My Heart Hurts (Part 1)

This post is a bit unconventional, but one I felt needed to be shared. It hasn’t been the best of days today, and I am left with a heart that is breaking for my students. What follows is the struggle I have on a near daily basis:

My heart hurts knowing the hardships and struggles I see some of my students going through. 

My heart hurts knowing that some of my students live in darkness, and I maybe the only sliver of light for them to see. 

My heart hurts knowing that I can’t swoop in and protect some of my students from what they are going through. 

My heart hurts knowing that some of my students are making poor choices, because outside of my classroom, they don’t have the support or the guidance they need to make better choices. 

My heart hurts knowing the potential each of my students have and watching some of them throw it away because of situations beyond their control. 

My heart hurts because some of my students don’t know what love, support, and appreciation feel like. 

My heart hurts knowing that some of my students are not a priority outside of the classroom. 

My heart hurts because some of my students bring the baggage of other people’s choices to school. 

My heart hurts knowing that some of my students go home to an empty house or no house at all. 

My heart hurts knowing that my classroom is a safer place for some of my students than their own home. 

My heart hurts because I see some of my students crying out for love and time from those closest to them and getting no answer. 

My heart hurts because all I want is the best for my students, but outside of the classroom some do not reciprocate the feeling.

My heart hurts knowing that some of my students have to grow up sooner than they should.

My heart hurts knowing that some of my students emotional and mental health is declining because of the actions of those closest to them.

My heart hurts because I invest countless hours speaking life and truth into my students to have some of them go home and get it ripped out of them.

My heart hurts knowing that some of my students are not a priority in their own home.

My heart hurts knowing that some of my students are hungry because of the actions and choices of others in their life.

My heart hurts knowing that all of my students are gifted, talented, and passionate but some are told that they won’t amount to anything.

My heart hurts knowing that my classroom may be the only place where some of my students are shown love, respect, and encouragement.

My heart hurts knowing that some of my students go to bed with tears in their eyes instead of a smile on their face.

My heart hurts knowing that even though they walked out of my classroom with their head held high, some of my students will return with it hanging low.

My heart hurts knowing that some of my students go home to people who will make excuses for their bad choices rather than choose to be a better example for them to follow.

My heart hurts because many days I feel alone in helping my students become better at this thing called life.

Choose Your Words Carefully

The other day, I was watching a snippet from the movie 300; one of the best movies ever made. In the scene I was watching, King Leonidas addresses a Persian messenger. The Persians want to make a treaty with the Spartans to use their land and water for their armies. Throughout most of the discussion, the Persian does most of the talking while King Leonidas listens. Near the end of the conversation, the Persian messenger warns the king to choose his words carefully. 

After a long conversation, where Leonidas does most of the listening, he leads the messenger, and his companions, to a giant hole in the ground. The king reflects on his land, his people, and his wife. He considers his choices and consequences, and with confidence and power, the king quickly draws his sword and points it at the neck of the messenger. King Leonidas responds by saying, “Earth and water; you’ll find plenty of both down there. You bring the heads of conquered kings to my city steps, you insult my queen, you have threatened my people with slavery and death. Oh, I’ve chosen my words carefully, Persian. Perhaps you should have done the same.” The Persian messenger then exclaims, “This is blasphemy. This is madness.” King Leonidas yells, “THIS IS SPARTA!” and powerfully kicks the messenger into the pit.

There are many things to learn in this scene, but I feel the most relevant lesson is to choose your words carefully. I am sure you have seen someone walk in with their head held high, with a cocky strut, and a look of arrogance. They came to make a statement. They tend to be someone who speaks a lot and listens very little. They think they have all the right answers, or they believe they deserve the respect of those they are speaking to. It’s as if they don’t even hear themselves speak, and the poison they spew has the adverse effect as intended. Their arrogance is their downfall. 

