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March 2008
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Call for Testimonies

I am assembling a new PurposeQuest website and I need some testimonies.  I need some stories in two or three sentences max about:

  1. How the purpose message has impacted you life.
  2. How the former website helped you.
  3. How hearing me speak has helped you in your PurposeQuest.
  4. How a one-on-one or coaching session has helped as well.

If you could also send a high resolution picture of yourself with the testimony, I could include it on the site, along with your name, city and country where you live.  The picture should be high resolution, at least 300 dbi in jpeg or tiff format.

This is your chance to be famous and to help encourage others around the world to pursue their purpose. 

The deadline is yesterday, so please write as soon as possible, with a picture if you have a good one.

Thanks in advance for your help.


Moving Day

1 When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The Lord has done great things for them."

3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy (Psalm 126:1-3).

More than two years ago, my wife and I moved out of our home and into a small apartment (or flat as my British friends like to call them). We did this for a number of reasons. One was that we had a severe water drainage problem in our backyard and had someone who wanted to buy our house. We thought we had better go while the getting was possible. Then we had to address our financial situation. We downsized and cut way back, actually running our business from our flat. In many ways, we were living in our offices rather than having our offices in our home.

We thought we would be in the apartment for six months, but ended up there for two and a half years. But we paid off all our debt, took a close and hard look at where we wanted to buy and trusted the Lord. Fortunately, my wife and I get along well, because living in such close quarters as we did can present all kinds of relational challenges. You have no where to run and hide if you have a disagreement!

Yesterday, we moved into a beautiful new home in Monroeville, about 15 miles east of downtown Pittsburgh. As I type, I am looking out over the beautiful valley that we can see from our window. We went to bed last night and got up this morning in awe, like people living a dream, a good dream indeed. The landscapers are outside planting trees. They come to finish our huge basement next week and we will run our entire PurposeQuest operation from there. I depart for the UK tomorrow, but I would almost rather stay home (notice I said "almost") and enjoy the newness of it all.

Moving in yesterday was the culmination of a long, hard road that began seven years ago when we started our business. So we are grateful to the Lord for HIs help and guidance and we truly feel like those described in Psalm 126, since we are filled with joy and thanksgiving at this special occasion. It was difficult and confusing at times, but now we see that it was all worth it! The Lord had a plan! God has been and is good to us and we feel a renewed sense of purpose, but right now our purpose is to unpack some some of the things we had in storage for the last two and a half years.

Feel free to comment on this entry on the site where it is posted.


More Bad News from Zimbabwe

The latest news from Zimbabwe continues to be negative. Apart from dreadful economic conditions, the powers that be refuse to be the powers that were. The government still has not released the results from the March 29 election and, by all reports, the ruling party is exacting revenge on the people who did not vote for them. This is not surprising and represents a basic principle of power and those who are asked to relinquish it.

Martin Luther King once said, "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” No oppressor, even those who started with good intent, will wake up one morning and say, "You know, I've had power long enough. I think I will give someone else an opportunity." Nor with the oppressor ever say, "I think I did a bad job of leading. Perhaps someone else will do a better job."

There is no reason for those in power to relinquish control in Zimbabwe. There is little internal or external pressure for them to do so. Thus, the situation will continue. Today is a day of prayer for Zimbabwe the world over. We should pray, but we should not expect God to do what only we can do. We can at least raise our voices and say, "This is wrong. The situation is wrong. Those with the power are wrong." If we don't, then we are guilty of enabling a bad situation. We know that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing. I for one want to be a good man where Zimbabwe is concerned. So I say, stop the madness and let the people go free! Will you join me in at least doing this?

Feel free to write you comments to this entry on the site where it is posted.

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Me and My Shadow

I had an interesting experience recently that is still causing me to think and reflect. A month ago, I was in Virginia for a seminar. I arrived every morning by train and walked to the building where the seminar was held. One morning the sun was directly behind me as I walked up the hill toward the building. As I walked, I saw a woman who I recognized from the seminar and increased my pace to catch up with her to say hello. I didn’t know she was talking on her cell phone and, when I got near her, I startled her and she reacted.

It was then that I realized that my long shadow, created by the sun behind me, had scared her. I apologized and said, “I’m sorry. I’m really harmless.”

Later in the seminar room, she explained that she had been mugged one time and still reacts in fear when approached surprised in public.

I am still reflecting on the fact that my shadow scared her. It has made me wonder how many other times my “shadow” has alarmed people and I wasn’t even aware.

You see, everyone has a shadow. It is a part of my personality of which I may not be aware. I may be aware of it, but I don’t like to acknowledge that it is a part of me. At times, I can project my shadow onto others. For instance, I may be critical but refuse to admit that I am, or may only be aware of it at a subconscious level. When I meet a critical person, I project my critical nature onto them. Usually I don’t “like” that person or their critical nature, but I are unaware (or unwilling to admit) that I actually don’t like that critical spirit in me.

