Teddy Roosevelt On Character

Theodore Roosevelt was well aware that talent alone wasn’t enough to sustain an individual, a family, or a nation. Talent and perseverance, he preached, must be supported by character. In a series of speeches bundled together in the book The Strenuous Life, TR had much to say about character development and integrity. You can check out my review of The Strenuous Life by clicking here. 

“It is a good thing to have a keen, fine intellectual development in a nation, to produce orators, artists, successful business men; but it is an infinitely greater thing to have those solid qualities which we group together under the name of character—sobriety, steadfastness, the sense of obligation toward one’s neighbor and one’s God, hard common sense, and, combined with it, the lift of generous enthusiasm toward whatever is right. These are the qualities which go to make up true national greatness.” 

“We do not need men of unsteady brilliancy or erratic power—unbalanced men. The men we need are the men of strong, earnest, solid character—the men who possess the homely virtues, and who to these virtues add rugged courage, rugged honesty, and high resolve.” 

“The men who with ax in the forests and pick in the mountains and plow on the prairies pushed to completion the dominion of our people over the American wilderness have given the definite shape to our nation. They have shown the qualities of daring, endurance, and far-sightedness, of eager desire for victory and stubborn refusal to accept defeat, which go to make up the essential manliness of the American character. Above all, they have recognized in practical form the fundamental law of success in American life—the law of worthy work, the law of high, resolute endeavor.” 

“After all has been said and done, the chief factor in any man’s success or failure must be his own character—that is, the sum of his common sense, his courage, his virile energy and capacity.” 

 “Bodily vigor is good, and vigor of intellect is even better, but far above both is character.” 

“In the long run, in the great battle of life, no brilliancy of intellect, no perfection of bodily development, will count when weighed in the balance against that assemblage of virtues, active and passive, of moral qualities, which we group together under the name of character…. Of course this does not mean that either intellect or bodily vigor can safely be neglected. On the contrary, it means that both should be developed, and that not the least of the benefits of developing both comes from the indirect effect which this development itself has upon the character.” 

“Character is shown in peace no less than in war. As the greatest fertility of invention, the greatest perfection of armament, will not make soldiers out of cowards, so no mental training and no bodily vigor will make a nation great if it lacks the fundamental principles of honesty and moral cleanliness.” 

“Alike for the nation and the individual, the one indispensable requisite is character—character that does and dares as well as endures, character that is active in the performance of virtue no less than firm in the refusal to do aught that is vicious or degraded.” 

Be sure to check out my review of Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography by clicking here, and read some additional quotes from TR here and here. 

God’s Gift To The World

You are a gift. You are God’s grace gift to the world. 

Max Lucado said it this way: “You are you-nique. 

God made you on purpose and for a purpose.

God implanted unique abilities in you from conception (see Psalm 139:13). And check out what God said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew and approved of you…” (Jeremiah 1:5). Before you were even conceived, God already knew all about you AND He approved of you! 

Why did God implant these unique abilities in you? Because He knew of the unique opportunities you would face during your lifetime (see Psalm 139:16). Because God is for you, He gave you all that you would need to successfully face every opportunity that came your way. 

Every one of us has been given these grace gifts of unique talents and opportunities, The Bible says, “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it” (Ephesians 4:7). If God is for you, and God is for me, then that means that you have been gifted to be a blessing to me and I have been gifted to be a blessing to you (Romans 12:3-6; 1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

Let me state it again: every one of us has been entrusted by God with unique talents in order to successfully face the unique opportunities that He knew we would face. Jon Bloom reminds us, “Some are given more, some are given less, but all are given much.” 

So what do we do with what we’ve been entrusted? There are two possibilities: (1) We can invest our talents and abilities in a way that glorifies God, or (2) We can squander the talents God has given us. 

How do you squander the grace gift of your life? 

  1. Not discovering it—I have a gift?
  2. Devaluing it—I’m nothing special.
  3. Overvaluing it—I’m super-important. I don’t need anyone else.
  4. Laziness—I don’t want to mess it up, so there’s no need for me to invest my gift.
  5. Short-sightedness—My gift is just for me, so it doesn’t matter what I do with it.

