Possessions, Wealth, & Stewardship: Truths That Should Compel Change

Possessions, Wealth, & Stewardship: Truths That Should Compel Change

“My houses. My cars. My bank accounts. My businesses. My properties. They are all mine. I’m a self made man.”

These phrases are frequently referenced and even celebrated in America.  We use them so routinely that it’s almost second nature.  But truthfully, in the nation that prides itself on capitalism and entrepreneurship, it should come as no wonder.

But in an era that condemns #FakeNews and seeks #Truth, are these statements accurate?  Are they true?  Or is there something deeply misleading about them?

In my years of pursuing the “American Dream” and seeking a bigger house, faster cars, larger bank accounts, and more profitable businesses, I have come to understand that there is a truth to these pursuits that sadly too often escapes our understanding. 

As I’ve taken time to ponder, research and seek the meaning of life as it relates to possessions, wealth and stewardship, the following key truths have become clearer to me.

Truth 1:  It’s not yours or mine 

The first truth is that you and I don’t own what we routinely call ours or “Mine.” That home, car, property, bank account, business, or fill in the blank, is not yours or mine. There is a higher Power and Authority to whom it all belongs. The same One who created the universe, and you and me, also entrusted you and me with the possessions we have that we call our own. There are so many references in the Scriptures that affirm this truth, but here are just a couple:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him.”  (Psalm 24:1)

Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength.”  (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)

Truth 2:  The “self-made” man does not exist. There is no such man 

The idea that a man makes himself, as in his achievements, possessions and such, and they are are all his own creation, and it is he who is solely responsible for them, is false.  In fact, it is the epitome of arrogance and it’s highly disingenuous to ignore every other person and circumstance that came together to enable such a person to achieve and possess. But worse, the idea of a “self-made” man ignores the One who breathed into each of us the gifts, skills, intellect, and health, and orchestrated the right circumstances that led to what our culture defines as success. 

There are numerous examples in Scripture that speak to the flawed concept of a “self-made” man but in Deuteronomy 8 we read this warning from God:

“He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…”  (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

Truth 3:  Gifts do not appear out of a vacuum

Along with the misunderstanding about someone being “self-made” is the idea that our unique giftedness is simply our own doing.  It’s true that gifts can and should be cultivated, but they are initially embedded in us by a Power much greater than ourselves.  Again, we see this truth playing out repeatedly in Scripture.  For instance, when God led Moses to build the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant, God singled out a man named Bezalel to be responsible for all the work involving precious metals, gemstones, and woodwork and also appointed Oholiab to be his assistant.  We read this about these two men:  

“Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel… I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!  I have personally appointed Oholiab… to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make.”  (Exodus 31:2-6)

Truth 4:  You and I will give account someday for all the assets that were placed within our control

Perhaps this is the most sobering truth of all, at least for me.  Whether we acknowledge that God owns it all, or that a “self-made” man is a delusion, or that our gifts come from God, someday you and I will give account for all that God placed within our control.  The bank accounts and every other tangible asset and intangible gifts that we have controlled or will control are being monitored by our Heavenly Father.  We will give account to Him for how we have managed and stewarded them.  This also includes our time.

When I personally think about this truth, I am greatly disheartened as I recognize the many times I have mismanaged God’s resources, finite ones that He entrusted to me.  But this truth also compels me to not merely look backwards but more importantly to focus on what is ahead.  I cannot change yesterday but I can impact today and tomorrow.

What about you? Do you recognize that someday you will be called to account for every asset that is within your control?  And if so, does that cause you to reevaluate your actions and priorities, and how you are using the finite resources in your life?

One of my favorite stories from Scripture relating to the topic of Stewardship is the Parable of the Three Servants in Matthew 25. The quick summary of the story is this.  

A master goes away for some time but before he leaves he provides his three servants with funds to work with while he’s gone. To the first servant he gives five bags of silver; the second he gives two bags of silver; and the third he gives one bag.  While the master is gone, the first and second servant get to work. When the master returns, they both doubled what the master gave them, with the first earning an additional five bags of silver and the second earning two more bags. Consequently, both servants are amply rewarded.

