If you had the power to be invisible, how would you use it? What would you do?
Give yourself a moment to come up with an answer before you continue reading….
Determine a real answer for what you would do.
Character is exemplified by what you do when no one is looking. What does your answer say about your character?
I asked my woodshop students this question at school yesterday. I heard the same kind of answers all day long (All 7 class periods). They would:
1.) Steal things.
2.) Go to concerts, games, amusement parks, or flights without tickets.
3.) Stalk celebrities or watch them inappropriately.
4.) Listen in on private conversations from their friends.
My students had fun with the question and laughed about how cool it’d be to have that power. For the first few classes, I laughed and had fun with them too. However, as the day went on, I began to realize that no one seemed to be thinking in generous ways. No one seemed to care about the needs of others or about doing the right thing. No one wanted to hide from the bad guys and be a hero. I mean… How great would it be to secretly deliver a gift to someone and then watch their reaction?
In their answers, the power of invisibility was simply a license to get away with selfish behaviors. I’ll ask the same question again. “What does this say about our character?” Who are we when no one is looking?
In the Scriptures, (Mark 12:42-43) we read about an little old lady who gave a small amount of money to God’s people, but it was everything she had. She was invisible and her gift was invisible, but it was this action (what she did quietly behind the scenes) for which Jesus commended her.
Who are you in the quiet? When no one is looking? Are you giving or selfish?
Student: “Snitches get stitches and wind up in ditches Mr Corn….and I ain’t no snitch.”
The phrase just hung in the air and the class was silent. What should I say? If no one in the class comes clean, then someone got away with it. This is the culture of my school, and I suspect it’s everywhere.
What I wanted to say is, “You say you’re not a snitch, but maybe you should be. What you’re saying to me is that you’re not brave enough to stand up and do is what is right. What you’re saying is that you are happy to let your friend go down a dangerous path. What you’re saying is that you think he’ll cover for you later if you cover for him now. This is not love for your friend. It’s selfishness on your part. Love would want what is ultimately the best for your friend and that includes consequences which will allow him to grow and learn from his poor choices. What you’re saying is that you don’t care enough about society and the world around you to do something about a wrong. You’re saying that you’re OK with a steady decline in the morals of our community. ‘Cause if you let him get away with it, and he lets you get away with it, eventually someone else is gonna get away with more and maybe even against you. If it continues, your children will grow up in a world where no one ever tells and everyone gets away with everything. Somehow I think, if you were the victim, you might not be saying “Snitches wind up in ditches.” You might find yourself saying, “Someone man up and do the right thing. We need justice here.” This no-snitch culture is ultimately hurting us. It’s a fast-food/I-want-it-now attitude that will plague our future. Yes, now we can get away with it, but as we do we are unconsciously telling others they can too. This creates a downward spiral of the moral fabric that guides everyone around us and will lead to our demise.
We need heroes. Heroes are courageous and self-sacrificing. They do the right thing even if it’s scary – even if it costs them something. Snitches can be heroes, and yes, maybe some of them wind up in ditches, but that doesn’t change their hero status. It only makes them bigger heroes who were willing to pay the price for what is right.
What? Pay the price? Be the hero in the ditch? It seems that our culture believes the bullies’ fear tactics have won the battle and convinced everyone that not saying anything is okay. Is there another way? I have had students who anonymously let me know what’s going on or speak without saying a word. Sometimes a look is all it takes. As a teacher, this helps me know what happened, but it doesn’t help me with addressing the situation ’cause there is no proof – sort of like inadmissible evidence. (Unless of course, the anonymous student is willing to give an official statement to an administrator while still remaining anonymous to the perpetrator.) Ultimately, I guess I’m back to heroes. We need heroes who are willing to do the right thing no matter what.
OK – So now you know how I feel…….but what about “Tattling?” Is that the same thing? As a parent I teach my kids not to tattle every little detail ’cause I want them to learn how to “handle” some situations on their own. Part of learning how to navigate this world includes “figuring it out,” working with others, compromising, sacrificing, and sometimes it means learning how to just “deal with it.” Do I want them trying to punish the other one by hitting them? No! Of course not. But these are difficult things to navigate for a child’s mind. “How much does daddy want me to handle on my own? Where is the line?” If my child is being abused or has been with a friend who likes to play with daddy’s gun, I want him to tattle. I need him to be a snitch.
I saw a video this afternoon where someone explained to children that we never “tattle,” but it’s good to “report” something. They went on to describe reporting as an issue where someone is endangered or unsafe. This might be a helpful distinction but I haven’t had time to think through it too much. There are lots of big questions here. And what about the “lying snitches” that wrongfully accuse or implicate an innocent? So what do you guys think? I looked at over 700 images on google and couldn’t find anything speaking in a positive way about snitching. Am I way off in my thinking here? As a parent, am I creating a “no-snitch culture” by telling my kids not to tattle? Is this leading to the demoralization of our culture?
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” ~ Edmund Burke
Using Biblical examples, Donald Miller describes the power of story for teaching and influencing others.
He suggests that most American Christians have been allowing others to write the stories that they live in and encourages them to write our own stories.
