Friday, June 27, 2008

Leading By Example

Every moment of life we are each changing to a degree the world around us through our personal influence. We are either making the world more or less of a heavenly place.

We have all heard the phrase, “do what I say, not what I do.” This message has no power to influence others. If we do not do what we say, what we say has no power to motivate or impact others positively. In fact, we will have a negative effect. If we tell people to do things that we do not do ourselves, we become hypocrites and lose the confidence and trust of those whom we seek to lead. What we say is a method of influence, but it is only effective when it is aligned with what we do and who we are.

Sermons We See, by Edgar Albert Guest:
I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I’d rather one should walk with men than merely tell the way.
The eye’s a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example is always clear;
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it if you’ll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there’s no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.

Emerson wrote, “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.” To be a Divine-Centered Leader, it is not enough to do what you say and practice what you preach. You must be what you teach. For example, let’s consider the principle of service. To operate on the highest level of influence, you can’t just teach about service or tell others they need to do it. You can’t merely go out and do service. You must be a service-oriented person. It must be a part of you. With this paradigm, you view service not as an action you do but as an attribute you possess. Thus, Divine-Centered Leaders do not merely teach about and do service, they are service.

A mistake some people make is that living a good life is sufficient to influence others for good. While it is true that people can learn just by observing what we do, the influence is the greatest when all three methods of influence: teaching, doing, and being, are utilized together.

John C. Maxwell is his book Developing the Leader Within You shares the following story of leading by example. “Benjamin Franklin learned that plaster scattered in the fields would make things grow. He told his neighbors, but they did not believe him. They argued with him, trying to prove that plaster could be of no use at all to grass or grain. After a little while he allowed the matter to drop and said no more about it. Early the next spring Franklin went into the field and sowed some grain. Close to the path, where men would walk, he traced some letters with is finger, put plaster into them, and then sowed seed in the plaster. After a week or two the seed sprang up. As they passed that way, the neighbors were very surprised to see, in brighter green than all the rest of the field, large letters saying, ‘This has been plastered.’ Benjamin Franklin did not need to argue with his friends anymore about the benefits of plaster for the fields.”

Jesus Christ Leads by Example
Jesus perfectly modeled the ability to influence others at the highest level – teaching, doing and being. Jesus taught the way to eternal life, showed it through his life, and actually is the way to eternal life. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.’ It is not just that the Son of God brought light into a darkened and fallen world; He is the Light. It is not just that our Savior showed us the way; He is the Way. It is not just that Jesus of Nazareth restored the truth and taught the truth; He is the Truth. We have inherited a Greek notion of truth, one which emphasizes truth as something to be learned, a matter of the head. In fact, the Hebrew notion of truth was something we do and, more precisely, something we are, a matter of the heart.” (From address March 16, 1992 entitled “The Challenge of Christ-Centered Leadership” by Robert Millet)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Attributes of George Washington – A Great and Noble Man of God*

Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams, wrote of Washington, “No man ever lived, more deservedly beloved and respected. . . [he] maintained a modest diffidence of his own talents . . . Possesst of power, possesst of an extensive influence, he never used it but for the benefit of his Country.” Washington recognized he was merely an instrument in the hands of God. In a speech following victory in the revolutionary war he stated, “I attribute all the glory to a Supreme Being . . . who was able by the humblest instruments . . . to establish and secure the liberty and happiness of these United States.”

Continually Learning
His higher education consisted of the lessons he took in surveying. However, during his lifetime he accumulated a library of more than 700 books, a great many which he studied closely. Washington’s step-granddaughter, Nelly Custis, wrote one of Washington’s early biographers: “It was his custom to retire to his library at nine or ten o’clock, where he remained an hour before he went to his chamber. He always arose before the sun, and remained in his library until called to breakfast.”

Defined and Lived His Values
As a young man, Washington copied out in his own handwriting the code of a moral life and strived to live by them. The last maxim read, “Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

Prayed and Fasted Often
Before the War of Independence, Washington purchased a thin Book of Psalms which he carried in his coat pocket. The Psalms often found there way into his writings and prayers. History records many prayers from Washington and his men that God would act on their behalf. Washington issued many orders enjoining his troops to pray; to attend church services; to observe days of thanksgiving; and to spend days in fasting, humiliation, and prayer. He expected his troops to conduct themselves as Christian soldiers. There are accounts in Washington’s private letters and journals which record many references to an entire day spent in prayer and fasting.

