Eternal Perspectives by Sally Bair
The Herd Mentality
On our way home from Montana’s Glacier National Park, we saw dozens of North American pronghorn antelope. Most were grazing in herds, typical of cows and our white-tail deer, that travel in family groups for safety from predators.
The term “herd mentality” pertains to humans, too. Our brains contain oxytocin, a neurochemical that triggers a “bliss response” whenever we engage in social behavior. We seek safety in numbers, which makes us feel content.
However, at times we behave as others do—without thinking ahead—like the blind leading the blind. Perhaps a good example of herd mentality is Black Friday madness. The day after Thanksgiving has become one of the biggest shopping days of the year. On that day we can count on sane and reasonable people regressing into wild-eyed, unthinking beings who act counter to their usual behavior. Other examples include watching the latest blockbuster movie, buying the newest cell phone and even voting a certain way. Such behaviors can cause stress or confusion.
Herd mentality, however, can protect us from danger. Like the antelope, we also need each other at times. Our tendency to relate to others who share the same interests or beliefs is important. For us believers in Jesus Christ, it can be difficult to follow Him without the help and encouragement of other believers. It takes courage to obey His Word. Knowing others of like-beliefs helps keep us from falling away and following the wrong crowd only because we want to fit in.
Christians in danger of being persecuted for their faith seek other believers to help them remain strong and to share their needs, whether spiritual, physical or emotional. Even Jesus, during His time on earth, sought the companionship of His chosen disciples. Though He was (and is) the Son of God, His humanness craved the bond of others.
God’s Word stresses the need to meet together, not in the sense of mindless follow-the-leader mentality, but for the sake of fellowship and strength of purpose. Jesus taught that “if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:19-20) Unity of purpose is important. Paul the apostle teaches that we all should “speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you … perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Like the antelope.
Lord, thank You for being our trustworthy leader. Keep us from destructive situations that pull us away from You. In Jesus’ name, amen.