Posts Tagged ‘greatness’

LEGACY 21: The Legacy of Asking Key Questions

July 13, 2018

It’s been several weeks since I’ve written a blog myself, but the idea for one popped up this morning when I awoke. We (my wife and I) are on our way to northwest Ohio (a 12-hour drive) to wrap up the affairs of her 93-year-old father, who died (preferable in my book to the somewhat euphemistic “passed”) this past Tuesday. In his waning days, he asked a relative, “What is the purpose of life?” The relative, definitely younger and less experienced in life, was taken aback and, not knowing how to answer, didn’t respond. She said she wished she had known what was going on and said something. I’m not sure that was the important thing. Can we ever really know if we say the right thing?

So I found myself thinking, “What are the key questions we should ask?”

What prompts us to ask? What is the purpose of asking? Do we really want answers? Or are we looking for something attendant—Relationship? Mere information? Satisfying our curiosity? (Why is it that children are always asking WHY? and we as adults stop asking?)

There are 2 kinds of questions—unimportant and important. Key questions definitely fit into the latter. But there are probably a host of questions that are important but not key. So let’s keep delving down into levels of importance and “key-ness.”

There are questions that identify information that matters, as opposed to trivia. There are questions that help influence decision-making. And there are questions that change our lives. I’m not a philosopher, so questions of epistemology (the theory of the nature of knowledge) I’m not qualified to begin to answer. How much can be known? The answer is the Question of the Ages: Who knows? (and if you respond in pat theological certainty, “God knows!”—how do you know that? And the begging questions, “Are there things He doesn’t know?” And on and on it goes…)

In my little, often-unknowing mind, there are a few KEY key questions for sure. My father-in-law asked one of them: “What is the purpose of life?” It can be asked in other ways or with other nuances: “Why am I here?” “How can I find meaning/significance?” “What do I need to be doing with my life?” Viktor Frankl’s 1946 book MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING (according to a 1991 survey conducted by the US Library of Congress and Book of the Month Club, one of the 10 Most Influential Books in the US. See Wikipedia under the term “MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING.” A humorous footnote: The archived article, from the NY Times, has 13 total books listed. Five of them, including Frankl’s, are tied for 9th place. There is no actual 10th place book.)

Key questions revolve around key needs: purpose, relationship, legacy. What will I leave behind? (Why do I blog? What do I gain by it?)

My father-in-law was one of the most purposeful and effective men I’ve ever met. He lived a full and productive life and left a great legacy for his family and his world.

I wish I could ask him now, “What did you mean by that question? Do you have an answer? Was it the answer you expected? Is it the answer you wanted?” and “Are you still asking questions? If so, why?” And perhaps the most important one for me, “What question should I be asking right now?”

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LEGACY 18: NOT Being AVERAGE

June 3, 2018

I think I found the point to the question my son raised about mm blogpost NOT FITTING THE MOLD, the question of what my point really was. My point was, and is, that I CHOOSE NOT to be AVERAGE. Gary M. (“Not Fitting the Mold”) is admirable to me in that respect.

Sometimes, we figure out what we want by realizing what we DON’T want.

Ironically, I found this answer become clear while reading an assignment for a mastermind group on Growth I’m in. (The entire quote is below, so you can read it if you like.)

I value differences (see my blogpost on Quirks), especially those which propel us to greatness, even if that greatness is not seen by many, or even not seen at all. Being extra-ordinary, “other than ordinary”, is great in multiple senses of the word. It is great in the common sense of “That’s great!” But it is also great in that it elevates us in the eyes of others (when seen) and elevates us in our sense of being significant whether seen or no. It creates its own grandeur.

Extraordinary is right. Extraordinary is good. Extraordinary is what brings change and growth and life and laughter and love. And being extraordinary requires a choice. It sometimes requires work, and sometimes requires swimming upstream.

My life has been very different than most. I would not trade that for anything. Being NOT AVERAGE in a great way is what I choose for my legacy. I choose being extra-ordinary.

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“Average” is what the failures claim to be when their family and friends ask them why they are not more          successful.

