Sun Tzu wrote in China in the fifth century BC to help military leaders hone their warcraft, but you might be surprised at the truths you can apply to your life today. Check out my full book review by clicking here.
“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”
“Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight. (2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. (3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. (4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.”
“Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
“The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy. To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”
“That general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.”
“Disciplined and calm, to await the appearance of disorder and hubbub amongst the enemy—this is the art of retaining self-possession. To be near the goal while the enemy is still far from it, to wait at ease while the enemy is toiling and struggling, to be well-fed while the enemy is famished—this is the art of husbanding one’s strength.”
“Do not linger in dangerously isolated positions. … If, on the other hand, in the midst of difficulties we are always ready to seize an advantage, we may extricate ourselves from misfortune.”
“The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable. There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: (1) Recklessness, which leads to destruction; (2) cowardice, which leads to capture; (3) a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults; (4) a delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame; (5) over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.”
“He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.”
“Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death. … If, however, you are indulgent, but unable to make your authority felt; kind-hearted, but unable to enforce your commands; and incapable, moreover, of quelling disorder: then your soldiers must be likened to spoilt children; they are useless for any practical purpose.”
“Carefully study the well-being of your men, and do not overtax them. Concentrate your energy and hoard your strength.”
“Keep your army continually on the move.”
“The Lord uses critics to show us our own hearts, even if what they say is not fully true, informed, or even fair. There is almost always a germ of truth in what our critics (in their own pain and disappointment) shout at us. The wise leader will humble himself and look for the truth embedded in every oppositional interaction.” —Dick Brogden [see 2 Samuel 16:5-12]
“Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” —Ken Blanchard
“Criticism can be received as a gift from God. It is an opportunity to pray, search Scripture, evaluate your own heart, and offer grace to others. The right response to criticism should not be retaliation or pride (which just perpetuates hurt), but rather humility.” —Jeremy Carr
“There is a growing trend to attack, criticize, and resent anyone who has talent or achievements that sets them apart from others. This tendency extends to those who resent the efforts of leaders who challenge the status quo. Opponents of change initiatives often attempt to marginalize leaders by attacking their character and questioning their motives. If the messenger is flawed, then the message and vision they offer cannot be trusted. As disappointing as it is, these challenges come with the territory of leadership.” —Dr. J. Lee Whittington
“If I were to attempt to answer all the criticisms and complaints I receive, I would have no time for any other business. From day to day I do the best I can and will continue to do so till the end. If in the end I come out all right, then the complaints and criticisms and what is said against me will make no difference. But, if the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels coming down from heaven to swear I was right would still make no difference.” —Abraham Lincoln
“If a ministry is God-anointed, it doesn’t matter who criticizes it. If it’s not anointed, it doesn’t matter who praises it.” —Rick Warren
“Your critics have information that your friends are withholding.” —John Maxwell
“God never gives us discernment so that we may criticize, but that we may intercede.” —Oswald Chambers
“No leader is exempt from criticism and his humility will nowhere be seen more clearly than in the manner in which he accepts and reacts to it.” —J. Oswald Sanders
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body: It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” —Winston Churchill
“Every man needs a blind eye and a deaf ear, so when people applaud, you’ll only hear half of it, and when people salute, you’ll only see part of it. Believe only half the praise and half the criticism.” —C.H. Spurgeon
“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” —Dale Carnegie
“A mark of a godly leader is one so focused on God’s plan that he pays no attention to his critics or enemies.” —Craig T. Owens
“Never be afraid of honest criticism. If the critic is wrong, you can help him; and if you’re wrong, he can help you. Either way, somebody’s helped.” —A.W. Tozer
“It’s so much easier to teach correct principles than it is to know and love a person. It’s so much easier to give brilliant advice than to empathize and be open. It’s so much easier to live independently than to live interdependently. It’s so much easier to be a judge than to be a light. It’s so much easier to be a critic than to be a model.” —Stephen Covey
“When is it inappropriate to praise a critical person? One: When you are being criticized for outright sin, and the criticism is accurate. If what is said is true, the tension you feel will be relieved only one way: confession. Two: when you are falsely accused of sin. Sin is a serious charge, obviously more serious than those ‘against you’ realize or they would have done their homework.” —Blaine Allen
“Don’t let an arrow of criticism pierce your heart unless it first passes through the filter of Scripture.” —Mark Batterson
“There is no better antidote for unjust criticism than a clear conscience before God.” —James Hernando
“It is not the critic who counts; nor the many who point out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly… who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.” —Teddy Roosevelt
[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]
He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy (Proverbs 29:1).
We waste things like…
Don’t waste what God wants to give you!
All of us have opportunities where we need to rebuild something that has fallen apart. O.S. Hawkins uses the example of Nehemiah in the Bible to teach us highly applicable rebuilding principles. You can check out my full book review by clicking here.
“One never rebuilds until he personally identifies with the need and weeps over the ruins. … Sadly, there are many who are simply not grieved or burdened about the walls in their lives that are broken and in need of rebuilding. It has been far too long since some of us have ‘sat down,’ much less ‘wept, and mourned for many days.’”
