253 – Because I Want To

Take ownership of your choices. The best way to do this is to keep your reasons, proofs, explanations, and defensive evidence to yourself.

The supreme proof that a choice is right comes in the resulting aftermath. Those who keep their silence until the ending evidence has the last word—through slander, provocative accusation, gossip, doubt, even coup and impeachment—will be left standing after the smoke clears.

There’s a time to talk, especially to delineate decisions and implement action, but those are different from babbling on about the justification and rationale for what you do. Of course, a little philosophy about why you do what you do won’t hurt, as long as you’re not using philosophy to build a case in your defense or trying to prove that a genius is a genius. Just talk as you need in order to finish the task at hand. Don’t fall for the trap of someone asking you why you did what you did as a way of convincing you to do something differently.

If you are a fool and headed in the wrong direction, listen to the voice of wisdom, but don’t change merely because someone debated your reasons. If you should change, proof that another way will succeed requires no discussion about your reasons for the failed method. That works in reverse as you deal with other people. Keep your eyes on your own path, never why another path is wrong—and never let others tell you why your path is wrong, but only why another path might be better. Once you’ve heard them out, make your decision and press on.

Don’t explain yourself; friends don’t care and enemies won’t accept your reasons anyway. When you reject “indefinite discussion until others agree with you”, those others will call you “unfriendly”, when the underlying issue is that you disagree. Stay on task.

Actions speak louder than words, let them. Cultivate this reputation so people already know your answer when they ask why you do what you do, “Because I want the results that follow.” Eventually they will stop asking, then you can focus on your task. If you deliberate, it’s because you value discussion more than results.

254 – Do Your Best Always and All Your Work Will Last

Every day, every moment, make every effort your best. The Universe and its Creator are watching you. Gravity will find favor for those who never slack off and hold to high standards, even when no one is looking. God created laws of nature to work that way, to reward righteousness done in secret. There is no way you can ever serve kings and queens if you don’t serve everyone as you would a king or queen.

Kings and queens want to hire people who make excellence seem effortless, which means that your best needs to be your “normal”. Never give into the poison of people telling you, “That’s good enough,” when you know it’s not.

It is true that with some things we need to recognize that high standards are not our highest priority. Knowing what things to “do to standard” and with what things to “exceed expectation” is part of good judgment—part of doing your best. No matter how old we get, we never stop improving our good judgment of knowing which standards fit where. So, always do your best at learning this good judgment.

If you know that more work won’t help and that other matters need your attention, move on. If you know you have exhausted your energies for the time being, rest. But, never lay down your hammer and pen because you want an excuse to not do your best. Only the best work pays the best.

Place a high value on delayed gratification in every sector of life. Hard work empowers delayed gratification and delayed gratification teaches us self-control, creating resilience against corruption, bribery, and blackmail. With consumer products, don’t make a product that is weak, then ask the customer to “be careful”. Make the product idiot-proof. Murphy’s Law applies to testing; diligently test and consider every scenario.

In college, I came to define “integrity” as a structure’s ability to withstand: 1. use, 2. abuse, 3. time, and 4. the elements. I was building two coffee stands. Observing, my father said, “People are going to stand on these things and do all sorts of things they weren’t made for. If you make them strong, they’ll out-live you, just like grandpa’s bookshelf over there.”

255 – God Also Has an Answer

Dark and dirty deeds plague every civilization in history. Next time someone proves that your past—and your culture’s past—is unjust, remind him that the same is true of him and everyone else. Proving the dirty deeds of our ancestors only proves that our ancestors were human.

There are two religions in the world, only two. There are many ways to define these—lifting and leaning, forgiveness and revenge, light and darkness, fairness and apathy. But, in terms of dark and dirty deeds of history, those same two religions are seen as the one which recognizes that God had a greater plan for good at work all along and those who want the complaint of evil to have either the last word or no word at all.

