Over the last couple of months I did something that literally gave me nightmares. I read Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas while listening to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany by William L. Shirer.
If you’re not familiar with Bonhoeffer, it’s an award-winning book about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It tells the story of this courageous resistance leader in Nazi Germany, who also happen to be a brilliant theologian, compassionate pastor, and committed follower of Jesus Christ. The story is inspiring and challenging.
On the other hand, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich‘s considered one of the best histories of Hitler and Nazi Germany. It’s a fascinating story, filled with details, about one of the darkest times in the history of the world. Even after listening to the book, it’s still impossible for me to grasp the true evil perpetrated by Hitler and the Nazis.
But it’s where these two books intersect that I had my nightmares. I would dream on the nights after a day of listening to and reading both books. And my dreams were always the same – I stood by while people were mercilessly being killed and, by doing so, I shared the guilt of the murderers.
So I’ve become convinced that the source of these nightmares lay in the challenge of Bonhoeffer’s life, and in my doubts about my own convictions and courage – would I see evil around me and stand up to it, even it meant death? It’s a question that’s haunted my dreams, and my waking hours, over the past few months. And every morning I found myself praying “Lord, if I ever need it, please give me just an ounce of Bonhoeffer’s courage, so I too can stand against evil in this world.”43.928283-85.286682
Every Thursday at lunch a number of SpringHill staff view one session of the 2011 Willow Creek Leadership Summit videos. This past Thursday we listened to Dr. Henry Cloud teach on the three different types of people in the world – the wise, the foolish and the evil, and the strategies leaders need to use for dealing with each. His talk comes directly from one of the chapters in his most recent and insightful book – “Necessary Endings“.
After finishing the video we had a short debrief about what we learned, what new thoughts we each had and what challenged us. Ironically, the one challenge we all shared was that, as we watched, we all asked ourselves “which person have I been or am I now?” For each of us, it was a challenging moment of personal evaluation that cut right to the heart of many issues and relationships in our lives.
So in the spirit of seeking the light, below are the characteristics of each type of person. Take a moment and do your own self-reflection and ask “what kind of person have I been or am I now?”
Wise Person: When the light (truth) comes to them, they adjust themselves to the light, so who they are a person matches reality. In other words they seek and receive feedback and change themselves as a result.
Foolish Person: When the light (truth) comes their way, they try to adjust the light (deflect the truth) instead of changing themselves. When receiving feedback they deflect, blame and do not take responsibility for their own actions and performance.
Evil Person: When the light shines on them they want to destroy both the light and those that shine it. They have destruction in the hearts and want to retaliate against truth and those who share it.43.928283-85.286682