“The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful (Proverbs 22:12).”
Group Captain James Stagg was in a no-win situation. Stagg was in charge of giving weather reports to the Allied generals in charge of the D-Day invasion scheduled for June, 1944.
His circumstances were “damned in you do and damned if you don’t” in nature because the Allies needed good weather to avoid having their landing craft swamped and their air support cancelled. Thus, if he was going to make the generals happy, he had to give a positive report.
On the other hand, if he made a mistake, gave a good weather forecast and the skies turned bad, he would go down in history, in a bad way! Historian Anthony Beevor records a black joke told to Stagg by the chief planning officer for the invasion: “Good luck, Stagg. May all your depressions be nice little ones, but remember we’ll string you up from the nearest lamp post if you don’t read the omens right.”
The signs on the weekend before the invasion did in fact point to bad weather. However, the professional metereologists under Stagg’s command couldn’t agree what they meant. Stagg decided to err on the side of caution. Asked by General Dwight D. Eisenhower to give an extended forecast, Stagg replied,”If I answered that, Sir, I would be guessing, not behaving as your metereological adviser.”
Only when it was clear that the forecast was indeed poor did Stagg give a confident picture of gloom. Even then, it was not a popular report. The generals and advisers in the room sat stunned.
On top of the pressure from the commanding officers, Stagg could look outside and see beautiful sunsets and clear skies as he gave his reports. One nice morning, he was ashamed to meet his fellow officers.
Stagg was indeed a marked man. I am sure he felt as if he had been set up for a fall.
As we all know now, the succesful D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944 was one of the key events of the 20th century. There are no books on the effects of the incompetent reports of Group Captain James Stagg. He weathered the storm (pun intended).
It is hard to explain to people outside of my field how hard people work at my job. I teach in a very intensive university program for international students. They are in class 20 plus hours each week to learn how to read, write, speak and listen to academic English so they can attend American schools
My colleagues and I have our own black humor about the long hours we spend teaching and preparing. We joke at my office about the need for cots there so people can spend the night. Teachers are coming and going all hours of the day and night and on weekends where I work. The coffee pot is on a lot.
In some ways, we too are in a similar no-win situation as the one James Stagg faced. The boss expects happy students who are satisfied with their training. That, of course, is not always within a teacher’s control. Human beings are as uncontrollable as the wind and the weather.
Even if they are happy, the teacher gets no real plaudits for it. After all, it’s expected. It’s only when they’re not happy does the teacher get a reaction: “Hang him from the highest yardarm!”.
Thus, we teachers walk a fine line, and we expend a lot of time and energy to get it right. I am sometimes amazed at the efforts, competence and professionalism of most of my colleagues. I try hard to emulate them because we all have a severe responsibility.
This is why the Bible makes it clear that only a select few should be teaching the Word of God. James writes, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check (James 3:1,2).”
Yep, people should not be teaching others unless they have a handle on what they are talking about. None of us is perfect, and some of us tend to run off at the mouth, extemporaneously saying whatever comes to mind.
I tend to be like that in the classroom myself. This is why I have to keep a tight rein on my tongue and watch what I say.
Not everything written ended up as part of the biblical canon. God was pretty strict about orchestrating what was included and what wasn’t. One set of writings that did make the cut was some proverbs written mostly by Solomon. Here’s what he says about his own writings:
“Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you. Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, teaching you true and reliable words, so that you can give sound answers to him who sent you (Proverbs 22:17-21).”
God watched what He said when He inspired men to write His words in the Scriptures. You can take His words to the bank. You can trust the Source.
This doesn’t mean God and His Word don’t get crticized. In addition, being a good Bible teacher doesn’t preclude attacks from others either. In fact, it is almost guaranteed that those who faithfully teach the Bible will get criticized.
James Callahan didn’t run for the hills when asked for weather reports, even though he probably wanted to. Neither should we, if we know the Bible well enough . We can trust it, and its Author (Psalm 11:1).
Being a student and teacher of the Scriptures is time consuming and takes a lot of energy. However, all the hard work is worth it.
Those who teach anything have a high responsibility, and those who teach the Bible especially so. We owe it to our Boss who took such care to put it together, and to our students who want to learn it well.
If we teach the Bible, we also owe it to ourselves to get it right. Then we can stand with confidence in front of our Boss and hearers, just as James Stagg did with his.