Approximately a dozen men posted early for the pre-workout Third F including Spud, a HIM on IR whose presence was appreciated. After opening with a prayer and invitation for the opening of our hearts and minds we began the following lesson with interactive discussion.
After hearing repeated requests from the people of Israel, God agreed to give them a king. Through the prophet Samuel, God anointed Saul the first king of Israel. For a while things were good. Saul was victorious in battle and followed God’s instructions, revealed through Samuel. Unfortunately Saul began to only partially follow God’s commands and Saul and Samuel’s relationship became strained. Saul continued to pull away from God until Samuel finally revealed to Saul that he had crossed the line. No longer would Saul be protected. Saul begged Samuel to forgive him and go home together, but Samuel was not moved. Saul became furious at Samuel, even ripped the prophet’s robe during the exchange. Upset and disappointed with Saul Samuel would soon anoint another king, David, the shephard boy son of Jesse.
On Thursday there were ominous clouds in the sky as YHC headed home. As the first raindrops fell I saw a high school age young man walking down the sidewalk and felt the call to offer a ride or an umbrella at the least. With a car to the right I hesitated to get over and the median prevented a U-turn after I passed. Moments later the skies opened and a few drops turned into a downpour. Maybe I wouldn’t stop. By now my mind entertained a number of thoughts: He is probably heading for the apartments close by. He is already soaked so it really doesn’t matter. He wouldn’t want a ride from a stranger. I’m not sure if the umbrella is still in the car. I didn’t turn around and instantly my mind had begun to process information and create a story to justify my decision. And, now, I wonder. What was that voice and what happened when I failed to listen.
Saul certainly had a conscience and felt guidance for ethical decision making, but even clearer was the prophet of God telling him in plain terms what to do. What happened when Saul failed to follow orders? If we read on, he became angry at Samuel, paranoid, made up stories in his head, etc., etc. He had to create a reality that justified the decision he had made. Saul perceived himself as even greater and everyone else as less. Isn’t that what we do as human beings … justify those decisions we make by interpreting our circumstances to match the decision? That “reality” may or may not be the truth. Most often we magnify our own positives and everyone else’s negatives.
Following Saul, Samuel’s second anointed king, David, also dealt with sinful shortcomings. Committing adultery and murder, David hid in a web of lies to hide his selfish actions. But once confronted by the prophet Nathan David’s response was different. He didn’t build himself up or put everyone else down. Showing true repentance, David ripped his robe, fasted, prayed, wept, and, then, accepted God’s punishment and tough justice. David accepted responsibility for his actions, a part of true repentance.
When we hear the voice, the call, (or in my opinion, the Holy Spirit) free will gives us the opportunity to act or not act. Either way, our perception from that moment will shift to justify our decision. Taking action and responding to such a call leads to a clear, truthful reality. Ignore the call and the justification process will begin.
In the book, Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute, failing to “follow our gut” or answer the call puts us into “a box.” Once in the box we have to support our decisions by deceiving ourselves through a body of made up evidence. For example, if you have a child you can remember those nights when the baby was crying and you remained still, very still. I think I even made sure to keep breathing slow and steady. My M will think I am asleep. But that darn voice would suggest I get up and take care of the baby. LET THE GAMES BEGIN! I would think, I worked really hard today and need sleep for tomorrow. My wife can sleep all day. I mean, I bust my tail and what is she doing all day? … just hanging out with a baby.
The scary thing about being “in the box” is we begin to see others more like objects than fellow brothers and sisters / children of God with their own unique struggles and challenges. The box is a house of lies where I become a better person than I am and everyone else is seen from a selfish perspective and less than they really are.
Stroganoff touched on this perspective at the Back Woods Brawl with his description of the “Sandy V.” Roscoe refreshed us on that discussion. Whoopee shared a missed opportunity to consider the perspective of his daughters, tired after the first week of school, as he worked a masterful guilt trip on them for a desired action.
Self-deception breeds fear, mistrust, and conflict. The “bad guy” becomes super bad. We become really deserving of whatever we choose to do. In the box we deny our own moral compass the ability to do its job. No longer can we trust ourselves to have good judgement until we recognize the situation and get back to reality. Next week we will get clearer on the symptoms of being in the box, especially the impact made on our relationships. I hope we can also begin to figure out how to get out of the box. Saul and David have provided some clues.
Great interactive discussion men!