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The Mistake of a Lifetime


Genesis 25:19-34

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Teacher: How can one person make so many stupid mistakes in one day?

Little Johnny: I get up early.

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I suppose if we all got up earlier and went to be later we’d all make more mistakes in one day. Have you ever had one of those days? There’s a children’s book titled, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” in which Alexander, a young boy, has a day that none of us would want to even come close to. From waking up with gum in his hair to making mistakes through the rest of the day, Alexander just isn’t having any fun. And when he thinks his is having fun, he’s doing something wrong. Have you ever seen a child in this predicament? My three kids have had those days. When Micah has a day like that, he walks around with tears at the edge of his eyes. When Hannah has a day like that, she gets major frustrated with herself. When Naarah has a day like that, she throws fits at the drop of a hat.

Have you ever made a mistake that seemed to ruin your whole day, week, month, life? Have you ever misspoken, decided wrongly, sat down when you should have stood up? Most all of the times we make mistakes, sin, we operate from a point of “self.”

Esau comes in hungry. Wow, he must have been super, uber hungry. He comes in from hunting and sees his younger twin cooking lentil stew. Actually, he probably smelled the stew even before he came close enough to speak to Jacob. His stomach is talking for his brain when he says, “Give me some of that. I’m famished!” Jacob asks Esau to offer up a price….sounds like ornery brothers. The price Jacob asks him for is huge! He asks for Esau’s birthright…the inheritance of the family as the firstborn son. Whoa! Duh! And Esau said, “Fine, it’s done! Just give me some stew!” Again, the stomach was talking and not his brain.

We often operate from that point of ‘self.’ What can we have? What can we get? How can we protect our stuff? How can we get what we think we need? It usually comes down to selfishness. And to tell you the truth, both brothers were acting out of a selfish attitude. Jacob wanted the birthright. Esau didn’t care about the important thing…just wanted to be fed and be fed now! Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” in verse 17:9. And Proverbs says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” in verse 4:23. Both kids were not operating out of a pure heart. They were operating from a selfish heart, an impatient heart. How do we stack up against this historical story in Scripture?

What guides your decisions? ‘Who guides your decisions?’ might be a better question. As leaders, we need to be careful how we approach decisions and what we ask people to do. Both are very delicate matters. Now, making a decision between a Snickers or a Kit Kat might not be world changing…unless you’re watching your waist line. But decisions that affect our own future or the future of a “neighbor” are huge.

I always tell kids that when they get baptized, it’s like a picture of the ‘old them’ being buried and the ‘new them’ being raised up in a new life. However, when it’s the ‘new them,’ it’s not just ‘them.’ It’s them and the Holy Spirit (Acts 2). Duh! Why did God choose to live inside of us? One, because He wants to be close to His creation. He loves us. Two, because He needs to be close to His creation because we need that perfect, still voice to lead us away from stupidity and sin. Yes, we are stupid sheep. Paul would have said that he’s the stupidest of them all.

As leaders, we need to help our followers understand that we can get better at making decisions for our lives. We also need to let them know that mistakes will be made. We need to own our mistakes and ask forgiveness for them. We need make things right…and as leaders, many times that will be publicly. I just heard a lesson from John Maxwell surrounding the idea that leaders need to fess up. Followers always know a weak spot or two in their leader. The leader needs to admit it and get on with life. When leaders can admit faults or weaknesses, integrity is built. It’s not about looking strong and smart, its about looking real and humble.

Genesis 25:19-34

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