Adventure Trumps Safety

I am enjoying Edwin Friedman’s book A Failure of Nerve. In it he attacks several common leadership ideas and replaces them with a different paradigm. One key idea in the book is that leaders take risks. An environment which limits risk ultimately limits leadership.  Risk means the possibility of failure and pain. Risk is not doing something you know everyone agrees with and will be happy about. A lot of us think we are taking risks, when really we are not.

He also hammers on what he calls “displacement.” What he means by this is that people refuse to take personal responsibility, but instead “displace” their responsibility by blaming someone or something else. He points out that often the thing blamed is important, but it becomes too important in the person’s emotional well-being. He ends this section with this quote, which is thought provoking.  The bold is mine.

Today the issues most vulnerable to becoming displacements are first of all, anything related to safety: product safety, traffic safety, bicycle safety, motorboat safety, jet-ski safety, workplace safety, nutritional safety, nuclear power station safety, toxic waste safety, and so on and so on.  This focus on safety has become so omnipresent in our chronically anxious civilization that there is the real danger we will come to believe that safety is the most important value in life. It is certainly important as a modifier of other initiatives, but if a society is to evolve, or if leaders are to arise, then safety can never be allowed to become more important than adventure. We are on our way to becoming a nation of “skimmers,” living off the risks of previous generations and constantly taking from the top without adding significantly to its essence. Everything we enjoy as a part of our advance civilization , including discovery, exploration, and development of our country, came about because previous generations made adventure more important than safety. 

Idols Kill Joy

We know idol worshipers will eventually pay, but they sure have fun in the mean time. We often think of sin as a wicked thing, but a wicked thing that brings us pleasure and joy. Yes, sex can be an idol, but it is a fun idol. Yes, worshiping money is a sin, but having money is so much fun. Yes power and control can be a idol, but it it is so much fun to run the lives of other people.  I know coveting is idol worship, but boy it is such to joy to look at those things I want and long for them.
However, Hosea paints a different picture.  In Hosea 2 God accuses Israel of giving silver and gold to the Baals, the idols of the day. Israel is running around worshiping idols. This involved theft, sexual immorality, and power plays. But this does not lead to fun. Instead God says he will put an end to all Israel’s mirth (Hosea 2:11). Mirth is an old word meaning laughter, joy, cheer and merrymaking.  We look out at sin and we think, I know it is wrong, but wouldn’t it be fun. But the reality is that idol worship leads to joy evaporating. When we worship idols, feasting, merrymaking, wine, laughter are all destroyed. Two things I want to remind you of this morning as we prepare to confess our sins.

First, have you lost your joy? If so, then there is an idol somewhere that is eating at you. Find it, repent of it, and kill it.

Second, as a church one way we know we are worshiping God is the presence of joy, laughter, and mirth. Sundays are not easy days, but they are joyful days. Do you like to feast? Do you like to fellowship? It is odd, but when we laugh together and fellowship together and eat together, we are putting idols to death. 

Exhortation Before Confession of Sin: March 8th, 2015