There is a unique quality of substances that can be liquid and solid. Normal substances change from liquid to solid based on the temperature. These substances change based on the pressure. Scientists tell us it is a nonNewtonian fluid.
You can make oobleck, which gets its name from Dr. Seuss, by simply mixing cornstarch and water. With the right mix, you have a substance that you can dip your hand into and the fluild will move away. But if you hit it, the fluid solidifies for a moment. It feels like you are not hitting jello but a brick wall. (For a fun link click here. For demo videos simple search Youtube.)
Oobleck and Leadership
In walking through the qualities God looks for in an elder, we eventually move into his personal interaction with others. He is to have an inner disposition that is not violent but gentle and not quarrelsome. This negative about being overbearing or pugnacious is also repeated in Titus 1:7. We picture here a gentle man.
But lest we run too far astray, he must also have backbone. We are told that he must hold firm to the trustworthy message and rebuke those who contradict it. So while not argumentative and loving a fight, he must not back down from one either.
We see this complex reaction in Jesus. He could be so gentle and receptive that unworthy people felt comfortable approaching him. Yet he was challenging and strong-willed toward the religious leaders.
I believe we see both qualities in the Psalmist description of the Lord.
With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself tortuous. For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. Psalm 18:25-27
An Image for a Leader of Church and Home
As we grow in Christlikeness I believe we will grow in Oobleckness.
In other words, I am able to respond based on the nature of the person coming in to my church. If you are crushed from affliction and need tender care that is what you will find. If you are contentious and seek to lead our church astray, I will stand up to you.
We see this fatherly disposition of Paul toward his churches. He could speak about his affection and tenderness. He could also write sternly and rebuke clearly.
The certainly applies to fathers as well. Affectionate and tender toward our family. Convictional and strong when we need to be.
Each of us has a tendency to be jello or a brick. God wants to mold our character so that we are inviting to the weary and heavy laden. And we have an iron backbone for the quarrelsome.