The Peter Principle

A quirky sense of humor and a cynical streak seem to have been the impetus for an interesting book, published years ago, entitled The Peter Principle by educational scholar Dr. Laurence J. Peter. It is a hilarious look at the pitfalls of a bureaucratic organization. The original premise of the author is that in a hierarchically structured organization, people tend to be promoted up through the ranks until they reach their “level of incompetence.” But what does that mean? One might hope that increased competence would equal higher responsibility.

Dr. Peter reasons that new employees typically start in the lower ranks. Then, when they prove their competence that position, they get promoted to a higher position. They continue “climbing the ladder” until they reach a position for which they are no longer competent. According to Mr. Peter, the net result of this process is that most of the higher levels of a bureaucracy will be filled by incompetent people who were good at a previous job, but are not equipped for the job they’ve ended up in.

For examples, consider that a good salesperson often makes a terrible manager; a good mechanic may be a miserable shop supervisor; or a good bookkeeper is incompetent as a financial analyst. Dr. Peter postulates that this phenomenon is why things go wrong. His book contains some wry observations as “axioms” and “laws” describing how organizations deal with the problems resulting from “the Peter Principle.”

While Dr. Peter’s humorous observations are insightful and can be instructive in working with and leading people, there is another far more important “Peter Principle.” This principle is divinely inspired, and is a way of thinking and acting in our relationships with others. If we apply this principle, we are assured of Christian success and, unlike Dr. Peter’s postulate, we won’t ever reach “our level of incompetence.”

The “Peter Principle” I’m referring to was expounded by the Apostle Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This Peter was a successful fisherman in his family’s business who became a disciple of Jesus of Nazareth. He was also an impetuous man who overcame personal fears and feelings of guilt to become the leading Apostle in the newly founded Church of God. He set the example and urged others to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

We find the true “Peter Principle” for Christians in 2 Peter 1:1–13. In part, it identifies some key attributes for us to “be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love…” (vv. 4­–7).

These seven attributes of Godly character traits make up this Peter Principle, of which faith is the foundation.

We find faith defined in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Verse 5 explains that faith is not optional, it is required; “But without faith it isimpossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

You might ask, “Where does this faith come from?” The answer is found in Ephesians 2:8–9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Of course, putting these important traits into practice is not easy. Yet, we are promised “a Helper.” In John 14:26 Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, It will teach you all things….” Paul described the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” So, with God’s help and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can practice the biblical “Peter Principle” and by doing so, “…be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The choice is yours; you can reach your “level of incompetence” in this life or practice the Biblical “Peter Principle” as you prepare for the coming Kingdom of God. The information on our Tomorrow’s World and websites will benefit you greatly. All the materials offered are completely without charge.

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Nearly everywhere we look these days, we can see a lack of discipline exhibited in Western society. It is especially evident to those of us who remember how things used to be a few decades ago.

Discipline has been largely replaced by permissive philosophies, opposing time-honored practices that in the past instilled “good citizenship.” Those ways were considered too restrictive and thought to “stifle freedom of expression.” We are reaping the result of this permissive approach.

Take litter, for example. As a child, I was taught that properly disposing of litter was good citizenship. Today, we see numerous anti-litter notices in public parks, roads and highways, but oftentimes litter is scattered everywhere around them, and veritable mountains of trash are left after public events.

Many times I have seen a small pile of cigarette butts on the road at a stoplight intersection. Someone emptied their ashtray while sitting at the light. More than once I have seen someone open their door and dump their ashtray on the street. One time I saw them pull into a gas station half a block further, where they could have easily dumped their ashtray! We also see litter all along our highways.

We hear news reports about bullying and harassment by young people through social media, and sexual harassment in the workplace. Sometimes the bullying or harassment is so severe it leads to violence, retaliation or even suicide.

We see fights on sports fields and courts, from high schools through college and professional teams. Where are the grown-ups to set the proper example for children? Where is the sportsmanship we used to be taught? Discipline is sadly lacking.

What about vandalism and destruction of property, whether of automobiles, buildings, train cars or residential areas? Some turn over cars, break windows, steal stuff and set fires because their team lost. Some turn over cars, break windows, steal stuff and set fires because their team won! Illogical!

We see shoplifting, habitual tardiness, abuse of break and lunch periods and other workplace rules and privileges. Some steal from the company that employs them, pilfering office supplies, tools or equipment, and even a coworker’s lunch.

Some play their music too loud, not caring that it disturbs others. Some disrespect those in positions of authority, whether referees and umpires, or teachers, police or government officials. Why? Because they have not been disciplined.

Society seems to be disintegrating. Many new U.S. military recruits demonstrate undisciplined behavior and are physically unfit, forcing a redesign of the Basic Combat Training program. We might well wonder what the outcome of a war would be.

