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At the Action Conference here in Harare this past week, the theme was "Restoration, Increase and Influence."  I decided to focus on Mordecai and his role in his cousin Esther's life.  Mordecai influenced Esther and played a major role in her life as she became queen. 

In my first message, I pointed out that Mordecai had also saved the king from an assassination plot.  At first, he receivee no reward.  In the fullness of time, however, the king rewarded Mordecai handsomely and in ways that Mordecai could not have anticipated.

The king didn't restore anything to Mordecai, because Mordecai didn't have any position or wealth to restore.  But perhaps the king's blessing restored Mordecai's faith and confidence in God.  I can't go into the entire message, but I can give you the Powerpoint slides, which are attached below.  As you study, do you see anything else in Mordecai's life that you can share with my readers and me?  If so, please feel free to post your comments on my blog site

Download mordecai_restoration.ppt


Yesterday I spoke at Celebration Church Kadoma, which is about a 90 minute drive from Harare.  The church is new but there are already 200 people!  I was impressed with the leadership and spirit of the people.  I was once again reminded that any church is a miracle of God -- a miracle that the people come and stay together.

My message title was "One More Time" and I focused on the life of Samson, one of the most unusual characters in the Bible.  Samson is mentioned in the great chapter on faith (Hebrews 11).  That in itself is astounding, given his character flaws.  But when we look at Samson's life, we can see three purpose lessons that you and I can apply.

1.  God is working now so you can fulfill your purpose.  In Judges 14:1-4, we read that Samson's desire for a Philistine wife was something that God allowed to bring about Samson's confrontation with Israel's enemies.  Yet no one knew what was going on behind the scenes.  You are a person of purpose whether you feel like it or not.  God is working in your life, giving you the experience and seasoning you need to be effective.  What's more, God is directing your steps, and you probably don't even know it.

2.  God wants to use your past so you can fulfill your purpose.  In Judges 14:5-9, we read that Samson killed a lion.  Later Samson found honey in that lion carcass, enough to share with his parents.  Very often you have things in your past that you either enjoyed or overcome.  If will reflect on those experiences, they may have "honey" in them -- something that God can use to nourish you and others.  I have found that my past interests and experiences are rich depositories of lessons to learn from and teach to others.

3.  God can even use your mistakes to fulfilly your purpose.  In Judges 16:21-31, we see that Samson's' failure actually led to his victory over the Philistines.  Do you have any failures?  I'm sure that you do.  Are you using them to your advantage, learning from them so you can be more effective today than you were yesterday?

Take time to read about Samson and do your own study, looking at his life from the perspectives of faith and purpose.  Let my readers and me know what else you see or learn from his life. 

Still Alive

It's been a few days since I posted anything.  There are two reasons for this.  One is that my computer is still being fixed.  My hard disk did indeed "crash" and I have to reload everything on it.  The problem is that all my programs and backups are in the States.  So I will have to make do with a stripped down version until I get back home at the end of June.

The second reason is that we are in the middle of the annual Action conference here.  That means I leave home every day at 7 am and get home at 11 pm.  That doesn't leave much time for doing anything else but being a conference speaker and attendee.

I don't have any speaking assignments today so I thought I would jump on the computer (a borrowed laptop) to send you an update.  I hope to have my own computer back later today.

By the way, the conference theme is "Restoration, Increase and Influence."  I have focused my messages on the life of Mordecai and Esther, relating their stories to the conference theme.  I have received excellent feedback from my messages, but I have always said that if you can't teach or preach here in Zimbabwe, you can't do that anywhere!  The people are so receptive and open that they just "pull" insight out of you that you didn't even know you had! 

Next week my son and I head up to Lake Kariba where we will cruise the Lake on a houseboat for a few days.  I'll write more about that in the next day or two.  For now, I just wanted you to know that I am alive and well. 

What A Trip!

Tonight I was the dinner speaker for the annual Victory Business Forum conference here in Harare.  I have been on the program at VBF for the last 10 years!  My title this evening was "How Do We Deal With a Culture of Fear?"  My main point was that a culture of fear exists in our relationships and organizations without even trying to cultivate one.  I went on to say that unless we take active steps to dismantle this culture, it will limit our effectiveness.

It's been quite a trip so far.  I had a virus in Nairobi, couldn't get a room as well, dropped my palm pilot in Zambia (and now have a pink screen) and had my computer go down yesterday (no word yet on how bad it is).  On top of that, last night we had another earthquake (the "other" one took place when I was here in February).