“Average” is the top of the bottom, the best of the worst, the bottom of the top, the worst of the best. Which of these are you?

“Average” means being run-of-the-mill, mediocre, insignificant, an also-ran, a nonentity.

Being “average” is the lazy person’s cop-out; it’s lacking the guts to take a stand in life; it’s living by default.

Being “average” is to take up space for no purpose; to take the trip through life, but never to pay the fare; to return no interest on God’s investment in you.

Being “average” is to pass one’s life away with time, rather than to pass one’s time away with life; it’s to kill time, rather than to work it to death.

To be “average” is to be forgotten once you pass from this life. The successful are remembered for their contributions; the failures are remembered because they tried; but the “average,” the silent majority, is just forgotten.

To be “average” is to commit the greatest crime one can against one’s self, humanity, and one’s God. The saddest epitaph is this: “Here lies Mr. and Ms. Average—here lies the remains of what might have been, except for their belief that they were only “average.”

–Edmund Gaudet, as quoted in Chapter 10, “The Law of the Rubber Band: Growth Stops When You Lose the Tension Between Where You Are and Where You Could Be,” THE 15 INVALUABLE LAWS OF GROWTH by John Maxwell (Hachette Book Group, 2012)

Unique, and Great At It

November 21, 2012

When I first came up with my original title for this (“The Unfathomable Value of a Unique Life”), I left the entire document blank, and I thought about posting it that way. If indeed, the value of a unique life IS unfathomable, then no amount of description, no attempt to paint a picture is inadequate, and might as well be left unsaid.

In all honesty, it should be blank.

Still, we can explore, and muse, and be inspired by something unfathomable—the intricacies and inspirations we keep finding from ocean depths, e.g., or the farthest reaches of the mysteries of the universe.

I just finished reading a 6-book biography of a little-known figure who is so unique and astounding that it gave me a different perspective on how that box could be mused upon. And, interestingly, it brought more peace into my heart about who I am and what I am called to be.

When John the Baptizer was challenged by some petty thinkers that Jesus and His disciples were baptizing more than John, he showed not a lick of envy. And having read this bio, I felt the same way about this man, whose life is so uniquely stamped with the authority and gifting of God that it could easily create envy in some. Who is this man? Before I reveal that, let me give some statistics on the creation of this hidden jewel of a biography.

The author, Owen Jorgensen, was first drawn to write this bio at the age of 18, but waited almost that long again because he felt so unqualified. After the 17-year wait, he then spent another 17 years logging an average of 12 hours a week, some 10,000 hours total, researching and writing 380,000 words—and still felt he hadn’t done justice to the task. The content is so readable and believable, and can easily be documented, according to the author, from writings and audio recordings. Who then, is this figure?

Most people have never heard of him. Those who have heard of Kathryn Kuhlman, Oral Roberts and Benny Hinn have no idea that this man paved the way for the acceptance of their ministries by his amazing and often-verified accuracy of miracles and revelations in his ministry. His name is William Branham. The books are titled SUPERNATURAL: The Life of William Branham, and numbered 1-6, each with a subtitle describing the person and an aspect of his ministry.

William Marrion Branham was born in a two-room cabin in backwoods Kentucky April 9, 1906. Even his birth had more of the supernatural to it than most people see in a lifetime. The cabin had no windows except a hinged wooden section in the door. Around 5 am, when he was born, there were 5 people (parents, aunt & uncle, grandmother) in the cabin, and they opened the “window” to allow some light in. A ball of light entered the cabin, hovered over the baby for quite a few minutes, and then exited. Immediately, a dove lit on the ledge of the “window,” cooed several times, and flew off. Though none of the occupants were religious or church-attendees, they wondered what would become of this marvelous introduction.

