Friday, November 12, 2010


Very early in my military career, I learned a valuable lesson; it is considered insubordination to ask someone of a superior rank, "why?" when given a command. My leader responded with the old adage, "Yours is not to reason why; yours is but to do or die." At the time, and actually even today, I would never have thought in a million years that my Company Commander was "quoting" a line from The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. He just didn't seem like one who had read anything but the funny papers. My low opinion of him is somewhat vindicated in that he massacred the text. The actual line is, "Theirs is not to reason why, Theirs is but to do and die." There is a big difference. One is a threat of death; the other is the certainty of it.

My wife, my children, and my employees obviously were never in the military, because it seemed they were always demanding to know why I made my decision about something. They were questioning my wisdom. What I felt they were saying was, "How on earth could you decide that?" Or in other words, "How could you be so stupid?" And, when you think about it, that is what is being said. "I don't think I would do that based upon what I know about the situation, so I want to know what knowledge you have that makes your decision wise, before I comply with your request."

Can you imagine that kind of thinking during a combat situation? It would be disastrous! Subordinates need to trust their leaders and respond instantly; there is no time to debate. Or as a parent, can you imagine having to explain why your child should instantly stop in his tracks when he is about to endanger himself? A parent says, "Stop!" to protect the child. The child needs to trust his parent is always looking out for his best interest.

The idea that those under the authority of others should trust and obey them, must also be applied to our relationship with God. How dare anyone say to God, "Why," when He tells them to do some things, and avoid doing others! We should be absolutely confident that He has our best interest at heart. To know Him is to trust Him. Anyone who would sacrifice His own Son for me, can be trusted. Likewise, a parent who consistently acts in the best interest of his child, can be trusted. An employer who continually makes an effort to treat his employees fairly, can be trusted. An officer who requires the best from his men, and who shows appreciation for a job well done, can be trusted.

What do all these examples have in common? In each case, the authority has earned the respect of those for whom he is responsible. So, when a child, an employee, a subordinate, or a Christian asks "Why," it is due to a lack of respect. When you question the right of any human being to be in authority over you, you are actually questioning the person who appointed him to be your leader. If you follow the "chain" back far enough, you find that you are actually questioning God (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-15). Trust and obey.

No comments:

Post a Comment