Lew Sterrett believes certain principles apply to all of God’s creatures, whether they walk upright on two legs or perhaps exhibit flashing hooves as they gallop across a meadow.
Sterrett, executive director of Miracle Mountain Ranch Missions, Inc. (MMRM) in Spring Creek, Pa. since 1977, is a horse trainer, illustrator and conference speaker who places an emphasis on leadership and relationship dynamics. It’s those relationship dynamics which are bringing him as one of four featured venue speakers at the “Rewired” State Men’s Retreat, April 25-26 at the Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center near Davis.
A licensed pastor and certified youth, marriage and family counselor, Sterrett earned a Ph.D from North Tennessee Seminary in 2007. God used his boyhood love of horses and lifetime of training and showing horses to eventually call him into a ministry he calls “Sermon on the Mount” (SOTM).
“Our purpose is to help people understand how healthy relationships develop and how they can experience harmony and success in their own lives,” Sterrett says on his Web site. “We do this by showing how a trainer’s character wins a horse’s trust, which then sets the stage for future success in all areas of training. Sermon on the Mount uses biblical principles to demonstrate loving, successful horse and trainer interaction.”
Sterrett’s presentation involves actual untrained horses.
On an interview on Messenger Radio this week, Sterrett explained further:
“You know, sometimes it’s better if you can see your own problems in a different context or different illustration. And all of us are very relationally driven. In fact, I think men are even more relationally driven than women. But they don’t know it until much later in their life when they’ve put all their investments in projects and things, and then later on they come to realize ‘I’m lonely and I’m empty and I can’t connect.’
“What we do with the horse is simply use the illustration of a trainer needing to capture the attention, respect and trust of 1,200 pounds of total independence. And that tends to buy in where men can realize ‘my kid doesn’t weigh that much, but I can’t get his respect. Or my wife is tiny, but how do I earn her love and her support?’ And how do we get past some of those things where we really see the need to earn the right to be heard and respected?”
As Sterrett speaks during his SOTM presentation, he is handling a horse that has never been ridden and has never been saddled.
“As I go through the processes to earn the horse’s attention, respect and loyalty, you’ll see that we all go through the very same cycles as God came into our arena, spoke our language, endured our sufferings and earned the right for us to share His burdens. We see the same illustrations take place. And they take place not just between a trainer and a horse, between our Creator and ourselves, but also between a coach and his athletes, between a parent and his kids, all the way straight across,” he said.
Sterrett said just as training a horse is a matter of the battle of wills and eventual building of respect and trust between the animal and trainer, the same applies to a father and his children.
“The distance between our brain and our heart is miles long, it seems like,” he admitted. “And while we can reason and hear certain things or we feel external pressures-the horse feels the bit, and feels the spur and he’ll react to many, many things that are really meant to produce power, peace and a sense of real purpose inside his life-but it’s humbling and it’s difficult; opposite to the way we think.
“And you’ll find the horse reacting, you’ll see explosive horses or horses that have been bucking people off for years. How do we get down to the core issues and build a common ground of respect-mutual respect-that gains the hearing of both parties and reflects the needs of both and then progresses to the real leadership of influence, not of dominating each other?”
Sterrett said the transformation the horse goes through during the process is amazing.
“You’re going to watch a horse go from totally being afraid of a tarp to a horse that’s ridden without a bridle, blind-folded, and show what faith is really about,” he said. “You’re going to watch horses that are extremely explosive and angry and learn the parallel between lateral and vertical areas of accountability that are both to God and to our human relationships. It really begins to build power in a horse and speed and agility.”
While Sterrett said the change in the relationship between trainer and horse is significant, that transformation is but an example of how powerful a relationship men can have with the God who created them and loves them.
“The one cry I hear across our nation is that all men are looking for the Father heart of God. And I believe this means of illustrating can help them see the power, the dynamic, the wisdom, the gentleness of the true Father heart of God,” Sterrett said. “That really helps them feel connected and gain new purpose. You know, it’s not enough for our men not to do evil. It’s not enough for them to get by. The real joy is when they understand how much joy they can bring to their Father and how they can represent Him in all their relationships. That gives a man a whole different dynamic for living.”
More information about MMRM is available at www.miraclemountainranch.com. More information about the men’s retreat is available at www.bgco.org/mensretreat.