Who knows how to run the country better than the President? Everybody. Every talk show, every Facebook post, and every workplace discussion has the solutions to the nation’s problems. We all think we have the answers. A Russian proverb says, “Every man speaks from his own tower.” The Bible says, “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes” (Prov. 21:2). If you want to hear how to do a job, ask somebody who has never done it.
“If I were in charge, things would be different.” It is good to want to change things for the better. Future leaders in any area of life need to be confident. But it takes more than talk and good intentions to do the job. Remember the story of Absalom? He thought he could do a better job than his father David the king of Israel. “Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!” (II Sam. 15:4). His big talk worked. He “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (II Sam. 15:6). But Absalom was reckless. He was not qualified to be king. That office rightfully belonged to his father. He thought he could do a better job, but he ended up getting himself and a lot of other people killed.
It is easy to judge a situation when you are not in it. Looking at it from the outside, you think the answers are clear. Sometimes they are. But actually dealing with problems is not so easy.
Just about everybody knows how to handle a child best until they have one. One father said, “Before I had children I had six theories about raising kids. Now I have six children and no idea.” There are definite Bible rules and guidelines about parenting (Eph. 6:1-4; Prov. 22:15). But there are many judgment calls, and each child has a mind of his own. People outside a family, even other parents, can be pretty hard on how parents handle difficult cases. If they are right, these parents need to be humble and accept their constructive criticism and advice. But the same ones who have all the answers for others are at a loss when they have trouble with their own children or grandchildren.
Who knows best how to manage a church? Who can make the wisest decisions about how the money is spent? Who would listen to all sides of an issue and be the most fair with the whole congregation? Everyone who is not an elder, of course. I heard an elder speak about this at a gathering for church leaders. He said he had heard people say many times, “If I were an elder, I would do things differently.” He paused and replied, “But you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t.” I didn’t agree with him at the time and I still wouldn’t say that is true in every situation, but as the years have passed I believe there was some truth in what he was saying. Sure, if you are not an elder, you might do a better job in some areas, but would you make a mess of others?
Let us support leaders when they do right and hold them accountable when they are wrong, but in all things let us be just and honest. “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Prov. 20:6). May the Lord keep us from being like fans who only notice a referee when he makes a bad call.