Posts Tagged ‘SpecialYou’

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 20: The Legacy of Valuing One Soul Too Much

June 24, 2018

James Clavell has a chilling scene at the close of his epic novel WHIRLWIND, the story of a British helicopter company in Iran in 1979, amid the world-changing turmoil of the overthrow of the Shah by radical Muslims. He has an Islamic mullein on horseback looking down at the company from the top of a hill, saying to himself, “We will defeat you. Why? Because you value one soul too much.” (This may be a paraphrase. See also my LEGACY 9 blogpost.)

I can’t prove it, but this seems to be a uniquely Western Judeo-Christian core value. Most historically great or famous cultures—Chinese, Japanese, Hindu, Buddhist, Greek, Roman, Turkish Ottoman, French Revolution, Marxism, a slew of modern blood-lust dictatorships and tyrannies—you name it—all have devalued the individual and exalted some ideal. “Everyman.” [In case you’re wondering, I just finished the audio version of A TALE OF TWO CITIES.]

My pastor, Bill C., who is 79 and came to that calling mid-life, had a vision that brought him to that concept in the mid 1980-s. He says it happened when he had started going to Jack Hayford’s church in southern California. He topped a hill overlooking the sprawling city as the evening lights were coming on, and seeing a small but clear image of Jesus in his windshield. Jesus put his finger on Bill’s heart and said, “If you’d been the only one, I would have done it for you.” He claims this has happened to numerous people throughout history, radically changing their outlook. Something like it on a more confrontational personal level happened to Saul on the Damascus, changing him into the one of those who “have turned the world upside down.”

There are some books that historically document the radically world-changing nature of the selflessness such a core value can have—HOW CHRISTIANITY CHANGED THE WORLD by Alvin J. Schmidt, HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION (part of THE HINGES OF HISTORY series) by Thomas Cahill, some of Chuck Colson’s books (LOVING GOD, KNOWING GOD). War stories of inspirational speeches (Churchill) or sacrifices that have turned the tide of battle. Survival stories where someone laid down his life for others. Stories of great choices made that saved a plane (SULLY) or a city (KNIGHTS OF MALTA).

This is a legacy I want my children and grandchildren to know about. I’m only a small cog in the great mechanism of the universe, but my inner being cries out to be valued like that. Most of us do. We want to know we are significant. We want to know that our being here matters.

I want to leave a legacy of valuing one soul too much. It may cost us our lives, but I believe it lets us take our rightful place in eternity. Jesus keeps passing that mantle, and sometimes we put it on, even if only for one eternal moment.

Letter to Roby on Becoming the You You Were Meant to Be

January 18, 2013

(Below is the last part of an email I wrote to a friend this morning. What preceded the first comment was my explanation of an accomplishment I’ve done that he admired in his email to me…)

I don’t encourage people to do what I’ve done. You have to find what sparks your imagination and do that. You are a totally unique creation God designed specifically to be and do what you are called to be and do. As the old Mission Impossible statement says, “Your assignment, should you choose to accept it…” is to find out what that is, and do it excellently, just as you do your accounting. That is why you are unhappy with yourself–I know, I was there for the better part of 55 years (I’m 60 now)! It IS doable.

Here’s are the rubs that are keeping you from getting there (I thought of 1, then another, so not sure how many I’ll list here):

1)     FACT 1: Our culture does NOT encourage contentment, satisfaction, or real joy. They SAY they want you to be happy, but if you think about it, NOTHING sells unless there is DISSATISFACTION! The entire premise of advertising and marketing is CREATING DISSATISFACTION! (Read Romans 12:1-2 in this light, and you will see that by and large, Christianity in our culture has bought into being “conformed to the world” rather than being “transformed” into the Glory they were meant to be!)

2)     FACT 2: Christianity as taught ant practiced typically says “Our hearts are BAD, and we can’t trust them.” And there is a truth there, but it’s only a partial one. Scripture also says that when the Lord comes in, He gives us a NEW HEART, one that DESIRES to serve Him, to love Him, to worship Him. If we really believed that, and lived it, it would transform our lives into lives of PASSION and DESIRE–but DESIRE THAT IS GOOD AND WHOLESOME AND AWESOME IN THE WAY IT IS LIVED OUT! And THAT, my friend, is what Jesus was willing to DIE for (“for the JOY that was set before Him, endured the cross…” etc.)

3)     FACT 3: NOTHING EVER GETS DONE OF ANY SIGNIFICANCE WITHOUT DESIRE AND PASSION! Think about it: All of us do the very things we WANT! We may even sabotage and kill ourselves doing it, but we MAKE time for what we FEEL is valuable! It IS ultimately about the FEELING, and only when you get passionate and on-fire for something will you invest the time and energy to make it work. Millionaires become so mostly through this–it’s the one keystone that mentors and positive thinking teachers and motivational speakers build their careers on!

4)     FACT 4: You are UNIQUE, and NO ONE can tell you exactly how to find that PASSION and DESIRE! Most of our society, sadly, spends all its time trying to be something they are not, were not designed to be, and never will successfully be! It’s true, but it doesn’t have to be this way. BUT in order to escape it, you have to become YOU! No one else can do it for you. It may be a pain-full process, but ultimately, it is well worth it! (See #3 above.)

