Interview with Lew Sterrett
2. YOU LOST YOUR DAD AT A PRETTY EARLY AGE. HOW DID THIS AFFECT YOU? YOUR FAMILY?
To be honest it affected me so significantly that even this week – some 52 years later – I am learning to embrace it and benefit from it. Loss and grief are not always issues understood by the mind. God gives us grace to cope with pain as a child, but eventually He wants us to process it with Him, in Him. In order for us to become fully alive, God must be allowed to touch such pain. Like a horse, we need to yield it to Him, so He can turn a potential defeat into power that will eventually be harnessed for good works. This is the very process of turning an angry defeated man like Moses into a meek or powerful man of God. He truly becomes a Father to the fatherless!
3. THE TITLE OF YOUR THIRD CHAPTER IS 'ANYTHING WORTH DOING IS WORTH DOING POORLY' – WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
Of course this statement opposes the more popular line that 'If anything is worth doing, it is worth doing well'. However we must understand that no one ever starts anything at the top of their game. Starting is often clumsy, messy, and many times, embarrassing. The key is 'get started' for you will never learn any younger, and you really have no place to go but up! The emphasis here is to learn how to take the initiative and to keep getting up when you fall.
4. YOUR EARLY YEARS AT MMR WERE DIFFICULT. WHAT DID THAT EXPERIENCE TEACH YOU ABOUT LEADERSHIP? WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CONTINUE?
The very nature of the work at MMR is 24/7/365 and mandates living in a fishbowl. I soon discovered that leadership is more about responding responsibly to crisis than about position or perks. Reading II Corinthians 10:8, 13:10, I learned that the authority the Lord gave me was for building up and not for tearing down. I began to realize that when we face resistance or criticism from either an animal or person, it is a great temptation to react and use whatever power or position we have at our disposal to protect or save ourselves first. The result is usually unsavory both to our own palate and to others. Leadership is all about crisis and the more prepared we are for win-win results the more satisfying the job. Though often tempted to quit, I am still integrity bound to a “response-able” mandate.
5. HOW DID SERMON ON THE MOUNT (SOTM) GET STARTED? WHAT IS YOUR MISSION WITH THIS ORGANIZATION?
At first it was simply God dealing with my own heart as I saw my own values and character mirrored in the horses I worked. Then I began to accumulate small insights that helped others see a clearer picture of God’s good purpose for their lives. However, as with the collection of small amounts of gold dust, soon the wealth and riches of God's Word became clearly evident to all through SOTM. As the word got out, invitations came from all over the country to come and share it with others. Our mission is simple: to teach and illustrate through the horse/trainer relationship both God’s plan for redemption and abundant living. It is our belief that God has just begun to use this tool and that a global opportunity is yet before us.
6. IN CHAPTER SIX, YOU MEET BERRY AND DESCRIBE HIM AS “THE HORSE THAT WOULD CHANGE MY LIFE.” HOW DID HE CHANGE YOU?
Berry, though outwardly beautiful and inwardly kind and cooperative, came to a place in his training that seemed impossible to surpass. As chapter 6 tells you, we thought Berry had reached his pinnacle. Finally, instead of trying to force the issue, I went back and started some basic training to increase his flexibility. Eventually, he overcame the physical challenge that was holding him back before. What I learned from him impacted me. Character is a reflection of the heart and will always surpass natural beauty and talent in the long run.
7. WHAT IS THE “10,000 HOUR RULE?”
When I use the phrase “It'll take a lot of wet saddle pads” my coaching audience looks baffled. However when I tell them that the only thing their team lacks is sweat equity, then the lights go on. I am very quick to emphasize that practice never makes one perfect. Otherwise we would not repeat the same dumb arguments with our spouse or kids. But it is essential to rehearse repeatedly in order for us to react automatically in crisis...kind of like forgiveness.
8. WHAT IS A SOFT ANSWER? HOW IS IT USED IN HORSE TRAINING? CAN WE USE IT IN OUR LIVES?
Often an action provokes a reaction, such as a harsh reaction to a harsh statement. It would be like jerking the horse’s mouth because he doesn't respond well. Whenever a trainer or parent reacts to an immature action he or she loses perspective and becomes childish. Soon the child or animal begin to push the buttons of the authority and thereby exert their will over the parent. A soft answer is not one of low volume; rather, it is a response to the need that keeps the real objective in view. It actually turns away wrath and provokes a responsible response. It includes seeing and responding to the need and not merely reacting to the words.
9. IF THERE IS ONE MESSAGE YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BOOK, WHAT IS IT?
Every trainer wants a relationship with the horse. Man’s ways are opposite to God’s—we are deceitful and addictively self-absorbed—but God wants a relationship with us. To get there, God often has to corral us and get us to face the futility and deception of our own reasoning. Like the horse, we can’t 'save ourselves.' The story of this book is that not only does God want a relationship with every reader, but He has already sent the trainer, the Lord Jesus Christ, into our arena to speak our language and to elevate us to fellowship with him. It is our privilege to respond to Him in humility (repentance) and trust (faith) in His offer of forgiveness and eternal life to all who believe in Him for salvation.