What NOT to Crowdsource

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When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” – Matthew 27:24 (NIV)

Crowdsourcing has really changed the way that solutions are found, funds are raised and products are launched.

If you’re not familiar with the term, crowdsourcing, it refers to broadcasting problems to an unknown group of solvers in the form of an open call for solutions. Potential solvers, i.e, the crowd, submit their solutions. Instead of engaging traditional funding sources such as lenders and venture capitals, fledging entrepreneurs can now raise capital for their projects through crowdfunding websites such as indiegogo, and kickstarter.  I just read in the business section of my local paper today about a woman who raised $2,000 to send herself to clown school in Paris using this approach. (No, I’m not making this up!)

I believe there is an innate appeal to crowdsourcing because it engages the masses and transfers power from the traditional gatekeepers.  If you think about, America Idol essentially crowdsources the selection of its winners to those willing to simply pay for the cost of a text.

Despite its rising popularity, there are certain things that should never be crowdsourced – the critical decisions that only you and I can make.

Before the word crowdsourcing was ever conceived, Pontius Pilate put the concept into practice to a disastrous end by condemning Jesus Christ to be crucified.  The Sanhedrin Council who tried Jesus did not have the authority to kill him.  Only the Roman Procurator, Pilate could issue such as order.  Pilate knew in his heart of hearts that Jesus was innocent and declared so three times before the Jews. (See Jn 18:38, Jn 19:4 and Jn 19:6).  Pilate’s wife even warned her husband not to crucify him, having dreamt about it (Mat. 27:19).  Yet Pilate, who had previously stirred the ire of the Jews by moving his headquarters from Caesarea to Jerusalem and displaying the names of Roman deities there, did not want any more problems from them.  He was not willing to sacrifice his political career so instead he sacrificed the life of an innocent man by appeasing the crowd.

Scripture also contains other crowdsourcing pioneers who met with similar results:

  • Aaron listened the crowd’s request to make a golden calf to worship after Moses had been on the mountain longer than they expected. (Exodus 32:1-4)
  • Saul offered a burnt sacrifice instead of waiting for the prophet Samuel to do so when his men became fearful and started to desert him when facing the Philistines. (1 Sam 13:1-13)

I am not suggesting to not seek out Godly counsel when faced with difficult decisions.  In fact. scripture encourages us to do so (Pro. 15:22).  There are others times when facing decisions, that the right choice is evident even if it is not easy or popular.  That is not a time for crowdsourcing. In those cases we must resist the temptation to make the easy choice, which only brings temporary relief but also carries with it long term negative consequences.

I love this tweet I read from Kent Julian a few days ago.  “Decision based on fear = bad decision.”

Wear Your Own Clothes

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Could it be a Batman and Bale sighting in Vegas?  Alas, it is only several of the army of celebrity impersonators

Could it be a Batman and Bale sighting in Vegas? Alas, it is only several of the army of celebrity impersonators.

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic.  He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head.  David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.  “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.”  So he took them off. – (1 Samuel 17: 39-40) (NIV)

I am writing this blog post in Las Vegas while attending the New Media Expo Conference.   Las Vegas is known for many things.  Before your mind wanders down unintended corridors, what I’m referring to in this case are the slew of celebrity impersonators — everyone from Elvis, to Marilyn Monroe to Michael Jackson.  Some impersonators have gone to great lengths, including cosmetic surgery to pull of their grand illusions.  While we might admire their skill, dedication and uncanny ability to mimic, in the back of our minds we know we are see imitators and not the genuine article.  We are left longing for the authentic.

The scripture above is from the almost universally known story of David and Goliath.   Even atheists use the idiom, “David versus Goliath” to describe a situation when there are opposing forces and one side has a seemingly overwhelming advantage over the other.  Although David killed the giant with a well struck stone hurled from his sling, the sling was not the first weapon placed in David’s hand.  David was first given Saul’s sword along with his armor and helmet.   Scripture tells us that Saul was a head taller that his countrymen (1 Samuel 9:2).  David was not yet an adult (1 Samuel 17:34).   He must have looked like Tom Hanks in the Movie, “Big” when he transformed from being an adult back to a kid but was left wearing his adult clothes.  David quickly realized that Saul’s armor did not fit him.  If David was going to be successful against Goliath he would have to do on his own terms using the weapon that God allowed his to master.  Before taking on Goliath, David recounted his past victories over a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:36).   The Bible does not state, so we cannot say empathetically, but we can surmise in these instances that David’s weapon of choice was his sling.

We all know the outcome of the story.  David’s skillfully flung stone found its mark embedding deeply in Saul’s forehead.  “So David triumphed over the Philistine [Goliath] with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him (1 Samuel 17:50) (NIV).  What if David had attempted to kill Saul with a sword? He would have likely failed miserably.   A sword is an effective weapon when used in close quarters.  Goliath dwarfed David and it highly improbable that David would have been able to get so close as to wield a lethal blow.  On the contrary, a sling is most effective when there is a bit of distance between the person using it and the intended target.

What is the lesson for us in this? God has created us all from the same basic building blocks, but has   arranged the blocks in such a way that we are each a one of kind, unique design.  Even identical twins who share the same genetic makeup do not have the same fingerprints!  God has gifted each of us with unique skills, abilities, temperaments and personalities.  We can all learn from and attempt to emulate the positive traits of role models, but we must apply these lessons in our own way.   We must each wear our own clothes!  You might earn a living being a member of a cover band, but doing so does not add any “new material.” Cover bands do not leave a legacy.  If you want to leave your mark on the body of Christ and the world at large, be the authentic, one of kind creation God intended you to be!