By Robertson L. Whiteside
So often the announcement runs about as follows: “We are anxious to secure a preacher. He must be a good mixer, and ” But no matter about the rest. Anything else is of secondary importance, whether the call comes from Bat Creek or from Progressive Hollow. No others need apply.
What is a good mixer? Can’t define the term? No matter; every one knows a good mixer when he sees him in action. A person may be courteous and in every sense a gentleman without being a “good mixer.”
The Bible gives us an account of one good mixer, only that is not what the historian calls him. This man, the son of the favorite king of Israel, had led a rather wayward life. He was selfish, devoid of sympathy for others, and without interest in their welfare. He killed his brother Amnon, and fled to Geshur, where he remained in exile three years. David finally brought him back. Now this man Absalom was more than a good mixer; for “in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for his beauty: from the sole of his foot even to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him” (2 Sam. 14:25).
Absalom had a big selfish purpose to accomplish. He set his heart on dethroning God’s anointed king, his own father, that he might obtain the kingdom for himself, even if he must murder his own father to accomplish his purpose. But he could never do this without first winning the people. He knew the value and utility of being a good mixer. He formulated a plan. “And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him. And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:16).
Of course he kept his purposes in the dark, while by the arts of flattery and deceit he was working himself into the good graces of the people. He made them believe he was so kind, so sympathetic, so unselfish – such a good man! When they came to believe him to be the best man in the kingdom, they were then ready to support him in a move to gain the throne, even if God’s king and his own father must be murdered to accomplish the purpose. Thus Absalom, the finest-looking man in the kingdom, was also the best mixer in Israel, and – the basest scoundrel!
But is it not strange that a man could be so selfish and base, and yet be the most idolized man in the kingdom? It is not strange that he practiced the arts of flattery and became a good mixer. That was a part of the game, without which he could have made no headway. But the people love to be flattered, and they love a good mixer; and Absalom knew it. In that line he was an artist. I never read a call for a good mixer without thinking of Absalom; and if he were living, I would recommend him for the place. And would he not make a great showing as a modern pastor, or “located minister”? He was such a fine-looking man, so entertaining, seemingly so unselfishly interested in every one’s welfare, that he would have captured the whole town or city. And had he discovered that the elders were growing suspicious of him, how easily he could have stirred up his enthusiastic supporters, deposed the old elders, and appointed some who would retain him as their preacher and be thoroughly submissive to him.
Be courteous, of course – truly, genuinely, sincerely courteous. If a man loves God and man, neither bigotry, impudence, self-will, nor any of the other unbecoming traits of character will find a place in his heart. He will be considerate and forbearing, gentle and forgiving, kind and sympathetic, toward all, rich and poor. But genuine love will prompt one, when occasion demands, to do a thing that, under ordinary circumstances, would not seem courteous. To rescue a child from immediate danger may require you to snatch him in a way that under ordinary conditions would seem extremely rude. And to rescue a man from sin may require you to rebuke him in such way as to destroy your reputation for being a good mixer; but genuine love, true courtesy, requires it. A physician will not flatter one concerning his prospects for a long life and good health, when he knows that a serious operation is the only means of prolonging his life; only a quack would console him into the idea that he needed only mild treatment.
Some people are naturally more demonstrative than others. Extreme friendliness seems to be a part of their nature. It is not strained and professional. They have the fluidity of spirit that mixes in easily with others; and, for that reason, they cannot be leaders. A good mixer mixes easily and gracefully with his surroundings, and catches the spirit of the crowd. How can one possessing such fluidity of spirit lead others? He is more likely to be affected by them. As Brother D. Lipscomb said: “A good mixer is easily mixed.” You would have to change human nature for it to be otherwise. But it is certainly no sin to be naturally a good mixer, though this trait so highly prized by some may really be a liability instead of an asset. Neither is it wrong to cultivate a friendly, sympathetic disposition. In fact love for man creates sympathy and a desire to be helpful. If genuine love masters a man, he will be kind and courteous to all, neither fawning on the rich nor patronizing toward the poor, recognizing that all are God’s creatures upon whom is engraven or may be engraven the image of the divine nature. This is the true courtesy.
But let us not forget that courtesy may be put on as a cloak. There is such a thing as professional courtesy. What may be genuine fruit in one may be merely artificial trimmings in another. And here is the danger. The preacher who is a good mixer is in demand. Seeing this, a young preacher may cultivate it as an ornament, as a means of making a success in his calling. Hence, he flatters that he may please, and seems interested when he is not, because both contribute to his success. He shakes hands with everybody in his own meetings; but when he attends another’s meeting, he does not. Thus he makes courtesy a professional matter. Such a course is rotting to character and makes one the basest of hypocrites.
Flattery, an essential trait of the professional good mixer, is insincere praise, and is a product of selfishness. No one ever flattered another for the other’s benefit, but for his own. Hence, David classes the flatterer among his enemies (see Psa. 5:8,9). And no wonder for the flatterer seeks to use others for his own selfish ends. I like true courtesy; but when a new acquaintance is too sweet to me, I wonder what he is priming me up for.
Flattery is an evil, a great sin, and is severely condemned in the Bible. And yet a young preacher said: “People like flattery and being bragged on, and I am going to give it to them. ” All such should read and ponder the following: “Help, Jehovah; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak falsehood every one with his neighbor: with flattering lip, and with a double heart, do they speak. Jehovah will cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaketh great things” (Psa. 12:1-3). “A flattering mouth worketh ruin” (Prov. 26:28). “And in his place shall stand up a contemptible person, to whom they had not given the honor of the kingdom: but he shall come in time of security, and shall obtain the kingdom by flatteries” (Dan. 11:21). “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he pervert by flatteries; but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits” (verse 32). Rather than be a contemptible flatterer, let us follow the example of Paul: “For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know nor a cloak of covetousness” (1 Thess. 2:5).
– Reprinted from Doctrinal Discourses, pp. 35-40.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 14, pp. 418-439
July 21, 1988