Discipline is not taught in many homes. Teachers are shackled with rules that prevent the exercise of meaningful discipline for misconduct, resulting in increased challenges to a teacher’s authority. Classrooms are increasingly chaotic. And sadly, we sometimes hear of teachers lacking self-discipline by engaging in sexual activity with students.

Considering those who are successful, we find discipline to be one common denominator. Successful people are self-disciplined, and work, practice, study, exercise and cultivate relationships with others vital to their success. They “choose the hard way” by resisting temptations to take the easy way.

Those who are undisciplined will find it very difficult to attain the true lasting success of an abundant and fulfilling life.

The Creator instructs us to discipline our children if we love them. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves himdisciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). Discipline is mental, moral and physical training to bring under control, to follow a code of acceptable behavior and obey rules, using punishment to correct for disobedience. Discipline isn’t pleasant at times, and can even be “painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

You may find the articles, “Why Kids Go Wrong” parts one and two helpful, along with the booklet Successful Parenting: God’s Way. Order them today, absolutely free of charge!

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A Strange Case

In the late 1800s, a young Scotsman became a successful and widely read author. Robert Louis Stevenson is best known for his colorful adventure novel Treasure Island, but he also wrote an allegorical tale about good and evil in 1886 in his best-selling book entitled The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

In this story, a respectable doctor becomes fascinated with “the dark side” of human experience with its unrestrained passions and depravity. He acted on his obsession and began experimenting with a way to release these dark tendencies, deceiving himself that it was for scientific observation. In doing so, he opened the door of his mind to unrestrained sensuality, physicality and other destructive tendencies. In effect, the doctor, using a potion that he concocted, released the evil nature that was within himself, mistakenly thinking he could control it. He could not, and in the story, it eventually caused injury and death to others, and ultimately cost him his life.

It seems that the author realized that within all of us there is the potential for unspeakable evil that must be restrained and overcome. Long ago, the Prophet Jeremiah also recognized this potential when he was inspired to write, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

In Mr. Stevenson’s tale, the character of Dr. Jekyll used a potion to release Mr. Hyde, his “dark side.” Actually, there is no potion, though some people abuse substances like alcohol or use drugs that remove their inhibitions, resulting in terrible things being done in a drunken or drug induced haze. But, apart from that, there is there is an attitude that will release the destructive tendency in human nature that is within all of us. This pernicious human characteristic or attitude is pride!

Yes, pride or vanity, which manifests itself in arrogance, conceit or self-righteousness. This attitude separates one from God. Solomon understood this when he wrote, “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: ‘A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16–19). The other things in the list that God hates are the results of putting lustful pride and lack of concern for others into practice. The Book of Proverbs contains several gems of wisdom about avoiding pride. For example, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18) and “By pride comes nothing but strife…” (Proverbs 13:10).

This important subject is also dealt with in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church of God in Rome about people’s wicked attitudes, which were also personified by the evil character, Mr. Hyde, in the Stevenson story: “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to do things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (Romans 1:28–32 New Revised Standard Version).

Happily, there is an antidote—a defense against this degenerate, destructive potential of human nature. It is the antithesis of pride. The Bible makes it plain that the characteristic that prevents and controls the dark side of humanity is humility. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said “Blessed arethe poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:3, 5).

Peter had much to say about humility, including, “Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8 NRSV).

Actually, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was not “strange” when we understand human nature and the fact that we must constantly resist the human tendency to allow pride, arrogance and conceit to influence us—as it did Mr. Hyde. An attitude of humility and love for your neighbor will avoid the problems caused by the “dark side” of human nature. Our booklets, our twenty-four lesson Bible Study Course and the Tomorrows World magazine will be a great help to you in accomplishing this Way of life. All our materials are available on our website, free of any charge.

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Is Your Mind Boggled?

“That boggles my mind!” Many of us have made that exclamation when we were astonished or amazed upon seeing or hearing something incredible. The word “boggle” means to be astounded or overwhelmed. Is your mind boggled?

There are many things that can have this level of impact on our minds, or about which we can be boggled. The vastness and incredible distances of space are utterly “mindboggling.” How can anyone comprehend it? Every time we look up at the stars we are seeing light that is hundreds and thousands of years old, meaning that the light we see has traveled unfathomable distances!

Or, consider the estimated almost 14 billion years since the universe came into existence. And if almost every hydrogen atom that exists was created near that time, it would mean that every hydrogen atom in our bodies is almost 14 billion years old. No wonder I have been feeling my age lately!

The infinitely small is also mindboggling! At the other end of the size and distance spectrum are things “tiny as tiny can be”! Very tiny particles or forces make up the already tiny atom. It is mindboggling!

