Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Environment, Balance, and Leadership

One of the reasons I wanted to blog about the Bible is because I wanted to do my part to dispel this notion that the Bible is an old, irrelevant and tired book. It is amazingly alive and relevant to the challenges we face today as individuals and as a society. Here are two examples.

Balance and a healthy relationship with the Earth:

...Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them. – Excerpt from Exodus 16:4-20

This is an amazing story for our generation. God provided spiritual food for the Israelites in the form of manna in the morning and quail in the evening. Their instructions were to collect as much as they needed for the day except for the sixth day of the week. On the sixth day they were to collect enough for that day and the Sabbath since no work was to be done on the Sabbath.

What makes this part of the story remarkable is the example of the folk who didn’t follow the rules. The folk who tried to hoard God’s food saw it spoil and become infested with maggots.

Wouldn’t the world be a much better place if we had the discipline to only take what we need? Most of us have been raised in a culture that suggests that we must fight for all that we can because things in the world are scarce.

But when we look at the world and the astounding abundance that it contains… it is pretty clear that the only scarcity that exists has been created by us…

The world will be in balance once we as a species learn the virtue of being in balance within ourselves and living within our means.

Judging and Governance

"What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. – Excerpt from Exodus 18: 14-23

Here we find Moses having a conversation with his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro watches while Moses sits down and prepares to hear all of the cases that individuals in Israel have against each other. He is serving as the sole judge for every single case.

Jethro asks him why he is doing this and Moses says that they come to him because he knows the laws of God.

Jethro then suggests that Moses identify some wise folk among the people, teach them the laws, and allow them to judge the easier cases. This way the burden will be spread amongst more people.

Isn’t this how our legal system works? We have a system of courts that start at the local community level and increase in power and reach all the way up to the Supreme Court. The lower courts handle all of the cases that they can handle. If a case gets appealed to a higher court, and that higher court deems it worthy, it is heard again by a higher authority.

Sure the system that we have now is built on a history of complex laws and procedures but if we look closely we can see the seeds of it here in this text.

The same goes for any organization. Our businesses, government, non-profits, churches and other organizations function this way as well. Whether it’s the strict hierarchy of a corporation or a group of kids forming a band in their parents’ garage we tend to do better as groups when we share responsibilities.

When we don’t ask for help or delegate tasks we work ourselves into the ground and burn out. Once this happens it is only a matter of time before the whole group fails.

Good thing Jethro jumped in when he did. Moses hasn’t even gotten the Ten Commandments yet.

Today’s Reading: Exodus 16-18; Matthew 18: 1-20

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A Convo With God by Clarence Mitchell III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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