Machiavelli first said, “Never waste the opportunity offered by a good crisis.” In the modern era, this sentiment has been wrongfully attributed to Winston Churchill (as I had done as well the first time I posted this blog post.) It was Rahm Emanuel who popularized Machiavelli for this generation by saying “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” he said. Why? Because “it’s an opportunity to do things you could not do before.” It was during the economic crisis of 2008 Emanuel and his cohorts used the cover of crisis to deepen their hold in our Republic. Republicans and Democrats differ on many things one thing they both agree on is more power and more influence is better than less. A crisis, therefore, allows politicians to consolidate power and expand influence. To use their strength to grow stronger by preying on the weaknesses of others. A crisis is an opportunity for them to boast in their strength.
For the Christian, the idea of not wasting a crisis is altogether different, rather than projecting strength at the expense of others you boast in your weakness. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that as Christians, servants of God we commend ourselves not in our self-confidence, not in our success but actually in our weakness.
2 Corinthians 6:2-10
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
R. Kent Hughes in his brilliant commentary on Corinthians explains how as Christians we are never to let a crisis go to waste.
“No sorrow, no disappointment, however severe, could ever interrupt, let alone extinguish, the joy of his salvation with its vision of unclouded glory to come, for this joy, was founded upon the sovereign supremacy of God, who overrules all things and causes them to work together for good to those He has called.”R Kent Hughes, 2 Corinthians: power in weakness
The problem we have is we forget that our job as Christians is not to consolidate power to build our kingdom so we can slap a KLove bumper sticker on it. When a crisis comes for us as Christians it is not an occasion for us to consolidate power it is an opportunity for us to press into our weakness. Because it is in our weakness that God’s strength is never so clearly seen in our lives. Culture has fed the church the lie that the stronger we are the more influence we have. The Bible teaches the weaker we are the more clearly we can see Christ and others can see Christ in us. What makes Jesus famous is not our little victories but pressing into Christ when we have nothing left. When all feels lost.
Endurance in the face of difficulty is a virtue and a grace that is mocked more than celebrated in our culture today. It is looked at by Christians and non-Christians alike as weakness. There are well-meaning people preaching another gospel of ease and happiness. Our culture is chasing its desire of pleasure into the grave. What people miss in chasing happiness is actual joy. True joy. Life-altering, life-sustaining joy. A joy that is paradoxical. A joy that is marked by suffering but not marred by sorrow.
Kent Hughes says this in his commentary on 2 Corinthians:
In point of fact, Paul’s sufferings did not disqualify him. Rather, they proved the authenticity of his faith and commitment. The fact that he didn’t quit or curse God for his miseries as so many have done but endured testified to his genuine faith. In effect, his endurance declared that the gospel is true and that Jesus is worth it
Endurance declares that the gospel is true and that Jesus is worth it!
4 comments On Never Waste A Crisis
Your claim that Winston Churchill said, “never let a good crisis go to waste”, or any other closely worded quotation is absolutely, and utterly untrue! There has never been one single source to back up the claim that he ever uttered words even somewhat close to those words. This has been researched ad nauseam by experts on Churchill including, to name a few, WinstonChurchill.org, the Churchill Archives Centre at Cambridge, and author Richard Landworth (an expert on Churchill with at least 12 published books, founder of the Churchill Study Unit, and current Senior Fellow for the Churchill Project at Hillsdale College to name a few of his credentials). EVERYONE that has researched this claim has not found one piece of evidence. The only “evidence” is articles, such as yours, that claim the quote is true but provide no supporting evidence or source references. Lie enough and it becomes true; am I right? It has, however, been attributed to page 89 of Saul Alinsky’s Rule for Radicals and Rahm Emanuel. If you disagree and still insist what you said is not a lie, I suggest you post references and sources to your claim. If you can, you’ll have done what no other expert on Winston Churchill has been able to do.
Charles, I did further research as you suggested and you are right I will fix this post so it no longer mentions Winston Churchill. I appreciate you bringing this to my attention.
I was just sitting down to write a letter to our church families about what “not letting this crisis go to waste” might look like for a Christian and discovered you had written this great post. Thank you for referencing Kent Hughes commentary, I may need to share that too!
Kim, Thanks for you comment. I love Kent Hughes he has the head of a theologian and the heart of a pastor something you don’t always find.