Wisdom in Years — As Fast As I Could Write

wisdom road sign arrow

I met with a near 80 year old business leader recently. I’m not sharing his name. He’s not famous, but he is well-known in the region where I live. But, he’s been exceptionally successful. He’s made lots of money. And, as a result, he has tremendous influence and a very comfortable lifestyle. He’s a straight, candid talker. In spite of his success, he was exceptionally approachable and genuinely seemed to be a kind-hearted man. His benevolent activities in the community indicate that is true.

(As a side note, I’ve learned people such as this man are willing to share their wisdom if asked. They are often honored to do so.)

This man is still working hard today — hasn’t slowed down a bit — in fact, the day we met he was exploring a new business deal that will take an enormous amount of his time, but has huge potential for returns.

Knowing that I connect with community leaders — I feel that’s a large part of growing a church these days — several people suggested I meet with him. He’s very active in the region and therefore I knew he would have insight into how our church can be more involved locally. He is a believer, but does not attend my church.

I quickly knew I was in for a overload of wisdom. I couldn’t capture it quick enough. (Which is another reminder to always take a way to record notes when you have such a meeting. I’m glad I did.)

He was particularly interested in the next generation. He used the term “entitlement” several times. He feels we’ve perhaps spoiled our children too much and it is impacting who we are as a society. You’ll see those thoughts in our talk. We were surrounded by pictures of his family. I suspect he’s concerned for his children and grandchildren’s future.

I share some of his statements in our conversation without commentary — just as he shared them with me. My purpose in sharing is just to give you the opportunity I had — gleaning from a successful, self-made, community leader.

Here are some of the random notes I took away from our conversation:

A huge problem with leaders at times is the zeal axis and the wisdom axis aren’t aligned. By the time you develop your character enough (wisdom axis) you lose your zeal.

The older I get the easier I can see a bigger picture. I’ve learned a few things I wish some of our younger employees would hear.

I always try a team approach to an issue. I don’t like surprises. Worst thing in leading is a surprise. With a team approach there are fewer.

Don’t burn bridges. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t make them bad people. Don’t treat them that way. You may need their connection down the road.

I carve out the piece of someone I don’t like and love the rest of them. You can love them without loving that piece of them (that they may not even like themselves).

As a businessperson, I’ve had some of my best success dealing well with the least of these. Don’t consider others better than yourself and you’ll be rewarded eventually (for your humility).

There are no substitutes for hard work.

I quit hiring people who have “lifeguard” or “golf caddy” on their resume. I hire people who have worked at Wal Mart or Dairy Queen — places like that. I want to know you know how to actually work for a paycheck.

Many of the young people we hire today want all the quality of life benefits now, but they don’t want to earn it.

At what point did we become entitled to Spring Break? Or to better shoes than the mom has?

I believe every business leader owes it to their community to participate in making the community better. It makes you feel better. It helps the community, and the bonus is you actually get business out of it.

Every good thing that ever happened to me (apart from God’s grace) I earned. Every bad thing that ever happened to me (apart from God’s mercy) I earned.

You reap what you sow, generally speaking. As the old saying goes, “The harder I work the luckier I get.”

You may or may not agree with everything he said, but what stands out to you most? 

 

12 Ways Christians Can be Less Mean

Mister nice guy

I wrote a post recently encouraging Christians to be less mean — especially online. It was called “When Did Christians Become So Mean?

It seems to me, we’ve lost some of our civility when it comes to what we post on social media. We are quick to blast a company that we feel has wronged us. We criticize people — right on their Facebook page. We load the comments of a blog post with crushing blows.

Surely you’ve seen it. The web has made it much easier to be a critic.

But, it’s also in public. I’ve seen Christians I know act like jerks in a restaurant or grocery store. I consistently hear of bosses who serve smiling on Sunday but are mean to employees during the week.

It all has to hurt our witness as Christians.

The post got a little attention.

Actually, some people, proved the need for the post by the way they responded. :)

Still others asked for some suggestions of how we could improve — some even wanted examples.

I decided not to share specific examples. In my opinion, that would be mean. So, you’re meanness will remain anonymous in this post. If you are mean, most likely others already know your name. :).

I did decide to share some ways we can be “less mean” online.

Here are a dozen suggestions:

Consider others better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)

Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Love one another (John 13:34)

Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19)

Treat others as you would want to be treated (Luke 6:31)

Have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5)

Remember kindness leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)

Honor everyone. (1 Peter 2:17)

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

Just a few of those should improve the quality of our online involvement.

And, finally, a bonus one:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)

Those are some of my suggestions.

Got any others?

My Greatest Success in Life

success

I was interviewed recently for a leadership podcast. One of the questions took me by surprise at first. I have been interviewed for this type of thing many times and so answers usually come fairly easily. They didn’t this time. At least to this question.

The question:

What has been your greatest success in life and what did you learn from it?

Greatest success? That goes contrary to my normal thought process. I don’t think I’m keeping a mental record of that. I guess I should more often. I didn’t have an easy answer.