However, when the master calls the third servant forward, he is only able to return the original one bag of silver, having earned nothing for his master.  The master rightly becomes very angry, takes away the one bag of silver that had been entrusted to him, and the third servant is severely punished.  

So we come to understand that just like these servants, we are all given varying amounts of resources, but someday we will be required to account for everything that God gave us, whether a physical asset or an intangible gift, or even an opportunity or our time, that we may have squandered.  Recognizing this truth should cause us to reevaluate our view of possessions, wealth and stewardship.  And as you and I do this, I trust we will become the kind of stewards for whom our Master will someday say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”

 

Bill O’Reilly, the Fall & Proverbs 16:18

Bill O’Reilly, the Fall & Proverbs 16:18

The O’Reilly Factor and FoxNews.  Over the last two decades, these two entities became household names for literally millions of Americans. Holding the top spot in the prime time cable ratings is something most TV personalities would aspire for and, if achieved, would no doubt boast of. Bill O’Reilly was no exception. The fact is, Bill was never shy to remind his viewers of his unparalleled success.

Over the years I have watched my share of the O’Reilly Factor. And while I have agreed more often than not with many of the positions Bill would take, I found myself regularly perturbed with the man.  There is something about watching someone spout off braggadociously, night after night, that can turn a person from a follower to a critic.

More than once during the last decade I’ve thought of Proverbs 16:18 when listening to O’Reilly pontificate about his infallible views on nearly any subject under the sun.  That verse asserts:

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

It’s likely that we all struggle with that five letter word:  Pride.  And perhaps the more successful one becomes, and the more he or she is in the public eye, the greater the temptation is to think highly of oneself.  

I’ve often heard the expression “a self-made man” used of those who achieve some level of success.  But I’ve always been deeply troubled by such a view.  If one affirms God and His sovereign role in our world and lives, then I would suggest it is pride-gone-wild to assert one is a self-made anything.  True, we play a part in our future, with every choice we make.  But I believe it is dangerously wrong to buy into the notion that we are the reason for our success.

The truth is there is a greater Power at work.  I liken it to a farmer who sows his fields.  Sure, he planted the seed, but God gives the rains, sun and the ultimate increase.  And even further, God gives the farmer the resources, health and strength to even plant the seed.  

Likewise, in our lives, we can plant seeds of success by the choices we make.  But it is ultimately God who honors those choices.  Only God can bless us with successes beyond our wildest dreams.  But when those dreams come to fruition, here are some questions that, depending on our answer, will determine whether pride has entered into our lives.  

What do we think? How do we act? What do we say to others? Whom do we thank? Is it ourselves or God?  

Deuteronomy 8:18 answers the last question with this affirmation:

“Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…”

So as I think about Bill O’Reilly’s fall from the pinnacle of success to the depths of shame, I am saddened to see such a loss. Whether Bill is guilty or not of the charges leveled against him is beyond the scope of this article. But Bill’s arrogance and pompous attitude loom large for anyone willing to see them.  And sadly, I believe they drove the reason for his fall.

More important than Bill’s fall though, is this.  His failures force me to look in the mirror and test my motives, my attitudes, and my beliefs.  

Is there Pride in my life?  Do I possess a haughty spirit?  If so, then there is a fall and destruction in my future.  

What about you?  Have you considered these questions?  If not, I would challenge you to do that same.

At the end of the day, all that is good in our lives and all that we might accomplish or accumulate is only by God’s abundant blessings. Any explanation beyond that should cause us to seriously consider Proverbs 16:18… before it’s too late.

Epilogue:

One final thought.  As Bill O’Reilly falls, Tucker Carlson rises, being offered Bill’s former prime-time slot at 8pm.  It’s noteworthy to mention that Tucker Carlson is moving from his short stint at 9pm, after replacing Megyn Kelly, to the 8pm hour, the top slot in prime-time.  Will Tucker though, learn from Bill O’Reilly’s mistakes and resist the temptation to credit himself for his sudden success?  Time will tell.  And let’s hope humility reigns.  

