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Do Your Failures Haunt You? Two Strategies to Overcome Them

Do Your Failures Haunt You? Two Strategies to Overcome Them

Do Your Failures Haunt You

If you’re alive, then you’ve failed.  And if you’re honest, you’ve failed a lot.  I know I have.  In fact, I’m confident that my failures outnumber my successes by a multiple of many.  

But the truth is that you and I are not alone.  In fact, we are in great company.  The greatest athletes, entrepreneurs, and even religious leaders will all admit, if they’re honest, that their failures are numerous.

Of course, there are many types of failures.  There are athletic failures, such as missing the winning shot in the NBA finals.  And there are business failures, such as filing bankruptcy when the entrepreneur can no longer satisfy his creditors.  There are parental failures, where we may find we have dropped the ball in the raising of our children.  And there are personal defeats, where we fail to live up to a standard we set for ourselves.  There are moral failures, where one may violate a professional or personal relationship.  And there are spiritual failures, where our behavior or choices fall short of the standard established by God Himself.

The first step in overcoming a failure is to acknowledge it, seek forgiveness from those you have wronged, and then put the mechanisms in place to avoid repeating those same failures again, and again, and again.

But when you’ve done this, it’s possible and perhaps even likely that the failures in your life occasionally or even frequently raise their ugly heads to remind you of your shortcomings.  It’s human nature for us to replay them over and over in our minds.

It hurts to fail just as it hurts to get thrown from a horse.  But if you are going to learn to ride that bucking bronco, there’s only one way to do so and that is to climb back on and try again.

In Psalm 40:12 we read this from King David, “For troubles surround me, too many to count! My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They outnumber the hairs on my head. I have lost all courage.” That’s a lot of failures, and we see what happened when David was focused on his sins.  He couldn’t see his way out and he lost all courage.

Bottom line, he was remembering and rehearsing his failures and the more he did, the weaker and more discouraged he became.

We also see there were those who were more than willing to remind David of his failures in the following verse, “May those who try to destroy me be humiliated and put to shame.  May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace.  Let them be horrified by their shame, for they said, ‘Aha! We’ve got him now!’”

Note that if we’re not reminding ourselves of our failures, there is usually someone in our life who is more than willing to do so.  And their intent is generally malicious and destructive.

But thankfully, we also read that David found his strength in God when he said, “Please Lord, rescue me!  Come quickly, Lord, and help me.

Like David, we must recognize that when our failures seem to overwhelm us, whether business, personal, moral or spiritual, there is One to whom we can turn.  Doing so requires humility, dependence, and repentance, particularly if the failure is a violation of God’s law.  But when we humble ourselves, and seek God’s forgiveness, strength and deliverance, it is then that we can regain the courage that was lost by focusing on our failures.  

There is another step to be taken in overcoming your failures which we learn from another great historical figure, the Apostle Paul, when he shares, “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…

We must bury the past and turn our focus to the future, knowing that what is done is done.  The only chapter of our lives that you and I can still affect is the one yet unwritten.  So forget those past failures and turn your focus to the future.

So if your failures have haunted you and your courage has been waning, practice the strategies that David and Paul both used: seek God’s deliverance and strength, and forget the past while focusing on the future.  Doing so will unleash a new sense of optimism and hope as you fulfill the purpose that God has for your life.

Mark

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#MakeAmericaGoodAgain

#MakeAmericaGoodAgain

Make America Good Again

“No people can be great, who have ceased to be virtuous.”  Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)

This week I am witnessing first hand the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. As I’ve been observing the happenings within the Quicken Arena, the one theme that continues to pop up again and again, is Make America Great Again.  Of course, that being the Trump campaign motto, it should come as no surprise.  From t-shirts to ball caps, street vendors to banners, the motto is everywhere I look, here in Cleveland.  

The brilliantly conceived message is one that plays well with disillusioned and disgusted voters, who have experienced the last seven years of an Obama Presidency and grown increasingly skeptical and angry with Washington DC.  But to add to that anger, Republican voters have had to endure a party establishment who cares more about power and reelections than they do about upholding the Constitution, and fighting back against Obama’s all out assault on our freedoms, national security and economic revitalization.  So Trump stepped into a perfect storm and has been a master at tapping into the base emotions of voters, with a message that sells to the disgruntled masses.

