The Institute for Christ Centered Manhood aims to foster a desire in men to be the kind of Christ centered fathers, husbands and sons that can lead their families to God and his will in an immoral and wicked world. The Lord challenged his servants to be “Wise as serpents and harmless as doves” see Mathew 10:16. As men and leaders of homes, families, business, and communities, we can play a major role in a renaissance that will return integrity to our spheres of influence. This effort is facilitated in part by this forum and blog where ideas may be shared and problems discussed. I also offer my services as a guest speaker and consultant in organizations, church groups, and service clubs. My fees and rates are available by emailing a request.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Role of Forgiveness and Love In Life AND Business

The Transformation of Newness and Forgiveness in Life AND Business

The scriptures are filled with examples of newness.  We hear parables of new wine in old bottles.  We read of the Lord, as God of the Old Testament, requiring the new construction of temples and places of worship.  More importantly, we learn about the newness that comes as a result of sincere repentance

The Lord delights in newness. 

O sing unto the lord a new song; for he hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory (Psalms 98:1).

What are some of these “marvelous things”?  We are.  Of all the things that the Lord has created, we are his great crowning achievement.  In fact someday we will have everything he has and we shall be like him. 

What he can do with us is amazing. 

             Of all the wonderful new things that you have ever gotten, how does this compare to the greatest thing you ever whispered in Santa’s ear or put on a wish list for your parents?
            And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh (Ezekiel 11:19).

Sometimes we resist the new because we are comfortable with the old.  The council of Paul to the Romans, a group of saints who struggled giving up the Law of Moses, speaks to what the Lord can do with us as we strive to change and conform ourselves to the Lords will.  The Saints in Rome were learning about the blessings and covenants associated with the atonement of the Savior.  The process of repentance and keeping the higher law was new to them.  Paul expressed this newness that comes through the Savior’s atoning sacrifice in terms of the change that could come to them as they repented and applied the atonement in their own lives.  He wrote:

            Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).   

Newness comes through repentance and conversion

This newness is great, and like many new and great things in our society, we often ask “how can I get one of those?”  This newness is a product of the Lord accepting our broken heart and our contrite spirit, and by our taking up our cross. We become malleable to his will and he in turn can provide us a new heart.  We then can be transformed by the renewing of our mind and receive his image in our countenances. 

Whoso confesseth and forsaketh [his sins] shall have mercy (Proverbs 28:13b).

Of confession and repentance, we learn that:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all righteousness    (I John 1:9).

We seem to be very keen to change ourselves and “turn over a new leaf.”  Plastic surgery, weight loss clinics, personal coaches, and motivational speakers are all highly sought after in this day and age.  We relish the idea of change.  We desire forgiveness as we are keenly aware of our own shortcomings.  We turn to the Savior to forgive us and eagerly seek his promise to “remember them no more.”

Extending forgiveness

In all of this seeking forgiveness and change, are we willing to extend to others that willful forgetfulness that we so desperately seek for ourselves?

We are no doubt familiar with the account of Saul of Tarsus found in the book of Acts.  We read about his consenting as a young man to the murder of Stephan, a newly ordained Seventy, who was stoned for administering the word of the Lord to the poor and the needy.  A little later, we read of Saul and his taking the lead in these types of persecution. 

As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and hailing men and women commit[ing] them to prison (Acts 8:3).

Saul (now Paul) himself recounts this time in his life when he had a spiritually blinded and misguided devotion to the destruction of the church:

            [I] was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.  And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women (Acts 22:3-4). 

After his conversion, we read about the works and life of Saul, now Paul, throughout the New Testament.  We see how he built the kingdom.  He was a great man and a great apostle and disciple of the Lord.  However, an often lost character in Paul’s story is that of Ananias.

What about Ananias?

