There’s a quote that is attributed to President Eisenhower that asserts, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” His quote mirrors this more popular saying: “the urgent is enemy of the important.” Both quotes speak to the fact that too often many of us focus our resources and time on matters of an urgent nature, which invariably leads to ignoring or devaluing the important.
To illustrate the concept graphically, I have diagrammed a dot and an arrow. The dot represents the urgent, and the arrow signifies the important. Consider that a dot is short term and finite while an arrow is long-term, and even infinite in some instances, which we’ll explore further below.
This dot and arrow issue is a problem that is seen in human nature across time. Yet, as much as we struggle with this, it’s very difficult to elevate the priority of the important. There’s one story in ancient Jewish history that illustrates this point as well as any.
You may recall the story of Esau and Jacob, twin brothers who were polar opposites, and frequently seemed to be at odds with each other. One day, after Esau had been out hunting for an extended period of time, he returned home famished. In fact, he was so hungry that he was willing to sell his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew. In Jewish tradition, the birthright was reserved for the eldest son and offered significant prestige, the carrying on of the family name, the largest portion of the family inheritance and much more. But Esau, living in the dot of the here and now, devalued his birthright, the arrow, and bartered it to his brother Jacob, for a fleeting meal. While he eventually regretted his decision, there was no reversing the course on which he had set his life. His urgent choice permanently sacrificed the important.
As I’ve thought about the tyranny of the dot versus the arrow, I’ve contemplated how often the urgent trumps the important, as reflected in the following examples.
How often have you set out to complete a number of tasks in a given day when all of a sudden an “urgent” matter appears, out of left field? As quickly as the urgent new priority presents itself, the important tasks that you had committed to completing take a back seat. All of a sudden the important is displaced by the urgent, the end of the day comes, and few, if any, of the important goals are realized. The tyranny of the dot, the urgent, replaces the arrow of the important.
Have you ever been tempted to shortcut quality in favor of quantity in your business or job? This is one of those choices we often face in our business or careers, where the urgent can crowd out the important. The demand to meet a quota, or the need to achieve certain quarterly goals can put us in the predicament of choosing the dot versus the arrow. Will we sacrifice the long-term results to realize some short term gains? If so, we will succumb to the tyranny of the dot.
If ever there was a profession that was known for its short-sightedness, it is politics and politicians. It seems that short term wins are all that a politician cares about, at least the vast majority of them.
How will the next vote benefit me? Can this constituent contribute to my campaign? What position can I take on an issue that will most benefit me? But in asking all of these questions, the professional politician reveals he has very few laudable values or principles that guide him. His dot is the urgency of self-promotion, always seeking the most advantageous path to further his position. Sadly though, whenever this occurs, the arrow, which could be campaign promises or resolute principles, can so quickly be sacrificed.
While all the aforementioned examples are significant, they do not begin to rival the importance and priority of eternity. Perhaps the graphic of the dot and arrow best illustrates this when we compare the dot of our “three score and ten” years on earth with the unending arrow of eternity. Too often, for most of us, we are so easily distracted with the urgency of living in the dot during our short years here on earth, that we tragically short-sell the importance of living for the arrow of eternity, an era when 70 years will seem as a few short seconds and a thousand years will be like a few hours.
There is a verse that warns, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” Yet the sad reality is that too many will do exactly that. We will live for the here and now, for the dot of our earthly existence but in so doing, we sacrifice the arrow, the opportunity to experience an eternity with our Creator, who wills that all mankind join Him.
The Christmas season is a time when many of us take some moments to review the past year, our failures and successes, regrets and achievements. And with the New Year just around the corner, it is also a time when we set new goals, and establish plans to achieve them. As we spend this time of reflection and goal setting, I pray that we will resist the tyranny of the dot and commit ourselves to living for the arrow. In our daily routines, resist the temptation to fall prey to those urgent demands. In our businesses or careers, I trust we will never lose focus on the long-term and excellence. If you’re a politician, recommit yourself to your guiding principles and resist the temptation to self-promote, truly seeking the good of others.
But most importantly, regardless of whether you are a millennial, a baby boomer, or somewhere in between, I trust that you will live your life for the arrow of eternity. If you’re uncertain how to do this, I would encourage you to check out this website: Are You a Good Person?
The dot will soon be over for each of us. Will we be prepared for the arrow? I pray we will. Merry Christmas!
Photo credit: Derek Daniel http://bit.ly/2fFj186
Democrats/Liberals and Republicans/Conservatives can’t seem to agree on much these days. And probably a lot of the reason for that is because we are so focused on all the things that divide us, and many of those issues are in Washington. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have served to drive a wedge further into a division that was already deep to start with.
