Elephants and Fathers

Several years ago on a television program, a panel of lawyers was asked Bible questions. One prominent attorney was especially well versed in the Old Testament. He explained why. "I came from a large family. In the evenings my father read Bible stories. We had to listen to the story and then write it. I have never forgotten what I learned as a child."

A fascinating story of elephants shows the importance of one generation teaching the next. Park rangers at a South African wildlife preserve were concerned about the slaughter of 39 rare white rhinos in their park. It turned out that juvenile delinquents-teen elephants, killed the rhinos.

A decade earlier the park could not sustain the increasing population of elephants. They killed many of the adult elephants whose young were old enough to survive without them. So the young elephants grew up fatherless.

Eventually many of these young elephants roamed together in gangs and began to do things elephants normally don't do. Without dominant males, the young bulls became exhibiting aggressive behavior, throwing sticks at rhinos and acting like neighborhood bullies. A few young males grew especially violent, knocking down rhinos and crushing the life out of them. The gang leader eventually had to be killed.

The park rangers speculated that these young teen-aged elephants were acting badly because they needed role models. They brought in a large male to lead them and to counteract their bully behaviors. Soon the new male established dominance and put the young bulls in their places. The killing stopped. The mentoring saved the young elephants.

Dear Lord, give parents wisdom and grace to teach their children to love You.

 "My son, hear the instruction of the father, and forsake not the law of thy mother" (Proverbs 1:8).