Tag Archives: David

The Main Thing

Story of the Day for Thursday February 16, 2012

The Main Thing

                            David’s conscience pierced him after he numbered the people. So David told the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in doing this.”  

                                                2 Samuel 24:10

Rory Sutherland, a British advertising guru, likes to cite the maxim: Any metric that becomes a target loses its value as a metric.

Much to our relief he explains what he means. Businesses seek ways to measure their progress toward their company’s goals. But once the focus becomes improving any certain statistic, the measurement is no longer reliable.

And, since my explanation is even more confusing than Sutherland’s maxim, let me give some examples.

 

A good goal for a shipping company would be to make a profit by providing timely deliveries of packages. So far so good. But suppose the company looks at their delivery times and focuses on improving this statistic? Once quicker delivery time becomes the goal, the best way to reach this objective is to cancel delivery to more remote areas. The result: the company’s statistics improve. But profits and service to the customer declines.

 

Sutherland gives a similar example with airline companies. How can an airline measure improved service? One way is by an increase in on-time departures. Departure times are measured from pushback — when the jet begins to move from the terminal. Once companies make it their goal to increase on-time departures, passengers often find themselves sitting on the runway for longer periods. But now latecomers are unable to board the flight. Again, by shifting the focus from the true goal of the company to improving the “numbers,” the statistics become a false indicator of progress.

Seeking to measure success, in other words, can sometimes make us less successful.

 

David should’ve known better. He had witnessed how God took a young shepherd boy and used him to defeat a fearsome warrior named Goliath. David saw how God blessed a valiant warrior — even though his followers were few and he was always on the run.

Now that David was anointed king, he should’ve learned that God had chosen him for his purposes, and that he would prosper as long as he trusted in the strength of the Lord.

Instead, David wanted to measure his strength. He focused, not on the power of God, but on the strength of his fighting force. David ordered Joab, his army commander, to number the people. Only afterward did he realize he was relying on the wrong measurement for success and asked for God’s forgiveness.

 

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Rock Lobbing Talents

Story of the Day for Thursday December 8, 2011

Rock Lobbing Talents

                I can do all things through the One who gives me strength. 

                                                                           Philippians 4:13

George Dantzig greatest achievement came about because he was late for class.

While taking a graduate-level statistics class at the University of California, Berkeley, he got to class late, but managed to copy down the homework assignment on the board.

George worked on his homework assignment, but found it tough going. But he finally completed the assignment, and handed it in to his professor, Jerzy Neyman.

Six weeks later, George was awakened one morning with a knock on the door. “It was Neyman,” Dantzig recalled, “He rushed in with papers in hand, all excited.” Professor Neyman wanted to immediately send Dantzig’s work for publication. Dantzig had no idea what his professor was talking about. The problems on the blackboard that he had solved, Neyman told him, were in fact two famous unsolved problems in statistics.”

Now, how was Dantzig able to solve these two baffling problems? He was certainly intelligent, but so were all the other scientists, professors, and students who were stymied by these problems. But, George Dantzig had one advantage over the others: no one told him that it couldn’t be done.

 

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”

 

Now, obviously, Mr. Ford’s statement is not a universal truth. If you believe you can snort my Ford pickup up your nose, that doesn’t mean you can. Conversely, if I don’t believe I’ll see an elk while hunting tomorrow, that doesn’t mean I won’t.

We Christians are often leery about talking of faith in what we can do, and rightly so.  Anything that fosters the notion that, if we believe in ourselves, we can work our way into God’s good favor is an abomination.  For starters, we can’t. And, secondly, the mistaken notion that we might be able to earn God’s love destroys the truth that you can never earn God’s love. God’s already loves us despite our most miserable failures.

 

All that said, a little shepherd boy did what no soldier in Israel’s army dared: he believed he could defeat Goliath, and offered to do so. But, he had practiced hard to achieve mastery with his slingshot. Yet, he chose five smooth stones because he knew the first one might not find its mark.

Did this little squirt have confidence in his abilities? I think so. But, ultimately, David’s faith was not in himself, but in what God could do through him. Yes, God could’ve worked unilaterally and conked Goliath on the head with a thunderbolt – without David’s assistance. David, however, believed that God would utilize his rock lobbing talents to win this victory. And God would get the glory.

God is at work in this world. But he delights in working through his children . . . children that believe in a God who can do beautiful things through them.

                                          (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)