31 March, Thursday — On Stubbornness

Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent

Exo 32:7-14
Jn 5:31-47

“I can see how headstrong these people are!”

I’ve always admired people who are headstrong and stick to their beliefs/guns, without fear of speaking up and going against established thinking. They behave as if they have nothing to lose and either end of getting their way, or getting shown the door; every organisation has them. Depending on the nature of the company, these ‘mavericks’ don’t necessarily toe the line, yet have an innate ability to tread the line very carefully. These are the outliers, the ones who usually are not seen ‘hobnobbing’ in the pantry or hanging around the water cooler — because they are probably deep in thought over some groundbreaking project or busy having meetings with others to convince them of some radical new ‘breakthrough’ that they’re hatching.

Harnessing these gems usually requires a very firm hand. But when these become a majority, then they become a rabble, a mob that needs to be quelled. Yet in today’s first reading, Moses spoke up for them and asked the Lord to let them be — ‘Leave your burning wrath; relent and do not bring this disaster on your people’ (Exo 32:12b). What did Moses know to embolden him to speak up for these ‘hardened’ people? Surely God would know even more about them, being the Lord and Father of all mankind. Or was God actually ‘moulding’ Moses into becoming the true leader that he was destined to be? To learn to speak up for those under his charge, even if it was almost in defiance of God?

Being in the midst of a leadership transition at work myself, I cannot help but feel that I need to be less ‘compliant’ and to speak up firmly to my new boss. And that instead of ‘sighing’ (he did say to me one day ‘Don’t sigh, don’t sigh.’) when I feel that something is not right, I should just be more firm in stating my opinions. To be fair, he did encourage me to preface my feedback with ‘From a comms perspective…’ but I was doubtful that my views would be heard… maybe that’s why my name isn’t Moses.

Perhaps I have been too long in this role, where in my first few years, I was new to the industry and just trusted the leadership; followed by nine years under an absolutely nurturing, kind, wise boss that I respected every decision/wish of his. Now, the new bosses are cut from a different kind of cloth. It seems that they value the cut and thrust of debating outcomes or sharing of opinions. In fact, we have been encouraged to “be bolder, but not reckless”. I wonder if that also means being stubborn, to whatever extent one has to be in order to get their point across. Because when it comes to fight or flight, I tend to ‘fly’ most of the time. Well, I will put up some resistance if I don’t agree with something but because for most of my corporate life, the term ‘resistance is futile’ has proven true more than 80% of the time, I back down easily.

Brothers and sisters, pray for those of us who face decisions on a daily basis that require us to go against established norms or that are important in order to be true leaders to our teams.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)

Prayer: Abba Father, give us courage. Lots of it. To face up to injustices, to speak up when we feel that we are being asked to do something against our principles. Give us wisdom to discern how to balance between being firm/stubborn and being understanding/compliant. Help us to see your hand in all the tough decisions we take on behalf of others.

Thanksgiving: We thank you for always being there in our times of need and we ask you to remain with us when we face tough choices in our lives.

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