Having resolved to finish my books, I have come to the time blocked out for that activity. Now I have choices. These are similar to some that you will be making with regard to your projects and goals today, so I will post them: 1) Initiate. 2) Procrastinate. 3) Renegotiate. If the schedule I have set for taking the next step is unrealistic, I can renegotiate it with myself, but I dog-gone well better not set it aside indfeinitely. If not now, when? Otherwise, I am simply procrastinating ... and that is an option. However, it is very old option and quite unproductive. It avoids accountability and produces no worthwhile results. That leaves me with the initiation option and that is the one I am going to take. I have finished my e-mail. I am almost finished with this blog entry. I have done my weekly planning and I have time set aside this morning for editting and writing. So ... in about 2 minutes, I am going to close my laptop, walk out of St Arbucks, drive home, and get on with it. May I suggest that you get on with something today? Initiate.
I have made a decision. It is actually the culmination of a constellation of decisions, but I have made it nevertheless.
After a week and a half of writing nothing but sermons and short notes, I have come to the conclusion that I am going to finish at least two books that have been languishing on my hard drive.
I am going to face the wall of fear and the raging river of perfectionism and get them ready to actually show someone. I am going to take the risk and be vulnerable. i am going to do it.
So, that is where I am and I am in a state somewhere between exhilaration, apprehension, and sheer dread, but that is where I am.
OK. Now that i have said it in public, I'll have to do it.
If I continue to be scarce, you'll know why.
I have a new Amazon aStore: Pastor Tom's Bookstore.
A man's steps are directed by the LORD.
How then can anyone understand his own way? - Proverbs 20:24 (New International Version)
The very steps we take come from God;
otherwise how would we know where we're going? - Same verse (The Message)
γνώθι σεαυτόν (Greek Proverb inscribed at the entrance to the temple of Apollo at Delphi) - Translation: "Know thyself."
There is a conflict between what the Oracle of Delphi prescribes and what the sage of Jerusalem decrees. The Greek proverbs adjures us to know ourselves and the Proverbs tell us that we cannot completely know ourselves. There are factors that are like ingredients in the mix of our lives that are beyond our grasp and deeper than our introspection.
Alexander Pope boasted,
"Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of mankind is Man."
While not being altogether in error in his observation, he is not all-inclusive.
God is guiding our lives. Chance meetings evolve into lifetime relationships; courses are changed in a moment; entire destinies are altered by a word or deed of seemingly marginal significance.
God is guiding us, leading us, nudging us, preparing us, and building a highway of destiny for us. Of course, we can rebel and pridefully avoid His grace, but it will never be dismissed entirely. We simply do not know everything there is t know about ourselves and our purpose on this planet.
We need a dose of humility to boost our confidence.
Walk in wonder with a deepening appreciation for the mysteries of God in you. Liv e in awe and expectancy. temper your confidence with humility and your humility with courage. Leave some things dangling in your self perception. Don't lock yourself into hard and fast definitions of yourself. First know God and let Him introduce you to yourself.
He has always known you.
Network or Multi-Level marketing is a Golden-Rule business when done properly, with integrity, and with the right company. There have been plenty of abuses, but there are also many, many success stories. You build communities of people who do business together, support each other, and share a passion for their dreams. You work smarter and leverage your time by equipping other people for success. You don't make a dime unless you help them make a dollar.
It is no replacement for your faith and your service to God and humanity, but it can help you build your faith and support your ministry. If you keep things in perspective, you can begin to take charge of some areas of your life which have had a tendancy to take charge of you.
Money is a terrible master, but a pretty nice slave.
Writing your own ticket means that you make money less of an issue in your life, less of a topic in your conversations and thoughts, and less of a driving force in your life. It may seem paradoxical, but if you can create some streams of income, money will become less important to you.
Who thinks more about money - those who have what they need or those who are living on the edge of financial disaster?
Robert Kiosaki calls network marketing the business school for people who like helping people. Order his book at the link below. He also calls it "the franchise for the average man."
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There are some wonderful opportunities to do honest business through affiliate marketing and network marketing. I have a list of such opportunities and their relative advantages and disadvantages for anyone who writes me about them. The key is to evaluate the company's integrity, the value of the product, its marketability, and your own personality and interests. Then go with something about which you can become passionate.
Giving back is part of being successful as well as accumulating wealth. Here is an oppportunity to share: Give to the March of Dimes
Don't forget that leaders are also readers. You can rent, borrow, listen, or buy. Click on one of my bookstores here or in the margin for bargain s and quality.