5)     FACT 5: You don’t have to do it alone–and yet you do. There are people out there (like me) willing to help you get there–but you have to put the rubber to the road. And as one of the mentors I listen to says (if you like, I’ll send you a link), you have to have 4 kinds of people in your support group: teachers, doers, pushers, and cheerleaders. Usually they are NOT all combined into one person who “speaks into your life.” That’s one of the values I see in this group we’re in–and I’ve not had that kind of thing for most of my life.

6)     FACT 6: You won’t get there overnight. As the saying goes, an “overnight success” most likely has put in decades becoming that. BUT DON’T LET THAT DISCOURAGE YOU! If you do nothing, 5 or 10 years will STILL pass, and you’ll be at least as dissatisfied as you are now. Charlie Tremendous Jones said, “The only difference between the you now and the you you’ll be in 5 years is the people you meet and the books you read.” Lot of truth in that statement. There are other factors in it too, but basically, you have to commit to a PROCESS! As Steven Covey says, “Start with the end in view.” (With this advice, he advocates picturing your funeral, with 4 people who knew you in different ways [family, friend, co-worker, and one other–can’t remember right now]–and ask yourself, “What do they say about you? What would you want them to say?” Then begin consciously, conscientiously, and persistently to work toward that vision of yourself at your own funeral. Good exercise.

7)     FACT 7: Books are one of the easiest ways to gain wisdom–but you HAVE to pick the right books! You have limited time, limited energy, and limited passion–so use them wisely. Someone said, “An intelligent man learns from his mistakes; a wise one learns from others’ mistakes.” In that vein, I’ve attached an Excel spreadsheet of a book I recently read and thought enough of to encapsulate in this chart. One of the authors is Jack Canfield, of “Chicken Soup” fame, and his story is in there too. The book is titled YOU’VE GOT TO READ THIS BOOK! but the subtitle says it all: 55 stories by people telling what books changed their lives. Jack is one of the people; Covey is another. Yes, some of the books are NOT Christian, and could lead people into Buddhism or Stoicism, or “New-Agey” thinking–but I’ll take that chance. One of the books mentioned is the Bible, and God’s Word CAN and WILL stand the test–it really, as Roy says, is the “Book of Best Practices,” not only for business but for ALL of life! And I firmly believe that the principles Christianity is solidly based on (e.g., faith) are actually laws in the sense that gravity and inertia are laws: They operate on their own, by God’s design, whether we acknowledge them as coming from Him or His Word or not! Think about it: Every time you turn on a light switch, or the ignition switch for your car, you’re operating in faith!

I’ll stop off here. I would suggest you begin by making a list of 10 books you want to read this year. I can suggest some if you like, and even lend you some (though I really recommend you INVEST in them, as that will make them mean more to you, and you can then annotate them, a valuable exercise in itself). And I can suggest some other things to get you on track of living that ABUNDANT LIFE Jesus promised as we go along.

I’m glad to get to know you. Thanks for being someone I can invest my talents into!

Blessings,
Ken

For Christi Joy, Christmas Day 1991

January 10, 2012

For Christi Joy, a.k.a. “CJ”

Christmas  Day 1991

(Proverbs 17:22;

Philippians 2:1-4)

 

A special poem, Daughter mine,

To thank you for the  laughter fine

You’ve brought into our lives this year.

You’re aptly named—you’re Christ’s own cheer

Embodied when you laugh, you’re Joy

Alive and living Christmas Joy!

You’re bubbling water, sparkling clear,

All year you bring us Christmas cheer.

 

“And yet,” you say, “I’m just not real.

That’s not the way I always feel!”

Agreed—but are we only just

Our feelings? Can we really trust

Them? Life is so much more, you see,

Than what we think it seems to be:

The sun still shines behind the clouds;

And you’re still you, though lost in crowds;

 

Your hair still glows its golden red,

No matter what’s inside that head.

We see you as you are—AND MORE!

There’s still so MUCH of LIFE in store!

Don’t let today destroy tomorrow—

Joy’s even found in depths of sorrow!

Rejoice each day in all you see—

And BE the JOY you’re meant to BE!!

 

(With Love, Dad)

For Kenneth, Christmas 1991

January 10, 2012

(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

 

A special poem for you, my son,

This Christmas Day of ‘Ninety-One.

You’ll never know the cheer you bring

To Mom and me, the way we sing

To see you grow, become a man,

To watch you search to find the plan

Meant just for you and no one else,

That special “you” inside yourself.

 

We see the struggles deep inside

But barely—we all try to hide

the “me” we think no one would like

If they saw what we’re really like,

When all the while their real desire

Is for the spark to kindle fire

Of real “You’s” and real “Me’s”—

The only way to thaw the freeze

 

That separates the lonely heart

And keeps us silent, still apart.

So let’s join hands (we’re not alone),

Unlock our hearts, become as one.

I’ll help you if you’ll help me too

To do what one alone can’t do:

To find that special “me” and “you”

In Nineteen Hundred Ninety-Two.

 

(With Love, Dad)