Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #13

dearson12

Dear Son,
Don’t wait for someone to tell you what to do…find it.

I did not discover this secret to success in a business class or book. I discovered it in a funeral home.

I had the privilege to work and live in a funeral home the summer after graduating from college. I mowed the grass, greeted people and moved a few dead bodies (that may sound cold, but so were the bodies). I had low expectations for the job. I was just killing time until I found my career. I was wrong. I had much to learn, and the funeral home was a great place to do it.

I did what I was told  – nothing more – nothing less.
“Cut the grass.” I cut the grass then waited.
“Blow off the sidewalks.” I blew them spotless then sat down and waited.
“Help me move this body.” I moved the body, washed my hands, then waited.
I was dong my job and feeling good about myself.

After a couple weeks, the funeral director came to me and said, “You are wearing me out.” I was shocked. I was a college graduate and was doing everything they asked, how could there be a problem. He continued, “I am tired of having to find stuff for you to do all day. You need to look around…walk around…there is stuff that needs to be done everywhere.”

It was like a light bulb turned on in my head. In all my years of working in restaurants and going to school, no one shared this amazing wisdom with me. I put it into practice, and it has given me great advantages over those that sit around and wait to be told what to do.

Do what you are told to do with excellence – plus look around and find things that need to be done. You will be noticed, appreciated and rewarded with greater opportunities.

One side note: when you find something to do, make sure to let them know and get approval before you do it.

“Take a lesson from the ant, you who love leisure and ease.
Observe how it works, and dare to be just as wise. 
It has no boss, no one laying down the law or telling it what to do,
Yet it gathers its food through summer and takes what it needs from the harvest.”
Proverbs 6:6-8 (The Voice)

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #12

seek truth speak truth

Dear Son,
Seek truth. Speak truth. Love, Dad

In a world filled with lies and spin, the value of truth is ever increasing. David described our society well when he wrote, “You love evil more than good and lies more than truth.”(Psalms 52:3)

Your mother and I have made truth a high priority in our home. We also placed you in a classical, Christian school with the mission of teaching you to seek God’s truth. As you grow older, it will be up to you to put this into practice.

Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Truth leads to freedom. Lies and spin lead to a lack of trust, confusion, complications, fear and bondage.

Seek truth about God, yourself and others.  

Truth about God is found in the Bible and in the world around us. Read the Bible and pray the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.

Examine yourself. Self-deception is an easy trap. As St. Augustine wrote in Confessions, “Man’s love of truth is such that when he loves something that is not the truth, he pretends to himself that what he loves is the truth, and because he hates to be wrong, he will not allow himself to be convinced that he is deceiving himself. So he hates the real truth for the sake of what he takes to his heart in its place.”

Seek truth about others. Do not form an opinion about others to quickly. Do not automatically believe the word of others without proper investigation and consideration. Things are not always as they seem.

Speak truth.

God has a very high opinion of speaking truth and a very low opinion of lying. Proverbs 12:19 reads, “Truthful words stand the test of time, but lies are soon exposed.” Proverbs 6 is a list of seven things God hates and two of them are speaking lies.

Speaking truth is practical and leads to success. I have seen many lives destroyed through the lies they have told. As Sir Walter Scott wrote, “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” Make a practice of speaking truth. It may not seem to be the easiest choice at the moment, but truth wins in the end.

In a world suffocating in lies, truth will breathe life and freedom. Be a leader who seeks truth and speaks truth.

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #9

ask note

Dear Son,
If you don’t know…ask.
Love, Dad

Asking questions is a very important skill that will lead to success or at least survival.

When I was in college, I spent a summer working and living in a funeral home. I learned many lessons about work, life and death. One day I learned the importance of asking questions.

The funeral director asked me to cut down some dead trees along the edge of the property. He said they had planted some new trees and wanted the dead ones removed.  It seemed like a simple task and I was ready to do some “manly” work. I found some tools and headed out.
lumberjack-tree
As I approached the tree line, I encountered a dilemma.  The trees were lined up two-by-two. One new tree and one dead tree side by side. I was not sure which tree to remove. I made a decision not to go back and bother anyone with such an ignorant, non-manly questions. I was a 21-year-old man and surely I could tell the difference. So I decided to cut down the smaller, feeble trees that had no leaves. I proceeded to cut down the 20 sad-looking trees in record time.

I made my way back to the funeral home as a heroic lumberjack ready to receive accolades and another assignment.