I hope we can all say what Erma Bombeck wrote: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left but could say, ‘I used everything You gave me.’”

How do you honor God with your you-niqueness? I can tell you in just three simple words—You be you! 

If you will just be who God made you—not downplaying your talents, not wishing you had someone else’s talents—that’s when you will feel fulfilled, and God will be glorified, and the rest of the world will be blessed! So…

YOU BE YOU! 

10 Quotes From “You!”

Max Lucado has given us a collection of short passages that will reaffirm to you how much God values YOU! This book could be a great pick-me-up for you, or a life-saving helper to your friend who is in crisis. Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Since you are God’s idea, you are a good idea. What God said about Jeremiah, He said about you: ‘Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work’ (Jeremiah 1:5).” 

“God ‘personally formed and made each one’ (Isaiah 43:7 MSG). … And if you aren’t you, we don’t get you. The world misses out.” 

“You are a custom design; you are tailor-made. God prescribed your birth. Regardless of the circumstances that surrounded your arrival, you are not an accident. God planned you before you were born. The longings of your heart, then, are not incidental; they are critical messages. The desires of your heart are not to be ignored; they are to be consulted. As the wind turns the weather vane, so God uses your passions to turn your life. God is too gracious to ask you to do something you hate.” 

“God never called you to be anyone other than you. But He does call on you to be the best you you can be.” 

“God promises no applause for self-promoters. But great reward awaits God promoters: ‘Good work! You did your job well’ (Matthew 25:23 MSG).” 

“Don’t confuse God’s love with the love of people. The love of people often increases with performance and decreases with mistakes. Not so with God’s love. He loves you right where you are. He loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way.” 

“Enough of this self-deprecating ‘I can’t do anything.’ And enough of its arrogant opposite: ‘I have to do everything.’ No, you don’t! You’re not God’s solution to society, but a solution in society.” 

“When asked to describe the width of His love, Jesus stretched one hand to the right and the other to the left and had them nailed in that position so you would know He died loving you. But isn’t there a limit? Surely there has to be an end to this love. You think so, wouldn’t you? But David the adulterer never found it. Paul the murderer never found it. Peter the liar never found it. When it came to life, they hit rock bottom. But when it came to God’s love, they never did.” 

“There are two extremes of poor I-sight. Self-loving and self-loathing. … Self-elevation and self-deprecation are equally inaccurate. Where is the truth? Smack-dab in the middle. Dead center between ‘I can do anything’ and ‘I can’t do anything’ lies ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Philippians 4:13). … Not self-secure or insecure, but God-secure—a self-worth based in our identity as children of God. The proper view of self is in the middle.” 

“Each time we do our best to thank God for giving His, we worship.” 

Saturday In The Psalms—A Sabbath Psalm

A psalm. A song for the Sabbath day (preface to Psalm 92).

The Sabbath is—

  • a day of reflection
  • a day of rejoicing
  • a day of reconnecting
  • a day of meditating on past blessings
  • a day of strengthening for the upcoming week
  • a day of acknowledging the Creator
  • a day of appreciating creation
  • a day of assessing the investment of my God-given talents
  • a holy day—different from all other days

So … “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night” (vv. 1, 2).

Sabbath is not just a noun, but a verb—sabbathing—something that can be done every day, but something which also takes on special significance for the one day each week that we set aside as our holy day or worship and reflection. 

The Creator’s works and wisdom should be pondered and praised as we sabbath (vv. 4-6), something “a fool” doesn’t take time to do.

As we sabbath, we should confess to God—and then turn over to Him—those things which have overly preoccupied our minds (vv. 7-9).

We should recommit that the place of growth and blessing is in God’s presence (v. 13) as we endeavor to keep our hearts there. And then we can be energized and joy-filled as we contemplate His blessing which never diminishes nor grows old (vv. 14, 15).

Truly sabbathing is a good thing!

Do you have a Sabbath day? Do you find time to regularly sabbath in God’s presence? 