Exit Your Echo Chamber To Make a Difference

Exit Your Echo Chamber To Make a Difference

exit-your-echo-chamber-to-make-a-difference

Have you ever found yourself in a deep cavern or in a valley surrounded by mountains? If so, you’ve probably played the echo game, where you shout loudly and hear your returning echo. We’ve all done it. And what we hear back is exactly what we yelled.

Nothing new. Nothing extraordinary. Just the same message we uttered moments earlier.

Imagine for a minute though that listening to your echo was the only form of communication in which you engaged. Not only would your subject matter be limited and grow redundant over time, but you would never learn anything new.  The content of your echo would be limited to the extent of your own knowledge and understanding.  Soon your mind would begin to atrophy from the lack of new knowledge or truths.  I call this the Echo Chamber syndrome.  

As I observe our society, and have pondered my own behavior at times, I have seen Echo Chambers dominating our culture, often amplified on social media.  They are formed based on one’s ideological, political or religious views.  Our nation has become so divided that we have segregated ourselves into subgroups whose values, views and perspectives are seldom at odds with our own.  

This Echo Chamber syndrome reveals several truths which are not only alarming, but are contributing to an increasingly divided and hostile culture.

1.  Echo Chambers eliminate the potential for any outside ideas or solutions.  We already know that yelling in a cavern returns the precise message as the one you uttered.  So if you’re looking for new ideas or solutions to the problems you are facing, you will get none.  Instead, the solutions within your Echo Chamber will be limited by your own ideological perspectives. Perhaps you’re ok with that, thinking that those outside your little tribe couldn’t possibly offer anything of value.  But if you possess that view, then you have just validated the next truth about Echo Chambers.

2.  Echo Chambers are elitist in nature and pose the ultimate example of arrogance and superiority.  As I’ve engaged with folks on both sides of the ideological fence, including conservatives and liberals. I’ve found that they share very similar attitudes.  First, they believe their perspectives are superior to all others.  Period.  No other view counts.  Second, folks on both sides of the ideological fence view anyone outside their belief system with skepticism and disdain.  Third, they posit that those who are outside the confines of their little chamber are inferior and not even worth getting to know.  It’s as if the other side has a contagious disease and we must not have any contact with them, at least not in the context of an engaging dialogue. But that attitude leads to the next truth about Echo Chambers.

3.  Echo Chambers reject the idea that we can “reason together” and find areas of common ground.  Individuals who spend their lives in an Echo Chamber indirectly affirm the idea that sharing time with those who have differing views is hazardous to one’s own ideology.  They believe that there is no common ground with millions of individuals on the “other side.”  Period.  So why waste one’s time even attempting to do so?  But embracing this flawed thinking leads to another sad truth of Echo Chambers.

4.  Echo Chambers discourage the forging of new relationships with those outside our little network.  If conversations foster relationships, which in turn grow trust, there is no wonder that our nation is so divided.  The mistrust is at an alarming level.  And yet, there is a rather simple solution to breaking down those walls of distrust.  Conversations.  And no I’m not talking about everyone holding hands and singing Kumbaya.  Conversations can oftentimes expose areas of absolute disagreement, but, if done in a respectful manner, simply having the dialogues can increase respect for each other.  As that occurs, relationships begin to form.  But without relationships, this next reality of an Echo Chamber, perhaps the saddest, will prevail.   

5.  Echo Chambers are completely ineffective for sharing truth to those without the truth.  If you believe you have the truth, whether it is the political ideology you embrace, or even the spiritual faith you practice, there is no greater way to hide that truth than to remain in an Echo Chamber.  Those in your little chamber already have the truth as you see it.  And so to remain in your little tribe results in many others never coming to know the truth.  This verse in Scripture reminds me of this reality: “No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.” (Matthew 5:15)  If you want your truth to be heard, then get outside your Echo Chamber and share it with those who have yet to hear or understand it.

