Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #9

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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

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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 #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 #1

dearson1Dear Son,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.
Love,
Dad

Thus begins my journey of passing on words of wisdom to my oldest son.  This journey began after listening to my son prepare a speech for school.  The topic was Robert E. Lee.  He was an interesting character, but that is not what reached out and grabbed me by the throat.

As my son read his speech, he gave two quotes.  The quotes where good, but that is not what shook me.  Both quotes were letters from Robert E. Lee to his son.  The fact that this form of delivery of wisdom from father to son grabbed by sons attention…grabbed my attention.

The impact of words of wisdom being intentionally delivered from father to son is both amazing and absent from modern parenting.  

Look through history and you will find excellent examples of heroes and leaders throughout the ages formally passing on their wisdom.  Look in the Bible and you will find the greatest example as Solomon passes his wisdom to his son in the book of Proverbs.

I do not want to miss my opportunity to positively affecting my son and help equip him for the road ahead. I plan to give him one hand-written card (word of wisdom) each week. I will also write a story or commentary for each card and post it on my blog. I hope that the card will serve as a point of reference as he walks through life.

So I begin my journey.  Maybe other fathers will join me.