He was a gifted leader with a knack for out-of-the-box initiatives. In Jesus’ parable of the talents, I thought, he would be the servant who received five talents. He was potential realized, the promise of a gift that would keep on giving. A person to look up to and look forward to.
A point in time came, however, when his attitude seemed to change. In the beginning the situation was relatively imperceptible. Eventually it festered like a sore. His posts on social media became harsher and his reactions sarcastic, with hints of deep-seated resentment.
One thing led to another. Soon the leader began to question some of the beliefs he had held dear. It was only a matter of time before his ability to role-model was marred to the point of seemingly no return. His worldview water fountain became tainted by the baleful concoction that poisoned everything he touched.
Eventually he crashed.
Going to the Root
A careful review of how this leader began to play with sparks until everything caught fire didn’t prove unusually revealing. It was a story told countless times—the story of an injury to the spirit not dealt with properly, of a spiritual open fracture placed in a cast before disinfection. But in his case, it was ultimately enough to make him cut his anchor ropes and sail aimlessly adrift until his spiritual boat sank.
The question for the rest, who helplessly saw him sail away, would reverberate for years: Could we have done something to prevent his demise? Could he?
A Frustrating Visit
Human interactions are, by definition, complex. Some biblical principles, however, can help to kill a germ before it becomes an epidemic.
I am reminded of Jethro’s visit to Moses in the desert (Ex. 18). Moses’ family enjoyed a memorable first day of remembrance and worship. On the second day, however, Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood before him from morning until evening.
It must have been highly frustrating to Jethro to arrive with Moses’ wife and children for a visit, and then to see his son-in-law work himself to death before his eyes. Jethro could have criticized Moses behind his back. He could have kept his frustrations to himself and done nothing. He could have left, enraged.
Jethro, however, chose to appeal to Moses’ heart. And Moses chose to listen.
Here’s one of the Bible remedies to the malady of misunderstandings that often leads to fractured connections at home, work, or church. One person chooses to be vulnerable and open. The other one decides to be open and listen. Both benefit from it.
It is extremely simple but immeasurably profound. “So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law” (Ex. 18:24). Resentment was averted. The seed of bitterness withered before sprouting; the scratch of the spirit was disinfected, allowing the body to heal naturally. It’s time to get closer to each other and talk it over. Time to listen more. To follow advice. To start anew. Release your grudges adrift into the night.