I can already hear some saying, “yeah but the ideas of the other side are not only wrong, they are dangerous.”  For a moment let’s assume that is correct.  The “other side” is no doubt comprised of a few leaders and many followers.  It’s likely that the leaders are incapable of changing their dogma.  But the followers are less assured and may be willing to entertain sound arguments, particularly if they are presented in a safe and engaging dialogue, that is shared within a growing relationship.  Those followers will never hear your truth if you regurgitate your message in your little Echo Chamber. 

So for the sake of expanding your understanding of truth, and your own mental growth, I encourage you to exit your Echo Chamber.  Begin making a difference by developing relationships that are based on mutual respect and honest dialogue.  As you do this, I believe it can break down the walls that have served to divide us all.  And who knows, you may even find that your perspectives were not so flawless after all.

Mark

Should a Christian Vote for the Lesser Evil?

Should a Christian Vote for the Lesser Evil?

christian-vote-lesser-evil

Over the course of my years of engaging in politics, I have often heard the phrase “the lesser of two evils” used about the choices offered up to voters.  But never has that phrase been used more than in the 2016 election.  One wonders if all the “lesser evil” choices of prior elections have ultimately culminated in the two worst choices of our lifetimes?  Time will certainly tell.

As I’ve witnessed the ongoing debate on the Republican side of the discussion over Donald Trump, supposedly the lesser evil, I have seen two arguments arise.  The #NeverTrump side asserts that they must follow their conscience, drawn from a biblical/absolute moral standard.  The other side argues that in doing so, one would invariably allow a greater evil, in this case Hillary Clinton, to prevail in our nation.  This second group asserts that selecting the “lesser evil,” in this case Trump, is a better choice, even a good choice, because it would lessen or slow the advance of evil.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that under a Trump administration, evil would in fact advance at a slower pace. If that were true, then is a vote for someone who has a lifetime of the behavior below someone a Christian should vote for, regardless of the evil character of the other option?

Three wives

Serial adulterer

Affiliated with Strip clubs

Rejects his need of God

Utilizes racial and misogynist slurs routinely

Acknowledged his propensity to prey on women, including those married

Routinely defrauded individuals out of monetary claims

Pride, arrogance and greed are prominent character flaws

And so much more…

To be clear, as I enumerated Donald Trump’s behavior, lifestyle and choices, I struggled doing so.  The struggle was not because I was unsure as to whether those things are morally reprehensible.  Rather, I struggled because I too am a sinner and were my life laid bare, there would no doubt be many choices of which I would be ashamed.  So I do not enumerate Trump’s choices and lifestyle to suggest I am better.  However, there is a distinct difference between Trump and someone who embraces the Christian message.  

A true Christian acknowledges his sinful choices and routinely seeks God’s forgiveness for his actions that violate God’s standard.  And because his faith rests in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, he has forgiveness from God, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God.  So repentance and forgiveness are key to a Christian’s relationship with God.

When Trump was asked in 2015 about whether he had ever asked God for forgiveness, he stated the following:

“I am not sure I have.  I just go on and try to do a better job from there.  I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right.  I don’t bring God into that picture.  I don’t.”

I do not share this to condemn Trump but merely to explain the man.  With a philosophy as Donald revealed, it is no wonder that so many of his choices are immoral.  But worse, it does not appear that Trump sees any need to correct or improve on his degenerate behavior. To be fair, in the last few months, there have been unsubstantiated reports that perhaps Donald has turned to God.  I can only hope and pray that this has in fact occurred.  If so, it would be an earth shattering development that could at the very minimum eternally secure the soul of Donald Trump.  

But back to the original discussion.  Is Donald Trump someone a Christian should vote for, simply because he is the “lesser of two evils” in the minds of some?

In tandem with that question though, and perhaps of greater importance, is this question:

In a world of lesser evils, are God’s principals universal?  

We can no doubt find countless examples of choices that are both evil, but one is lesser.  So what should a Christian do in these instances?  