Ananias was a disciple at Damascus.  Damascus was a bustling city of commerce with an active branch of the church.  Damascus was Saul’s destination and his most recent target of persecution.  Instead of entering the city as the agent of havoc and mayhem for which he was infamously known, Saul entered the city significantly wounded (both physically and spiritually).  His companions led the now blind Saul to the home of a man named Judas, and here Saul stayed for three days.  For three days Saul neither ate nor drank but addressed the Lord in prayer.  We do not know a lot about Ananias other than the fact that he was a disciple worthy of revelation.  Ananias was instructed by the Lord to go to the home of this Judas and inquire after Saul.  Ananias was informed that Saul was praying, and obviously Ananias was to be the answer to Saul’s prayer.  Needless to say, He was a little troubled by this direction.  Ananias knew who this Saul was, and what danger his journey to Damascus brought to this branch of the church.  When we realize that Ananias very well may have been an explicit target of Saul’s persecution, we can understand his hesitation:

           Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name  (Acts 9:13-14).

Ananias, a man marked for prison and maybe even death, was being asked by the Lord to visit the very man who would tear him away from his home and his family.  What would have been your reaction?  Would you have set sail to a proverbial Nineveh?  Would you have denied the gift of revelation? 
Ananias was assured of the Lord that Saul was a “chosen vessel” and that he would be an instrument in bearing the gospel to the Gentiles and even testify before kings. (v15) Then the Lord said a curious thing:

“For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). 

Saul did suffer.  In fact, he gave his very life for the testimony he gained on that road to Damascus.  In hindsight, after all we know about Paul, we can see that Ananias had nothing to worry about. Ananias however had foresight and the gift of revelation.  After some natural human doubts, Ananias “went his way and entered into the house.”  Now I am touched by Ananias’ response to Saul. 
He put his hand on Saul and said “Brother Saul.”  Brother Saul?

Think about that a moment. 

”Brother Saul.”  Think of those in your life who have offended you.  I would be willing to say that most of those offenders were not looking to cast you into prison or see you crucified.  Have any of these offenders come to you and you put your hand on them and said “Brother or Sister?”  That grace, forgiveness, and even forgetfulness that we so eagerly seek for ourselves is sometimes not so readily extended to others. 

I would ask us to learn to forgive and remember no more the offenses that we suffer.  I would ask that we extend the mercy we seek to those around us.  Ananias, doubted yes, but he did not set sail to Nineveh.  Ananias did not deny the gift that was in him, he followed the Lord’s revelation. 

Saul received his sight at the hands of the priesthood and was baptized.

Now you may say, well that’s great.  Ananias a leader in the church with priesthood authority was able to overcome the fear and threat of persecution.  “But he received revelation,” you say.  It’s fine for my Bishop or Pastor or Corp Officer to get out there and find those lost sheep.  But Saul did not just ride off into the sunset a changed man.  He tarried “certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus” (Acts 9:19).   Saul stayed and came to church.  Saul was brought into the fold and I am willing to bet that the saints followed the admonishment of a prophet in our day who said that every new convert needs three things: a friend, a responsibility, and to be nourished by the good word of God. 

The scriptures tell us that he “increased the more in strength” (v. 22).  Saul began to become the great missionary that we all know he did.  He did it in a little branch of the church in the town of Damascus where he was nourished and fed both physically and temporally.  Paul was who he became because a man named Ananias obeyed the spirit of revelation.  Ananias and his congregation extended the very grace and forgiveness to Saul that they sought so eagerly for themselves. 

Can you put your arms around a prodigal who may have hurt you?  Can you look him in the eye and say “Brother” or “Sister?”   We know we need to repent, but do you allow others to repent?

The Lord instructed Saints in our day that:

“Wherefore I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.  I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:9-10). 

In life and business?

This council to be forgiving is of primary efficacy in our families and congregations, but it extends beyond that.  We need to become a gracious and forgiving people in life and business.  Now that does not mean that we don’t maintain standards and that we do not hold each other accountable, but rather we discipline with love then forgive and move on. 