King Leonidas’s response to the Persian messenger is also something we can learn from. Even though the Persian was arrogant and thought himself more superior, King Leonidas listened to everything he had to say. He allowed the messenger to keep speaking; allowing the messenger to dig his own grave. Leonidas was attentive to what the messenger was saying and took mental notes of every wrong word the messenger chose to speak. Leonidas waited for the Persian to finish before responding. He then took stock of the situation, reflected, and made a confident decision to defend his land, his queen, and his people. He spoke with assertiveness that commanded respect. He was sure of himself; not in a haughty or arrogant way, but rather more self-assured. 

Scripture is filled with proverbs and commands concerning speaking and listening. James says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (1:19). Ecclesiastes states, there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (3:7). In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he stated, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (4:29). Proverbs states, “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame” (18:13).  There is wisdom in listening before speaking and choosing wisely what words we use.

Don’t rush into a situation thinking you need to have something to say. Listen well and take note of what is being said. If what you hear is folly, either ignore it and say nothing, or address it with carefully chosen words. What we say has the power to destroy who we are. If we are to live a life of humility and integrity, we must choose wisely every word that comes out of our mouth. We must take pause before we respond. We must choose language that attacks the problem and not the individual. We must speak only words that we will stand by wholeheartedly. Never sacrifice your character just to have the last word. Speak truth and consider every word that comes out of your mouth. 

I leave you with a quote from King David, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Takeaways:

  1. Be slow to speak and quick to listen. Don’t assume you need to always have something to say. Rather, listen intently to what is being said and speak only when necessary.
  2. Reflect before you speak. Just because you disagree with a post on Facebook or with what someone might have said in the store doesn’t mean you need to respond. Reflect on what you want to say and determine if it should be said.
  3. Own what comes out of your mouth. If you aren’t willing to stand behind what you say, shut up! Only speak that which you will stand behind wholeheartedly. 
  4. Choose your words carefully. What you say has the power to destroy, not only the person you are talking to, but yourself as well. 

As always, stay humble and serve well.

Louder Voice

I was sitting on my couch, preparing for a meeting that I was going to, when a song came on over the speaker. The song immediately grabbed my attention, because the words I heard were not sung, but were spoken. “We all have two voices in our head: Fear and Love. The one you listen to will shape you. The one you ignore will fade away.” This is the beginning of the song, The Louder Voice, by Fit for a King. After the singer spoke these words, I couldn’t help but start thinking of the truth that is found in this statement. 

These lyrics closely resemble a Cherokee Indian Tradition that goes like this:

An old grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with raging anger at a friend, “I too have felt great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison into your own body and wishing your enemy would suffer and die. It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is kind and understanding and does no harm; it works to benefit the entire pack. He lives in harmony with all and does not take offense or plot revenge. His heart is open and available to the Great Spirit. The other wolf is always vengeful, vicious and full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone and for no reason. He kills without cause or remorse. He cannot think because his resentment, anger and hate are so great. His heart is closed to the Great Spirit. Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me. Both of them try to dominate my Spirit.” The boy looked with amazement into this wise man’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?” The grandfather smiled and said, “The one that wins—is the one I feed.”

Fear is one of the most powerful emotions. Fear produces greed, hate, rage, anger, etc. Fear is controlling, manipulative, and blinds those who succumb to it’s lies. Fear has the power of dividing the closest of friends, the most intimate of lovers, and it can even keep us from doing what is right. Fear has the power to convince us that what we are doing is the right thing, when in reality, it is destroying relationships, keeping us from growing, and hindering us from progress. 

Love is the direct opposite of fear. It is written, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear is by suspicion, but he who fears is not grown up in love” (1John 4:18). Love unites. Love is what focuses on living a selfless life of service. Love is what accepts others for who they are; now don’t misunderstand me, I did not say tolerates others, I said accepts others. There is a difference. Love is an action not just a feeling or emotion. Without love, we are nothing. 

Whether it’s a beginning line of a song or a Cherokee Indian Tradition, the story and truth is the same. We all have two voices, two wolves inside of us. Whichever we listen to, or whichever we feed, will dominate us. It is important that we understand what this means. It is important that we attune ourselves to our thoughts, actions, and responses. Both voices will scream at you. Both wolves will claw their way to your heart and mind. Fight hard and choose wisely which voice you listen to, or which wolf you feed. In the end, whichever one you give the most attention to will consume you, while the other will simply fade away.

