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Unexpected Interactions

   Last night I had a dinner with a couple in Ottawa. It was a new relationship for me. I met John because he was my driver for the Promise Keepers event. I met his wife, Christina, because I had Saturday night off so I accepted John’s invitation for the two of them to show me around downtown Ottawa. We had a great time as they were remarkable tour guides and then we settled in for dinner overlooking the downtown canal.
   As we were talking, Christine made an unexpected comment. “Up until the Victorian age, the clergy were quite rugged and rough men. During that particular age, there was a feminization of the clergy where things of beauty and interacting over tea became more important.” That is not an exact quote of what she said but it was what stuck out to me.
   It was one of those thoughts that lodged in my mind because I didn’t see it coming. Then, this morning I read the following in 1 Samuel 15:32:-35, “Then Samuel said, ‘Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.’ Agag came to him in chains. And he thought, ‘Surely the bitterness of death is past.’  But Samuel said,
          As your sword has made women childless,
             so will your mother be childless among women.
And Samuel put Agag to death before the LORD at Gilgal . . . Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him.”
   Samuel, the man of God, the prophet, the preacher, the teacher of God’s truth finished the job that Saul had refused to do. He carried out judgment on King Agag as God had commanded but then he mourned for King Saul. What an example of rugged, decisive action mixed with compassionate, heartfelt emotion. 
   The implication for me is inescapable. Real men of God are going to be a mixture of direct, uncomfortable challenges and kind, heartfelt compassion. We will love these men and be uneasy around them at the same time. We will respect their insight and be tempted to run from their piercing challenges. 
   My goal today is to move closer to the balance. I want my life to be filled with the kind of empathy that helps people be truly better and I want my life to be characterized by the rugged, competitive spirit that drives us all toward excellence.

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