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:
) 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.
In 2008, the United States of America elected its forty-fourth president, President Barack Obama
, in the midst of one of the worst economic situations we have seen since The Great Depression. From the moment he took office he has been blamed for the employment rates, national debt and all overall economy issues. No one can argue that it is his responsibility to make things better and lead the country in the right direction. However, can someone truly be blamed for a problem they inherited? I could take time here and share my political opinion but that is for another book. Here I wanted to high light the president’s response. When the entire country is frustrated by jobs, wages and a host of unaddressed issues and everyone is looking at him demanding answers and criticizing him for the slow recovery, President Obama remained calm and collected. He stays true his agenda and does not allow the blame from others to shake his focus. Regardless of how you feel about his policies, this is a point of interest for anyone seeking to accomplish their goals and realize their dreams.
In the book, Developing the Leader Within You
, author John C. Maxwell (2005) explains that “The Greek word for self-control comes from a root word meaning “to grip” or “take hold of.” This word describes people who are willing to get a grip on their lives and take control of areas that will bring them success or failure” Maxwell (2005, p.161). Kipling opens his poem with the very first conditional supposition, “if you can keep you head…” This implies to me how important the idea of self-discipline is in the attainment of ones goals. Before you can do anything in preparation for the life you want to live, you must conquer self-discipline. Maxwell quotes a gentleman by the name of Edwin Markham who had this to say on the subject:
We are blind until we see that in the human plan nothing is worth the making if it does not make the man. Why build these cities glorious if man unbuilded goes? [sic] In vain we build the world unless the builder also grows (p. 162).
This statement is no different than the law of self-preservation. Self-discipline is about dealing with what is going on inside of you. It does no good to even accomplish your goal if you are not able to learn and grow alone the way. While building your dreams you should be building yourself. “When we are foolish, we want to conquer the world. When we are wise, we want to conquer ourselves” (p. 163). Those who are able to keep their heads in the midst of ciaos are those that understand that they learning even when they are the teacher.