The movie Babe is about a pig, and it contains a wonderful object lesson on leadership! The movie begins in a commercial “pig farm”, a large building in which pigs are raised in small stalls for the meat market. A mother pig is purchased and taken away, leaving her young son, Babe, in the stall. Shortly afterwards, Babe is purchased by a man who takes him to a county fair to be raffled off; people will guess his weight and pay a fee to the charity sponsoring the raffle. The farmer who wins him takes him home with the intent that he be fattened for Christmas dinner.
Babe is “adopted” by the farmer’s sheep dogs, and he begins to learn farm life from his new family. He has several interesting experiences that lead the farmer to realize he is special, and the farmer gives Babe the opportunity to learn how to herd the sheep. On his first attempt to move the sheep, he runs into the herd barking “woof” “woof”. The sheep, of course, just stand there looking and laughing at him. He then runs back to his “mother” dog and asks her what to do. The dog says to get tough with the sheep, to let them know he is in charge. After running back, Babe yells at the sheep and then charges them and tries to bite one sheep on its leg. The sheep ask him what he is trying to do, and he tells them he is trying to be a sheep dog. They tell him he is a pig not a dog, and they tell him it isn’t necessary to yell at them and to order them around. All he has to do is ask them politely. Babe accepts their counsel and asks the sheep to move into the pen. After they have done so, he thanks them for their cooperation.
Babe has a number of interesting adventures that are centered in his sensitivity to the feelings of others and to his kindness in soliciting their cooperation in helping him. The climax to the movie occurs when Babe is entered in the national sheep dog competition.
I related to this movie because I was raised in Cedar City, Utah as the son of a sheep herder. I remember seeing our sheep dog chasing and driving the sheep and forcing them to move to a desired location. As we moved the sheep from the desert to the mountain each summer, I learned to walk behind them and drive them along the trail. The sheep knew we were their masters and were in charge!
As I grew older, I learned about our Savior Jesus Christ. He also had flocks of sheep, but he was a shepherd not a sheep herder. Rather than using force to drive the sheep, he used love to lead them. Rather than walking behind the sheep, he set the example for them and said, “Come, follow me!”
I enjoyed the movie Babe, because I realized that Babe, too, was a shepherd. I appreciated his example to me. We are a church of volunteers, all trying to do our best in leading the Lord’s flock back to him. We need to treat each other as volunteers. Volunteers do not use force with each other. Volunteers do not intimidate or use guilt in trying to motivate others. Instead, they use patience, kindness, love, and respect in their relationships. As we raise our families, work in our careers, and perform our church service, we need to be shepherds, not sheep herders. We need to follow the example of Babe, the sheep pig. We need to follow the example of Jesus Christ, our shepherd.