“Those who play the blame game never get the task of rebuilding completed.”
“True rebuilders identify with the fears and failures of those around them. They take personal responsibility for the situation—even if the problems didn’t begin with them.”
“Opportunities most often come our way when we are knocking on the door and not simply waiting for an opportunity to knock.”
“Nehemiah was able to convince the people to adopt his vision because he followed three vital rules in goal setting: they were conceivable, believable, and achievable.”
“Note the repetition of the plural personal pronouns in his challenge: ‘we … us … we’ (Nehemiah 2:17). Nehemiah was smart enough to incorporate a lot of plural pronouns. He was subtly motivating his people to work with him and not for him.”
“Nehemiah left us a stellar example to follow by laying out five important principles that are essential to the delegation process: set clear objectives with specific tasks, pick the right person for the right job, be an example yourself, hold others accountable, and be generous in giving genuine pats on the back.”
“When it comes to personal relationships, we all need someone to whom we are accountable. Someone who will remind us of God’s standards and give a gentle nudge—or shove—when we stray from those standards. Without such a friend, the result is often self-reliance, self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, and self-centeredness, rather than God-centeredness.”
“The fatigue factor is often at the root of our own failures. We simply give out and become too tired to go on, so we are then tempted to give in and to give up. When fatigue sets in during the rebuilding process, it brings along with it a loss of perspective, and little things often become much bigger than they really are. …Fatigue pulled their focus from their goal and placed it upon the rubbish, which led to frustration.”
“People have a way of rallying around a cause if they are convinced that God is in the midst of it. Which voice do the troops hear from your mouth? Is it the voice of Sanballat and ‘We won’t’? Is it the voice of Judah and ‘We can’t’? Or is it the voice of Nehemiah and ‘God will!’?”
“At last, the goal was in sight. The finish line. ‘Mission Accomplished’ just ahead. But be warned: this is the most dangerous point in any rebuilding process. This is when the enemy comes along with one final attempt to divert us from our goal. …It is not so much how long our personal race may be, nor even how difficult the obstacles we face along the way, but it is how we finish that matters most.”
Joy Hawthorne is a 16-year-old living with her parents in a radically Islamic Middle East country. Live Dead Life started out as her personal journal, but then became a book that I found highly compelling. Here are some additional quotes from this book.
“How do we do all for the glory of God? Well, ‘for the glory of God’ means that the purpose ends with God, not with me. What I do is not about me, but about God.”
“Not everyone will be a pioneer missionary, but everyone needs a vision to see beyond the borders of her country and have the courage to send others, and the pioneers are the ones who scout the land and report back home to those future missionaries and intercessors.”
“If I know the cure, if I know the truth, if I know the life, if I know the love—and I do—then I am compelled to share it with everyone everywhere—wherever Jesus is not yet worshiped.”
“This is not a race to see how far I can go alone, but to see how far we can relay together, working as a giant team.”
“If the unreached are going to hear about Jesus, we’ll have to step out of comfort zones and go to hard places.”
“Rather than wish for a home with less risk and more comforts, I accept and follow God’s plan for my life and find myself happy where He has placed my family. I willingly follow Him rather than draw lines in the sand of where I won’t go and what I won’t do. We go because, despite the risks, we know our God has a plan. We go because Jesus is worthy. He is worthy of my praise and the praise of the unreached I live among. No matter the cost, Jesus deserves all glory.”
“I feel safe today, but in case something should happen to me tomorrow, I want to take every opportunity today. God knows what I need, and until my work here is done, I am untouchably covered by Jesus’ blood. … I don’t think satan wants me to go to the dangerous, difficult, unreached places. He would rather I stay home. Believing this, will I be afraid or will I be bold?”
“My teen years are the perfect opportunity. I have more time and energy now than I might have in a few years. I want to take responsibility for the message of Jesus and for the people around me. The time is now. There is no good reason to wait. My door is open, and Jesus calls me to follow Him through it.”
“God, help us to abandon everything to You because You are worthy of it all. You are worthy of our lives. You are worthy of the praise and love of every tribe and nation on earth. Give us Your heart. Make our hearts overflow for every people. Give us Your eyes to see the world.”
This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.
In every place you are in, insist on taking the initiative for God.
Looking for opportunities to serve God is an impertinence; every time and all the time is our opportunity of serving God.
From Run Today’s Race
Run Today’s Race contains short statements from Oswald Chambers intended to stimulate Christians to ponder things like:
I loved Chase The Lion by Mark Batterson! If this book doesn’t inspire you to do great things for God, I’m not sure what will. Be sure to check out my review of this book by clicking here, and then enjoy some more quotes from this amazing book.
“You may doubt yourself because of your lack of education or lack of experience. But if God has called you, you aren’t really doubting yourself. You’re doubting God. God doesn’t call the qualified. God qualifies the called.”
“An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. It’s the decisions when no one is looking that will dictate your destiny. In fact, your integrity is your destiny! Killing Goliath was an epic act of bravery. Not killing Saul was an epic act of integrity.”