Takeaways:

  1. We all have two voices, two wolves clawing for our attention. Whichever one we give attention to more will ultimately affect who we become.
  2. Take pause and reflect on what voice or wolf you are giving attention to. Fight hard to give attention to that which is right.
  3. Do not succumb to the easy way out. It is easier to hate and be angry. However, the more we choose this path, the worse we become.
  4. Life is a battlefield, and we must constantly be preparing for war. We are not at war with each other, but with the voices and desires within us. Take heed of this and prepare accordingly.

As always, stay humble and serve well.

Strong Character

American novelist, G. Michael Hopf, once wrote, “Hard times create strong men, strong men create good times, good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times.” There is much truth in this quote. However, I want to add something: “Hard times create men of character, men of character create good times, good times create men of weak character, and men of weak character create hard times.” We are not products of our circumstances, but rather our choices. What we choose to do will ultimately affect our circumstances. The weaker we are, the easier it is to succumb to the pressures and struggles that enter our life. The weaker we are, the more susceptible we are to follow rather than lead. The weaker we are, the harder our life tends to be.

With the constant noise from social media and news outlets, it becomes difficult to hear the truth. Let’s face it, if we are still thinking that news and social media is spreading truthful information without any bias, then we have become weak minded and lazy. Truth can only be found through constant and fervent searching. Truth is very much like success; it can only be achieved if we work for it. Weakness is following blindly, or thinking that we need not to do anything to become successful. Weakness of mind, body, and will leads to a weak character.

The more we allow ourselves to succumb to laziness and excuses, the more difficult our circumstances. Life is not easy, and I don’t believe it is supposed to be. Easy produces laziness. It also creates a society that lacks integrity and character. It is easy to be loud, obnoxious, demeaning, and forceful, but it’s difficult to stand for what is right in a way that does not compromise your integrity or character. 

When I consider strong men and women of character, I think of individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Adam Brown and Chris Kyle (former Navy Seals), Abraham Lincoln, Malala Yousafzai, and many more. All of these individuals have something in common. They all stood for what was right and went through extreme hardship and adversity, but never wavered in their integrity and character. They were strong willed, and they lived their convictions with passion and fervor. These individuals provoked positive change in the lives they impacted. 

I have noticed that today’s culture wants to focus on global change rather than individual change. This is where the forcing, manipulating, and bullying comes in. This is a sign of  a weak character. Weakness of character is thinking you need to change the person you are sitting next to, your in line with, or the person who thinks differently than you. Strength of character is being able to look in the mirror everyday and focus on changing the person staring back at you. Global change starts with personal change. 

During his time deployed in Afghanistan, Adam Brown, a devout Christian and former Navy Seal, a fellow Seal told him, “I don’t understand how you can believe in God when we do what we do.” Adam’s response, “I can’t believe you don’t believe in God when we do what we do.” Adam was known to stand his ground but was never forceful about his beliefs. People around him would leave energized and feeling better about themselves. This is a sign of a strong character. Standing for your convictions is good, but how you stand for them says a lot about your character.

Strength comes through adversity. Every person aforementioned went through adversity. It was through that adversity that they became stronger. They worked on themselves to better those around them. I want to encourage you to be strong; strong in heart, mind, body, and character. Do what is right and do not compromise your integrity. Live out your convictions, but do so humbly. Be willing to listen and learn. Stand for truth, but seek truth. Do not accept every claim as truth. Be men and women of character through the good times and the bad. Do not allow the good times to weaken your character, instead, through it all, be a person of strong character.

Takeaways:

  1. We are products of our choices, not our circumstances. Whether it’s hard times or good times, our choices determine our character.
  2. Stand for your convictions, but do so humbly. Be willing to listen and learn. Seek truth rather than accept it at face value. 
  3. Someone with a strong character cares more about changing the person in the mirror rather than the person they are sitting next to.
  4. Be careful not to be weakened by the noise of society. Stay alert, seek truth, and build a strong, secure character.

