‘“Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do.”’ Judges 7:17 NIV
On the eve of his spectacular victory over the Midianites, Gideon told his army of three hundred men, ‘Watch me… Follow my lead… do exactly as I do.’ What would happen if you said that to the people who know you? Would you have to qualify that statement by saying, ‘Follow me in business, but not my family life’? Or, ‘Follow my professional advice, but not my personal lifestyle’? To earn respect and be worthy of following, you need two qualities that really matter. The first is conviction: conviction is a set-in-concrete belief that you live by and refuse to compromise on. A pragmatist adjusts his or her beliefs and actions to things like the bottom line, or not making waves, or being liked and accepted. A man or woman of conviction won’t do that. Early one morning, Scottish philosopher and religious skeptic David Hume was observed hurrying to hear evangelist George Whitefield. When asked if he really believed what the great evangelist preached, Hume replied, ‘Certainly not! But he does, and I want to hear a man who truly believes what he says!’ Author Larry Phillips said: ‘There’s a noticeable difference between steel and tin—especially when hit. Genuine heartfelt convictions simply come across as “words of steel”. There’s a determined resolve in the tone… We need to be reminded that we can’t fake convictions! [People] will always discern the difference between words of steel and the sound of tin—no matter how hard the tin is hit!’ People know the difference between your core values and your intellectual concepts. If you don’t have a deep conviction about what you’re saying, why should they?