I hate having to choose between two things I dislike. Last week I went shopping for a new shirt. I was short on time and money and wanted to get in and out. I had narrowed down my choice of shirts to two options, one I didn’t like and one I really didn’t like. I felt forced to choosing between them because I really needed a new outfit. And I hate that feeling of being trapped with only bad options.
My example is simplistic compared to the real problems people live with each day. You may be forced to make decisions based on which option you hate the least or is least painful. Like the mother with hungry children in the backseat of her car and a bank account on the edge of going over. She has to choose between going in the red or feeding her children.
So many times life seems like a choice between distasteful flavors. We wonder what to do in those times when we hate all the options placed in front of us. Many times we make bad decisions because we believe that’s the only decision we can make.
There is a confusing parable told by Jesus in Luke 16 verses 1-9 that I think speaks to the dilemma that many of us face. It is the story of a dishonest manager who is about to be fired from his job. He gets a termination notice and considers the options before him. Here is how he describes them,
I am not strong enough to dig ditches. I am too proud to beg.
He is not thrilled with either option. This confusing parable has great lessons for how to deal with undesirable options. The man does not accept that there are only two options. He creates other options for himself by using the following resources.
What’s in him
The man stops and takes some time for introspection. He doesn’t allow himself to be boxed in, but he uses his mind to think of a plan. It underscores the fact that everyone has something in him or her that they can tap in to. Each of us has ideas, talents, gifts, creativity that we can use in those moments when it feels like we are trapped by life.
I challenge you to stop and take a stock of the abilities you have inside of yourself. Instead of just accepting what you have been given, spend some time thinking of what you can do.
What’s around him
The plan that the man comes up with is not one that you would use for Ethics 101. He goes around talking to various debtors of his boss. He works with them to cut their bill. This may be a bit of fraud or forgery. But the man’s purpose is to build a network of people he can call on when he loses his job. These debtors would be indebted to him because he hooked them up.
He realized that you need people during difficult times when life presents you with bad options. You need a village around you. He did not have one already so he set about to create one. His methods are terrible but his point is one we can learn from. Our best resources are the people we know.
Sometimes in difficult times, we isolate ourselves. But we need to be willing to reach out to those around us.
What’s above him
The man was being fired but he was not gone yet. In the time left, he took advantage of the position he had in the owner’s company. He called on people using the name of the company. He accessed the resources of the company. He took advantage of the boss’ name.
Again, he was wrong like two left feet, but he knew that there were resources he had access to based on his connection with the one above him, the boss. For many of us, when we are boxed in, we need to reach out and call on the One above us. People of faith have an advantage in that final responsibility is not on us. We can lean on God, call on God and depend on God.
He is the ultimate resource.
In times when you don’t know what to do and you feel boxed into bad decisions, take some time to use the resources you have in you, around you and above you. Even when you are too proud to beg, you don’t have to.