Category Archives: Conflict

Abraham Lincoln: Humble and Meek

Abraham Lincoln Statue

Abraham Lincoln Statue

Today we celebrate the 206th birthday of my favorite president, Abraham Lincoln. Born in a humble Kentucky log cabin, humility characterized the life of the tall, lanky, awkward-looking man. Yet perhaps meekness, often defined as “strength under control,” is a better word to describe his character. He leveraged his strength as a wrestler and a fighter by channeling those energies into educating himself and becoming a successful attorney. Legal battles turned to political battles and as President he had to battle the personal demons of self-doubt and clouds of depression, while being demonized by a hostile press and political enemies who loathed the backwoods country lawyer.

He led our nation during its greatest crisis to overcome our greatest national shame. Though a fighter, he led in his characteristic humble and meek style, enlisting his political adversaries into a “team of rivals” to win them over and help save the Union. Rather than taking a swing at those who opposed him or his ideas, he resolved to stand firm in his convictions, while listening to and engaging his opponents in dialogue. He once said, “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” While standing firm, his self-effacing humor and ability to spin a yarn broke down defenses and built bridges.

One of my favorite Lincoln quotes is from the final paragraph of his Second Inaugural Address, delivered a few days before his tragic assassination: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

We can only imagine how much faster the process of healing our nation and reconstruction of The South might have taken place had Lincoln been able to serve out his second term of office. Perhaps we might have been spared some of the long and agonizing delays in the process of racial reconciliation and civil rights that continues in our nation and around the world to this very day.

But one thing is certain. Lincoln left his mark and made a difference in this world that is still recognized and appreciated today. His legacy is felt by all who work toward achieving and cherishing, “a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Echoes of Lincoln’s hundred and fifty year old words are heard whenever a voice is raised to oppose injustice, whenever the chains are released from a soul rescued from human trafficking, whenever the lever is raised on a water pump to improve the health of a community, whenever a door of opportunity opens for a child born in poverty, and wherever freedom reigns so people have the right to lift their voice in praise to their Creator.  Quite an accomplishment for such a meek and humble man!

Perspective: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

What's Wrong With This Picture“Wow, look at Mt. Rainier this morning, what a magnificent view! Can’t you see it?”  From my perspective sitting in a window seat of a 767 flying at about 25,000 feet, it looked like I could almost reach out and touch Washington state’s highest peak. Just after sunrise, the view was spectacular.

“No, I can’t see a thing,” replied the attractive woman sitting next to me, who happened to be my wife, Jodi.

“Well move over a little closer to me, now can you see it?”

“Still can’t see a thing,” Jodi replied. By then we had flown further east and left Mt. Rainier behind.

“Well, you should have seen it—simply amazing!”

“Sure,” Jodi replied, sounding somewhat unconvinced and perhaps a little chagrined that I had interrupted her nap and occupied the window seat. At that hour of the morning, I could understand why she didn’t share my enthusiasm for something she could not see.

Perspective. It all depends upon your point of view. From where you are sitting you see one thing, and you see it clearly, perhaps with a great deal of certainty. But the person sitting right next to you might see a different picture. Maybe something entirely different. Or maybe they see nothing at all.

This can be frustrating, and lead to disagreements. I am convinced that a lot of the conflict we experience in life stems from the tension of differing perspectives. People with diverse points of view may not see eye to eye. That’s why we need to learn to listen and ask questions, so we can sense what others see and maybe understand them a little better. Instead, we are often too quick to try and tell how things look from our point of view, and grow increasingly frustrated if they can’t seem to view things our way or immediately agree with our perspective.

The photo above was taken from an airplane. What’s wrong with the picture? Well, you probably notice that the blue sky is above the clouds, something you could only see from a perspective about six miles above terra firma. From where most of us are usually standing on planet earth, the view below would be cloudy and dark, much different from the view above the clouds.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could always see what is happening above the clouds? It would not only change our perspective, it would probably change our attitude. And really, isn’t that what faith is all about? Standing on the ground on a dark and rainy day, we may project the darkness and dreariness that we see. But above those dripping clouds, the sun is shining. We know that. Yet we see no evidence of it at the moment. Maybe that is why the writer of Hebrews said, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  (Hebrews 11:1)

Perspective. That is the difference between faith and unbelief. Between a life attitude ruled by the view from ground zero and a life attitude ruled by believing the sun is shining above the clouds. And you really should have seen that view of Mt. Rainier. Well, I did take a picture, so you can!

Aerial View Mt Rainier - Don Detrick c 2013

And by the way, if you would like a different perspective on what it means to follow Jesus Christ, my new book, Growing Disciples Organically: The Jesus Method of Spiritual Formation is now available in tree or e-form at the following links:

http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Disciples-Organically-Spiritual-Formation/dp/1937756815/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368201234&sr=1-1&keywords=growing+disciples+organically

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/growing-disciples-organically-don-detrick/1113026834?ean=9781937756819

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=756819&product_redirect=1&Ntt=756819&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP