We are often impressed by those who demonstrate a superabundance of strength and security. This morning while I was waking up and pondering the despicable war that has been imposed on the people of Ukraine, two different people came into my mind. These two are examples of secure, confident strength on the one hand and insecure, fearful, weakness on the other. They are figures who demonstrate opposite ways to live.
The first one, I met some years ago when I worked for a manufacturing company a couple years while I was between two chapters of my life of ministry. This company is known around the world for its products’ unique design and high quality of manufacture. Besides, it was a great place to work and employees generally felt blessed to be a part of the company.
That company was founded several decades earlier by a gentleman who no longer ran the business. Quite some time before I met him he had turned over control of the company to his sons. However, although in his mid-eighties, he still came in to work regularly and enjoyed visiting with employees while he took walks around the expansive facility. One day I asked him if he would welcome a short visit when I could introduce him to my oldest son, who was about twelve years old. He agreed, and during our visit at his home, I asked him “What is one of the important things that helped make you and your company so successful?” He took a moment to think, and then said, “I always tried to hire people who were smarter than myself.”
With that humble statement he demonstrated he was a secure and effective leader. He knew his limits and he expanded his effectiveness by finding others who added ideas, creativity, wisdom, and energy, far more than he had within himself. Amazingly, I learned later that he had carried on an active Christian witness, often dropping in on people to visit and make a gentle evangelism appeal. He even agreed, while he was the head of that growing corporation, to serve as the lay pastor of a small congregation in the nearby countryside. He gave in many ways to his community, because he was a secure, happy man, who demonstrated strength by trusting others, and trusting in the Lord.
The other person I want to describe, more briefly, is Vladimir Putin. Although he puts on a front of great strength, he actually demonstrates that he is a frightened, insecure man, unable to trust others. He is afraid of a modest sized nation next door where people enjoy freedom unlike those in Russia. It bothered him that they could think freely, work creatively and say or write things that were on their minds. He was afraid their way of electing their own leaders might stir people in Russia to want to do that, too. He does not trust the Russian people to know the truth and think for themselves, so he controls their news with lies to make himself look good. If they show signs of disagreeing with him, he punishes them with jail terms or worse. He’s a weak, fearful, small person deep down inside.
As a result, he is using his military might to try to snuff out that example of a different kind of society next door. He strikes out like a sad, disturbed patient who is confused, fearful and angry at the world. His fears make him drive away or persecute anyone who might know more than he does, those people who could actually help him make Russia a better place. He’s too insecure and afraid to tolerate their ideas, so he becomes weaker day by day. We can pray that good people will eventually be able to keep him from wrecking others’ lives as well as his own.
So these two men were on my mind this morning. I know which kind I want to be.
I hope this gives you some ideas of your own.
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
© 2022 Stanley Hagemeyer