Monday, September 5, 2016


In a match in 1974 known as the Rumble in the Jungle George Foreman was considered a heavy favorite to defeat Muhammad Ali due to his superior punching ability. However, Ali decided to use a strategy that would be known as rope-a-dope. Early in the fight he angered Foreman causing him to drive Ali to the ropes where he threw punch after punch. Ali laid back on the ropes, allowing them to absorb much of the punishment, and let Foreman wear himself out throwing punches. Finally, when Foreman was noticeably tired, Ali came off the ropes and quickly ended the fight by knocking him out.

This fighting strategy came to mind last week as I began to wonder why Clinton was spending little time on the campaign trail. I wondered if the rumors about her health might be true. Or, perhaps she was just avoiding questions about her e-mails or foundation. Maybe she felt she had such a comfortable lead that she didn't need to campaign and just preferred spending time with major contributors. After Trump's trip to Mexico which seemed to make him appear more presidential which was followed by his continued statements about immigration and the wall which he insists Mexico will pay for I decided that maybe Clinton is just employing the old rope-a-dope strategy. Let the opponent defeat himself.

The strategy is well named. The only way it works is if the person it's being used against isn't smart enough to recognize what is happening. Other boxers tried to use it against their opponents only to find that they refused to take the bait. The opponent just waited in the middle of the ring and challenged the boxer to meet them there. Rather than challenging Clinton's policies, her wisdom, and her fitness for office he seems unwilling to do that. He just keeps swinging wildly making statements that continues to drive up his negative ratings while Clinton sits on the sidelines watching him self-destruct. It is a strategy that is serving her well.

Sometimes, this isn't a bad strategy for those of us in ministry leadership. We will certainly have persons who oppose us and what we are trying to do. Some of them will make outrageous claims about us. Our initial reaction is often to respond in kind in an effort to defend ourselves. At least, that's my first reaction. However, there are times when the best strategy might be to ignore their attacks and continue doing what God has called us to do.

Give some people enough rope and they will eventually hang themselves. When people hear the complaints of your accusers and yet see you living and ministering with integrity and humility, they will see through the complaints. On the other hand, if they see you and your accuser each throwing mud at one another they may decide there might be some truth in what is being said about you.

I'm not saying there is never a time to defend yourself, but choose carefully the battles you engage in. As I told a group of ministers recently, you don't need to die on every hill. Lean back in the arms of Christ and let him absorb the blows you are receiving.

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