9 Quotes From “Chase The Lion”

chase-the-lionI loved Chase The Lion by Mark Batterson! Before even reading the first chapter, I was already captured by the Lion Chaser’s Manifesto, and the book only got better from there. Please check out my review of this amazing book, and then check out the first batch of quotes below.

“At the end of our lives, our greatest regrets will be the God-ordained opportunities we left on the table, the God-given passions we didn’t pursue, and the God-sized dreams we didn’t go after because we let fear dictate our decisions.”

“It’s not just our sin that we need to repent of. It’s our small dreams. The size of your dream may be the most accurate measure of the size of your God. Is He bigger than your biggest problem, your worst failure, your greatest mistake? Is He able to do immeasurably more than all you can ask or imagine? A God-sized dream will always be beyond your ability, beyond your resources. Unless God does it, it cannot be done! But that’s how God gets the glory. If your dream doesn’t scare you, it’s too small. It also falls short of God’s glory by not giving Him an opportunity to show up and show off His power.”

“We don’t die when our hearts stop beating. We die when our hearts stop skipping a beat in pursuit of our dreams. We die when our hearts stop breaking for the things that break the heart of God.”

“Impossible odds set the stage for God’s greatest miracles! And apparently God loves long shots. Isn’t that why He removed 9,700 soldiers from Gideon’s army? Isn’t that why He let the fiery furnace be heated seven times hotter? Isn’t that why He didn’t show up until Lazarus was four days dead? … We tend to avoid situation where the odds are against us, but when we do, we rob God of the opportunity to do something supernatural.”

“Get into God’s Word, and God’s dream will get into you.”

“When we fail to take action, we forfeit the future. Make no mistake: just as inaction is an action, indecision is a decision.”

“One misstep can end a dream journey. That doesn’t mean you operate in a spirit of fear. It does mean you operate in a spirit of focus!”

“In my humble opinion, no one is a natural. Sure, some people are more naturally gifted than others. But unless that giftedness is coupled with a complementary work ethic, it’ll only result in wasted potential.”

“I don’t believe our greatest shortcoming is not feeling bad enough about what we’ve done wrong. I think our greatest shortcoming is not feeling good enough about what God has done right. When we undercelebrate, we fall short of the glory of God!”

In the very near future I will be sharing more quotes from this book. To make sure you see them, put your email address in the box to the right and click “Sign me up.” I’ll make sure you’re the first to know when new content is posted.

Also be sure to follow me on Twitter and Tumblr, where daily I share quotes from Mark Batterson and other inspirational authors.

Notes From The Global Leadership Summit

I had an amazing time last week at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. Every year I came away with some many thoughts, and a brand new passion for the various leadership roles in which I get to serve.

Below are just a few of my notes that I jotted down during an intense two days.

Hybels - everybody winsBill Hybels—The Lens Of Leadership

“Everybody wins when a leader gets better.”

“Armed with enough humility, leaders can learn from anyone.”

Hybels discussed four leadership lenses:

1.   Passionate leader (depicted by vibrant bright red frames)

  • They understand unbridled passion in leadership.
  • “Passion is like protein for the team.”
  • A motivated worked will outperform an unmotivated worker by 40%.
  • People are more motivated by working for a passion-filled leader than they are by compensation or perks.
  • Passion comes from a mountain-top dream, or a valley-deep frustration of current settings.

2.   People leader (cool frames, but cracked lenses)

  • An organization will only be as healthy as the top leader wants it to be.
  • This world needs more pastors of businesses, factories, medical offices, military units, etc.

3.   Performance leader (self-adjusting glasses)

  • Leaders ask: what progress should be made? how do we measure this? what doesn’t need to be measured?
  • Every worker wants to know how they are doing. For the leader, it’s cruel to hire someone and never let them know how they’re doing. Every staff member should get an update at least every six months.

4.   Legacy leader (sunglasses with a rearview mirror [cyclist])

  • Every once in awhile we need to look behind to see what legacy we’re leaving behind.
  • Leaders should reflect on this annually.
  • If my leadership assignment were to end today, what legacy would I leave?

