Monday, April 19, 2010

Be the Salt

In Matthew 5:13, Matthew writes:

"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” (ESV)

There are many people around us who are “the salt”; those people who bring collaboration, sharing, creativity and a new dimension of “getting things done” to everything they do and they do so with a passion that frightens others.

There are many egos who feel threatened by “the salt” and will do whatever it takes to thwart the efforts of “the salt”.

When the owners of ego see “the salt” arrive, they get nervous.  After all, their ego needs recognition and control above all else and arrival of “the salt” challenges this need.

Ego is a competitive beast that is in one of two modes at all times – either being on the offensive to seize more control and recognition or seeking ways to defend itself against the perceived efforts of other egos that want to wrest control and recognition away from it.

And so, when “the salt” arrives, the egos rally against this new perceived threat, assuming that every person is motivated by ego.  Since ego always believes that others need to attack it, “the salt” represents another enemy to subdue.

With that, the ego will do anything to prevent “the salt’ from making a difference in the world that the person with ego is in.

This manifests in many ways, including but not limited to:

1. Preventing “the salt” from participating.

2. Keeping “the salt” out of the loop.

3. Actively discrediting “the salt” or playing down the strengths of “the salt”.

4. Making errors and blaming it on “the salt” (for something “the salt” did, didn’t do or whatever else is convenient).

5. Trumping up its own ego-centric plans, intentions, and such with the belief that no one else can dream up something as grand (or be as far along the path), thus demonstrating that “the salt” is not necessary.

6. Intentionally avoiding opportunities to share and collaborate with “the salt”.

7. Tactics that include bullying, intimidation and spreading misinformation.

There is a great irony in all of this.

“The salt” is not focused on competition at all.  It sees what it does as its responsibility on the earth – to make a difference and not to win recognition for its effort.  It is passionately compassionate towards those who need help or those who seek to help others.

“The salt” seeks to do whatever it takes to maximize the intended outcome, which includes ego-less actions such as sharing, collaborating and the pooling and promotion of the talents, skills, knowledge and life experience of others. 

It seeks to live by values such as Stephen Covey’s 4 L’s – to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy.

Ego doesn’t understand this, because ego can only attack and take.

Being “The Salt” is Difficult

Being “the salt” is not easy.

It is often a thankless job.

It is often a lonely job.

It is not something one chooses to be.  One is either “the salt” or not.

Salt is necessary - without salt, we die.

Without those who are “the salt” in our culture; political, professional, economic, religious, educational, ecological, societal, etc., our culture dies.

Ego fights for recognition and survival from the ego’s standpoint while “the salt” fights to do the right thing for others.  The fight is a fruitless waste of time but the ego knows no other way.

Ego takes delight in being able to chase off “the salt” when these skirmishes occur.  It puffs up and relishes its victory, triumphant in chasing off that which challenged its superiority.

However, “the salt” always wins over ego.  Ego just doesn’t realize that it is fighting a losing battle.

Sometimes “the salt” will give up the fight and ego thinks it has won.  It hasn’t.  “The salt” realized that it was wasting its time and energy and has moved on to where its time, talent and treasure can play a larger, more impactful role with the gifts that it has.

Ego delights in its “victory”, not realizing that it hasn’t won anything for anyone.  No one benefits when ego carries the day.

The prize that ego fights for is small, private, meaningless and selfish.  The prize that “the salt” fights for is large, impactful and loving.

Are you ego-focused or are you “the salt”?

How do you know?

What would others say?

Be “the salt”.  Associate with others who are “the salt”.  The world needs it.

Without it, we all die.

In service and servanthood.


Addendum: In a conversation I was having with a Facebook friend tonight (thanks, Jeannette), it occurred to me that salt is a fascinating and interesting dichotomy.  It is both a source of nourishment and a source of irritation, depending on the circumstance.  I found this to be very interesting as “the salt” is necessary in society but is often a source of irritation to the egos of others.

For my Musings-in-a-Minute blog “Be the Salt”, please click here.


  1. We should also find ways to figure out when we are being the salt and when were are persecuting the salt. Any suggestions on how to do that? This is most likely connected to your notion of authenticity.

  2. Hi Nathan,

    This is a POWERFUL question. Thank you for asking it.

    I will give it some thought before firing off a flippant answer.

    You raise a powerful point ... at what point can "the salt" become "the ego"? :-)

    Take care and create a great day!