Monday, December 28, 2015

My Idol


Today's illustration was shared by Frank Turek on Twitter.  It combined some things that came together for me, with this year's Christmas.  For me, Christmas is one of those times when I think about people.  Friends, would be enemies, those who've merely passed through my life, those who've made a difference in some way.  It got me thinking about the past year and where it took us.


@EricGeiger -- A leader’s idolatry will prevent a leader from the holy task of developing other leaders.

@danielsangi -- Your leadership effectiveness is never the result of one heroic act, it's always the sum of small faithful choices done everyday.

When I saw those two statements on Twitter, I immediately thought the events of the year and how much those two tweets really frame the prevalent mindsets of the day.

Eric Geiger's insight goes right to the heart of 2015.  It doesn't matter whether we're talking about ISIS, gay rights, #blacklivesmatter, conservatives, liberals, Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Tea Partyers, or pretty much any other major group you can think of.  Each seems to have replaced the God of the Bible with the idol of self.

We can easily say there are leaders and people in each of these categories who love God and are involved to benefit others.  But there are too many who are more interested in bolstering their prominence or filling their coffers.  And it doesn't matter at whose expense.  Incite sentiments of opposition, not unity.  Destruction, not improvement.

When things like pharmacies are burned and destroyed, there are two views of the result.  The idea, theoretically, is getting back at the corporations holding the poor down.  The local reality is twofold plus more.  First, there are the locals who relied on that store for prescriptions, who now have to find ways to replace prescriptions and place them with pharmacies farther away and more difficult to get to.  Second, there's a small group who target the prescription painkillers and grab all of them before the store is burned.  They can now sell them cheaply, addict locals, creating future business for illegal drugs.

The "twofold plus" is really a minus.  The norm for doing business is staying in business.  They want to help the customer, but can't at a loss.  The small local business may go out of existence after a protest or riot ransacking.  The larger businesses are not unanswerable entities.  They have investors to answer to.  Altruism is balanced by ROI.  So, while wanting to be available for those who really need the business to be there, the question may become "At what cost?".  A destroyed corporate store may not be rebuilt and re-open.  Both types of businesses becoming losses to those who need the convenience and a loss to those who need the jobs.  And the customer loses again because the rebuilding, if it happens, has to be paid for.  That usually means increased prices.

Daniel Sangi's tweet hit on something else important.  If I may, I'll use an NFL comparison.  We all love to see the big play.  The quarterback throwing the bomb that either makes the touchdown or sets up the play that does.  Or the runner who covers massive yardage to do the same.  But, at the end of the season, it's not the big plays that do the job.  It's the team who consistently moves the ball forward in small increments and who do that better than their opponents.

Life is much the same as that football analogy.  But there's a difference.  If you're trying to help others or are the victim of real or perceived prejudicial treatment, those small increments can seem nonexistent.  Not big enough, not fast enough.  And that perception can sometimes be right.  But the reactions to those perceptions fly in all kinds of directions.  Many of them unwise and most driven by sight instead of proven reality.

I know.  You're wondering why no Bible verses.  While this post can stand on its own, it's really the foundation of a brief series.  Saturday, we'll take a look at a Biblical family courting disaster from making comfort their idol and the choices made by sight.  I had asked an online friend to write a guest post that I thought I might share toward the end of January, when I was going to be busier and, perhaps, have less internet access.  I really like Minister Kenneth Tamara's daily devotionals.  So, I was comfortable giving him a length range and letting God lead him in the subject matter.

If you've ever seen one of those pictures of Zen stone art, the ones with three stones placed in appropriate sequence, think of this and the next two posts as those stones.  This is the first, the foundation.  Kenneth Tamara's post will be the next in line, on Saturday.  The final stone will be my end of the series, on the fourth.  In the meantime, a thought.

Have you taken something you consider important and placed it on your mental/spiritual altar where God should be?  And, because we've moved God out of place, are we looking for the glory of the "Hail Mary play" instead of guaranteeing a successful goal by taking all the small steps to make sure it happens?

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