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‘Y’s Counsel: A Dream Come True {alt title: Live In the Vision}

You ever have one of those run-on conversations with a child where they are trying to get information about how something works or why something is the way that it is, and in response to every answer you give them, they continually asked, “Why?”

I guess it’s the natural tendency of humans to be curious and to ask “Why” questions in order to gain understanding about ourselves and our world. So at what age do we stop doing that, in exchange for the assumption that we know best, that we are right, or worse, that we don’t need anyone else’s help?

Could it be that God’s original intention was that we continually ask, “Why? Y? Y?!” until, by our “Y”s we become…Wise!? The trick then becomes asking the ‘whys’ of the wise! After all, the right answer from the wrong person is still the wrong answer.

In Proverbs 1:7 it says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom , but fools despise wisdom & discipline.” And in  9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Then Proverbs 4:7 says,  “Wisdom is the principle thing, I all of your getting, get understanding.”

Solomon, author of these Proverbs and inarguably the wisest man to ever live, was given the unprecedented proposition of being given Card Blanche by the Almighty. Though his dream presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, knowing how to answer would have been a nightmare! What one thing would you desire?! How do we even know what we should want to want? And even if we could winnow down that list to just a few options, how could we ever pick just one. I know my answers would span the Grand Canyon with just the variable of a day of life’s ebb and flow.

Heritage Hack

Well, in re-reading the story of God’s great inquisition of Solomon in 1 Kings 3, I realized that Solomon was in fact given the answer to that difficult question before it was even posed him. In the previous chapter, in the sunset of his life, David blessed his son and gave him instruction that would allow him to answer rightly when the stakes were the highest. Although regarding some specific kingdom business that would not be resolved in his time on the earth, take note of some of the verbiage the king used in instructing his son.

1 Kings 2:6> “Therefore, do according to your wisdom.

David is saying  in effect, because you know this, do that.
1 Kings 2:7> “…but show kindness to…let them be among those who eat at your table.”
Kings were often killed by poisoning of their food. What do those you allow to sit at your table feed you?  Is it toxic or nourishing to your soul and your spirit? Is it poisoning you?
1 Kings 2:8> “And see, you have with you…”
It is prudent to notice the difference between who is with you and who is for you. Who have you been grading on the curve, and to whom have you only given partial credit?
1 Kings 2:9> “…for you are a wise man and know what you ought to do…”
I’ve often heard my pastors say, “We teach our children who they are!” True legacy living then is building a vision for your children to live in!
Powerful, right! Now just take a moment to mine out for yourself the language The King, our GodDaddy,  uses to instruct you and me, His children!


A Dream Come True

Not unlike any of us, instead of an obvious answer, the dream that Solomon had likely generated a dozen more questions: “Why me?” “What am I to do with this God-given dream?” “Where do I begin?” How will I know how to…?”

1 Kings 3:15> “Then Solomon awoke; and indeed it had been a dream. And he came…and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, offered up burnt offerings..”

Reflecting on his story, let’s take a look at Solomon’s S.I.S.tem for a living into the dream that God gave him.

1. See…Take notice of what God shows you about what He’s dreamed up for you and then catch the vision. It is said that the opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity.
2. Inquire…The first thing Solomon did after he awoke from the dream was to seek out God’s wise counsel by getting in His presence! Asking God the “Whys” can help bring clarity to the things that would likely hamper our ability to  manifest the What of your calling.
3. Sow…Solomon positioned himself in God’s House. When you sow into what  God is currently building, NO thing can prevail against it! Hint: If you’re not sure where to start, God’s always building up people and His church!

So we see, for a leader to be effective, she must also be a student, with a teachable and trainable spirit. Not only does she need to be a mentor, but also be mentored. Not only to instruct, but to receive both instruction AND correction which, when heeded, will lead her in the right direction AND set many on a straight path in following in her footsteps. She must be wise, and not solely in the accumulation of alphabets behind her name, but in the discernment that allows her to apply her knowledge in a timely, appropriate, kind, fulfilling, yet selfless manner. That’s a tall order ladies, and uh, none of us “just woke up like” that!

We have to intentionally seek out wise counsel that we may “know how to answer hard questions”. We have the privilege of the ‘mothers’ that have gone before us and blazed the trail, and we have the annuls of the history of millennia of wisdom housed in God’s Word, the Bible.

Sadly, all of us may not have had the privilege of an earthly mother that trained us up in God’s House, modeled godly wisdom, and walked in prayerful righteousness. The great news is this: in whatever your sphere, there is a phenomenal woman likely within one degree of separation from you, needing to be needed. It is no selfish act to seek her out, because as most often the case, in giving to you she will gain exponentially more than she could ever give.  Seek her out and have a heart to bless even before seeking the blessing, and watch GodDaddy do His exceedingly, abundantly again and again!