My shadow can be like it was with that woman on my way to the seminar. She was aware of my shadow and I wasn’t. What’s more, she reacted to my shadow based on her previous experience. Even though I did nothing and had no malicious intent, she was still frightened.

A few years ago, I read a book by Jay Conger entitled Spirit at Work (it is now out of print.) I remember it well because of what he wrote about the shadow that he believes all leaders have or at least grapple with, and of which they may not even be aware. I believe that these shadows operate both in business and in the church. What’s more, I think I have these shadowy sides as well as a a few others. While it’s a long quote, I would like to share some of Conger’s thoughts with you, for they have been with me ever since that encounter on the way to the seminar:

A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to project on other people his or her shadow, or his or her light. A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to create the conditions under which other people must live and move and have their being, conditions that can either be as illuminating as heaven or as shadowy as hell. A leader must take responsibility for what’s going on inside his or her own self, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.

The shadow lives of leaders are inevitably projected onto institutions and society. If they are to create less shadow and more light, leaders need to ride certain monsters all the way down [to examine their inner life and motivations.] I have five of them as a sampler, and a few thoughts on how the inner journey might transform our leadership at these five points.

1. One of the biggest shadows inside a lot of leaders is deep insecurity about their own identity, their own worth. That insecurity is hard to see in extroverted people. But the extroversion is often precisely because they are insecure about who they are and are trying to proves themselves in the external world rather than wrestling with their inner identity. Everywhere I look I see institutions depriving large groups of people of their identify so that a few people can enhance theirs

2. The second shadow of leadership is inside a lot of us is the perception that the universe is essentially hostile to human interests and that life is fundamentally a battleground. Have you ever noticed how often people use “battle” images as they go about the work of leadership? We talk about “do or die” tactics and strategy, about using our big guns, about allies and enemies, about wins and losses. The imagery suggests that if we fail to be fiercely competitive, we will lose, because the basic structure of the universe is a vast combat. The tragedy of that inner shadow, that unexamined fear of failing, is that it helps create situations where people actually have to live that way.

3. The third shadow in leaders I call “functional atheism” – the belief that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with me. It is the unconscious, unexamined conviction within us that if anything decent is going to happen here, I am the one who needs to make it happen. Functional atheism leads to dysfunctional behavior on every level of our lives: workaholism, burnout, stressed and strained and broken relationships, unhealthy priorities. It is the reason the average group can tolerate only fifteen seconds of silence; people believe that if they are not making noise, nothing is happening!

4. The fourth shadow among leaders is fear. There are many kinds of fear, but I am thinking especially of our fear of the natural chaos of life. Many leaders have a deep devotion to eliminating all remnants of chaos from the world. They want to order and organize things so thoroughly that the nasty stuff will never bubble up around us—such nasty stuff as dissent, innovation, challenge, change. In an organization, this particular shadow gets projected outward as rigidity of rules and procedures. It creates corporate cultures that are imprisoning rather than empowering.

5. The final example of the shadows that leaders can project on others involves the denial of death. We live in a culture that simply does not want to talk about things dying. Leaders everywhere demand that they themselves, and the people who work for them, artificially maintain things that are no longer alive, maybe never have been. Projects and programs that should have laid down ten years ago are still on life-support system.

The insight I want to draw from spiritual traditions may be best summarized in a word from depth psychology: projection. We share responsibility for creating the external world by projecting either a spirit of light or s spirit of shadow on that which is other than us. We project either a spirit of hope or a spirit of despair, either an inner confidence in wholeness and integration or an inner terror about life being diseased and ultimately terminal. We have a choice about what we are to project, and in that choice we help create the world that is. Consciousness precedes being, and consciousness can help deform, or reform, our world (abridged from pages 24-37).

Are you willing to face the fact that you may have shadow sides? More importantly, are you willing to bring them to the light, examine them and their root causes, so that they don’t drive your leadership decisions? I hope you are. I have been working to examine my shadows so that they don’t go before me to startle people, even when that isn’t my intent.

Feel free to write your comment so this entry on the site where it is posted.


Birthday Business

I am back in Big Spring, Texas for a return visit after my initial visit last February. The folks here sure are hungry for the purpose message. I have met with many one-on-one and a number of people have enrolled in my purpose coaching program. I had meetings yesterday from 9 AM to 8 PM straight through, and it was great! I never get tired of doing this, of hearing the stories and seeing people come alive as they get more in touch with their purpose and dreams.

Last Saturday was my 58th birthday and I got to spend it teaching about purpose in my seminar, Getting Your Life Back on Track: A Study of Purpose and Goals. About 50 people came out and, at the end of the sessions, they gave me a cake, gift and sang Happy Birthday. It was a great way to spend the day if I could not be with my family back home.

