Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. – Luke 16:10
This verse from Luke’s gospel has always been especially convicting in my life. For as long as I can remember people have been telling me that I am a natural born leader. I’m the oldest of six kids and was always expected to model “good” behavior for my younger siblings. In 2nd grade I was the person called into Principal Snow’s office so that I could go and tell the other boys that the days of tackle football at recess had come to an end. At church in junior high and high school, as the pastor’s son, it was made manifestly clear to me that other students were watching my lead in terms of attendance at youth group events.
If this sounds like one giant pat on my own back, don’t worry. I cannot tell you how often I fell miserably short of living up to those expectations. They weren’t unreasonable expectations by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, they were the expectations I had for myself. I’ve always known I am a leader. Growing up, I knew people listened to me, that I was good with words and could convince a group of friends to do just about anything. Deep down I relished the role and wanted desperately to be worthy of it.
But after more than 20 years of hoping and failing to be the young man I wanted to be, the truth of why I kept failing hit me square in the face: the wisdom of Luke 16:10 had no place in my life. I loved God, I cared deeply for my friends and family, and I craved excellence in everything I did, but in so many of the most important areas of my life I was not faithful with the basic, core, non-negotiable things the average teenager and college students is presented with.
I was failing to discharge my duties in an across-the-board, detrimental-to-my-character way. Let me give you a couple of quick examples.
Football was my sport growing up, and while game day and the rush of participating under the lights and in front of cheering crowds excited me to no end, I did not eat, exercise or even stretch properly. As a result I herniated a disc in my back my senior year and lost a chance to play Division I football.
Or consider my study habits from the age of about 17 to about 21. It shouldn’t take you to long to consider them because I had none. As a result of making “chillin’” with friends and watching Sportscenter twice as much as cracking the books, when I showed up to my first (and only semester) of law school after college I realized not only did I not want to be a lawyer, but that I had developed such horrendous study habits that I would not be able to maintain the workload of law school for three years.
I could go on and on with even more minute and specific examples of where I chose to ignore the small things in hopes that God would bless me with the big ones, but you get the point.
One of the biggest reasons I am a free market conservative, and not a big-government liberal, stems from these life experiences I’ve just shared. When I read news stories like those coming from New York City this past week, where the same Mayor Bloomberg who has seen fit to tell New Yorkers he knows best when it comes to trans-fats and salt in their food was unable to coordinate snow removal more than 5 days after a winter storm hit the Big Apple, I can identify with the failure to live up to expectations.
At the heart of a mayor’s responsibilities is the keeping of a city’s streets and thoroughfares clean, safe, and accessible. Transportation is the life-blood of any American city. Mayor Bloomberg set himself up for failure and ridicule by being so public and so persistent in focusing on areas of the citizenry’s life that he had no business involving himself in. Mayors should be planning for blizzards and making sure the subway systems are safe. He should be encouraging economic growth. He should be riding in St. Patrick’s Day parades.
He shouldn’t be tackling cholesterol levels and fat contents in delicatessens.
The federal government should be keeping our borders safe and doing whatever it can to facilitate commerce between states. It shouldn’t be running health care and paying people to destroy their cars.
It’s not always glamorous to be the kind of person (or politician) who is known for faithfully discharging their duties, but such people are the cornerstones of any successful family, business, church, or government.
My resolution this year is to be one of those people. Here’s hoping that a few more in Congress are making this same resolution than last year.