TLP Living: 10/12/19

Pride, Arrogance and a Fool’s Errand

Several years ago, four to be exact, I had an interesting experience in an interview. There was this church about a thousand miles from where I lived that asked me to apply for a preaching vacancy in their church. They knew about me and my previous experience with a struggling congregation and how I had played a certain role in helping, at least a little bit, to rejuvenate that group, and that is exactly what their group was looking for. They had lost about a hundred members over the previous few years and sought to turn that unfortunate situation around.

I was intervened by a surprisingly large committee made up of the leaders and key members of the congregation and after the preliminaries in which they told me they were looking to turn things around and not only stop people from leaving, but begin a new era of church growth. Then came the very first question:

Suppose we decide to bring you on board; what will your reaction be when you bring us a list of things you want to change and we say ‘no’ to everything?

I well remember my first thought when they asked me that one… ‘At least they are honest’.

My answer was: “That question is entirely irrelevant, because it will never happen.”

“What do you mean ‘it will never happen’?” asked the Chairman of the group.

“You all seem to be bright and intelligent people, and you know me and my work. You would be bringing me in to turn things around: You wouldn’t dare to tell me ‘no’.” Believe it or not, they seemed to be somewhat surprised by my answer.

“Why would you say that?” asked one.

“Because each and every one of you is fully aware of the fact that you cannot continue to do all the same things you’ve always done and have a new result.”

It may surprise you to find this out dear reader, but they selected a different candidate; in fact, last time I heard, they were on their fourth candidate since then, and have lost half of the people they had four years ago. “No, you don’t understand, they told me, we’re doing everything right but the last few preachers messed it up.”

Albert Einstein famously said that repeating the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result was the definition of insanity, and while I haven’t asked a psychiatrist if that is really the correct definition of insanity, few would argue that it is a smart thing to do. I think Harry Truman really nailed it down when he quipped, “The only thing worth learning is what you learn after you already know it all.”

Mr. Truman certainly had a way with words…

I’ve been talking about churches here, but the same applies to any organization be it a private group, a business, governmental body or a school… or just in our own daily lives. If we have problems and always handle our business the same old way, we will still have the same old problems.

Who can argue with that?

Scripture has a word for this phenomenon; it’s “pride”. Sadly, we often have a hard time dealing with pride and so we find someone else to blame things on, and that is called “arrogance”. For any of us to continue down that road as we struggle through the same kinds of problems over and over again is called a fool’s errand and we end up spreading carnage all though our churches, organizations, companies and families.

I wonder what would happen if we replaced pride with humility, if we replaced arrogance with repentance. What would happen if we followed God’s will instead of our own, if we adopted God’s purpose instead of our own; would we still be on a fool’s errand, or would be following in the footsteps of Christ?

It might be interesting to find out.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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2 Responses to TLP Living: 10/12/19

  1. LOL, I’ve been there.

    I belong to a small church, much smaller than it was when I joined (hmm, connection?). The priest we had was accused by some of being “too Orthodox”, wrote to the Bishop and had him removed, of course by then many of them had left. Next priest comes in and people thought he was too “Western” so they wrote to have him removed. He was, but they were (mostly) gone by then as well. Happened once again with another “too Orthodox) priest, now we have less than 100 people showing up on Sundays, people who are there for the message, not so much for the messenger.

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