Letting The Chips Fall

A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again. Proverbs 19:19 

I shouldn’t be surprised, but it is totally amazing to me just how practical the Bible can be sometimes. In a verse like this, it’s easy to see the wisdom of God being spoken through King Solomon.

Simply put, Solomon tells us not to rescue people from the consequences of their own actions. If we do, we only set them up for failure in the future. Now remember that this is 3000-year-old counsel, and it’s right on. Human nature hasn’t changed much in three millennia. Rescue somebody and you’ll have to do it again later.

Years back I was working with a staff member who dropped the ball on a huge assignment. It wasn’t an oversight or a miscue, the staff member just didn’t prepare well for the upcoming busy season. The problem was, the staff member was supposed to leave the next day–the day after the assignment was due–for a work-related conference. In a team debrief, I suggested that the staff member not go to the conference but stay behind and finish the assignment. His failure to complete the task would have a huge trickle down effect on many people, including volunteers in our organization. To me it was pretty clear that this staff member needed to learn from this mistake, stay behind and make things right.

I should have stuck with my convictions. However, when the other staff members proposed to pick up the slack for their teammate’s error, I acquiesced. In short, we rescued him. Off he went to his conference, happy as a lark and lesson unlearned.

Can you guess what happened? That same staff member dropped the ball on the exact same part of his job description on several other occasions. When I began to insist that he pick up the slack, I was accused of being uncaring, cold-hearted and mean. What’s wrong with that picture?

Friends, it truly is uncaring to rescue people and not let lessons, however painful, be learned. Parents rescue children, spouses rescue spouses, friends rescue other friends, siblings rescue siblings, and workers rescue co-workers. When we do, we only serve to deepen an already unhealthy pattern of behavior.

The Bible’s wisdom is to not rescue but to let the chips fall. If they oversleep, let them be late. If they spend too much, let the check bounce. If they have a quick temper, let them face the consequences. In short, if you love them let them fail.

Is there someone in your life that you’re in the pattern of rescuing? Stop today. Let the consequences come. It’s the most loving response when someone close to you needs to grow.



©2014 Will Davis Jr.  Originally posted at willdavisjr.com.