Monday, March 20, 2017

Multiply or Divide?              
Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time.  
After that, have nothing to do with them. 
You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.   

 Titus 3:10-11

                Morris Taylor had an insatiable need to prove he was the smartest person in the room.  He had received praise as a child for being gifted and talented and fed off every compliment into adulthood.  He often failed to realize that he could win more hearts and sustain more friendships if he occasionally hit the off switch to his overly analytical approach to issues.  The young attorney often debated colleagues in the firm, at bar functions, or even in the courthouse cafeteria.  Winning arguments took priority over winning people.  Morris perceived himself to be a critical thinker when in actuality he was a perpetual critic.

                He believed that any writing whether in a letter, in an email, or in a brief could and should have been better written.  Morris caused division in every team scenario whether on the job or on a voluntary ministry task at church because he always had a better way, in his mind, of doing things and often lobbied a faction to join his challenge to authority.

                Critical thinkers provide the church and the world invaluable solutions to complex problems.  They offer different perspectives instead of merely accepting the status quo.  Perpetual critics place personal pride over solutions and division over edification.  Dr. David Anderson from Bridgeway Community Church often states that there are two kinds of people: zappers and sappers.  Zappers bring life, joy, and energy; whereas, sappers drain life, joy, and energy.

                 Jesus Christ provides an incredible example of a zapper.  Although He walked the earth as our sinless and sovereign Savior who has the right to be a perpetual critic of all shortcomings, Jesus loved and encouraged everyone who came to Him with humility.  The Pharisees and teachers of the law initiated debates with Jesus, yet He taught the truth in love.  Jesus simply told repentant sinners to go and sin no more as opposed to humiliating people.  He birthed many followers and bore much fruit because He laid down His life for others.  The only division Jesus brought occurred as a logical consequence between those who accepted Him and those who rejected Him.

                 Have you selected a life of multiplication or division?  Are you edifying and building people up?  Are you dividing people and bringing people down?  There is a big difference between being an analytical thinker and being critical, loveless, and prideful.  There is enough division in the world.  Multiply the character of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Representing the Guilty

     "How can you represent someone who is guilty?" rifled one middle schooler as we opened for questions on career day.   I couldn't tell whether he: had an interest in becoming an attorney, wanted to see me squirm, or simply needed to know the answer.

          Instead of giving the typical "all people are entitled to a fair trial speech", I sought to give the class a deeper answer.  I decided to tell them my reasons as opposed to trying to explain the motivations of other attorneys.  I thought of Mark 2:16 where religious leaders denounced Jesus for dining with sinners and people of ill-repute.

          I answered as Jesus answered, "It is the sick who need a doctor."  As a criminal defense attorney, I can direct someone away from the wrong path onto the road of redemption.  I encourage the guilty to accept responsibility for their mistakes, to make amends to society, and to surround themselves with positive influences.  I have more interaction with them than judges and police officers so it's my responsibility to make an impact.  I often find the greatest satisfaction from my clients who do not give me repeat business.  For my juvenile defendants, I am often the only person who listens to their fears and insecurities.  I am often the only person who provides them solid advice on how to pursue a legitimate career and to break the grasp of street life.

          I applaud the legal physicians in our profession and all the sick people you have healed.  I applaud you for representing the guilty without condoning or condemning them.  The world may misjudge you as the self-righteous Pharisees condemned Jesus Christ, but you answered a tremendous calling.  People can make lawyer jokes and impugn the noble profession, but take heart in the knowledge that Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.  You give every man and woman a chance at redemption every time he/she confesses a mistake or asks advice about their next step.  Your work is glorious!