“Love you say in business?”  Yes, love in business! 

Eternal principles are principles that work in all facets of life.  I assure you that as you apply this principle in all areas of your life, your life will change for the better.  The Lord’s promises are sure and his principles eternal.

As you increase in grace, benevolence, and forgiveness in all areas of your life, you will have greater access to the spirit and be able to make wiser decisions in your church responsibilities, your family, and your business.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rewarding Failure

Any organization or government that attempts to prevent failure will necessarily prevent success. 
Leadership is not solving people’s problems for them.  With the freedom to be successful also comes the freedom to fail; you cannot have one absent the other.  As leaders, we must eventually step back and see how people respond to failure.   We can train, coach, mentor, and develop others but we then need to turn people loose and see what they can do. 
Think of the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25; three servants were given certain sums of money and tasked with managing that money while the master was away.  Upon the man’s return, the servants were called together for a progress report.  We learn in this parable that one of the servants was fearful of losing what he had so he buried the money rather than putting that money to work.  This parable is of interest to the leader in life and business because it speaks to delegation, stewardship, and accountability.      
Growth and progress can only occur in our people when the tasks we delegate and the positions we bestow come with these catalysts for growth: stewardship and accountability.  That is why socialism is antithetical to freedom, and that is why leaders in business who have not developed accountability mechanisms are never successful.   
As leaders, we must reward success and we must also reward failure; however, we must never tolerate inertia! 
Calvin Coolidge, one of my top three favorite presidents, said:   If I had permitted my failures, or what seemed to me at the time a lack of success, to discourage me I cannot see any way in which I would ever have made progress.”


The annals of forgotten history are full of the mediocre, those who played it safe, and those who never took a chance or stood up for what they believed in.    
How many of your fathers and mothers wanted you to go places and reach heights they never could?  In life we see this quality as virtuous yet in business we fear it.  Why is this so?  As I have always said, principles of leadership are true in every dimension. 
As a true leader, I should not fear loyal ambition; I should harness, train and mentor it - I should look for those who dream of replacing me and encourage that ambition. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

“Fight, Flight”. . . Or “Wait”?

I was just thinking about the scripture Isaiah 40:31.  We all know it.  Today I am intrigued by the phrase those who “wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” What does this waiting look like?  We know that it is not a natural thing to "wait."  In difficult times, when the going gets tough, we tend to either "fight" or "flee."  How can we keep from doing what comes naturally?  How do we live the higher law when the natural man is so apposed to it?  There is only one way. 
Here is what we know from Mosiah 3:17-21

 17 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. 
18 For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
20 And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
21 And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent.

       What is the impulse of the “natural man?”   In times of fright, worry, anxiety or stress, our natural thought is what we call “fight or flight.”  Think of Peter and his denying the Christ three times (Mark 14).   What about the rich young ruler (Mathew 19) who went away sorrowful because he had “great possessions.”  When we are faced with trials, we can very easily give in to our “natural man” by attempting to put up a fight or by getting away.

What about a third option?  How about following the council of Isaiah? 

     When I am faced with a challenge, my natural man is tempted to be reactionary, accusatory, avoidant, or sometimes I simply just give up or give in.  As I follow the Savior, the only one to save, I can overcome the natural man and simply “wait upon the Lord.”
     May we place our trust in the Lord.  That is not to say that “waiting” is a passive thing, it is not!  We must be actively seeking the Lord’s guidance and strength as we wait upon him.  When we are faced with a challenge, don’t fight it.  Don’t flee.  Drop!  Drop to your knees . . and wait upon the Lord, then get up and actively wait. 

Fight, Flight . . . or wait?  Let us choose the 3rd option. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Are You a Hero?

Like a lot of boys, I loved super heroes and comic books.  I still remember the debates my best friend Mike and I would get into over which super-hero was better. 

