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Pursue Purpose

Here is a leadership truth I’ve gleaned in my over three decades of leadership.  More and more, I believe this truth is the key for long, successful leadership.

What is it?  It’s simply this: your job as the leader is not to use people for your glory but to serve people for their purposes.  My job as a leader is not to see people as means to get what I want.  My job as a leader is to serve people to help them get what they want.

In other words, the leader’s job is to serve, not be served.

People are smart.  They sense if you are using them for your own glory.  They may not see it initially, but eventually they will see it.  They will tell others about it.  They will resent the leader.  And, over time, the leader loses his or her effectiveness.

But when people genuinely see a leader caring for his people, giving not getting, serving not being served, they will run through a brick wall for him. They will go to extraordinary lengths to help him succeed.  When this happens, everyone wins!  But it’s only because the leader has set the example.

But what a great example to follow!

Entrusting Treasures

My wife and I are now empty nesters.  For the first time in almost three decades we don’t have children to send to school and look after.

However, this time of year brings remembrances of the times when we had to:

1. Send them off to elementary, middle and high schools.  Each period of life was different. But they all demanded a certain sigh of the heart.

2. Send them off to college.  They were leaving the home forever.  Now they were in different environments, ones where we had no oversight.

Yet in both sendings, Marilynn and I learned certain truths, ones indelibly etched on our hearts as we watched them walk out the door to go to school.  Here they are:

1. We constantly remembered they are God’s children.  They are gifts to us, on loan, from our Creator.  Therefore, it was his job to oversee them.

2. We can and should pray Psalm 91 over them every day.  The angel armies of heaven are at our beckon call to oversee every need here on this side of eternity.  Therefore, God expects us to ask him to send his angel armies to care for, oversee and protect our children.  Pray this every day.  It has great power!

3. We can trust that God is using everything that happens to our kids this day for their good and his glory.  We refuse to fear.  We choose faith. They are God’s kids.  His angels are looking after them.  God is working  in their lives in ways we can¹t see.

These three, simple truths allow us to send our kids out the door, to whatever school to where they may be going, with confidence.  We need not worry.

Forever Fan

I want to spend one more day looking at what makes a meaningful marriage.  Here are the qualities of a long-term, successful marriage:

1. You are really, really excited when the other succeeds!  There is no competition between you at all.

2. You can hold each other all night, with rapt joy, and a sexual thought doesn’t enter your mind.

3. You want your kids to be like the other.

4. Nothing separates you.  There is a spiritual bond and connection between you that is not seen but deeply known.

5. There’s no other friendship like the one you have with your spouse.

Does this describe your marriage?  I hope so.  And if so, rejoice!  You have a treasure beyond compare, a gift in life like no other!  You have all that’s necessary for a wonderful, long-term marriage!

Rich In Love

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a meaningful, successful marriage.  There are a lot of factors, I know.  But the following are a few that come to mind when I know my wife and I are really close:

  1. You can sit in a room silently, not speaking a word to one another, and at the end of the evening you feel very close.
  2. As the years pass by, you start to behave like the other person.
  3. As the years pass by, you start to look like the other person. (And for those of you with spouses who are much better looking that you are—like in my case—you should regularly thank God for this truth!).
  4. Each other thinks he or she got the much better end of the deal.  That’s the case in my marriage.  I know I married well above myself.
  5. You can be totally goofy with your spouse and you know you’ll get a laugh and not a look of condemnation.

Well, how did you do?  Does this describe your marriage?  If so, spend some day in thanksgiving for a very wonderful gift in your life!

Stir The Pot

Here is my last truth to share with each of you. This insight comes from my Dad.  “Son,” he would say to me, “always remember.  The more you stir manure, the more it stinks!”

Catch the picture.  Sniff the image.  Got it?  Then enjoy the truth.

Sometimes, in life, there are situations that are complex, sticky and smelly.  They come to us all.  It seems the more you try to figure them out, or address them, or talk them through, the more difficult they become.  This is especially true when it comes to talking about people.  There just seems to be no end to the ceaseless talk and counter-talk that occurs.

That’s when Dad would always say, “Let them go.  Don’t talk about it anymore.  Just trust it’ll all work out.  The more you talk about it, the worse it’ll become.  Give it up and move on.”

