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The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. Psalm 23:1


Depart from evil, and do good; so you will abide forever. He will not forsake his faithful ones.
Psalm 37:27-28

Background: Psalms 23 & 37

Several years ago, Bobby suggested that building a log cabin on her parent’s farm in Virginia would be an exciting project for our family. So we went log-house-hunting for a do-it-yourself log cabin kit. As someone who is mechanically declined, often opening the wrong end of milk cartons, I was not looking forward to this project but went along on the hunt.

During the search we stopped by a little gift shop in Shenandoah Valley to ask directions. It was run by a woman who was particularly vocal about her Christianity. As the door closed after entering the shop, the woman engaged our 11-year old daughter, Monica, in a religious conversation and concluded that we were “obviously Baptists.” Our nine-year old son, Ryan, quipped, “We’re not Baptists. We’re nondominational!”

Ryan’s new word is probably better applied to law than to theology or ecclesiology. Law is power and those in the legal profession are often called upon to be power brokers. The more successful we become, the easier it is to be seduced into becoming “dominational” and arrogant. Arrogance is having a Kleenex-view toward people: use & dispose, use & dispose, use & dispose.

On occasion, Christian lawyers are accused of not being as aggressive as their secular counterparts as if aggressiveness is a positive trait to emulate. This can be another side of being “dominational.” But one can be firm without being feisty; direct without being derogatory; and compassionate without compromising one’s principles.

I believe Christ prefers those who practice a “nondominational” approach in the profession. Jacques Ellul, the noted French law professor and theologian, provides some food for thought as to our world-view in his classic, The Presence of the Kingdom.

In the world everyone wants to be a “wolf” and no one is called to play the part of a sheep. Yet the world cannot live without this living witness of sacrifice. That is why it is essential that Christians should be very careful not to be “wolves” in the spiritual sense—that is, people who try to dominate others.

Clearly, to be sheep among wolves is risky, but as lawyer we can choose a servant-leadership approach and help find common ground that shows the world that there is a better way to practicing law than just trying to win through intimidation and domination.

In Christian Counter Culture, John Stott notes that Jesus emphasized that as his followers, we are citizens of another kingdom and are to be and act different than others. We take our cues from Jesus, not from the culture around us. According to Stott, the key to Christ’s Sermon on the Mount is: “Do not be like them.”

Our calling is to be different and distinct from the methods and qualities admired by the world. Power is seductive. We need to work on becoming “nondominational.”
Sam Ericsson

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.