The Stockdale Paradox (Part 2)

By March 26, 2010Uncategorized

Please read The Stockdale Paradox Part 1 first.

Vice Admiral James Bond Stockdale (December 23, 1923 – July 5, 2005) was one of the most highly decorated officers in the history of the United States Navy (Wikipedia).  He had a conversation with Jim Collins (author) about his time in a Vietnamese POW camp.  Collins asked who did NOT make it out.  Here is Stockdale’s reply…

“Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Paul starts 2 Corinthians 4 with these words, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.”

Stockdale added… “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” (Good to Great, Jim Collins & Wikipedia)

The witnesses in Revelation 11 are said to be “the olive trees and the two lampstands.”  John is uses imagery from Zechariah 4 to help paint the picture of how the church age is going to be.  It combines the idea that even though it is the Spirit’s power accomplishing God’s work, it is also our hands.  We must not allow our faith in God to lull us to a complacent optimism.  An optimism that says we aren’t in a battle.  An optimism that says nothing will go wrong now.  We must not ignore the brutal facts of the situation on this earth simply waiting for heaven.

The Stockdale Paradox:  Never lose faith — face the brutal facts.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God — We will be hated and persecuted for our faith here on earth.

Leave a Reply