Normalization of Deviance…What Could Go Wrong?

By Patrick Hawthorne


I recently attended an officer training class for the fire department I work for. One of the subjects dealt with the dangers of taking shortcuts.  As was discussed, it is estimated that in the fire service, for every four-hundred near misses there is one bad outcome.  Therefore, when weighing the odds that something bad will happen, shortcuts are often rationalized and the deviant behavior becomes the norm.  When something bad eventually does happen, it becomes a predictable surprise – emphasis on the predictable.  An example is driving on two wheels between two idiots laying in the road.  The outcome is very much predictable even if they get away with it 399 times.

As I listened to the lecturer, my mind wandered towards thoughts of the Church – the Body of Jesus Christ as a whole.  Still having our old sin nature tagging along with us saying, “Hey, don’t you want to do the things we used to do?” our propensity is to take the shortcut, even with our Heavenly Father.  Forgetting verses that speak of our Lord’s jealousy, we bow down before the idol of Busy, rationalizing that our God is very understanding.  Eventually, as we lose the closeness of our personal relationship, the slacking off of the things of God becomes the norm.  We become guilty of normalization of deviance.  As such, when the predictable surprise called life happens, we are taken off guard.  Often, our first inclination is to cry, “Father, how could You let this happen?” as if He is the one to blame.

That life’s problems will happen is very much predictable, but the surprise does not have to be.  Jesus told us, “These things I have spoken unto you that in Me you might have peace.  In the world you shall have tribulation:  but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33.)  Notice that He said, “…that you might have peace.” By simply taking time to go before the Lord each and every day for our bottle of “Grace Boost,” much of the surprise of the tribulations of this world could be squashed.  His mercies and His compassion are new every morning; great is His faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23 paraphrased).

By recognizing our vulnerability to the tribulations of this world, doesn’t it make sense to avoid life’s predictable surprises?  We do that by making up our minds to put our Heavenly Father first and foremost even in the midst of a busy life.  Eventually, as we practice His presence, a new norm will be created.  Be blessed.

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Posted in Christian, teaching, writing
6 comments on “Normalization of Deviance…What Could Go Wrong?
  1. What do you do in your fire department? I worked very closely with ours before I retired. I was not only the Risk Manager for the City but responded to all 2nd and 3rd alarm fires to serve as the onsite Safety Officer.


    • Hi Don…I am the Assistant Chief of EMS. In other words, I no longer drive the fire trucks or the medic units. I now drive a desk and deal with EMS issues for the department


      • Congrats on the promotion. Oue Men’s Minister at the church we attend and I worked together at the City. He was a Captain when I first met him and when I left the City he was a Battalion Chief .

        When we returned here after 7 years in Florida, I heard he was the Men’s Minister and I knew right away that he would be great. Went to Men’s fir 18 minths before we ever attended a regukar service. Been there ever since.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. SLIMJIM says:

    What a sobering lesson to not cut corners

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is well written and an awesome message, Patrick. Taking short cuts fits in very well with, “I know what I’m doing.” At our house, and even at work,”I know what I’m doing” is sure to create a totally predictable disaster. I admit I’m a bit obsessive about things, so like “pick the banana peels up off the floor, didn’t you ever watch cartoons?” Seriously, at work one of the girls slipped and hurt herself because no one wanted to take the time to just pick it up. Our faith is like that too, sometimes stuff just happens, there are accidents beyond our control, but just the same, we can still prevent a whole lot of suffering by avoiding the temptation to take short cuts.


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