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Quest to End Poverty in America

The Quest to End Poverty in America Part 2

It can be done

Being poor might actually be the oldest profession.  I mean Adam and Eve did not even have clothing until after the fall.  That is when God intervened and conducted the first sacrificial offering to help those in poverty.  Many over the ages have noticed the plight of the poor and were touched by God to do something about the issue of poverty.  Yet, it is still here about 7000 years or so after creation.  What can we possibly do about it?  Of course most of us feel bad about people sleeping on sidewalks, under bushes and otherwise not eating good food.  If we think about them while we are sitting down to dinner in our warm homes surrounded by loving family with lots of laughter we might feel a twinge of guilt.  It is easy though to shrug it off and say, “Well they made choices.” Many would then add in a wide assortment of labels for these men and women like addict, bum, hobo or any wide range of derogatory terms and then we feel better about enjoying the blessing of our home and hearth.

     We might think, “Well I can’t do anything about it so why even try.”  I know that I have felt guilty sitting at a banquet with servers bringing me refills of tea or coffee while I hear a presentation about the plight of those in poverty.  It is not my intention today to induce guilt.  That guilt is already there.  Isn’t that part of the reason that you don’t look at the panhandler at the intersection that is looking at you while the light refuses to change to green.  While it is not our intention, we hurt for our fellow man but just simply feel unequipped to actually do something about the crisis.  The purpose of this book is to encourage you to do something.  Take action today toward this quest of ending   poverty in this most wealthy and powerful of nations.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

-James 1:22

Note:  I do recognize that even doing the best that we can to help; some folks will simply reject true love and will continue to live in poverty.  But let that not stop us from giving all of mankind a chance to experience abundant life. Everyone deserves a chance to succeed.

The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.

-Matthew 26:11

The idea of a quest to end poverty seems a bit insane.  This feat is beyond the wisest of men and animals and it seems impossible so why even try? 

I want to point out that it has been done at least twice.  In the first case after many years the people forgot what they did to end poverty and it returned.  That is why, once we succeed, we must build museums to remind us of the suffering that can take place when we refuse to bring justice and peace and hope to our fellow humans.  In the second case those living in poverty had no one living below them economically to serve. 

Ancient History

One from ancient history society that ended poverty started as a small impoverished village.  This village was so poor that if they had kept statistics like we do today over ninety percent of the population would have been living below the poverty line.  Things were looking bad.  In addition to abject poverty and uncertain opportunities for food, the people also had to be concerned about raiding parties from empires and nations around them.  Fear was very real for the citizens of the village.  The village had many things going for it.  Among the population were many highly intelligent and creative people.  After many generations of rough living the people were hardened and strong.  But the one thing that would ultimately help the people the most is that they were part of a kingdom that had a very wise king.  As the king considered the state of the village he knew that there was potential for so much more.  This king loved his people and they loved him too.  Unfortunately love does not fill the belly or warm the body.  Like I said, though, this king was very wise.

Calling his court to his side he launched his plan.  First he took each family of the village an olive tree.  He simply gave it to them with the understanding that someday they would pay him back.  Wise men came and taught the villagers how to plant the trees and care for them.  The climate was perfect and the trees prospered.  Throughout the process the people were visited by wise men that helped them continue the care of the trees and ensure that the people were always knowledgeable about olive trees.  Stories, myths and legends would be told that made the trees seem almost magical. The people were hopeful but they did not know why.  Soon the olives had their first budding and then in the blink of an eye it was time for harvest.  Again trainers descended on the village and the people were helped along.  When the harvest was complete others were responsible for taking the excess olives and taking them to other villages.  The people sold the olives and the village was not as poor as before.  Over time things like olive oil and other olive based products were created and the market grew.  Olive products from the village were traveling many miles and the village became prosperous.  After just a few short years the king was reimbursed for the original trees.  Experts continued to be available but for the most part the olive growers could do things on their own.  It became obvious to the villagers that they would need better roads and other things to help the trade to continue to prosper so they happily paid taxes that were put to good use to create these things.  When rumors of foreign armies were heard they joyfully paid taxes to build an army and navy.  The village grew and prospered many years.  Eventually the people were able to specialize into those who made tools, made olive oil, warriors and the arts came into being.  Now the village had wealth and there was no poverty among them.

NOTE: They had slaves that they had bought from foreign lands.  While I would say that these are poor they all had a roof over their heads and food in their bellies.  This is not to excuse them.  Life without freedom is not worth living.

This village I am sure you have heard of is Athens, Greece.  Too many years of wealth and prosperity took place and they were no longer the hardened people from the early days.  When the Persians came they could not stand.  With war came famine, infighting and disaster.  Instead of working together they lived divided by artificial factors like politics and family lineage.  Poverty returned with a vengeance.

