Mule Psychology

Today’s Coffee Stain takes you deeply into the world of mule psychology. Hope you’re up to it.

According to the story (and I read this on Internet so you can accord any degree of confiance that you want to it) there was a contest at a long-ago World’s Fair in Chicago. The contest pitted mules against each other to see which one could pull a wagon carrying the heaviest weight.

The winner pulled 8,000 pounds.

Then they hooked him up with another mule to see how much they could pull together. The logical outcome would have been 16,000 pounds, I guess, but the two hard heads pulled 32,000 pounds together.

That’s a demonstration of a principle called synergy. says that “synergy” means, “The interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.”

So we see, five-ordinary players melding into a winning machine in basketball, felling teams with five strong players who don’t play together as well. A soccer team in Madrid, Spain assembled some of the greatest players in the world. They should have been an unstoppable force but after some initial success I don’t think they ever won another major championship. Poor synergie. Lots of egos.

Individually, their players sported incredible talents. Together they were just okay.

Nothing like our muley friends, huh?

Fact is, when synergy is working, 1+1 doesn’t equal two. It’s much more than that. You’re not adding strength by adding another person to the equation. You’re multiplying strength.

Divine Synergie

Think about what synergy could do for your marriage if you could pull together, each one adding his strengths to the other one’s strengths. How powerful could your church be if the members locked arms around each other’s shoulders and pushed back against the enemy, instead of fussing with other brothers and sisters?

And hang on a minute? Think about what divine synergy could do in all those situations. A husband and wife who love each other and work together for the Lord have the cooperation of at third element—the Lord Himself! What a team: my wife, me, and the Lord.
What a team! My brothers and sisters, me, and the Lord! What can we accomplish if we allow God to establish divine synergy in all our relationships–with Him and with one another?

Here’s God’s promise to those who function in proper relationship to Him,

“Leviticus 26:7-9 (The Message) I’ll make the country a place of peace—you’ll be able to go to sleep at night without fear; I’ll get rid of the wild beasts; I’ll eliminate war. You’ll chase out your enemies and defeat them: Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand and do away with them. I’ll give you my full attention: I’ll make sure you prosper, make sure you grow in numbers, and keep my covenant with you in good working order. You’ll still be eating from last year’s harvest when you have to clean out the barns to make room for the new crops.”

So, all you math majors. Figure it out for us. “Hmmm … five will chase a hundred. That’s twenty for each one. And one hundred will chase ten thousand … hold on. Where’s my calculator? That’s 100 each.” You see, it’s not a matter of addition when we’re cooking with the Lord and each other. It’s a matter of multiplication.

Okay, here’s your homework for this week. Where are some areas that you see a need for divine synergy? What are things that inhibit or prevent divine synergy? How can we work to establish divine synergy in groups that we are a part of.

I’d love to see your responses to those questions.

And there you have it folks, this week’s installment of mule psychology. Maybe I should send the article to the magazine “Mule Psychology Today.” (Which doesn’t exist for those blondes among us who were going to run out and buy it).

One burning question remains: are you as smart as a mule in this area? If not, what do you need to do?



Talleyrand is supposed to have said something like this, “We always follow people who were incapable and those who follow us are people who sink the ship.” Another version from someone else says simply, “The two most stupid people in the world are the fellow who came before me and the one who followed me. It took me a long time to straighten things out when I got here and the fellow who followed me had it screwed up again in no time.”

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