Over thirty year ago I found myself speaking to a group of high school seniors on what was called career day. At that time I was Vince President of a Fortune 1000 company and probably had their respect. At the end of my talk one of the students asked me the following question. Do I need a college education to have a job like yours? I immediately noticed most of the students perk up in anticipation of my answer. They were on the edge of their seats—waiting.
My response to them was not as important as my take away. The question asked was really not the real one—at least not as articulated. The real question they wanted answered was this—how can I escape the time and pain I must endure to achieve the desired result? I left this experience thinking that we are raising a generation of young people who lack patience and the ability to apply critical thought—and that is exactly where we are today. In our relentless pursuit of the easy way we have missed the benefits brought about by the struggle.
In our relentless pursuit of the easy way we have missed the benefits brought about by the struggle
How did this happen? I believe it has to do with a deliberate movement away from our roots. Let me be clear here in saying I am not talking about our roots as a nation—I am referring to our Christian roots and the basic understanding of what our wonderful God is teaching us from His word. It is virtually impossible to study the Bible and not understand the relationship between adversity and character building. It is one of the most profound messages contained from Genesis to Revelation.
This idea is found in every aspect of life on planet earth. From a moth succumbing to the pressure of the cocoon to the oak tree facing the storm that causes its roots to go deeper—it is everywhere in Gods creative world. The bottom line is that we want to gain without the strain.
Add that together with the evolution of technology and the ease with which information is now available and it is no wonder we find ourselves where we are. Many today are ideological slaves—people who form opinions based upon air as they lack the patience to truly uncover deeper truths—and practical cowards as we find few today willing to put everything on the line for a worthy cause.
Many today are ideological slaves—people who form opinions based upon air as they lack the patience to truly uncover deeper truths—and practical cowards as we find few today willing to put everything on the line for a worthy cause.
Dear ones, it is at this point I really need you to hear my heart. The solution to this dilemma does NOT lie in our institutional structures or government. In fact, the one thing that still does work in our nation is representative government. Our government is, and always has been, a representation of the sum of its parts. You can blame the sum all you want but that is not the problem. It’s about the parts—you and me—and what we have become.
If you call yourself a follower of Jesus let me offer a few challenges to you as we enter this very important new year. I would start by encouraging you to reexamine where the battlefield is. It is not in our government or its leaders—it is with you and I—the church of Jesus Christ. We need to be praying for our nation and its leaders—Jesus is calling us to do that. However, the Bible also says that His ears are attentive to the prayers of a righteous man. To me the more important issue is prayer for God’s church and for you and me to understand His principles and begin to embrace and live them out.
Yes, that means understanding this is not a cake walk. It means getting serious about our relationship and walk with Jesus. It means becoming more like the Apostle Paul when it comes to welcoming adversity and understanding that God uses it to build us. Imagine what our country would look like if a majority of our parts resembled Paul.
Imagine what our country would look like if a majority of our parts resembled Paul
Judges 3:2 He did this (allowed the battles) only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience:
Ps 4:1 KJV Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.
James 1:2-4 NIV Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
The wind that blows can never kill
The tree God plants;
It blows toward east, and then toward west,
The tender leaves have little rest,
But any wind that blows is best.
The tree that God plants
Strikes deeper root, grows higher still,
Spreads greater limbs, for God’s good will
Meets all its wants.
There is no storm has power to blast
The tree God knows;
No thunderbolt, nor beating rain,
Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane;
When they are spent, it does remain,
The tree God knows,
Through every storm it still stands fast,
And from its first day to its last
Still fairer grows. –Selected