Sunday I did a message from Psalm 18 entitled "God and You." The main point was that once you have done what only you can do, then God does what only He can do. I have attached the PowerPoint slides for you to review if you are interested.

Today, I finish up in Big Spring and head back to Dallas. Then I fly home Wednesday night. It's hot in Big Spring - 93 degrees. I left some keys in my car yesterday afternoon and, when I went to get them, they were so hot I could not hold them! It's been a great visit and I look forward to coming back, probably in July.

God and You.ppt


A $5 Bargain

I have found that God will always encourage you, but sometimes He disguises His encouragement. At times, you have to look for him in the midst of what looks like anything but encouragement. I have found this to be true where money is concerned. At times, I am praying for a lot but the Lord gives me a little, but that little tells me He can send a lot, but only when I need it. Let me explain.

We have invested heavily in our business and ministry the last three months. I believe these investments will bring a great return eventually, but right now, things are a bit right. What’s more, we are buying a home and need cash to close and move.

So the other day I was in the airport mall. I needed an eyeglass cleaning kit and went over to a table in the Sunglass Hut store that had about 100 kits on it. I randomly chose one of the kits and went to the counter to pay the price, which was clearly marked $9.99.

When I went to pay, the cashier said, “You got the last kit on the table that was still at the old price.” When I asked her how much it was, she said, “$4.99.” I just laughed.

Without any thought or awareness, I had chosen a discounted kit. God guided my hand and I wasn’t even aware of His presence. What’s more, I felt the Lord remind me that He can do the same thing at any time, in any place. He is mindful of my situation and it is no more difficult to provide $5,000 than $5.00.

I had a choice to make at that point: be encouraged over a little thing or fret over bigger ones, over which I had no control. How could I be anxious about our situation when the Lord has everything under control? I walked out of the store, happy to receive a small savings and some big encouragement.

How about you? Is God disguising your encouragement so that you have to stop fretting long enough to receive it? Watch today and see if God doesn’t send you not necessarily all you need but what you can use until the need is met. As for me, I’m going to keep looking for more $5 bargains, confident that the Lord does work in mysterious and often humorous ways.

Feel free to write a comment to this entry on the site where it is posted.


Sanctimonious South Africa

sanctimonious

sanc·ti·mo·nious Pronunciation: \ˌsaŋ(k)-tə-ˈmō-nē-əs, -nyəs\ Function: adjective Date: 1603

1: hypocritically pious or devout <a sanctimonious moralist> <the king's sanctimonious rebuke — G. B. Shaw>

In case you missed it, South African President Thabo Mbeki stopped by Zimbabwe this past weekend on his way to the emergency summit of southern African leaders, convened to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe. Mr. Mbeki then proceeded to the summit and declared, “There is no crisis in Zimbabwe!” After a long debate, the leaders agreed and went home, meekly calling for the quick release of past due election results.

Then in Nigeria on television, I saw a South African government minister say indignantly and sanctimoniously, “We are not the kind of government who tells another government to step down!” Oh really? I maintain that the current government in South Africa is the kind of government that does tell another government to step down. They did it once; they should do it again.

You may ask when they did what I imply they have done? Mr. Mbeki and all his ANC freedom fighters did indeed stand up one day to an African government in their own land that was oppressive. Yes, the white apartheid government was “duly elected,” but it was a rigged result and did not take into account the wishes of all the people. So Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and many others stood up and called for the removal of that bogus government. They are the kind that can call for a government to step down. When they did so, they did the morally correct thing.

What’s more, the world eventually joined them. It took the world a while to awaken to what was going on in South Africa but, when it did, it increased the pressure on the white government to step down. Businesses and governments boycotted South Africa and refused to do business with them or their people. Planes refused to fly there. Countries refused South Africans the right of entry. Protests and “Free Mandela” rallies were held around the globe. Because those courageous freedom fighters had the courage to call for a government to step down, others found the courage, too.

The amazing thing is that it worked. Not nearly fast enough and not before countless thousands paid with their lives, but the call to end the madness was effective. Nelson Mandela was freed, a fair election was held and there was no civil unrest or the bloodbath that many feared. All this happened because Thabo Mbeki and his comrades were the kind of people to tell a government who needed to step down to step down.

And now they stand by and watch the nation of Zimbabwe disintegrate into nothingness. They refuse to take a stand, preferring what some are calling “quiet diplomacy.” Did quiet diplomacy free South Africa or did a world outcry do the deed? Is the need to stand by a black leader who is corrupt more important than lives that are being wasted as millions try to eke out a daily living? Is 150,000% inflation not a crisis? Is 75% unemployment not a crisis? Does no electricity or food count for anything like a crisis? Isn't flaunting the law a major crisis anywhere it occurs?

