67 – Fathered and Fatherless Act Like It

Children who do not grow up with healthy, balanced oversight of good instruction in the home will show it in the things that they don’t know and no propaganda will convince the facts otherwise.

Children missing a parent can quickly develop an “I don’t need that parent” life motto. It’s not a logical or scientific conclusion, but an emotional coping mechanism to invalidate the self-invalidation they invent every day. Not having a parent doesn’t make someone invalid in itself; it shows up in one’s lifestyle.

An eight year old who doesn’t know how to tie his shoes probably has too much pampering at home and school. A ten year old who ties his shoes incorrectly likely has parents who just don’t care.

A high schooler who doesn’t respond to text messages is announcing to all his friends, “Hey, my parents yell at me all the time, so I ignore what everyone says just to cope with it.” The junior higher who can’t agree to go to the movies next weekend—time and again—is likewise broadcasting, “My parents interrupt my life constantly, thereby erasing my concept that ‘tomorrow exists’.” When their friends call them out on it, they act indignant and accuse everyone of making up complaints from their “dream worlds”. They make their own parents look bad in the eyes of the student body and everyone sees it but them, especially their teachers.

School carries into the workplace.

I have a saying, “Beware of people with hyphenated last names; they haven’t resolved their loyalties.” In Chinese it holds for four-character names, rather than than the usual three-. No judging, they may be great people, but strange formats make work for others and begs questions about one’s upbringing.

Everyone has family problems. If you’ve outgrown yours, but have a strange name format from the fallout, take counsel and review a legal name change. The process may be therapeutic. Alternatively, artists often take additional middle names or file a legal DBA/pseudonym.

Whatever “baggage” you may carry, ditch it. Everyone else sees it but you, don’t act otherwise. What happens at home shows in the world, especially when you’re offended by other people’s reaction to your conduct.

65 – Leaders Are Strong and Tough

Leaders must make tough decisions, which means leaders must be tough.

If there is a department in an organization or a child in the family who makes trouble for others—whether through passive-aggression, overt bullying, absenteeism, poor quality work, or otherwise—the leader with the power to intervene must intervene. If the leader does not intervene, then the troublemaker will make more and more trouble, making the leader an indirect—but nonetheless real—endorse of the trouble maker.

Having the “power” to intervene and stop a troublemaker does not mean that a leader has the emotional trust of the organization or a 50%+ popularity rating—it only means having the legal right to raise the issue and address the matter. If a peer has the right to raise his hand at a meeting, that peer could initiate discussion to stop the troublemaker.

Of course, a “troublemaker” must be defined as someone who actually makes trouble, not someone who irritates lazy and incompetent teammates while doing good work. Many talented people are mislabeled as troublemakers when they are the only competent people on a team. “Not playing well with others” is the lowest priority in labeling a troublemaker.

…And a good leader must know this.

By being strong, everyone will interact with a strong person when they interact with the leader. This will make everyone else’s skin a little thicker, their spines stronger, and the talented person who smells funny and talks out of turn won’t be so irritating. It’s the leader’s responsibility to set that tone.

A strong leader will talk frankly and harshly at times, get irritated into ranting and raising his tone of voice. Whether a man or woman, loud or soft -spoken, each leader has his own style of “strength” and must follow that style, but still be strong. A leader who is weak and calls it “style” is not only weak, but an excuse-maker.

Sometimes people need to be fired or downsized. Children need proper, calculated spankings to stop fights among siblings. Peers need to be told truth from others.

The tough leader will be feared at times, but will thus be trusted as a safe protector during the toughest of times.

63 – Opening Bid Is Final Offer

If you can change your mind after hours of negotiation, then you started without knowing what you wanted—and you owe the other party a consulting fee for the vision mapping session.

Auctions are institutionalized, meant to sell a vast number of good to a vast number of people at publicly agreed prices in quick order. Usually these are for liquidation, fundraising, and government contracts. You are not overstocked nor damaged goods nor are you an overpriced trinket from a charity banquet—do not establish your price as if you were. Governments are the exception.

Pay the highest price you’re willing. Give people what they’re worth and don’t attempt less. If the other party does, walk away right away.

