Flip-flop

When did flip-flopping become such a negative thing?  It seems that being accused of flip-flopping, especially in the political field, has become the single most dangerous accusation that can be leveled against an opponent.  When did we start expecting our leaders to be so wise that they would never ever have to change their mind? The longer I live the more I become convinced that the key to wisdom has something to do with flip-flopping.  To be honest flip-flopping is not strength of mine, mostly because it is closely tied with admitting that I am wrong.  Apologizing requires humility, not my personal specialty.

In scripture flip-flopping is normative.  In Acts 9 we have the story of Saul, later re-named Paul, who is a passionate follower of God.  A new group of people is emerging. They call themselves “followers of the Way;” later on they are referred to as Christians.  This new group was threatening the established religious system.  So Saul gains permission from the religious leaders to fix the problem.  But on the road to Damascus Saul meets Jesus and has a flip-flopping experience.  He is won over to the Followers side and eventually writes the majority of the New Testament - all because he flip-flopped.

When church and political leaders refuse to flip-flop, they become something less than leaders.  It is silly to think that a person will never change their mind.  As a matter of fact, I would propose that a person’s unwillingness to change their mind is an indicator of things like immaturity, insensitivity and lack of compassion.  If someone claims to be a leader and isn’t willing to flip-flop then they have no business claiming to be a leader.

Next time someone is accused of flip-flopping, take a moment and thank God for that person!

Listening and learning

The Christian faith has always been a part of my world. My dad was a pastor and my mother taught Sunday school. Wednesday Bible studies, Friday youth groups, and Sunday morning and evening services were weekly, non-negotiable realities.

After graduating from high school, I went to Bible college. To graduate, I passed a 600-question Bible content exam. I spent three years in seminary studying theology.

On occasion, I have been known to get a little prideful with my biblical and theological knowledge. Pride is very rarely a good thing. It tends to blind us.

A few weeks ago, I was on the phone talking to a co-worker. I was trying to make a point by demonstrating my deep biblical understanding. For the life of me, I cannot remember the point I was trying to make, but I do remember her response; “Jesus, the son of God, was on earth 30 years before he started preaching.”

The comment stopped me in my tracks.

Jesus, the son of God, spent 30 years listening and learning before he started preaching. Wow.

Every time I discover some new theological insight, I want to share my “wisdom” with everyone around me. When I take the time to be honest with myself, this sharing has more to do with wanting to show off than anything else.

My mother was fond of telling me that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should spend most of our time listening and learning, not spouting and bragging.

My mentor and spiritual hero passed away last year. He lived a good life. One of the things that everyone remembers about him was his ability to listen. Listening made him wise and when he spoke people listened.

If listening, learning and observing first was a good approach for Jesus, the son of God it, might just be a good approach for the rest of us.

I have a sneaking suspicion that those who achieve sainthood do so because they are slow to speak and quick to listen.

My God give me the grace to be a better listener.