The ancient patriarch Job considered in absolute wonderment the mighty works and power of the Creator. Job described the great things God does as “past finding out, yes, wonders without number” (Job 9:10). Job also said, “Who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number” (Job 5:9).

Truly, anyone who studies nature and various fields of science cannot help but be absolutely amazed by the mindboggling number of mindboggling things that God has made!

King David also was overawed at the omnipresence of God and His intense interest in the thoughts and actions of mortal man, and said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it” (Psalm 139:6). David continued, marveling at the wonders of the creation of the human body as being “fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works” (v. 14). Anyone who has taken even a cursory glance at the development of the embryonic human will be more than amazed! The “code” locked away in a very tiny bio-mechanical structure determines what, how and when complex structures form, and “who” the growing baby will be. It really is mindboggling!

King David knew there was something special about the creation of mankind. In Psalm 8, he wondered, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (vv. 3–4). We tiny humans can feel very insignificant, a mere speck of dust in the vastness of space. And yet, we are made in the very image of the Almighty God. But we humans, populating this one little planet out of billions, have the intense interest of the Creator. Why?

In Psalm 40, David said, “Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts which are toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered” (v. 5).

The why question is answered, in part, in Hebrews, where it quotes Psalm 8:4, mentioned above: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Hebrews 2:6–8).

It then goes on to explain that our salvation includes becoming brethren of Jesus Christ! (v. 11). Our future is mindboggling! Be sure to read the booklet Your Ultimate Destiny, available here at the Tomorrow’s World website.

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Infrastructure and a Solid Foundation

Before anyone builds a structure, the first concern should be about setting a firm foundation. In our town, over a century ago, the community fathers mined coal using the room and pillar method, some 300 feet below the surface. Miners left pillars of coal to support the ceilings, and the rooms extended underground for miles. Later, methods developed to extract the pillars, and wood structures were placed to hold the roof. But the supports didn’t last.

Their underground works are affecting the community today, being the cause of mine subsidence. Put simply, the ground is collapsing in places!

Years ago, people built homes, schools, businesses and railroads over the surface above the old mines, and life progressed with little concern for what was below. About five years ago, a young couple built a fine new home, with professional landscaping and a swimming pool, not far from where my wife and I live. Last week, it was condemned because of mine subsidence. Their foundation was firm and soundly constructed, but, unknown to them, it was not built upon solid rock. Their back yard is sinking, their pool is useless, and their foundation has given way to mud and water, which has filled their basement. They had no warning that their house was in danger before it started sinking.

Likewise, our society is failing the infrastructure established by God at the creation (Genesis 1:27–28). The family unit of one male father and one female mother in marriage has steadily been eroded by increasing numbers of “couples,” sometimes of the same sex. Bizarrely, a woman even recently married a tree to prevent its removal. How can we explain this? The traditional union of a biological man and a biological woman is ridiculed by many as being outdated, and no longer considered by all to be the sole valid description of a family. God instituted marriage, and He condemns fornication and adultery (Malachi 2:10)—and He promptly explains why: “…but did He not make them one… And why one? He seeks godly offspring” (v. 15).

The God-ordained foundation of human society is the family. We must have a sound foundation built upon “the Rock” (1 Corinthians 10:4). Do we understand that the root cause of our problems go back generations? Read the article “Admit the Cause of Problems” and see! The times that try men’s souls have been with us through the ages, but the end of the age is bringing an acceleration and an intensification of all that is wrong with society. Satan, the god of this world, (2 Corinthians 4:4) is hard at work undermining the foundation of Western civilization. But we as individuals can choose to not go the way of our society, and we can build our foundation upon the “Rock” of the Bible, Jesus Christ.

I have been told that the infrastructure under my house may remain stable, and my house may not suffer from mine subsidence. But the larger concern is examining whether we are built upon the spiritual Rock. Everything material can be replaced, and eventually it will all be destroyed (2 Peter 3:10). The Day of the Lord may come suddenly, but it will come; “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Within God’s plan, He is willing and able to preserve all who repent. We all need to examine and to confirm that Christ is the Rock of our homes. The structure can only remain sound if our infrastructure is immoveable.

The Living Church of God is sounding an alarm and following God’s command to take the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the world. Jesus Christ will return to place His throne in Jerusalem, and will teach all nations His way of life—which works. We believe that those who hear this message today should take action to secure their foundation to the Rock. Request or read online our booklet, John 3:16: Hidden Truths of the Golden Verse. God still loves the world, and He is concerned for your safety. We have representatives who will be glad to counsel you and to give you encouragement. Contact us online or by writing to us at the address below. Our infrastructure is unshakeable, and it will never fail.

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