He experienced many excruciating failures and defeats. He knew the task before him was too immense for him alone. He trusted in “a kind Providence.” Washington was filled with a faith in God knowing he need not worry about the harvest, only about the sowing and tending; the increase depends upon the Lord. Washington devoted a lot of energy attending to the religious life of his troops, which he considered indispensable to their success. In a speech Washington said, “You do well to wish to learn our art and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a great and happier people than you are.” Washington was a man of Faith who loved Jesus Christ and the Bible. After taking his oath of office upon the Bible as required by the Constitution, he kissed the Bible.

After victory, there were desires by some to make Washington king. The first Congress voted to pay Washington a salary of $25,000 a year (approximately $500,000 in 2006 dollars). Washington, however, chose to continue his work as an unpaid servant of the people. During his years as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army he took no pay. He would do the same during his eight years as the first president of the United States. He exemplified the words of the Savior, “But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11, King James Version)

Sense of Divine Mission
General order from George Washington on July 2, 1776 read, “The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. . . Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the cause, and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands victory is.” Although the Continental Army lacked uniforms, sufficient powder, money, and a navy, they were fighting to be free and independent.

Uplifting Leader
Washington aimed his men high and drew more from them than seemed humanly possible. Yet he also maintained his composure when from all sorts of causes, their courage wavered, they broke ranks or ran. Leading a nonprofessional army, Washington often tasted that bitter cup. Yet he also knew how to pick his men up again, lead them on, and inspire them with the hope that they might do better on another day.

On December 18, 1777, while he and his impoverished soldiers endured the cold winds and snow of Valley Forge, Washington asked his men to observe a day of prayer and fasting to give thanks to God for blessings already received, and to implore the continuing favor of Providence upon the American cause. Washington sometimes expressed dismay to those who did not recognize God’s hand in the war effort. In one letter he wrote, “. . . he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge [the hand of Providence].” Washington continually gave thanks privately and publicly to Almighty God.

*The majority of the content for this post was adapted from the book Washington’s God by Michael and Jana Novak.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mentorship—A Shortcut to Success

I received an email recently from one of the readers of my book about mentorship. Below are the answers to his questions.

Question: How were your mentor relationships formed?

I have had several mentors and several different mentors are references throughout the book. Some of the people I learned from I have only spoken to on the phone or taken to lunch one time. Others I have a more established relationship. For example, I have sought advice and help from other successful authors on marketing and promotion. I made a list of all the authors I had questions for and wanted to learn from and then began contacting them by phone, email and mail. I was not able to talk with all of them but I was able to talk with many of them and many were very willing and excited to help out an aspiring author.

Others I have established a relationship with. For example, Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, was someone I wanted to learn about book marketing from. He has sold over 100 million books. At the time I was working with a publishing company that produced and sold a magazine to corporations for employee training, and I knew that Jack Canfield wanted to do more in the corporate market. I worked with the publishing company and Jack Canfield to create a product that that was a win for both. Jack Canfield flew to Utah to meet with us and I established a relationship.

Here is how I worked with the two mentors that I had most involved relationships with. I was invited to hear a multimillionaire businessman speak by a friend. I went and liked what I heard and liked the guy. He stayed after to talk with people so I stayed until I had a chance to talk to him. I then found out when he was speaking and went to each of his lectures. I learned that after many of his lectures he went out to dinner with some of his partners so I asked if I could come and was invited. At the dinners I tried to sit next to him and asked questions and worked to establish a relationship. I learned that he wanted to write a book and at this time my first book had been published and I was writing other books so I proposed that I help him write a book for only $10/hour. He liked the idea and we began working on a book together. I was able to get paid to learn from him and shadow him as I was writing a book for him.

I first heard of the other multimillionaire who eventually became on of my mentors from my brother who saw him lecture at the local university. I was doing a lecture series at the university so I invited him in as a guest lecturer. I organized the lecture series because I felt prompted by the Spirit to do so and it provided a way for me to meet and establish relationships with successful people I wanted to learn from as I invited them in to speak. After I invited this person into teach and we met and talk, he wanted to meet with me to discuss potentially working together. He had a list of business ideas he needed an entrepreneur to build and I was looking for a business to build. After a couple meetings, we agreed on partnering on one of the business idea and we began working together. This was April 2001. Over the next 5 years, I learned a great deal from him and as instruments in the hand of God, we built the company to over $10 million a year in revenue with $2 million a year in profit.