Finding a company you like is important, but it is even more crucial to get on the right team with the right kind of mentors. shop for a good mentor. He/she will be available in person or by phone, honest, realistic, encouraging, and likeable.
He/she will also be a student with good mentors of his/her own.
speaking of people in business, my old Discover Mangosteen link is dead. Use this one if you want to find out more about Xango, the product and the opportunity: Discover Mangosteen. I use this product and, while I am not extremely active at marketing it, I receomend it highly and have seen some results that people attribute to mangosteen that impress me greatly. It is a good company with some good folks and a sound marketing and compensation plan.
I would love to work with you in one of my businesses or refer you to a friend.
Recently, I have become very impressed with what Pre-Paid Legal has to offer in compensation and in product. My friend, Doug Bloomer is building a great business. We are friends from Toastmasters.I would be happy to get you information on that opprtunity and get you in touch with someone like Doug who can help you. Our church is affiliated. E-Mail me.
New programs seem to emerge weekly. Some are good; some are not so good. The MLM Blog is a good source of information and so are primary sources. Learn to read the company's pitch and read between the lines as well. Don't believe all negative possibility. Sour grapes can produce that. Don't take all the positive at face value either. A busin ess is what you make of it and they all take work.
Remember, a good business requires digits, widgets, and fidgets. More on that later.
Usana is a good company with a quality product. A friend of mine is involved and as I typed this, he was making a presentation at the next table. i can't do everything an d you can't either. Find what suits you and a team with whom you can work. Yoyu are choosing a business and a set of best friends.
Right now, I am looking into Eniva and so far, I am impressed. But what is right for you?
Again - keep it in perspective. Nothing comes before your relationship with god, your family, and your calling to minister and make a positive impact in the world. In the quest for wealth, do not trample on the poor or neglect service for which there is no material compensation. But if you are going to do business and if you need to make money, consider leveraging your time by building communities and working smarter.
And if you don't like the way you have been approached by these programs in the past, do it differently.
I often talk about the dash between the date of birth and the date of a person's death on gravestones when I do committal services. We have little of no choice over the dates, but we have multiple choices within the dash. It is where we live, love, laugh, and lift others.
My friend, Jim from the funeral home likes this a lot. This morning in the first of two services today, he walked me over to a marker and, pointing, he said, "This guy tried to cheat."
I looked down and saw the longest dash I have ever seen.
I was getting ready to lead the family to remember a 91 years old woman and preparing for a similar event in the afternoon for a 48 year old man.
Both had a sense of fullness and completion of life. Both were living when they died.
That is more important than the length of the dash.
I'd write more about this, but I have t make a mad dash to the funeral home. The next one starts at 2 PM.
I am proficient at avoiding a task until the last minute and renegotiating my schedule with myself many times a day.
I also know that this lifestyle is stressful and often, unproductive. For that reason, I have been working on the issue.
For instance, there is an emerging sense of the power of a moment to whittle away at a long term task, the energy of a few minutes focused on a job that may even facilitate completion. I can do something now that will have far-reaching benefits. I don't need a full hour for every task, nor do I have to schedule it in the future.
II Corinthians 6:2 puts it all in a theological context,
"...I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation."
I was playing with my calendar this morning and had spent considerable time scheduling small an d large jobs, appointments, and events. In frustration, I realized that I had not scheduled a significant time slot for writing my blog and had, in fact, missed several days.
Then, there was that inner voice whispering in my ear, saying, "What about now?"
"But I don't have enough time?"
"You have some. Do what you can."
So, here you are. That was 11 minutes and I am glad I posted something.
Now, it is off to the races.
William F. Lloyd was born in 1835 and most we would agree that his times have passed. Yet, he understood the ultimate secret of time management when he penned the words below that would be set to music by George Kingley. Inspired by Psalm 31:15. Lloyd expressed the peace and resolution that is available to believers who are harried, worried, and hassled by life.
We make the best we can of our time management skills, but we always affirm that God, outside of time, yet present within, is the Lord of time.
My times are in Thy hand;
My God, I wish them there;
My life, my friends, my soul I leave
Entirely to Thy care.
My times are in Thy hand;
Whatever they may be;
Pleasing or painful, dark or bright,
As best may seem to Thee.
My times are in Thy hand;
Why should I doubt or fear?
My Father’s hand will never cause
His child a needless tear.
My times are in Thy hand,
Jesus, the crucified!
Those hands my cruel sins had pierced
Are now my guard and guide.
My times are in Thy hand,
I’ll always trust in Thee;
And, after death, at Thy right hand
I shall forever be.