Moving past the past requires that we acknowledge that past. People who don’t understand the dual presence of both powerful evil and an even more powerful good will only talk about the evil or the good, never both. When one can’t forgive and love enemies, one will pretend to agree with everyone. But, Universalism only masks hatred. When the “all dogs go to Heaven” preacher encounters someone who says that all dogs do not go to Heaven, that preacher will suddenly turn angry because he never learned to love, only to hide his hatred.

Acknowledging the past doesn’t mean staying stuck in it. We know that dark and dirty deeds have plagued Earth from the time Adam and Eve walked in the garden. Heinous crimes have been committed since, the most heinous of which we will fortunately never know. Admit these, acknowledge these, recognize these; then move on to the good part.

While old aristocrats prepared to sell slaves in the American colonies after the Pilgrims’ arrival, God had already sent bad weather to force the Bible bearing Pilgrims into unplanned colonies in the north. They never knew that their own hardship had a purpose. Those Pilgrims didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on the chains of slavery two centuries later, thereby smashing many chains, and the ripple continues today.

While devils were at work in one place, God was already at work in another.

Genesis 50:15-21

256 – Leading as Ambassadors

The ambassador walks everywhere in friendship. At times, he will face the wrath of a mob wishing to insight the fury of his home country. He has no power to defend himself, only the security of his embassy. His powerlessness is his strength because it allows him to walk through doors without posing a threat.

The ambassador listens and explains. He is everyone’s friend, to help connect one official to the official he answers to. He doesn’t agree with everyone, but he wants everyone’s voice to be heard by interested ears.

The ambassador must sometimes lay down the law and make known the way of the world. He doesn’t come to the rescue of every citizen abroad and he may need to lay down the law with his own people abroad.

The ambassador has unusual powers within which he must operate efficiently. If he can influence another nation to move toward peace, he must. He must conscientiously as compellingly articulate the goals and prerogatives of his own people while accurately conveying the prerogatives of other people to his own. Through diplomacy, the ambassador is in a great position to make a difference for better or worse, affecting the lives of millions.

The ambassador is a guest and must continue to act as a guest with gratitude and provide hospitality toward other guests he may receive. His efforts are not mere nonsense. His mission to communicate is like a bridge standing by to usher vital substance.

The ambassador doesn’t have the power to make one, single decision. He carries clout along with many powerful ears in his pocket. This he must use to advance the good cause. Diplomacy itself is not his power, it is his boundary. The ambassador’s power is reason and understanding, which he can only implement among the ears he already has.

Sometimes the ambassador is the only way to understand yourself in your own situation. Vibrancy and charm, wit and humility, hardihood and tenderness—these make for a spicy ambassador who is sure to be remembered and loved. The ambassador is no stuffed suit. When you are a guest, know as much deep in your heart, taking forth the mission of relationships.

257 – Tables Before Enemies

God prepares our banquet tables right in front of our enemies. This isn’t a cute encouragement, it is a mode of operation. It is how God works.

God will supply your need. If you don’t irritate Him or jinx your own luck through immorality, He may even provide well beyond your need. At times, God will give you just enough to fill your mouth, not your stomach, all as a part of Him training your trust. But, God also likes to play dazzling games.

Say you owe money to one of your enemies; obey God’s moral code to treat your enemies well and strive to repay—not from any loyalty to the debtor, but from loyalty to the God Who Repays. As you seek to fulfill your obligations to your enemies, God may dry up your cash flow just long enough to make you late on a payment. You wouldn’t do this, God does this just to irritate your enemies, then, later, He gives you a cash surplus to pay extra—making your enemies hate you even more, but still unwilling to harm you since they make money off of you. All the while, God may send you a fine banquet, literally, complete with wine, delicacy, and dessert. Because He is the God Who Repays, God repaid you for your trouble and repaid your enemy with trouble for troubling you.

Banquets in the midst of antagonism are God’s mode of operation. He will even convince your enemy pay for your banquet—willingly.

