Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck

Here is a ruddy duck, and a rather mischievous looking one at that. When noticing the details on a ruddy duck see the stiff tail, often held vertically. Because of that tail they are grouped in a small family called stiff-tailed ducks. Notice also the blue bill. That color is not a trick of the light. In fact, the lighting is washing out the color a bit, in reality it’s a brighter shade of blue. Also notice the black, crested crown and the bright white cheek patches. In this particular picture, it all seems to contribute to his appearance of a trouble maker.

And ruddy ducks should look mischievous. Because nesting males, such as this, in the breeding season are very pugnacious. It will stick that tail straight up and chase after all kinds of things. They even have been recorded charging rabbits along the edge of the water.

All this aggression and blustering about at perceived dangers might lead you to believe the birds are successful scrappers. That conclusion would be wrong. Last week I wrote about the pied-billed grebe would submarine and drive off ducks by attacking them from under the water. The ruddy duck is the most common victim of this behavior. I mentioned above, ruddy ducks would even chase off rabbits along the shore, but in reality the rabbits only slip a little distance away. And if you ever watch the process you would almost get the impression the rabbits are laughing.

There is an important lesson here for humanity, especially believers and how they work together in the church. Don’t be like a ruddy duck. When you lead by blustering around and making people tiptoe around your temper, in the long run you will relegate yourself into irrelevance. The people who are intimidated by your temperament will avoid you and your ministry. The people who are not intimidated will ignore you completely, or worse push your buttons just for the entertainment value of watching you blow.

But even more importantly, this is not the type of leadership Jesus has called us to utilize. Consider Matthew 20:25-28 (HCSB) “But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”

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