Yet through it all, it's already been a super trip.  I keep hearing the phrase, "Go set people free" in my heart, and that is what I am trying to do.

Today we introduced the curriculum from The Pacific Institute here in Zimbabwe to the largest crowd we've ever had at a VBF function.  Tomorrow I have one session as we wrap up our business forum and head into the annual Action Conference at Celebration Church.

In spite of some of the challenges, I have no complaints.  So it's onward and upward doing what I love to do.  I'll write again in a few days, hopefully on my own computer!

Back from Zambia

We just got back from Zambia where I had a good time profiling and meeting with the DHL team.  I was supposed to meet with 28 people but, when word got out about how the sessions were going, I ended up with 41 people.  Plus another company heard about my sessions and they brought 8 of their employees over.  I finished up by profiling the manager of the hotel where we stayed.  All in all, it was a great visit. 

Zambia's economy is making somewhat of a comeback from recent hard times.  Copper is their main export and a few years ago it was selling for $1,400US per ton.  Now it is selling for $8,000 per ton, mostly due to insatiable markets in China and India.

We came back to Harare on Air Zimbabwe and had another interesting landing.  I wasn't sure if the pilot was trying to hit or miss the runway.  He finally made up his mind and dropped the plane onto the ground. 

There seems to be no end to the interest in the purpose message.  I find myself relating the purpose phenomenon to business audiences and I think they are getting the point.  Perhaps you or your organization could benefit from some purpose talk.  If that's true, then drop me a line and let's see if we can get together!

I am in Zimbabwe for the next two weeks and, although I'll be busy, I promise to stay in touch.


I am sitting at my desk doing nothing.  This is a problem because I have a lot of things to do.  I have so many things to do that I don't know which one to do!  So I sit and do nothing.  That's not quite true; I just wasted ten minutes looking for my cell phone!

What's the answer?  First, I made a decision. I decided to write this entry and date it to post in a few days while I am in Zambia.  Next, I will make a list of everything I need to do so I can see it all in front of me and not carry it in my head.  Then I must make the decision of what my priorities are today and that will determine what gets done when. 

Productivity isn't magic.  It requires that you make tough choices of what to do, when to do it and what not to do.  The hard part is that no one can do that for you.  You must do it for yourself. 

Are you feeling bogged down, not getting as much done as you would like?  Then it's time for some discipline and some decisions about what's most important to you.  When you determine that, then you must walk those priorities out by not just talking about them, but by doing things that relate to those priorities. 

Sorry, I have to go.  My prioritized list is waiting and I have other things I need to do.  But this post was at the top of the list, because I love to write!  Now it's on to other things. 


When you read this post, I will be in Zambia, working with the management team of the courier company DHL.  I will be administering some of the profiles I use and then meeting with management to determine the way forward to build more effective teams. It's been a few years since I've been to Zambia, so I am looking foward to seeing some of my Zambian friends and associates.

My son John is with me on this trip.  John is 28 and still searching for his purpose expression (his purpose statement is cool:  he helps people see).  He is a good traveling companion, easy to get along with and friendly with everyone.  He loves photography and is quite good, having trained himself.  We will go on to Kenya on June 8.  Then he will go on to Ethiopia and I will return to Zimbabwe.  We will both arrive back in the States about the same time.

Last year my wife was here in Zimbabwe, so that leaves my daughter Deborah as the lone member yet to come over.  I don't think Deb will be coming here any time soon, at least not until they open a Chanel or Louis Vuitton shop in Harare.  I always told Deb she could spend as much money as she wanted, as long as she earned it herself.   She has taken me up on this.   Deb has a new job that she is looking forward to and has been rewarded for her skills so far with a better-than-average salary.  My daughter can shop!  And she has exceptionally good taste in just about everything.

So there you have a Stanko update.  It's time to pack for Zambia.  I'll try to stay in touch while I'm there.

More On Esther

In my last post, I did a mini purpose profile on Queen Esther.  There are two more points I would like to make about her before we move on.

Let's look at two more passages from Esther 4:

1.  When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape.  For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:12-14).

Notice how "unspiritual" Mordecai was.  He wasn't certain whether what Esther was going to do would help the Jews, but he felt she had to at least try!  I like that.  So many people are waiting for the right timing.  Yet often we don't know it was the right time until after we try something.  And Mordecai basically said, "If you don't choose to fulfill your purpose, fine.  God will raise up someone else to do what you wouldn't do."  You do have a choice where you purpose is concerned.  Finally, your purpose always has you in the right place at the right time. 