There are a couple of things to point out here about this ancient story that are important to take note of and we will come back to later in this book.  If the King had simply gave the people food they never would have prospered.  He helped them get started and offered training and other helps along the way.  But each family only had success in accordance with their level of work.  Handouts will destroy civilizations.  Handouts are only appropriate after a disaster and only for a short season.  We must empower those who are experiencing poverty.  They have value and skills.  Let them use their ability for the forces of good.  Secondly, society had to work together.  When enemies threatened they had to work together, pay taxes and encourage others.   We must begin to see others as valuable to our own growth and prosperity and work together to face the difficulties that will come.

Our role in the church and in society as a whole when it comes to issues of poverty is to offer those in poverty a ladder.  It is up to them to climb it.

A second case of success took place in Paris, France in the early 1950s.  A young priest walking through the city after church one Sunday noticed some men that were experiencing homelessness going through trash.  Curious he began a conversation with the men.  They told him that they could take the bottles to one guy who would give them money to eat.  Another told him about another guy who would take bricks and other items for scrap. They would travel taking a few bottles to the bottle guy and other items to others who would buy those items.  At the end of the day, each man would have a little bit to eat that night. In that moment the priest had compassion on these men and he set out to organize these men.  He gave them assignments.  Some collected nothing but bottles and another nothing but bricks.  When the day was done all of the men came back together with big smiles and plenty of money for them all to eat well.  Again the priest organized the work party and they went out again.  Soon they made enough to rent a small place they could all live.  Eventually they were able to buy a building and they managed it themselves.  The priest continued to teach and train them on how to handle conflicts with each other.  He helped some learn to read and how to do math.  Most of all he taught these men to serve one another and also to serve others who were struggling.  The city was getting cleaner and the small group continued to prosper and their numbers swelled.  Some would leave the group to pursue education or other careers.  But service was embedded in their hearts. One day the priest noticed there were no more homeless in Paris and he became concerned.  He knew that if these men did not have someone to serve that they would become arrogant and proud.  They had to serve someone or poverty would return just as in the days gone by.  The priest went to third world countries to recruit folks to come to Paris, but it was too late.  Without someone to serve the men returned to bad choices and men were once again to be found living on the streets, feeding themselves by going through garbage. Returning to their selfish nature and experiencing the loneliness and pain of life alone, the great experiment came to a screeching halt.

The priest built these men a ladder and for a season they chose to climb it.

Service is an important key.  I don’t drink or gamble.  It is not my purpose here to debate the merits of that choice.  But I don’t drink or gamble because I want to be fully available to serve others.  If I am drunk I am not of much service to those in need.  If I lose my money to casinos I have less to share with my fellow man.  Service must be what shapes our character and inspires us daily.

I have often been surprised throughout my years of working with those in poverty how the men and women in poverty tear each other down, steal from one another and attack those who are making changes in their lives to get out of poverty.  They remind me of the story of crabs.  If a fisherman goes out and catches one crab and puts it in the bucket he must put a lid on the bucket.  However, if he catches two and puts them both in the bucket he does not need a lid.  The two crabs will prevent each other from getting out.

Don’t be a crab.

In both stories also notice the important role of inspirational, revolutionary and inspiring leadership.  Every community has someone with a voice that is filled with truth and grace.  Those voices must be supported and encouraged or the silence will drive people into poverty.

So it has been done. What do we do?  Where do we start?  That is what this book is intended to do.  That is, start something of a movement.  Find your piece of the action and get involved.  Each of us has God given passions.  We must find our role and move forward.  This book does not have all of the answers or all of the solutions.  It is meant to create conversations and to stoke the fires of passion for our neighbors.  This book will discuss patterns and ideas and they are debatable.  You can refute them, argue them but even in that there is conversation and if that happens I will consider this book a success.  Strive to add a verse to this book so that we can make progress. 

Note also that this blog is written from a Christian world view and many illustrations and patterns that will be discussed will reflect that view.  If you believe in Christ as your savior, this book will enhance your knowledge of Him.  If you are an unbeliever,  I ask you to not to throw out the whole concept because of your prejudice against people of faith.  This book has much to say about humanity and the process needs your help so stay with it and you too can add to the story.

Poverty is complicated and too many times policy makers and people of good intentions have begun a good work but have lost energy.  That is why it is only TOGETHER that we can do this.  We must forge an alliance with others who also want to do their part.  No one part is any more important than any other part.  The Bible teaches us that if we are united nothing will be impossible.  That is the reason why I think this is possible. 

The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

-Genesis 11:6

By together I mean that we must also include those in poverty in on the discussion.  After all they are the subject matter experts on what life in poverty is like.  My feeling is that they can identify the difficulties and the challenges.  For those in middle class and above I charge you to listen to their wisdom.  I have learned more from these men and women than I have from most of my college classes.  These are incredible survivors.  They make meals out of next to nothing. They can fix broken things without tools.  While they should be open to learning from you, you need to return the favor.  My experience is that when you listen to them, they will make more sense to you.

Wide or narrow attack?