         Even as an adult in moments of rather juvenile conversation, I will debate whether The Hulk is really a super hero or just a really tough - really big – really angry - green guy.  We debate whether having a belt full of toys and gadgets (like Batman or iron man) is as super-heroish as a guy with genuine powers (like Superman or the Human Torch).  And most of all we continue to debate whether Aquaman is a superhero that a “real man” can get behind and still retain his “Man Card.”

                       As a kid, all of my focus was on the power or skill that my favorite superhero had.  I assumed in my childlike mind that power, skill, and vanquishing the bad guy was the true hallmark of a hero. 

The following four attributes provide a typical dictionary definition of a Hero:    
     a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
     b: an illustrious warrior
     c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
     d: one who shows great courage

     These are great definitions, but I believe that something is missing.  The next time you watch a super hero movie; notice the reactions of others to the presence of the hero.  While Batman was not my favorite hero as a kid, I have come to appreciate more recent movie depictions.  I like the portrayal of what the hero means to others. The true hallmark of a hero is the influence his/her life and behavior has on others. A true hero is a servant of the people and the values they hold dear. 

     Moving on to real life, think of situations where the presence of someone else has been essential to your inspiration.  This person’s presence is not necessarily linked to their abilities or skill, but is linked to what they mean to the rest of the group.  In the competitive sports teams I have been involved with, there was always a team member or two who inspired everyone just by being there. If these individuals were not, even if we still won, it felt different.  You may know people like this. 

Now there is a real danger in this.  I do not advocate hero worship!  Never put your trust and devotion in the heroes of this world.  History is replete with leaders and heroes who disappoint and disillusion.  

     As leaders, we can be heroes by living moral lives, but we must shun the flattery that comes when we are recognized for our examples.  The Savior was of course our prime example.  He was our very Savior but he cautioned at the same time that he was not to be our object of worship just our object of emulation.  Even Jesus was “taught obedience by the things which he suffered.” He directed all praise and worship to the Father. 

     As men and women, husband and fathers, and as leaders in life and business, we need to be heroes.  But our heroism is in doing what is right and by living moral and righteous lives.  Our heroism is to stand up against the “wiles of the devil;” to be “in the world but not of the world.”  We need to teach our children to have the courage to be the first one to give someone else courage by walking away from the dirty joke, or walking out of an inappropriate movie.  We should teach our children to be the one who is the friend to the friendless - to serve and not seek to be served.  But we as adults also need to take our own advice in these matters. 

Superheroes in comics and movies may truly be powerful and highly skilled, but they also inspire others.  We can be superheroes by living moral and righteous lives and being the one who marks the way for others to follow the Savior.  But in being the hero, we must deflect all praise and accept personal responsibility for our faults and errors.  For while we all can influence and serve by being an example to others and by so doing encourage them to follow Christ, we also must remember that we are each responsible for our own sins and we must all work out our own salvation. 

Only one can save but we can all be heroes.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Positivity & Friendship in Christ:

Most of us have heard phrases like “smile and the whole world smiles with you” most of our life.  The great book by Dr. Peale “The Power of Positive Thinking” is/was a best seller, and deservedly so. We encourage those with their “dauber down” to “buck up” or encourage them to “keep their chin up.”  We all recognize the benefit of being positive and see the ramifications on our lives when we are “Debbie downers” or a “Sour Sams.” 

So why do we, despite our own understanding of the benefits of positivity, become negative at times?  Negativity in born of questioning our understanding of our purpose or goal; it comes from a clouded perspective.  When things do not go the way you think they should, despite your previous conviction that your path was a righteous one, it is easy to become negative.  I have to remind myself that if I am not facing obstacles in my life, one of two things must be happening: Either Father in Heaven does not really love me or does not care about me, or Satan has me where he wants me and has no need of making me struggle.  I have a firm testimony of God’s love for me.  His love has been manifest countless times in my life.   

