The sixth chapter of the book of Isaiah tells the story of the profit Isaiah. He was called to lead the children of Israel back to the heart of God. The problem was that the people had a strong loyalty to the king. King Uzziah had been a great king and experienced many successful victories for his people. The story is told that his success was the cause of great pride. This pride caused his separation from God’s will. With Uzziah still on the throne, Isaiah was in danger of being killed if he spoke up about the direction of the people of Israel. Verses one thru five gives an account of an experience that Isaiah had with the Lord in the year that Uzziah died and he was finally freed to do the very thing he was purposed to do. The New American Standard version of the Bible records:
(1) In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. (2) Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. (3) And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.” (4) And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. (5) Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Isaiah 6:1-5 (NAS)
This experience is a perfect way to illustrate the power of making allowances without making excuses. In verse three, Isaiah saw the Lord on the throne and recognized that he was holy. Holy in Greek is pronounced kaw-doshe, which means clean, pure or perfect. At the moment that he noticed the perfection of God he took a look at himself. Verse five describes his reaction to his reflection. He basically says shame on me since I am ruined. The King James Version uses the word undone. In Greek, undone is pronounced daw-maw, which means to fail, perish, to be brought to silence or coming apart at the seams. At the realization of the greatness that is before you it is easy to see your inadequacies. It is even understandable that you would feel like your dreams are coming apart at the seams. In chapter eight will discuss how to find the appropriate balance between triumph and disaster. However, here we deal with your realization that it will not be easy capture your dreams when it is resting among the stars.
I really enjoy this story for several reasons. If you are a person of faith then you have to appreciate Isaiah’s experience. It is very closely related to our own salvation experience. It is a story of accomplishing that which God has called you to do but this portion of it reminds us of two very important realizations: 1) God’s holiness and 2) our hellishness. It is God’s perfection that causes us to make allowances for our imperfections. Now I use this story here because it has significant meaning even for those that do not hold the same faithful values that I hold. Isaiah had a goal to accomplish. He had to completely transform the spiritual behavior of his people. He had to show them that the way that they were doing things was not right. Not only did he have this great cause before him, he also had to do it in the face of a great and popular king. This may be too far fetched for you but what about your goal or aspiration. If you have something that you aspire to do and it is greater than your present situation then you too can have feelings of inadequacies. If you have ever thought that you were not good enough or were not qualified to do something that you really wanted to do then this story is still about you.
Making an allowance for the doubt of others goes no further than acknowledging your own doubts. It does not imply that their opinion of you should become more valuable than your view of yourself. I am not asking you to give attention to everybody’s opinion about what you are doing and how you are doing it. In fact, I am actually telling you not to spend your time that way at all. Doing so will yield you nothing but negative results. Great leaders are those that maintain a respect for their position. These are the people that are always assessing the job they are doing and comparing that to what they know needs to be done. Even if they feel completely qualified to do the job they are doing, they are still reverent towards the job itself. They understand that to do their job well is much bigger than them. They realize that excellence requires hard work no matter who you are or how qualified you are. I could fail. I could give my opinion and be wrong. I could work hard for something and not attain it. Those are possibilities and if I do not recognize them then I will not be prepared to overcome them. Remember that there is always a positive and negative potential response to all suppositional situations. Being prepared to overcome the potential negative responses require you to have spent time thinking about it. However, expecting the positive response requires you not to spend too much time focused on the negative. Kipling suggests here that you should have trust in yourself and your abilities but also have the humility to make allowance for the doubt of others. If you take only one thing away from this chapter or this book, remember that other people will only have the power to kill your dreams if you give them the power. Making allowance means that you must know the adversity you are up against if you intend to overcome them.