Put Away the Anointing Oil

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Put Away the Anointing Oil

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A recent example in U.S. professional sports serves as an excellent lesson regarding human leadership's unpredictability.

The quarterback position is considered a critical leadership role on a football team. As a result, quarterbacks often receive more than their share of credit for team victories and success and more than their share of blame for team defeats and failure. The quarterback is often the first player to be replaced when a team is not doing well. The NFL saw an unusual number of quarterback changes in the recently completed 2006 regular season.

Probably most widely publicized was the midseason replacement of Cowboys' quarterback Drew Bledsoe with the younger, more mobile Tony Romo. Romo quickly became a fan favorite, leading the Cowboys to four straight victories in his first four starts. Although he had never played in an NFL game prior to this season, his instant success resulted in his being named to the Pro Bowl. All this hype was a source of amazement and chagrin to the Cowboys' head coach Bill Parcells, whose attempts to downplay Romo's success largely fell on deaf ears. "Put away the anointing oil," was Parcells' response to those seeking to launch Romo into the stratosphere of success and glory.

Sure enough, Parcells was right. After winning five out of six games, Romo and the Cowboys faltered down the stretch. Losing three of their last four regular season games, they still qualified for the playoffs. Romo's final play of the year came in a heartbreaking playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. With only a minute to play, Romo fumbled the football on a field goal attempt that would have given the Cowboys a two-point lead and a likely victory. Instead, Romo the hero became the goat as the game and his season ended on this negative note.

Head coaches in football and basketball and managers of baseball teams are even greater scapegoats for failure. Every year in the NFL several coaches of losing teams are fired and replaced with someone that the team owner considers will give his team a greater opportunity for success. Ironically, a head coach fired by one team often ends up being hired by another.

Bill Parcells was hired to restore the Cowboys to the level of success that they enjoyed in past years because of his ability to turn losing teams into winners. After two seasons with a 34 win, 32 loss record and losses in the Cowboys' only two playoff appearances, Parcells is stepping down and will end his coaching career.

On the political scene, how many leaders and would-be leaders make lofty promises that never come to pass? This point seems lost on many citizens who rally behind their candidate as a hero in the making. History records numerous examples of human leaders who were even worshipped as gods (often at their demand, as in the case of many of the Caesars of Rome and King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—Daniel 3:1-7 Daniel 3:1-7 [1] Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was three score cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. [2] Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent to gather together the princes, the governors, and the captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. [3] Then the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces, were gathered together to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. [4] Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, [5] That at what time you hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up: [6] And whoever falls not down and worships shall the same hour be cast into the middle of a burning fiery furnace. [7] Therefore at that time, when all the people heard the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and all kinds of music, all the people, the nations, and the languages, fell down and worshipped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.
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). Adolf Hitler and many more modern dictators also come to mind.

Many people expect too much from human leaders. Psalms 146:3 Psalms 146:3Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
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warns, "Do not trust in princes, or in human beings, who cannot deliver!" (New English Translation). The prophet Isaiah wrote, "Stop trusting in human beings, whose life's breath is in their nostrils. For why should they be given special consideration?" ( Isaiah 2:22 Isaiah 2:22Cease you from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of ?
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, New English Translation ). Yet these scriptural admonitions are rarely taken to heart, leading to unrealistic leadership expectations. So when it comes to human leaders it is good to heed Bill Parcells' advice to “put away the anointing oil."

Hard times tend to breed false messiahs, leaders who promise more than any human being can deliver. Jesus warns that during the difficult times just preceding the climax of our present age some will even claim to be Him, "For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible" ( Matthew 24:24 Matthew 24:24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
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, New International Version). The meaning of the word maschiyach (messiah) in Hebrew and its Greek counterpart Christos (Christ) is "one who has been anointed."

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