Come back with me to the tenth century BC and listen to the inaugural prayer of a new king: “I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.” (Kings 3:7) What: ”King Solomon, you need to hire a speech writer: Get a PR MAN! What a miserable way to start your reign!
This is what you need to say: “You think you were happy with the old regime? You ain’t seen ‘nothing’ yet! Stand back, folks! Utopia has begun!” Build confidence, Solomon! Never launch off the pad with an empty tank!
Solomon would not have fallen for that advice. He was overwhelmed by the responsibility of his office. He likened himself to a toddler who could barely make it through the door. Was he really all that ignorant and inept? I doubt it. Rather, he had a healthy dose of humility and a true understanding of the magnitude of his challenge.
Theresa of Avila is said to have remarked, “Humility must always be doing its work like a bee making honey in the hive: without humility, all will be lost.” Not bad advice for present day politicians and CEOs or, for that matter, any of us facing a challenging new task. Solomon's prayer was not a weak, pitiful whining, but a frank appraisal of the overwhelming task before him. That is excellent advice for present-day government leaders and, it is good counsel for all of us as well.
Wilbur Rees is currently Pastor Emeritus at Shalom United Church of Christ in Richland.
Wilbur calls himself a “survivor.” Having weathered the first two and a half decades of a tumultuous life, he went on to complete his education and serve as pastor in four states. He has written numerous article for religious publications and, in addition to this book, is the author of “Three Dollars Worth of God”. He is now retired and lives with his wife in Washington State.