As always, stay humble and serve well.

A Work In Progress

Mistakes are a part of life. They are also lessons to be learned. Mistakes come in all shapes and sizes. We might make mistakes in our diet, our personal choices, doing simple math, or even making the wrong turn while driving. However, the mistakes that have the most impact are the ones that affect our relationship with others. These are the mistakes we must heed carefully. It is these mistakes that we must learn from and make improvements in ourselves. If leadership is about one life positively influencing another, then we must always be improving ourselves.

Personally, I have only a few people I keep very close to me, and these people are my strength and pillar when things get difficult in my life. These are the people I call first, want to spend time with most, and invest much of my time in. The closest, and most important, individual in my life is my wife. We have been married for over 12 years. In those 12 years, I have found myself in a constant state of improvement. I have learned the ugly sides of myself that I absolutely despise, and I have been fighting a constant battle to get rid of the ugly parts of me that hinder our relationship. 

I am what many consider to be an “A type” personality; and no that doesn’t stand for “A$$hole” personality; even though I might act like one from time to time. According to wellness coach and author, Elizabeth Scott, “Type A personality may include operating at a more urgent pace, demonstrating higher levels of impatience, having a more competitive nature, getting upset easily, and associating self-worth with achievement.” Scott’s definition is pretty spot on when defining my personality. These qualities are not bad when they are kept in check. However, there are times when these qualities come out in ways that are disrespectful and careless. Most of the time, we tend to strike out at those closest to us, or at least I do, and this causes great rifts and problems in the relationships of those who are most dear to me

My wife is a very patient woman, but there are times when my “A type” personality comes off as arrogant, disrespectful, careless, or a mixture of all three, and her patience runs out. When this happens, she begins building walls between her and I, and a disturbance in the force is awakened. There are very few things in this world that I allow affect me, but the one that affects me the most is a rift in my wife’s and I relationship. The disturbance that was created was because of my lack of empathy, compassion, and out right stubbornness. I know that I create these problems, and I know this is partly due to my personality type. However, as I stated earlier, my personality type is not bad unless it goes unchecked. 

I am not great at backing off on my pride and arrogance, but I have gotten a lot better. I have learned that I need time to reflect, own my faults, and then humbly approach my wife, admit my mistakes, and ask for forgiveness. This is where my wife shows her grace and pure heart, as she always forgives me and wants to rebuild what I broke. My stubbornness can get the better of me, and there have been times that I have gone a day or two not owning my issues and problems. When that happens, the void and darkness that is created between my wife and I is heavy and consuming. This is a feeling I have grown to hate and despise with every fiber of my being. I eventually break down my prideful wall, realize that my actions and behaviors were not loving or respectful, and I humbly come back to my wife owning my mistakes. Have I ever mentioned how much I do not deserve this amazing woman?

I never want to jeopardize my relationship with my wife, and the only way to do that is to keep being self-reflective, keep my personality type in check, and stay humble. In other words, I am, and forever will be, a work in progress; and I am okay with that. The legacy I want to leave behind is that I never settled or made excuses for my actions, but held myself accountable and worked hard to better myself until the day I died.

Takeaways:

  1. Never stop working on you. We all have faults and make mistakes, but don’t make excuses for them, rather work to make yourself better.
  2. Pride comes before the fall. Stay humble and do not allow pride to take hold in your life. Admit your faults and mistakes and push yourself to be better.
  3. The only way relationships can grow is if we are willing to own our mistakes and failures and purpose within ourselves to become better, not only for the relationship, but for ourselves as well. 
  4. The only person hindering you is you.

As always, stay humble and serve well.

Leading With Resilience

Why do we allow people to hold power over us? Why do we care so much what people think and say about us? The more we give up our own power to those who are toxic, degrading, and ignorant, the more we give ourselves away. People who force you to think or accept ideologies that are fake, immoral, corrupt, or unethical, are the people who are ruining our culture and society. And instead of standing up against these people, leaders are falling victim to the rhetoric and coercion these people are pushing. Leaders must lead with resilience.