Question: Do you have any suggested reads on mentorship?

I suggest reading biographies of successful people. I have learned a great deal this way. One of my favorite biographies is Sam Walton by Sam Walton. He was always learning from others. In his biography he wrote, “I probably visited more headquarters offices of more discounters than anybody else—ever. I would just show up and say, ‘Hi, I’m Sam Walton from Bentonville, Arkansas. We’ve got a few stores out there, and I’d like to visit with Mr. So-and-So—whoever the head of the company was—about this business.’ And as often as not, they’d let me in, maybe out of curiosity, and I’d ask lots of questions about pricing and distribution, whatever. I learned a lot that way.”

Question: I have someone in mind but I'm not quite sure how to best establish the mentor relationship. Is there a formal process?

There is no formal process I know of except those at some schools that have setup various mentoring programs. I personally have not had a formal process for my mentors. If you can come up with a way that you can help the person with a project they are pursuing or desire to pursue, you can usually get a meeting and present your ideas and then take it from there.

Conclusion: The Perfect Mentor
Jesus Christ is the perfect example to follow. We must strive to emulate the Savior by fulfilling his directive to “. . . always act like your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:48, Contemporary English Version) If we are to become truly successful and prosperous, Christ is our pattern. All the enabling and perfect virtues are to be found in the Master Jesus Christ. As we follow the example of the Savior, we become like the wise man who has built his house upon a rock. As we make Christ our foundation, we will avoid the great fall of foolish men who have built upon the shifting sands of business ethics and the marshlands of the philosophies of man. Much of the world seeks not the Lord as their guide but the blind “. . . and if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matthew 15:14, King James Version) We should seek our mentors among those who can say as the apostle Paul, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1, New International Version)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Q&A with Bible Money Matters Blog

Last week I was asked by the Bible Money Matters blog to do an e-mail interview. Below are the answers to the questions I was asked.

Question: What prompted you to write this book?

This book had its beginning in 1999 when I was working for a private Christian university. I had recently finished my first book on Christ-centered leadership and was working on a book discussing the grace of Christ. During this time, I was introduced to a multimillionaire who had recently moved into the area. We soon became friends and he asked if I would help him write a book on the steps to achieving financial freedom. My first reaction was that pursuing such a topic was worldly and could put my spirituality in jeopardy. I held the widely believed myth that “Money is Bad” (myth 23 of the book) and that being rich did not align with the gospel of Christ. After much thought, prayer, and spending countless hours with my friend, I realized I had many misconceptions about money and determined to add financial principles to my research, study, and writing.

Since that time, I have read hundreds of books on financial topics. I was concerned to find that many of the so-called success and financial books had no reference to God. I believe that trying to teach someone how to succeed without God is like trying to teach someone to swim in an empty pool. I discovered that the truly prosperous have learned to include God in all their actions, even those involving money. In the eyes of God, the world is not compartmentalized into temporal and spiritual, for all things (even money) are spiritual to Him.

Question: What would you say to those who dismiss your book as simply another book capitalizing on the "prosperity gospel" that has been so popular in some of the larger mainline churches?

I would reply with this comment that I received from one of my readers: “When your book was first given to me, I was skeptical, assuming that you were some sort of rich Bible-thumping kook trying to ease his guilt over being rich by spreading half truths. I have come to see that nothing could be farther from the truth. This book you wrote has made me see things clearer than I ever have before, and I will surely try to spread these powerful truths to everyone I know. In a very real sense, I have been freed.”

Question: If you could tell someone 1 or 2 things they could do to improve their financial life, what would they be?

1. Be Teachable
I did a book signing at Costco last Saturday. On multiple occasions after a passerby would read the title of the book, “Does Your Bag Have Holes?” they would answer the question aloud saying, “No. My bag doesn’t have any holes?” C.S. Lewis wrote of pride, “If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed.” Put into the context of the book title, “If you don’t think your bag has holes, you are in trouble.” Be willing to learn. Just as it takes thousands of hours of study and practice to develop the skills of a being successful engineer, so also it takes hours of study and practice to master the principles of prosperity.

