Rule #6

Bob RoaneCounseling, Joy and Peace, Wise living

Used at two prisons, Belhaven University, Christ E. P. Church, and in counseling. It may be helpful to you personally or in ministry to others.

Ben Zander (in The Art of Possibility) tells of two prime ministers discussing political business. Suddenly a staff member bursts into the room, shouting and stomping. The host prime minister cautions: “Peter, remember Rule #6.” Peter instantly calms himself, apologizes, and departs. The leaders return to business, only to be interrupted again twenty minutes later by an excited staff person, gesturing wildly, hair flying around. She is gently warned: “Maria, please remember Rule #6.” Calm is restored and Maria exits with an apology. When the scene is repeated a third time, the visiting prime minister asks: “This is remarkable. Tell me the secret of Rule #6.” The host replies, “Simple; Rule #6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so seriously.’” The visitor answers, “That is a great rule. What are the others?” Reply: “There aren’t any.”

The Lord calls us to take Him and His kingdom very seriously. But not to take ourselves too seriously or be overly sensitive, thin-skinned, or touchy. Dr. Buck Oliphant counsels: “Know when to laugh at yourself and to laugh at obstacles that come our way, knowing that God is in control.” Buck reminds us that complaining, over-reacting, negativity, and knee jerk reactions blind us to Jesus’ good plans for us, unfolding every day. We are flawed, we fail, and we make mistakes. So does everyone else. We must accept imperfection in ourselves, in other people, and in this fallen world. That’s just being in touch with reality. “Mortals are born and bred for trouble, as certainly as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7 MSG)

Rule #6 is consistent with Christian humility:

Don’t be rash with your mouth or hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in Heaven and you are on Earth. Therefore let your words be few….If my people called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land….God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble….Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand so that at the proper time He may exalt you. (Ecc 5:2; 2 Chron 7:14; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:6)

Rule #6 can help us to be humbler, happier, and treat others better, as Christ commands. It works at home and at church too. Zander tells of a CEO with a desk plaque, facing himself. It reads, “Remember Rule #6.” Bosses need to remember this as well as employees. The CEO then put this plaque on the desks of all the managers in his firm, with the inscription facing both ways. Now a climate of cooperation flows through the company and they try not to make mountains out of molehills. Rule #6 helps them shift away from unnecessary and unhelpful competition and carping among staff members and making everything a catastrophe. Isn’t that what we need in our families and in Jesus’ church?

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus….If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (1 Thess 5:16-18; Rom 12:18)

Prayer: Father, help us to take you more seriously, to take your Son, your Holy Spirit, your sovereignty, your word, and your wisdom more seriously. Help us not to judge ourselves or others too often or too hard. Make us more Christ-centered, less self-centered, spreading Jesus’ peace. We pray in His name. Amen.