In a world where moral and ethical values are quickly given up for clicks, likes, and the almighty dollar, there is no wonder why our culture and society is dying from the inside out. Where are all the leaders that stand loud and proud for morals and ethical values? Where are the leaders who will say “No” to the mob and become the black sheep? Where are the leaders who will not allow the pressure and harassment of the mob to take away everything that is right? Where are the leaders who will lead with resilience, face down the bullies, and become pillars of integrity? It’s time to take a stand as leaders and demand morals and ethical values to be the staple of everything we do.

Resilience is a quality that our current culture seems to have forgotten. With the “cancel culture” and the political bullying that takes place, rather than being resilient and doing what is right, people give up and succumb to the pressure of the mob. Sadly, this leads to weakness and instability in integrity, morals, and ethics. If we are to be people who lead well, we must have resilience against the mob mentality and degradation of the current culture. We must not shy away from standing for what is right. We must hold to morals and ethical values and stay resilient toward the adversity that comes to challenge said morals and ethics.

Leadership is about serving those you lead, but it is also about setting the example for what is right. This is why leading with integrity is crucial. When organizations and companies bend to the will of the mob without standing for what is right, they show that their true motives are not about morals and ethics, but rather making a profit. There is a reason why the good book says, “The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.” Popularity and likes should not be what drives leadership. Instead, the leadership should stand for what is right and lead with integrity and resilience. 

Leading with resilience is not about being haughty and arrogant, but rather leading with purpose, humility, and conviction. If we allow others to shake our convictions, then we never had convictions in the first place. Stand firm in wisdom and do what is right. Proverbs says, “Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who have left the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked  and who are devious in their ways” (Proverbs 2:11-15). I find that wisdom is quickly fleeting, because leadership no longer leads resiliently.

Takeaways:

  1. Lead with resilience. Stand for what is right and do not be swayed by the pressure that surrounds you.
  2. Do not sacrifice morals and ethics for more likes and the almighty dollar.
  3. Be wise and steadfast in all your ways.
  4. Just because the mob says they are right doesn’t make them right. Do what is morally and ethically right.
  5. Lead through service and be an example for what is right.

Finally, head these words: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Proverbs 4:23-27).

As always, stay humble and serve well!

GET OUT OF THE RUT!

Have you ever found yourself in a rut; struggling to find joy or meaning in what you’re doing? I know I have. I have been teaching for 10 years, and every year, right about this time, I find myself struggling to find motivation and passion in what I do. COVID has changed a lot of that this year, as this has not been a normal year by any means, but I have still found times where I struggle finding passion and meaning. So what do we do when we get to that point? How can we reignite our passion and motivation? How can we get ourselves out of a rut?

I have found that my passion is reignited when I read. Reading a new book about what I do, or what I am passionate about, reminds me of why I do what I do and provides new ideas to implement in my own life. I have a personal goal of reading one new book a month. I sometimes cheat and reread a book that I have already read, but nonetheless, my mind is being stimulated. Reading reignites passion and stimulates our brain to think. If you find yourself stuck in a rut and can’t seem to find a way out, I strongly encourage you to pick up a book and read. Simulate your brain to think outside of the rut you’re in. 

Another helpful tool I have found that gets me out of a rut is to journal or write. Writing a blog helps me think about topics, ideas, and personal struggles I am going through. By writing down my thoughts, I am able to work through the mental blocks that are keeping me in a rut. It also allows me a sense of mental freedom. Many times, my writing centers around what I am reading, or what I find to be keeping me from progressing forward. Putting our thoughts on paper helps us reflect on what we could change to make ourselves better and what areas might be stifling our progress.

Go outside. One of my most favorite things to do is get outdoors and enjoy nature. Nature has a way of clearing my mind, thoughts, and helps me recenter myself on what matters most. Whether I am out for a few hours or a few days, getting outdoors has gotten me out of many ruts in my life. Take some time and go on a walk, or find a way to get to the mountains and enjoy the view. Some might like the beach, so find time to get yourself to the place you feel free. But most of all, get outside, breathe in the fresh air, and let your mind relax.