It was toward the end of the World War II, the allies were approaching the German borders and a great debate began. Some felt that the allies should attack with a select front throwing every resource on a small area in the hope of piercing the front lines of the enemy?  Others believed that they should take on a wide front and engulf the enemy.  Ultimately, General Eisenhower chose to go with the wide front.  Many commentators believed that his decision extended the length of the war.  Most likely they are correct.  The Germans were in disarray and the Allies could have easily driven straight up to Berlin with little resistance.  Going with the wide front enabled the Germans to regroup and ultimately to make a final push through the Ardennes forest.  While some point a finger of blame at General Eisenhower for allowing that to take place and say he should have listened to General Montgomery and others who believed in the small front;  it is important to look at the big picture.  Ending the war too quickly would have enabled Germany to get out of the conflict with little impact on their homeland.  Another man, maybe worse than Adolf Hitler, could have arisen and gained power.  The quick fix would have been a band-aid.  Ultimately it is the wide front that ended the insanity.

Most of the projects and plans for ending poverty have been done on a small front and has enabled poverty to simply be rearranged on the plate and not defeated.  Wins are often made in the short run but nothing is ever sustained and the numbers of those in poverty actually grow.  This book will argue for the wide front.  We must attack poverty on all fronts with an aim to restore individuals, families and communities to health.  Together moving in many areas with one voice and one purpose we can win. Again there will be many areas discussed but as time goes on we will learn of more contributing factors.  We can’t keep waiting to find them all before publishing this book.  We will move forward with the best we know today but the conversation must be a living organism of its own.  Let us talk and share and see what we can do.  This generation can end poverty in America.  Let’s get started.

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Quest to End Poverty in America

The Quest to End Poverty in America

Prologue

    A Jewish man had two sons, the story goes.  He loved his boys intensely and worked to raise them with the traditions and the moral values that had given him his own success.  One day the younger of the two came to his father. “Father, I know that someday I would inherit a portion of this land and of your belongings.  I would like that now.”  The father was saddened by this mindset and broken hearted that this son of his would so reject him.  Yet, with a heavy heart he gave the younger son his share of the estate.  A short time later the son sold off all of his share and left to explore the world.  Each and every day the father went to a small hilltop where he could see the road and look for his son.  Day after day he was disappointed and returned to his home to pray, fast and hope for the best for this son of his.  The elder son was dutiful and cared for the family business and tried to keep his father’s spirits up. 

    Meanwhile, the younger son was living large in the big city.  With a large purse of gold coins he was the life of the party.  At first it was difficult for him to overcome the moral teachings of his father, but eventually his heart was calloused to such old fashioned thinking.  Each night he would drink until late in the night and each morning wake up with a different woman.  Rarely if ever did he even remember his family back home.

    Day after day the father continued to go to that hilltop and look for his son.  Travelers coming through would share with the elder brother about the wild living the younger was doing in the city.  The stories were always told in whispers so that the father would not hear and be even more broken hearted.  Bitterness, and to be totally honest, a little bit of envy came over the older brother.  Each day the elder brother woke up with the sun and would work all day.  “Why should he get to have fun and have no responsibility?”  Despite the bitterness the elder brother continued to do his work and served his father faithfully.

    After a particularly long losing streak the younger brother realized that his change purse was getting lighter and lighter.  As the purse shrunk so did his list of friends.  Soon he found himself broke and alone.  With no money the young man noticed that his stomach that had been enlarged with rich foods was shrinking quickly.  But with the famine raging in the land there was little work to be found.  Local businesses chased him away from their front entrances knowing that he had no money.  The young man was desperate.

    A well worn path know showed the route the father took day after day to his hilltop look out, hoping and waiting for his son to return.

   One day as he looked through some piles of garbage hoping to find something to eat, a man took compassion on him and took him to an inn and bought him a nice meal and gave him a few coins to “help him get on his feet.”  The young man was ecstatic and ran off to gamble and multiply his good fortune.  Over the next several days his purse expanded and shrunk until he was again broke, alone and hungry.  Again wandering the street and looking for garbage behind a building that was used as a synagogue the local rabbi came along and took pity on the boy.  He too bought him a meal and gave him a few coins.  Again the excited young man took off and gambled the windfall and repeated the process.  Week after week and month after month, the now aging man would expend his life in wild living and someone would take compassion on him and he would survive.  He was always grateful and typically polite.  He had learned where to hang out in order to get the best meals and the most money when he again experienced the loss that he learned was just a normal part of life.

The father continued to wait for his son.  Some days he felt hopeful and some days he lost all hope.  However, the youngest son was never going to return home.  The son would never feel the consequences of his choice.  People with good intentions kept feeling pity for him and rescuing him.  Unlike the original story the younger son never made it to the pig sty so that he could “come to himself” and return to his father.  Ultimately the father died broken hearted.  The younger son died on a cold night before he could be rescued.  He was buried in an unmarked grave because nobody knew who he was.

  While this nation has many flaws and has failed in so many ways.  It is still a great nation.  People from around the world still want to come here and be called citizens.  The people of this nation routinely donate money to help people for a wide array of causes.  Among those causes that often are given focus is the homeless.  Great passion is expressed in churches and among the social workers that we must help these people who are living on the streets.  Businesses are hurt by people begging in front of their store fronts.  Incredible government programs are developed to get them housed and out of our sight so that we might not be burdened by the sight of these dirty, ragged masses of humanity.