While the overriding theme of the Convention this week is Make America Great Again, the Trump campaign has played brilliantly off that theme to devise a relevant emphasis each day as follows:

Monday:  Make America Safe Again

Tuesday:  Make America Work Again

Wednesday:  Make America First Again

Thursday:  Make America One Again

I wouldn’t deny that these are all worthy topics and aspirations, but as I’ve considered Trump’s Make America Great Again theme, I believe the New York billionaire is attempting to place the cart before the horse. It’s as if Trump’s seeking to build one of his skyscrapers before digging the foundation.  Sadly, many of the American people have eagerly embraced Donald’s message, believing they can simply don a baseball cap, elect a businessman, and the nation’s course will be reversed, with Great days ahead, absent any personal sacrifice or change.

In order for a business to achieve greatness, it requires a superior product or service, with a comprehensive approach and attention to the way it treats its employees, suppliers, investors and even its community.  Similarly, a person will only be truly great, if that person possesses the inner qualities that lead to greatness: humility, service, wisdom, courage, forgiveness, trustworthiness, and more.  In years gone by, the word that was often used to describe these qualities was virtue:  “behavior showing high moral standards.

So can a nation be Great, as in “superior in character or quality” without being Good or virtuous?  Clearly Trump’s message suggests, by the use of the word “Again,” that America is no longer Great.  And if that is accurate, which I believe it is, then what was it that led to America’s greatness in the past?  Was it merely the desire or goal of being great, by those before us, that led to America becoming great?  Or was it based on some other qualities our forefathers and grandfathers possessed, that led to our nation becoming the greatest nation this world has ever known?

I would suggest that to be great, America cannot simply seek to be great, anymore than wishing to be a great company can cause a business to excel.  Greatness results from small, daily routines when others are not watching that flow from conscious decisions that ultimately develop into one’s character.  Greatness is not the end goal but rather it is a by-product of other disciplines. 

If America is to become great again, it will not be as a result of a mere focus on greatness but it will rather flow from a commitment to the individual attributes that lead to greatness.  Those attributes must be developed in our lives, and consciously taught and passed on to the lives of our children.  There is a famous quote that we have all heard before: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”  

Sadly, the current destiny of our nation has resulted from the thoughts, actions, habits and character that we have developed individually and collectively as a people.  Our fall from greatness will not be restored with mere political victories and cheap cliches that induce warm and fuzzy emotions.  Rather, it will require each of us to take serious inventory of our own character to determine how and where we have contributed to the current course of our nation.  And as we identify our own flaws and weaknesses, we must then be willing to make the hard changes in our own lives and thus begin the more difficult but absolutely crucial changes to right the course of our nation.  Only when we do so can we #MakeAmericaGoodAgain.

Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.”   Patrick Henry

Mark

 

There is a God in Heaven… And Here’s why that Matters

There is a God in Heaven… And Here’s why that Matters

There is a God in Heaven

Chaos.  Crime.  Corruption.  Shootings.  Terrorism.  Political upheaval.  Racial strife.  Economic catastrophe.  Family breakdown.  Societal unrest.  Moral disintegration.

Does it feel like our communities, culture, nation and world are coming apart at the seams?  Does it seem like everyday we wake up to another crisis that threatens you, your family or our nation?  If you are a business owner or an employee, does it feel like even your livelihood is at risk?

Are there any solutions to the seemingly insurmountable and existential problems facing us?

Is there anyone who can really bring the dissension, turmoil, chaos, and violence to an end via some new solutions that have yet to be revealed?

Has this kind of scenario ever been experienced by our nation in the past?  If so, when and how did our countrymen respond?

Truthfully, our nation has faced similar challenges in the past, including what seemed like overwhelming cultural degradation and moral depravity, with men and women showing little care or respect for others or God. 

Specifically, in the early 1700’s Americans were living in darkness.  Political leaders were corrupt. The King was oppressive. The culture was coarse.  Morals were exceedingly low.  The Church was weak and anemic with those Christians who did attend church having little impact on those around them, preferring to keep their beliefs to themselves and within the four walls of the church. 

The outlook for the colonies was bleak.  

And yet, a group of men and women, seeing the moral and spiritual condition around them, began to earnestly pray for revival in the colonies over the course of years.  They understood the truth that there is no political or economic solution for a heart problem.  There’s so much more to the story of the First Great Awakening, led by men like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and John & Charles Wesley.  But the truth is the entire course of our nation was changed because people prayed, God moved and individuals responded.  In fact, millions of individuals and families were transformed because of the restoration of their hearts back to God.