Watch what you eat. I know this sounds weird, but I have found that what I eat has a direct impact on my mental state. If I eat too much greasy food or unhealthy food for multiple days in a row, my mind suffers. I have noticed a kind of cloud that just sits in my brain and keeps me from being productive. This leads to stagnation; ultimately putting me in a horrible rut. I have learned that the healthier the food choice, the healthier my mind will be. Believe it or not, there are studies that have shown that a healthy diet has a direct impact on cognitive abilities. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you never eat greasy food again, but rather limit how often you eat unhealthy food.

Finally, and most importantly, spend time with people you care about. One of the best ways, I have found, to get myself out of a rut is to just be with my family. My four children are amazing, and their smiles, creativity, sense of adventure, and all around awesomeness can pull anyone out of a rut. Another incredibly rewarding way of getting out of a rut is when I have the honor of going on a date with my amazing wife. Our time together, just her and I, is rewarding and refreshing. She challenges my thinking and ideas, we have wonderful conversations, and being able to plan and dream together opens my mind to new ideas and possibilities. So find time to be with people you care about. The payoff is so rewarding.

Takeaways:

  1. Pick up a book and read. Recharging our mind by reading about subjects we are passionate about keeps us focused and moving forward.
  2. Journal. Take time and write down your thoughts, ideas, and even your struggles. 
  3. Get outside. Go enjoy fresh air and let your mind relax.
  4. Watch what you eat. Healthy eating stimulates better cognition.
  5. Spend time with people you care about. Don’t sit on the couch. Don’t turn on the T.V.. Get together with people you care about and invest time with them.

Getting out of a rut is never easy, but if you don’t take the steps to get out of it, you will suffer and stifle your progress. If you have ways that you have found help get you out of a rut, please share them. I would love to know how others keep themselves motivated and focused.

As always, stay humble and serve well.

Leading Through The “Cancel Culture”

It seems that every day I look on social media, turn on the news, or read the paper, something new seems to become a victim of the “Cancel Culture”. If it’s not race and equality, then its gender and moral aptitude. Our society is set on a crash course that will end badly if not addressed. Leading through these abhorrent times is not only tricky, but can make or break you as a leader. However, leadership must be steadfast on three things. It doesn’t matter how often the winds change, leadership should be firmly planted on integrity, morals, and ethics. 

In a world that no longer values integrity and doing what is right, it is vital for leadership to be the anchor that holds true. Integrity is a quality that will establish a never ending legacy. There is a simple phrase that follows integrity: “Do what is right, no matter the cost.” I want to add a new phrase that speaks specifically to the “cancel culture” of our society. “Do what is right, not what is popular.” In a society that finds offense to everything, lacks self-confidence and self-control, and would rather ignore and expel truth rather than face it and grow, leadership must be firmly planted in integrity and do what is right. 

Don’t be afraid to swim against the current, especially if the current is leading to certain death. Don’t be afraid to stand for what is right. It won’t be easy, and there will be times that you feel alone, but this I promise you, you are NEVER alone. It can be lonely doing the right thing, but the benefits outweigh the cost. There is always the fear of “What if..”, but we should never fear doing what is right; especially as leaders. Stand strong and stand firm. Integrity is ten times more important and more valuable than potential profit or personal gain. Never sacrifice your integrity for the will of the masses. As leaders, we will all be judged one day. Ask yourself, what do you want the verdict of your judgment to be. For me, it is to have done the right thing, no matter the cost. 

Morals and ethics have all but disappeared in mainstream media, the news, business, politics, and most importantly, our culture. Everything has become acceptable, which has led to a chaotic, unruly, and an undisciplined society. Without morals and ethics, we have nothing to stand on. Morals are the inner convictions of what is right. If you turn on the news or flip through social media, I guarantee that you will see little to no morals, and many times, the lack of morals is celebrated. 