Unfortunately, most of these programs only provide handouts and temporary reprieve.  These programs take on multiple names but are typically the same.  Churches particularly reach out to the homeless and advocate for them to get help.  Social workers go to lobby congress to give more money for program to help these men and women.

There is one fatal flaw with all of these good hearted intentions.  They all prevent the person in poverty from returning to the father.  They never get to feel the shame of being a Jewish man working in a pig sty.  They are given resources that enable them to continue in the lifestyles that led them into poverty in first place.  As a result the numbers of those who are in poverty continue to multiply.

Imagine a ten story building.  On the tenth floor of this building are the ultra wealthy. The second floor is filled with those that are living a stable and moral life just above the poverty line.  In between those two extremes is where most of us live.  Between floors there are stairwells that enable people to move up or down between floors.  The stairwells going up represent hard work, education and healthy relationships.  The stairwells going down are representing laziness, lack of education and choosing unhealthy relationships.  Within this building are elevators.  There are some with special skills (think athletes and artists) who use those skills to quickly rise to the top.  Most do not get to use the elevators but they are there.

    On the ground floor is where those that are living in poverty live.  Because it is the ground floor there is much instability there.  People come and go and crime is common.  Nobody really enjoys the ground floor and most dream of winning the lottery and getting to live on the top floor.  Alas, there is no elevator or even a stairwell from the ground floor even to the 2nd floor.  There is only a rickety ladder.  Many are paralyzed by fear of climbing the ladder.  Often people in society shake the ladder if they even try to climb until they fall back to the ground. (Think Jim Crow and similar laws).  Even others living in poverty shake the ladder if they attempt to climb.  They are like lobsters who when caught and put in a bucket must be secured with a lid if there are only one but have no need of a lid if there are two.  The lobsters pull each other down if they try to escape.

The last group that keeps them on the ground floor are the incentive stealers.  Those on the ground know about the stability of the ground floor and if they get hungry enough or feel unsafe enough will make new choices so that they can climb.  While the others who are knocking them off of the ladder are mean and cruel, these are loving and compassionate.  But the result is the exact same.

In this series we will explore what can be done to greatly reduce and even end poverty in this great nation.  We will look at how our society often keeps people in poverty and consider what we should do to actually help these men and women climb the ladder out of poverty.

There will be disagreement and that is good.  We need to have discussion without calling each other names or demonstrating hate.  We just simply see things differently.  Let us work together to make a difference.  Let us work together to complete this quest of ending poverty in America.

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Living the Warrior Life

Living the Warrior Life D-Day + 78

Welcome back!  If you started on June 6 when we kicked this off, you are now on D-Day plus 78.      This will complete our journey together serving you as you strive to live the Warrior Life.   I welcome your feedback and encourage you to contact me and let me coach you toward greater success.

Part 1: Be the Leader:  

Discipline:   

Definition:    

Destiny:   

Part 2: BE THE WARRIOR

 The warrior takes the small things seriously

 The warrior must be a student of history. 

 The warrior must live by a code.

Part 3 Be the Storm

Risk:

Take Action:

Resolve to never give up:

Every run, every project gets to a moment where you feel like throwing in the towel.  The warrior does not quit at that point.  My experience is that if in that moment, you push through, and you will start to feel different.  In that moment you will cross some line and what once seemed dark will suddenly come alive and you will win.  But only if you don’t give up.

You, my friend, are called to change the world.  You may not be destined to change the whole world but maybe your piece of it.  The real problem is that the world does not want to change.  They know the pain and fear that your might introduce them to a pain that they don’t know.  Men and women work diligently to avoid change in their lives.  The good news is that if they can feel the pain, and keep from medicating it, they might hear you.

As you propose the change initially they will call you insane.  They will break out all science and human wisdom they can find to discourage you.  Some will do this out of spite.  Ignore them.

Others will do this out of love.  They will fear for your pain or more often they fear that they will be required to do and be more if you bring the change.  These love you.  Be gentle with them but resolve to continue on the journey.  Explain your reasons.  Share the journey.  Invite them to come along.   When possible fill them in on the details.

Even Jesus had family and friends that thought that he had lost his mind.  His teachings are difficult.  Yet many try to teach these things as if they are simple.  I believe they are doing a great disservice to the Kingdom of God.  I cannot explain everything.  Most of the time, this God that I love, makes no sense to me.  Yet I have resolved to follow Him to the ends of the Earth if needed.  I choose to live for Him and if called up on to die for Him.  I have resolved to never give up.

You, warriors, what will you die for?  You might say family or friends.  Make your God given purpose a mountain where you can take your stand.  Discipline yourself to know your purpose intimately.  Envision it.  Breathe it in.  Study yourself and anything connected with your purpose.  Look for answers to your problems in unusual places.  Just do not give up!  Do not give in!  Just keep plodding toward your dreams.  Live for your purpose.