In America we are sheltered and removed from the reality of the rest of the world.  But for too many Christians around the world, the lesser of two evils is a dramatic reality, and results in their rejecting both options. 

Christians & The Egyptian Election

Take for instance the runoff election in 2012 in Egypt that pitted the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi against Ahmed Shafik, a holdover from the former strong-armed President Hosni Mubarak.  If one delves into the backgrounds of both of these men, and what they supported, there can be no doubt that their views, values and track records were at extreme odds with biblical values.  So in that instance, should an Egyptian Christian have selected a Muslim, tied to a former dictator, or should the Christian have chosen the second candidate, someone who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, a known terrorist group?  Neither choice is a good one.  Truthfully, they are both evil.

God’s standards and principles must be universal and timeless or they are not of God. 

If one must resort to solely human logic, reasoning or even situational ethics, that should be the first clue that the conclusion one is coming to is likely not of God.  Secondly, if the conclusion one is coming to would not work in another place or in another era, then that conclusion must also be suspect.  

As Americans, and Christians specifically, have continued to chose “the lesser of two evils” over the years, we have seen the quality of the candidates continue to degenerate.  This approach has led us to the point where in 2016, the two major options presented to Americans are the two most debased and immoral options perhaps our nation has ever seen.  But rest assured, if Americans willingly, and in many cases gleefully, select one of the two options, you can be confident that the choices that will presented in 2020 and beyond will be even worse.  Contrary to the theory of evolution, things do not naturally get better.  Rather, it’s clear that the world is continuously devolving, absent God’s intervention through spiritual revivals.

Consider this truth.  If we continue to follow the path of the “lesser of two evils” where might that lead us in the future? There will always be a lesser of two evils, no matter how low on the scale the candidates descend.  We could one day be faced with voting for one candidate that believes in abortion while the other believes in euthanasia, or both could believe in such.  So it should be clear that at some point the “lesser of two evils” falls apart.

So, what should you do if you are a person that has a gnawing feeling that something is not right? Or perhaps you have a quiet voice pricking your conscience to reject both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, even though your human logic or friends suggest that Trump would be better because he will do this or do that.

If this is you, then I would encourage you to turn to God.  As a believer, every consequential decision in your life should have a foundation in and be supported by God’s Word.  If not, then question that decision.  So if you are a follower of Christ, consider these passages, pray earnestly and seek God’s direction on November 8.

“Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.”  Ephesians 5:11

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, have a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away!  2 Peter 3:1-5

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.”  Philippians 4:8

I believe that fear is one of the greatest motivators of this election.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of Hillary.  Fear of the Supreme Court.  Fear of our borders opening up further.  Fear of increased corruption.  Fear.  Fear.  Fear.  But consider this:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  2 Timothy 1:7

Do you feel powerless?  Do you feel anger and even hatred perhaps?  Is your mind clouded?  If you answered yes to any of those questions, then perhaps fear is motivating you.  Turn your attention back to God, particularly in this election cycle.  Trust Him.  Refuse to succumb to your own logic.  And God will direct you to the proper choice in just a few days.  

It may be that God is leading you to reject both candidates and to either not vote, or to select one of the 3rd party or independent candidates.  Life is not about winning, in a worldly sense, but about doing what is right from a divine perspective.  Personally I find both Trump and Clinton objectionable, one perhaps more than the other, but both a shame for a country that was founded upon biblical principles.  So I have been challenged to pray for Trump and Clinton.  That I can do.

Next Blog Post: Voting Recommendations

In my next blog post later this week, I will provide my thoughts on what to do if, like me,  you cannot vote for Trump or Hillary.  Rest assured there are other candidates that, while they will not win politically, they will provide you with the option to follow your conscience in a way that reconciles with Scripture.  And when you do this, I would suggest that you have won in a manner that trumps any American political battle.  (Here’s the post:  If You Reject Hillary & Trump, Here are Some Options)

Obviously, my thoughts  are not the “final word” on this subject matter.  I continue to seek out God and the spiritual perspectives of others.  So if you disagree with my thoughts or have some other ideas about this, please email me, or comment on social media.  I relish your input.