In leadership, morals should be what determine our choices and actions. Do we seek personal gain through the sacrifice of others, or do we celebrate those around us without any concern for our own promotion. Do we see those we lead as minions that do our bidding as we sit behind a desk barking orders, or do we see them as teammates who we work alongside and encourage and build up? We must always be careful in what we say and what we do. We must constantly be thinking and doing what is morally correct. Actions are louder than words. Who we choose to be and what we choose to do says a lot about our moral compass.

In a society that has lost sight of all forms of morality and ethics, leadership must be the pillar that never abandons their morals and ethics. Leadership must stand firm in integrity and do what is right; no matter the cost. Leaders, use common sense and don’t get caught up in the culture war that is slowly decaying our society. Lead with passion, fervor, integrity and humility. Be the pillar of strength in the weakened and spoiled society. Stand for morals and ethics. Don’t allow the bullies or this society keep you from living a life of principle. Don’t bend to the masses, but rather stand for truth, honor, and morals. 

Takeaways:

  1. We will be held accountable for all the choices we make. Be sure to make choices that you will be proud to stand by. 
  2. Leadership needs to be the pillar of morals and ethics now more than ever. Don’t fall prey to the morally declining society that runs rampant and unchecked.
  3. Doing what is right is more important than doing what is popular. Be the example, but know you may need to stand alone.
  4. The morally corrupt will ostracize those who oppose them. Just be prepared.
  5. Don’t sell out your integrity for popularity, likes, or dollar signs. 

As always, stay humble and serve well.

I Don’t Know Everything

Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up. I have spent the majority of my life “getting an education”. I have every degree you can possibly obtain, and the only thing I have learned is that I still have a lot to learn. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, or how many degrees you have, the reality is that no one knows everything. 

I was sitting in a meeting on Friday and found myself reflecting on what was being discussed. I already knew everything that was being shared in the meeting, but I never found myself disengaged with what was being discussed. I actually took pause to this and did some self reflection. I found that I have conditioned myself to keep learning. It didn’t matter if I knew the material already, I was listening as if it was the first time I was hearing it. 

I am a firm believer in lifelong learning. Even if I already know something, I want to know more. I want to engage in understanding. I don’t want knowledge for knowledge’s sake, but rather, I want to understand and apply my knowledge. I feel many people today walk around thinking they know everything there is to know about their profession, their political ideologies, their relationships, and even themselves. There is a major problem with this. Simply,  no one will ever know everything. The moment we start to think we know everything is the moment we don’t know anything. 

What if we restructured our thinking with the idea of learning to understanding? What if we decided to approach everything we do with the mindset of persistent understanding? Instead of disengaging in a meeting where the topic is something you might “already know”, re-engage in the conversation with a desire to learn more. Share your ideas and your thinking. Engage in conversations that will stretch your thinking and force you to learn more. Just remember, it’s not about knowing everything, it’s about understanding.

You might be thinking, “That’s great and all, but where does love come into this?”. Knowledge puffs up, while love builds up. If we are not careful, knowledge has the ability to poison our mind. It has the ability to make us think we are superior in our ways and our thinking, and that we have nothing more to learn. This is why it is said, “Pride comes before the fall.” Knowledge tends to take our chest, puff it out, which causes us to look down on those with whom we are engaging. Knowledge tends to make us think that we always need to have something to say, or that what we have to say is right all of the time. Love? Love does the very opposite. 

Love is the four letter word that people don’t like talking about because it makes us uncomfortable. Personally, I don’t think we talk about it enough, and because of that, we have a puffed up society . You see, love does not walk around looking down on others. Love doesn’t force it’s ideologies and opinions on others. Rather, love seeks common ground and understanding. Love creates an open dialogue with the focus on others rather than ourselves. Love pushes us to hear and see everything as if it was the first time we were hearing it, watching it, going through it. Love is about learning for the benefit of others. When we seek understanding rather than just knowledge, we create an environment that builds each other up.

