Take a good look. It’s always there, part of a healthy, whole hand. Hold up your hand and you’ll see it. The one digit that is pointing the opposite of the other four fingers, every time. Oh yeah, you can force it to go along with all the others, but you do have to work at it. Usually, it just naturally sticks out to the side, like “a sore thumb.” It’s always just a little different and obstinately curving away from all the others - but it sure serves a great purpose.
Try this. Tuck away the thumb on your hand, and try to do any small physical task with your remaining four fingers. Write, pick up anything, or stir with a spoon. Doable, but a lot more difficult, huh? Because the thumb has the responsibility of creating an opposing force to the fingers, it allows us to grab an object. Its very nature is to be in opposition, and it’s very good at what it does.
Same thing seems to occur in human groups. Put more than two people together and you sooner or later you will spot “the thumb.” The one who just naturally seems to be different from everyone else in their ideas and beliefs. As if it’s their job to be the opposition in most situations, and believe me, they are totally up for it.
But just like the real thumb on a hand, “the thumb” on a committee, or at a party, or in any kind of work or social group usually serves a purpose. And it’s not to sound good, or act pretty, or likable – that really isn’t their focus. In fact, they can come across as the very opposite of pretty. But still, the thumb of the group does have a practical function.
Just like the thumb on your hand, an opposing force is created. And ideas that have been easily accepted by everyone else get challenged. Though that may get irritating, it can serve the group well.
When ‘The Thumb’s new opposing ideas get tossed into the mix they may undoubtedly create animosity – but at the same time those new ideas start people to actually thinking. And that is never a bad thing. Because it causes those accepted ideas to be defended and developed better than the original.
Just like the Creator had a great idea when the thumb was designed to be in opposition, The Thumb in your group is probably a good addition. Sure, I realize that the sore thumb always seems to stir up trouble and cause friction…but he or she may be exactly what your committee or workplace needs, to keep from becoming run-of-the-mill and stale.
After all, it’s the spices you add to your soup that prevent it from being bland. And bland soup is rarely in demand.
So learn to thank God for that sore thumb of your group. And learn to be patient.