When you offer to join a team, set your ceiling at the outset and don’t go above it. If you say, “Four hours is all I can do that day,” and the person gives reasons why you should give five, they need help with vision and mission. Explain it, “You’ve got too much at stake and seem to be over-budget. I’m a four-hour guy, you need a five-hour guy, and you need to either talk to your accounting department to get a budget for the right guy or talk with your visioning team about a four-hour plan.”

The “Trump” negotiation tactic was well-demonstrated throughout his life, even his presidency: Make the opening offer “hugely” outrageous, then “come to your senses” and ask for what you wanted in the first place. That’s for dealing with parties who don’t know what they want. When people open with that outlandish offer, I go straight to “vision” mode.

The same applies against delphi method and managed conversation.

Many people ask my permission to cancel appointments. I tell them the same, “It’s not my choice. Just figure out your schedule, then call me.”

I once made an ethics-related suggestion to an itinerant speaker about his content. He gave his propaganda-couched excuse, adding, “…if that’s okay with you.” I answered, “It’s not my choice,” and made him own his. That speaker just stood speechless.

Never “negotiate”. Either host an auction, plan a strategy meeting, or act unilateral-friendly so you never pressure others.

62 – Literature of the Bible

Understanding the Bible is much easier if you know the types of genre. Knowing genre, you can quickly identify the specific genre you are reading and know what to expect from it.

Much of the Bible is narrative. This simply records actions and events, neither condemning nor condoning any of what actually happens. The important thing to remember in narrative, as with any other type of genre, is the first time a word or event occurs. If a similar word or event shows up later, both events will have a kind of connection, whether a parallel or contrast. When reading events, take note of the smallest details.

The genealogy genre is easily belittled. Genesis has some genealogy. Genealogies often have small events inserted, highlighting things a person did or did not do. These can be significant. To Jewish culture, a genealogy was also important to confirm which tribe someone came from.

Law is seen much in the second part of Exodus, as well as Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. While other “laws” appear elsewhere—such as God’s instructions to Joshua for invasion—Exodus sets the template for the genre. Laws were specific to Israel, mainly before Jesus. But, we can still learn from them and following many parts of Moses’ Law can be beneficial. The important truths about laws are that Jesus completed the laws for sacrifices and that Jesus interprets Moses’ Law more clearly than anyone else. Look at the Jerusalem Council in Acts and also Hebrews for apostolic commentary on the Law.

Poetry fully comprises Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, and Lamentation, but poetry also appears in other Bible passages. By familiarizing yourself with these books of poetry, you will understand poetry in other books of the Bible.

Figures of speech can appear anywhere in the Bible. Know them in your native language, then you will recognize them in the Bible. Label language as “figurative” only with good reason, never favoring a contradictory interpretation.

Prophecy and visions pop up everywhere, containing both figurative and literal language. Interpreting these requires time and never finishes. Begin with Daniel and Revelation.

The Gospels and Acts are ancient journalism. The rest of the New Testament is correspondence.

61 – If Someone Gives You a Test, Keep It

Don’t let people toy with you. This is about respecting yourself. Cultivate a reputation that people who want toys will become toys if they try to play with you.

Of course, there is a time for fun and it is good chivalry to be hardy in friendship and jest in the staff lounge. But, at work and with truth, you are not a toy.

I once had a friend irritated at my self-confidence. So, he lied to me, and invented a false claim to attempt to disprove me—”just to see what I would do” as he explained five minutes later. And, he found out what I would do. I have never had a meaningful conversation with him since.

If someone plays “devil’s advocate” with you, treat him like the devil’s advocate: Send him to Hell; make the conversation painful enough that he wished it would end. Call him “Satan” and tell him to get out of your way before you trip; that’s what Jesus did when Peter played.

The easiest way to combat someone who makes up tests just to toy with you is to take them absolutely seriously all the way to the end. This works much like shoving the stick farther into the dog’s mouth to make him want to release it, or grabbing the punch that comes your way and pulling the arm to keep it going.

As you progress in your life, people will criticize you and, when that doesn’t work, they will invent hypotheticals, all the while hoping to offer you some kind of “benefit”.

Real situations need real facts to treat them. Take all hypotheticals seriously: “That’s a hypothetical and I won’t speculate on it. And, frankly you shouldn’t ask me to.”

“But, what if you were talking to someone else?” they protest.

