Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, “Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.”
2 Samuel 19:5-7 (NIV)
One of the most fascinating aspects of my day job is the opportunity I have to work with many different companies and to interact with people at diverse levels of the organization from the front line to the C Suite. Long ago I realized that the culture of a company is a trickle-down affair that begins with the man or woman at the very top. I remember one client whose CEO ran the company by fear and intimidation. No one would stand up to him, even when he is clearly mistaken or making a wrong move, for fear of losing their proverbial heads in a board meeting (and, perhaps, their jobs). The result was a highly dysfunctional organization that mirrored the CEO. The entire corporate culture was one of intimidation, fear, and c.y.a. It permeated virtually every level of the operation.
One of the things I’ve observed about David as I’ve been reading his story the past few months is the fact that David had a select group of men in his life who could get in his face and call him to account even if they had to be careful about how they did it. After his affair with Bathsheba, it was the prophet Nathan who got in his face. In today’s chapter, David’s general and right-hand man, Joab, confronts David about the grave danger he’s putting himself in by allowing his grief for Absalom to overshadow his duty as a king and general. The kingdom was in a precarious political situation and David was close to losing it all. Joab lost no time in bluntly confronting David and speaking the truth to him. To his credit, David listened to his long-time trusted general and advisor.
Ever since I was a young man, I have intentionally made sure that I always have at least a couple of friends in my life, men with whom I have intentionally surrounded myself, who have carte blanche to get in my face whenever necessary. These are men with whom I talk and share life on a regular basis. We talk about everything in life. If they think I’m screwing something up, then they have permission to question me or call me out, and they would expect the same from me.
This life journey can become a long slog at times. The first rule any child learns about hiking in the wilderness is “buddy up.” To go it alone is to put yourself in danger. Ironically, our greatest danger often resides within ourselves. Without faithful companions who can catch it and call us out, we may not realize it until it’s too late.
In the quiet this morning, I spent a few minutes recalling all of my carte blanche companions through the years, saying a prayer of gratitude and blessing over each one.
A Note to Readers
I’m taking a blogging sabbatical and will be re-publishing my chapter-a-day thoughts on David’s continued story in 2 Samuel while I’m taking a little time off in order to focus on a few other priorities. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post was originally published in May 2014.
The featured image on today’s post was generated with Wonder A.I.
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