Everyone knows that it is hard for a teenager to say “no” when friends are asking him to join in an escapade. I wonder at what age the answer gets easy. I find that the situations become more complex, and often more devastating, however, the interaction between a group of people and me is the same.
The obvious temptations do not what cause me worry. The question of breaking my marriage commitment or participating in a felony is not something that is gray; these issues are clearly, for me, black and white. I am worried about the opportunities that present themselves to slander another person. The invitation to verbally throw stones at someone who has a different view is very interesting! The harsh reality is that I find the request for me to give another person ammo so that they can stab the third person is often difficult to refuse, especially if I do not know the details and benefit from the results. I wonder about the subtle endorsement by the actions of others around me to short change the taxman or parking attendant. Do I blindly follow?
It is easy for people who are not engaged in the real world to answer the questions above and opine on people are cannot glibly express confidence in their behavior. I find this response to be in the same league as the very actions I am questioning! The world is what the world is. Corporate life is full of examples and situations where my response to a given situation may be “perceived” as a stab, even if I do not intend it that way. Being wimpy in life only invites others to run over you. However, what does this mean?
Solomon got it right on the first step. “Dear friend, if bad companions tempt you, don't go along with them.” (Proverbs 1.10) I often overlook the second step. “Take the action that reflects your values and priorities. Do not wait to be led or react.” Am I going to step towards God or let others lead me away?
6 January 2001
The negotiations and work in Athens has been long, difficult, problematic, and ethically challenging. Working and being with friends from early morning through early morning with a short catnap before starting the cycle all over again always raises the intensity level. Solving problems that another should have solved months ago within the scope of their job responsibilities is frustrating when the solution is merely a matter a hard work. Creating a sense of teamwork when the various players' agenda and reward systems are different can be a fun and creative challenge. Nothing that I have just mentioned is right or wrong; merely the results of the choices we make in how we live our life and the result of that decision on the relationships around us.
I find myself using relationship criteria as the measuring tool for what is right and wrong and what direction I should follow. This method of determining the path to follow uses the following logic: If I focus on the relationships immediately around me and do the right thing, then the end-result will be “right”.
Solomon's warning is clear. “If they [companions] say – 'Let's go out and raise some hell. Let's beat up some old man, mug some old woman. Let's pick them clean and get ready for their funerals. We'll load up on top-quality look. We'll haul it home by the truck-load. Join us for the time of your life! With us, it's share and share alike!' Oh, friend, don't give them a second look; don't listen to them for a minute.” (Proverbs 1.11-15)
Our actions and my choice did not result in physically mugging an old woman, but I am not sure that the outcome was, from a motive perspective, much different. Taking advantage and forcing results at another's expense is a choice that is not right because two individuals work together to achieve and share the rewards. My criteria for making any choice must include the results for everyone involved, even if it hurts.
God loves me. Am I willing to live with everyone in the same way?