Posts Tagged ‘value’

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.

LEGACY 10: THE REAL VALUE OF MONEY (AND CURRENCY)

May 19, 2018

(Originally written 9/27/14)

I have been told I am one of the most generous people someone knows. I love to give. And that may be why I am where I am in life, as far as having not saved and having no cushion for retirement.

That may also cause a lot of people to disrespect my opinions about money and investing. So be it.

But I do not apologize for it. To me, the real value of money is its ability to bless people, to bring momentary happiness and satisfaction and relief from troubles—i.e., its currency, its ability to make relationships flow between people in good ways. Yes, it has propensities for evil use—and a lot of that is determined by its use, its application to specific situations. That application is a reflection of the morals, the values, the attitude of the person who is wielding its momentary and fleeting power.

The longer-lasting—indeed, eternal power, if it is to have any at all—is in giving. Giving graciously and gloriously—unexpectedly, serendipitously—gives money a real value (and here I think of the Spanish meaning of real: ROYAL). Money is at its best serving, benefiting, being used to add value to the overall human condition, furthering life and not death. This is why we honor philanthropists (even when their money has been ill-gotten)—somehow, they have laid hold of the principle of giving.

And in the final analysis, money is only one form of currency, often an expression of a truer one. Jesus commended the widow slipping her two meager mites into the treasure unnoticed as having more value that most giving—it reflected her heart, her desire to give all to God. We too can do that through the way we treat money.

He also commented on using this life’s resources to lay up treasures in another that will last immeasurably longer. One way to do that is to invest it in other treasures that will also be lasting into that realm—people.

One thing I frequently ask myself: What is the best way I can bless this person? Sometimes, if their heart is closed to me, the best way is to leave them alone. But more often, it is through the currency of kindness, of praise, of unexpected gratitude, of a different mindset—valuing them for who they are, who they are becoming, who they could be. And rarely is money the primary means of doing that—but it can be used as a part of a greater plan.

“Money is a great servant, but a terrible master,” someone said. Unless we have an underlying grid that tells us how to utilize money for good, money has no currency, no real or true value. But used for meaningful purposes, it can take on eternal worth.

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

$100M Man

October 19, 2012

In October 2007, at a men’s retreat I organized and led on “Marketplace Christianity,” I had an intense prayer time on the Sunday morning, sitting in a rocking chair in front of the fireplace. I wept and interacted with the Lord, and felt he told me he had 3 commissions for me, 3 words for me to follow.

1)      Love my wife as Christ loved the Church, and set himself to present her “spotless and without blemish”

2)      Build a $100-million business (I’m assuming he meant gross, and it seemed to mean $100 million per year, as that would be how I would measure a business)

3)      Mentor men

You have to understand that, at that time, I had been in business some 14 years full-time, but was already 55, having gotten somewhat of a late start on entrepreneurship. (In my early adulthood, I specifically chose to have jobs that I could leave at the job when I went home, and would not even do “side work” in electrical, my chosen field.) In addition, even to date, we have never grossed even close to half a million, and the nature of electrical contracting is that it is non-repetitive (if you’re getting called back on the same job, it’s not usually for a good reason, and it usually costs rather than profits) and difficult to “automate” (each job tends to be unique, and the combination of people interacting on a job is endlessly unique and often difficult to navigate).So, I am now 60, and still wondering about that word. Parts 1 and 3 seem to be processes not readily quantifiable, and more of a process than an end-goal, but part 2 is definite and specific, measurable, a sort of True/False question.

I woke up early this morning (3 am) and lay in bed trying to go back to sleep, and this word came to mind. And in the process of mulling it over, I felt I heard Holy Spirit say, “I can give you a 100-million-dollar business anytime. But I can’t do it until I have made you into a 100-million-dollar man.” That really set me to thinking.

What is a 100-million-dollar man? Western Judeo-Christian culture emphasizes the infinite value of one soul. Quite a number of people who have encountered the person of Jesus in some emphatic way have felt that he said to them, “If you had been the only one, I would have died for you.”  In light of that, even $100,000,000 would be paltry sum.

Of course, there has to be more that is meant here. I’m not sure I have the answer right now. It’s definitely something I’ll be praying about. I’m sure it’s about character, probably about capability, definitely about attitude. Whatever it means, I want to be headed in that direction.

The Appalachian Trail is 2,178 miles long, somewhere in the range of 5 million steps. Who knows, this journey may be a “trail” of 100 million steps or even 100 million miles. Still, it can only be walked one step at a time.