 This week’s challenge:    Don’t give up!

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Living the Warrior Life

Living the Warrior Life D-Day +71

Welcome back!  If you started on June 6 when we kicked this off, you are now on D-Day plus 71.      

Part 1: Be the Leader:  

Discipline:   

Definition:    

Destiny:   

Part 2: BE THE WARRIOR

 The warrior takes the small things seriously

 The warrior must be a student of history. 

 The warrior must live by a code.

Part 3 Be the Storm

Risk:

Take Action:  Storms test the integrity of structures.  Things that are fake or are barely holding on will not survive the storm.  I remember as a child living through a tornado that ripped through our neighborhood.  My neighbor across the street was hiding out in his basement with his family when the storm hit and when the storm was over he bragged to his wife how the house had survived the storm.  She had been complaining for years that he needed to fix the porch and other maintenance tasks around the house.  He always intended to get to it but never took action.  So when the storm was over and from his view point the house was in order he felt vindicated. 

That feeling of vindication and victory only lasted about 20 minutes.  They came out of the basement and everything was dark.  Initially, they believed that it was just because the power was out.  My neighbor found a flashlight and tried to open the front door but it would not open.  This happened sometimes, he had been meaning to fix it.  Unable to open the door he made his way out of back door and walked around the house.  That is when he discovered the overhang from their front porch was laying across the porch and keeping the door closed.  In the morning other damage was revealed.  While the house survived, much of the structure was shown to be weak. 

That can happen in our own lives.  We can get by day to day and survive but can your life survive storms?  In order to build that structure you must take action.

Teddy Roosevelt as a child was reported to be sickly and weak.  Doctors did not expect him to do much with his life.  Teddy could have simply rolled over and lived off of his parents wealth and really have been forgotten by history.  That was not Teddy’s way!  He began to exercise.  He ignored doctor’s instructions; he overcame most of his ailments.  Those ailments that he did not overcome he pushed through anyway.  Teddy took action. 

NOTE: I am not advising you to ignore doctors.  But do follow up and see if there are other opinions or treatments if needed.

Too many of us get bad news, we simply call it quits.  That will keep you from having any impact on the world.

When I was a baby my very young parents were told not to expect too much out of me because of complications at birth.  The doctor was very sincere so my parents believed him.  As I grew up I was sat in front of the TV and not much was expected.  That was my life until I was 5 years old.  That is when I met Sister Mary Gabriel.  She told my parents that was stupid and that I was just lazy.  She took action.  At least once her action included a paddle.  She pushed me and made me cry on multiple occasions.  But she demanded that I take action.  She would not accept my excuses.  Ultimately I not only completed first grade, but was fairly successful in school. 

 This week’s challenge:   What is holding you back?  What can you do to overcome those obstacles?    

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Living the Warrior Life

Living the Warrior Life D+64

Welcome back!  If you started on June 6 when we kicked this off, you are now on D-Day plus 64.      

Part 1: Be the Leader:  

Discipline:   

Definition:    

Destiny:   

Part 2: BE THE Warrior

 The warrior takes the small things seriously

 The warrior must be a student of history. 

 The warrior must live by a code.

Part 3 Be the Storm

Today we begin the final section of this series.  By now you are developing as a leader and as a warrior.  Those are important for your daily life and purposes.  If you do well with the first two sections you will be successful but it is unlikely that you will be remembered by anyone 2-3 generations after you meet your demise.   In order to be a legend you must be the storm

Risk:

Being the storm is risky.  There is no doubt.  There will be people who will hate you and despise you.  They will talk about you and even make up lies to smear your name.  This will always be true.  Many people are like crabs.  If you go crab fishing and you catch one crab and put them in a bucket you must put a lid on the bucket.  Once you catch 2 crabs and put them together in the bucket, you no longer need to put a lid on them.  If one tries to escape the other will pull them back down.  All people have their own agenda and purpose and these crabs have as a part of their purpose to hold you back. 

Listen to them, learn from what they are saying, but don’t let it touch your emotions.  If they offer a way to accomplish your goals that reduces the risk, take that into consideration.  But do not let them make you afraid.  Steel yourself against their attacks.  Know that they are coming.

Abraham Lincoln, during his presidency, was often hated and despised.  ½ the nation left to start their own country because they suspected that he would become a liberator of slaves.  Those that stayed behind were angry at him for a multitude of reasons.  Initially, he was accused of being too slow toward abolition.  He took the risk to wait.  Later when he had the Emancipation Proclamation, many said it was too risky.  Every time he risked firing a general there were those waiting to lambaste him. Yet he continued to risk.  Read the headlines of the papers of that era.  They make the modern media look like they love President Donald Trump.  Newspapers looked to crucify the man consistently.  Yet he never failed to risk doing the next right thing. 

However, when he died he became a legend.  He belongs to the ages.  Many want to be like him, but they have forgotten the hate and ridicule he had to endure.  Lincoln suffered mightily throughout his presidency so that the nation could be united and the slaves set free.  He was the storm.  He was a world changer.

