Nature vs. Nurture — Leadership.
I have been pondering this ancient theme for some time and the evidence of its impact really came to light recently in Florida.
Let’s consider first for a moment if you will something equally ridiculous. The law of gravity (nature).
We could pass a law (nurture you), (if it is not already on the books somewhere), that prohibits you from falling. Now that would really be cool because you could no longer “fall down”. We have conquered gravity with the stroke of a pen! Imagine, no more being tripped-up, falling down stairs, or most importantly…no more huge masses of body’s during football games! Injuries would be in huge decline.
Now that law is as ridicules as the one that presented itself in the Florida “teenage bus beating” case a few weeks back. But when viewed through the prism of “nature vs nurture”, what did we really see?
I was involved caring for foster kids at point. To illustrate the nature vs nurture disorder I am drawn back to one particular situation that involved a set of three siblings we had for nearly two years.
There was a relative that lived down the street from us and to say the least the relationship was NOT “mutual”. They had a son (Matt) who was the same age as the oldest sibling (Joe) we were caring for at the time. For weeks on end Joe would come home frustrated because he was being bullied by Matt. I would talk with Joe and settle him down. To try and talk to Matt’s parents was futile at best. It went nowhere.
After about the fourth week and the frustration (nature) building in Joe and the attempts to get him to understand that we were (nurtured) not allowed to let them engage in any activity in which they may be harmed. The next day things come to a boil and the efforts to hold Joe back were failing badly. I took Joe aside…I said look, I understand the frustration (nature) you are dealing with. However, if it gets to the point that you must make a stand for yourself (nature), then you had better clean Matt’s clock (nurture). A few days pass and the tension builds…and then it happened as they got off the bus. A fight ensues, Matt’s clock is cleaned and functioning properly, Joe has the peace he was seeking, and they exit as good friends who shortly thereafter came and played at our house many times.
Here is the Florida case from my perspective.
Three teenage kids are placed on the same bus after being questioned about reported drug activity with the person to whom they tried to sell drugs.
The three teenagers’ then committed a relentless violent physical beat down of the defenseless kid as he was trapped between the seat and the floor of the school bus.
Here is where we what discover what the “laws of nurture” has taught us?
The bus driver Mr. Moody, 64, said on CNN’s Piers Morgan Live that he was calling for help on his radio, (nurtured) as school policy required.
“Me jumping in the middle of that fight with three boys, it would have been more dangerous for other students on the bus for as myself,” he said. “There’s just no telling what might have happened.” We have a bus driver who at the age of 64 has been NURTURED (by the state) that you do not get involved in a fight. You call for help. You have multiple kids watch (and video) the incident and when ask why they didn’t get involved…”their reply is; they also have been “taught” (nurtured) not to get involved in those types of incidents.
Now just ponder that leadership style for a moment… “There’s just no telling what might have happened if he had gotten involved”. Scary! Would we use the same logic in a corporate meeting? I would hope not.
We as leaders wonder what has happened to the moral foundation of America that used to make us great. The virtues of, hungry for a job, showing up on time, respecting others and their property, and respecting ourselves, all seemed to have faded into the sunsets of years past.
I understand the law of NATURE and as an adult, if you see a kid in need of help, you spring into action, whether it is to save them from a speeding car, or rescue them from other certain dangers. Jesus did say, “What so ever you do unto the least of these you do unto me”. Just as the case with Matt and Joe, you can only nurture to a certain extent until you are engulfed in its full destructive forces.
Here is the real crux of this story and it should concern all of us. We have allowed the system to nurture us to a system that denies us the natural authority to act and respond on our own volition. Continued nurturing of this kind will to be detrimental to the natural leadership roles that was stamped on our hearts by God when we were conceived. Ecclesiastes 3 1-11.
Examine the following leadership traits and skill sets of yesteryear in: 1 Chronicles 12:2, 8, 14-15, 30, 33-38
v2 “they were armed with bows and were able to shoot arrows or to sling stones right-handed or left-handed; they were relatives of Saul from the tribe of Benjamin):”
v8 “Some Gadites defected to David at his stronghold in the wilderness. They were brave warriors, ready for battle and able to handle the shield and spear. Their faces were the faces of lions, and they were as swift as gazelles in the mountains.”
v14 “These Gadites were army commanders; the least was a match for a hundred, and the greatest for a thousand. 15 It was they who crossed the Jordan in the first month when it was overflowing all its banks, and they put to flight everyone living in the valleys, to the east and to the west.”
v30 “from Ephraim, brave warriors, famous in their own clans—20,800;”
vv33-38 ” from Zebulun, experienced soldiers prepared for battle with every type of weapon, to help David with undivided loyalty—50,000; from Naphtali—1,000 officers, together with 37,000 men carrying shields and spears; from Dan, ready for battle—28,600; from Asher, experienced soldiers prepared for battle—40,000; and from east of the Jordan, from Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh, armed with every type of weapon—120,000. All these were fighting men who volunteered to serve in the ranks. They came to Hebron fully determined to make David king over all Israel. All the rest of the Israelites were also of one mind to make David king.”
Pretty mighty men wouldn’t you say? One of the combat skills that caught my eye were the men from the tribe of Benjamin who could shoot arrows and sling stones right or left handed!…yeah right! Nine times out of ten my right hand does what I want it to but my left…it pretty much just hangs off my shoulder like a dead fish! All of these men that volunteered for David’s army were men who could hold ranks and formation, and were loyal (or not double-hearted).
Out of each tribe came fighting men and usually a good number of them. But let’s take a look at 1 chronicles 12:32: — ” from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do—200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;”
Numbers 2:5 — “The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them. The leader of the people of Issachar is Nethanel son of Zuar.”
Notice anything different? These men weren’t noted because of their combat skills but for their knowledge of what was going on around and having the wisdom/understanding to be put in the position of telling Israel what they needed to do. Not only that but they were only 200. Not numbering in the thousands as the other tribes. The tribe of Issachar was mentioned only briefly among the tribes of fighting men and yet they were extremely vital to Israel. Having understanding is sometime looked over or at least not given the much emphasis of importance. What made the tribe of Issachar so great is not just that they had understanding, but that they knew where that understanding came from. Here are a few verses that may help us see that understanding is not just the beginning of wisdom but is also a safe guard, it gives the ability to discern between good and evil, and strengthens us that we might not sin against God.
1 Chronicles 22:12 — “May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God.”
Amos 3:7 — “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.”
Psalms 119:11 — “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
Hebrews 5:14 — “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
1 John 5:20 — “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”
Sadly, as seen through the prism of history, not everyone can be a leader. But we as leaders have the responsibility to recognize those who have leadership potential, we are required to mentor them in a responsible way.
Psalms 119:104 — “I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.”
Photo credit: HAMED MASOUMI / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
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Photo credit: Lawrence OP / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
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