November 30; Does Perfect Behavior Produce Perfect Results?
MANAGEMENT BY THE BOOK:
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful

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30 November

If we say that we have no sin,
we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say that we have not sinned,
we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10

Does Perfect Behavior Produce Perfect Results?

Push To Failure

“Three gigs every day.” My fellow Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) trouble-maker was proud of his daily trio of transgressions. I had almost as many, but not a personal quota.

We would get extra duty to erase the violations. “Just like being a Christian, your sins are forgiven but you don’t stop sinning…” he would say.

“Oh, you continue in sin so that the Commander’s Grace may abound…?” I ask. My friend was going to join the Chaplin Corps. I was applying for the Armor branch with its crossed sabers; he was going for the cross. We had more demerits and demotions than the rest of the battalion combined.

“You’ve got to push to the edge to know where the limit is,” he said. “Just like General Douglas MacArthur,” he beamed, lighting up a cigarette. He was an unusual Baptist.

***

It could not be proved,

…that MacArthur was the brains behind a celebrated West Point prank: after taps one night an ingenious group of cadets rolled the reveille gun across the plain and hoisted it to the roof of the West Academic Building.

A detachment of men working with block and tackle took the better part of a week to lower the cannon, and the culprits were never discovered. (Manchester, 2008)

The service academies call these morale-building shenanigans “spirit missions.” The future five-star general may, or may not have managed the cannon escapade but the West Point Superintendent didn’t know it was coming.

Another, more sinister practical joke was aimed at the West Point ‘Supe’ as the Superintendent is known,

On the night of April 16, 1901, several members of the corps moved the cannon to the superintendent’s lawn and pointed the muzzle at the front door. Nothing was proved against Douglas and he escaped discipline. (Manchester, 2008).

West Pointer MacArthur was docked 61 demerits and had presidential ambitions and didn’t win the office. Another alumnae, Eisenhower, got an astounding 307 and did win.

This points us to Tom Sawyer and an Aunt Polly paraphrase, “Why Ike might even be President someday. If they don’t hang him first.” (Apologies to Mark Twain…)

Even our modern management consultants warn us,

The one man to distrust, however, is the man who never makes a mistake, never commits a blunder, never fails in what he tries to do. He is either a phony, or he stays with the safe, the tried, and the trivial. (Drucker 1973)

Early in the 1960s Peter Dawkins, a West Point Rhoades scholar and the Heisman Trophy winner in 1958, wrote in Infantry magazine,

The ideal almost seems to be the man who has done so little—who has exerted such a paltry amount of initiative and imagination—that he never has done anything wrong…

There was a time when an individual wasn’t considered a very attractive candidate for promotion unless he had one or two scars on his record…

If [a man] is to pursue a bold and vigorous path rather than one of conformity and acquiescence, he will sometimes err.

These days the future military officers at the service academies must get permission for a spirit mission. This is so that no one gets hurt, I guess.

The cannon involved in MacArthur’s caper is now bolted to the ground overlooking the Hudson. West Point will no longer get another dangerous antic.

Nor may it get another MacArthur.

***

My buddy finished his cigarette and took off to run a Bible study. I don’t know how he got the well-appointed meeting space and how he got the sandwiches and (soft) drinks from the local sub shop. He didn’t have any personal money or budget. He just got things done.

If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10

###

Manchester, William (2008-05-12). American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 – 1964 (Kindle Locations 1144-1147). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Manchester, William (2008-05-12). American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880 – 1964 (Kindle Location 1149). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

 (Drucker 1973) p 456

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