Every good story has four elements –
1. A good protagonist/hero/lead character,
2. a risky mission/worthy objective,
3. a conflict,
4. and a resolution.
After watching, I wondered if most of us have been so concerned about protecting our families from the conflict that we have forfeited our mission and purpose? The problem is that if we don’t have a good mission/purpose, then our story is not one that most people would want to watch – it’s a boring story if the mission isn’t important enough to require sacrifice and effort. Miller relates it to watching a movie about a guy who is trying to buy a Volvo – not a very worthy mission.
He goes on to describe a friend who had a troubled daughter. She was involved in drugs and had a boyfriend that her father did not approve of. After a long talk, his friend (the girl’s father) realized that there were two stories being offered to his daughter. She could live in the exciting, on the edge story with her boyfriend where she felt loved and accepted, or she could live in the story she was finding at home where things were sort of boring and she was ignored by her parents who seemed to be fighting all the time. Once he came to this realization, he decided to write a better story for his family. At a family meeting, he announced that together they would raise money for a $20,000 orphanage in Mexico. Conflict ensued since he hadn’t warned his wife. With the new story being offered, his daughter was intrigued enough to start searching for ways to raise money on-line. Within two weeks, she had broken things off with the boyfriend and was focusing her attention on getting outside of herself to raise money and serve that little village.
I wonder if this is why men hate church so much. I mean. . .think about the story offered to men by the church. It’s a story where the heros are the little old men who have been “faithful” to the church by sitting in their pews for 40 years. Where’s the adventure? Passion? Like most families, the church has been so concerned with protecting itself, that it has lost it’s purpose, it’s mission. What if the church was everything God had called it to be? A place where people are willing to sacrifice everything to take the Gospel to a hurting and dying world. Now that’s passion. That’s a story that men want to be a part of. That’s a story worth dying for.
What story will be told by your life? Will you live in God’s story or allow the world to write it for you? Is your life story a page-turner? Are you a strong protagonist/hero? Is your mission/purpose worthy of dying for? Is there sufficient conflict to make a great story? (Jesus says, we will be persecuted if we follow Him, so we should have conflict.) Are you hanging on to the promise of Scripture for resolution?
Dr. Loken suggested in class today that we journal about some of the “living examples” in our lives. We were studying Colossians and at the end of all the things Paul tells the people there – he lifts up a few guys as examples for how to live the way he has just described. He talks about Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, and Epaphras. (and some others)
I’m gonna tell you about Mike, Joe, and Jon – these are guys who I can point to who are true disciples – they have been tested and been through so many things, but still have remained faithful to the Lord. One day, when my son grows up (He’s gotta be born here first), but one day – I will tell him about these men so he can know that living for the Lord is something which can truly be done and that it makes a difference.
“Mike”. . . . . .wow I’m not even sure where to start – “Mike” is Mike Mathews – he is now my father-in-law, but was first my boss. That’s about all he was at first, but eventually our relationship grew and he became my pastor, then my later – a friend. He and I traveled the world together (Israel, England, and to all kinds of churches in the US) Eventually, I fell in love with his daughter (that’s a whole other story though) and married her. Anyway, Mike had been an incredible pastor for over 20 years, when the system failed him and his ministry was stripped away from him without grounds. His life was turned upside down – his esteem and identity were thrown to the ground – he ended up working at “home depot.” And yet – through it all he was faithful to God – he handled the situation with integrity and love for the very people who were falsely accusing him – he even found his way into a church within a month of being run out of one. This is a true MAN of God. If you wanna see what it means to follow Jesus – look at Mike – his life will testify of an incredible love for Jesus.
Joe – Joe Torrez was my youth minister – nothing all that special in the eyes of the world – just a regular “Joe” who served in a tiny little church doing ministry “part-time.” But Joe led me to know the God of the universe! Now he quietly serves the Lord by teaching the Bible in his home. That small group of people who meet with him have truly become what I believe the church is supposed to be. If you wanna see what it means to follow Jesus – watch Joe – he’s doing it every day in a quiet way.
Jon – Jon Godbold is my friend – He and I served together doing music together, but more than that – when I was alone in a new town – Jon invited me into his life and even considered me a part of his family – to this day, I can go to his house @ Christmas and see a stocking on the mantle with my name on it. Jon and his wife Laurie are amazing in the way they live out their faith. They simply love people. There are probably more people than I’m aware of, but I know of at least 3 people who they have invited to live in their home with them when they were in need. I was one of them. My wife was another – (we weren’t at their house during the same time, but she lived there too). Shelby is the third. Anyway, by simply loving people and sharing what they have, they become witnesses not just to the people who they have taken in, but also to anyone else watching the situation. Their home is one where faith is discussed openly and often. It’s a home where people are always welcome – even when they aren’t there. It’s a place where people feel loved and for whatever reason – people are drawn to their house – they want to be there because you simply can’t be at the Godbold’s and not experience God. I pray that my home i like that one day too.
Anyway, those are some of the people I’d tell you to watch if you wanna see what a Christian looks like today.