09 May The Pride Of COVID-19
One of the greatest difficulties of the Covid-19 is the trade-offs, so to speak. We see government and different institutions struggle with these trade-offs in such a pandemic crisis. Should we be concerned about saving lives, or saving the economy, or giving people their deserved freedom? And every time when some consequences happened, be it the loss of many lives, or loss of many jobs, or some infections broke out in some places and clusters are formed, we will see blame and criticisms go around, then we will see some decision makers getting defensive, we will also see well intentioned people offering solutions, “Oh we could have done this or that”. And most of these are done on the hindsight.
And it’s telling that when such crisis hit us, the pride of men reveals itself. It is human nature that everyone wants to be seen as right, as wise, as having made the right decision, and having done the right thing. You see, we are by nature both moral and dignified beings. We first want to be seen as doing right morally. Things may go wrong, a pandemic may happen, and we have no choice but to react to it. And all kinds of result will follow. Desirable or undesirable. But deep in us, we don’t like people to question our moral intention. We don’t like people to say that: “Oh you’re someone who only care about the economy, you don’t care about lives”, or “You only care about the young and abled people, while you leave the old to die”, or “you only care about your own citizens while you leave the foreign workers to die”. Now, we hate those suggestions against us. Why? Simply because we are moral beings, and morally we know lives are of utmost importance, and that is why we want to be seen as morally right, both to the public and to the rest of the world.
And besides, we are also dignified beings. We by nature want people to have a high view of ourselves. We want to be seen as wise, as being resolute, as determined, as merited, so to speak, especially if we are someone of high standing. And that is why we hear all these talks about achieving “gold standard” in dealing with the pandemic. We not only want to be morally right, but we also want to be seen as someone who are capable and who seldom make mistakes. We want to believe that although things may go wrong, but we have dealt with issue in good faith, and in the best way.
Now, there is nothing wrong to want to be morally right and dignified. Yet, we’ve to agreed that as fallen beings, we fall short of that. <Rn 3:23> tell us that all men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. So, the question is can we have a leader in this world that is beyond reproach? Now, the answer is we couldn’t. Our morals fall short, our dignity can never be earned solely through our merits. As much as we want to be right, we still fall short in our morals and dignity. But pride refused to reconcile with that fact. Pride provokes the fear of losing our merits and standing. Pride likes to say “I am right” rather than “I am learning”. Pride causes us to direct time and effort in defending ourselves, rather than keep seeking the right thing to do. Now my brethren, aside from the pandemic, have we seen a lot of that pride in our usual dealings with people? Have we seen pride got the better of us during crisis?
Testimony: Now, I am in the top leadership in my church. And I have come to learn that blames and criticisms are not uncommon, especially in times of crisis. And if we are dealing with broken lives, there are needs to be met, there are wrongs to correct. And it can be beyond the capability of human leadership. And I always have in mind that the last thing a leader should do is to be defensive. Why? For simple reasons that we’re not perfect, we are not beyond reproach. And we’ve to let that truth sink into our hearts even we are doing all we could to love our brethren. And there are precious I’ve learned about dealing with pride especially in the role of leadership.
First, look to the one and only true leader that is beyond reproach, that is Christ. Now, in all my shortfalls, if I only seek to defend myself, then I could have fallen into prideful leadership. Yet, if I make my mistake a channel for everyone in the church to look to the perfect Christ, believe me, God can correct every wrong. God can turn every circumstance around. Learn that my brethren, not only in church leadership, but also as a father or a parent leading your family.
Next, focus on seeking God rather than being right. Circumstances change, my brethren. In this pandemic, we say how countries look to one another for best practices. Some believe in lock down, some believe in widespread testing, some look to vaccines to be quickly developed. Everyone is looking for successful role models or good solutions in fighting the pandemic. But when things don’t work, people look for new solutions. And we end up like one chasing our own tail. Now, pride always look to men, but humility points us to God.
Now, I was reminded of an incident in the Bible when David and his men were met with a crisis. It was a situation where David and his men return to their city and found their wives and children captured by their enemies. And as their leader, he had to bear the brunt of his men’s anger. Everyone blamed him for a wrong decision made. But what did David do?
Pride always look to men, but humility points us to God.
Let’s turn to <1 Sam 30:6>: David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God. Then David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelek, “Bring me the ephod.” Abiathar brought it to him, and David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue this raiding party? Will I overtake them?” “Pursue them,” he answered. “You will certainly overtake them and succeed in the rescue.”
Now, what does this story teach us? It’s not about being right. It’s about seeking God in humility. Now, when God chose David to be the king of Israel, he didn’t choose him because he was so wise and merited in all he does. He was merely a shepherd boy then. God chose him because he is a man after God’s own heart. And that brought me to think that it’s not about being able to do everything right in this pandemic or just being right in the eyes of men. It’s about being one who is after God’s own heart. And I pray that for you, my brethren, and for our leaders.