Case and point: When I sit in a meeting, where the information is something I already “know”, and choose to disengage in the conversation, my actions and attitude show the person presenting that they are beneath me. I might tend to look down on them because of my “knowledge” of the material. However, if I sit in the same meeting with a longing to understand, even if I already “know” the information, my actions and attitude show the presenter that they are important, and that I want to understand and respect them. And you never know, I might actually learn something new.  

I don’t know everything, and I never want to think that I do. I want to keep learning to understand. It keeps everything fresh and new, and it keeps me from thinking I have nothing new to learn. Humility is key to growing a forever learning mindset.

Takeaways:

  1. Knowledge puffs up. It doesn’t matter how much you know, you can always be learning something new.
  2. There is a big difference between knowing something and understanding something. Seek understanding and not just knowledge.
  3. Look at every situation as an opportunity to learn and grow. It doesn’t matter if you already “know” something, seek to gain more understanding. 
  4. Be okay with not knowing everything. 
  5. Grow. Grow your heart, your mind, and your understanding. NEVER stop growing.

As always, stay humble and serve well. 

Stop Being Weak

Weakness is a topic that is rarely talked about. We can be weak in many areas of our lives. We can be weak physically, in our mindset, our emotions, our fortitude, and many more. However, the aspect I want to focus on is our character. Our character should be the one aspect in our life that never falters, waivers, or shows any signs of weakness. After all, most areas in our life that are weak only affect us. Our character, however, affects others. A weak character builds weak relationships and hinders our potential. Through hard work and discipline, our weakness can be strengthened. 

When I was a young boy, I had a big problem with anger. I vividly remember my father telling me, “If you don’t get a grip on your anger, it will cost you something later in life.” Being young, I wrote it off with, “Yeah, whatever.” Fast forward to the age of sixteen. I was home with my sister, who is 4 years older than I, and I needed to get some laundry done. Her laundry was in the washer, so I told her to move her clothes from the washer to the dryer. At this point, my memory of the situation gets a little blurred. The next thing I do remember is my sister and I yelling at each other, her trying to leave the house, and me grabbing her by the arm and throwing her against the wall.

“If you don’t get a grip on your anger, it will cost you something later in life.” That day, I lost nearly 4 years of relationship with my sister. I was devastated because of my choices and actions. I was hurt because I knew my actions caused the break in relationship. I wanted, more than anything, to reconcile with my sister, tell her how deeply sorry I was for my stupidity, and regain what I had lost. I say I lost nearly 4 years, but what that really means is it took 4 years for my sister to even consider being in the same room with me. My actions, the weakness in my character, destroyed the relationship with the only sibling I have. 

Today, more than 20 years later, my sister and I are much closer than we were. However, time away has a funny way of building walls, barbed wire, and independence. My sister never needed me. She has never needed me. She is a strong, independent woman for whom I have great respect. However, because of my actions and weakness of character, I lost the ability to grow and build a relationship with her. If I could go back to that day, I would in a heartbeat. 

I still struggle with anger, but I have learned to curve it and deal with it in a healthy way. Metal is my music of choice, body count movies are a great go to, but most of all, I humble myself before my God and learn to be more like Him. I have been focused on building a character of integrity, honesty, and humility. I have really tried to focus on building a better me. Don’t get me wrong, I have a LONG way to go, and I won’t be done until I see my maker face to face. Until then, I will constantly be working on me. I will constantly be strengthening my character, so that I can hold dear the relationships that matter most. If leadership is about one life influencing another, then our character should be the one aspect of our lives that we never quit working on.

With that, I challenge you. Stop being weak. Find the areas in your character that need to be fixed, reshaped, worked out. Build a character worth having. Become a man or woman of strong character. Live with integrity, be honest with yourself and others, and be humble enough to know you have work to do. Be a person/leader of strong character.

Takeaways:

  1. Our character is the only aspect of ourselves that affects more than just us. A weak character builds weak or obsolete relationships.
  2. Reflection is key to becoming a better version of ourselves. 
  3. It is never too late to restructure, rebuild, or fix our broken character.
  4. If leadership is about one life influencing another, then make sure your character is one that builds positive, uplifting relationships with those around you.

As always, stay humble and serve well.