You can be a world changer too.  Consider what you might do to impact the world.

 This week’s challenge:  Think boldly.  If you had the power to change the world in one area, what area would that be?  Don’t say something like, “That is just the way it is.”  Lincoln could have said that, but took the risk.  Pick an area and consider what a first step might be. 

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Living the Warrior Life

Living the Warrior Life D-Day +57

Welcome back!  If you started on June 6 when we kicked this off, you are now on D-Day plus 57.      

Be the Leader: Just because we have moved on in our training does not mean that the earlier lessons are done.  A leader must be constantly growing and learning.

Discipline:   

Definition:    

Destiny:   

BE THE WARRIOR

 The warrior takes the small things seriously

 The warrior must be a student of history. 

 The warrior must live by a code.

In the heat of battle or for most of us when stress hits us hard we must have pre-decided how we will react.

Consider Joseph in the book of Genesis.  He is a hard worker.  He is wise and loyal to his master.  Unfortunately, his master’s wife took a special liking to him and worked to seduce him.  Consider the temptation.  Here is a noble woman who likely regularly bathed, wore make up and the fanciest clothes of her era.  Because of Potiphar’s position it is also likely that he had his choice of beautiful and intelligent women so she is a top tier girl. 

One day this cunning woman orchestrated some alone time with Joseph, and invited him into her marriage bed.  All of the external barriers that might have helped Joseph overcome this temptation were gone. How did Joseph not give into this temptation?  He made a vow before hand to not give himself to this woman.  When the invitation came that was not the time to debate the rightness or wrongness of the situation.  His natural senses would have led him astray.  He was a young man with testosterone running through his system at full tilt.  But he had made a vow at least internally to keep himself pure.

That same sort of pre-decision can be made for many things in your life.  You can seek ideas on the internet for wording and ideas of things that you should include in your personal vows.  But let me give you a few here in no particular order that you might consider.

  • As a warrior it is my duty to always lead from the front and not the rear.
  • I will treat all people with respect and love because they are made in the image of God.
  • I will set myself as an example that others will want to follow. (Holistically)
  • I will push those that work with me toward constant and never-ending improvement (CANI)
  • Pain is required to release the beast within you.
  • I do not need to like what God directs you to do, you must simply do it.
  • I shall live my life with simplicity.
  • I shall never assume that I fully understand a situation until I investigate fully.
  • I will focus on results, not methods.
  • Semper Gumby (Always flexible)
  • Never be alone with a woman in what would appear a compromising position.
  • Honor God, first.

 This week’s challenge: Consider where temptation must come from and write out a personal code that you will live with and apply in your life.  Write them out and then work to integrate them into your life. 

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Living the Warrior Life

Living the Warrior Life D-Day +50

Welcome back!  If you started on June 6 when we kicked this off, you are now on D-Day plus 50.      

Be the Leader: Just because we have moved on in our training does not mean that the earlier lessons are done.  A leader must be constantly growing and learning.

Discipline:   

Definition:    

Destiny:   

BE THE WARRIOR

 The warrior takes the small things seriously

 The warrior must be a student of history. 

Too many think of the warrior as all brawn and no brains.  But that cannot be.  Muscle can get you only so far.  It is the ability to know how to use that muscle that makes you the warrior.  If I am about to take a test I would love to have the answers so that I know exactly what to study and how to prepare.  That is what history does for you, if you are willing to investigate and study the past.

Solomon tells us that there is nothing new under the sun.  Problems and challenges have been experienced in some capacity before our modern era.  Dig in and see what you can learn.  Sometimes you can learn what to do or more often than not I can learn from the mistakes of others and keep myself from being so foolish.  Sometimes I simply have no clue how to go forward and history can give me a clue.  At the very least I pick up some pretty incredible illustrations.

In the 1930s Calvin Coolidge was president.  Tennis was becoming very popular and Calvin’s son began to play consistently.  One day after playing he discovered that he had a blister on one of his feet but figured it was no big deal.  However, the infection in the blister somehow spread to his legs and then took on the rest of his body.  He was dead in just a couple of weeks.  The lesson learned is that you must address the little things or they will ultimately kill you. (BTW: Lesson from last week.)

Don’t simply look at dates but instead look for the story.  Look for the lessons learned from other cultures.  While it can be difficult to find, the African continent is full of incredible leaders, new technologies and more.  These leaders had to solve environmental issues, community issues and had to overcome immense challenges.  They have lessons that are right there waiting for you.  Every culture and language has had to face problems, look to learn from them.

Finally, don’t restrict your learning to what you typically find in history books.  When you study with a warrior mindset you can find leadership lessons from all of the disciplines.  Science, art, engineering, education and any other venue can provide what you need to solve any of today’s problems.

 This week’s challenge: Today, pick out one season of history and study the snot out of it for the next 3 months.  Look for something out of the ordinary.

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Living the Warrior Life

Living the Warrior Life D-Day +43

Welcome back!  If you started on June 6 when we kicked this off, you are now on D-Day plus 43.      

