The Foundation of Integrity Rests in Your Actions Not Your words

A story of TEZO The Top Hand

By: Al Snyder 

Psalm 78:72 - And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.

It’s an early summer morning on the Fish and Cross Ranch. Tezo knows it’s going to be a long, hot day.  He packs his saddle bag with a sandwich, an apple and two bottles of water. He already has his horse saddled, as the rest of the cowboys wander into the barn for their own morning ritual.  The sun is just peaking over the east ridge as they load their horses into the stock trailer and head for lower pastures.

It takes hours to gather all the mama cows and babies out of the thickets, coolies, and spring ponds.   The older cows are eager to herd up. They just seem to know that they’re headed for higher pastures of lush summer grass.   But then, there’s the heifers; young mothers with their first babies that were really enjoying the shaded water holes and warm weather of the lower country.  Some are good moms, staying with their babies and some are…Well a bit forgetful and on occasion lose their babies.

The cowboys have already made three trips up and down arroyos. Their horses are soaked with sweat, some with dry mouths (they forgot water), and most are thinking the worst is over! One Youngster proclaims, “we have ‘em all Cow-boss, let’s move out”. Everyone heads south with the herd, whoop ‘in and holler ‘in for reasons unknown, since the cows know where they are going.  But Tezo knows at least three heifers have lost their babies.  He has mentally recorded the ear tag numbers as he heads east, away from the herd.   In short order, Cow-boss sees Tezo brining up 3 calves and reuniting them with their mothers. He throws a glance to the Youngster but no words are spoken.

 Three hours into the drive and the herd is spread out over a mile now.  Mama cows are bawling for their babies and babies are crying for their mamas. 600 head of cattle, all calling for mama and calf at the same time, each with their own unique identifying moo.

Tezo thinks to himself, ‘if humans would just listen to the parents and parents to their children with this intensity and focus.’  The older cows know that they MUST find their babies, give them a drink and reassure them that they are ok.  But then, there’s the heifers; they run out in front of the herd, noses down into the fresh green grass, eager to move up hill to find more.  Far behind, at the back of the herd, 20 babies have gathered into a bunch and are playing what appears to be a game of tag.  

Tezo took up the drag position, eating dust and keeping everything in line, although his age and experience would dictate a place near the front, on the flank.  He smiles as the Youngster holds that spot. The Youngster is running wild, scolding old-mamas for not moving faster, shouting un-pleasantries so the other Cowboys will know “he’s in charge”

Suddenly, one calf stops dead-in-his-tracks, “Where’s mama”!  “She must be back at the water hole.   The calf bolts toward the arroyo where he last saw mama.  Tezo’s quick to follow.  First a slow trot, then a gentle lope trying to surround the calf.  No use, the calf is now wide-open headed toward a steep gulch.  Without hesitation or breaking stride, Tezo builds a loop.  He’s now running wide-open himself toward the cliff. 

By now, nearly every cowboy is watching wide-eyed and certain that the calf, the horse, and Tezo are headed over the cliff, everyone except Cow-boss and Tezo himself.  Ten yards to disaster, his loop is in the air and as it comes to rest around the calf’s neck, he has already fixed his dally and is slowing his horse.

And then, there’s the heifers…The first-calf heifer comes running, keenly attuned to her baby’s cry.  The pair reunites to loud cheers from cowboys and a bit of rancor from the Youngster.   Tezo, steps down, releases the calf to mama, and silently coils his rope while stepping back on his horse.  He rides back to the herd, looks at the Cow-boss with a very slight tip-of-his-hat.   He takes up the flank position recognized by all as the Top-Hand on the ranch.  The Youngster, without a word or any fanfare, heads off to ride drag.   

The bible is filled with many Tezos and numerous examples of how God wants young men, and women to live their lives with integrity and trustworthiness through their actions.  

Galatians 6:4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,

Proverbs 20:11 Even small children are known by their actions, so is their conduct really pure and upright?

Are you leading with your actions?

Do your actions demonstrate integrity in all you do?

Are you words few, pointed and kindred, lead by actions of a Top Hand?

T. Tilman
E. Emmett
Z. Zeke
O. Owen