Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #16

dear son

Dear Son, You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose Wisely.

The next 5 years of your life are critical in the development of your character, relationships, and reputation.  The people you spend time with will play a major role.

I have been blessed with great friends and associates throughout my life. During my high school and college years, God provided protection and guidance through a group of friends and roommates. A few names come to mind: John, Jud, Herbert, Scott, Ward, Bob and Jeff. I would not be who I am today without their influence.

C. S. Lewis said, “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” Surround yourself with people who build you spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.  “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend,” Proverbs 27:17 (NLT).

The Bible has much to say about the people that we spend time with. Here are a few verses to help you choose wisely:

  • “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.”  Psalm 1:1 (NIV)
  • “Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.”  Proverbs 13:20 (MSG)
  • “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”  Proverbs 12:26 (NKJV)
  • “Bad company corrupts good character.”  1 Corinthians 15:33 (NLV)

I am not saying that we should never associate with people that are not of the highest character (please excuse the triple negative). I am saying we must be cautious of the amount of time spent and the level of connection shared. I love George Washington’s advice, “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

Who are the 5 people you are spending the most time with? Is it a wise investment?

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #15

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Dear Son, Your reputation is priceless. Protect it!
Love, Dad

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.”  Proverbs 22:1 (NKJV)

Your reputation and name are inseparable. A short list of names demonstrates this fact, both good and bad: Ronald Reagan, Anthony Weiner, Tim Tebow, Aaron Hernandez, Paula Dean, Abraham Lincoln, Hitler, and Jesus. Each name conjures images of either a sterling or tarnished reputation.

A reputation takes a lifetime to build, but it can be destroyed in seconds. Therefore, you must protect it with vigilance. In recent years, one’s reputation is growing more difficult to protect due to two factors: increasing temptations and social media. You are not only being bombarded by an increasing assortment and access to temptations, it is also easier to get caught and published for the world to see for all digital eternity.

Reputation Protection Plan

  • Surround yourself with good people.
  • Be careful where you are. If you find yourself in a compromising situation, look for the escape and go. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
  • Be careful what you are looking at and filling your mind with. Images lead to thoughts and thoughts can lead to actions.

If you fall, seek the forgiveness of God and any others involved. Remember, God will forgive, but people will find it difficult to forget.

If you damage your reputation, repair it with humility and diligence.

What do you want people to think when they hear your name?

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #14

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Dear Son,
“Thank You” are two of the most powerful words you can say.
Love, Dad

“Say thank you,” were words your heard from your mother and I many times while you were growing up. We were especially vigilant around Christmas and Birthdays. We reminded you several times before we arrived at the gift exchange. You ripped open the colorful paper, full of anticipation to see what amazing wonders awaited, only to be greeted by a 3-pack of underwear. We gave you the look. You took a deep breath and somewhat convincingly said, ‘Thank you.”

Saying “Thank You” is not always natural or easy – but it is always powerful. Showing gratitude has a deep impact on the receiver of the “Thank You”. They feel appreciated, loved, respected – and they will be twice as likely to continue the activity that prompted the “Thank You”. Being grateful is also very beneficial to your own health and well being. Psychological studies have demonstrated this “Gratitude Effect”.  Click here to watch an enlightening video by Derek Halpern about the power of “Thank You”

pt thank youHere is a super powerful secret:  “Thank You” notes are like a “Thank You” on steroids with lasers strapped to its back. It is a vanishing art that will not go unnoticed. In fact, I have a “Thank You” note you gave me on a special shelf in my office.

Thank God
Also remember to thank God for all of the blessings in your life. God is the true source. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” James 1:17(NIV)

What would today look like if you only had what you thanked God for yesterday?

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #13

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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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