Tag Archives: Joab

Carte Blanche Companions

Carte Blanche Companions (CaD 2 Sam 19) Wayfarer

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.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

The Medium Matters

Now Joab son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s mind was on Absalom. Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner; put on mourning garments, do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. Go to the king and speak to him as follows.” And Joab put the words into her mouth. 2 Samuel 14:1-3 (NSRV)

A few weeks ago, while Wendy and I were spending a few days at the lake, we watched the movie 12 Years a Slave. The Academy Award-winning movie is based on a book written during the abolition movement in America and is the autobiography of a free African American living in the north who was kidnapped, smuggled to the south, and sold into slavery. His story was so powerful, and so powerfully told, that Wendy and I sat speechless on the couch as the credits rolled, tears streaking down our cheeks. Our hearts had been rent. It was, for me, a history lesson, a parable about the human condition, and a call to continue opening my eyes, my mouth, my pen, and my wallet to address similar injustices that still exist in this world today.

One of the reasons I love the arts, and the dramatic arts, in particular, is their ability to communicate spiritual truths and move people to action in a way that no other mode of communication does. I remember during one of the final read-throughs of my script Ham Buns and Potato Salad before we were to go into production one of the female readers, emotionally shaken by the story, exclaimed that we had better have counselors available at the back of the theatre because of the emotions and painful memories it might stir within audience members. I was taken aback by her strong emotional response after simply being part of a table reading of the script. I took it as a compliment that the script and the story stirred her that deeply. As a writer, it gratified me to know that the story had effectively reached at least one person at that level.

Today’s chapter is one that I studied in depth while pursuing my theatre degree in college. It is one of only a few stories of acting told throughout the entirety of the Great Story. Joab needed to get through to King David. Perhaps he’d seen how Nathan’s story of the rich man stealing the poor man’s only lamb had gotten through to the king. David couldn’t see his blind spot even if Joab tried to reveal it to him plainly, but when Joab cloaked it in a metaphorical story, David could finally see his own situation clearly. Joab decides to hire an actor, costuming her in mourning clothes, using a little make-up to make it look like she’d been grieving, and giving her a script to follow. She played the part brilliantly. What impresses me is that she took the part and nailed the role knowing that the King, once it was revealed that he’d been conned, could easily have ordered her death for “deceiving” him with her charade.

I believe that we don’t give enough thought to how we communicate. Not only on a corporate level but also on an interpersonal one. Most every human conflict can be traced back to a breakdown in communication. I believe equally that the hope of redemption and restoration hinges on our ability to communicate it, not only clearly, but in multiple channels and mediums. It was during the pandemic that I start recording these chapter-a-day posts and publishing them as a podcast. I’ve had multiple people confess to me that they never read my posts, but they faithfully listen to the podcast. There’s a lesson in that. Sometimes I have to change the medium of my communication in order for the person on the other end to receive the message.

 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 take 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
.

Today’s featured image was created with Wonder A.I.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

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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Carte Blanche Companions

 

Joab confronts the grieving King David
Joab confronts the grieving King David

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 executive 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 which mirrored the CEO. The entire corporate culture was one of intimidation, fear, and c.y.a. which permeated virtually every level of the operation.

One of the things I’ve observed about David as we’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. 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 overshadow his duty as king. The kingdom was in a precarious political situation and David was close to losing it all. Joab lost no time in getting in David’s face and speaking the truth to him. To his credit, David listened to his long-time trusted general and advisor.

I have a handful of people in my life, people with whom I have intentionally surrounded myself, who have carte blanche to get in my face whenever necessary. These are people with whom I talk about and share life with on a regular basis. We talk about business, church, family, friendships, finances, and relationships. 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 journey through life can be a long hike. 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.

Today, I’m thankful for my faithful companions on this life journey.

 

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The Medium of the Message Matters

 

Woman of Tekoa before King David (source: wikipedia)
Woman of Tekoa before King David (source: wikipedia)

Now Joab son of Zeruiah perceived that the king’s mind was on Absalom. Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner; put on mourning garments, do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead. Go to the king and speak to him as follows.” And Joab put the words into her mouth. 2 Samuel 14:1-3 (NSRV)

A few weeks ago, while Wendy and I were spending a few days at the lake, we watched the movie 12 Years a Slave. In case you’ve been hiding in a cave this past year and have not heard of it, the Academy Award winning movie is based on a book written during the abolition movement in America and is the autobiography of a free African American living in the north who was kidnapped, smuggled to the south and sold into slavery. His story was so powerful, and so powerfully told, that Wendy and I sat speechless on the couch as the credits rolled, tears streaking down our cheeks. Our hearts had been rent. It was, for me, a history lesson, a parable about the human condition, and a call to continue opening my eyes, my mouth, my pen and my wallet to address similar injustices that still exist in this world today.

One of the reasons I love the arts, and the dramatic arts in particular, is their ability to communicate spiritual truths and move people to action in a way that no other mode of communication does. During one of the final read-throughs of my script Ham Buns and Potato Salad before we went into production this last year one of the female readers, emotionally shaken by the story, exclaimed that we had better have counselors available at the back of the theatre because of the emotions and painful memories it might bring up for audience members. I was taken aback by her strong emotional response after simply being part of a table reading of the script. That’s the power of a story well told. As a writer, it gratified me to know that the story had effectively reached at least one person.

Today’s chapter is one that I studied in depth while pursuing my theatre degree in college. It is, arguably, the only story of acting told throughout the entirety of the Bible. Joab needed to get through to King David. Perhaps he’d seen how Nathan’s story of the rich man stealing the poor man’s only lamb had gotten through to the king. David couldn’t see his blind spot if you tried to reveal it to him plainly, but when you cloaked it in a metaphorical story, he could see his own situation clearly. Joab decides to hire an actor, costume her in mourning clothes, use a little make-up to make it look like she’d been grieving, and gave her a script to follow. She played the part brilliantly. What impresses me is that she took the part and nailed the role knowing that the King, once it was revealed that he’d been conned, could easily have ordered her death for tricking him.

I believe that we don’t give enough thought to how we communicate. Not only on a corporate level, but also on an interpersonal one. Most every human conflict can be traced back to a break down in communication. I believe equally that the hope of redemption and restoration hinges on our ability to communicate, not only clearly, but in multiple channels and mediums. By capably utilizing diverse mediums of communication we can reach each diverse audience member through a medium, perhaps the only medium, through which they can hear and receive the Message.

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Chapter-a-Day 1 Kings 2

It's not personal. It's strictly business. The king then gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he went out and struck Shimei dead. The kingdom was now securely in Solomon's grasp. 1 Kings 2:46 (MSG)

All great stories are a reflection of God's great story. That's what my wife consistently reminds me, and she is correct. That's why, when I read the Old Testament historical books, like Kings and Chronicles, I'm constantly reminded of stories, plays and movies that reflect the same biblical themes wrapped in the language of the present culture.

We read in today's chapter about Solomon, the youngest son, and his succession to his father's throne. We read about his "settling accounts" with the enemies of his father and the contract killings of Joab and Shimei. We read of the killing of his own brother who betrayed him. 

How could I not help but think of Michael Corleone, the youngest son, and his succession in the family business, his bloody settling of accounts, and the killing of his own brother who betrayed him?

All great stories are reflections of the Great Story.