I could be accused of saying the phrase “That’s one of my favourite places in Israel!” a little too often, but that is only because I have about 20 ‘favourite’ places in Israel! This chapter features one of my top 20…Mt Carmel where Elijah took on the 450 prophets of Baal in a showdown!
Geographically, Mt Carmel is close to the coast!
It’s not a mountain like the Rockies, but rather a very tall hill! On top of the mountain are gardens, a viewing station and a statue of Elijah during his battle with the prophets.
From Mt Carmel, you can see Nazareth, Mt Tabor, Meggido, and looking to the north, out of the view of this photo, lower Galilee and upper Galilee! It is really quite spectacular!
However, the phrase that struck me in our text today wasn’t about the location on Mt Carmel or the actual moment Elijah fought and won his spiritual battle! What struck me was these two verses…
17 When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel? 18 “I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.
…and especially the exchange, :…you troublemaker of Israel?”…and Elijah’s response, “I have made no trouble for Israel…”
Fascinating! From King Ahab’s perspective, Elijah was the problem!
From the prophet Elijah’s perspective, King Ahab was the problem!
As a leader and pastor, I’m a little too familiar with the tension between people’s opposing perspectives! Sometimes I’m the referee between the two…and sometimes if find myself drawn into the conflict itself where I’m saying, “Four” while someone else is saying “No three!”…although the claims and accusations are seldom so benign.
When I find myself in those situations, here’s what I try to do:
1. Breathe. I try to take time to avoid an impulsive reaction. (I’m not always successful!) If I’m writing an email response, I try to give it a few hours, a re-read or even a day or two.
2. Be more curious than offended. I try to channel whatever emotional offense I feel and turn it into curiosity. “Wow! Fascinating! How can we be seeing this situation so differently? How can they think that? It seems impossible, but somehow they are arriving at that conclusion! How can that be?”
3. Explore all the possibilities. I try to run as many scenarios in my head as I can! If they truly see the situation like that, what are the driving forces and what could be the reasons.
4. Talk it through. This can sometimes take hours and hours. I’m currently working on a three way tension issue where I’m one of the parties. It’s the sort of situation where I am well within my rights to simply make the call and issue my decision, however, I’ve had no less than 12 meetings and invested 20+ hours to listen, understand and talk it through.
5. Remember that not ever perspective is of equal value or truthfulness. King Ahab may have been convinced that Elijah was the problem, but the truth was, Ahab was the problem. He may never understand or see it that way…but that was truth and Elijah was sticking to it!
6. Be OK living with unresolved tension. I hate this one and I really am no good at it, yet, the very nature of being a pastor means that I have been forced to experience this more times than I want to admit. Sometimes, the perspective and tension just can’t be solved!
Q: Do you have a current ‘difference in perspective’ situation going on? How are you handling it?
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