Mulally - overcommunicateAlan Mulally—CEO Boeing and Ford Motor Company

An average commercial airline has 4 million parts!

  • People first
  • Include everyone
  • Create a compelling vision
  • Present a workable strategy
  • Set clear performance goals
  • Relentless implementation
  • Share lots of data
  • “Over-communicate the plan and the current status against the plan.”
  • Instill a positive can-do attitude
  • Keep your emotional resilience
  • Have fun

 

Melinda Gates - hear the criesMelinda Gates—Gates Foundation

Melinda says of herself, “I am an impatient optimist. We are changing the world, but we need to change it faster.”

 

“At the end of the day, you have to hear the cries of those in need, let your heart break and act in courage.”

Jossy Chacko—Empart

“All of us have been entrusted with something. What are we doing to leverage it?”

In thinking about the parable of the talents … “To Jesus, faithfulness is not just sitting with what you have been given, but multiplying what you have been given. God’s mission is not maintaining.”

“Playing it safe is not enough for a follower of Jesus Christ.”

Three principles for expanding our leadership reach:

Jossy Chacko - faithfulness1. Enlarge your vision

  • “When people hear my vision, they should know the size of my God.”
  • “An enlarged vision should keep us driven.”
  • “Do not be confused about what people say about your vision; trust what God has said to you.”

2. Empower your people

  • “Leadership is about taking wise chances and giving people opportunities.”
  • “Your leadership reach will be determined by your empowerment choices.”
  • Three things to keep in mind: (1) Focus on building their character before empowering them; (2) Empowerment has to be through relationship; and (3) Make sure we have agreed on the right outcomes, and have the right way to measure them.

3. Embrace risk

  • Faith = risk. Without faith it is impossible to please God = without taking risks it is impossible to please God.
  • Paradigms to be changed: (1) See risk as your friend to love, not as your enemy to be feared; (2) See comfort and safety as your enemies; and (3) Increase your pain threshold.
  • “Your leadership capacity is in direct relationship to your pain threshold.”
  • “Don’t allow the fear of losing what we have to lose what God has in store for you.”
  • “By me not taking risks, who is missing out?”

Bradberry - EQDr. Travis Bradberry—TalentSmart

All inputs into the brain travel through the limbic system first (emotional center) before the inputs travel to the frontal cortex. The EI (emotional intelligence) center is in the front of the brain, just above the left eye.

Only 36% of people are able to accurately identify their emotions as they happen.

EQ (the Emotional Quotient that measures emotional intelligence) is not IQ.

EQ can be improved all throughout life.

Four components of emotional intelligence:

 1. Self-awareness: knowing my emotions, and knowing my tendencies. I need to lean into my discomfort if I want to improve.

   2. Self-management: what I do with this increased self-awareness. This is not “stuffing” my feelings. The biggest mistake is only trying to manage negative emotions; positive emotions need to be managed too.

   3. Social awareness: focusing more on others than on myself.

   4. Relationship management: using the first three skills in concert. Seeing how my behavior is affecting the other person, and then adjusting accordingly.

 

How to increase my EQ:

  1. Control stress—stress under control is healthy; chronic stress is unhealthy. Gratitude reduces the stress hormone cortisol.
  2. Clean up my sleep hygiene—sleep cleans up toxic hormones in the brain. To get better sleep: (1) Don’t take any kind of sleeping pill; and (2) Reduce “blue lights” in the evening.
  3. Reduce my caffeine input—especially after noon.

Ideal team playerPatrick Lencioni—Author

Three qualities of an ideal team player:

1.   Humble

  • Lacking self-confidence is not humility.
  • “Denying skills and downplaying abilities is not humility.”

2.   Hungry

  • Strong work ethic
  • Driving hard

3.   Smart

  • Not intellectual smarts, but people smarts = EQ

“To develop people, we have to have the courage to humbly and constantly talk to people about their ‘stuff.’”

McChesney - execution disciplinesChris McChesney—Franklin Covey

Rahm Charan asked:

  • Q: Do leaders struggle more with strategy or execution? A: Execution.
  • Q: Are leaders more educated in strategy or execution? A. Strategy.

