I’m not known for keeping my temper. Mostly.
I don’t usually act on my baser impulses physically, but I do tend to not run from a confrontation either.
One of my qualities is that I tend to not change my mind easily once I’ve made a choice. This can be both a Blessing and a curse, depending on the choice I’ve made.
Margaret Thatcher once said “The lady’s not for turning”. I forget what it was in reference to, but it stuck. I didn’t agree with her political views very often, but I had a great deal of respect for the dogged way she would stick to her guns once she’d made a choice.
There’s something very different in the way things happen today than 30 years ago. I’ve written before about the way heroes are portrayed in movies now, particularly in some of the major blockbusters of the last few years.
The best example is definitely Aragorn in “Lord of the Rings”. He is confident in battle, but as far as accepting the throne of Gondor and taking his place as King it seems like he has to be coerced into it by Elrond. He doubts his own strength and second-guesses his way through the trilogy up until the final battle. Compare this with the Aragorn of the Tolkien books and he is barely recognisable. Tolkien wrote him as a man set on a mission to claim his throne and restore the realm of men, standing fast against Mordor.
Again in “Lord of the Rings”, the four young hobbits start out like children in the movie, wandering into the local ale house and afraid to speak to Rosie behind the bar or stand up to anyone about anything. Then they go off to war. Frodo and Sam walk alone into Mordor to destroy the Ring of Power, Pippin and Merry become a Guard of the Citadel of Gondor and an Esquire of Rohan respectively. They face dangers and battles, becoming warriors in their own right. Tolkien’s ending far better fits the change they undergo on the journey than Peter Jackman’s interpretation. Tolkiein has them return to find the Shire under an iron rule, Bag End having been taken over and the house-sitters of Frodo’s appointment murdered. But the four hardened hobbits with armour and swords are more than a match for the usurpers and drive them out of the Shire. Compare that with the movies where, having faced Sauron, Saruman and the nine Wraiths and defeated them all the four return and are instantly back into the way things were, except Sam finally has the courage to talk to Rosie. Quite a difference.
Doubt and uncertainty has become virtuous in this modern age.
The thing is, the world is still looking for decisive leadership. That’s part of the lure Donald Trump has – he appears decisive and sure of himself. The problem is that there have been so few people prepared to take a firm stand that his hate and fear-based bluster comes across to the uninitiated as confidence. Much like the Germany of the 1920s and 30s, America is lost in doubt and internal conflict. Despite unemployment being relatively low and an expanding economy, Trump has managed to convince an alarmingly large number of people that America needs to “recover”. I’m not sure what from, but it needs to.
Donald said so.
One member of the old guard (who frankly should know better), Clint Eastwood, spoke this week about the pandering to politically correct parties by “leaders” of recent years. Since this is a Christian space I won’t quote him verbatim, but I will say at least he was emphatic – and this is a man who genuinely knows about leadership. My disappointment is that despite Trump’s shortcomings Eastwood says he will still be voting Republican in November. My lament over this is that he seems to be unable to see that the Republican ideals he has believed in for so long are actually being eroded by the man picked to represent them.
I don’t really care which party wins any election. As a Brit, I’ve voted exclusively for the candidate I felt embodied most of what I believe in as an MP for my area, and similarly for the party I felt least unsuitable to lead in General Elections. This has meant some hard choices from time to time. I was relieved at the last election that since I no longer live in the UK I’m not registered to vote there so I didn’t have to choose which lunatic was given the keys to the asylum – much like America has to do in November.
I’ve been vocal about Trump, but that does not mean I support Hillary. Frankly I believe Bernie Sanders might be the best President America never got (possibly second to Al Gore), but I don’t believe either of the current major nominees should be elected based on their actions over the last few years.
Then again, I live in South Africa now. The less said about unsuitable presidential material in power, the better…
Bluster has replaced conviction on a global scale. It’s scary how nobody seems to have noticed.
Conviction is a very different beast.
Look to Jesus as our example.
In Luke 4, He returns from 40 days being tempted by Satan without sin and goes to the synagogue. Here He takes the scroll of Isaiah and reads:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”[k]
Luke 4:18-19 NKJV
In 1990 I heard Tony Campolo tell this and he said Jesus basically was saying “I’m IT Baby!” to the people.
That passage declared Jesus to be the Messiah.
The people responded by trying to throw Jesus off a cliff, but Jesus simply turns and walks through the crowd seeking His death.
In the last weeks of His life and ministry, Jesus turns towards Jerusalem and the Cross. He sets His face hard and moves purposefully towards the Battle. Genuine decisiveness. He cuts off all other possibilities except the path to the Crucifixion.
The path to service.
Jesus was single-minded. Peter could not dissuade Him, and when he protests Jesus recognises the influence of His enemy over Peter and rebukes him (the enemy) immediately. (Matthew 16:23) Something of note is that Peter had a teachable heart. His rebuke of the idea that Jesus should die is rebuffed in a very hard way, yet there is no record of Peter feeling dismayed or offended by this. The Gospels are not afraid to show the feelings of the disciples, particularly Peter, in other places so we should note that Jesus’s words are not a source of offence for him. Rather they allow him to grow.
Peter was hard-headed as well. Stubborn in a way most of us actually should dare to be. He walked on water, he declared Jesus to be the Christ even before the Cross and his own single-minded focus on the things of God allowed him to preach in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, heal the cripple at the Temple and raise Dorcas from death.
Stubborn Faith doesn’t quit.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:5-8 NKJV
If a double-minded man shouldn’t expect to receive anything from God, the inference is that a single-minded man who doesn’t doubt can confidently expect to receive whatever he asks for.
Consider Daniel, Joseph, Moses and all the great leaders of Faith. The single thing we see in them is that when their faith was tested they stood fast on it and God came through.
Joseph kept the vision he was given as a youth in mind and saw it fulfilled when, many years later, he is made second in power only to Pharaoh. Daniel goes through the lion’s den, Moses oversees the Red-Sea Pedestrians (thanks Monty Python!) and 40 years in the desert. Caleb keeps God’s promise in mind and wins his mountain at the age of 85 after 45 years of walking in the desert and capturing the rest of the Holy Land for Israel before he asks for his own inheritance.
Single-minded, stubborn men won great victories by being single-minded and stubborn in their devotion to God and remembrance of His promises to them.
So yes, I’m stubborn and pig-headed.
I suggest we all should be…