I AM Leverage! BOGO: Living the half-priced life!

Birthdays have a funny way of bringing about an involuntary time of reflection on life’s benchmarks, bobbles, blunders & brilliance. Such was my experience a few months back when I turned an age that starts with four and ends with more. I’ll share just a couple of those thoughts here. The first is that every time I have to fill in the blank labeled AGE: ____, I will likely draw a blank and have to pause in order to retrieve that information, because I am now THAT AGE. The second was really a barrage of ‘Whys?’, which in all honesty probably came 1st & 3rd, 7th, 19th, 45th & 69th & 85th & every fraction in between! All the ‘Whys’ and being ‘that age’ got me thinking, what would my response be to those who still ask the completely inappropriate question, ‘How old are you?’

I’ll tell you what I came up with in a minute, but first let me tell you how I got there. Have you ever solved a problem, written down your answer, and then realized  that you have no idea how you came up with that answer and whether you should even be confident that it is correct? It would be tough to replicate and it’s likely that if someone offered you a million dollars, you couldn’t solve a similar problem?

Enter your Middle School Math teacher! Do you remember that dreaded instruction given before every exam and homework assignment? The one that came without fail, despite the often hunched shouldered, under breath, grumblings of the students, “Why do I even need to know this?! When am I ever going to use this in real life?” You know the directive…”SHOW YOUR WORK!” Retrospectively, I understand that both the instructor AND the student would need to be able to retrace the steps of the solution so that the process could be repeated for another, similar problem. Not only that, but the student could,  with some degree of confidence, explain their answer to the instructor or anyone else who was in need of the process by which the solution was reached.

I remember hearing that when I’m faced with a problem and come up with a solution, I should keep looking for other solutions. Clearly this quest must be within reasonable bounds, but the benefit is that the odds of finding the best solution increase exponentially with an increased availability of solutions from which to draw. Keep solving the problem and PLEASE show your work!!

OK you can exhale, Math class is over and we’re back to my birthday quandary. I come from a rare breed of women who do not like to shop. I don’t need a lot of stuff, and gifts aren’t really my love language. Yes, that makes it quite difficult for my husband to buy presents for me. Maybe once every six months I’ll spend a few bucks and then I’m over it…except maybe shoe shopping. That said, I do love a bargain and a good infomercial. So there’s one thing I always love to see advertised: BOGO!! Buy One, Get One FREEEEE! That, right there, is my f-a-v-o-r-i-t-e price! And it got me thinking about how many things I have already paid full price for that should have allowed someone else in my life to receive theirs for free? How many dumb decisions have cost me dearly that would, were I willing to transparently share the solution, afford my child, my friend, or anyone else the opportunity to avoid paying that same premium? I heard Dr Derek Greer say, “I never want to hurt THAT bad and waste it!”

So I came to a conclusion. Since I’m not real big on receiving birthday gifts, maybe it would be wise to focus my energy on becoming so fully present to my purpose in life that I become the gift! I could allow someone else to ‘leverage‘ my solutions against their problems and save them from a lot of careless missteps and costly mistakes. Then, EUREKA! I knew what my answer would be to the ‘What is your age?’ question, “I am lever/age!”

A Look At Leverage

In the article The Power of Leverage: The Principle of Maximum Achievement, Tony Robbins says that leverage “used properly, is one of the most powerful ways to get more done in a shorter period of time…Leverage is working with another individual to produce a result or action…Your goal is to leverage as much as possible to other people…”

This in no way implies that anyone should abdicate responsibility for his or her own life. It’s true that we live in an age where, anytime someone has a question, three of their closest friends whip out their devices, go on a search and rescue mission, and find “the answer” for them. What if the answer that they really needed was found in the process of finding the solution rather than the problem’s solution alone? I realize that one of life’s greatest challenges is the tightrope trek between finding an answer for ourselves and availing ourselves to  the assistance the the right someone else at the right time and then appropriating that knowledge in the right way! Hmm, is there a Serenity Prayer for that?

We can bring this full circle with a couple more thoughts from Mr. Robbins. “A problem is a question you haven’t yet answered to a level that has fulfilled you.” “You’re leveraging the work, but you’re maintaining responsibility and ownership of the results you’re after.” See that? My life is my responsibility, and, wait for it…your life is your responsibility. So this leverage thing only works if the person with the wisdom and experience is willing to share it with someone else AND someone else is willing to cash in the coupon being given so that they may receive their discount on the lesson price! The reality is that there are some lessons, and there are some people, that desire, maybe even require one another. Nonetheless, the ultimate goal is NOT to have others do everything for us, but to live life teachably and, when possible, learn from someone else‘s mistakes. This transforms the world around us into a cavernous classroom rather than a frog-filled cauldron, where ignorance is prevalent and death imminent.