“The hardest thing a leader will ever do is drive a strategy that changes someone’s behavior.”

There are four disciplines for making changes in human behavior:

1.  Focus

  • “Focus on the wildly important.”
  • If a team focuses on 2-3 goals, they are likely to get them done. But if there are 4-10 goals, momentum is killed. At 11+ goals, the team is going backward.
  • We narrow the focus by coming up with a WIG: wildly important goal (this lives at the intersection of ‘really important’ and ‘not going to happen’).

2.  Leverage

  • “What are the fewest number of battles necessary to win the war?”
  • “When you want to go big, don’t think big, think narrow.”
  • One WIG per team at the same time. Everything else is in sustainment mode.
  • Make goals like this—“From x to y by when.”

3.  Engagement

  • “The biggest driver of engagement is when people feel like they’re winning.”
  • “Do the people who work for me feel like they’re playing a winnable game?”

4.  Accountability

  • Everyone needs to answer: “What are the things I do that have the biggest impact on the WIG?”
  • After sharing the scoreboard, allow people to determine what they need to do next. The people need to determine their own next moves, not the leader. The leader pulls this out of people.

Erin Meyer - contextErin Meyer—INSEAD

On The Culture Map communication is divided into Low vs. High Context:

  • Low = feel we don’t have the same context or relationship. We feel we need to explain things very simply and explicitly.
  • High = we assume we have a larger body of shared reference points. We feel communication is more implicit or nuanced.

Anglo-Saxon countries are typically low context.

Latin American are mid-low.

Asian countries are usually high context.

In low context we tend to nail things down in writing, where in high context we leave things more open to later interpretation.

“Context impacts communication. … We need to read both the messages ‘in the air’ as well as the explicitly stately messages.”

“In a high context culture, repeat things less, ask more questions, learn to ‘read the air.’”

 

Maxwell - 3 questionsJohn Maxwell—Author 

“Good leaders lift.”

“You have to find the people before you lead the people.”

“The one thing leaders have to get right—they must intentionally add value to people every day.”

 

Five things that intentionally adds value to people:

  1. Value people—“God values people I don’t know; He even value people I don’t like.” “Are we going to spend our lives connecting with people, or correcting them?”
  2. Think of ways to add value to people—“Intentional living is thinking upfront on how to help people.”
  3. Look for ways to add value to people.
  4. Do things that add value to people.
  5. Encourage others to add value to people.

If you attended the GLS, please share in the comments below something amazing / challenging / paradigm-busting that you learned. Let’s all keep on learning!

Links & Quotes

link quote

“Those of us who are married need to ponder again and again how mysterious and wonderful it is that God grants us in marriage the privilege to image forth stupendous divine realities infinitely bigger and greater than ourselves.” —John Piper

“Have we any work to do now that we can set about at once? If we have, whatsoever our hand finds to do, let us do it. Let us not be asking for greater abilities than we have. If we can get them, let us do so; but meanwhile let us use what we have. … The best preparation for it will be, renew your dedication to Christ, be much in earnest prayer, seek the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit, and then go forth in your Master’s strength with this as your resolve—that as portraits of Jesus Christ it shall be said of you, ‘He went about doing good’ [Acts 10:38].” —Charles Spurgeon

“The only difference between the Christian life and any other life is the matter of where we stand as we encounter the everyday trials and difficulties of life. … Even though the circumstances of a Christian’s life change, and even become adverse and cumbersome at times, this does not alter the fact that the Christian stands in—has access to, come what may—the glory of God. Believers may, under all circumstances and in every situation, slump down into the loving arms of the Lord and find glory and strength to help them bear up with joy and peace through even the worst life can throw at them.” —T.M. Moore

“Better to ask twice than to lose your way once.” —Danish Proverb

Sad to see how abortion providers target minority communities. Two-thirds of abortions in Michigan are done in the Detroit area, where only 40 percent of the state’s population is.

Eric Metaxas has some great advice for talking to your atheist friends about the problems with Darwin’s theories.

 

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