But it was less than 100 years later, and once again Americans fell back into their old ways.  Quoting from Joel Rosenberg’s book Implosion we see this:

“Following the Revolutionary War, America experienced a period of moral decline.  Spiritual devotion waned and social problems proliferated.  From the late 1770’s until the late 1820’s, per capita consumption of alcohol in America rose dramatically, to about four or five times what it is today… The social consequences were predictable.  Illegitimate births were rampant. Thomas Paine was proclaiming Christianity was dead — and certainly the body of faith appeared to be in a coma.  Yet even as church rolls were shrinking and greed, sensuality and family breakdown were becoming widespread, America was about to experience a great spiritual revival.

“Slowly at first, then building over the next several decades, one wave of spiritual renewal and religious rededication after another swept the country, in what historians now call America’s ‘Second Great Awakening.’  In one community after another, people began to wake up from their moral and spiritual slumber as though saying, ‘If we’re going to have a self-governing nation, it must be occupied by self-governing people.’  Within one generation, alcohol consumption fell by two-thirds.”

It’s worthwhile to note that the common thread between both the First and Second Great Awakenings was prayer.  Men and women, recognizing that there is a God in heaven who cares infinitely about the affairs of men, began to call out to Him in prayer with great diligence, urgency and consistency.  And as they prayed and followed God’s leading, He answered their prayers in a glorious and supernatural manner, and the hearts of Americans were turned back to God.

As we fast forward to 2016, we see a nation whose future is becoming more and more bleak.  Just as in our past, greed, sensuality, family breakdown, racial strife and violence characterize our nation.  Political leaders, whether democrats, republicans or independents, all profess to hold the magic ointment to heal all of our woes.  And yet, as we continue to place our hopes in a political figure or party, we see how consistent they are in failing us. 

Following this week’s shootings of eleven Dallas police officers, with five of them dying, the video interview below of Kellon Nixon, a witness of the shootings, is particularly relevant to this discussion.  I would encourage you to listen to the entire video but here are a few highlights of Kellon’s thoughts:

When asked by the MSNBC reporter, “How are you today?” Kellon responded:

“Today I am recovering spiritually.  Last night, when you start to see the shooting… you start to think, ‘It’s me against the world.’ But with that type of mentality we’ll implode as a people, not as ethnicity, but as a people, period.  We’re all one race at the end of the day… We have to be a Christian nation. We have to be governed by a higher authority. We can see what governing ourselves has proved… The best thing we can do is to value lives over the economy. I think that is one of our biggest problems in America.  The economy is stronger than our moral fiber.  Our desire for prosperity is so much greater than our desire to be moral, to be humane, to love, to care, that we’ll risk our children or the sanctity of marriage, just for money, just to stay on top as a nation. When we lose our hearts, when we lose our souls, we’re really at the bottom.  We’re the worst of people, no matter how materially rich we are.”

Did you catch that?  Losing our hearts and souls?  I believe Mr. Nixon has hit on the crux of the challenge we face.  We as a people have lost our heart and soul, and consequently we have seen the crumbling of a once great nation.  

But just as our countrymen of prior centuries realized, there is a path back to God.  And it begins in Prayer and a change of my heart and yours.  

Our political leaders have no answers to the unsolvable problems of our day.  Given that the root of the problem is the heart and spiritual in nature, we will remain disillusioned if we simply look horizontally for fixes.

The only solution to the vexing problems of our day is to bow our heads while directing our hearts upward towards heaven.  

Psalm 20:7 instructs us of this truth:  “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”  

What is your chariot?  In what are you trusting?  Who are you looking to for the solutions to your problems?  If it’s someone other than God, then you will remain disappointed and unfulfilled, with no hope.  

As the famous revivalist Gypsy Smith would say, “Do you really want to see a revival begin?  Draw a circle around you on the floor. Then get down on your knees in the middle of the circle and ask God to convert everybody inside that circle.  When you do that, and God answers, you are experiencing the start of a revival.”

So how about it?  Must we wait for more lives lost?  For more economic collapse?  For more violence?  For more dissension?  For more political corruption and disappointments?  For more moral decline?  

Or can you and I, individually, persistently and urgently call out to the God in heaven with this prayer:

“God, forgive me.  Change me.  Revive me.  Show me.  Strengthen me.”  

And then get up, go out and begin to share our commitment with others, encouraging them to join us in their own personal restoration with God. 

And when we do this, we will know this truth from Daniel 2:28:  “There is a God in heaven… and He holds the answers to our deepest problems and struggles.

