Competition is one of my signature strengths. I don’t like losing or being wrong. By God’s grace I am mellowing with age. So, I can somewhat identify with John when he and his buddies were bothered that someone they didn’t know was taking on demons in the power of Jesus’ name yet wasn’t part of their signature team. I’m sure he felt that that it was completely inappropriate for one who was not spending time at the feet of the Master to minister as a supposed follower. But John and his fellow disciples were misguided in their thinking.
Exodus 17:6—“I am going to stand there in front of you on the rock at Horeb; when you hit the rock, water will come out of it and the people will drink.” Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Imagine with me a ship called Argy-Bargy. Captain Accord is given a mission to sail the ship to an island called Habitué. He tells Lieutenant Divagate to set a course of 340 degrees but the officer is distracted and misunderstands the course as 314 degrees. When he repeats the course back to the Captain, his southern accent does not help and he is given confirmation that is 26 degrees off course. Petty Officer 3rd Class Makebate got in a fight with Petty Officer 2nd Class Invidious and, though he was the instigator, he was furious when Ensign Feckless threw him in the brig for three days. When he got out he managed to convince Petty Officer Mugwump and Seaman Apprentice Fulminate that the officers on board Argy-Bargy were corrupt and out to get them. They hatched a plan to sabotage as many officers as they could on social media by spreading malicious lies. What they didn’t realize is that Lieutenant Commander Popinjay overheard them talking and reported them to Master Chief Petty Officer Sot who just happened to be from Makebate’s home town and was a friend of the family. Sot, after a few beers to think about the whole thing, chose not to say anything to the Skipper. Instead he casually shared with the XO, Commander Garboil, that a misunderstanding had occurred among some of the junior enlisted men but that he had handled it. What do you think of the state of unity on this ship? Will it reach Habitué?
Luke 15:2—And the Pharisees and scribes were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!”
Our pastor recently received an anonymous email that was highly critical of himself and his executive pastor. As an elder, I can honestly share that this kind of message serves only to discourage leaders. The person criticizing picks apart whatever he or she disagrees with, is not part of a solution and hides behind a cloak of anonymity rather than come and personally share what is misunderstood. It is too easy to be critical. It is also immature to lob rocks from the other side of the hill.
I heard an excellent message from a pastor recently about not defending ourselves when we are betrayed or attacked. His point was that no matter what we say in defense we cannot undo the damage and we may actually make things worse. If we have done what is right and are slandered, lied about, or smeared unfairly, the best course of action is to continue to live our lives righteously and trust God for the results. If close friends ask what is happening, we may share with them . . . The point is: don’t retaliate, defend, or excuse ourselves.
This is not easy. To hold our peace when warred against is like watching mosquitoes take blood and not swatting them. Why would we do that?
Coach Lou Holtzwas quoted as saying, “Never tell your problems to anyone...20% don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them.” Holtz has a great sense of humor; let’s just hope his findings are inaccurate! Most people don’t want to spend their time listening to others complain. As I write this, I recall a person I used to avoid taking phone calls from because his pattern was to grumble at great lengths about his circumstances. By the end of the call I was irritated. This person never seemed to be happy feeling only bad things were afoot.
1 Peter 4:9—Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
Frink* wrote an email and sent it to the CEO, CFO and HRO of a major corporation. He complained that his wife Delilah worked in a toxic environment, that her supervisors were incompetent and mean-spirited and that the section was basically a clique that considered his wife a racist. Concerned with the possibility of unfavorable press and a lawsuit, even though Frink’s wife worked four departments below his level, the CEO directed Jeff the boss of Delilah’s boss to personally call Frink and listen to whatever he had to say.
Philippians 2:14,15—Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.
Harry is a phenomenal Command Sergeant Major. His dedication and his uncompromising zeal are inspiring. When I think of him I am reminded of Paul’s challenge to the Philippians in the passage above.
Have you ever tried to help someone only to be second guessed, accused of manipulating, or of having some hidden, evil agenda? I once had a leader who was quick to complain about his higher headquarters. Despite the faults he found in others, his performance was consistently weak. For his own betterment I removed him from his position. I shared with him my intentions and then explained why his behavior was detrimental to our organization.
Numbers 13:33—“We even saw the Nephilim there.” (The offspring of Anak were descended from the Nephilim.) “To ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and we must have seemed the same to them.”
Mote worked in the building for years. As I got to know him I was amazed at his disdain for women—particularly his own wife. He would ridicule her at every chance and belittle her publicly. He made her seem stupid. He complained of her shortcomings yet seemed clueless to his own failings. In fact, the more I got to know him the more I could appreciate the pain his wife must have endured. Perhaps most grievous, was knowing that he was unfaithful to her and completely uncaring.
Insubordination is the oldest recorded sin. Lucifer resisted God’s authority. He then contaminated humanity through his seditious lies to Eve. Today the planet the Lord God made for His glory is pockmarked with contumacious, (obstinately disobedient), disregard for His rule.
Moses fled Egypt after murdering an Egyptian. He married a Midianite priest’s daughter and lived a simple life for decades tending his father-in-law’s sheep. One day God appeared to him out of a burning bush to appoint him as rescuer of his enslaved countrymen. God informed Moses that He was sending him to Pharaoh to win the release of the Israelites from Egypt. What an assignment! One would think that Moses, raised in a royal family and gifted with a great education, would have leaped at the opportunity to be a hero! Alas, he had other ideas. Whenever, the first word uttered is “But,” grab an umbrella because it’s about to rain excuses!