Have you ever had to make a decision for the sake of one group of people that you know will adversely affect others? How do you know which one is the right one?
For me, in my position it has to be for the good of God’s people first and foremost. If something starts to eat into the church’s resources for little or no spiritual, cultural, financial or numerical benefit a decision has to made.
It’s actually a while since I was in this sort of situation but I recently had to make such a decision. Big decisions have a consequence that you may have experienced. Here it is:
When it’s made, there’s always push-back from a third party that is adversely affected. This gets a little more complex when you seek to represent Jesus to the world around you. More than once I have wrested with the thought: Have I made a decision that has brought dishonour to my Lord? That’s made life miserable for my staff? That’s adversely affected the community?
This is of course always a wrestle that occurs at exactly the same moment as you realise that you can’t undo your decision. Soon you find yourself; there on your couch at home, staring out the window and you begin to think of all the people that are inconvenienced by you and may possibly have an even lower view of how church’s operate. That’s when the thought comes:
“Was I wrong?”
“Was I acting in the flesh when I moved on this?”
I’m not the first person to start doubting myself nor will I be the last.
But believe it or not, I’m thankful for the moment of panic and doubt, it shows that I genuinely care about all parties. God help those that can make hard choices without feeling a thing.
The ‘what if I’m wrong?’ question is crucial for a leader’s prayer life. It’s something that we have to learn what to do with. The only thing we can do is bring it to God. Prayer is the space safe enough for us to genuinely ask the question in the presence of a loving Father; Well, “what if I did stuff up?”
I am quickly discovering that you can tell how closely people walk with God by how much they always want to blame others. I am also discovering that I’ve got a long way to grow in this area. I can never get over for example; King David’s attitude:
2 Sam 16:5-10 5 As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. 6 He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. 7 As he cursed, Shimei said, “Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! 8 The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!” 9 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.” 10 But the king said, “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”
While his own dudes are saying; “let’s cut this abuser’s head off,” David is saying “maybe this is God’s judgement?” which is another way of saying “What if he’s right?”
Simply put, David is not averse to blame. He takes responsibility for his past decisions. He’s not defensive in any way and open to being told he was wrong. He’s only like that because his self-worth is not built on being right, but on God’s love for him.
You. Can’t. Fake. This.
In order to maintain an unbelief in God, you have to invent some story as to why David keeps acting in the opposite way to nearly every single other ancient monarch. You only get like this when you are well practised in the art of relinquishing yourself to God’s judgement of you rather than your own.
So what is God’s judgement?
There I was wresting with the question: “did I completely stuff up?” when I picked up form where I left off in my Bible from last time and my eyes fell upon this:
Exodus 13:19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”
In my bible it says: “For I am certain the God will come to your aid.” The moment I read that, I remembered that God was with us and that he would help us. Here’s why.
Joseph is saying that he is certain that God will rescue Israel long after he’s dead. over 400 years in fact. But the inconvenient part about being dead is, you have no way of knowing what the Israelites are going to be like in 400 years. They might be super faithful and God-honouring, or they could degenerate into a whining bunch of ungrateful sods. Joseph has zero certainty about Israel, so the only other thing in that equation that he can be certain about is….God, and his character.
Please don’t miss this.
For most of us I believe if we were to finish the sentence: “God is going to help us because….” it would sound like this: “we’ve been faithful/done the right thing.” The thing is though, that makes his help conditional upon our faithfulness and obedience.
This of course is complete rubbish.
If it was true, Joseph’s command would have sounded something like “If you serve God well and he is pleased enough to respond; then take my bones outta here too.” He in fact says nothing of the sort. Why?
Because Joseph knew enough about God to know, that God helps us not because of our faithfulness to him but because of his faithfulness to us.
God does not bless flagrant sin and that is where the willingness to admit fault and repent comes in. But assuming we are keeping a humble attitude, God will help us deal with anything.
Someone out there needs to hear this: even if that ‘anything’ is the consequence of your mistake.
If we’re walking with God and open to admitting mistake (even though we may be convinced that we’re making the God-honouring decision) resting in his love rather than our rightness, then no decision can haunt us because we know that God helps us because of him, not because of us.