Imagine being six years old and dressed in your best Sunday worship clothes. You arrive at your place of worship with your parents. Everyone is smiling. Near the front door your friend waves at you.
Suddenly the sound of screeching tires and burning rubber fill the air as masked gunmen separate your parents from you. Screaming and yelling consumes all your senses as you and other children are tossed into the bed of a truck and a canopy is closed.
I cannot imagine the pain and agony of all involved – parents or children. What a horrendous experience! To say the least, lives were forever changed on this day.
Throughout the world, across all borders, the unthinkable happens. Throughout our life the unimaginable and tragic events take place.
For Lopez Lomong it was an event like one described above. For Andy Andrews it was family loss and being homeless. For Abraham Lincoln it was family loss, business and political failures.
Yet all of these men leveraged their life experience to touch lives as an athlete, author, and politician.
These are but three examples. There are millions. God has power to help you use your unique experiences for good. Are you willing to participate? Are you willing to do something bigger than yourself, something to help others?
1) Write down one event that has made you who you are.
2) During that event what is a lesson you learned?
3) Why has that been important to you?
Answering these questions will help you understand yourself and equip you to serve others.
What is one of your favorite life lessons? Leave a comment below.
While trying to better understand Thanksgiving I was exposed to a proclamation issued by Henry Laurens the 2nd President of the Continental Congress United States of America.
Below is a direct quotation from henrylaurens.com and according to that site, known as “November 1, 1777 Thanksgiving Proclamation,” Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
“Dear Sir, The Arms of the United States of America having been blessed in the present Campaign with remarkable Success, Congress have Resolved to recommend that one day, Thursday the 18th December next be Set apart to be observed by all Inhabitants throughout these States for a General thanksgiving to Almighty God. And I have it in command to transmit to you the inclosed extract from the minutes of Congress for that purpose.
Day of Thanksgiving
Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther blessings as they stand in need of; and it having pleased him in his abundant mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable bounties of his common providence, but also to smile upon us in the prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the defence and establishment of our unalienable rights and liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success: It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart Thursday, the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise; that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favour, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford his blessing on the governments of these states respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace; that it may please him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labour of the husbandman, that our land may yet yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under his nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth “in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
What an awesome proclamation, and a distinct reminder of our country’s roots. It’s my hope that today, you reflect upon what is represented in the above proclamation.
What are your favorite ways to express grateful feelings of your heart? Have you ever read this proclamation before today?
How often do you wonder what other people are thinking? Have you ever wished that a person would simply say what they mean and mean what they say? ABSOLUTELY!
When I think of being transparent, I envision seeing through something. You can view an item all the way to it’s core. There is nothing left unseen.
All too often we overlook the value of transparency.
When you are transparent with the people you interact with, you help eliminate guessing, uncertainty, and assumptions. The value of this is people can hear your message as well as begin to trust you.
Being transparent also allows others to see that you are indeed human. Why is that important? It’s important because we are not perfect! We don’t have life figured out. We need help, encouragement, and others who have experience to help us along the way.
Choose to be life giving just as a river is. Be clean, be refreshing, be transparent. It may not always be comfortable, but it will help reduce a ton of guess work so that you and others can move on to the important work you have been created to complete.
What are some ways you can be more transparent? Have you met a person who exhibits transparency?
Psalm 73 is really an interesting Psalm, as the writer Asaph is considered a leader within the worship assembly.
In this Psalm he details his struggle with envy. This desire is after watching people who are not following God do well. He sees their outward success and struggles with his personal faith.
Later in the Psalm he realizes that he’s completely missing what matters – eternal life. Asaph snaps together and recognizes the fact that the wicked, that those without a relationship with God face an eternity without him. Upon that realization, Asaph is ashamed at his envy.
How many times do we find ourselves in this same place? Are you aware of the resources you have at your disposal?
Two of them can be far more helpful than we normally think – 1 is our relationship with God. The second is our relationship with brothers and sisters in our congregations.
Tap into them! Encourage one another; be willing to say you’re human. Quit wearing the perfection mask! We know that all of our families, and our lives are not perfect.
Be willing to help. Be willing to serve. Be willing to be trustworthy. Be willing to pray.
Here is the audio version of the Bible Class I recently taught on Psalm 73. I hope you enjoy!
Questions for you to consider – Why are we afraid to share our struggles? What are some ways we can help foster an attitude of encouragement? What are some benefits of sharing our struggles? Please leave your comment below.
My next lesson is entitled “Being Clueless in a Dying World.” It’s going to focus on our awareness of those around us, Christians and non-Christians, internally and externally.
From my perspective it feels like we’re often clueless when it comes to those around us who have needs, internally in congregations. Often times this is because of a lack of trust. Externally, there are people who are clueless about what it means to live a life dedicated to Christ (misinformation or a lack of information), and nowadays we’re often clueless when it comes to our neighbors, neighborhoods, and community (knowing them, being involved b/c of our busy schedules).
I’m reaching out to see what your reaction to the title is, and what thoughts come to your mind with some of the thoughts I’ve shared here. Feel free to offer questions for me to consider, something you’ve seen to help build trust, or other constructive thoughts that others might benefit from.
