Influence Can be Good or Bad

It’s Up to You to Decide Which it’s Going to Be

As we continue our journey through the Old Testament this week, we look at Jacob and Rachel leaving Laban and the continued disfunction within this family.

Previously we talked about Jacob, with the help of their mother, cheating his brother Esau out of Esau’s inheritance. (Genesis 27:41-46) Jacob then escaped and went to his uncle Labon’s home and fell in love with Rachel, agreeing to work seven years so he could marry her. (Genesis 29:16-20)

Labon tricked Jacob and gave him Leah instead. Then Laban agreed to give Rachel to Jacob to marry, if he would work another seven years. (Genesis 29:21-30)

In an ironic twist, Jacob the deceiver had been deceived.

It seems that conniving runs in the family. In addition to Laban’s deception, a rivalry developed between the sisters. I don’t know about you, but being married to sisters sounds like a recipe for disaster. This is a big enough issue that in Leviticus 18:18, there’s a law that says as much.

Jacob had worked for a total of twenty years for Labon (Genesis 31:38-41) before he decided it was time to go back home to his family. So, he gathered his wives, children, and belongings and left without telling Laban. (Genesis 31:17-23)

Being true to her family heritage, Rachel stole her father’s idols and took them with her when they left. I’m not sure if this family drama was blood-line related or just influenced by association. 

We don’t have to be related to someone by blood to be influenced…either bad or good.

We can’t control who our family is, but we can control who and what we let influence us.

Too often we don’t take control of things that we have control over. Andy Andrews points this out in the “Guided Decision” of his Seven Decisions, ”I will seek wisdom”. He points out that what we put into our minds and who we associate with influences us, so we should choose these things wisely.

Knowing that wisdom waits to be gathered, I will actively search her out. My past can never be changed, but I can change the future by changing my actions today. I will change my actions today! I will train my eyes and ears to read and listen to books and recordings that bring about positive changes in my personal relationships and a greater understanding of my fellowman. No longer will I bombard my mind with materials that feed my doubts and fears. I will read and listen only to what increases my belief in myself and my future.

I will seek wisdom. I will choose my friends with care. I am who my friends are. I speak their language, and I wear their clothes. I share their opinions and their habits. From this moment forward, I will choose to associate with people whose lives and lifestyles I admire. If I associate with chickens, I will learn to scratch at the ground and squabble over crumbs. If I associate with eagles, I will learn to soar to great heights. I am an eagle. It is my destiny to fly.

I will seek wisdom. I will listen to the counsel of wise men. The words of a wise man are like raindrops on dry ground. They are precious and can be quickly used for immediate results. Only the blade of grass that catches a raindrop will prosper and grow. The person who ignores wise counsel is like the blade of grass untouched by the rain—soon to wither and die. When I counsel with just myself, I can make decisions only according to what I already know. By counseling with a wise man, I add his knowledge and experience to my own and dramatically increase my success.

I will seek wisdom. I will be a servant to others. A wise man will cultivate a servant’s spirit, for that particular attribute attracts people like no other. As I humbly serve others, their wisdom will be freely shared with me. Often, the person who develops a servant’s spirit becomes wealthy beyond measure. Many times, a servant has the ear of the king, and a humble servant often becomes a king, for he is the popular choice of the people. He who serves the most grows the fastest.

I will become a humble servant. I will not look for someone to open my door—I will look to open the door for someone. I will not be distressed when no one is available to help me—I will be excited when I am available to help.

I will be a servant to others. I will listen to the counsel of wise men. I will choose my friends with care. I will seek wisdom. (2nd Decision)

Not only are we influenced by what we put into our minds and who we associate with, but our actions can have an influence on others.

We need to remember that the things we do can affect those around us, so we should act in a way that will have a positive influence rather than negative.

“Things” Will Not Make You Happy…No Matter How Much You Have

What is True Happiness and How Do You Get it?

In today’s world we are more connected than ever before. We can instantaneously be bombarded with information. This can be good or bad. It depends on what you do with it.

This information “firehose” requires a heightened awareness.

It is easy to be pulled into the worldly aspirations of the rich and famous. The question is…is that what you really should want? Is that what’s best for you?

I’m currently reading Matthew McConaughey’s book Greenlights. This unconventional memoir is filled with raucous stories of outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction. In this book he shares the struggle of dealing with fame and fortune and how he would periodically take sabbaticals to get away and get re-centered. (Keep in mind parts of this book are R rated.)

What is most important, wealth, beauty or wisdom?

While on a trip in the desert a man stumbles upon an old lamp. To get a better look at it, he wipes it off. While rubbing it, a genie appears. The genie says that he will grant the man one of three wishes…he can either be the richest man in the world, the most popular or the wisest. The man says, “We all know that money does not bring happiness and popularity just makes you a slave to the whims of others, but wisdom is everlasting. I want to be the wisest man in the world.” Poof the wish is granted. Suddenly the man’s face has a serious expression. He sits down, rubbing his chin in thought. He looks at the genie and says, “I should have taken the money”.

Too often, wealth and popularity are what people long for. It’s what the world would have you believe is what you should be after. Choosing wisdom over the others is hard. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with wisdom.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “Be careful how you live. Live wisely, not like fools. I mean that you should use every opportunity you have for doing good, because these are evil times. So don’t be foolish with your lives but learn what the Lord wants you to do.”

The foolish person lives as if there is no God.