Positivity is a skill that we can cultivate. 
And while there is much to discuss about this topic, I just wish to point out how our peer relationships affect our level of positivity.  A number of years ago, I was stuck in a bit of a rut professionally and I felt like I needed to go back to school.  I had a co-worker whom I count as a good friend.  She encouraged me and positively believed in my ability to attain my goals.  Occasionally she would ask me how I was doing on getting some tasks done along the way which were necessary to achieving my goal.  If I told her I had not done this or that, she would reprimand me and give me encouragement to keep moving forward.  To this day, I am grateful for her positive belief in me and for her encouragement.  Because I counted her as a friend, I welcomed her “reprimands.”  We need relationships that are positive and that cause us to appreciate the necessary reprimands that invariably come.  We need brothers and sisters in the Lord who love without guile and who have a positive attitude towards us and our potential.      

Open your Bibles and read through the Pauline Epistles, but just read the parts where Paul is addressing specific individuals and giving encouragement and council. Ask yourselves how did Paul address and treat his brothers and sisters?  Here are a few examples:

I Corinthians 16:17-20 “I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such. The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.”

Philippians 4:1-4 “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.  And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”
Colossians 4:12-15 “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.  For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.  Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.”

How do we respond when we encounter each other in the grocery store, or at the mall, or somewhere else outside of our houses of worship?  Do we greet each other with a metaphorical “holy kiss?”  (or whatever is culturally acceptable in your area)

Do we go out of our way to build positive uplifting relationships with other families and individuals in our congregations, wards, or synagogues?  I will tell you that I live in a part of the country where members of my faith are few and far between.  When I encounter a brother in the Lord that I usually see only on Sunday, I am uplifted.   I am cheered.  I feel of their spirit and I hope that they feel of mine.  These encounters bring me a feeling of positivity and encouragement.  I love the men in my Ward (congregation)!  Are they perfect; no.  Are they working on it; yes I hope.  Knowing that we are imperfect together but striving to be what the Savior would have us be, brings a powerful connection.  I hope you sisters have similar experiences. 

I know that we can often lose sight of our purpose.  Sometimes we are challenged by the circumstances of life.  Maybe it is a down-size at work, a wayward child, or a physical challenge.  We may be tempted to become negative and wonder out loud why these things are happening when “I do everything right.” 

I challenge you to be there for your brothers and sisters.  Build relationships with your fellow congregants.  Encourage one another.  Be Paul’s Timothy.  Serve one another and love as Christ does you. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Will and Character

It is often said that we are “creatures of habit.”  We speak of exercising “the will” to control or change bad habits or to develop positive habits.  I might try to will my way to a new exercise program and I may strive to lose weight.  I may want to get past an addiction like drugs, alcohol, or pornography.  I exercise my will and try to develop positive habits.  I may share this goal with others and even solicit their support.  These are good positive things it is true.  Your attempts may be sincere.  But what often happens, like in the case of alcoholism, is that we just tend to trade “isms” like we trade in a car for a different one.  “Will” is not enough.  Will is important but it is not enough. 

We must turn our hearts to who we truly are and what we may become.  We need not only understand ourselves and exercise our will; we also need to understand our social geography and our destiny.   We must have a true picture of where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going.   We must develop our character in light of this macro view and our role in the bigger picture.   

Will is important, but will does not change character.  Character changes will. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

I recently offered this advice to someone just starting out in the world of leadership.  This got me thinking, so I am developing a workshop for budding leaders focusing on Judeo-Christian leadership principles.  Given the framework of my presentation, I want two more bullet points.  

Any thoughts? 

Here is what I said to the young man:

-“Good leaders must first become good servants” Robert Greenleaf.

- Developing a mentor relationship with another leader is essential.

- Be respectful and enthusiastic in everything you do.

- Get to know yourself and your own weaknesses and do not be afraid of them.

- Gain a vision then keep your hand to the plow and your eye on the mark.

Most leaders are not hired because of what they know but because of who they are. If you can master these five things, you can be a good leader. Without them you will just be a manager.