Friday, February 6, 2015

Selah, Leadership, and Fallow Ground

Selah… Some people have considered this the most difficult word in the Old Testament to translate, understand, and define. In that sentiment, it shares much with leadership, a term that would be "experts" and professionals have defined and redefined so often that it also lacks any standard definition. Some believe selah means something like "pause and reflect" or "stop and listen." However, it could just as easily represent an instruction to the choir director much like a fermata or the "cut" symbol ('' ). We can also see it in the next to last blessing of the Amidah, one of the most important Jewish prayers (Telushkin, 1991), where selah means "forever." Thirty-one of the thirty-nine Psalms directed "to the choir director" contain the word selah. It appears 71 times in 39 different Psalms and 3 times in Habakkuk. It's most often located at the end of verses. Its root word means "to hang," as in a weighing scale and thus the relation between "weighing God's Word" and stopping or pausing to contemplate or reflect on it.

Blanchard (1996) and others have suggested that leadership consists of doing the right things and that management consists of doing things right. It is seldom easy to do the right things. It is seldom easy to know the best right things to do. However, Scriptures provide some suggestions: "if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him" (James 1:5, RSV); "… for which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it" (Luke 14:28); a man’s steps are ordered by the LORD; how then can man understand his way? It is a snare for a man to say rashly, 'it is holy,' and to reflect only after making his vows" (Proverbs 20:24&25); and "set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth" (Colossians 3:2). These, among others, encourage us to pray, contemplate, meditate, and consider what He wants us to do. From a believer's perspective, the true leaders are those who listen for His still, small voice. It is difficult to hear that voice with the noise of constant activity.

Fallow ground… represents that work hardened dirt path on the hearts of individuals, complete with deep furrows from other people marching on and through it. Jeremiah and Hosea suggested that Israel repent and thereby, till up the hardened, non-productive ground that was representative of their nation's relationship with God. They suggested that fallow ground could once again grow crops... signifying the re-establishment of a growing relationship with and in Him. For believers, this is similar to allowing the Holy Spirit to take His place on the thrones of their lives. People cannot do it in their own strength. Their tillers will barely cut through already cultivated soil. In fact, the metaphor probably provides more accuracy with people represented as the tilling tool and God represented as the gardener. He knows the soil that requires the tiller. He knows the depth the blade must achieve to adequately work the soil. He provides the compass direction to achieve maximum effectiveness and efficiency: knowing whether to cut across the lay of the land or to run with it.

People could say this applies to all believers and not just leaders. I would say that it makes all believers leaders. Manz (1986) and Neck, Neck, Manz, and Godwin (1999) discussed the implications of self-leadership and that no requirements exist for leaders to necessarily have followers for them to use leadership or to otherwise lead. Revelation 1:5b-6 says, "to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Believers are priests with an inheritance. Christ bought us with a price. Based on these, leadership is not the reward… It is the obligation.


Blanchard, K. (1996). Turning the organizational pyramid upside down. In F. Hesselbein, M. Goldsmith, & R. Beckhard (Eds.), The Leader of the Future: New Visions, Strategies, and Practices for the New Era. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass.

Manz, C. C. (1986). Self-leadership: Toward an expanded theory of self-influence processes in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 11(3), 585-600.

Neck, C. P., Neck, H. M., Manz, C. C., Godwin, J. (1999). "I think I can; I think I can" A self-leadership perspective toward enhancing entrepreneur thought patterns, self-efficacy, and performance. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 14(6) 477-499.

Telushkin, J. (1991). Jewish literacy: The most important things to know about the Jewish religion, its people, and its history. New York: William Morrow.


Copyright © 2015, by G. R. Bud West. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sanctity of Life: A Restatement of the Obvious

Little doubt exists that abortion-on-demand remains one of the most contentious topics of debate, in the United States, today. Coined by the left as a matter of "choice" and representing a foundational platform of the women's rights movement, the values and behaviors associated with the abortion-on-demand meme have seemed disingenuous, if not downright antithetical to the general concept of progressiveness -- at least from a perspective that positions the definition of "progressive" as having something to do with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

However, their position doesn't only appear disingenuous, but it appears confusing, as well. On the one hand, proponents of abortion-on-demand would have their audiences understand that they represent smart, responsible, and well-meaning individuals, only concerned with women's "rights." However, the parts that seem confusing include that a choice to intentionally abort children from wombs doesn't represent any of those. The smart "choices" include abstinence or the use of effective means of birth control. The "responsible" time to select either of those, as one of the correct choices, includes any time before having intimate relations.

Additionally, anything that any groups or legislatures legalize because people "mean well," arguably ought to mean well for everyone involved in the equation and not just the ones who argue the loudest and longest. Notwithstanding the rights of unborn children, whatever people allow to happen to any of the weakest and most vulnerable among them, they allow to happen to their collective selves.

Furthermore, some of those who advocate abortion-on-demand have also argued that viability makes a difference in the argument. Children in the womb either exist as human beings or they don't. Viability is functionally irrelevant. Consider that adults who need life support to exist, for whatever reasons, aren't viable without it; and that care givers wouldn't generally withhold life support from the nominal adult because his or her mother makes a choice. For example, the recent case of Martin Pistorious represents such a case. In case you missed it, back in the 1980s, doctors diagnosed Mr. Pistorious with cryptococci meningitis and he entered into what they called a "vegetative state." He remained in that condition for several years, during which time his mother had reportedly wished him dead. However, he did not die and he later made a dramatic recovery.

So, it seems strange to me (read: it presents as a fallacy) that people who have advocated the right to choose to abort unborn children, have done their best to justify this right and by extension, these choices, by claiming that non-viable fetuses aren't really human beings, at all.

Consider, by April 2012, 38 states had enacted legislation that makes it illegal to kill children in the womb, by violent acts committed against pregnant women. In fact, 23 of these states have enacted "fetal homicide laws" that disregard the age of the children in the womb. That means that in almost half of the states in the United States, in violent acts against pregnant women, prosecutors can charge the killers of womb-bound children with homicide, up to and including murder; regardless of the ages of those children (read: from conception).

I have not read where any people who advocate abortion-on-demand have necessarily argued against these laws. However, on the other hand, those who advocate choice have contended that at least up until the age of viability, pregnant mothers should have the "right" (option/choice) to abort those children, on demand. Bottom line, in the U.S., it's acceptable for mothers to "choose" to kill children in the womb; but it's murder if those same mothers want to keep their children, yet others kill them. So, are children in the womb human beings or not?

Additionally, I don't serve as an apologist for people who take the position that conception from rape serves as a representation of God's perfect will. However, if life begins at conception, do the familial relationships that exist between fathers and mothers (or the lack thereof) or the circumstances surrounding given conceptions, really change the fact that children in wombs are still living human beings? Doesn't killing those children amount to homicide, regardless of the names, sexes, or positions of, or the relationships between the people who make those choices to do the killings?


Originally published in ClashDaily at:


Copyright © by G. R. Bud West. All rights reserved.