In the Book of Leviticus in the Bible, we are given the ingredients necessary to compose the incense to be used in the Jewish Temple (Ex 30: 34-36). The fragrance of this incense is meant to represent the prayers of the people; a sweet smelling fragrance in God's nostrils. Oddly enough, each of the elements used to compose this incense emanates a sweet fragrance, except one: the galbanum. Though by itself it gives a very foul odor, galbanum was needed to give the others spices exactly the right fragrance.
We are social creatures. We live in social structures such as families, companies, associations, clubs, churches, teams, etc. Each of these social groups is composed of different people, some whose character we feel emanates the sweet smelling fragrance of kindness and virtue, while we may deplore that others’ demeanor is rather, well, ‘stinky’. Of course, who’s who depends. While most of us may consider ourselves part of the sweet smelling group, as human beings we are not usually sensitive to our own stench. It is the stench of others that bothers us.
Just as the galbanum is necessary to give the other spices exactly the right fragrance, a family, a company, an association, a club, a church, or even a team doesn’t feel complete and fully effective without the ‘stinky’ one. Oooh, but how that ‘stinky one’ bothers us! The ‘stinky-one’ irritates us so much by what we define as his uncouth, unseasoned, and even sometimes immature ways. He seems to always be in our way to throw a monkey-wrench in what we think would otherwise be the well-oiled machine of our group. But is it really so?
On the other hand, could the ‘group really do without him? As a teacher and youth-group facilitator, I’ve always had at least one ‘stinky-one’ to deal with if not more. Soon I realised that, as irritated as I was, it was like the little grain of sand that found its way in the proverbial oyster. Like a pebble in a shoe, that grain of sand irritates the oyster so much that it secretes around its bothersome host a soft coating that protects it. After a long time of ‘irritation’, that coated grain of sand becomes the precious pearl women love to adorn themselves with. After I matured as a leader of men, I discovered that just like the galbanum was necessary to give the other spices exactly the right fragrance, the ‘stinky-one’ is often the one that brings out the best in me as well as in the group.
So don’t knock them. After all, we might be the ‘stinky-one’!
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