So let’s get real about my adopted nation of Zimbabwe. It’s in trouble and has been for quite a while. There is a crisis there right now and anyone who says there isn’t is, well, I’m not sure what they are. But I do know this. When someone forgets where they were and from where they have come, it’s easy to be sanctimonious. What southern Africa needs isn’t moral indignation, but moral courage. I hope they find that somewhere before it’s too late.

Feel free to write you comments to this entry on the site where it is posted.

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Back From Nigeria

I had a good trip home from Nigeria. Today my voice is probably 90% better than it was, for which I am grateful.  I am even more grateful for the time I had with my new friends and family in Kaduna.  My thanks to Edwin, Pastors Paul and Emmanuel, and all the members for treating me so well.  In fact, they honored me the last night I was there by giving me a gift of an African suit, the style of which is common to the area where I was ministering.  You can see the beautiful handiwork on the suit below.

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Last Friday, we paid a visit to the local chief, His Royal Highness, the Honorable (Dr.) Danjuma S. Barde JP.  He is the SA Gbagyi I, which translates to the chief of the Gbagyi Chiefdom.  It was an honor to be there, but even moreso since the chief is a brother in the Lord!  He attends the Assembly of God church in his region.  He has 13 district chiefs under him and meets with them once a week.  He asked me to pray for him before I left, which I did, my voice increasing as I prayed.  You can see us pictured below.

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Today I am off to Texas, where I will be in Dallas until Friday and then Big Spring through next Tuesday. Then I come home and we spend a week moving into our new home here in Pittsburgh, for which we are  grateful to God for His provision.  I'll post the rest of my Nigerian pictures for you to see on another site and will let you know when they're ready. 


Nigeria Day Five

I got through yesterday and today with no problems, except that I sounded like a frog. The people were great, everyone listened carefully and I'm sure glad I had PowerPoint slides for everything. They could also see what I was saying and their questions once again let me know they were "getting it." Yesterday I introduced the DISC simple, one-graph profile and, while it took a bit of time among hundreds who have never seen it before, it was worth it! The people loved it. When one woman had finished graphing her results, she looked at it and exclaimed, "That's me!" I was so happy I did it in spite of the challenges. Now I have several who want to take the profiles on as a business here in Nigeria.

That reminds me that I have a business idea that can't miss! For some time, I have wanted to establish a Life PurposeQuest Center in every major African city. Well, there are no public libraries here and there are some private ones that aren't that good. I propose we start our first LPC here in NIgeria. People would pay a fee to join and could check out books, watch DVD seminars, do research and have a place to go to "retreat." The cost to set one up is $25,000, which includes all the books, two years of rent, furnishings, business license and other resources. Andrew, whom I mentioned on day two, is willing to set it and I know it will fly profitably. If you are looking to invest in Africa in a way that will build up the people and provide a return on your investment, please write and let me know. Even if you can only invest part of the $25,000, that's alright.

Tomorrow I wrap things up here and head for home. It's been a great visit and I have been invited back. We shall see that the Lord wants, but I have loved the people, the church and their leadership. Today I met with the tribal chief of the Kaduna region. He is a believer! I did not bring my camera cable with me so, when I get home, I will download the pictures of that meeting. He asked me to pray for him and I was privileged to do so.

We didn't get to do one of the outlines for Day Four, but I am attached the completed notes and PowerPoint from that presentation. Those present are going to come to this site to download them, but anyone can feel free to take and use them both. I will write more before I depart.

Download notes: Five Competencies Nigeria A.doc

Download slides: Five Competencies Nigeria.ppt


Bad News From Zimbabwe

On March 29, the people of Zimbabwe went to the polls to vote for president. By all appearances, Robert Mugabe, the only president the nation has known since independence, lost the election. Now he and his Zanu-PF party refuse to accept the obvious results, even though official results have not been released, a clear violation of the law. The situation is too complicated to review, but you can access a site that has all the news you would want to read about the current state of affairs there.

I ache for my friends and family in Zimbabwe. They have suffered so much and it looks like more is on the way. I pray for a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, having watched the turmoil in Kenya recently after the election there. I urge you to pray and I call on the leaders in southern Africa no longer to turn a deaf ear and blind eye to the crisis in Zim, but to confront the conditions and suffering with a view toward justice. I urge my friends in Zimbabwe to be brave and face the intimidation with grace and courage. I call on Zimbabweans everywhere to solicit their friends and neighbors to do what they can to call attention to the crisis, so that the world's scrutiny can focus attention in Zim as is happening with Tibet.

Feel free to write your comments on the site where this entry is posted, including your thoughts and best wishes for my Zimbabwe readers and friends.

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