Judah raised 15 ducklings for 4-H. Since both duck and chicken eggs can be incubated together; the kids added a stray chicken egg to the group. All of them hatched beautifully and they were feeling quite successful – until the end of the brooding stage. It was evident that something was amiss.
Chuck chose to sleep with the ducks, rather than the other chickens. Chuck slept on the ground with the ducks, also tucking his head around behind him on his back instead of roosting on the edge of the stall walls. Chuck chased the female ducks around, rather than mate the hens. He was confused.
And so they named him Chuck. That’s what you get when you put together the words “ch”icken and d“uck”. He was born a chicken but grew up with ducks. He tried as hard as he could to fit in with the ducks and they didn’t mind that he was with them. Yet regardless how hard he tried he was by nature a chicken.
As humorous as that may have been, Chuck soon became a nuisance to the family because he also would try to swim with the ducks, which led to daily rescues. Chuck would jump in after the ducks, flapping, sputtering, squawking and sinking. Eventually the family that owned him gave Chuck to a chicken loving woman who had the time to perform the daily rescue ritual. They also imagined that perhaps a change in his environment might help. Maybe if he were away from the ducks and around more chickens he would learn to be a chicken.
However, although Chuck was a chicken, he believed himself to be a duck and so he behaved like a duck, regardless of environment. It really is a funny story. In fact Chuck spent his entire life trying to be a good duck. Although he was in a new environment Chuck never was quite rehabilitated. Sadly, he would never be a good duck, because he was a chicken. Being a chicken was uncomfortable for Chuck but that is what he was.
Here is the point; a person’s mindset really does matter. Often, while a change in environment can help it usually does not automatically change the heart and mind of a person. Think about this: Like Chuck, almost everyone that came out of Egypt was never fully rehabilitated. Once they had been set free they still behaved and spoke as though they were slaves, because that seems to be how they thought of themselves. Someone said that it only took 40 days to get Israel out of Egypt but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of Israel. It may be more precise to say that the slave mentality never quite left that first generation.
While the children of Israel may have desired freedom they seemed to be uncomfortable with it. Once they were out of danger, it seems like they felt like they had gone far enough. Why were they so uncomfortable? It could have been because freedom demands things that some are unwilling to sacrifice.
Joshua and Caleb stand out among the Israelite nation as examples of those who believed God’s promises which caused them to behave differently than others who were in similar life circumstances. I believe that if Joshua and Caleb could make the courageous decision while under such difficult circumstances to live by faith in God then it must be possible. I wonder what courageous decisions you can make today.
The reason Joshua and Caleb intrigue me is because they had grown up in slavery for the first 40-50 years of their lives. Then they experienced God’s deliverance. As two of the original twelve spies in the land, they were realistic about the challenges that Israel faced. Yet their faith was mature enough to trust God in the midst of their difficult circumstances and daunting challenges. What is even more impressive to me is the fact that they remained faithful for the 40 years in the desert, proving the genuineness of their faith.
How does anyone maintain faith in God whenever you feel penalized due to the unbelief of others? How does a leader maintain their faith about what God will do while living among those who do not believe? Faith and doubt are both infectious. Each of us influences those around us. Yet, like Joshua and Caleb, a leader first influences themselves. Which will it be – faith or doubt? Our mindset acts like a thermometer which constantly brings the temperature of a room back to a set point. Changing your mindset is like changing the temperature on the thermostat. Whatever a person’s mindset, it becomes the set point for that person’s life (it can be changed).
In fact, unless a person changes their mindset, then they are constantly held at their “set-point.” It is so very easy to claim to be a thermostat person but find that we are more like a thermometer, reflecting the temperature of those around us). It seemed that for Joshua and Caleb, faith in God was the set point and therefore determined their actions. Where did they get such faith? Had they learned that from their parents? We don’t really know. But we do know that they believed God’s promises.
My father taught me that “faith will tell you what to do, love will tell you how.” I have spent the past 25 years trying my best to understand what it means to live by faith in God and conversely to really live by faith in God. But I must confess that at times I feel like Chuck because I seem to constantly battle learned behavior.
Maybe you have noticed that everyone has a set point. Lately, I get the distinct sense from many that being a good person is a good enough set point. This can lead to living according to individual definitions of what is good. Yet, I am not sure how to define a good person. In contrast, I know that other individuals desire to live their life for God. This leads some to adopt the set point of what appears radical or relevant or more like “What Would Jesus Do?” The funny thing is that as long as their actions seem more radical or relevant than the next guy than that must be what this living for God thing is all about. And soon even their actions will seem “normal.” Then what will they do?
The problem with this is that we use other people as measuring rods for our own behavior. In most instances we really do not know much about the people we are trying so hard to imitate. I refer to it as people-ism, pleasing someone. Others practice legal-ism, pleasing the Law. Still others practice good-ism. All of these approaches to connecting faith to life lead to the same hollow place. What is the answer to a new mindset?
The Bible recommends faith in God as a set point for life. Paul, quoting the prophet Habakkuk, wrote, “The righteous will live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17; Hab. 2:4). Living by faith can be translated as “living according to one’s faithfulness.” Living by faithfulness to God is always radical and extreme. However, what faith produces does not always appear radical or extreme but it is always relevant. The secret to the power of faith lies in the source of faith and not in faith itself. And faith in God leads to the Promised Land.
So what will it be for you? How about this? First, put your faith in God (trust him). Second, in everything, live according to your faithfulness to him. Third, be who you were created to be. You get to choose. Your move.