Spurgeon summarized these sentiments with a grand doxology in his sermon on this theme:
"My times are in thy hand," and therefore the end will be glorious. My Lord, if my times were in my own hand, they would prove a failure; but since they are in thy hand, thou wilt not fail, nor shall I. The hand of God ensures success all along the line. In that day when we shall see the tapestry which records our lives, we shall see all the scenes therein with wondering eye; we shall see what wisdom, what love, what tenderness, what care was lavished upon them. When once a matter is in God's hand it is never neglected or forgotten, but it is carried out to the end. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.
I have not been able to preach on this text as I hoped to do, for I am full of pain, and have a heavy headache; but, thank God, I have no heartache, with such a glorious truth before me. Sweet to my soul are these words — "My times are in thy hand." Take the golden sentence home with you. Keep this truth in your mind. Let it lie on your tongue like a wafer made with honey. Let it dissolve until your whole nature is sweetened by it. Yes, dear old lady, you that have come out of the workhouse this morning to hear this sermon, say to yourself, "My times are in thy hand." Yes, you, dear friend, who cannot find a situation, and have been walking the shoes off your feet in the vain endeavor to seek one: you also may say, "My times are in thy hand." Yes, my dear sister, pining away with consumption, this may be your song: "My times are in thy hand." Yes, young man, you that have just started in business, and have met with a crushing loss, it will be for your benefit after all; therefore say, "My times are in thy hand." This little sentence, to my mind, swells into a hymn: it buds and blossoms into a psalm. Few are the words, but mighty is the sense, and full of rest.
The hands of time are God's hands. Do your best, but in doing so, trust in the one who knows the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end.
Let me start by saying that I only have a few minutes to compose this entry.
The fact that I have any time flexibility at all is because I was rather rigid about planning my day today. Having said that, i have already made several revisions in the schedule - lowering expectations in some areas and increasing them in others, moving arbitrary deadlines and getting ahead on a few projects.
So, here I am with about 5 or 10o minutes to blog.
The title is a bit deceptive because I cannot really tell you how to do this. Having Outlook fully operational is helpful.Making attempts in the direction of realism is a plus. Commitment is necessary. Margins are indispensable. Grace is crucial.
Having things to do during the gaps is a useful tool - especially small jobs. Otherwise we slip into a pattern of time-consuming thumb-twiddling - which can be both tiring and frustrating.
Well, here are a couple of list items which are not meant to be exhaustive.
1) No matter if it does seem to be a waste of time, take time, and plenty of it to really think about your week and your day and what you really want to accomplish and plan it analytically, realistically, and rigidly, knowing that you will have to be flexible to cope with the unexpected.
2) Plan margins.
3) Plan projects that can fit into the margins.
4) Plan breaks and do not negotiate these away. If you are like me, plan changes of focus regularly.
5) Raise your expectations of yourself in some areas and lower them in others.
6) Use that infuriating alarm bell in MS Outlook. For instance, mine just went off telling me it is time to pack up and go - which I am going to do - even though I am not done.
I said this would not be exhaustive or plenary in nature - just some passing observations.
"What are you selling?"
I know it is a bit crude, possibly rude, but I get a lot of phone calls where we have to go through the "beating around the bush" dance for a few minutes and I am always friendly about the question and not necessarily closed-minded. I ask within a few seconds, "What are you selling?"
And I try to let the folks on the other end of the line know that I don't think "selling" is a dirty word.
I just want to know.
Is it an idea, a product, a service, or a "gift?" Do they want an appointment, a commitment, or an opinion? I want people to know that they have a legitimate self-interest in calling me and that I know it and that it is OK. It makes for a honest conversation. Even if their self-interest is the sense of satisfaction in doing a good thing, let us put our cards on the table.
I don't need to know their profit margin, but I know that they cannot stay in business without one and if they cannot stay in business, I don't want to do business with them because their after-care will soon dry up. I want to spend my money with people who know how to make a fair profit.
Does that make sense?
I need to process this call quickly because I am probably in the middle of another project, perhaps even a bright idea that will never pass through my mind again and needs to be captured, interrogated, and released.
Win my goodwill by respecting my time. I am inclined to give both in an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Maybe you are selling an idea. That is good. You will be measuring profit differently. If you are selling the gospel, it may be out of sheer gratitude for what you have already received and love for humanity. If you are selling a social or political idea, your motive may be that you really believe society will be improved and your family's life will be better if I adopt your way of thinking.
