Chip Neidigh

The Right Answer

I’ve been knocked off-center. National-level politics, police shootings of defenseless citizens, the assassinations of police, and terrorist attacks around the world have all fed my sense of chaos, discouragement, and vulnerability. I’ve become disillusioned. The world is a mess.

What is my posture towards the assassins, terrorists, self-serving politicians, and lawless police? So many of their actions obviously deserve scorn. The senseless violence, condemnation, and self-righteousness is deeply troubling. And even though I know I should “hate the sin and love the sinner,” it isn’t always easy to separate the two so cleanly in my heart, gut, and mind. How much compassion do I have for them?

Too often, others’ hateful acts seed a feeling of hate within me.

If I’m honest with myself, the bar doesn’t even have to be that high, in order for me to be contemptuous of others. When I am insulted, harmed, or simply inconvenienced, I too easily find my heart sliding in the wrong direction.

I have a client whose senior leadership group struggles to act like a team. Because this group is more challenging than most, I find my attitude has slipped from helpful, to wary, to condescending. As inevitably happens, my bad attitude has spilled over into my behaviors. I’ve gossiped within the group, avoided tough conversations, and discouraged others’ attempts to improve the situation. Of course I rationalize my judgmentalism by blaming their bad behavior; if they’d just get their act together, my attitude would improve.

Not surprisingly, I’ve found that my influence on them continues to wane.  I can lead better, but I’m missing a critical ingredient.

The only choice that generates sustainable transformations of hearts and minds is the choice to love. A posture of compassion and selflessness shifts relationships.  Simply put, when I do not love, I’m not leading well. Others won’t give me access—won’t allow me to influence them—if they don’t believe I have their best interests in mind.

As I react to the animosity, apathy, contempt, damage, waste, and disconnection in the world, there is only one solution, and it doesn’t have a party affiliation, ethnic root, or national origin.

Love is the answer. 

It’s that simple.

Every day, we are confronted with difficult people and situations. In each, we have a choice.  Will we contribute to the disconnection and damage, or will we step up and lead to help restore our corner of the world to a better, healthier state?

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