Today at our breakfast, we considered 1 Samuel 8. The NIV section heading that covers chapter 8 is "Israel Asks for a King." Indeed, whenever I have heard a sermon or lesson on chapter 8, the discussion centered on the matter of Israel asking for a king, and God acceding to that request even though God tells his people through Samuel that it won't be good for them.
At the very beginning of that chapter, however, we see that the real problem is "succession planning" on the part of Samuel. Samuel "grew old" as it states in verse one, and appoints his sons as judges. His sons have turned out to be corrupt, just as did the sons of Eli. In fact, Samuel adopted Eli's succession plan and, again, that plan utterly fails.
This made me think of Joe Paterno and the monstrous problem now facing Penn State. The man is 84 years old, for crying out loud. His succession plan was apparently to live forever, and Penn State bought into that.
As alleged, Joe was told of the despicable act that Sandusky committed in the football team's shower room in 2002. His response was to tell an assistant to take care of the problem. That's what you might do if you are 74 years old, it's at the end of the day (or the middle of the afternoon), and the problem is not one that you feel like facing yourself. After all, you're tired and this is messy, so let one of the younger people deal with it, one of your "sons", so to speak.
What would Joe have done had he been 54 or 44? I think he would have gone to Sandusky's office, beat him to a pulp, and thrown him on the street. And then called the police.
That's why, when one gets into middle age and older, one deals with oneself and one's responsibilities differently, with due regard for the passage of time and its effects on one's body and spirit. Every organization, whether business, church, or family, needs to deal with the problem of the father or the father-figure beginning to fade, fading, and disappearing. Penn State failed at that. Israel failed at that. There is nothing new under the sun.
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