Sitting—thankfully on a cushioned chair—in the local rural Village Hall, my brain was lurching and lunging as I listened to the Village Trustees and Mayor hammer out the meeting agenda. The public meeting went on for almost 4 hours as dialogue and bantering droned. The only reason I was there was because I was called at the last minute with a request to write up a newspaper story about the meeting because the regular reporter had oral surgery that day. If it’d had been possible, I’d of chosen the oral surgery over the meeting. But it was another example of how we can expect new successes each day.
The room, like our world, was seething and swarming with opinions and emotions. A few hard comments were made but in general everyone kept their cool. I, on the other hand, was floundering to understand what they were talking about, issues they’ve been discussing for months. I had to make the effort not to let the subculture of human opinions and emotions assault the human spirit and rob me of my motivation to report on the real issues.
Decisions are being made every day and we want them to bring about success, otherwise they reflect the “my way or the highway” attitude. And, people will move out of a village or organization that is not being governed for the whole.
Leaders must offer a different definition of success in order to progress a society. We can recall Paul, offering new insight into success by first asking questions and then answering, “Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also since God is one.” (Romans 3:29‑30, ESV)
The old success is to love our fellow friends and religious peers however that success dies and is replaced by the success of loving everyone. The new success, sadly, often first gets tromped on by human egotists and the power hungry. Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, writes, “Anne Hutchinson was a religious woman, mother of thirteen children, and knowledgeable about healing with herbs. She defied the church fathers in the early years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony by insisting that she, and other ordinary people, could interpret the Bible for themselves.” Hutchinson was put on trial for heresy, treated despicably and eventually banished from the colony. However, looking back, it is Hutchinson’s stand that we honor today, while deploring the colonies position and decisions.
Success is new each day and we can discover it, even if at first it looks profane, offensive, or sacrilegious. Interestingly, at one point during the Village meeting, confusion blanketed a crucial decision about their drinking water. Finally, a far-out but simple suggestion from the public brought about first silence then a complete reversal in the decision. The confusion evaporated because the Trustees and Mayor could admit that the previous decision was only a repeat of a futile decision made months ago. We can have the courage to admit that yesterday’s success is not todays. God, Life is new each day and brings about new successes.