BY MICHAEL ANTHONY
If you want to raise good beef, you have to lower yourself to cleaning out the stalls. I learned this growing up on a small farm in the Garden State, New Jersey. Most of the time we were really good about keeping up with Suzie, Molly, and the other cows we named. Sometimes, though, we put off cleaning out the stalls, until, I’m almost certain, the stench reached to the high heavens, enough to nearly tempt Jesus to return to earth ahead of schedule.
Sometimes the manure would amass until it seemed nearly impossible to find the concrete floor where the cows were making their deposits. But manure wasn’t the only thing they’d drop. Mixed with urine, it makes for a goopy mixture not easily forgotten, even decades later. I can still smell the steaming ammonia that ascended into my nostrils on a baking-hot July day—the day I finally remembered that it was my turn to clean out the barn.
Being young enough to be irresponsible and foolish enough to think there was a swift way to make up for lost time, I didn’t think much about what I’d wear. The point was to finish fast so I could get back to my outdoor classroom: the creek, trees, fields, and pastures where I learned about life not by reading books, but by grasping it with my hands and feeling it between my toes.
A shovel, pitchfork, and a pair of well-made rubber boots are essentials when cleaning a barn, but they are by far not the only necessities. That day I decided to throw those galoshes onto my feet without the comfort of a pair of socks. No time for that—and no need. There are some things in life that can only be learned by making a mistake, and I was about to make one that truly stunk.
Swinging wide the gate that kept the cows contained, I ventured in. Boots on, shovel in hand, head down in firm resolve, I stepped forward, heading toward the far side of the barn. I determined I would start there, then work my way closer and closer to where I had entered, shoveling one soggy scoop after another. Three steps in, the suction on my boots reached its climax. In my haste to get to the back of the barn and begin cleaning the waste, I lifted my leg, leaving my boot firmly fixed like a helpless soul in quicksand. There, in naked splendor, my foot continued rising, until reaching its peak and hurriedly descending into the thick strata of cow patties.
My attention was now fully engaged: my entire foot submerged, my toes feeling the wet sensation of what had once been in the bowels and kidneys of the animals. When I finally freed my foot, it was a sight that could only be cleaned off with the help of our garden hose, strong soap, and a lot of heavy scrubbing. I slept with my foot on top of my sheets as I lay in bed that night.We’ve reached the point in our nation where we’re long past the time when we should have cleaned up our barn.
We’ve allowed ourselves to be amused nearly to the point of death, distracted by pleasures before taking care of the hard work that makes lasting pleasure possible. There is no fast way out of our predicament, yet we must work as quickly as possible to turn things around.
The good news is that slow and steady still win the day. But in order to win the day, we have to mount up with humble courage and shore up the fundamental cracks in our foundation that have led to our creating, and in some cases inheriting, such a dirty barn.
Right now we need long-term commitment to attentive, steady leadership in our personal lives, our families, our houses of worship, and our nation.
What follows is a battle plan that, if embraced by even a minority of Americans, can get us out of our muck and take us forward. A small, committed, unified minority can move the majority to take action, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
“…we have to mount up with humble courage and shore up the fundamental cracks in our foundation that have led to our creating, and in some cases inheriting, such a dirty barn.”
1. Reject the Majority Myth
Get yourself into the habit of doing what is right in the eyes of God, not what is merely popular, safe, convenient, or comfortable. If you are a Christian, stop being fearful of speaking the truth, in love, because people need—and even want—to hear it.
2. Simplify Your Personal and Family Life
Less Is More. Simple Is Better. We’re too busy doing God-knows-what to pay attention to what really matters most. This is true not only as it relates to what is happening in society, but also within our families, our houses of worship, our workplaces, and our communities.Our busy, complex lives—which we have created for ourselves—add up to a very complex, busy, distracted, detached nation. If we want our country back, it starts with each of us taking back our lives, families, churches, places of employment, and communities.
3. Deal Thoroughly with Pornography and Sexual Temptation
Do you have a problem with pornography, or does someone within your family? Left unchecked, pornography will destroy you, your family, and your life.Purify and simplify your life by dealing with porn—thoroughly. Porn is a major reason why people are not standing up against the filth happening in society—they feel like there is no way out of their hypocrisy and that they are trapped. Deal thoroughly with porn, or porn will deal thoroughly with you.
4. Stop Freaking Out
The world has indeed faced difficult challenges before. Humble courage always won the day, and it will win it again here—if we practice it. Yes, the challenge is difficult, but it is not insurmountable. Do what’s right and leave the consequences to God. Freaking out is the opposite of walking by faith.