2. Set Financial Goals with a Plan to Achieve Them
“Only three percent of Americans are independently wealthy: they can live off the income from their investment capital” (Charles A. Coonradt, The Game of Work, (Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain, 1991) p. xx). Studies have also found that only three percent of Americans have written financial goals. Most people do not achieve financial independence not because it is difficult or complicated, but because they simply have never created the goal and action plan that leads to independent wealth. Most Americans earn enough throughout their working life to become financially independent, but few create and follow a financial plan that leads to freedom.

Question: Your book comes with a definite Christian viewpoint. Do you think that even non-believers can get something positive out of your book, or do you think it will simply appear as foolishness to them?

I have received comments from people of non-Christian faiths who have loved the book and benefited from it. The principles throughout the book of faith, prayer, humility, integrity, industry, and charity can be beneficial to all readers regardless of their religious beliefs. Everyone can benefit from the many wonderful stories in the book and topics such as how to raise productive and self-sufficient children, why bad things happen to good people, how to ensure an abundant life and retirement, and the six habits of successful entrepreneurs.
Question: In your book you talk about the 6 choices that people have to make, with their choices deciding where they end up in their financial life. Do you think that any one of those choices is holding more people back than the others, or is it a combination of all these bad choices causing people to fail?

All men are born equal but become unequal as they make decisions. Every man chooses to obey laws differently. I don’t think there is any one choice in particular that leads people to failure. The life we live is an accumulation of all our choices. One may choose to play softball while another chooses to build a business. One may choose to turn on the television while another chooses to read books. One may choose to golf on his day off while another chooses to spend time with his family. One man chooses to listen to the radio on his way to work and another man chooses to listen to positive tapes. We are born equal, yet years later live diversely, all because we chose to live divine laws differently. The book Does Your Bag Have Holes? is designed to help people make the choices which lead to greater productivity, abundance, and success.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you . . . into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature. . . To be the one kind of creature is . . . joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”

Question: In your book you talk about the 4 principles of prosperity. Do you think it is possible to be truly successful without buying into those 4 principles?

Our lives are governed by laws and principles, such as the law of gravity. A child, though ignorant of the law, will still fall if he jumps off a ledge. The laws that govern wealth, health, and relationships are as clear and as binding as those that govern the earth, such as gravity. Regardless of whether or not we know or understand the laws, they always operate the same. We might want to eat 10,000 calories a day and not gain weight. We might want to smoke cigarettes, but not get lung cancer. We want to violate laws and principles and still have freedom and prosperity. This is as foolish as a farmer planting corn and expecting to harvest watermelon. Some might also expect financial abundance but learn nothing regarding the laws of wealth. This is as silly as a farmer not planting and expecting a great harvest. Our success or failure, our happiness or unhappiness, depends on our knowledge and application of the laws of success in our lives.

Question: Are there any final thoughts you'd like to leave my readers with?

I will leave you will these final words. You are a child of God and as such the seeds of greatness are within you. The only thing that stands between where you are and where you want to be is time and effort. You decide what your life will be like. It doesn’t matter what your past has been because you have the power to choose your future. Choose now to learn, change, and take the necessary actions to make your ideal a reality. Now is the time to live a life of excellence by living the principles of prosperity. Now is the time to be responsible, humble, honest, industrious, thrifty, and charitable. Now is the time to live by these words from the Bible, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, New King James Version) Your Father in Heaven wants you to experience the joys of prosperity and as you seek His help, God will give you inspiration and strength to achieve a life of financial and spiritual freedom. As you live God’s truths, you will achieve happiness, independence, and peace. You will be prosperous.

Top Ten Messages on Signs Outside of Churches

1. Looking for a lifeguard? Ours walks on water.
2. “Keep using my name in vain and I’ll make rush hour longer.” –God
3. Stop, drop and roll will not work in hell.
4. Wal-mart isn’t the only saving place in town.
5. Tithe if you love Jesus. Anyone can honk.
6. You may party in hell but you will be the barbeque.
7. Looking for a sign from God? This might be it.
8. Swallow your pride. It contains no calories.
9. Our Sundays are better than Dairy Queen’s.
10. Following the path of least resistance is what makes rivers and people crooked.