The Rebellion of Close Enough for Me

It had been 2, long, incredible years.  The adventure was feeling routine, the magnificent rather mundane and people were tired.  They had come so far, escaped so much destruction…was it really worth risking everything to press on?  This is the reality of Kadesh Barnea.

Moses had led a hoard of millions of refugees from under the dominion of the world’s singular superpower, across a hostile wilderness with the vision of a “promised land.”  People had died along the away, lessons had been learned, and now the entire community could see what they had been waiting for – it was right over “there.”  Kadesh Barnea is where Moses sent out the spies to scout out the land and plan their invasion.  Kadesh Barnea is where the rescued Egyptian slaves told God “No, that’s alright.  We’ve come far enough.  It’s not worth it to us to risk going where you are taking us.  I think we can take it from here.  Your leadership is no longer required.”  That place is where a 2 year journey of preparation was converted into a 40 year sentence in a desert penitentiary.

Kadesh Barnea may be unfamiliar words in your mental geography, but it is a very familiar place for all of us.  Kadesh Barnea is a picture of when we settle for 90%, for almost there, for “better than it was, practically there, I could get used to this, I’ve been in worse, it’s a lot better than some have it or I had it growing up.”  It’s comfortable compromise in the shade trees of our fears (failure, loss) and idols (mmmm Egyptian food, comfortable houses, a 401k, peace of mind).

You can’t be 90% alive, why would you settle for 90% “there”?

Kadesh Barnea…get close enough, so far from what it was, “practically there” but without the risk.  Settling for 90%.   It’s pandemic.  In marriages, in our followship of Jesus, in our leadership of teams, in attacking issues…we leave the last 10% because we just frankly wonder if it’s worth the sweat, risk of failure, and price tag.  That 10% is the breeding ground for all kinds of rebellion, because it represents a me-centered decision matrix, a “on my terms, when I think it’s ‘worth’ it or ‘looks smart’ I will do something” territory.  History shouts to us that despite the rationale of this thinking – it never, never turns out well!  You don’t want a “close enough” mindset from your surgeon, accountant, NASA QA auditor, mechanic, pharmacist or construction worker.  Why would we live our lives and faith that way?

Q: where are you camped out at Kadesh Barnea, aware of God calling you to take another step but resting on your “distance travelled thus far” and justifying the questionable ROI of proceeding?

Delayed Communication is Lethal

When there’s a mist in the pulpit, there’s a fog in the pews! (Homiletic Proverb)

There were 2,100 casualties in the Battle of New Orleans.  Future President of the fledgling American Experiment, Andrew Jackson, proved his valor in the heat of numerous battles throughout a campaign along the coastal regions of a young country against hostile cousins from across the pond (Great Britain).

It was a waste.  People died in vain.  Soldiers woke up and faced death on a daily basis for no good reason.  Why?  Nearly 6 weeks earlier the war had ended.  The Treaty of Ghent had been executed by the crowned prince of England and the American ambassador ending a bloody rift that we read about as the War of 1812It took nearly 6 weeks for the news of peace to reach the battlefields of the frontier.

I’m sure a decision maker in Washington informed the generals and admirals to “pass along the news” and a cascade of relays happened from commanders to officers to field personnel across dozens of organizations.  Somebody had “sent a memo” and it was truly en route.  Yes there were bloody mornings where thousands of soldiers contemplated never seeing their family again in the face of battle in a war that was technically over – but the bullets were no less real.

This piece of history has fascinated me for years.  It seems such a powerful picture of what happens in our companies, churches and our journey of faith.  Organizationally this happens today.  Individually we live this.  We advance policies that are expired by new vision and strategies.  We try to manage issues by the flesh when the Spirit of the Living God is at work in us.  We hold grudges and view people as they once were oblivious to transformations that have happened outside of our purview.

How do you fight this in your leadership?  What are you doing to prevent a Battle of New Orleans tragedy in your organization, your team, your life?

Wild Ass Chases to Zuph and Divine Meanderings

A familiar Bible story was highlighted for me by a friend through a leadership-followship lens that really resonated with some of my own journey with God.

In 1 Samuel 9 we find the story of Samuel anointing the Saul as the first king of Israel.  If you read the chapter and step back you see a great example of how God will often times lead us into divine intersection points with such obscure conspiracy that we are totally aloof about it until after the fact.  God simultaneously tells Samuel that He has picked out the right person for this unprecedented job and will provide him shortly.  To accomplish that God has the donkeys of Kish run off, resulting in Kish’s young son, Saul, being sent out with a group to find them.  This quest ultimately leads them to Zuph, where they decide to offer some money to the prophet of God for direction (enter Samuel).

This doesn’t seem strategic to me!

Here’s Saul thinking “what a waste of my time, chasing stupid donkeys who ran off to who knows where! Now we’re about to lose our money on a prophet I’ve never met, all to just get my dad’s donkey’s back. Sheesh.”  Some literary license being taken I concede, but you have to imagine Saul was not seeing any divine purpose in scouring the countryside to Zuph in chase of some donkeys.  Yet, it was exactly at the historical intersection of Zuph that God turned the world upside down on Saul and began to unfold a chapter in His divine conspiracy.

Sometimes we chase seeming donkeys and there is not any obvious purpose. Sometimes it’s not until we reach a proverbial Zuph that timing and perspective align adequately to allow us to even see purpose.  I’ve chased similar donkeys to Chicago, to San Antonio, to slums in Honduras and repeatedly find divine conspiracies abounding in these meanderings.

It’s worth stopping to prayerfully consider when ‘waste of time’ detours are actually divine conspiracy donkey chases and when we might be entering a Zuph of significant intersection. Of course, then there’s just wild goose chases that we put ourselves on….been on any good donkey chases in your journey?  Care to share?