Let's cut to the chase. I have no problem with the fact that you are selling something. I have a problem with you denying it.
And don't be surprised if I try to sell you something while I have you on the line.
One assumes that most bloggers are aware of the advantages and potential of Google AdSense, but just in case some have missed it, I will make this referral.
If you are going to get serious about blogging, there are some simple non-offensive methods for creating a small (or large if you generate lots of traffic) income for your activity. It may even pay for your hobby. One of the ways people are consistently earning pennies is through Goodgle AdSense. These simple ads are targeted, tasteful, easy to configure, and very available.
It is worth investigation.
I propose a philosophical predisposition for ministry, business, and now politics which I will call GAB - Goodwill Attitude Bias.
Simply put, we check our attitudes regularly to access the level of bias toward goodwill in our actions, reactions, responses, and overtures toward others whether they are clients, constituents, coworkers, associates, parishioners, or people on the street.
Are the words we are about to speak and decisions we are about to make effecting and affecting them bathed in the sweet water of goodwill? Do we have their best interests at heart? Are we genuinely interested in lifting them rather than tearing them down, in building them up, and giving them tools for becoming all they can be?
Without exercising any control over people's lives and respecting their autonomy, are we concerned about them? Are we allowing God's love to flow through us toward them?
It is a well used cliche, worthy of greater exposure that no one cares how much you kn ow until they know how much you care.
Don't fake it as a GABber; be one.
You can gab and gab and gab, but unless there is goodwill in your heart toward those to whom you are conveying your message, it is meaningless.
I included politics because in our current environment of disrespect and uncivil childishness, no one is speaking to anyone. Political operatives talk over people, about them, through them, and around them, but John Danforth is correct about the loss of the center in American politics and the abandonment of civility when there is an illusion of certainty in our polarized positions. See his new book, Faith and Politics.
It is not enough to have a great message, a great cause, a great product, or a great business opportunity. if we don't love our neighbor and genuinely care about his or her well being, wishing that person well (which is the essence of goodwill), we really have nothing worthy of saying or hearing.
Cultivate goodwill as your attitude bias and live by your convictions. Not everyone will sign on with you, but many more people will be willing to hear what you are saying.
We've got another scandal in Washington - the kind we love, juicy, sexual, tawdry, and polarizing.
And the Man in sandals walks among us unshaken, knowing what He has always known - that we are vulnerable and flawed and ever so needy of His grace and mercy.
Here is what we do, and this is not to minimize the shock value or the horror of young people being victimized: we polarize. We let the nasty news back up what ever position we have already entrenched ourselves in:
"See, I told you that all fibberwidgets (Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, political "liberals," political "conservatives", etc... ) were ignobilities."
And, if we happen to be elected to something and affiliated with a party, we will gravitate in one of two directions:
(1) Make political points from it.
(2) Avoid or minimize political damage from it.
And this is where the hypocrisy lies whether we were Republicans lam-blasting Clinton or Democrats roasting Foley. We take the sinless stance and gather a handful of stones. And if we happen to be related by party or ideology, we distance ourselves and change the subject.
All the while, this has absolutely nothing to do with ideology, party affiliation, or public policy. It is about human flaws.
Then we buy into the culture of cynicism and dehumanize the offender. For good insight into a piece of this, see and hear Judy Muller's commentary on NPR's Morning Edition this morning: Foley Alcoholism Should Be Treated with Care.
This would be a start: The "opposite party' keep its mouth shut and quietly communicate with the party of the offender that it wants to give it a chance to take the lead on the housecleaning. wouldn't that be something? Give the points away.
My goodness, that might actually be civil. we can't have that.
And the Man in Sandals walks among us and shakes His head.
We are entering one of those disgusting seasons where every opportunity for statesmanship is about to be shunned for good old fashioned mudslinging after which the culprits will try to convince us that because they wear nice suits and have titles such as Senator and Congressman, they are deserving of our respect and we should consider them intelligent and conscientious patriots. We are to expect them to respect us and work for our best interests when they can't even treat each other with respect, good will, and decency.
And when one of them falls in a big way, I almost gravitate toward him with sympathy because at least he is no longer actively assassinating the character of his opponents, maligning their motives, or labeling them with meaningless terms in an attempt to avoid honest debate.
Mr. Foley has done some awful things, but not because of his Republican politics. President Clinton had moral failures, but not because he was a Democrat. Is anyone praying for Congressman in public? I am sure someone is, but I doubt that they are standing for election.
The Man in Sandals walks among our scandals, but is not scandalized.