As Chance the Rapper was gaining popularity and beginning to spike as a hip hop artist, his grandma was not impressed.  She told him, “I don’t like what’s going on. I can see it in your eyes. We’re gonna pray.”

Chance said, “She prayed positive things for me all the time.” But this time, she said, “Lord, I pray that all things that are not like You, You take away from Chance. Make sure that he fails at everything that is not like You. Take it away. Turn it into dust.”

This left Chance thunderstruck. “Is she praying that I fail at everything I’m trying to do?” In reality…

She cared more about his soul than his success.

Chance went on to be a popular wealthy Christian artist with wisdom.

Our soul is more important than our success. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want you to be successful because He does. What it means is that we need to have our priorities in order. God first and everything else will follow.

In 1 Kings 3 Solomon asks God for wisdom rather than wealth or popularity. This made God happy so… “I will give you what you asked for. I will make you wise and intelligent. I will also give you what you did not ask for. You will have riches and honor in your life.”  And he did.

True happiness comes from God. Get your priorities in order and happiness will follow.

“I Have A Dream” For A Team

And I Want It to Be A “Dream Team”

It’s interesting how sometimes when we experience things, i.e. a word, a topic or a message, it seems that the same thing will show up multiple times, in multiple places within a short period of time. Some people would say this is just a coincidence. I believe that when this occurs it is God trying to get our attention and give us some building blocks of wisdom for building our dreams.

This past week I experienced a delivery of building blocks of wisdom.

I have been spending time thinking through the pros and cons of delegating. As I have written about before, delegating is something that I suck at. I know that if I want to reach my full potential, I need to share the load. Once again, I was trying to tell myself otherwise, but God had a delivery of blocks for me.

The first shipment came while reading Nick Vujicic’s book, Life Without Limits: Inspiration for a Ridiculously Good Life. In the book he was talking about the importance of needing help and how we can all build a “Dream Team”. This immediately took me back to the 1992 US men’s Olympic basket ball team.

I connected it to delegating and the business team that I need to build. My very own “dream team”. A team of talented superstars that share my vision for the future of the company. Finding the right players is critical to building the dream.

The next load came during Michael Hyatt’s podcast, “Leadership Lessons from Martin Luther King Jr.”. Once again dreaming and leading with a vision surfaced as they spoke about his famous “I Have a Dream Speech”. King had a vision for the future, and he took action toward making that dream a reality.

Then a third and fourth load both came on different days but through the same delivery service. The Bible App on my computer delivers a Scripture of the Day, every day. On Wednesday it was Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two people are better than one, because they get more done by working together.” Today’s Scripture was Galatians 6:2, “By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ.” These sound a lot like building a team don’t they.

Too often we lose sight of our dreams and give up on them. We fall into a routine of just good enough and give up on our dreams. We should never be satisfied with mediocrity. It takes hard work and time to build a dream. If we are going to be all that God intends for us to be, we must keep pushing forward, even when we don’t feel like it. This is another benefit of a team.

There was a point in my life where I became worn down and gave up on the dreams I had when I was younger, and they were some pretty big ones. Sometimes when we ignore the building blocks God’s is delivering, He will resort to more drastic measures to make sure we get His message.

We can choose to continue working on building our dreams or not. It is up to us.

After having these blocks delivered, I decided to move forward building the “dream team” and this week added a new superstar. I’m excited to have Cathleen join the team and am looking forward to her help building a dream business.

Because I have a DREAM TEAM DREAM!

The Wisdom of a Life Plan

Instructions from an Old Man On a Mountain


Since the beginning of the new year I have been working to get my ‘life plan’ for this year completed. As a part of this process I spend time looking back over the last year specifically and my life in general. I am naturally a people pleaser, so it would only make sense that I also want to please God. The hard part is figuring out the details of what God wants me to do and who he wants me to be. To find my purpose and live the life that He intended for me.

As a part of this process, this year I am incorporating ‘The Seven Decisions’ from the book “The Travelers Gift” by Andy Andrews. The second decision is ‘The Guided Decision; I Will Seek Wisdom’. This ‘Decision’ is based on King Solomon. From the time I was a kid and heard about King Solomon I was inspired by him. His asking God for wisdom instead of all of the other things he could have asked for (2 Chronicles 1:8-13). I have always wanted that kind of wisdom.

I have always seen wisdom as just knowing the right things to do. Not some old sage living all alone in a cave on a mountain that has all of the answers to life’s questions. However, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if this image isn’t pretty close to what wisdom actually is like. Let’s break this down and look at it.

Old: Their age would mean they have lived through or witnessed more of life’s experiences and had the opportunity to learn from them. The more information that we have the better our decisions should be.

Living alone: This solitude would have less distractions and interruptions. It would allow for more thought and self-reflection. We need to regularly take some quiet time to be alone; to think and contemplate.

The cave: This would be evidence they realized the importance of seeking the right things in life. Living simply and not being sucked into the desire for accumulating a bunch of worldly stuff. It is easy to be drawn into this vortex of accumulation. Having stuff isn’t bad, unless it becomes the focus above all else.

The mountain: Would represent the importance of looking outward. Intentionally taking time to see the beauty of the world around and not being self-absorbed. It is hard to see the beauty around us if we’re always looking in.

Okay so on second thought, maybe I do want to be a wise old man living on a mountain.

As I mature, take time for introspection, keep my focus on the right things and observe the beauty around me I will seek to live the life that God has given me and fulfill His purpose.