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Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Paradox of Effectiveness

Do you consider yourself strong or weak? What does it mean to you to show regard for the weak? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 791).

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89).
Poems. 1918.

God’s Grandeur

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

The ultimate question is: where does true strength lie? We have learned the hard way not to trust anyone who claims that they are or should be in absolute control. Whether it's on the job or in the nationstate, a walking red flag is anyone who claims they should have and inherently deserve absolute control – instead of reserving that role only for God himself. That is one reason why faith is so freeing. We don't have to circle the wagons and constantly stress over defending our limitless authority which does not and should not exist in the first place.

It's sad when a person in a leadership role thinks it's all about power and authority rather than love and service – when their stance is defensive and negative rather than positive; when the fixation is on keeping others down and in line and not lifting them up with encouragement. As obviously counterproductive as this fixation is when viewed in terms of effective human relations, communication, and productivity; it is a failure seen all too often. Those who should know better fancy such behavior as stern strength and end up assigning demigods and misanthropes rather than humanitarian servants of God to positions of trust.

One of the most useful insights ever conceived is that we are all weak creatures when compared to the grandeur of God; and that God is and ought to be in control with all humanity standing humbly before him. We should fix this image in our minds and live by it assiduously even if the God of love turns out to be a total fabrication.

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