Friday, February 26, 2010

‘Life Lessons from a Horse Whisperer’ by Dr. Lew Sterrett with Bob Smietana – Book Review

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Dr. Lew Sterrett has an interesting combination of skills.  Dr. Sterrett has a ministry called Sermon on the Mount.  He also runs the Miracle Mountain Ranch Missions, which is in Spring Creek, PA, in northwestern Pennsylvania.  This ranch hosts summer camps, retreats, and apprenticeship programs for all ages.  In addition, Dr. Sterrett also runs Leaders by H.E.A.R.T..  Its tagline is ‘Human Equine Analogies in Relational Training.'  He has also promoted safety in public riding programs, serving as President of the Certified Horse Association for 7 years. licensed pastor, certified Youth, Marriage and Family Counselor, he earned his PhD from North Tennessee Seminary in 2007.

Here is a video of Dr. Sterrett talking about his Sermon on the Mount Ministry:

This is my first exposure to Dr. Sterrett and his various ministries.  I am so impressed!  I am seriously considering visiting the Miracle Mountain Ranch this 

Dr. Sterrett, along with Bob Smietana, has written his first book, entitled ‘Life Lessons from a Horse Whisperer.’ 

I was intrigued how a champion horse trainer would parallel horse training techniques to our relationship with God – but he pulls it off!  I have never seen such a powerful illustration.  I would have never compared the two, but it makes sense that there are comparisons between these two creatures that the Lord has created! 

Early on in his life, Lew made some observations about behaviors that motivate (and demoralize) people.  He came up with these simply truths for how to properly deal with people:

1.   Communicate clearly
2.   Prepare people for change, don’t spring it on them.
3.   Correct people in private, not in public.
4.   Deal with conflict immediately
(p. 210)

It seems apparent from this book that Dr. Sterrett is a wonderful boss.  I think some of my previous bosses could learn some things from these simple guidelines!

Dr. Sterrett provides numerous examples of problem behavior in horses and how he dealt with those problems, and how they applied to our interactions as humans.  As a young man, he incorrectly dealt with the bad behavior of a three year old mare named Nava Rose.  He lost his temper and threw this 1,000 pound horse to the ground.  He later apologized to her and realized the error of his ways:

“That day was a breakthrough for me.  Nava Rose didn’t have a problem.  I had a problem.  I’d asked her to do too much, too fast, and punished her when she couldn’t keep up.  That’s a problem many of us face – when someone won’t do what we say, we try to force them to comply.  Nava Rose made me look bad, and I couldn’t handle it.” (p. 22)

In this chapter on trust, he goes on to say:

“Nava Rose helped me learn how to capture the “want to.”  I had to re-earn her trust and rebuild her confidence.  She was afraid to fail because she knew that if she failed, I would punish her.  So I stopped trying to lead by fear and intimidation, and looked for ways to build her confidence.” (p. 23)

In the chapter entitled ‘Responsible Choice,’ Dr. Sterrett made this observation about how Jesus chooses to treat people:

“I had a need and I couldn’t meet it, and so I needed help, just like a horse who can’t do it on his own.  I realized that Jesus came into my arena, like a trainer comes in to work with a horse, so that I would come to know and trust him.  He didn’t make me come to him, and require that I clean myself up and make myself worthy of his attention.  He came into my life, as messy and unruly as it was, and embraced me just as I was.  Just as I want a horse to take the initiative and move towards me, God wanted me to move towards him, and trust him.” (p. 201)

Dr. Sterrett chooses to follow the example of Jesus.  Here are a last few passages to that effect:

“For more than thirty years, I’ve been preaching and practicing what’s known as servant leadership.  Rather than barking orders and expecting people to jump at my commands, I try to understand the needs of my staff first.  Knowing their needs and personalities allows me to better serve them.” (p. 205)

“Join me on my journey of knowing the greatest trainer of all time – Jesus Christ.” (p. 218)

I found 'Life Lessons from a Horse Whisperer' to be a very valuable book.  Although I have only had a few encounters with horses in my life (city slicker that I am!), I was able to relate to Lew’s examples, and believe they will be helpful in the home and in the workplace.  Dr. Sterrett uses a lot of common sense and Godly wisdom.  I will be referencing this book often.

This book was published by Monarch Books/Kregel Publications and provided to me for review purposes by the Litfuse Publicity Group.  I am proud to be a part of their blog tour


A J Hawke said...

So happy to be exposed to this book. I was unaware of it.
"Life Lessons From a Horse Whisper" sounds fascinating. The parrelel between dealing with horses and helping people and children makes a lot of sense.
I have followed the work of Monty Roberts for years and have seen how some of his way of dealing with horses can also be useful in dealing with a child or teen, especially if they have been abused.
I will be getting this book to read.
Thanks for the review
A J Hawke

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi AJ -

You're welcome! It is really a wonderful book; I have passed it on to my husband to read, as well.

You will enjoy it a lot!

Blessings -


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