Jesus launches into a scathing rebuke of the religious leaders around Him at the dinner table of a local Pharisee (see Luke 11:37-52). This passage begins a list of seven failures that these leaders experienced. The following continues the list of six failures that are prefaced with a dire warning, “Woe to you…”
Here’s #6 – “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.” v 47-48 (NIV 1984)
These leaders were charged with giving superficial or temporary solutions to long-standing problems, rather than dealing with root issues or causes that would yield lasting, positive change.
There is a reason why long-standing problems are not dealt with in a lasting way. They are messy, complicated, the change may require systemic changes, solutions may point out failures of previous leaders, they may be financially or emotionally costly, or disruptive to the status quo. These religious leaders built nice looking monuments to the prophets killed by their predecessors, instead of addressing the root of why those prophets were ignored and killed by their forefathers.
We often make decisions on the ‘mini-max’ principle. When making decisions, we seek to minimize the cost and maximize the benefit. It’s easy just to give a temporary solution that makes us feel like we are solving something, rather than address the core of it. We kick the can down the road and realize that the next leader will have to deal with it. Someone will have to have the moral courage to take it on at its root and bring a lasting change for the good.
Doing what is right, instead of doing what is easy is the way of the leader who is pleasing to God. Half-way solutions are not solutions! They are simply patches on a leaky hull. They stop the water flow for the time being, but later, they loosen and the water again begins to flood our ship.
What long-standing, messy problems are on your do list? What can you do to address at least one of them? Screw up your courage and lead!