Mark

A Second American Revolution: Defeating The Enemy Within

A Second American Revolution: Defeating The Enemy Within

A Second American Revolution And The Enemy Within

When our founding fathers penned their names in 1776 to perhaps our nation’s greatest document, the Declaration of Independence, they attempted what we now know was a glorious and courageous feat. Singling out King George as the object of their contempt was viewed by many of their contemporaries as not only foolish, but it would likely cost those 56 men their “lives, fortune and sacred honor.”  

Two hundred and forty years later, we marvel at the resolute and unsurpassed character of our founding fathers and the thousands of others who rose up to revolt against Great Britain, their formidable enemy.

Following a brutal and what oftentimes appeared a hopeless cause, George Washington and his ragtag group of soldiers, realized a miraculous and no doubt, Providential victory. As the thirteen colonies concluded their Constitutional Convention in 1787, a lady asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?”  To which he replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.

“If you can keep it…”

This has always been the challenge to every American citizen over the last 240 years, keeping our Republic. Of course there have been many instances over these many years where we have faced enemies from without, foes that at the time were no doubt powerful and threatening.

Today though, with the ever increasing threat of terrorism, some would suggest that Islamic terrorists have now become our greatest enemy.  Others would argue that Russia or China, both nuclear nations which seek superpower status, are our nation’s greatest threat.  

Looking closer to home, some would suggest that a President who looks with contempt at the people whom he represents as a serious threat.  Others point to our Congress as the greatest threat, as Senators and Congressmen continuously erode our liberties with each passing year.  Still others, concerned with the expanding role of the SCOTUS, view our nation’s men and women in black robes as the greatest threat to the permanence of our Republic.

No doubt all of these threats represent real and present dangers to our nation’s survival.   

But today we face an even greater enemy than those just enumerated.  While each preceding generation has stood resolute as they were tested by the enemies of their time, I fear that the present generation, yours and mine, is not only failing to overcome our enemy, but worse, we lack the will or discipline to do so. 

It was Sun Tzu who declared 2500 years ago in The Art of War, “if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear a hundred battles.”

Today we do not know the real enemy we face.  That enemy is within.  And that enemy is you… and me. 

We are the greatest threat our nation faces. 

As a populace:

  • We are uniformed and disengaged, caring little about the affairs of their government.
  • We devote more time to our favorite pastimes, hobbies, or reality shows, than to holding our governmental representatives accountable, at all levels.
  • We are engrossed in the statistics of our favorite sports team but know virtually nothing about our nation’s exploding and threatening national debt.
  • We spent 10x more on lottery tickets ($70 billion) in 2014 than we did in the previous Presidential election year.
  • We care little about the character of our representatives, whether in Congress or in the Oval Office, preferring their promises over their principles.
  • Our voter turnout trails nearly every other developed country in the world, with a measly 53% in 2012, and we engage at an even lower rate in local elections.
  • Our moral, religious and ethical standards continue to slide at ever increasing rates.

Consequently, as you and I have chosen to be distant, apathetic and careless toward our government, we have seen that same government become dysfunctional, corrupt and an ever growing threat to our “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

As a constitutional republic, the United States is dependent on its citizens to select men and women of exceptional skills and character to lead their nation. And it’s incumbent on those same citizens to make the necessary corrections when their leaders veer off course and threaten our nation’s future.  

Just this week we witnessed corruption of the worst kind when the FBI, an agency of the Department of Justice, exonerated Hillary Clinton from the admitted criminal violations she was involved in with her illegal email scheme.  And yet, it’s highly likely this corruption will be rewarded with the keys to the Oval Office in November.

So what is the answer?  And what is the solution?  First and foremost we are beyond “political solutions.”  You cannot solve a heart problem with a political strategy.  And we are informed of this truth by this verse, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”  

To restore the foundations, we must restore our hearts.  And the restoration of our heart begins with the bending of our knees. 

Our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln, understood this truth all too well when he published this solemn challenge to all Americans, and it’s one we would do well to heed today:

Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.

“And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of the civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People?  We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven.  We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity.  We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown.  But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.  Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

And so there it is, the formula to overcome the enemy within and launch our nation’s Second Revolution:

Humility. Sorrow. Prayer. Confession. Repentance. Dependence. Assurance. Hope. Blessings.

Mark

Ted Cruz Leadership: Listening to Others

Ted Cruz Leadership: Listening to Others

Ted-Cruz-Leadership

How many times have you heard someone say, “God gave you two ears and one mouth so you can listen twice as much as you talk?” While I don’t know if that’s the reason God made us that way, I do believe in the message that is conveyed.

