Over the past weeks I have written a couple of posts on Malcolm Gladwell’s excellent book David and Goliath (click here and here to read the posts). In the first part of his book Mr. Gladwell makes some excellent points, but Part Three of the book on “The Limits of Power” is incredible and hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks.
He tells the story of Rosemary Lawlor who lived in Ireland during when the Troubles began in Northern Ireland in 1969. He tells the story of how the oppressive and excessive use of power by the British Army turned them from protectors to invaders and instead of quelling the violence, they only increased the resolve of the Catholic Irish to resist that mighty power. In one case, thousands of Irish women pushing prams faced down the British Army. (please note that this take on what happened in Ireland is fairly simplistic – this time in the history of Great Britain and Ireland was very complex with plenty of blame to share by all the parties of the conflict)
He tells the story of Wilma Derksen whose thirteen year old daughter was brutally murdered and contrasts her and her husband Cliff’s response to another man whose daughter was murdered. His name was Mike Reynold’s and he was obsessed with justice and was the driving force behind California’s three strikes law which proved ineffective and was a blunt instrument of power. Instead, Wilma and Cliff chose the power of forgiveness which was far more effective.
He tells the story of Andre Trocme a Huguenot pastor in the French town of Le Chambon-sur-lignon during World War II. In open defiance of the Vichy government Trocme and the townspeople sheltered and saved many Jews. They prevailed and it is a riveting story of courage and sacrifice.
In each case, the powerful misused their power and the weak prevailed. Sounds amazingly like God’s economy.
While these examples are of government misuse of power, I also want to point out the very personal misuse of power by us as leaders – especially those of us serving in ministry. Do we view the power entrusted to us as a sacred stewardship to be used for the benefit of those we lead? Do we put into place checks and balances to help us to avoid the abuse of power? Are we accountable to God and others?
Power, even the tiniest amount of power we might hold over others is to be treated with great, great care for we all have the tendency to begin thinking we somehow deserve that power and then begin to misuse it. If you have been entrusted with even a modicum of power walk carefully and fearfully before God.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8*
Blessings on your week!
* Crossway Bibles (2009-04-09). ESV Study Bible (Kindle Locations 223733-223740). Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.
In his book David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell makes the distinction between what he calls capitalization learning versus compensation learning. Capitalization learning is what most of us really enjoy. It is learning that is building on our natural strengths. He gives the example of Tiger Woods – he found that golf suited him, so he enjoyed practice so he became better at golf and practiced more and became even better and so on. It became a virtuous cycle.
Now there is the compensation learning that comes from what Gladwell calls a desirable difficulty. A desirable difficulty is a challenge that requires you to grow to overcome that challenge in ways that are beneficial to your overall life. One that he mentions is dyslexia. In his book he gives several examples of people, that because of the lessons they learned in dealing with dyslexia, they surpassed many other “normal” people in regards to success in life.
These people succeeded because they have learned the value of compensation learning. Compensation learning is hard work. It is usually learning that occurs in our areas of weakness – not our strengths. We become aware of a weakness in our lives so we set about compensation learning to deal with that weakness. As it is hard work, often very hard work, most of us avoid it and thus miss out on our potential. I like the following quote from the book:
“. . . those who can are better off than they would have been otherwise, because what is learned out of necessity is inevitably more powerful than the learning that comes easily.”
So – what is it that you need to learn to have greater impact, but that you are avoiding because it is hard? Start engaging in learning what is hard for you so that you will grow into even greater effectiveness and thus greater impact.
Have a great week!
Good Friday morning to you!
I assume most of you are familiar of the story of David and Goliath. Where the young, inexperienced shepherd boy with no armor and armed with a sling and five rocks goes up against the battle hardened giant Goliath. Not only was Goliath a giant he was an experienced warrior, heavily armored and well armed. David should be toast right? Well, we know God was with David so Goliath was toast anyway, but Malcolm Gladwell shares a different perspective on this story in his book David and Goliath – one that I have heard before.
What if we look at it this way – instead of an inexperienced, vulnerable shepherd boy, you actually see a highly mobile (unencumbered by heavy armor). hard to hit young man that is highly experienced in using one of the deadliest medium range weapons of that time – the sling. Supposedly a properly launched rock would impact with near the velocity of a bullet.
Instead of an invincible warrior, you see an older man with vision problems, weighed down by heavy armor, with short-range weapons and while greatly experienced, that experience is in the conventional warfare of that time and not adapted to handle the new tactics employed by David.
So who really had the advantage in this fight? Watch Gladwell’s Ted Talk on this story.
Now my question for you – are you laboring under the perception of some disadvantage you might have? Would a different perspective turn that disadvantage into an advantage?
Maybe that’s worth thinking about?
Have a great weekend!