"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong manstumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." Teddy Roosevelt
Lead, Follow Or Get Out Of The Way!
Have you ever noticed that critics don't make good leaders? What does make a person worthy of your commitment to follow? Jesus puts the impetus on you and me to first answer this question: do I want to walk in light or darkness?
If social media has done anything it's created a powerful platform for critics! I learned sometime ago that volume never makes truth truthier! Whether a person uses all caps or shouts louder than his opponents, real virtue belongs to the one who lives his faith.
George MacDonald makes a startling observation about true faith and true men:
"I would rather have a man holding, as numbers of you do, what seem to me the most obnoxious untruths, opinions the most irreverent and gross, if at the same time he lived in the faith of the Son of God, that is, trusted in God as the Son of God trusted in him, than I would have a man with every one of whose formulas of belief I utterly coincided, but who knew nothing of a daily life and walk with God.
The one, holding doctrines of devils, is yet a child of God; the other, holding the doctrines of Christ and his Apostles, is of the world, yea, of the devil. 'How! a man hold the doctrine of devils, and yet be of God?' Yes; for to hold a thing with the intellect, is not to believe it.
A man's real belief is that which he lives by; and that which the man I mean lives by, is the love of God, and obedience to his law, so far as he has recognized it.
Those hideous doctrines are outside of him; he thinks they are inside, but no matter; they are not true, and they cannot really be inside any good man. They are sadly against him; for he cannot love to dwell upon any of those supposed characteristics of his God; he acts and lives nevertheless in a measure like the true God.
What a man believes, is the thing he does."
Walking In The LightMacDonald, George. Unspoken Sermons Series II, The Truth In Jesus
Question: How then do we know if a "leader" is blind or seeing?
Answer: What is the evidence that they either love darkness or love light?
Too often we choose the person we will follow (and, make no mistake, any personal leadership aspiration we entertain comes only by learning first to be a good follower) by the words they use. Whatever template we feel comfortable with - whether political, social, or theological - we line up their words with what we are familiar with but neglect to examine how they actually live...to our own hurt.
Here's a template we can use to examine a person's deeds: Romans 12
- Don't just pretend to love others. Really love them.
- Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
- Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
- Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
- Rejoice in our confident hope.
- Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
- When God's people are in need, be ready to help them.
- Always be eager to practice hospitality.
- Bless those who persecute you. Don't curse them; pray that God will bless them.
- Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
- Live in harmony with each other.
- Don't be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people.
- And don't think you know it all!
- Never pay back evil with more evil.
- Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.
- Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.
- Never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.
- If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.
- Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.