Then he’d always end the discussion with the words, “Besides, the more you stir manure, the more it stinks!”

I’ve never forgotten his words.  I’ve had the privilege of letting things go before they start to smell.

Thanks Dad, for wise, wonderful and truthful words!

Friend Or Foe

My wife gave me this counsel some years ago.  I’ve never forgotten it.

She said, “David, always remember that there are a lot of people out there who want to suck up to you to get something for you.  You may think they have your best interests at heart.  But they don’t.  They will use you as long as you will let them.  Be careful!”

That last “be careful” from her is because I can tend to be gullible.  I tend to believe the best in people.  I’m a natural encourager.

I can especially be used when I think someone can help get me something I want.  But thoughtful con men see right through it.  They use my desire for something against me.  They use it to hook me.  Eventually, I am the one to be misused and eventually get hurt.

Therefore, I’m much more careful with my friends.  I’m even more careful with choosing my confidants.  I realize the truth of what my wife said to me.  Usually, taking a good bit of time with the person gives me the best insight into whether I can trust someone.  Most con men don’t like to wait.

It’s a lesson that’s been very helpful to me!

Finding Freedom

Here is a valuable truth from my college basketball coach, Dean Smith.  He used to say all the time, “The disciplined man is the freest man of all.”  Over the years, I’ve learned how right he was.

It’s the disciplined man who can say “no” to temptation.  It’s the disciplined man who can overcome hurts, hang-ups and habits that so often derail us.  It’s the disciplined man who can stay focused and not chase after rabbit trails.  It’s the disciplined man who knows how to stay away from distractions that can cause defeat.

Are you a disciplined person today?  Does your body control you or you control your body?  Do your appetites control you or do you control your appetites?  Can you say “no” to anything that keeps you from doing the urgent in your life.

If so, you are a person greatly blessed.  That means you are a disciplined person.

That means you are truly free!

Rubbing Off

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about valuable truths different people or resources in my life have taught me, ones I want to pass on to my kids.  Perhaps they will help you too.

The first piece of advice comes from 1 Corinthians 15:33.  It’s been invaluable advice for me.  It reads: “Bad company corrupts morals.”  It’s as simple as that.  “Bad company corrupts morals.”

But how powerful it is!  You become like the friends you have.  Friends are like elevators.  They will either take you up, or bring you down.

Therefore, it’s essential you be very careful with choosing your friends.  You need to make sure they have your best interests at heart.  They are your friends because they just love you for who you are and don’t want anything from you.

It’s a truth for kids, teens and adults.  No one is immune from this teaching. Bad company corrupts morals.  We become like the people with whom we hang around.

Therefore, choose friends who encourage you, desire the best for you, will dream your dreams with you, won’t give up on you and will always be there for you.  They are friends for a lifetime.

Plus, they help you produce the best of morals!

Friend Or Treasure?

How do you know if you have a close, meaningful friendship?  Here are a few thoughts I’ve discovered through the years that help signify a very close, meaningful friendship:

1. If you’ve been separated for a while, when you come together, everything seems to be the same.  It’s as if you’ve never been away from one another.

2. You really work hard to remove any obstacles between you.  The friendship is more important than anything else.  You want to make absolutely sure you are best friends forever.

3. You love to travel together.  When you have the opportunity to go to a new place, see new environments and cultures, the first person you think of traveling with you is your close friend.

4. The longer the friendship, the more time you want to spend with your friend.

Do you have a friend like this?  If so, you are greatly blessed.  You are a person who has the richest treasure in the world.

The Forever Friend

There is nothing better than to have a close friend. We all need people who will stick to us no matter what. We need people with whom we can share our lives and no the other will always be there when we need to talk and share our lives.

I’ve discovered that the test of a real friend is when life becomes difficult. When something stresses the friendship, does it still last? Does it still continue? Is your friend still there for you? Does the “glue” of friendship still hold when challenged?

They sharpen your thoughts and decisions. You are a better person simply because this person is your friend.

Acquaintances come and go. But friends stick closer than a brother or sister in your own family. They will never leave you or forsake.

Do you have forever friends? You are a person who has been greatly blessed. Enjoy them to the full…every day!