Several times in his youth, even at times when having to help his father make moonshine during Prohibition, young William had supernatural encounters that were unexplainable, and he was told early on never to drink or smoke because of the call of God on his life. Eventually he felt called into ministry and learned how to deal with these supernatural encounters in bringing healings and even resurrections from the dead. He became an evangelist with such an amazing array of miracles, accompanied by 100% accuracy in the revelations he was given, that he was saddened and angered at the attempts to emulate him that often left people disillusioned and discouraged. In addition, his entire life seemed to be an uphill battle in learning how to discern and utilize his gifting, how to express it effectively, and how to leave a legacy that impacted the Kingdom of God in the way he felt called—a forerunner of Jesus’ second coming as John was a forerunner of his first.

And yet in all this, his humanness shines through because of Jorgensen’s ability to paint a flesh-and-blood person. He is seen to be an amazing huntsman, almost always able to kill squirrels with a single .22 shot. In Book 6, he was given a vision about what would happen when he went on his annual fall hunting expedition in the Rockies. He saw someone measuring an unusual rack from a caribou and saying that it measured 42”. He also saw himself killing a huge silver-tipped grizzly with a single shot. Both happened, and the dressed skin of the grizzly weighed 300 pounds; it became his prayer rug! In fact, after reading all 6 books, I felt I had come to know Branham as a person in such a way that I found myself grieving at his sudden and unexpected death in 1965.

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Branham’s life was so unique that I found it encouraging in a surprising way: it dawned on me that I was not meant to be someone like him. The callings and visitations he experienced were not something he could have wished for or conjured up in his wildest imaginings—obviously, since they began at his birth. Knowing this uplifted me in that I realized that, if He had wanted, God could have caused me to have such kinds of revelations, visions, and supernatural experiences. He chose not to, and so I have some other purpose in life to fulfill.

My own life is unique, and more and more (I am now 60) I value that uniqueness. I was not called to be a William Branham, nor a John the Baptizer. I was called to be me. (I guess to be grammatically correct, I should say, “I was called to be I.”—I can even enjoy my own self-analyzing awareness!)

And YOU should value your own uniqueness. Each of us should, and in turn, we should value the uniqueness of each person we come into contact with. I like Matthew Kelly’s concept that we achieve the greatest happiness and sense of fulfillment when we help each other become the “best version” of who we were designed to be, called to be, chosen to be.

And part of my calling, my design, is to help others see that. That is why I write. Like St. Paul and Martin Luther, I can do no other. One of my most important goals in life is to move people a little closer to seeing the unfathomable value in themselves and in others, the unique contribution each of us alone has to offer. When you succeed at trying to imitate someone else or to be something you’re not meant to be, you’re making two mistakes: 1) You’re getting in the way of someone else being the unique gift they were meant to be; and 2) You’re leaving your own spot of uniqueness unfilled, undone.

Samuel Johnson said, “No man was ever great by imitation.”

  • Be different.
  • Be outstanding.
  • Be unique.

Be great. You were meant to be.

Strength Measured By Silence

June 21, 2012

A man’s strength is measured by the silences he keeps.

I have observed in others, and in myself, that often, the more desperate the need to talk, the less peace there is. Some people just prattle on about nothing all the time, so much at times that it’s difficult to be around them, much less to want to. They talk about so many inconsequential and niggling things that, if they do say something of importance, it gets missed in the muddle. It’s like they’re searching for something in the process of speaking, something gossamer-thin and vaporous, almost wished-for but never graspable, always just beyond reach but tantalizing enough to keep trying.

Sometimes, I just want to be away from such people. I enjoy my silences. I enjoy not having to say something, and sometimes I even want to just tell them, “Please, just shut up! Just be quiet and enjoy your own thoughts!” But then, they probably don’t enjoy themselves—who knows, maybe they are the last person they want to talk with! So they just keep on filling the spaces with more nothingness in a far less pleasurable and meaningful way.

A boxer’s strength is revealed in the knock-out punch, but it is measured in the process of getting there—the training, the waiting, the ability to know when and how and why, even if only intuitively. A lion’s success and even survival depends on the silences of stalking. Truly great men do not need to speak of their own greatness—it shows in the action. The process of getting there has made them who they are, and it does not matter that the world cannot see behind the curtains of time, history, and even destiny.