What Zebras Taught Me About Leadership

Charles Kiser —  January 24, 2012 — Leave a comment

Ryan and I studied Zebras yesterday as part of his homeschooling curriculum.

We learned that Zebras move in families. In each Zebra family, there is one stallion (male). There are also several mares (females) and foals (kids). The stallion mates with each of the mares; they give birth to the foals; they raise the foals together; then they send them out to start new families. So God wired polygamy into creation after all!

What caught my attention is what happens when a threat to the family arises.

When a lion attacks or another Zebra stallion tries to take over, the mares run off to safety with the foals.

The stallion, however, stays behind to fight off the threat. He faces it head on.

Effectively, he puts his life on the line for the sake of the rest of the family.

He doesn’t dash away and let the rest of the family members fend for themselves. He doesn’t use his superior speed to run away from the predator (Zebras can run up to 37 M.P.H!), leaving the younger, slower foals behind.

He stays and protects the family. And if necessary, he loses his life to do it.

This is a great example of leadership in the kingdom of God. Leaders in the kingdom lead not by expecting others to serve them but by laying their lives down for the family of God.

The Zebra stallion epitomizes perfectly the words of Jesus in Mark 10:42-45:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

What are the obstacles to Zebra-style leadership in your family? Church? Workplace?

Charles Kiser


I’m a pastor, missionary, and contextual theologian in Dallas, Texas. I’m committed to equipping and coaching Christians to start fresh expressions of Christian community in Dallas County — communities of hospitality, inclusion, justice, and healing.

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