The first answer that came to mind:

Apart from knowing Christ and being known by Him…

My greatest success has been failure.

And, in addition to that, the ability to get back up and try again.

Having had time to think about the answer I gave more — I’m sticking with it.

You see, I have had lots of failure. I’ve been on the bottom several times and, by God’s grace and through commitment and perseverance, I always climbed back.

I’ve gained my greatest lessons from life through the hardest times of my life.

And, something tells me I’m not finished learning.

I’m not sharing that to boast about anything in my life. I share it to encourage you. You may feel discouraged today. You may have just about lost all hope. You may feel a complete failure — like the best of life is past for you.

It’s not! You can stand strong again. By God’s grace — and through commitment and perseverance.

That’s almost always the story of people of success. You often only see them when they’re standing, but you didn’t see the times they fell. 

Your greatest success in life may be your ability to endure through the hard times — even through failure — get up and move forward again. 

Facing Adversity and Being in God’s Will

man praying

Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. 1 Samuel 19:1

David was minding his own business one day, tending sheep, when God called him to be a king. Talk about a God moment.

He didn’t ask to be king, but God said he was the one. He turned out to be a great king. Imagine that? God made a good pick! David had a heart modeled after God’s, according to the Bible.

So, since God had chosen to bless David in such a way, why do we later find Saul trying to kill David?

In fact, for some time Saul chased David. David hid out, all alone, which is the setting we find him in during the writings of many of the Psalms. David was God’s choice for king and yet he was placed in incredible adversity.

What does this tell us?

I think it says to me that sometimes God’s will for us will find us in the middle of trials in life.

That’s right. His will for our lives.

More importantly, I am learning that I cannot determine whether I am in God’s will based on whether or not my life is peaceful. Just because I have trials in my life, doesn’t mean I am not in the center of God’s will for my life.

I love how Alistair Begg once said it.

“We should not seek to confirm God’s will by the absence of adversity.”

Think about Biblical characters who faced great trials.

  • Abraham who faced the trial of leaving his homeland, then the years of infertility.
  • Moses wandered in the wilderness forty years.
  • Joseph was sold into slavery.
  • Ruth lost her husband.
  • Nehemiah had to fight off naysayers.
  • Daniel was thrown into a lion’s den.
  • John the Baptist was beheaded.
  • Paul wrote some of his best work in prison.

All of these great servants of God faced persecution, heartache, and trials beyond most of our imaginations. Yet, all them, during the adversity, were right where God wanted them to be, in the center of His will.

Yes, we would all like life to be peaceful. It is true that we can have inner peace and joy even in the middle of the storms of life. But God has not promised us a life free of problems.

In fact, we can be perfectly within His will and still be facing adversity. It is often through the process of life’s difficulties that God makes us more like Jesus., teaches us more about Him and ourselves. Our character is defined in

Trust Him today, regardless of your circumstances! He is always working a plan!

For more devotional thoughts, click HERE.

When Did Christians Become So Mean?

mean boss

Okay, this one will get me into trouble. Especially if the shoe fits. Wait for the comments on this one.

But I have to ask…

When did Christians become so mean?

Not all Christians. Most Christians I know are nice. Very nice.

But, I’ve met some mean ones lately.

Now, let me be clear. I am one. A Christian that is. (Hopefully not mean — too often.) In fact, I’ve centered my life around my faith and even am vocationally supported by Christians. (So I love you! I really do.)

But, when did some of you — my brothers and sisters in Christ as we are often referred to — become so mean?

It’s mostly online. You write something they don’t agree with, and instead of a healthy disagreement, they blast you. Right there on your Facebook wall or with a hurting comment on a blog post. Where everyone can read it. In fact, some people read it even before the one who wrote the post reads it. I’ve even had guest bloggers tell me they don’t want to post anymore because of the comments.

I understand that. My blogs are reposted on different websites — with more widespread readers than I have — and I don’t read the comments much, because when I do — I’m tempted to tell them I don’t want to post there anymore. Mean people commenting — calling themselves Christians. I don’t want to play that game either. Who has time for that?

It’s not that they don’t have valid points. Many times they do, but the way they make their point doesn’t come across very Christ-like. Actually rather mean.

I get that it’s cultural now. We’ve become transparent. Honest. Blunt. But — just being honest — sometimes that comes across as mean.

I can’t imagine how those outside the faith view the way we often treat each other.

I wrote a post about Christians behaving online. It wasn’t just because I didn’t have anything else to write about. It’s because some Christians have become mean. Online. For everyone to see.

The Internet has made it so much easier — and faster — to be mean if you choose to be mean. Even anonymously if you want.

But, I’ve seen it in public too.

Why just last week — I saw a Bible study group meeting at a local coffee shop. I didn’t know any of them. I was minding my own business, but it was obvious what they were doing discussing the Bible. They had Bibles. :)

I loved it.

Then one of them became a real jerk to the girl that messed up his order.

Mean. Right there in front of his Bible study friends, me, and all the other coffee shop patrons — many who may not have been Christians. And, probably aren’t anymore motivated to be one now.