It seems that many in leadership are frequently more interested in speaking first and listening second, if at all. Perhaps a leader seeks to impress or dominate the conversation. Or perhaps he simply feels he has all the answers. But if there’s one thing that will diminish the respect of others, it is a leader’s lack of interest in what others think or have to say. It may not be intentional on his part, but if a leader cares about those he is entrusted with, it’s incumbent on him to listen more than he speaks.

I think back to the late ’90’s when my business partner and I were opening up one of our more than two dozen senior care facilities. We had the distinct privilege of escorting a noted federal elected official through our property. We obviously felt honored to have him as our guest. But as I recall the encounter, it was clear that the politician had very little interest in our views or concerns. He was more interested in monopolizing the conversation. Since that day, I have had the opportunity to engage with the same individual on a number of other instances and his qualities have never changed. The conversation is always one-sided.

On the flip side, I had a recent encounter in 2015 with one of the Presidential candidates for the Republican nomination and his wife. Following a visit by Senator Ted Cruz, and his wife Heidi, to Chattanooga, I had the unexpected honor of traveling with the two of them on their campaign bus from Chattanooga to Murfreesboro where they were holding another event. I’ve been around three other Presidential candidates in one-on-one scenarios in the past and I had seen the “talk first” mentality exhibited by a couple of them so I fully expected the same from Ted Cruz.

From the beginning of the trip though, I was pleasantly surprised when Heidi Cruz first sat down across from me and some other friends who were also traveling on the bus. Heidi engaged in an interactive, two-way conversation. While she wasn’t the candidate or individual seeking to lead, it was clear that she possessed strong leadership qualities. There was no sense of her desiring to monopolize the conversation but rather she exhibited genuine interest in me, my background and my views.

After 20 minutes or so, Ted came forward from the back of the bus, where he had been engaged in an interview with an NBC reporter. When he joined us, there was no air of “I’ve arrived so it’s time for everyone else to listen up.” Truthfully, Ted was less about him and more about us. He took real interest in what was on our minds and what our concerns were. While we grilled him with questions, his answers were not long or verbose, as I’ve frequently seen from other leaders and politicians. Ted continued to bring the conversation back to us.

In thinking about the leadership qualities and styles of these two elected leaders, I believe there are some distinct lessons that can be learned by those seeking to be good leaders themselves.

Leaders Ask Questions

A leader will ask questions of those he seeks to lead. Questions are the means of finding out what is in the hearts and minds of people. Without asking questions, you’ll never know what concerns others are grappling with. And when you are asking questions, you are talking less.

Leaders Talk Less

There are certainly times when a leader must motivate and inspire others with his words, whether in a rousing speech, or in a call to action with his employees. But generally, a leader must listen more than he talks. As referenced above, questions can serve a useful purpose. But there are frequent times when simply saying little and listening to the hurts, wants, or dreams of your team can be highly instructive to you and healing to them.

Leaders Don’t Interrupt

Interrupting is a trait that is not only disruptive to a meaningful conversation but it can cause frustration and even silence those with whom one seeks to converse. A leader who continuously interrupts others can send a variety of mixed signals such as impatience, superiority, being disinterested and more. So just don’t do it. Wait to speak.

Leaders Remove Distractions

When communicating with others, it’s critical to remove any distractions. In our digital world, it’s easy to be distracted with an iPhone or laptop rather than focusing in on what is being communicated to you. Yes, I struggle with this. But when someone begins talking with you, put everything else aside, look the person in their eyes, and actively engage in the conversation. You will be more apt to retain what was said to you, and the person you are speaking with will be validated in their thoughts and opinions.

Of course, there are many more traits of a good leader we could continue to highlight, but the above list is a good start. Master these, and you will be well on your way to being the kind of leader others respect and will gladly follow. And your effectiveness in addressing the concerns shared by those you lead will skyrocket.

Mark

Fatal Flaws: From Exploding Airplanes to Crumbling Lives

Fatal Flaws: From Exploding Airplanes to Crumbling Lives

fatal-flaws

Boom! As I sat staring out the window of our twin engine plane, I could hardly believe my eyes. The engine just feet from my window had exploded, with parts and fluids blowing through the cowling (cover) of the engine. The plane began to veer hard to the right and was losing altitude. I looked around at the other passengers, some of my closest friends and employees, and I saw a look of fear, concern and perhaps even panic by some. Could this really be happening to us?

