Read Mark 11
Focus on verse 31-33
There are more than a few in the media who have noted that when politicians find themselves cornered by hard questions the safe answer seems to be “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall”. While this may make the person giving the answer appear uninformed or ignorant, it gets them off the hook of having to take a stand one way or another. In my world we call that “wishy-washy”, and apparently this is not a new phenomena.
In today’s reading Mark records a conversation that Jesus had with the Chief priests and scribes when they challenged His authority to be doing the things He did. Jesus turns it around on them by asking them a similar question about John the Baptist’s authority.
“And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But shall we say, ‘From man’?” – they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. So they answered Jesus, “we do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (v. 31-33)
This was a cop-out of epic proportions. I suspect they knew John the Baptist was a prophet, but they didn’t dare admit it because then they would have to admit that Jesus was the One John had prophesied would come. They also knew that if they claimed John was not a prophet that they would lose favor with the people, so they chose the safe route. They came on at the beginning thinking they had an avenue by which to trap Jesus with his own words, by the end of the conversation they were retreating with their bruised egos, likely mumbling curses under their breath.
It is interesting that when a leader comes along who is not afraid to state his or her position with confidence and authority, that people find it attractive. What baffles me is why so many leaders try to walk both sides of the fence with political double speak. In the final analysis the result is that they don’t really satisfy anyone on either side of the fence, plus they find themselves in the awkward position of straddling the fence, which can get downright uncomfortable.
This principle holds true in nearly every level of leadership whether it be secular politics or local church leadership. Successful leaders tend to be those who clearly define where and how high the fence is, and then invites people to join them on one side or the other. The wishy-washy lets just all perch up here on the fence only works until the first serous gust of wind comes along.