But, I believe that a time of crisis can, or perhaps should, drive us to find what unites us, rather than belaboring what divides us.
There is a dire crisis our community is facing. It is a crisis of rain, or lack thereof. We are facing one of the worst drought in years. This is a crisis that affects us all.
Black. White. Democrat. Republican. Woman. Man. Rich. Poor. Gay. Straight.
It matters not who you are, where you live, or the balance in your bank account. While Obama winds down, Trump revs up, and Hillary moves on, we have an urgent need for rain in our region.
So in this time of crisis, where neighbors’ properties are consumed, health is impacted, agriculture and farming are threatened, and first responders are working feverishly, can we as a community draw together? Can we begin to call out to God? Can we reach out to our friends, neighbors and co-workers, regardless of our backgrounds or political views, and drop to our knees, bow our heads and #PrayForRain?
Can we focus on that which we agree? Can we as Chattanoogans (or whatever town you live in) come together on this issue? Can you imagine if we all began doing this as a community? Singularly, then in small groups, in our churches, and perhaps even across our entire community? What if our elected officials, on both sides of the aisles, came together to pray? What if pastors of all denominations, including the black and white community, united in prayer? What if corporate executives and front line workers began to pray together? What if those neighborhoods that are being shattered with violence came together to pray? What if broken families were reunited in prayer?
What if we are experiencing this drought to unite us in prayer? To turn our hearts and minds back to God. To seek God’s forgiveness where we have failed Him. To find God’s strength and direction to move forward. To break down the walls that have divided us for too long.
If so, then what could we expect, if we turn to God in prayer?
Perhaps we could see God smile as we work to unite versus remaining so divided. And perhaps God’s pleasure might be revealed as His tears of joy flowed down in showers of blessings.
I am reminded that God said in Psalm 133, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” And just two verses later in the same passage we read this relevant description of unity: “It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion.”
Do we want unity that is like dew in this time of drought?
Then why don’t we as a community draw together in unity to #PrayForRain?
And as we do, perhaps the unity that so many of us seek will be revealed as we see God work in a mighty and powerful way, because we know that #PrayerChangesThings
Will you join me?
If so, then begin praying, and inviting others to join you. And share this article with others, using the hash tag #PrayForRain, as we acknowledge God’s omnipotence and seek His forgiveness and blessings in our community.
Photo credit: Derek Daniel: http://bit.ly/2fFj186
Do you know how to protect yourself in the event of an attack at your home or office?
Are your home and office hard or soft targets?
If an attacker grabbed you or your loved one, what is your fastest and most effective response?
If you were caught in a surprise attack at close range, are you confident that you can protect yourself and disable your attacker?
In the event of a natural disaster, how do you help yourself or those in need?
Earlier this year, my wife, Lori, and I, teamed up with Executive Operations Group, to build a private shooting range at Liberty Ridge Ranch, our 125 acre property just a few miles outside Chattanooga in Bradley County, TN (Cleveland).
Executive Operations Group (EOG) was founded by my friend Dr. Omar Hamada, a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Special Forces (Airborne) who is an accomplished physician and business executive living in middle Tennessee with his wife and four children.
The EOG instructors are world-class, combat-hardened ex-Special Forces, Delta, SEAL, and CIA veterans. They include martial artists and MMA coaches and champions. These are not your ordinary NRA-Certified Instructors or your average self-trained survival guys. These are the best in the world combat-experienced guys who have real world life and death experience. They have fought for our country and their passion continues to make our world a better and safer place. And that means getting you the training you need. Each trainer has an estimated $1 Million+ worth of training invested in them by the US government.
EOG will be holding the following two courses at Liberty Ridge Ranch in the next few weeks:
Pistol Training Program: October 28-29
Executive Operations Survival Training: November 16-20
To find out more about each program, including cost, visit EOG’s website at http://executiveoperationsgroup.com/
Each class is limited to 15 students so don’t delay. They are sure to fill up fast.
Come with a desire to learn and the passion to make your life and the lives of those around you better and safer.
If you want Hands-on personalized training from Special Operators — the most elite warriors in the world — experienced in real world military engagements, then EOG will give you the skills necessary to protect you and your family in the event of a terrorist or criminal attack, a natural disaster, or other real life emergencies.
Don’t delay. Be sure to check out their website and consider signing up today.
