Life is itself a paradox. A paradox is a statement or problem that either appears to produce two entirely contradictory (yet possible) outcomes, or provides proof for something that goes against what we intuitively expect. Paradoxes have been a central part of philosophical thinking for centuries, and are always ready to challenge our interpretation of otherwise simple situations, turning what we might think to be true on its head and presenting us with provably plausible situations that are in fact just as provably impossible. Confused? You should be.
We live so that we might someday die. We struggle so that someday we might succeed. We die so that we might live again. We surrender so that we might achieve. We sin so that we might be forgiven.
The cycle continues every single day of our life. The question is, are we moving in the proper paradox?
“I know one thing,” Socrates famously said. “That I know nothing.” Try that one on for size. Can you imagine if you were the first person to utter those words? You might would have been laughed off the stage. Or! You might have been a guest on The Opera Winfrey Show!
If just 23 people are in a room, there’s a better-than-even chance at least two of them have the same birthday.
That is known as the “Birthday Paradox.” It comes from a careful analysis of the probabilities involved. If two people are in a room together, then there’s a 364/365 chance they do not have the same birthday (if we ignore leap years and assume that all birthdays are equally likely), since there are 364 days that are different from the first person’s birthday that can then be the second person’s birthday. If there are three people in the room, then the probability that they all have different birthdays is 364/365 x 363/365: Once we know the first person’s birthday, there are 364 choices of a different birthday for the second person, and this leaves 363 choices for the third person’s birthday that are different from those two. Continuing in this fashion, once you hit 23 people, the probability that all 23 have different birthdays drops below 50%, and so the probability that at least two have the same birthday is better than even.
Here is a paradoxical truth:
Honesty and Authenticity create a Vulnerability
So, are we to not be honest, authentic and vulnerable? That answer is yours to make, but friend, be sure to choose wisely. I am of the opinion that after four decades of leadership, business, ministry, success and failure…I’ll take honesty, authenticity and vulnerability every single day!
Here is one more:
“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant…”
In case you are wondering, those are the red letter words of Jesus. Talk about a paradox? Jesus’ paradoxical teachings are apparently outdated or inconsequential in today’s world of politics, business and even church. Somehow we seem to drift, and at times flee from the teachings of the Divine. The ever evolving human species hasn’t really chabged that much since the People of Israel wondered in the desert for forty years!
Jesus is still in the business of honoring and blessing the folks that choose His path of servanthood. In politics, we can see how far we have run from this ancient and timeless truth. In business, we tend to ignore this directive and then wonder why we fail. In church, we bend to appease and delight our own preferences and religious orthodoxies, thus allowing our opportunity to live in joy-filled unity fly right past us.
I want to be that exception. I have no reason to be proud, and yet I am. I have no basis to be egotistical, but I am. I have no right to claim that I am in charge and yet I do. I have no logic that can describe my selfishness and yet here I am.
Maybe today, we might choose to serve those we lead, those we follow, those with less and those with more. Maybe, just maybe we would choose to serve with our mindset, our attitudes and our actions.
I cannot possibly imagine what a world full of selfless, servant leaders might be capable of…but just once I’d love to see it. Wouldn’t you?
Go in Peace, AChuck