Mark

Hey Kaepernick: Gratefulness is a choice

Hey Kaepernick: Gratefulness is a choice

kaepernick-gratefulness-is-a-choice

 

Why is it that some who possess the greatest this world has to offer are the most ungrateful, while some who have the least in terms of worldly possessions are the most grateful?

Specifically, I’ve watched the antics of Colin Kaepernick over the last several weeks and been amazed at the choices and behavior of a man whose life could only be characterized as a dream beyond one’s wildest imaginations.  With a stratospheric compensation contract totaling over $100 million, adoring fans, celebrity status, health, youth, a lifetime of opportunities ahead of him, and so much more, Kaepernick is blessed with an elite status that 99% of the billions of people around the globe cannot even begin to comprehend. 

Colin’s biological mother is white and his father is black.  But his mother, destitute and single, gave Kaepernick up for adoption to white parents.  No one could have imagined that this child, who was likely destined for a very ordinary life at best, would achieve the status he has attained.  Consider that Colin’s weekly compensation of nearly $300,000 is approximately six times the US annual median household income, and his annual compensation is nearly 300 times that same number. 

Blessed?  Unquestionably!

I have always subscribed to the biblical principal that “To whom much is given, much is required.”  And the truth is that just about any American has been given much, when compared with the other 7 billion citizens of our globe.  Yet, there are a few ultra-elite who have been blessed with unfathomably more than their fellow Americans.

The opportunities that are available to them to use their status and the platform they enjoy is exponential, with the ability to speak positively about the struggles plaguing our society and culture as well as engaging in uplifting meaningful activity.

Yet, all too often, their approach is one of condemnation versus uplifting.  Rather than playing a positive role model, they epitomize what is actually wrong with our society and culture.

There is a verse in scripture that says, “I have found that whatever state I am in, to be content.” 

In this passage, we read that the Apostle Paul was an elite of his society, in terms of education, status and as a citizen of Rome.  Despite his status, Paul often found himself maligned and persecuted, enduring oppression, injustice, incarceration, and actual personal harm.  Yet he made a choice to be grateful and content, in spite of his circumstances.  

Of course, Paul offers his secret as to how and why he was able to make such a choice two verses later when he notes: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Therein lies the secret.  It is not in our own strength that we can exhibit gratefulness.  But rather through Christ.  And when we do so, we can truly begin to peel back the deception that can so often lead us to false conclusions about our status.

As Americans we truly are blessed, despite whatever circumstances in which we might find ourselves.  This is not to say that we must simply roll over and accept unacceptable scenarios including injustice.  However, we also should not become ungrateful for all the blessings that are available to us.  But when we are tempted to resort to the negative, we can always seek Christ’s strength to express the proper gratefulness, regardless of our circumstances.

Mark

How Trump’s Recent Behavior Reveals Disturbing Weaknesses

How Trump’s Recent Behavior Reveals Disturbing Weaknesses

How Trump's Recent Behavior Reveals Disturbing Weaknesses

If you’ve ever played checkers, the card game Old Maid, baseball, or watched a sporting event, there is one basic fact that applies to all these games. In order to win, you must know the rules. If you don’t and your opponent does, you will certainly lose. 

If you’re playing checkers, a loss generally means very little. But if you’re a coach in the finals of the AFC Championship, you’d better study the rules and know them well, or it could cost you a trip to the Super Bowl. 

Since we were toddlers, we’ve learned that our world turns on rules. Some fair. Others not. But they are rules that must be followed.

April 15 is a day that involves rules that all Americans follow. The IRS, the agency that most Americans love to hate, has a rule book exceeding 70,000 pages long, many that reward the wealthy, special interests and lobbyists. Yet we all abide by the rules.  It doesn’t matter that we don’t like them.  We play by the IRS’ rules or else…

Of course, if we don’t like our nation’s tax rules, there is a process in place to change them, but complaining about them will accomplish little or nothing. 

