"Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said unto him, ‘Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.'"
I Samuel 8: 4-5, King James Version
"The opposite of bravery is not cowardice, but conformity."
Do I allow other's opinions to force my choices?
When was the last time I stood up for something because it was the right thing to do and not just because it was the popular thing to do?
"Only dead fish swim with the stream."
"Once conform, once do what other people do because they do it, and lethargy steals over all the finer nerves and faculties of the soul."
The Common Reader
I believe that for many of us, those tender teenage years were a time in each of our lives when "conforming," especially to the whims of our friends, was at a peak point. Following the crowd and fitting in made life a lot easier. How I wish conforming to a "group mentality" was a trait we could all say we out grew.
But if our current world society is any clear indicator, young and old alike can be easily swayed by a variety of means. Money and power come to my mind as just two of the many tools used to rule the masses.
I'm thankful I had parents, who when witnessing the extreme peer pressure applied to teens, confronted the situation head-on by alerting me to the fact that the majority isn't always right. In fact, it can be very wrong.
I'll never forget my dad's advice one day when I was struggling with the challenge of doing what I knew to be right versus what all my friends were doing. As he said to me, "Dorothy, don't be a cookie-cutter person." This statement was quite typical of some of the unique phrases my dad would delight us with. This particular one stuck - for years later, long after my father's death, I constantly remind myself that it's alright not to be a "cookie-cutter" person - stamped out of the same mold and looking identical to every other cookie in the bag.
In Samuel 8, we find that God's children fell straight into a "cookie-cutter" mentality. Having looked around at all the other nations, heathen ones I might add, they decided they wanted to match everybody else. They wanted to fit in.
For certain, Samuel was no "cookie-cutter." Raised by a devoted mother like Hannah, who knew no fear standing up for God, this young man embraced his heavenly Father and then throughout his life made God's way his way.
To give the Israelites some credit, they "got it!" They understood who Samuel was molded after and it wasn't the people in the surrounding nations. Their false god, their money and their power couldn't change Samuel's mold. But Samuel's children were another story. As we so sadly found out yesterday, their position of leadership was influenced by the longing for loot and one day, the Israelites took a close look and said to themselves, "Joel and Abiah are just as crooked as the other nations, so why not dump these guys and get ourselves a king like everybody else. Then we'll be on an equal footing with the other nations."
So with this little plan all hatched-up, the elders of Israel headed off to Samuel to inform him that his "God-mold" no longer fit their needs and instead they wanted to fit into a new mold - the mold of the surrounding nations. They wanted to come out of a cookie-cutter that made them fit in with everybody else. What a terrible mistake this was. Not to be redundant, these were God's children, looking at the people of Canaan and saying, "This is who we want to look like."
Lest we be too hard on these people, I think first I'd better look in a mirror and ask myself, "How many times have I done the same thing?" Malcolm Watts penned these truth filled words: "We can tell when we have been influenced by the world. It is when we find ourselves neither hot nor cold, just compromised." And this was what happened to God's children. By trying to fit in, they lost the distinction that gave them their identity. And way too often we do the same.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you and I should be contrary just for the sake of being disagreeable. Nor do we need to stick out like a sore thumb just to get noticed.
But unfortunately, it's usually our attempt to blend in that gets us in the most trouble not our strength to stand out and stand up for the right.
In her book entitled, Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself, author Radclyffe Hall describes the heroine this way, "Miss Ogilvy had found as her life went on that in this world it is better to be one with the herd, that the world has no wish to understand those who cannot conform to its stereotyped pattern." This statement sheds light on the challenge we all face every day and that is to be one of the herd, just for the sake of fitting somebody's pattern. However, when it is the pattern of the Canaanites, we'd better look out, for the end result, as we will see, will be exactly the same as with God's children during Samuel's life. History does, unfortunately, repeat itself.
There is an Indian Proverb called, "Courage", which states: "A candle is a protest at midnight. It is a non-conformist. It says to the darkness, ‘I beg to differ.'"
Never be afraid to stand up for what you believe or what you do - no matter how small, for you can make a difference. Remember, you are unique. There's only one of you. You are not a "cookie-cutter person."
"A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent without giving any sound."
"Those in power can no longer overlook the handwriting on the wall. Their subjects think twice about nodding agreement…the friends of Jesus block the roads…children learn the truth. How are we to recognize an angel except that (she) brings courage where fear was - joy where even sadness refused to grow - objections where hard facts used to rule the day - disarming love where terror was a credible deterrent. Fear not. Courage is growing."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $10.00.
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