Lamentations 3:39—Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins?
One of the aspects of leadership that I find most taxing is taking disciplinary action against employees for immoral, illegal, or unethical behavior. If people were honest and simply confessed wrongdoing it would not be so hard. Yet rarely does that seem to be the case. Excessive time and emotional energy is spent in separating truth from fiction.
Seve had over 20 years of military experience. Quite foolishly he got drunk and drove with his young daughter in the vehicle. When he was pulled over, not only did he refuse to accept a breathalyzer, he attempted to flee the scene putting his child in further danger. Based on clear evidence and arrest reports I gave him a general officer letter of reprimand. Part of the decision making in administering this letter is whether to put the letter in a soldier’s permanent file or temporary file. The former is a career ender.
When I received Seve’s letter requesting I not put the reprimand in his official file, he did what so many other offenders do. First, he tried to divert attention from the transgression. He submitted documents that indicated he was on prescription medicines which led to his erratic behavior. He ignored the facts given by his arresting officers and the testimony of bystanders. Second, he lied. He stated that he was completely sober when he took the actions he took to escape arrest. Ironically, this negated his first argument. Third, he pleaded that his career and honorable service deployed warranted mercy. Backing this assertion were letters from doctors and counselors applauding his faithfulness attending group therapy sessions.
An honorable past never justifies a dishonorable present. Rarely have I received an arrest report on a soldier with a clean history. Problems don’t just suddenly appear—they have roots and tentacles that when pulled expose character fissures and patterns of poor judgment. If there is smoke expect to find fire and if there is fire look for a variety of fuels. In Seve’s smoldering surroundings was a mistreated former wife and a collection of too many bottles.
A guilty person complaining about punishment is like an unprotected sunbather whining about sunburn. If someone won’t admit wrongdoing and take responsibility the offenses will just continue. Complaining is blaming, a juvenile activity and sign of a mind wrapped in selfishness. Unfortunately, when leaders fear punishing offenses, or apply mercy to excuses, more infractions and asinine behavior are sure to follow.
God is a just proponent of corrective action. “Do not despise the LORD’s instruction my son, and do not loathe His discipline; for the LORD disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in” (Pro. 3:11,12). The moral of the story is, if we spurn instruction and fail, confess, take our licks and mature without complaining!
We will never know, this side of heaven, how often God’s chastening hand has saved us from ultimate ruin and eternal loss.—J. Oswald Sanders in The Pursuit of the Holy
©2013 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)