5. Don’t Use Christ’s Return As an Escape Clause
So many Christians default toward a divine bail-out approach to life instead of thinking deeply, changing how they live, and genuinely caring about people. The timing and circumstances surrounding Jesus’ return should not make a difference in how we are living our lives in the meantime. The only thing that matters is loving God, loving people, and leaving our circumstances up to him.
Use #SUSO (Stand Up, Speak Out) on social media platforms, to call out people who practice reverse intolerance against historic, Judeo Christian values. Diplomatically use #SUSO on social media platforms any time you see someone targeting, belittling, and speaking out against patriotic or historic Judeo-Christian values while insisting his or her values get top billing. I can’t emphasize strongly enough, however, our need to do this tactfully.
When people are being selective in their tolerance, they are being hypocritical whether they realize it or not. Using #SUSO can help keep others accountable to practice the tolerance and love they insist others demonstrate.
7. Remember, It’s Humble Courage
We can love people without compromising what is right in the sight of God. It is entirely possible to be tolerant of someone’s views that may differ from yours without that tolerance being an endorsement of their behavior. We can fight the good fight without getting into fights that result from a lack of humble courage.
8. Don’t Pass the Buck
Are you a model others can follow in good conscience? Don’t blame other people for being a problem if you’re not making a sincere effort to be the change you want to see in others. Take responsibility for the condition of your life, family, church, and our nation, and stop blaming others.
9. Apologize, Mean It, and Make Amends
Apologizing is a lost art—but it’s central to Christian maturity, manners, and healthy relationships. Each of us needs to rediscover the power of an apology. And we all need to make apologizing part of each day, as appropriate.
10. Forgive People . . . Genuinely
Like apologizing, genuine forgiveness is also rare these days, and we need to practice it sincerely, perpetually. Forgiveness is not a small thing; it’s everything. Humble yourself admit where you may have been wrong, ask for forgiveness, and make things right.
” A small, committed, unified minority can move the majority to take action, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
11. Run for Political Office and Support People Who Do
If we want good candidates, then we need to encourage such candidates to run and help them all along. If you are the person who wants to run for office, then learn how to be a better communicator and listener.
12. Remember That Leadership Is About Leading, Not Just Having a Title
Leadership is not just about having a position; it’s about using your platform to the greatest possible degree. Don’t just sit there; stand up and speak out in the platform God has given you, and lead, lead, lead!
13. Spend Time with “Tax Collectors” and “Sinners”
Love the sinner; hate the sin—but make sure you don’t reverse the two. Jesus was noted as being a friend of sinners (Matt. 9:11, 11:19; Luke 7:34). He had the reputation of spending time with people who actually needed him; you should too. Put your fears and misconceptions about people aside, and reach out to them—often.
14. Rely Upon the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God’s not-so-secret weapon against hatred and opposition to the plan of God and person of Christ. When the Spirit leads you, you’ll please God—and the people you should please. Those you don’t please by following God are not people who should concern you.
15. Don’t Let Your Distaste for Church Make You Bland Toward Jesus
Be the Christian you want others to be. Don’t make excuses. More important, God may even use you to help shape the kind of church he envisions, which, after all, is far more important than the one you dream about.
16. Call, Write, E-mail
On a quarterly or monthly basis, telephone, e-mail, and write your congressperson and senators, humbly reminding them of the importance of following our Constitution; respecting our national history; and honoring our biblical, historic foundations.
17. Keep Media Accountable
Get involved in the media. Consider a career in journalism or encourage your children to explore that option. When you see or hear distasteful programming, or read something distastefully written, let the station manager or publisher know about it through a letter, e-mail,or phone call.
18. Encourage Your Children to Make Influential Career Choices
Look for ways to encourage your children to use their gifts and talents in a career that needs to be transformed by God’s power, truth, and love. Encourage your children to use their education to influence people with God’s power, truth, and love.
19. Contact Your School Board and Diplomatically Participate in Meetings
Whether you have children or not, your local school board along with the superintendent and principal, should know you by name because you reach out to them regularly. But don’t harass them. The local schools should know you are in the neighborhood, encouraging them to do what is right. Let them know you are praying for them.
20. Replicate Yourself
Living with courageous humility is one of the most practical things you and I can do. It’s not complicated at all. It simply requires a desire and the execution of a winning battle plan.
Michael Anthony is the author of A Call for Courage: Living with Power, Truth and Love in an age of Intolerance and Fear (Thomas Nelson, March 2018). A popular speaker, commentator, and blogger (CourageMatters.com), Mike is he founder and president of Godfactor® and founder of the National Week of Repentance™. He is the pastor of Grace Fellowship in York, Pennsylvania where he lives with his family.