I was embarrassed.

I’ve had some restaurant people tell me the “church hour” — after the churches finish on Sunday — is one of the hardest hours of their week. Really? That’s sad. I would hope it’d be the opposite.

How’s that for having the mind of Christ? Or being witnesses? Or considering others better than ourselves?

Whenever I’ve asked, well over three fourths of my blog readers identify themselves as believers. So, if you’re in the one fourth who don’t claim Christianity, this post isn’t for you. Sorry about that, but today I’m only addressing the “family”. We call ourselves brothers and sisters. In love, we sometimes gently rebuke one another. That’s what families do.

So, brothers and sisters. Quit being mean.

Consider what you say and the way you say it before you ever say it.

That sounds logical. Biblical. A good discipline even.

Because I can fall into a culture that thinks more about myself than others too. You can too. We all can. We can value our opinion, consider others without our opinion wrong, and talk to people who we know are wrong like they are less human because of it. Sometimes we treat members of our family — people we love — worse than we treat a stranger. I get that.

But, when we are mean it flies in the face of what Christians are taught to do — in the Bible we claim as our guide. And, it’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance. To my knowledge, no one ever comes to faith through meanness. Or watching someone be mean to others.

In fact, there is no “meanness” of God. God is love — even when He’s sharing truth.

And, we are to be like Him. At least becoming more like Him.

So this is an encouragement. A simple, striving to be nice, non-mean intended, encouragement.

Let’s clean up our act. Or, to put it in my Christian like terms — let’s let Jesus clean up our act. Let’s be more like our Savior. The One by whom we are called Christians. Christ.

Let’s set an example for others. Not be so mean. Actually be nicer. A kinder, gentler breed of Christians. Let’s learn how to disagree with one another the right way. Full of grace and truth. Let’s love one another. And, demonstrate the peace of Christ to those who are seeking peace.

If they can’t find kindness, forgiveness, love in us — where will they find it?

“A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings disaster on himself.” Proverbs 11:17

Now read 12 Ways Christians Can Be Less Mean Online.

9 Great Ways to Be Extremely Strange

ALIEN LIFE

Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents…

(1 Peter 2:11)

9 great ways to be extremely strange:

Love – Loving others even when others may seem unlovable.

Joy – Being joyful, in spite of the circumstances around you.

Peace – Providing a calming peace to those around you.

Patience – Demonstrating patience even in chaos.

Kindness – Being kind to one another, even when others aren’t so kind.

Goodness – Not advocating perfection, but genuinely striving to be a better person and serving as a witness to that endeavor for others.

Faithfulness – Standing firm with loyalty and commitment to Christ, even when others are rejecting what’s true.

Gentleness – Not wimpy, but carefully balancing strength and truth with grace and love.

Self-Control – Disciplining self to live out a strange kind of life, often sacrificing what’s temporary for what is eternal.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

(Galatians 5:22-23)

How Leadership Principles Apply to Coach Cal and the UK Basketball Program

Businessman with basketball ball, teamwork, leadership

My friend Bradley Stevenson wrote a post about Kentucky basketball. Isn’t everyone these days? Well, not everyone, but lots of people are around here. UK basketball is a topic of conversation wherever you go in Lexington this time of year.

And, all the chatter hasn’t been positive this year. You are obviously not a basketball fan if you couldn’t figure that one out for yourself.

But, Bradley’s post was different. It was challenging, but encouraging at the same time. It resonated with people. Lots of people. Read “An Open Letter to Coach Cal (Coaches, Players and Fans)”.

Then Bradley did something only a friend would do. He asked me if I had any leadership advice to offer the UK basketball program. What? Me? I’m a student of leadership, but I’m only a casual basketball fan. I love the game. I go to the games. I wear the team colors. I cheer. But, my greatest passions are consumed in other directions. (Like Jesus. I’m passionate about Him. And, leadership. And the church.).

Anyway, Bradley’s a friend, or at least he claims to be (we’ll see how good a friend after this post goes live), so I decided to comply with his request. We did it in an interview fashion. And, knowing how much I like (and use) the number 7, Bradley asked me 7 questions about my leadership advice for Coach Cal and the UK basketball program.

Here were the questions:

  • What’s your best leadership advice when dealing with negativity?
  • How do you motivate your team during difficult times?
  • How do you stay focused during difficult times?
  • What do you say to naysayers?
  • If you had 5 minutes with Coach Cal what advice would you give him?
  • Same question, but about the team! If you had 5 minutes with the team (without Coach Cal) what advice would you give them?
  • Finally, if you had 5 minutes with the UK fans…what would you say?

You can read my answers on Bradley’s blog post, “A Leadership Perspective for Coach Cal, Players and Fans“.

Be warned. I’m a leadership guy. And, this is basketball. Big Blue Nation basketball. That’s serious stuff around here. And, I live here. Please be nice.

Let’s talk sports. Or leadership. How do you see the two subjects related?

And, for bonus points…

Who, in your opinion, is the best leader as a coach in sports today?