Today at the market, looking at a new front door for the center, we walked past the new kids' bikes. There was a family shopping for their daughter. That was not remarkable.
We are living in a society that firmly believes in forced obedience and fear-based courage. Scolding, shunning, spanking, at home are still in full effect. It makes leadership with adults tough because you start to realize they were always intimidated into doing things there whole life. How then is logic, love or mere words going to get through?
What I read yesterday in Provers 29:19 rang true in this context: "You cannot correct a servant with mere words; Though he understands, he will not respond."
What I noticed at the market was a 5 or 6 year old girl getting sort of spanked or swatted on the hind end as she sat on the new bike. I was surprised, not that it was happening, or really even that it was in public. What seemed out of place was the her mom was trying to teach her to ride the bike by force. I suppose getting her over the fear by a bigger fear.
That's the bankrupt end to forced obedience. Some Mongolians I know even joke that they understand things by beatings or blows. (Like our school of hard knocks, I suppose) I've remarked before, living in Mongolia is like I imagine life in America 70-80 years ago.
We don't use physical force of course at work or in ministry. But there are words, or money, or leverage we can use to lord authority over people to try to get through. But Jesus warned his disciples against this world-wide reality in Matthew 20:25:
"Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,
and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”