2.  Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai:  "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.  I and my maids will fast as you do.  When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law.  And if I perish, I perish" (Esther 4:15-16). 

There is only one lesson I see from this second passage, and that is the necessity of faith if you are going to not only find but also fulfill your purpose.  Esther didn't really think she had a chance to succeed, but she fasted, prayed, got others praying and then had faith.  Of course, God helped her, gave her favor with the king and she was able to intercede on behalf of her people.

There are no guarantees where faith and purpose are concerned.  There is no substitute for just doing whatever it is you sense you are supposed to do.  I urge you to take the example of Esther and Mordecai to heart and do something soon in faith where your purpose is concerned.  You were born for such a time as this; now you just have to figure out what time it is for you.

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Last night I had a chance to speak at the Sunday evening service at Celebration Church here in Harare.  I decided to focus on Esther, a queen who has an Old Testament book named after her.  I find Esther a fascinating purpose study for a variety of reasons.  You may want to read about her rise to fame in Esther 2 before we go any further. 

Here are four purpose points I see from Esther's life:

1.  Esther's purpose went looking for her.  The king launched a search for the most beautiful girl in the land.  Esther didn't apply for the honor; the honor found her.  Your purpose is something that seeks you out.  It's nothing you have to work to make happen.

2.  Esther's past did not prevent her from being a success.  Esther was raised by her cousin Mordecai after her father and mother died.  Where purpose is concerned, it doesn't matter where you've been.  It only matters where you're going.

3.  Esther's purpose was natural.  I love how the Bible describes Esther.  She was beautiful in "form and features."  In other words, Esther was a fox!  God gave her the beauty that made her famous and used that beauty to put her in the right place at the right time.  Your purpose is often so natural that it is eady to overlook.  Don't make that mistake.

4.  God built on Esther's strengths to make her even stronger.  When Esther was chosen as one of the finalists in the king's contest, she was subjected to 12 months of beauty treatments.  What did God do with her beauty?  He enhanced it!  God wants to take your purpose, your strengths, and make you even more effective and stronger.  He is not intereested in making you who He never intended you to be in the first place.

Perhaps one of these purpose lessons from Esther's life can be applied to your own.  If so, I urge you to learn what it is you need to learn so you, like Esther, can be a person of purpose, a person in the right place at the right time to do what it is that only you can do. 

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For the last few years, I have worked on developing an awareness of what I am sensing and feeling at various times and during various activities.  That may sound like something basic and simple but for me, and for what I've heard from others, it isn't always so.  Let me give you an example. 

When I consult, I love every part of the process except writing the wrap-up or exit report.  I put it off and put it off a little longer.  Finally, I had to ask myself, "Why do I dislike this so?  What is it that is so unpleasant?"  My conclusion:  After I've left a company, I move on to other tasks.  I am so particular about the wrap-up, that I procrastinate, believing in my mind that I don't have enough time to do the report well. 

What was the answer?   I now generate the report during my visit and try to have it done before I depart.  The answer was born out of the awareness that something simple was de-energizing me and causing me to avoid a critical business activity.  Much personal growth and productivity are borne out of being aware of what we are feeling and sensing at any given point in time.

I had a man tell me the other day, "I was leaving the office today and I felt relieved.  I started this business, I love this business, but today I recognized that I was glad to leave and I further realized that I have been feeling this for some time."  As we talked, he began to recognize that perhaps it was time for a change and we discussed how that could happen in the next few years. 

When I think of awareness, I can't help but think of the time that the woman who touched Jesus and was completely and immediately healed.  We are told: 

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him.  He turned around in the crowd and asked, "Who touched my clothes?"  "You see the people crowding against you," his disciples answered, "and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?'" (Mark 5:30-31). 

Even though many people were pressing against Jesus, He had such a level of awareness that He knew that someone had touched Him in a unique way. 

I want that kind of awareness. I want to know what I am feeling and want to be aware of others when they "touch" me.  So what are you "feeling" today?  Fear?  Insecurity?  Fatigue?  Boredom?  Whatever it is, it is important that you recognize it for what it is.  Then isolate that feeling and examine it.  Why is this happening to you?  What message is it communicating? 

If you will face this, that message can be a key to your ongoing growth and development relationally, spiritually and professionally.  Don't be so immersed in the busy-ness of your life that you don't feel and acknowledge the little things that bother or touch you.  Walk in awareness and, as you do, you'll walk in a new sense of freedom and confidence.  This process has worked for me and I know it will pay dividends for you as well.

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