It has fewer tolls
By Patrick G Howard
You have to admire Booker T. Washington. He was truly an amazing man.
An Africa-American man born into slavery just nine years before emancipation, he accomplished so much against tremendous odds. He was a teacher, author, speaker and adviser to American presidents. He was astute at politics and knew how to manipulate the media of the late 19th century, which enabled him to raise money and network, allowing him to advance his cause – to end the disenfranchisement of other African Americans. During his lifetime, Booker T Washington wrote fourteen books, the most popular of which, and still read today, was his autobiography – “Up from Slavery.”
You will get little argument to say that through his work he was able to teach blacks how to live self-reliant lives, all the while making enemies on both sides. Whites hated him for helping the newly emancipated slaves, and blacks hated him for being too accommodating to the whites.
But Mr. Washington didn’t let that control his life. You see, he was a Christian man and set a wonderful example for all. When you think about it, his life was much like the apostle Peter who worked to guide Jesus’ followers through their own persecution to live the life that God planned for them. I can imagine Booker T. Washington standing in front of The CBFA and delivering our focus this month.
1 Peter 3:9 ~ Do not repay evil for evil. Do not retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to, and he will grant you his blessing.
Just think about all the evil that must have been thrust on this great American, and then think about how we would react if faced with the same. Granted, the slings and arrows that fall upon us are not nearly as outrageous as his must have been, but we are bombarded with incivilities, if not full-frontal attacks an an almost daily basis.
How do you react when somebody insults you on Facebook? When your co-worker spreads rumors about you to others? When your competitor lies about you or your company? It’s natural to retaliate in these situations. But what if we took Peter’s words to heart, and instead of returning evil we paid back a blessing? Mr. Washington did just that, and that is what allowed him to be great.
One my favorite Booker T. Washington quotes is …
I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.
He understood that when we hate others, we only diminish ourselves. It reduces our ability to live the life that God intended for us.
How much better would our lives be if we followed his good example?
So, the next time your neighbor’s car alarm goes off at 3:00 AM … the next time there is no more coffee, because somebody took the last cup … the next time the person parked next to you dings your car getting out …
Do what Booker T Washington would do. Focus on Peter’s admonition and repay that person with a blessing.
You’ll feel better for it.
And that is our focus this month.
When David met Goliath.
By Patrick G Howard
What is it about the underdog that is so compelling?
Do you like legal drama?
There is the story of Erin Brockovich, an unemployed single mother of three who battled against all odds to prove that Pacific Gas & Electric contaminated the drinking water of the residents of Hinkley, California.
Or maybe you prefer something a little sportier.
My favorite sports underdog story is set in Lake Placid, New York in 1980 where Coach Herb Brooks and his team of misfit amateurs, during the height of the cold war, accomplished the impossible by defeating the Soviet Union hockey team in the medal round of the Winter Olympics; a game which will forever be known as “The Miracle on Ice.”
And who can forget Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr?
It’s a great story of a mild-mannered, fedora wearing, bullwhip carrying, snake fearing archeology professor named Indiana Jones, who with his old flame – Marion Ravenwood, wrests away the Ark of the Covenant from the Nazis and brings it home to the United States.
All the people in these great stories have something in common with the person in our focus this month.
Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground. ~ 1 Samuel 17:49
This may not seem like such a big deal, until you understand the enemy. When we read the description of Goliath in verses four through seven, we see that he stood over nine feet tall. He wore a bronze helmet, and a coat of mail weighing over 125 pounds. He had on leg armor and carried a bronze javelin on his shoulder. His spear was about 10 feet long and the head weighed over 15 pounds. He had an armor bearer walking before him to carry his shield.
This is not a dude you want to meet in a dark alley late at night.
By contrast, David was just a boy. He was a skilled sheep and goat herder, to be sure, but certainly not a warrior. He was ill equipped to compete against, let alone defeat the mighty Goliath. Nonetheless, when David stepped up and offered to do battle with the Philistine, Saul reluctantly agreed.
Now, there was no way Saul was going to let David do battle without his own set of tools. David put on the bronze helmet and coat of mail and strapped a sword over it. After taking only a few steps, he realized that they were much too cumbersome and took his armor off.
I imagine that everybody standing around that day just shook their head when they saw what David chose for his weapons. You see, he picked up five smooth stones (probably about the size of a billiard ball) and placed them in his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his staff and a sling, he headed across the valley to fight the Philistine.
I wonder what odds Vegas would have put on that match.
