I have a 2-foot stick on my desk that has the following saying engraved on it, “he who picks up one end of the stick, picks up the other.” We spend our lives picking up sticks (making decisions), which means we pick up the other end as well (consequences). Some sticks tempt us with pleasure on one end while regretful consequences come with the other end. Other sticks take time to pick up because we know the other end will bless us. My mother always pushed me to pick up the “college degree” stick because the other end made it easier to find a job to support my family. It took time and effort, but the end result is a stick I am glad to carry.
This old stick adage applies perfectly with the bishop’s office. People line up outside the office door holding sticks they need help with. They picked up these sticks, not sure why, and now they want the bishop to pick up the other end. “Bishop, I have this stick here, see, and I don’t know what to do. I lost my job, we don’t have food, and now I need to you pick up the other end so that I can continue with my life.” It’s not always a “rent stick”, sometimes it is related to doubt, sin, or any bad choice.
Allowing Consequences to Happen
What happens when the bishop, or any leader, decides not to pick up the other end of the stick? Will the requester become angry? Will he feel betrayed? He needed a rent check and the leader didn’t provide. Where is the mercy?
A hard lesson of leadership is allowing natural consequences to run their course, because it will be the best teacher. Leaders must step aside because you can’t enable anymore; you know the consequence will do more than any financial help ever could. The hard part is many outsiders won’t understand why the bishop was so harsh to someone in need. They don’t see the urging and encouragement coming from the bishop month after month. They don’t see the countless chances he gives to the beggar prior to this time of saying NO.
The Savior Hung on a Stick
This is a message to leaders that have made the tough call too many times. They turn away those in tears because they don’t seem to be learning any other way. Thankfully, there is a message of infinite hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ–He is the “keeper at the gate” (2 Ne. 9:41). One who will always pick up the other end of the stick. He endured the heavy stick long ago before they nailed Him to it.
So when you as a leader think it is your role to pick up the other end of the stick, please remember it isn’t your burden to lift. You have done enough. No homeless shelter or foreclosure will ever leave them completely alone–He is there to give them rest. He will give them His yoke and burden (Matt 11:30); He will take their consequences.