Archives for posts with tag: principles

I learned something in church a couple of weeks ago. That happens regularly for me. Although I have heard thousands of sermons, some very good and some very bad, I often hear something new or understand a well-known principle from a different and helpful perspective.

In his sermon the preacher mentioned an exercise that Stephen Covey suggested in his very influential book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, published 29 years ago. It has sold more than 25 million copies and continues to be one of the more significant offerings of the self-help genre.

Covey promotes what he labels “the character ethic“- aligning one’s internal and subjective values with external natural laws and timeless principles.  He insists that our values govern our behavior while principles, or natural laws, determine the consequences.

A key influence on Covey’s thinking was his study of American self-help books that he did for his doctoral dissertation. Most self-help books at the time focused on personality with an emphasis on public image, how you dress, how you perform in social interactions, positive mental attitude, skills and techniques to get people to behave in certain ways. He reacted to the emphasis on “the personality ethic.”

The author of this incredibly influential book believed that a person’s character rather than their personality was the driving force behind success. He suggested seven principles, or habits, that shape our lives.

Russell Marion Nelson Sr., an American religious leader and former surgeon, in a speech entitled “Begin With the End in Mind” speaking from his medical training said, “An elective incision is never made without planning to close it. The same principle is generally applicable in all fields, however. Track stars don’t begin a race without knowing the location of the finish line.” In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey agreed.

According to Covey, “Begin with the end in mind” is Habit #2 of highly effective people. In addressing this practice the author presents an intriguing exercise. He suggests that you imagine you are at your own funeral. There are four people that are going to be speaking about you at your funeral.  One is a close family member (brother, sister, son, daughter, etc.), one is a close friend, one is someone you worked closely with, and the last is someone from your community (charitable organization, church, local government, social club, etc.).

Now write down what you would want each person to say about you at your funeral.  Think about all the things for which you want to be remembered. The object of this exercise is begin at the end of life and work backwards. What are the qualities that you want people to remember after you are gone? Once you decide how you want to be remembered then you begin to let those values shape your everyday life.

In an interview promoting The Book of Joy, the Dalai Lama said to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, his co-author and friend, “I imagine I will see your face at the moment of my death.” Archbishop Tutu had lived such a life that his friend would remember him with fondness.

As the Apostle Paul neared death he said, “I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, and I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7, GNT). Is that the way you want to be remembered? Is that what you want people to say at your funeral? More importantly, is that what the God of all Creation will say?

Now is the time to assure that others will have good things to say about us and The Master will say, “Well done!” The best way to be sure is to begin with the end in mind.

Jamie Jenkins

This time last week millions of people were remembering the death of one man and yesterday they remembered another. Their deaths were separated by over 2000 years of history.

Jesus, Christ, Christianity, Catholic, Church, Cross

Seven days ago on Holy Thursday Christians around the world recalled the last hours Jesus would have with his closest followers before he was betrayed and put to death. Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968.

Although Jesus and King believed in many of the same principles and practiced them at great risk, I am not trying to make them equals. Jesus was the Son of God and Son of Man. Dr. King was a human being and disciple of Jesus. Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected. King’s body rests in a tomb in Atlanta.

When they arrived they found the large stone rolled away from the tomb. (There had been a violent earthquake and an angel of the Lord had descended and rolled it back. The guards were so frightened and shaken they had run off). – Slide 2

Both men championed the cause of the poor and oppressed. They spoke out against injustice and acted on their beliefs. The Bible record shows many encounters between Jesus and the marginalized people of his day. He was accused of associating with the riff-raff of society. And he was intentionally guilty. The life of Martin Luther King, Jr. clearly illustrates his commitment to justice and equality for all. His beatings and arrests are proof that his words were not just pious platitudes but principles by which he lived.

Love and hate were both equally shown to Jesus and King. The biblical account and the news reports describe the intensity of support and rejection for both of them. Each of them died a violent death. One was executed by the Roman government at the insistence of the crowd in Jerusalem. The other was the victim of an assassin’s bullet on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

There are similarities to their life and death, but the immediate reaction to the death of these two men was very different. Jesus’ death left his followers frightened and confused. Their leader on whom they had placed their trust was gone and they did not know what to do. They hid for fear of their lives. In contrast, King’s death sparked violent protests around the country. Those who had followed him were angry and aggressive.

Although the short term result of the death of these two charismatic leaders is different, the long term effect is similar. Over twenty centuries of history has validated the positive effect of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Those who followed his teaching and example carried his message to every part of the world and countless others have believed and their lives have been transformed.

Kevin Cokley, writing in the Dallas News, said, “The assassination of King was arguably the most consequential for the course of American history and permanently changed the psychology of black people and challenged America’s ideals.” The death of this “drum major for justice” gave impetus to a movement that changed the face of America and the world.

Justice, Right, Legal, Lawyer, Word

The world is very different 50 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and 2000 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. Their willingness to die for a cause led to much positive change but one does not have to look far to see that there is still much more to be done. We must continue the struggle to insure civil and human rights for all people.

In the beginning God created a perfect world. No reasonable person would suggest that it has remained in that state of perfection but it is the task of all people to work together to make the world a better place for everyone. God help us!

Jamie Jenkins

New Year a Good Start

Today is the last day of the year. Tomorrow we turn the calendar over to January 1, 2016. As we approach a new year many people resolve to do certain things in the coming year to improve the quality of their lives and the lives of others.

New Year 4

I do not make New Year’s Resolutions. Make no mistake, I understand that there are many things that warrant change in my daily actions and attitudes. Nevertheless, I don’t go through the exercise of listing them intentionally upon the advent of a new year.

New Year 2

It has been said if you aim at nothing, you will probably hit it. I agree that identifiable, measurable, and achievable goals are good. I do periodically assess my lifestyle and attempt to make adjustments. However, rather than make specific resolutions at the beginning of the calendar year, needed changes may be recognized and addressed at any time.

New Year Better Man

For example, a few years ago I realized that  I needed to make some changes as I got older and my lifestyle became more sedentary. I am relatively healthy and active but I have slowed down. My metabolism, which has been my best friend all my life, has slowed down also. Thus, I do not have a weight problem but I am developing a waist problem.

Although I am fairly active, I am not a physical fitness fanatic (that is putting it mildly). I knew that I would not follow through long term on any drastic changes. So, I started with small but significant changes to my diet. Because I have a real weakness for anything sweet, and especially ice cream. I decided that I would eat sweets only on weekends. I also started eating a light but somewhat healthy breakfast, something that I had not done consistently since I was a kid, and I determined to reduce my intake of soft drinks and mid-day snacks. Small but significant changes.

New Year Endless Possibilities

The beginning of a new year provides impetus for us to think about changes that we need to make. It prompts us to reevaluate the practices of our daily life. Somewhere I read an article on the fundamentals of journalism but I cannot remember any of the content and I cannot recall where I saw it. However, I do remember three principles that I believe apply equally to all of life: Honesty, Integrity, Accountability.

I will address each of these in subsequent writings but for now I leave them for your consideration. Whether you are making New Years Resolutions or simply thinking about how you order your life, these three principles provide a framework for some serious self examination and goal setting.

New Year 1

Happy New Year!

 

Jamie Jenkins