"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Raising The Standard: Responsibility Is Turning Routine Tasks Into Enjoyable Experiences

This post concludes the key points of Responsibility... next up, Courage.
How Does Scripture Illustrate Responsibility In Making Work Enjoyable?
Early one morning a large crowd began to gather around an empty wooden chair. Each one was deep in thought or in serious conversation with those standing around him. Soon a hush came over the crowd. A dignified man with handsome features strode from his tent toward the chair. The assembly parted as he came and quickly closed in after him. There was a mood of reverence and eagerness as he sat on the chair and nodded to the one nearest him to begin speaking. Soon he was listening to the details of a grievance which the speaker had against his neighbor. After hearing both sides, the revered leader explained statutes and laws of God which determined who was right and who was wrong. Patiently the people waited their turn, but by the end of the day many had not yet been heard. A silent individual observed the leader and the group and devised what he thought was a better plan. His plan made sense, but it was destined to be a destructive force in the life of the leader and his people. That evening he suggested to the leader, "You are going to wear yourself out as well as the people if you try to hear all their problems. It would be much better if you chose qualified leaders from among the people and let them hear small cases. If they have any difficult matters, they will bring them to you. This will make it easier for you." He knew that the plan would appeal to the leader because he sensed that he was weary and frustrated. Indeed, his desire to be free from part of his responsibility caused him to cry out to God for more help. God conceded by instructing him to gather together seventy other men. Then God spoke these revealing words, "I will take part of the spirit which is upon you and will put it upon them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you that you bear it not yourself alone." The leader's request for less responsibility was granted, but the cost was far greater than he anticipated. He lost direct contact with many of the people, and they lost some of their respect for him. Confusion of leadership resulted and his most trusted friends began to challenge his authority. As a result, the goal which he had worked toward for eighty years suffered a setback that required forty additional years to overcome. The responsibilities of his position were enormous, but Moses failed to realize that God had given him the power of His Spirit equal to the task to which he was assigned. By giving up part of that task, he had lost part of that Spirit. What became of the seventy who helped to carry his load? They became the organization which years later voted to crucify the Son of God. (From Exodus 18)
Should Moses Have Listened To Jethro - A Priest Of A Heathen Land?
Scripture tells us not to walk in the counsel of the wicked but rather to delight in the Law of the Lord (Psalm 1:1-2). But Jethro as not a wicked pagan priest and the full body of the Law had not yet been revealed. Jethro was the priest of Midian (Exodus 3:1) and hence, a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 25:1-2). His other name, Reueul (Exodus 2:18), means "friend of God," and it seems likely that he was a worshipper of the God of Abraham. Furthermore, Jethro was Moses' father-in-law whom he had served for forty years. Jethro was sincerely concerned for Moses' welfare and the welfare of his daughter and two grandsons. He may have been worried that Moses' responsibility would only lead to further marital difficulties (cf. Exodus 4:24-26; 18:2). Moses was wise in giving attention to the instruction of his father-in-law in order to gain understanding (Proverb 4:1). He was wrong not to seek the Lord's more complete solution which would have answered Jethro's objections and would have prevented the unnecessary consequences which followed.
What Were The Consequences Of Moses' Premature Decision?
There were over six hundred thousand men in the nation (Exodus 12:37). If Jethro's advice were taken literally, there would have been six hundred judges over thousands, six thousand over hundreds, twelve thousand over fifties, and sixty thousand over groups of ten - seventy eight thousand and six hundred judges in all. Many of these judges would no doubt have felt privileged to a larger amount of Moses' time than otherwise would have been the case. So ineffective was this new system that a year later the Lord conceded to give Moses seventy additional men to share his position as a final arbitrator of God's Law. Immediately afterward, his own brother and sister challenged Moses' authority (Numbers 12:1,2). Then ten of the spies sent into the new land challenged Moses' authority (Numbers 13:31-32). Finally the spirit of anarchy and rebellion broke out among the leaders who were supposed to have eased Moses' judicial burden (Numbers 16:1-3).
What Was God's Solution?
If Moses had endured his responsibility for a few more months he would have been able to see God's perfect plan for the organization of the nation. Jethro spent only one evening explaining his plan to Moses, but God spent forty days and forty nights revealing His organizational plan for the nation. When Jethro gave his advice, the detailed Law had not been given and the people had few principles to follow. Every variation and new situation needed a precident setting decision and special deliberation. Jethro's advise would have amounted to the building of an extremely complex and unwieldy code of law which only a special group of trained men could understand (Exodus 18:19-22). God's method was to give a very compact set of laws which every individual could learn, meditate on and obey (Psalm 1:2; Psalm 119:1-2). Furthermore it was not God's plan to separate the civil laws from the religious laws as Jethro's plan would have done. The Lord's plan was to give the tribe of Levi the responsibility of teaching and administering the Law to the other tribes and of objectively arbitrating inter-tribal disputes (Deuteronomy 17:8-13); 33:10).
How Does The Otter Illustrate Responsibility In Making Work Enjoyable?
Talented acrobats, the otters are the most proficient swimmers of the weasel family. It is hard to believe that an animal which enjoys and is so competent in the water would be afraid of it at birth. But such is the case with the young otter pups. To introduce them to this threatening element, the parent otters employ an involved strategy. It was time for the otter, one of nature's most fun-loving creatures, to set aside its playful antics and settle down to the serious business of raising a family. The responsibilities which raising a family entailed necessitated a change in lifestyle for the perpetually on-the-move mammal. Rearing young would mean confinement to one area and an underground den until the pups were old enough to travel. In selecting her den site, the female requires that it be near the bank of a pond or stream. By choosing such a location, an underwater entrance can be made to facilitate her coming and going without exposing her puts to lurking predators. After the selection has been made and the den has been lined with soft vegetation, she gives birth to two or three pups. The female waits until the pups' eyes are open before leading them out of the den. The young are afraid of water so she cannot use the underwater passageway and is forced to dig a hole above the chamber, allowing the pups to leave the den on dry land. Once they leave, the female allows them to romp and frolic and explore their new surroundings with boundless energy. Both father and mother join in their play by scuffling with them and allowing the pups to ride on their backs. Periodically they slip into the water alone and return with morsels of food to meet the demands of the youngsters' growing appetites. This is their first exposure to water and the first step in a strategy to familiarize them with it. The Pups are not forced toward the stream, but are allowed to play for several days until the parents feel they are ready to enter the water. Either one or both parents have the pups climb up on their back for a customary ride. But this time, instead of running up and down the shoreline, they slip into the water's edge, the panicked pups cling to the fur in fright. This procedure is repeated until the pups gradually relax as they become more confident of their support and more accustomed to the water. Soon after the young become comfortable in their riding position, the parent slips out from underneath, leaving them to experience their buoyancy for the first time. They frantically fight to stay above the surface. The Parent glides back underneath and supports them again. By extending these free-floating periods the pups gradually learn the fine art of swimming. The parents remain in the same area throughout the summer, concentrating on developing the skills of their pups, teaching them by example to fish and hunt for crayfish. By the end of the season not only will the pups have mastered their aquatic skills, but one of even greater importance, they will have learned how to approach a routine task with the carefree abandon and playfulness that characterizes this fun loving mammal.

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