This 2016 Presidential election cycle is like everything else in life, there are rules that apply. Many of those rules have been in place for years, some even 150+ years.  One such rule is the requirement that the Republican nominee must garner a majority of the states’ delegates, or 1,237 delegates. 

Like many election cycles, 2016 has been contentious, to say the least.  But unlike other cycles, Donald Trump, in tandem with the media, has not only hurled jabs at his opponents but he has, in the midst of the contest, begun to complain about the rules, citing that the system is rigged.

Trump has constantly complained and whined about the Republican party rules, demanding that they be ignored or revised to his benefit.  But when was the last time you heard a NFL coach demanding that the rules be changed, in the middle of the Super Bowl, while the game is actually being played? 

As I’ve thought about Trump’s droning on and on about the rules, how unfair they are, and his demand that they immediately be ignored or changed for his benefit, I’ve realized that Trump is displaying all of these four classic signs of a whiner:

Failed Strategy

A person often loses because he fails to prepare or develop a strategy to win.  Winning consistently doesn’t just happen by accident.  Rather winning is a planned event.  No doubt you’ve heard that when someone fails to plan, they plan to fail.  Strategy requires many components including brilliance and hard work.  A team cannot simply waltz onto the gridiron, proclaim they are the champions, and then expect the trophy.  Yet, apparently Trump believes that he can come up with a fancy slogan, sell baseball caps, fill stadiums, tweet 24/7, and then be crowned the Republican nominee.  Sorry Donald, if you desire the most powerful position in the world, it requires more than just a glitzy PR campaign and some worn out cliches.

Incompetence

Even if someone were to hand a person a winning strategy, a person or team’s incompetence will lead to failure.  We see people fail frequently because they simply don’t know what they are doing.  There is no question that Donald Trump is a public relations expert. His ability to whip up a crowd, and play the media like a fiddle, is extraordinary.  But his incompetence when it comes to understanding the rules of the game has been extraordinary.  Time and time again Donald and his team have dropped the ball or have been beaten in the process of gaining delegates at conventions and caucuses.  He’s like a football team who plays their heart out during the first half, runs up a lead, but then fails to show up to play in the second half.  Donald’s incompetence has been shocking and reveals some insights into what a Trump Presidency would look like, and it’s not pretty.

Arrogance

“Pride goes before a fall.”  This truth is seen over and over in life, sometimes even in our own personal experience.  Sadly, arrogance is a trait that is oftentimes exhibited by individuals who have had some degree of success.  And there’s no doubt that Donald Trump has experienced extraordinary success by some standards.  But achieving success at one point does not automatically guarantee the next win.  In fact, when arrogance enters into the equation, failure is soon to follow.  And Trump’s attitude regarding the rules is pure arrogance.

Elitist

Have you ever noticed that many of our nation’s elite assume that the rules don’t apply to them?  Whether it’s Congress exempting themselves from laws that the rest of us have to live with or it’s Donald Trump demanding that rules that have applied to dozens of Presidential candidates over the decades be changed or ignored for him, elites believe they are exempt from rules that others must follow.  While this borders with arrogance, it is worse because the elitist not only believes he is special, he believes you and I are inferior to him.  

One final thought about Trump and the rules.  It has been ironic that Trump has never complained about those rules that seem to benefit him such as the scenario where he only garnered 32% of the vote in South Carolina but won 100% of the delegates because of the state’s winner take all rules.  Despite this reality, I have yet to hear one of the other Presidential candidates cry “foul” because Trump received three times as many delegates from a percentage standpoint as he did in the popular vote.

So at the end of the day, we see Trump whining about the rules only when his strategy fails or his incompetence shows.  And it’s then that his arrogance and elitist disposition surfaces, which should be a huge sign that this man is not ready for prime time or worthy of the Oval Office.

Mark


Credit: Trump caricature courtesy of DonkeyHokey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/22868475614/