The Reverberation Principle

I was asked once again to write a 400 word article for Star News. A monthly publication for Law Enforcement personnel. Here it is.

Easily stated, “You get what you give.” No one knows this as well as you. As a leader, you give respect, and it returns. That’s the way we are built. Innately we understand this simple but profound truth yet we frequently fail to employ the knowledge as a method of containing the situation. Whether it be at home, at the office, or in the streets, it is sometimes easier to rely on a little “command presence” to get the job done. Don’t misunderstand. Command presence is sometimes the answer, however, it is not always the answer. Many a situation can be diffused by that calm, authoritative, yet respectful voice. Even the ancients understood this to be true.

Proverb 15:1-2 A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.

We get into trouble when our mouth belches out foolishness.

We need to exercise wisdom in the use of every one of our tools, whether it is pepper spray, the black-and-white, our sidearm, and yes, even our voice. Think of it from the other perspective. How many people have rode the plastic because they simply could not control their mouths? It is no less crucial for us to understand that simple reality. Our voice, properly used can save our life. Used improperly it can get us killed.

Think about all the times in your life when your words got you into trouble. In fact, I would bet that your words have come back to haunt you far more than any other action in your life. Put that in the forefront of your thinking. Professionalism begins with self-control and respect returns like an echo.

“The story is told of a young boy who lived with his grandfather high in the Swiss Alps. Often, just to hear the echo of his voice, the boy would go outside, cup his hands around his mouth, and shout, “HELLO!” Up from the canyons the reply reverberated, “HELLO…HELLO…hello…hello…” Then he would call out, “I LOVE YOU…I LOVE YOU…I love you…I love you…”

One day the boy seriously misbehaved and his grandfather disciplined him severely. Reacting violently, the child shook his fist and screamed. “I HATE YOU!” To his surprise, and shocked at the sound of his own voice, the rocks and boulders across the mountainside responded “I HATE YOU… I HATE YOU…I hate you…I hate you…”

Now for the realist. You’re on the street, you’ve given your respect. Does it always come back? Of course not. But once in a while, especially when you least expect it, it will, and it will feel great.

The Old Man and the Sea

You may or may not know this, but I am a borderline workaholic (some may say there is no border to be seen). I am rarely to bed before midnight and I am always up early to start the day. After a full day of work, I spend the evening with my family, and then once everyone has gone to bed it is back to work. The only thing I let interrupt this evening work time is study or a good book. I read many books, and from time to time I will share something about them with you. I love the classics.

This week’s book was Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. It is a tale of… you guessed it… an old man… and the sea. Really, it is a book about perseverance and struggle. You see, the old man, though his history was one of fishing fame, was ridiculed in his Cuban town because he had not caught in 84 days. He was considered unlucky. He didn’t care, catching fish was all he knew and he used to be the best at it.

How long has it been since you caught a fish?

He was determined, and believed that he would catch the biggest fish ever. HE DID. The fish he catches, he catches with great struggle and pain. In fact the struggle nearly kills him. It drags him to sea for several days of sleepless battle, taking his boat into uncharted waters. He watches as the island of Cuba disappears from view and he fears he shall never return. But, it is acceptable that he should die as long as he catches the fish. He respected the fish, and in that respect desired to kill it.

“The fish is my friend too,” he said aloud. “I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him.” Then he was sorry for the great fish that (like him) had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him. “How many people will he feed, he thought”

If you do not see what I see in this paragraph, allow me to comment. If we are to be fishers of men then we must struggle to do so. We may go 84 days without leading another to Christ (I hope not). But, we must keep looking for the big fish. We can catch numerous small ones, and that is good. However, the fish that comes with struggle, although we may be dragged beyond what is familiar and comfortable, when landed has the potential to feed many. We should even be willing to lay down our lives for it. It may in fact mean that we need to ruin their life as well. What I mean is that their life will have to change.

“Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him.”

We all know people, that if we bring them to Jesus, their lives will necessarily change. Certain comforts must go. We can feel sorry for them, but knowing that a life with Jesus is the priority, we determine to allow Jesus to redirect their lives. We kill their “comfortable life” so that they and others will live. It is worth it! There really is no choice in it!