Take a moment to consider God as the Great God of Great Banquets. For a thousand years, Jesus will reign on Earth while the devil rots in prison. That time is referred to as the “marriage supper of the Lamb”. Once the Antichrist is defeated, birds will eat his dead army; this is called the “great supper of the Lord”. Even the world government Jesus reigns over will have roads and infrastructure built by the Antichrist. This is all because God prepares banquets and makes the devil pay for them.

God’s “white tux” attitude toward your enemies can rub off on you. You might not fret so much if you meditate on banqueting.

Psalm 23, Revelation 19:9, 17

258 – Invite Growth in Love

Love is the end of any worthy pursuit. The test and proof of whether Jesus has truly been taught, demonstrated, and expressed is whether everyone grows in love. When the genuine truth of God—not some purported myth or sales pitch for some ulterior purpose—when the actual, genuine truth from Heaven takes root in our hearts, our hearts thus begin to grow larger and larger in love for and from everyone.

Growing in love includes recognizing love when others give it, even when they give it well cloaked.

Patience is also part of love. Someone who has not grown in love has not grown up. Someone who has not grown in patience has neither grown in love nor grown up.

To the extent that you struggle with patience, so must you cease all activity and pause until patience comes to you. If you can’t guide your subordinates at the office with gentleness, talk with your superiors about how to be more patient, consider taking a day off merely to pray for patience. Even ask those you supervise to help you to be more patient; give them permission to call you out on it when you’re not. Do the same with your children, parents, spouse, siblings, extended family, peers, coworkers, students, customers, clients, and trade partners.

Whatever area you struggle in to learn love, ask everyone in your life for a little help. Don’t go overboard with the drama, just quietly mention it as a personal goal and grant everyone an open invitation to bring it up in conversation: “I want to be more loving and patient. Tell me how.”

Get ready, though. You might cause an avalanche of feedback and it can overwhelm you. If you’re lucky, so many people might take you up on your offer to grant feedback that they critique you to tears. Those tears might wash away whatever hinders love in your life. They might even erode your pride to a point of such humility that they only way to listen is by…

…becoming more patient.

The candid feedback from friends who care enough to say so will make you more loving, but you only see what love you recognize.

259 – Never, Never Compromise, Never

Be guided by principles and ethics, not facts on the ground only.

Don’t get trapped between the twin lies of Heavenly and Earthly mindedness. Neither be too Heavenly-minded to be of Earthly good nor too Earthly-minded to be of Heavenly good. Anyone can be too much of either to be useless for the other.

People will tell you to “look at the reality around you”. Yes, boots on the ground should tell the brass at command what can and can’t be done, but protocols remain the same. Reality doesn’t trump protocol. Values and principles—when wisely chosen—are practical and permanent. As you mature, you will need to re-evaluate yours, but that’s your problem that everyone else has too.

In fog, pilots must fly by instruments, not by feelings. Values are necessary because, when in the fray, dust from the work and the battle can cloud our judgment. Clouded judgment can’t navigate you out of a cloud.

If you can let go of an ideology then do it in your prayer time, not when someone wants to negotiate a compromise with you. If you wait until the negotiating table to see that your ideal is flawed, you have repenting to do in your next prayer time, which should probably be made urgently and with extended time.

The world is destroyed by one compromiser after another. The cascade of compromise ripples one fool at a time. None of them think their compromise will matter much, which is why they are foolish; if their compromise didn’t matter then it wouldn’t have mattered if they didn’t make that compromise either. It’s not that a cascade of compromise overpowers the honest people of the world, but that a cascade of compromisers is a cascade to suicide. Cascaders hurt themselves. The people who refuse to compromise on truth and morals will remain standing in the end.

Know your values and core principles; never let them go, but let go of everything else before any opportunity for compromise comes knocking on your door. Know your mission—what it is and what it is not. Know who you are and know who you belong to. Then you will surely stand and last.