But let me back up and start at the beginning. In the mid-1990’s my business partner and I had decided to purchase an airplane to get around to the properties we owned and managed in a more efficient manner. When we began discussing which plane to purchase we quickly determined it must be a twin engine plane, for the simple reason that if we were to ever lose one engine, we’d still have a second one with which to try to make a controlled landing.

We had purchased our plane, a Cessna 421B Golden Eagle, three years earlier from Burt Reynolds when he and his wife, Lonnie Anderson, were going through a divorce. There was no mistaking the plane due to its Florida State Seminoles colors, with the entire fuselage painted garnet and accentuated with gold arrows painted down the side.

On the day of our “incident” we had fully loaded our eight-passenger plane, including 2 pilots. Technically we only had seven people on board but we also had quite a bit of cargo. We took off from Chattanooga Lovell Field headed towards Birmingham and everyone was cutting up but looking forward to a productive day. We had just cleared Lookout Mountain when our right seat pilot turned around and blurted out, “Guys, we’ve got a problem and we’re going to have to cut off our right engine.”

No sooner had those words left his mouth than the engine exploded right next to me. Our two regular pilots, both close friends, began to deal with the repercussions of flying a maxed-out plane on one engine. As they turned the plane back towards Chattanooga they radioed our emergency situation to the Chattanooga tower. While the plane continued to fly on the one remaining engine, it was clear that we were not maintaining altitude. As I looked at the terrain below, it seemed to me that the obvious choice would be to simply land on any empty road below. But the pilots thought otherwise and as we returned to the airport we had just left 20 minutes earlier, we could see emergency vehicles lining the runway.

Thankfully, our two pilots did a masterful job of not only flying a wounded airplane back to base but they also touched the plane down as smoothly as if we had both engines functioning. Needless to say, the moment that our wheels touched the runway, all of us breathed a heavy sigh of relief and we openly thanked God for the safety He had offered to us that day.

Cesna-421B-Golden-Eagle

Loading up our Cessna 421B Golden Eagle

The interesting part of this whole story though is that the engine that blew up had just been overhauled and had less than 33 hours on it. Over time, and following a lawsuit with the company that refurbished the engine, we were able to determine that the cause for the catastrophic engine failure was due to the re-installation of a questionable reconditioned cylinder. So, had things not turned out so well that day, seven lives might have been lost due to that flawed part.

Flaws. We see them in airplanes, automobiles, computers and pretty much anything that is man-made. It’s also not unusual to see public figures, whether religious, political or entertainment personalities, destroy their lives because of a “flaw” that was ignored.

But truthfully, when you and I look in the mirror, we also see a flawed person. Some flaws can be rather minor, not resulting in life-shattering consequences. Yet other flaws can cause catastrophic results in one’s life or the lives of those we love.

Recognition

If we are honest with ourselves, we typically know our own flaws, from the “little” ones to the big, ugly ones. We don’t really need someone to enlighten us about them. In fact, oftentimes these flaws have been with us for years. It might be that we have simply accepted the flaw because we just don’t know how to overcome or conquer it.

But here’s the reality. Sooner or later, that big ugly flaw will take you and me down. Just as our airplane’s engine revealed its flaw, our lives will sooner or later reveal ours to us and then to others. So the first step in addressing the flaws in our lives is to simply recognize they are there.

Iron Sharpens Iron

There is a passage in Proverbs that states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” There are several conclusions we can derive from this passage but one is that we must invite other people into our lives. As we engage with them many of our rough edges can be honed and even eliminated. Clearly, we were not meant to be alone so it is critical that we walk through life with other trusted individuals who can be there for us as we need them. Two are better than one, and if you or I have a flaw that is simply overwhelming us, it’s critical that we enlist a trusted person to help us in addressing that flaw before we see our life crumbling around us.

Confess your faults

In addition to the idea of iron sharpening iron, there’s also another parallel principle that suggests that we should “confess our faults one to another.” As we acknowledge the faults we have in our lives and share them with others we trust, we create a system of accountability. And through that accountability as well as the prayers of our others, we find the healing that enables us to overcome the faults with which we struggle.

While the concepts we’ve addressed here can be deeply personal, we should not forget that our personal lives also influence our businesses and work environment. So those flaws that seem to be simply “personal” in nature will ultimately surface in a way that they can do serious damage to our businesses.

So now is the time to deal with that nagging fault that you know is there. Ignoring it will ultimately allow it to surface at the most inopportune time, and can cause catastrophic damage to your business, your family and ultimately you.

Mark