Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Eccclesiastes 10: Promoting Incompetence & Demoting Competence

Eccl 10:5-10 There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler: Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones. I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves. Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them. If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.

King Solomon exposes another evil he has witnessed in his lifetime: rulers/bosses promoting the "fools" (unwise) and demoting the "rich" viz., those with good character, wisdom and skill: "Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones. I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves." Authority and leadership should be given to those who are competent, rather than to the incompetent. This is the principle of meritocracy - promotion based on merits. However, merits must incorporate not just skill but also character and wisdom. When we define merits only as "talents" rather than "integrity", we will have many who hold high positions in society who turns out to be morally incompetent.

Every wrong decision made in promoting incompetence will return to haunt us: "Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them." In our own society, we have seen the angst felt by political leaders who have discovered that the "talents" they have promoted to high offices turn out to be morally incompetent. They paid a political price for promoting what the Bible calls "fools" (morally inept). The same can happen in business and non-profit organizations too.

Putting the right people in authority can transform the organization. On the other hand, putting the wrong people in authority can deform the organization. So King Solomon asserts: "If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success." An organization that is filled with incompetent people holding positions of authority is less efficient--it requires a greater expenditure of energy and effort to accomplish its mission and objectives. Conversely, an organization staffed by competent leaders can get the same job done in half the time and with half the resources.

Father, grant us wisdom to promote people of wisdom, integrity and skills in our organizations, be they businesses, not-profit organizations or churches. May Your purpose and will be accomplished through competent and godly leaders. Amen. 

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