“That was quick, let’s go take a look” said the funeral director as we walked outside.  Then he stopped in his tracks and stood silently as his face turned pale. “What did you do with all of my new trees?” he said after what seemed an eternity. “You cut down the wrong trees. What were you thinking?” I did not have an answer accept to ask for forgiveness.  I ended the day embarrassed but thankful that I did not loose my job and learned a valuable lesson.

Throughout life, I have missed many great things and made many mistakes by not asking.  But I have also opened many doors by asking. Learn to ask.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”   Jesus in Luke 11:9

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #8

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Dear Son,
Read Proverbs once a year. Read one chapter a day each day of the month. Start on April Fools Day.
Love, Dad

The book of Proverbs is the greatest collection of wisdom on earth. It is a collection of wisdom by Solomon, son of King David.  God gifted Solomon with wisdom above all others.

Wisdom is the art of living well. Skillfully handling what life brings you. Not acting a fool in a world filled with lunacy and traps.

The book of Proverbs is full of real life. It addresses the things in life that can be so attractive yet so dangerous: money, fame, power, wild women, wine, beer, laziness, and lying. The words of Solomon help us learn to live with justice, loyalty, love, leadership, health, prosperity, and peace. In Proverbs, we learn to live a life honoring to God.

The book of Proverbs has 31 chapters and is broken down perfectly for daily reading over a period of a month.  I suggest starting with April Fools Day…because it is so ironic. It will also make it easy to remember each year. It has not escaped me that there are only 30 days in April and there are 31 chapters in Proverbs.  I am sure you can figure out how to handle this dilemma. Whatever you do, do not miss chapter 31 especially as you search for the woman you will spend the rest of your life with. It has paid off for me.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #7

dearson7

Dear Son,
You never have a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.
Love, Dad

In your life, you will meet many people. Meeting people and groups for the 1st time is a great opportunity accompanied by both anticipation and anxiety. If handled well, more opportunities will come into your life. If handled poorly, opportunities will shrink and complications will increase.

Here is a little list to help you navigate these 1st encounters:

  • Pray – Ask God to be with you and guide you. Ask God to give you the wisdom and power to fulfill your purpose. The story of Daniel in the Bible serves as an excellent example.
  • Prepare – Do a little research about the person or group you are meeting. Know their interest, passions, and accomplishments. You do not have to throw these facts around in the meeting (you might sound like a creeper). But it will be a useful filter to understand and communicate clearly.
  • Arrive on time. If you are running late, let them know before you arrive.
  • Shake hands firmly and make eye contact. Your handshake should not be confused with a dead fish or the Incredible Hulk.
  • Focus – Pay attention to the person and the subject at hand. Do not appear board and do not be distracted by digital devices. IMPORTANT: Never stare down at your cell phone while they are speaking to you.
  • Follow Up – After the meeting; send a hand written note (for important meetings), email or text letting them know you appreciated the time together.

If you happen to make a bad 1st impression, do not give up all hope. Do not cower in embarrassment. Do not ignore them at all future encounters. If appropriate, simply apologize and move forward. If an apology is overkill and it was just an awkward situation, treat the 2nd meeting as if it was your 1st.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” Ephesians 5:15-17

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #6

dearson6Dear Son,
You only have about 4 seconds to notice her new haircut.
Love, Dad

Words are important and timing is everything.

There are certain moments in life requiring special attention and loving care. Sometimes we put too much importance on the big days: Birthday, Anniversary, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day.  These days are important, but they are not the only special moments to remember and make memorable.

Haircut Day is one of these often-ignored days. If handled correctly, it will bring joy to your loved one…and you. If ignored or handled irresponsibly, consequences may follow.

Special Note: This is not based on personal experience, but from my observation of less observant men…with less forgiving wives.

Wise ways to handle Haircut Day:

  • Upon first sight of the freshly cut or colored hair, comment bout how amazing she looks.
  • You don’t need to go on about it too much…unless it is crazy awesome.
  • Timing is the key…within 4 seconds.
  • Very important, do not let someone beat you to the compliment.

Unwise ways to handle Haircut Day:

  • Don’t ignore it. This can cut deep on so many levels.
  • Don’t say, “You look so much better.” She will worry about how she has looked for her whole life up to that moment.  She will also worry about ever achieving that level of beauty again…ever.
  • Don’t say, “Don’t worry, it will grow back.”
  • Don’t say, “Wow, you are brave.”

Haircut Day is just one example of the many moments when words are important and timing is everything. Do not hold back words of love, kindness and affirmation. They are like water to a relationship. You can use them to grow something amazing, or you can cut them off leading to dehydration.

Be alert and affirming.