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We live in complicated times with complex problems, challenges, and questions. Each topic has its proponents who would move it to the top of the list of current concerns.
"If we could solve this one," they imply, "all others would soon fall in line."
For instance, the doctor said that the reason my arm hurts is that I have tendinitis (aka: tennis elbow). So, he gave me a brace. After two or three hours I had a deep insight into how it works: It feels so good when you take it off.
It is a change of focus.
Where should our focus be? If we address one pivotal concern will all others pivot with it (say it fast and it will sound clever)?
"All you need is love," we used to sing. "What the world needs now is love, sweet love; it's the only thing that there's just too little of."
What about public morality? Personal morality?
Will one lead to the other?
Which crisis is most threatening and thus, most in need of our attention? AIDS? Terrorism? Moral decay in America? Sleep disorders? The Diabetes epidemic/ Global Warming?
And given that Christ is preeminent in all things, what does that imply in relation to our problems?
Are we crisis driven or purpose driven?
Most of the issues of our day are so complex, complicated, timely, and intense that we could start digging about anywhere and hit a mother-load of sewage. We live in a leech field of unwanted complications.
And like an onion, we keep peeling back layers to find more.
I was wondering today if there had ever been such a time as this where so many were aware of the magnitude of threats to our well being, where one big issue out of balance could upset all the rest and forever topple the delicate balance that holds the world together.
What do we do?
At the risk of sounding ding simplistic, I'll venture a list:
1. Make an independent, prior, and irrevocable commitment to what is eternal and purposeful. Consider what is not disturbed no matter how hard everything else is shaken and commit to it. Let that commitment be your prior decision about all unknown contingencies and stick with it. If God is really God than God will still be God when everything else is rubble.
2. Lead with the Word, the Spirit, and the heart. Fully engage yourself in a search for truth that is first theological and then, open-ended, rooted in the Word of God (Living and Written). Then, engage your spirit with the Eternal Spirit of God, seeking, seeking, seeking, listening, and obeying. Finally, engage a heart of compassion, love, and brokenness for the brokenness of the world.
3. Take your assignment and do it. You are not called to solve ill. You may be called and equipped to do work that is largely invisible and seems insignificant.Do it anyway. Every assignment is vital. Do what you can.
4. Pray. We believe in the Sovereignty of God, not fatalism. We are not privy to all the outcomes. resignation is not the pathway of faith.
5. Relax and celebrate life. Your depressive negativism will not make the world a better place or enhance your joy while you are here.
Let's work together to find our way out of the maze.
Whatever you are building in terms of a business organization or a church or some other movement, you will need people to accomplish your goals. It is all about creating community (communities).
It was said of singer/son-writer/ragamuffin Rich Mullins that he created communities wherever he went. That is why when he died tragically at the age of 42, they had to have a traveling memorial service that moved from city to city.
Communities develop as we bring people together. To bring people together, we must meet people, introduce people, and set a table where they can continue to meet. That begins with contacts and referrals.
One of the truly great mentors in this area is Bob Burg. I recommend that any serious student/practitioner of this art get his book and the CD series and absorb/apply it. How to Develop a Network of Endless Referrals is a great starting place.
At the heart of the matter is the question of motive. While honest and transparent self-interest is healthy, it must be held in balance with a larger set of interests. If we are interested in people only for what they can do for us, that Will also be transparent and a detriment to what we are trying to accomplish. We cannot show interest in another person unless we are genuinely interested in them.
We just cultivate a sense of wonder and appreciation for people as marvelous beings made in the image of God who are valuable and fascinating to know for no other reason than just knowing them. When we meet and share lives with others, we benefit in ways that may be intangible, but are profound. When we add value to other people's lives through encouragement, we encourage ourselves.
There is no such thing as a wasted contact. Every appointment is a divine appointment. Every opportunity to meet a new person has a mystical and miraculous dimension. God is bringing someone into our lives for His own purposes and that may involve our goals as well. If not, that is fine because real success is larger than those goals.
We live in a world of uncharted adventures and unknown wonders. Infuse your business with that philosophy and see what happens.
When we meet someone, we must view them as valuable and see in them a beauty and potential that is beyond time and space. If you believe that, everything about you will communicate it.
After that, it is simple. Extend your hand. Introduce yourself. Follow some guidelines like those Bob Burg suggests.
What does it take? First, be among people regularly. Next, keep your eyes open for points of contact. Then, extend yourself by extending your hand. After that, ask good questions and listen carefully. Finally, do not part without sharing contact information.
Then (as if anything comes after "finally" - and much does), follow-up. More on this later.