Speaking of a classroom, I know we just got out of Math class, but let’s look at a little Physics now! Nerd Alert!! Some examples of a lever could include: boat oars, a catapult or a crowbar. For our purposes, the easiest way to picture a lever is to think of the teeter-totters we used to play on as children. The bar, on which the board rests, is called the fulcrum, or the pivot. The Greek mathematician and inventor Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand and a lever long enough, and I shall move the world.” A quote which has found its way into the speeches of more than a few Presidents. He also said, “A 10′ leverset 6″ from the fulcrum to the object increases the lifting power 20 times.” That basically means, if I were to stand on the board on one side of the teeter-totter, a child would be able to lift me with just her weight provided the fulcrum were positioned close enough to me. That is great news! Just by knowing how to correctly position the lever and fulcrum, I can afford a young person, or anyone else, the benefit of my many mistakes without them experiencing the same level of pain or heavy lifting!  All sustained casualties needn’t be mine alone! Right?! After all, a candle loses none of its brilliance by lighting another, and that’s why we show our work, so that no one else need be left in the dark!

Fun Fact: Because reading the dictionary is what I have done since I was a child,  I was  researching the technical names for the parts of a teeter-totter, which is basically a simple lever, and made a new-to-me discovery. It must depend on where you’re from, but what I know as a teeter-totter is actually often called a ‘seesaw’ or a ‘see-saw’. WOW, who knew!! That is exactly the point I am trying to make about allowing my life to be leverage for the benefit of others. You see, as I am willing to be transparent about lessons learned from my past, someone else can be lifted up by what pulled me down and they can ‘see’ what I ‘saw’, so they need neither ‘teeter’ nor ‘totter’ over the same things that tripped me up! Whoo hoo!!

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, of which I am clearly capable, here’s a Photo Op. or two:


Failure Fossils

If it’s true what they say, that ‘success leaves clues’, then we must watch where we step because I’ve found that failure leaves droppings! Is it possible for us to make better use of its trail than did Hansel and Gretel their crumbs? Look, it’s spelled out right there for us! In the middle of the words ‘leaves droppings’ we find the word ‘eavesdropping’. So listen up!

You know what makes a wealthy person wealthy? It’s not simply that they have a lot of money, but that they have a surplus of resources. It is the knowledge and connections that they have that would allow them to rebuild their fortune were they to lose it; knowledge to spare! Hopefully, knowledge to share! After all, a rising tide raises all boats!  Maybe right now your money is a little funny! Well, do you possibly have some extra wisdom that you may have picked up here and there from your past profitable, practical, or even poor choices? Since you ‘lived to tell about it’, I would encourage you to consider donating it to ‘Goodwill’ so someone else can ‘buy’ it at a discounted, bargain rate.

So often in life the best way to spell a-n-s-w-e-r to many of our problems is another six letter word, p-e-o-p-l-e! The conundrum is that people are often also the cause of many of those same problems! Grrrr! Nonetheless, let’s see if we can find some cues and clues! Each of us has the opportunity to give and to gain leverage by employing disciplines such as: serving, volunteering, mentoring, studying and reading biographies, interning, interviewing, and by simple observation, the way children and many animals learn.

How do you fill the current voids and vacancies in your life? What is your hiring process? How do you vet those you employ in your life? What skill set do you seek in those from whom you seek advice? We can start with a little introspection, by first asking ourselves a few questions. Am I employable? If my rèsumé came across my desk, would I hire me based on what I see? What position, title, and compensation does my past performance merit? What needs to be added to my skillset? Where do I go to gain this knowledge? If I were a business, would how I manage my ‘Human Resource Department’ bankrupt me?

I’m still living! I’m still learning! And I AM Leverage!

Lately I’ve heard it said quite often of my life, “It’s not about you!” WHAT?! The selfish part of me would shout, “Of course my life is about me! Who else would MY life be about?… someone else?!” That’s when one of my least favorite words comes into play and I simply and sweetly tell my selfish-self to please “shut-up!” and remind my saner-self that I have eaten the fruit of many a tree I never planted. H.E. Luccock said, “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.” Well, I always wanted to be in a some kind of music group, so I’ll take his instruction. With a little reframe, I can say that the best way to be a part of something bigger than ourselves is to pay it forward!

So there you have it. If I pay for a life lesson, am transparent enough to share with someone else, allow both of us to receive the benefit of my pain, then I bought it and they got it…FREE! That’s BOGO at its best!! That’s how both you and I can live a half-priced life. Let’s not sell ourselves short or discount ourselves, but please don’t pay full price for your life! 

See you on life’s playground! Let’s meet at the see-saw!

© Stevey-Wonderfu! 2015. All rights reserved.

Won & Done! The value of one word…