Practice these words: “I’m talking to you and you should be present with me.”

Whenever someone calls you a name, wear it like armor. Quote it everywhere, never let them forget the nickname they made for you.

If someone decides to become your self-appointed examiner and give you a test, take it, but don’t give it back. Whatever anyone gives you becomes your permanent property.

60 – God the Patient

God is not slow, though in our short attention span it can seem like He has forgotten all about us.

God is above all of our circumstances, though He is also in those circumstances with us. The Bible teaches that God is “near to the broken-hearted”. Jesus wept when his friend Lazarus died. Having lived and suffered on Earth, Jesus knows our situation. Yet, Jesus remains beyond the ability for our circumstances to destroy him.

God can stand and observe our situation without limit, not because He doesn’t see or doesn’t care, but because He is strong enough to be patient. He doesn’t need to quickly finish so He can go sleep or grab a snack or visit the WC.

As a child I asked why we need Satan. Now, I have finally come to understand that God will never get rid of Satan—we will. God is patiently waiting until that time, preparing us for that time.

Many people have not yet worked out whether they like Satan. They say they want to do good, but then they go do something stupid. People complain about corruption in government and business, but then they go and do morally corrupt things in their families and among Chistian friends. God asks us the same question every day, “Why do you allow evil in your world? Are you ready to get rid of it yet?” Once we get resolved on our answer, God will give us the tools to put Satan and his servants into the fire forever. But, we aren’t there yet. We’re still making up our minds, so it seems.

Every day, try to at least act like you have made up your mind about getting rid of Satan. Do what is good, make the world around you a little better, let your life be a reason for people to make up their minds about God.

While we take our time and sort out which way is up and down, God will be there, patiently watching, patiently nudging us in the right direction, and, when necessary, patiently giving us a catastrophe here or there to help turn our short attention spans back toward His everlasting patience.

59 – If You Spank Them, You Must Hold Them

God made each child with certain talents and abilities. We naturally hunger for those things God made us able to do best. We discover those talents and abilities by sniffing them down through the nose of our desire for them. It is a thrilling mystery every time, for every person, for all of everyone’s life.

As children it’s easier to see, but it repeats throughout life: We misbehave when we have lost the scent trail in pursuit of our inborn talents.

A child who was born to be an entertainer will seek attention in all the wrong ways—especially if his quiet, orderly family denies him positive, proper, and constructive attention. Of course, the child also may lack practice with peers, but that’s a separate, related discussion. Then, there is proper discipline to explain the boundaries of respect and accepting the things that we cannot change.

People who grow up to be disrespectful probably were not disciplined when they were children to accept whatever things they cannot change.

When we hunger for love and healthy attention, our need is love and healthy attention, not discipline and correction. But, when we just don’t want to accept things that we cannot change, that’s when we need a swift, immediate, firm, well-explained, hand-on-skin, redness gone in thirty minutes, and, in all other ways, proper spanking—so that chasing the wind loses its pleasure. Neglected grownups don’t know whether children need love or discipline nor do they know the difference between discipline and beating.

Accepting what we can’t change is hard. Sometimes the entertaining child needs to practice being quiet in the presence of others—sometimes, not every minute spent at home. Those moments are difficult for everyone, especially the child. As much as the spanking hurts, it’s harder to let go of what earned us the spanking in the first place.

It’s hard to accept that we can’t change things we don’t like. Life isn’t fair. That’s one of the things we can’t change, so we must accept that unfairness will exist somewhere within our universe.

We get to be that child at times. God is right to spank us because He always holds us while we cry.

39 – Look Before You Leap

There is a time for quick action, but good judgment in short order requires experience and thoughtful reflection.

In driving, we look left before turning right, yet we must always hone our ability to judge time and distance. Safety and speed go together.

Do your homework and consider your options.

Don’t blindly enter politics without having become familiar with the usual boilerplate “fools wisdom” other politicians will give you, globally known as “capitol district fever”. Don’t enter the fashion industry without first walking the floor of a clothing factory and sample office; don’t get your clothing through international trade unless everyone on the floor of that factory spoke a language you couldn’t. And, never travel to another country without at least researching general travel advisories well in advance; if you can get duplicate copies of your vital documents, get triples as well.

