Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #16

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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 #11

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Dear Son,
In all you do (even if it seems small or stupid), give it your all, as if you are doing it for God, not people.
Love, Dad

As you continue through school and launch out into the workplace, you will question the task and responsibilities you are given.  At times, you will feel that it is a waste of time or beneath you. You must have the proper perspective and patience.

Perspective changes everything. In order to have a proper perspective, we must understand who our boss actually is. Colossians 3:23 sheds light, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”  When we understand God is our boss, it gives dignity and elevates any task.

In life, we tend to categorize activities as either spiritual or human. We imagine that going to church or on a mission trip is spiritual but doing homework or mowing grass is just human activity. When we understand all we do is for God, nothing should be viewed as small or stupid.

You will also need patience. When you are new, you will have to prove yourself. Trust is built over time. In my own career and as I manage those in my care, I find the words of Jesus to be true, “If you’re faithful in small-scale matters, you’ll be faithful with far bigger responsibilities.” Luke 16:10

Do not let your current task or responsibilities suffer while you are waiting for the big, important stuff. Meet each task with willingness, energy and creativity. It will be noticed and rewarded.

Many times we think we are ready, but there are so many lessons to learn and endurance to build. God has great things ahead of you, but you must prepare yourself for that day. I love God’s response to Jeremiah when he felt like God was not moving fast enough, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?” Jeremiah 12:5

Pray that God gives you the perspective and patience to become the man of God you are intended to be.

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Dear Son, Words of Wisdom #10

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Dear Son,
Ask God for wisdom and courage every morning.
Love, Dad

Your mother and I have given time and effort to provide education and example to prepare you as you journey into life.  But I am left with concern because I know how unprepared we can be for the things that we face each day. Such an array of confusing choices and difficult decision.

Our only true hope is to trust in God our good shepherd. He must provide the wisdom. We can never gather enough information. We can rarely read intentions. We can’t foresee the unintended consequences. We must ask and allow God to fill in the gaps.

“If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.” James 1:5

Wisdom alone is not enough.  You will also need God to give you the courage to do what you are to do. It is one thing to know…it is another thing to do. Many of my regrets revolve around the times I had the wisdom but not the courage to act.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Be sure to make this a prayer every morning and a priority every day.

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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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