I am asking for your help to broaden my thinking.
An exciting book is available now for those interested in learning about leadership character so that they can become the right kind of leader. This book is not about the skills a leader needs, but what is underneath – their heart. Like other books Mark Miller has written, or co-written, you engage in this journey through the eyes of a story, a technique made popular by Ken Blanchard.
Here’s what I like about the book:
1. You’re led on a journey of discovery. While you follow the lead character (Blake), in some ways it feels like a mystery as you await the next “golden nugget” to be revealed. I found myself wondering what the advice was going to be and how it was going to be delivered.
2. The elements revealed are simple statements, not definitions. I’ve found that I really enjoy simplicity when it comes to concepts, because it allows me to easily remember points, and duplicate them in my life. In the Heart of Leadership, you’re given a growing list (as you progress through the story) of Blake’s notes entitled, Facets of Leadership. Two things happen with this: you see the list several times which commits it to memory, and then you also have quick reference points when it comes to what you’re learning as you read.
3. Mark provides great one-liners throughout the book. These quotes are motivational, and strike at the core message of the book. One quote that I immediately wrote on my whiteboard is, “Without leadership character, no one cares about your skills.”
4. Mark Miller uses his platform for good. His blog is a great source for all things related to being a servant leader. What’s more, is that Mark uses his publishing proceeds for something bigger than himself. Although it isn’t written about much, he donates his proceeds to charity.
If you’ve read a book by Mark in the past, you know what you’re getting. If you’ve never read a book by Mark, I hope that these four things will inspire you to check it out – on amazon (where there are lots of reviews already), or your favorite book outlet. If you’re like me, once you read one of his books, you’ll want to go back and pick up others (such as – The Secret and Great Leaders Grow).
Which is your favorite Mark Miller book? How do you try to live out servant leadership? Why do you want to be a leader people want to follow? Leave a comment below.
Mark Miller, well known business leader, best-selling author, and communicator, is excited about sharing The Heart of Leadership: Becoming a Leader People Want to Follow with those who are ready to take the next step. You can find it on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere.
*As a member of Mark Miller’s launch team, I did receive a copy of his book free from the publisher. You can receive a chapter of the book for free.
I’m an avid reader, but I don’t always take the time to share on the blog what I’m absorbing from the books on my reading list. Below are the numerous quotes I captured as I made my way through The Robert D’s book, “20,000 Days & Counting.” I highly recommend the book as it offers a healthy perspective check, as well as actions you can take immediately to better live your life.
“I wrote this book so you could read it quickly.”
“Ask this question: What can you and I do right now to make the most out of the years in front of us? What can we do to accomplish more, celebrate more, to touch more lives in our remaining years than we have to this point?”
“I know I will die, but I do not know how long I will live.”
“We have to talk about death. Why? Because facing death, acknowledging it, and coming to terms with it is the best way to really live.”
“The reason why most people are unable to live with this mentality is that it’s tough. It takes discipline, patience, and even courage because it requires you to live in a way that is contrary to how the majority of people around you are living their lives.”
“Despite all the realms of choicelessness, we do choose how we will live.”
“In order to make everyday count, you must have that emotional connection – the fanatical commitment to follow through.”
“Deep down, you know what counts in life. Simply focus on it.”
“Celebrating life is like waiting for dessert at the end of a meal and being to full to enjoy it. We always think, ‘Now’s not the time to stop and celebrate. I’ll do that once I’m (insert lofty goal you want to accomplish).’”
“If you don’t stop to celebrate the little things along the way you get burned out.”
Excuses: “I don’t have time; I’m too tired; I haven’t accomplished anything major yet.”
“We know what we are supposed to be doing, but when we wait for motivation to come ahead of time – it never does. The reason is because we have it backward.”
“So often I have friends that come up to me and lament about their inability to accomplish some kind of goal, like publishing a book. When I ask them how many times they’ve been turned down, they usually respond with nothing greater than 3 or 4.” NOTE – The book Robert was promoting for Andy Andrews was rejected 51 times!
“What do you want so badly that you would pitch it to 30 people who will tell you ‘No’?”
“Your life will take place whether you have a plan or not, so have a plan.”
“Winning is defined by the legacy you create, and legacies take time to build.”
“Write down your strengths and repeat them to yourself.”
“Never be misled by the number of hours in a day. It represents the time that is potentially available. Lost hours and time are gone forever. The present moment is the only moment you totally control.”
“Be your best self and do not imitate anyone else.”
“Find your strengths. They are your talents.”
“Cherish every second, every minute, every moment.”
“We do choose how we will live.”
Are there any quotes mentioned here that speak to you? How do you handle it when people tell you ‘no’? By the way, I’ve lived exactly 11,654 days, how about you? Leave a comment below.
*Disclosure: I received this book for free via another blog. The links to the book are an affiliate link, which means if you purchase Robert’s book though my Amazon link I will receive a small portion of the sale. You can find out more about The Robert D and his book from his website. I’m not sure you’ll encounter a person with more animation and excitement.