14 straight losses.
Representative Kevin McCarthy suffered 14 straight losses in his quest to become Speaker of the House before finally prevailing. In the end he got the job, but not without concession and at least some level of embarrassment.
Though this was a fight for the job not seen since before the Civil War, there was a far more fascinating subplot to the process. A handful of Republicans didn’t want McCarthy to have the job… but none of them wanted it, either.
Representative Jim Jordan was the most favored alternative, but he himself refused to campaign for the job and urged his supporters to vote McCarthy.
A tremendous leadership vacuum was there for the taking… and nobody wanted it.
Everybody has a complaint and a critique, and nobody wants the responsibility of fixing things.
Though congress provided a striking example through this saga, unwillingness to jump into the fray is not an isolated problem. Churches, Christian homes, society, and-strangely-individual lives are often left in want of somebody, anybody, to step up and do what needs to be done.
I couldn’t help but notice the parallels as I preached on David and Goliath recently.
Consider what we know about Saul. First, he’s the king. It’s his job to protect the people. They explicitly said they wanted a king who would fight their battles (1 Samuel 8:20).
Second, when you’re up against a giant, it makes sense to send out your own biggest guy. Remember who was described as head and shoulders taller than every man in Israel? That’s right-Saul (9:2).
And, third, we’re given an impressive rundown of Goliath’s armor and weaponry just a few chapters after we were told that the Philistines had prohibited the Israelites from having or making weapons. Except, two men were allowed to keep theirs. You guessed it-Saul, and his son Jonathan (13:19-22).
God’s people needed defending, and the land still needed to be purged of giants (Numbers 13, Deuteronomy 2), and the one guy who was both best suited for the job and explicitly assigned to do it could only be found cowering, paralyzed into inaction (1 Samuel 17:11).
At his age he was nobody’s choice to be Israel’s giant-killer, but he didn’t care. The uncircumcised Philistine absolutely would not be allowed to blaspheme Israel’s God on David’s watch. The job needed to be done, God wanted it done, so David was going to do it. That was that.
I can’t tell you how badly our world is aching for this kind of decisiveness.
In every situation we need people who know the right thing to do, have proven themselves capable of it, and then do it.
We live in a time when self-doubt and being perpetually deferential are looked at as virtues. Decisiveness is viewed as selfish and prideful. And sure, decisiveness can swing too far to the point of brashness, but that is not generally the problem of our day. We should be far more concerned with deferring when the need is for someone to be decisive.
Why have we so elevated deference and passivity? Because making decisions and taking action bring responsibility on oneself. It’s far easier to be a member of the crowd and criticize those who act than to risk being the recipient of the criticism.
But “it’s not the critic who counts,” as Teddy Roosevelt taught us. History remembers David for taking on Goliath, and not Eliab for criticizing David.
Be that person who sees what needs to be done and then makes it happen. Like David, refuse to ask how hard it’s going to be or who’s going to criticize you for trying. Determine God’s will, and then go do it.
Share the gospel with that person who needs to hear it, no matter how awkward the conversation.
Confront your spouse about that thing you both know they shouldn’t be doing, no matter how uncomfortable the conversation.
Draw the line on acceptable behavior in your home and hold your kids to it, no matter how much they complain.
Work to restore the straying in your church, no matter how hard it is to bring up the subject.
Whatever the need of the moment is, don’t sit by and wait for somebody to do what you know God wants done. Ask “Why not me?”, and then go do it.