As David approached, Goliath moved closer to attack. I can only imagine the confidence of David as he reached into his bag, removed a stone, placed it in his sling and launched it toward his enemy, knowing that God was firmly on his side. When the stone hit Goliath’s head, he stumbled and fell to the ground. And because he was only stunned, David took Goliath’s sword from him and cut off his head; thus, completing the greatest underdog story in the history of mankind.
Do you aspire to be like David or Saul?
Most of us say that we want to be like David, but our actions say otherwise. Don’t believe me? Then answer this question: What do we do when we go into battle with our competition?
If you’re like me, you’re guilty of putting on as much armor as possible to compete with the enemy. No, I’m not talking about helmets and chain mail. I’m talking about fancy business cards … and new computers … and expensive auto-responders … and flashy websites … and …
You get the idea.
On the other hand, if we were truly like David, we would merely take our talent, a stack of plain business cards, a legal pad and our great network of solution providers and go into battle with the knowledge that when we glorify God in all we do, we will succeed. Let that sink in for a moment. God has already given us everything we need to glorify Him and be successful.
So, the next time you feel like buying that new computer because the one you have is almost a year old … When you think that you need to head back to college to get your fourth bachelor’s degree because everybody else has three … When you feel like purchasing that new leather computer bag because it will complete the look and make you have a wonderful first impression …
Take a moment to focus on David, remove the armor that’s weighing you down, pull a stone out of your bag and face the giants. You might realize that you already have everything you need to win.
Run the 65 Toss Power Trap and follow Jesus through the gap for the touchdown.
By Patrick G Howard
Football is an allegory for life.
The Offensive Coordinator draws up dazzling plays that are sure to score a touchdown every time. The competition’s Defensive Coordinator devises brilliant schemes to stop the offense from doing what they want. The Special Teams coach … Let’s skip that for now.
When you think about it, football mimics real life. Football mimics our business life.
We devise a great business plan. It starts with a well written executive summary. That is followed by a well thought out business description. Then comes the organizational management plan, followed by your market analysis, sales and marketing strategy and financial projections. And if your plan is solid, the last section – request for funding – will be a no-brainer.
With such a solid plan, how can you possibly fail?
Well, as it turns out there are a few things working against you. Your competition has their own plan, and it doesn’t include your success. Sometimes the government decides to get in your way. Maybe the economy doesn’t cooperate … or a supplier doesn’t deliver … or people just aren’t buying what you’re selling. Business failure can come from several directions, and it’s easy to become paralyzed because of fear of the unknown.
Think of the quarterback.
He is about to execute a great play, but the opposing team is determined to stop him from reaching the goal. A hundred questions are going through his mind. Is the nose tackle stunting or pulling? If so, which direction? Is the weak side safety dropping into coverage, or is he blitzing? It looks like the middle linebacker is going to blitz, but is he faking?
With so many unanswered questions, why even bother snapping the ball?
That is a great question, and we get our answer from Solomon. Our focus of the month comes from the Book of Proverbs. (I don’t know about you, but I could spend days reading Proverbs.)
The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? ~ Proverbs 20:24 NLT
But what does this have to do with football?
If Solomon were here today, I think he would tell us that walking with the Holy Spirit is a little like being a football running back. You have a great plan, but there are always obstacles in the way to prevent you from reaching your goal. The mediocre running backs don’t last long, because they merely execute the plan and rarely have those long running plays. The great running backs are the ones that see where the gaps are now or will be and run there. They adapt to changing conditions before the competition does and are able to miss the tackle and run for the score.
Entrepreneurs are like running backs. The mediocre ones merely execute their plans, and usually get tackled before they reach their goals. The great entrepreneurs are the ones that see the changing conditions and react before their competition does, enabling them to sidestep the roadblocks and reach their goals.
Wouldn’t you like to be one of the great entrepreneurs? It isn’t easy, but it IS simple. Ask God to show you His plan, and then trust and obey. (Trust and Obey; Come to think about it, that would make a great song.)
Sometimes His plan for you will look like a gaping hole in the defense. When that happens, run through it. Sometimes his plan will look like a 350-pound nose tackle. When that happens, put your shoulder down and run through it. Whatever the situation, if you are doing what He wants you to do you will never lose.
So, the next time something doesn’t go as you had planned, don’t give up. Remember our focus. Ask God what His plan for you is and let Him direct your steps. And be sure to trust Him enough to move your feet. You will score every time.