Rolf Dobelli, in his book titled The Art of Thinking Clearly, tells the story of a chauffeur who used to transport an eminent scientist to his various speaking engagements across Germany. The scientist was a Nobel Prize winner and at each appointment would give the same lecture. The chauffer heard the lecture so often that eventually he came to know it by heart.
One day, the chauffer suggested to the professor that he must be bored from delivering the same presentation repeatedly and suggested that they initiate a swap wherein he would deliver the lecture while the professor sat in the front row posing as the chauffeur. Bemused, the professor agreed, sat at the front and watched him wax eloquently on quantum physics, or at least, that was the case until it came time for the questions!
Self-belief can only get us so far; eventually, like the chauffer, we all find ourselves in situations where life asks us questions that require more than pre-rehearsed scripts or motivational quotes to get us through. It’s interesting that, even though the chauffer had sat through the presentation numerous times; he still wanted the professor in the front row. I suspect that for the chauffer, it was comforting to know that even though he didn’t have all the answers, someone on the front row did and could be called upon if ever he found himself in difficulty. The professor took it all in good humour, of course, so when, in response to an audience question, the pretender suggested the answer was so simple that his chauffeur would answer it, the professor donning the chauffeur’s hat obliged wryly!
In as much as self-belief is a popular concept in society today and one that features prominently in the motivational and self-help sections of bookstores; as we saw in Dobelli’s story, the power of self-belief has its limitations. From a Christian perspective, however, true power comes not from self-belief but from faith in God, who, even though he knows all the answers, still has the humility to take a front-row seat in our lives, laugh with us in the midst of our mischief, and stand with us in our struggles.
We will never have all the answers, and there will be days when we feel like a chauffeur being interrogated by experts on a subject we know nothing about; but when God is in the front row of our lives it doesn’t matter, just knowing He is there is enough.
Pastor Julian Thompson is the Editor of the Messenger Magazine