Dealing Swiftly with Troublemakers

Joab_and_the_wise_womanNow a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bikri, a Benjamite, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and shouted,

“We have no share in David,
    no part in Jesse’s son!
Every man to his tent, Israel!”

2 Samuel 20:1 (NIV)

One troublemaker is all it takes to bring ruin on an entire group. I have experienced this on teams, in a cast/production, in churches, in civic organizations and in business. Years ago I witnessed a business suffer from the schemes of a troublemaker who happened to be the son of the owner. The father refused to discipline or deal with his son while the son connived to gain more and more power within the company. Eventually the father sold the business to his friend. When the transaction was completed and the new owner was in place, the former owner advised his friend to fire the son. The new owner thought to himself, “Even though he told me to fire his son, my friend will surely hold it against me if I actually do it.” So the new owner refused to deal with the troublemaker for many years and the son continued to be a source of contention and strife within the organization.

I thought about that business this morning as I read the chapter. Like the father in my example, David refused to acknowledge and deal with his troublemaker son, Absalom, until it was almost too late. Still stinging from Absalom’s coup d’etat, David appears to have learned his lesson. He moves swiftly to deal with the troublemaker, Sheba.

When Sheba flees to hide in the town of Abel Beth Maakah, David’s army surrounds the town and lays siege to it. A wise woman in the town arranges for a parlay with the general, Joab, and learns that the entire village is being threatened with destruction because of one troublemaker, Sheba. The wise woman quickly surmises that it would be better for the whole city to expel the trouble maker than face possible ruin. Sheba’s head is cut off and hurled over the wall to Joab and the army and the threat is eliminated.

The further I get in life’s journey the more intolerant I have become of troublemakers and crazymakers. I have discovered that there is a difference between a reasonable person with whom I am having conflict and a trouble maker who cannot be reasoned with. Wisdom an discernment are required, but once it is clear that I am dealing with a troublemaker or crazy maker, I have found that acting quickly to cut that person off is in my best interest and the best interest of the group.

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4 thoughts on “Dealing Swiftly with Troublemakers”

  1. Although the final image is harsh (cut off his head?) I tend to agree. I guess the big question for me is, how do we deal with the trouble maker as well as love him or her? Not facing the issue doesn’t seem loving.

    1. Excellent question, Nate. I have come to a couple of conclusions, over time. First, self-protection is a greater priority than the crazy maker. Second, true troublemakers and crazy makers cannot be reasoned with nor are they willing to reconcile – attempting to do so only perpetuates the chaos. I’m not talking about general conflict here, but exceptionally unreasonable people and situations. As a leader, my responsibility is for the greater good of the group I’m leading, which is exactly what the wise woman did. I have come to believe that the most loving thing I can do for a true troublemaker is to take off my Junior Holy Spirit badge and walk away.

  2. Boy am I thankful that our culture has advanced compared to this story. On the other hand, we have become incredibly sensitive. Our politically correct culture gets it’s feelings hurt when someone says something bad about us or “throws us under the bus”. How about just eviscerating people or cutting off their heads to protect yourself or your town? Makes hurtful words seem like nothing doesn’t it? Wow, hard to imagine living during that time.

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