Luke and the Lost
I have often read from many books on leadership that say there are two skills most often used and defined. Doing things right is being a good manager. Doing the right things is being a good leader. When you really think about it and list what managers do and who managers are versus what leaders do and who they are, you will see distinct differences in their leadership patterns. You rarely see a leader who can do both at the same time. That’s why I lean toward the idea that it takes a team for greater accomplishments than one doing it alone.
This next parable of Jesus is one of the toughest to understand. The shrewd manager is found to be dishonest by the Master. The Master fires him. The manager does not defend himself, but rather finds a way back into the good graces of his Master by making it “right” with his neighbors (even though it is for selfish reasons, so they might take him in). Hmm…a lot to think about here in this passage.
Luke 16, The Message
The Story of the Crooked Manager
16 1-2 Jesus said to his disciples, “There was once a rich man who had a manager. He got reports that the manager had been taking advantage of his position by running up huge personal expenses. So he called him in and said, ‘What’s this I hear about you? You’re fired. And I want a complete audit of your books.’
3-4 “The manager said to himself, ‘What am I going to do? I’ve lost my job as manager. I’m not strong enough for a laboring job, and I’m too proud to beg. . . . Ah, I’ve got a plan. Here’s what I’ll do . . . then when I’m turned out into the street, people will take me into their houses.’
5 “Then he went at it. One after another, he called in the people who were in debt to his master. He said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’
6 “He replied, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’
“The manager said, ‘Here, take your bill, sit down here—quick now—write fifty.’
7 “To the next he said, ‘And you, what do you owe?’
“He answered, ‘A hundred sacks of wheat.’
“He said, ‘Take your bill, write in eighty.’
8-9 “Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.”
SURPRISE!…the dishonest manager is praised for his survival skills…or “leadership” in cutting the cost, probably his own commission in every deal with his neighbors, so his reputation could be upheld in the community and maybe with his Master. In other words, he gave up his own money to survive, for a greater good. He “bare-boned” his budget, to now do the right thing.
Yes, there are many thoughts here, but the one that stands out the most is this: “Live, really live, and not be complacently getting by on good behavior”. Just doing things right can become a mindless repetition of going to church, singing in the choir, teaching a SS class, leading a study, passing out the bulletins, cleaning the church, setting out communion in such a complacent way that the joy is sapped from doing these things in a mindless way because they have become a dangerous routine. Yikes.
What do you think? Wow, I’m challenge to think more and go deeper into what Jesus is teaching us here. Pay closer attention to why we do what we do and how to do the right things versus doing things right.
Dear Heavenly Father, Wow, Your Word is so amazing in the ways you speak to us and jerk our attention from complacency to focus on You, once again. Help us. Save us from ourselves. In Jesus Name, Amen