Over the last decade, I have interacted with hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow Americans, as we have shared our grave concerns over the direction of our nation. There is no doubt that the land of the free and home of the brave is on a course that threatens our future and the very survival of our nation. So we must ask ourselves this question.
Have we reached the point of no return?
Some may brush off such concerns, believing that America is too big to fail, and asserting that as the world’s superpower, our future remains secure. They reject the voices that continue to warn our leaders, citizens and neighbors that something is seriously wrong, and that never before has a nation ignored and rejected so many warnings and foundational principles, and survived.
One only needs to shuffle through history to recognize that nation after nation has ultimately stumbled and fallen when it turned its back on the basic building blocks of any exceptional civilization. Today, I would like to briefly touch on a few of the key foundation stones.
If there is one thing that dominates the hearts and minds of Americans it’s the almighty dollar. The economy consistently scores at the top of issues that concern Americans. In fact, the phrase, “it’s the economy stupid” became an often used slogan during the Clinton-Bush presidential campaign in 1992.
But with our nation’s current debt at $19,500,000,000,000 (that’s trillion) and its unfunded liabilities exceeding another $100 trillion, many would say that this issue alone has already taken us past the point of no return. Regardless of who is elected in November, both Clinton and Trump’s plans will continue to increase the national debt, at alarming rates.
However, it may surprise you to know that according to a recent study by Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, our nation’s federal debt would fare far worse under Trump with the debt in 2026 soaring to $39.5 Trillion, double the current debt. Under a Clinton administration, the national debt would rise to $29.6 Trillion. While $10 Trillion less than Trump, both candidates’ plans would put the final nail in the fiscal coffin of our nation.
The idea that we can continue to spend into oblivion with no consequences whatsoever is one sign that a nation is on the path to ultimate collapse.
There have certainly been periods of political dysfunction and turmoil over our 240 year history as a nation. And I suppose that occurs when men seek and desire power, often above all else. But as we see the magnitude of the problems facing our nation increasing exponentially, the prolonged polarization we are experiencing represents an existential threat to America. Good men and women can disagree, but at the end of the day, opposite sides of an issue must find some common ground if they are to solve problems in a republic, the system chosen by our founders. Of course, this also assumes that both sides are honest players in their desire to solve our problems, which is no longer the case.
Without our political leaders seeking the best for our nation, it’s unquestionable that the course we are on is headed for a ruinous conclusion.
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…” — the bedrock values of our nation. In selecting these words, our founding fathers sought to affirm the fundamental rights granted to man by God. By doing so they established the ground rules upon which we would live with each other. These rules, or sacred rights, would be the basis for all future interactions between the hundreds of millions of Americans that would follow them.
But in this era, no longer is Life revered and protected. Liberty is being handcuffed and under constant assault. And the Happiness one was once free to pursue is subject to approval, or disapproval, by the state.
As all of these founding rights have come under attack, corruption within our government and businesses has skyrocketed. Politicians use government as their own private wrecking ball in destroying those citizens, groups and states with whom they disagree. Businessmen use their enterprises to achieve personal gain, irrespective of the customers they manipulate, prey on, or defraud. Consequently, it’s only fitting that the two candidates for President exemplify the worst this nation has to offer, when it comes to candidates of high ethical standing.
We see then that as a nation’s ethics plummet and it removes the foundations of truth, the structure upon which it was built begins to sway and will ultimately topple.
Morals, the system by which we determine good and bad, is absolutely crucial in directing the ultimate destination of one’s life, enterprise and even nation. Morals are impacted and greatly influenced by the culture and society. Yet all morals are not equal.
Consider that under the teachings of Muhammed, the founder of Islam, it is appropriate to lie to advance the cause of Islam. It is also valid to subjugate non-Muslims, since they are deemed to be inferior people, referred to as kafirs. In contrast, the teachings of Jesus Christ instruct humanity to do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the golden rule. And Christ also taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Clearly, these two ideologies, Islam and Christianity, are at two extremes in defining their morals, what is good and bad.
Over the last half century or so, our culture has radically redefined our morals. What was good 50 years ago is now bad, and what was bad then is now good. I could spend the next several paragraphs providing examples, but if you’re awake, you know how what was considered evil just a few decades ago, is now embraced, celebrated and promoted.
Morals, like ideas, matter. When a nation rejects good and elevates evil, and when that same nation punishes those who embrace good, and it codifies that which is bad, there can be no doubt that such nation is on a short path to collapse.
