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

49 – How to Do

How do you do something? Seriously, don’t do anything half-baked. The only exception is a steak roasted to medium, but that’s a part of perfection.

There is no shortage in this world of things done badly. Many times, people’s problems were inherited from other people. Most of my own problems are from a domino effect of other people not doing their jobs correctly. Things break, those broken things break other things, the chain continues until it reaches my stuff.

At times, I think all of life is a swim through a river of problems from upstream. Don’t complain about the problems you get and don’t complain about other people’s problems unless you can explain that they are upstream from you.

There is a marketable demand for things finished not badly and not half-finished.

The need for excellence extends to thought itself. Many things would not be done so badly if the people doing those things would not only do a good job of what they were doing, but also do a good job of thinking about what they were doing.

God is the Master Craftsman because He makes stuff and He doesn’t make it badly—including you.

Your problems are a consortium of interferences from rebellious angels, your ancestors, and your own stupidity. As for God’s work to create and redeem you, just the fact that you’re alive is a miracle and testament to the fact that He’s not only awesome, that He’s not only ain’t finished with you yet, but that He’s only just gettin’ started.

You are God’s work in progress and, all things considered, you’re doing quite well—especially in light of your problems.

God likes nice things. He celebrates factory workers and hard laborers. Jesus himself was a carpenter. With nearly 2,000 years of work on New Jerusalem, that just makes sense.

The pastor, prophet, apostle, and theologian do not understand God more than the good, hard worker. Their studies away from craft can inhibit their ability to understand and identify with the Master Craftsman. Paul moonlighted as a tentmaker, not only for ethical and financial reasons, but also theological.

To understand our Most Excellent God, do a most excellent job.

Proverbs 22:29, Ecclesiastes 9:10, Colossians 3:23-24

In loving memory of “Uncle Dave” Eckman

57 – Finish Wisely Every Journey

When you begin a journey, finish it, even the ones you shouldn’t have started.

“Finishing” can mean different things, but it never means “giving up”. Many times our eyes get bigger than our stomachs and we ask take more food than we can eat. “Finishing” in the food analogy does not mean stuffing yourself, but eating the left overs for your next meals until they are gone. If you decide that you can’t eat it, save it for someone who can; don’t just abandon the food and throw it away.


Sometimes, we start out on a path leading to death. We don’t know the path will eventually kill us because it seems good and all at the outset. But, later on, we may discover it was a seduction of evil all along. “Finishing” that path might mean turning around and going back, perhaps warning others that the path seems good, but ends in a death trap.

Usually paths that lead to a death trap require us to tell “white lies” and break “insignificant” moral rules in order to star them. Eve was the best example because the fruit looked delicious and knowledge “isn’t that bad of a thing”, right?

My father once started a “selfish” motorcycle trip he shouldn’t have. His motorcycle broke down. Exhausted, he knelt in the desert sand and believed in Jesus. He didn’t finish as planned, but he didn’t take a bus home either; he rode his motorcycle all the way back.

His pastor, who always asked why dad wouldn’t become Christian, never even noticed, possibly because dad didn’t believe in Jesus the “traditional” way. Knowing dad, he probably learned more about Jesus and carrying his own Cross than the pastor learned at Seminary.

When one hasn’t finished hard journeys oneself, however regrettable those journeys are, those who do seem boring.

Dad didn’t finish his journey the way he first intended, but he did “finish” it, taking responsibility for the situation he got himself into. Because he “did the right thing”, Jesus changed his heart.

Learning means finishing. Abandoning the unpleasant is easy, but you’ll never learn that way. When the going gets tough—when your choices hurt—finish wisely.

Genesis 3:6-7, Jonah 1:17; 2:1, 10; 3:1-5, Luke 19:1-10

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.

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.

73 – Dear Kid Part 2

Do these with others, then it will be easy to make sure others do these with you…

Whenever working with others, you must have these two mutual requirements:
1. You didn’t tell someone something until you tell them and they say it back to you. You don’t know what someone did until you ask them what they did. Even with 500 witnesses and 1,000 videos, ask first. If the person lies to you, then you found out the most important part.
2. Give everyone a second chance at something once or twice. After paying for a five million dollar mistake, firing the person is too expensive after investing so much in the person’s education. The price of a low turnover rate without constant rookie mistakes is that you must forgive enough to allow multiple second-chances.

…And, do these for two reasons:
1. This is what smart bosses and smart companies do. Those that don’t are easy to defeat in any arena, from sports to military to business.
2. Jesus commands it, forgiveness and healthy communication.

Indirect teaching is polite, allowing people time to learn on their own. But, indirection is never, never, never “communication” where one can expect another to have received the message. To expect understanding, one must be direct.

When working for heathens, you are only as good as your last mistake. When working for Jesus, your mistakes make you irreplaceable because of the expense on your education. Heathens often parade themselves as Christians, then inject this ideology into their fake “Christianity”, claiming Jesus while neither forgiving nor reconciling. Know it and don’t touch it. If you have been unforgiven, get out. God’s protecting you from heathens.

You never know what’s going to set people off. Just be humble, forgive, be forgiven, and keep relationships that have a history. If you’re expelled without warning, be thankful that God got you out before the building self-destructed.

You can’t say the wrong thing to the right person and you can’t say the right thing to the wrong person. If you are worthy, a smart boss or client will hire you. If you are worthy, but don’t get hired, then God is protecting you from something.

77 – Know When to Answer Rhetorical Questions

Every question deserves an answer. This is basic human respect. Never imply that someone doesn’t understand grammar. By not answering a rhetorical question, you do just that. Questions deserve answers.

Answering a rhetorical question does not mean you need to argue with the rhetorician. You can answer rhetorical questions respectfully. Failing to answer them is the disrespect.

People who believe that rhetorical questions are statements—not questions—have trouble communicating their thoughts. Whether they ask the rhetorical questions as a way to make a statement or they fail to answer rhetorical questions, confusing language makes language confusing. No matter how complicated we twist it in order to work it all out in our minds to somehow “make sense”, asking questions without expecting answers is bad practice. Over-complicating things in one’s mind will make communication even more difficult, whether listening or expressing oneself.

Jesus said, “Let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no’.” His literal meaning is to take language literally; that’s wise, smart, and good all around. Not being able to get something off your chest makes like very difficult. When you need to say something, say it! If someone needs to tell you something, listen!

The good practice of answering rhetorical questions will make you seem a little “strong” to people who don’t share the same practice. Be kind to them, but don’t act ignorantly just to avoid confusing the ignorant. Set a good example for people to follow. It’s human nature to complain about a thing we respect the first time we encounter it. Let people encounter your answers to rhetorical questions.

By answering rhetorical questions directly, you will train your mind to see through many passive-aggressive traps. The simple way to slice through squirmy manipulation is to interpret everything literally and state everything literally. It’s not easy for a snake to squeeze a broadsword.

Passive-aggression is like pushing someone through a closed window with a pillow. The aggressor doesn’t have “aggressive form” and holds a mere pillow. But, it’s not form that makes one aggressive; it’s initiating injury. By answering rhetorical questions, people will accuse you of “aggression by form”, but you will both learn and demonstrate navigation through anything.