleash their unfair advantage in the marketplace. He is the author of Our Unfair Advantage: Unleash the Power of the Holy Spirit in Your Business and numerous other award winning business books.


  • Eric Snyder says:

    Good encouragement Jim! I tolerated the “pigs” too many times for too long only to learn that I wasn’t in the “transformation” business; only the Holy Spirit does that job right! Reining in the “thoroughbreds” is a lot more fun!!

  • Wow! “pushing pigs” is what we are taught so many times in the marketplace is the only way to “scale” your company…. and for years I believed it. Learning to be Spirit led and modeling my business and leadership after Jesus has made all the difference. This really helps spell out each step along the journey and is exactly what I’m working to build here in Kansas City with Sword of Joy. Thanks again for great inspiration and guidance!

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