Monday, April 13, 2015

“If I am right, Thy grace impart, Still in the right to stay; If I am wrong, O, teach my heart, To find that better way!” ― Alexander Pope (18th Century poet)

Clergy choose to set themselves apart and to hold themselves to higher standards than those they serve.  Sadly, there are far too many who fall prey to the temptations of trying to please people and not God.  It’s not just clergy who fall short, but they are supposed to embody the highest calling of all.  Many, many leaders in all walks of life are also weak, false, and think only of themselves.  This is true also of far too many parents whose role models for their children only perpetuate a society of “me firsters” who care nothing about those who are hurt by their actions.  What fills me with hope and joy is that there are so many clergy, leaders in all walks of life, and parents who embody and embrace the highest moral codes.  What always surprises me is that those who care not about what is right but what is convenient for them think than no one else sees them for what they are.  The mothers, fathers, clergy, civic leaders, and those who run charities for the poor, homeless, hungry, orphans, and all those in trouble stand out because they do what is right no matter the consequences.  Not that they don’t make mistakes from time to time as we are all human, but as the quote above implores us—if we err, we try to find a better way (same poet wrote "To err is human, to forgive, divine).  We all know clergy, politicians, business leaders, community leaders, and parents who “talk the talk” without ever “walking the walk.”  Great leaders do what is right even if it means their own deaths.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood that what he was doing would most probably lead to his death and it did.  Gandhi was killed, but he died knowing he had tried to do what was right.  Nelson Mandela taught the world not to seek revenge but reconciliation even though it made him a target from some of his former supporters.  The greatest of them all, Jesus Christ, knew that He, too, would be betrayed, beaten, and killed for holding to what was right.  We all know someone who suffered for doing what was right, and we all know and admire those who both “talk the talk and walk the walk” wherever it leads them.  Without these brave souls, be they famous or the folks who live next door, our world would be a sad place in which to live.  One of my favorite examples is from Charles Dicken’s “A Tale of Two Cities” where an evil man (Sydney Carton) repents and in the end goes to his death to save a man who was his enemy but was in the right.  This man’s words as he was led to his death are known by many: “It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before.  It is to a far, far greater peace I go than I have ever known.”  It is one thing to tell others what they should do, it is quite another to do what you know is right (walking the walk) even when you know the outcome will not be pleasant.  Thank God for all of you, and I am blessed to know so many, who receive my admiration and respect.  If you know people like this, tell them about your admiration and respect for the choices they have made and the role models they are for the rest of us.  I would not be who I am without many like this--beginning with my own father.  God bless you all who “walk the walk.”
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