A quick review is in order.   Last week we completed the first section on being the leader.  You can always go back and read the past blogs to get the details.  A warrior is always the leader who leads from the front.  A warrior is the leader who sets the example.  A warrior is the leader who is comfortable in his/her own skin because they know who they are.  Finally a warrior is a leader who looks to win the war not just the battle.

Be the Leader:

Discipline:   

Definition:    

Destiny:   

Now we go onto the second section

BE THE WARRIOR

I am the voice.

I will lead NOT follow.

I will believe NOT doubt.

I will create NOT destroy.

I am a force for good.

I am a force for God.

I am a leader.

I will defy the odds.

I will set a new standard.

I will rise.

I am the storm.

I am the warrior.

-Modified version of a Tony Robbins quote

Now that you know that you are the leader.  Rise up and live as a warrior.  Not all of those that are leaders are warriors.  But it is the warrior that leaves an impact on the world.  What will your impact be?  Will you help lead climate change?  Will you be remembered as a part of the next Great Awakening.  Will you discover something new?  The possibilities are numerous.  Search your heart. 

Now before you go off to conquer kingdoms and slay the dragon (which you should definitely do by the way), I want to encourage you to do the little things well.  See that is what a warrior does.  He/She lives with excellence in their bones. 

Don Tee was a crew member on a bomber in World War II.  He described long periods of boredom followed by seasons of absolute terror.  Don was a warrior.  During one of the flights the bombs were stuck and Don climbed down into the bay to try to kick them loose.  He could look down and see Europe below him.  Climbing down he began kicking at the offending bomb. Time was of the essence.  He had to get this out quickly or they would miss the window of opportunity.  With all of his might he gave it one last kick and the bombs fell away.  Unfortunately so did Don.  He had lost his grip in the effort to kick the bomb loose.  But that was not the end of Don.  While he was falling out of the bomb bay the patch of his uniform caught on a bolt.  For several moments, Don was getting a literal bird’s eye view of Europe with nothing holding him in the air but a bolt and a patch.  Don could not tell you how long he was hanging there before other crew members pulled him back up into the plane but it did seem like an eternity.

While Don is a hero, he gives credit to two other people for his surviving the war.  One was the person that sewed the patch on his uniform.  They did such an excellent job that it held a full grown man.  That person sewing the patch will never know that the little thing of an extra stitch on a patch saved a man’s life.  The second person is the person that put that bolt in place.  If they had been having a bad day, or were simply phoning in their work that day, Don would have died that day.

You never know how the little things will impact a life.  Do all things with excellence.  A warrior always provides excellence in every task; even if and maybe particularly if they do not know if anyone will ever notice. 

 This week’s challenge: Today, write down three small tasks that you usually phone in and write them down.  Now take that list and purposely do those three things with excellence.

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Living the Warrior Life

Living the Warrior Life D-Day +36

Welcome back!  If you started on June 6 when we kicked this off, you are now on D-Day plus 36.      

Be the Leader:

Discipline:  To be the leader you must put yourself on the warpath of discipline.  These are the little things that you do routinely to develop physically, mentally, socially and Spiritually.  Overall these things will offer you small little nudges of personal growth.  I implore you not to wait until you feel like it, just get up and do it every day.  Every leader that has fallen started his/her descent by forsaking the disciplines that got them into their position.

Definition:   This is where you define who you are.  I am a warrior monk.  In every situation where I am unsure what to do next; I ask myself, “What would a warrior monk do in this situation?”  Additionally, I am a man that simply loves Jesus and longs to hear him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”  This body that I live in, the roles that I play and the things people think of me are all temporary.  My real self is housed in this temporary jar of clay.  I am the beloved of God.  Leaders who do not know who they are hurt people.

King Saul in the Bible was called of God to lead the nation of Israel.  He was anointed by the prophet yet he ruled in fear of losing his position, losing face and losing his relationship with God.   Because he failed to see himself as the anointed he failed.  Consider King David, who knew that God loved him and believed in him.  Which type of leader do you want to be?

Destiny:  To be the leader is to live life in the long game.  Too many leaders today go for temporary victories.  They might get wealthy or get the girl but they are only content for a short period of time.  The warrior thinks of the eternal best interest of those that he/she is leading. 

A weed grows very fast and takes no effort.  Anybody can grow a weed and be successful at doing so.  But a weed does not last.  Imagine planting a tree from a seed.  It takes skill, time and effort.  There will be days where you can see the growth and days where you notice nothing. If done correctly that tree will impact multiple generations. 

During my time in the United States Army we would do these field exercises and in nearly every one of those the umpires would take me out of the equation by killing me.  My troops would then have to show if I had trained them well or not.  The first time this happened they were not prepared and that was my fault.  I should have ensured that everyone on my team had the skills and mindset to rise up and be a leader if I was not there.  In many ways up until that day I was a highly paid babysitter. I learned my lesson and never again would I set up my soldiers for failure. 