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #5

Dear Son 5Dear Son,
Read the Bible. God’s Word will be a constant source of guidance, comfort, and strength.
Love, Dad

Nothing has made a greater impact in my life than reading the Bible. Your mother and I have made the Bible a high priority in our home and in your education. We do this because we can’t imagine what your life would be without it.

Over the next few years, you will think more about God’s will and direction for your life than you will for the rest of your life. Go to God and the Bible as a source of guidance in these times of great opportunity. I can remember being dropped off at Liberty University full of hopes, fears, and questions. I turned to the Bible in those days of growth and decision, and it made all the difference. As David said in the Psalms 119, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Sometimes life will be dark. Times of questions and disappointment. I can remember when mom was in the hospital for a few weeks. I was not sure what was going to happen as time and answers slipped away. In the Bible, I found a God who comforts and heals. I found much comfort in reading Isaiah 41:13, “I am the Lord your God who takes you by your hand and says, Do not fear, I will help you.”

As a leader, you will become painfully aware of your weakness, but you are not alone. Our strength and wits will fail us, but God will never fail us. Turn to the stories of the great leaders in the Bible: Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel, Nehemiah, Jesus and Paul to discover how God gives them strength and comes along their sides to fight their battles and make things right. Also read the Psalms for a behind the scenes look as David finds strength through fear, attack, sickness, victory and defeat.

As you journey through life, remember to turn to God and the Bible to find guidance, comfort and strength. You will not be disappointed.

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #4

dearson4Dear Son,
Never send, post, text, tweet or email anything you would not want the whole world to see.
Love, Dad

With the Internet and social media, the world is more connected than ever before.  Everyone from preschoolers to great grandparents are online.  As access and communication has increased, privacy has decreased.

Most seem oblivious to the fact that nothing on the Internet is private. They post pictures that would make a Victoria Secret model blush. Text stinging insults about so-called friends.  Document their crimes in living color. Share secrets intended for no one else to know. Use language that is both crude and shocking. All the time acting as if it is a vapor quickly evaporating. Underestimating the ripples of consequences being created.

We must remember that once something is sent from a computer or smartphone it becomes a permanent part of the digital world. You can’t delete it or take it back. It can be shared and retrieved for years to come. It can be seen by parents, grandparents, friends, enemies, employers, your future spouse and even your future children and grandchildren.

I am not saying that you should not be an active participant in social media or texting. I suggest this little exercise before you send, post, text, tweet or email: Imagine it being sent to your parents and displayed on a huge screen in middle of Time Square…then hit send.

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #3

dearson3Dear Son,
Travel as often and as far as possible.
Love, Dad

I believe travel is one of the greatest teachers. You learn a great deal about yourself, others and God’s creation.

Visiting the actual location will make stories, movies and history come alive. Walking the streets of other lands will make you understand their issue, hopes and fears. Eating at their tables will help you feel the hunger and taste the abundance that is all around.

travel-pics

You have witnessed hope in the face of poverty. Walked were Jesus, Moses and King David walked. Stood where presidents and politicians of old stood. Sat in the locker rooms of amazing athletes. Floated down the Amazon. Led others to worship God in Africa and the Dominican Republic.

These are a few examples of travel that have helped shape your perspective and vision. They will serve as a filter and lens for future education and entertainment. They will help you step into the stories you encounter in literature and the news.

Do not forget where you have been and do not limit the places you will go. It can make all the difference.

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #2

dearson2

Dear Son,
Nothing says you care like being there.
Love, Dad

Several years ago, I received a call from my Uncle that I had not spoken to in years letting me know that my Grandmother died. I thanked him for letting me know and asked him to let everyone know that I wished I could be there. I hung up the phone and sat in silence.

It had been about 10 years since I last visited my Grandmother on my father side.  So this made the news a mixture of sadness and regret. Surely I could not just leave work and drive all the way down to Florida and show up in a group of people I had not visited with in years. Surely no one expected me to do that.

I talked to a friend at work, and he enlightened me on the importance of actually being there…actually showing up. He was a pastor in his former life and told me of the impact that a person’s physical presence makes. He said something like, “You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to be there.”

So I searched the Internet and found out when and where the funeral was being held. I made the trip and pulled into the driveway of my Grandparents house where all the family was gathering before the funeral. I took a deep breath and walked in. It was like I had been around them my whole life. It was a great time of connecting and showing my respect. It had a much greater impact on me and them than sending flowers.

Your life will be full of choices. People and forces will pull you in many directions.  Make sure that you make time for the people you care about. Take the energy to physically be present at the place and around the people you care about. Also focus on being emotionally and mentally present when you are around the people you care about. Do not be distracted by devices and people that can rip you from what you truly care about. Remember, nothing says you care like being there.

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