I have met numerous Westerners traveling in Asia who were stuck at an airport all night or couldn’t stay as long as they had hoped, all because they did what the airline told them rather then checking travel document requirements for themselves, then double checking twice more. I have yet to meet one person in the world who regrets having known more than was needed ahead of time, no matter what the task.

Many people will belittle you for doing diligence before the deadline. Take a good look at their lives; they don’t have the results you want and they have many problems that you don’t want. The only reason “average” addicts will give you a hard time for running the risk of learning too much is that they “don’t do things that way”. To them, it doesn’t matter if they have the results they want, they only want to maintain their habits, no matter how disappointing.

When someone tells you that you don’t need to look carefully before clearing every intersection, just say, “I’ll send you flowers if I can’t visit you in the hospital myself.”

Firstborns in particular like to wait and research indefinitely before making a decision. But, you can’t anticipate every problem. At some point you must leap and pray for Heaven’s favor, just pack your parachute properly first.

Proverbs 16:1-3

37 – Words Have Power

Words gain their power because of their effect on the mind.

We have three main ways of communicating ideas into the mind: sight, touch, and audio. When we speak, we use two; when we read aloud we use all three.

When writing, we see our words and feel them written through our fingers. In speaking, we feel what we say through our mouths and hear our words with our ears. When we read aloud, we also see the words, thus using all three inputs. This is one reason punishing a student by writing a sentence multiple times can be effective. Usually those students will whisper the words while writing them, even without knowing.

Whatever you say, write, and even type is sent back into your brain through at least two communication methods. This has the effect of self-programming.

You program your mind with your words, whether spoken, written, or even typed.

In Freakonomics, Steven Levitt explores whether a child’s name can have power. Two children were given somewhat negative names and they lived negative lives. But, incidentally, two brothers less than a year apart were named “Winner” and “Loser”, respectively. Winner became a failure and Loser became a big success. While Levitt argues that this defuses the theory of names making a difference in the life of children, I argue that it shows the power of words spoken.

What is the one name you are likely to say more than your own—other than your brother’s who is less than a year different in age?

The Bible is also clear about the power of the tongue, not only of humans, but also of God the Creator. All Creation was made through the Word of God, Jesus is the Word made flesh to deliver us of our sinful situation, the Bible is the Word of God. As the Image of God, it only makes sense that our words also have power of some kind.

Cursing and fowl language are mainly matters of word power. Whether words have supernatural power is moot. Words evidently affect us all. Whether we harness or neglect our tongues, the results will show in our lives. Watch your words; train your tongue.

Proverbs 6:2, James 3:2-12

35 – Earth Will Be Full of the Knowledge of God

When Jesus reigns on Earth, whatever the truth is—whatever things our theology was right about or wrong—all people will know God truly, without need for anyone to teach them. That’s one of the main reasons life will be, in so many words, “Heaven,” except that it will be Heaven on Earth, literally.

Even in the ages after Earth, everyone will understand the structures and systems of society. There won’t be political divides because both the needs and the ways to meet those needs will be widely know to everyone. When society is full of knowledge about God, that changes everything.

We’re not there yet, thankfully.

Even without sin, society must slowly learn about God. We can’t just have God come down, open the skies above everyone’s house, and download all truth. That would reduce us to minions. We must study and learn, ponder and work, in order to understand God.

Once all human society is filled with that knowledge about God, it won’t be from any download; it will be from our experience and from having seen Jesus face-to-face and having real fellowship with those who have done the same.

Learning comes from our own choice to do so, even in the next life. For all Eternity, we will never stop learning and God will never run out of things for us to learn about Him. So, in this sense, part of experiencing “Heaven on Earth” even now—of entering into Eternal Life even during this current, brief life—includes being students of theology—students of the knowledge of God. This begins with fearing only Him and nothing else, loving Him more than anyone or anything else, and pondering clear truths about love and self-sacrifice for others, from the smallest to the greatest circumstances of our daily lives.

Everything in your life—everything—was allowed or introduced by God as part of helping you learn about life, yourself, others, and—central to all knowledge—learning about Him. Look for His reflections—His fingerprints—in the world around you. Knowledge of God, after all, will abound in Eternal Heaven, but it is just as relevant and accessible here, in the world right around us.