If you are a leader and your organization does not outlast you by at least one generation than you have failed.  I have learned that this can be painful.  Decisions made today do not always make sense in the moment.  Invest your time and energy so that you can be the legend. 

I heard the story of a man who abandoned his wife and two children when the kids were very young.  Many years later, the two children having gone away from their mother for a season, returned to celebrate the mother’s 60th birthday party.  Many friends and family members joined them as they told about how the mother had overcome all challenges with a smile and with much grace.  For two days laughter, tears and stories were told.  Many of the stories were almost supernatural and were surely the stuff of legend.  The man’s name was never mentioned.  It was like he did not exist.  He was a ghost.  My question to you today is this, “Do you want to be a legend or do you want to be a ghost?”

 This week is a good time to review where we have been.  Put together your full ethos statement.  (See mine as an illustration.)  Write out your discipline plan to include what and when you will add to them.  Create a word picture to create the definition of who you are and finally decide.  “I am going to be a legend.”  What do you want your legend to be?  Tell the story and include your whole being.

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Living the Warrior Life

Living the Warrior Life D-Day +29

Welcome back!  If you started on June 6 when we kicked this off, you are now on D-Day plus 29.     That means that it is Independence Day in America.  We take time to celebrate the birth of our nation.  I used to think that I loved this nation.  But then I went to basic training at Fort Leonard wood.  At graduation they played “I’m proud to be an American.”  I started crying.  There was no warning, no build up, just tears racing down my cheeks.  It was then that I realized that I really loved this country.  Now, I agree that we have often made a mess of things from time to time.  We birthed a nation of freedom while holding slaves.  We slaughtered Native Americans, proudly.  We have often had corrupt government and businesses.  But ultimately this nation has stood against the forces of evil in the world and has come out victorious.  Here any man can rise and live his/ her dream.  The United States of America is growing up, be patient and look to the horizon to see what we accomplish in the future.  My guess is that what we do in the future will make it look like we did nothing over the past 250 years or so.  God bless the USA.

Be the Leader:

Discipline: The last two weeks I have been talking to you about personal discipline.  This is critical if you are going to be the warrior.  You should be establishing new disciplines consistently.  Try to build a streak of success.  I remember when I was trying to build the discipline of flossing.  I had been told by every dentist I knew that I needed to put this practice in my life.  I blew them off. (Like some of you have been doing to my suggestions so far.) One day though I thought I should follow through, after all I had been telling all of those dentists that I will start flossing right away.  But to be honest now, I was lying.  I had no intention of following through on that promise.  But I got sick of not being a man of integrity in that area so I made the decision, I will floss regularly.  This started with flossing at least every third day, then I set a standard of flossing more days than not.  Finally, I wanted to see how many days in a row that I could floss.  I went nearly three years without missing a day.  Then I went camping and missed a day.  But since then I have been consistent for nearly 7 more years.  I work to break my record daily.  Build your disciplines.

Slow and steady wins the race.  Build slowly, you never eat the fruit on the day you plant the seed.

Definition:  Now to be the leader you must define yourself.  Who are you?  If you are like me, you have made a ton of mistakes in your life.  Too often I define myself by those failures.  I remember that youth group that collapsed under my leadership and became nonexistent.  I remember being a bad example in Boy Scouts.  I remember my time in addictions and in that I remember how I selfishly hurt people.  My life then was all about me and what I wanted and I hated anyone that disagreed with me.  Hate would have defined who I was.  I could go on for pages in detail about all of the times that I have failed.  However, as a warrior I must not define myself in the midst of those failures.  Many people I know define themselves by their past.  They will say I am an addict, I am a felon.  They will say I am stupid, ugly, cruel or a liar and adulterer.  Some define themselves by their career, or lack of a career.  Others are defined by their appearance.  I am pretty, I am ugly.  The point is that you must rise above all of that. 

There are times when you have been ugly, stupid, trapped in sin of all sorts.  Those are moments of your life.  Do not let them define you.

I am defined as a child of God.  He loves me. 

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  –Galatians 2: 20

Too often we define our inside by what is outside of us.  That is backwards. The warrior life is all about allowing the inside to define who you are.  With that said I must challenge you to invite Christ to live inside of you.  Without Christ to cleanse us, we are filled with selfishness, bitterness, and all manner of evil.  We are unable to faithfully serve our fellow men in ways that honor them.

If you have not invited Jesus to live within you, then I implore you to not put that off for a single moment. 

I have very few regrets in my life.  I regret not going to Ranger School.  I regret not being a better husband to my wife, particularly in our early marriage.  But the one thing that I regret most in my life is that I did not come to really know Jesus earlier.  Oh, to have prevented the mistakes of my rebellion against Him.  That is why I seek words to convince you not to put this off.  If you need to talk to someone about this relationship; and what that means please email me.  rich.schaus@grmmuskogee.org

Take some time this week to add to your disciplines (by adding that may mean that you are taking something away like pie, or working late.)  Also take time to clarify your definition of who you are.  Let me know what you are thinking and how I can serve you.