For America, perhaps this is the seminal issue upon which the ones above all rest. A skyscraper is only as sturdy and secure as the foundation upon which it rests. Likewise, the American experiment over these last 240 years has been an extraordinary success because of the Judeo-Christian values upon which it rested. But as those values have not only been attacked, but ultimately replaced over the last few decades with secularism, it’s clear that the experiment has begun to falter. And as it falters, we will have reached the point of no return.
We read in Scripture this promise, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” But we also read that “A nation without God’s guidance is a nation without order.” Could there be any more fitting description of the condition of our nation today? And if God is the same yesterday, today and forever, as He declares, then we must certainly expect the coming extreme judgment of a Holy God as He has shown in so many other examples over the millenniums.
Ronald Reagan, our 40th President, while imperfect, exemplified the values of our founders and sought to redirect the trajectory of our nation. The course we were on was taking us to the point of no return but Reagan’s commitment to revitalize our economy, politics, ethics and morals, while elevating the spiritual, slowed our nation’s arrival at the edge of the cliff.
In one of Reagan’s most famous speeches entitled “A Time For Choosing,” first delivered in 1964, Reagan exposed the threat to peace by the Soviet Union. But his comments then are likewise applicable to my discussion today. In his closing remarks, Reagan stated:
“Someday… our surrender will be voluntary because by that time, we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally and economically… You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this the last best hope of man on earth or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”
Our rendezvous with destiny is upon us. By our choices and priorities over these last 50 years, we have established that destiny. And while our national destiny is perhaps past the point of no return, individually we can and must establish our own personal destiny, which does not have to mirror that of America’s. I pray you will embark on a plan to secure your destiny, economically, morally and spiritually.
To find out how, check out this previous article I wrote providing some specific and practical steps that we can all take.
1… 24… 168… 8,760
You might be wondering what the above numbers have in common? Or perhaps what they even have to do with you? Of course, you may have also already figured them out.
The truth is, the above numbers apply to all of us equally. Over the next 60 minutes, 1 hour will tick away. This time tomorrow, 24 hours will have passed. One week from now, 168 hours will have come and gone. And this time next year, 8,760 hours will be in the books.
So big deal, right? The same has held true since the beginning of Time.
Some might say time is neutral. That it is neither good or bad. Neither friend or foe.
I say differently.
Time is either your best friend or worst enemy.
And you get to decide which it is. If a friend, you are using it. If an enemy, it is using you.
Let me illustrate.
Have you ever slept in, and when you finally got up the gumption to get up, you just kind of rolled out of bed, spent your morning meandering around the house, and never really got around to doing much? You were just kind of lazy but you justified it by saying you deserved it. Before you knew it, it was mid-afternoon and you really hadn’t accomplished much of anything. By then though, you felt you needed a nap, because you were just tired from not doing much. So you snoozed a little more, and it was soon supper time. The day was nearly spent, and if you even bothered to think back, you’d have to admit you did absolutely nothing. Nada! Zip!
Now that may be an extreme example, and if you’re like me, you cannot think back to a time when you had a day that went like that. But you, like I, might be willing to admit instances in your life where an hour here or an hour there was “spent” on meaningless or non-productive activities. Sure, they may not have been “lazy” things, but they accomplished nothing of substance nonetheless. Can someone say Facebook? Or the 2nd or 3rd football game in a day? Or the fourth episode of your favorite sitcom? Watching Dancing with Stars? Or surfing eBay on the web? Or…
Of course, in and of themselves, none of the activities described above, or similar ones that might come to your mind, are evil, bad or hurtful. Well, maybe not… But here’s the point. Each time I’m engaged in one of them, an hour or two will pass. And the question is: Did I use time, or did it use me? Were you in control of that four letter word?
That is the key. Are you controlling time or is it just happening to you? When you find yourself in a scenario where stuff happens, things just seem to occur with no proactive control or input into what is happening, especially as it relates to your schedule, then time is controlling you. But when you and I are deliberate, scheduled, and focused on a definitive timetable for our day and week, then we are in control of time. And rather than time being our worst enemy, it becomes our best friend, our ally.
Time is what enables us to complete tasks, goals and projects. Time enables you to build your dream home, deploy a detailed business plan, raise a loving family, deepen relationships with loved ones, redevelop a failed inner city, restore a failing nation to its once admired status and more. It matters not the size of the task. Time can and will be your friend and ally if you harness it to bend to your plans versus allowing it to choke us as we remain mired in mediocrity, laziness or simply poor planning and stewardship.
Time is neutral. So you will decide how it plays out in your life. Friend or Foe? Asset or Liability?
You decide. Don’t delay. 1, 24, 168 or 8,760 hours from now, will tell the story.
Photo Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_flynt’>flynt / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
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.