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Failure= Wrong Question + Wrong Answer

Failure is the Product of adding the Wrong Question and the Wrong Answer

Like all mathematical formulae it works every single time. I have two examples – one so large it staggers the taxpayer; one so small it seems irrelevant, but the formula works nonetheless.

This week the Congress of the USA is deciding whether to renew unemployment insurance for a group of persons long without a job. In the past 5 years 1,600,000 jobs have been lost. As a percentage of the population this is a staggering number, mostly young, mostly minorities, the very people who can work hardest and need the work the most. In addition, many individuals have been forced into half time work because of the nationalized health care system which penalizes employers if they hire a full time worker. There is a reason the Congress has a 6-9 % approval rating and it pops up here.

The wrong question is whether we renew unemployment payments. The wrong answer will soon ensue. America dominates the world economically and in many other ways too because it is based on low taxes and high productivity. You can’t over-finance government and have any left over for local jobs. The past several years have generated the exact opposite, which means fewer jobs and reduced productivity which results in higher costs for everyone. It is a downward spiral.

The people who make these decisions however, are isolated from the results of what they do, and see nothing wrong. The wrong questions have been answered over and over again by more wrong answers; the result, higher taxation, higher unemployment, and higher inflation.

But the formula works at the very lowest level too. Clara teaches some Bible studies at her local church. She is a good teacher and experienced, however, she rejects some of the Bible, and consequently teaches only at the level of the natural, missing the spiritual and therefore much of the New Testament. This is classic “syncretistism” which means she combines secular humanism with the natural understanding of the Bible. She politicked for this position. We Christian believers agonize over why 1/3 of all Christians do not attend church; this little true tale may help explain their absence.

Clara made a snippy crack to Margie about her hair. Margie has a small income which prevents her from getting her hair done. In addition she dislocated both shoulders in the past and has a hard time doing her own hair. What should Margie do?

We will now see the wrong question and the wrong answers in process. Margie can take one of the following routes: (1) she can confront Clara with the insult and outline her reasons for her hair issues (2) she can go to someone in authority to complain about Clara (3) she can try to adjust her income to allow for better hair care (4) she can leave the class entirely and attend another church or perhaps not attend any church at all.

These four answers fail. We know what Clara did but here’s why! Margie has a formal education in the Bible and many years of experience teaching it, way beyond Clara’s reach. Does Clara fear she will lose her position and her power base? That question makes sense. As a power issue, do we have a different set of answers? Of course we do. We must always examine motivation.
Looking at each set of responses again, does Margie respond to Clara- answer (1)? No. Responding to Clara confirms and strengthens her power concepts, making Margie the respondent. Margie’s economic level is none of Clara’s business; neither are her shoulder accidents. And there is no hope of Margie increasing her income; even if she should, would she finance this or something else, like dental care?

Margie suspects this is Clara’s attempt to embarrass her to the point of leaving the class. So (#4) she is not to leave. Clara has based her teaching on her position of perceived power; does she fear being replaced? No response should ever be a confirmation of sin in any form. When a teacher demeans a student it is an attempt to deprecate that person in the eyes of other students or faculty. It is an “offensive” move. Margie is not to defend herself.

Martin Luther said “Self-justification is the first sign of sin.” The Bible says God will justify and defend His people. Margie’s answer then is to let God do His job. Vengeance is the Lord’s. Both examples I’ve given here focus on why wrong answers result. In both cases the question is not “what” but “why”.

Christians should be happy with this conclusion. If asking why brings God into the situation, and if we pray properly the answers will in the end give us a better result.

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