“One of the most important decisions you make every single day is what time you set your alarm to go off.”
“God doesn’t promise us happily ever after. He promises so much more than that—happily forever after.”
“In God’s kingdom the outcome isn’t the issue. Success isn’t winning or losing; it’s obeying. … In God’s book success is spelled stewardship. It’s making the most of the time, talent, and treasure God has given you. It’s doing the best you can with what you have, where you are.”
“Just as courage is not the absence of fear, success is not the absence of failure. Failure is a necessary step in every dream journey.”
“Fighters don’t walk away when the going gets tough; they fight to the finish for their convictions. Fighters don’t give up when everyone is against them; they fight against the status quo. And fighters don’t shrink back when the odds are against them; they fight for what they believe in.”
“It’s okay to talk to God about your problems, but at some point you have to flip the script. You need to talk to your problems about God.”
“Valor is less an action and more a reaction. If you judge a person by his or her actions, you’re judging a book by its cover. Reactions are far more revealing than actions. How you react in difficult circumstances is the litmus test of character. And you never really know how you’ll react until you’re the one who crosses paths with a lion. Valor is running toward trouble when everyone else is running away. Valor is going above and beyond the call of duty. Valor is putting yourself in the line of fire for someone else.”
“You know why some of us have never killed the giant, chased the lion, or walked on water? We’re afraid of looking foolish. But it’s the fear of looking foolish that is foolish!”
“Sometimes the circumstances we’re trying to change are the very circumstances God is using to change us. … Instead of expending all your energy trying to get out of them, get something out of them.”
“Don’t be in such a hurry to begin the next chapter of your life that you fail to ace the lessons the current chapter is trying to teach you.”
You can check out the first set of quotes I shared from Chase The Lion by clicking here. And be sure to follow me on Tumblr and Twitter, where I daily share quotes from all sorts of inspirational authors.
In The Seven Laws Of Love, Dave Willis gives us some highly practical, biblically-based counsel for investing in all of our relationships. Normally when I share quotes from books, I share all of them at once, but I felt like it would be good to share these quotes a bit more slowly, to give you time to read them and apply them.
The seven laws Dave identifies are:
From law #5, here are some quotes on grace—
“If we deserved forgiveness, it wouldn’t be called grace. If we can earn it, it wouldn’t be real love.”
“Jesus was the perfect embodiment of both love and truth. He never told a lie, but at the same time He was never cruel or judgmental with the truth. Every word He spoke was wrapped in love, so even when the truth hurt, He never broke anyone’s trust. Jesus not only modeled how to speak the truth in love, but He also showed us how to offer grace when trust is broken. … Jesus loved Peter enough to give him the opportunity to be forgiven and rebuild trust. That opportunity for grace wasn’t an exclusive offer for Peter; it’s an opportunity God freely extends to all of us who have broken trust (which is everybody). It’s also a command. We can’t receive God’s grace without being willing to extend grace to others.”
“Some people get stuck in a cycle of grudges and mistrust because they wrongly assume that forgiveness and trust are the same thing. It’s vital that we understand their distinctions. Forgiveness can’t be earned; it can only be given freely. That’s why it’s called grace. Trust, however, can’t be given freely; it can only be earned. When someone breaks your trust, you should give your forgiveness instantly, but give your trust slowly as it is earned through consistency of actions by whoever broke your trust. During this period of rebuilding, fight the urge to punish or retaliate. Those actions won’t do anything to promote healing, and healing always needs to be our ultimate objective. Love, after all, is a healing force. You don’t have to trust someone in order to forgive, but you do have to forgive someone in order to make trust possible again.”
“When you’ve broken trust, you must be willing to take immediate action to rebuild it. When someone has broken your trust, you must be willing to provide that person the opportunity to rebuild. Giving someone the chance to reestablish trust is one of the most loving acts you can do for someone.”
“Our responses to present difficulties will often determine our level of future opportunities.”
Check out my review of The Seven Laws Of Love by clicking here.
Watch for the last few quotes from the other laws of love over the next couple of days.
“Scarcity thinking has nothing to give. It is preoccupied with receiving. Scarcity thinking is all about me. It says, ‘There’s not enough to go around. I had better get something for myself and hold onto it with all I have.’ … People who live in the world of abundance think differently. They know there’s always more. … Abundance thinking is the mindset of people of significance, and it has nothing to do with how much they have. … Anticipation is a key that unlocks the doors to abundance thinking. ‘Doors?’ you maybe asking. ‘Don’t you mean door?’ No. Expecting there to be only one door is scarcity thinking. … Finding and going through one door is an event. Going through many doors is a lifestyle. That requires an abundance mindset. … Sadly, too many people have a scarcity mindset and lack of positive anticipation. As a result, they never open the first door. Unopened doors reinforce scarcity thinking and scarcity living. … Keep searching for doors and opening them. And remember that with each open door, your anticipation will increase and so will abundance. … No one experiences abundance while anticipating scarcity. So why not try of abundance?”
John Maxwell also shares a lot of quotes from other wise people, and I posted a few of my favorite here.
You can also check out my review of Intentional Living by clicking here.