This is a true story. The names are changed.
Will was an insecure, painfully shy 11-year-old boy who came from a very poor family. But his sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Goodwin, saw something special in him – not just in the student he was at the time, but as the adult he could become. And through that year, she began to give Will a gift that no one to that point had ever dared offer – the gift of confidence.
She told him he was the smartest student she ever had. She said it to him personally and to the class.
She told him how much potential he had.
She took him to her home.
She even took him to the junior high school he would attend the next year to introduce Will to his teachers and tell them what a great student he was.
She told him that the only other student who showed his potential became the vice president of a well-known university.
True to Mrs. Goodwin’s prediction, Will became the first person in his family to go to college. Buoyed by her care and concern he went on to a successful academic career… as a… (you guessed it) vice president of a major university.
Mrs. Goodwin was more than a teacher. She was a leader. She saw in an awkward kid a destiny that nobody else saw. Put in leadership terms, she had a vision. Then she set about investing the time and service necessary to put Will on a path toward that vision.
And the tool she used: Influence. [click to continue…]
Okay, time for a little famous brands trivia.
Without Googling for answers, see if you can guess how many of the following brand names were/are actual people:
Ben and Jerry
Answers are below: [click to continue…]
So… we took an extended weekend road trip for my niece’s wedding, and let me just say, it was an adventure in flying (yes, it was our plane that turned around and kicked an unruly passenger off), driving (we arrived in Mobile at 4:30 am after a late-late arrival in New Orleans), a wonderful wedding, and an equally-bleary-eyed trip home.
Along the way, our lives were enriched by the profound wisdom of the flower girl – none other than The Sasster, Laura Kate Wiley. She was good enough to share some of her deep insights, proverbial-level wisdom, and of course, contagious joy with us. Well, and with whoever else happened to be around. Enjoy…
How to Make an Impact
SWA Gate Agent: You’re Mister Wood?
Me: I am. [Thanks for holding the plane for us.]
SWA Gate Agent: I believe you have a granddaughter on this flight?
Me: Believe I do!
SWA Gate Agent: Cute little blonde?
Me: Yep, that’s her.
SWA Gate Agent: Well, she’s pretty excited that her Grammy and Papa are going to be on the plane.
Me, to Grammy and Aunt Sassy: He’s met Laura Kate! [click to continue…]
Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world; I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together; and I spoke nothing in secret (John 18:20).
Want to lead like Jesus?
Stop hiding your agenda. [click to continue…]
I didn’t know it would be the last time.
But then again, we both had lived long enough to know there are no guarantees when it comes to this sort of thing.
It was in Orlando, coming up on three years ago. Rick said he’d drive me back to the airport. We had been together during the Southern Baptist Convention. (It would be less-than-honest if I said we had been there FOR the Southern Baptist Convention). But we used the meeting there as an opportunity for a reunion of the Wolfepack. Rick was always the undisputed leader of that gang.
During a difficult time in my life, they had made sure to include me in the meeting. And it was as though we had never missed a beat. That’s the nature of the truest of friends.
Rick dropped me off at the airport to fly home. Just after walking into the terminal, I realized to my horror that I had left my phone in his car. I found a way to call it, and of course, he turned around and brought it back to me.
He took that picture of himself on it (above), and made it the wallpaper.
That was Rick.
And I kept it as my wallpaper for about a month after my wife started asking, “How long are you going to keep that?” [click to continue…]
This is an interesting time. Another school year is in the books (to coin a phrase). I don’t think I’ve ever seen more snippets from graduation speeches than I have this year. Lots of talk about knowledge, the future, credentials and stuff.
It’s also a time for remembering, especially on this day, that freedom isn’t free. What we know and enjoy today is based on the sacrifices of men and women who gave their lives so we could be free from oppressive and abusive government.
It’s a time in which we are reminded almost daily that we live in a world where people die before they’re “supposed” to, and that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness may be inalienable rights, but they’re not time-bound guarantees.
At any point in our lives, most likely, we can point to things with humble gratitude and declare, “I don’t deserve this.” At any point in our lives, we can point to things with frustration and despair and declare, “I didn’t sign up for this.” At any point in our lives, it’s a valid question to ask, “Where is God in all this?”
So in this season of talk about knowledge and the future and no guarantees and credibility and freedom, I wanted to encourage you with some reminders that have encouraged me lately. [click to continue…]
(If you never read another thing I write, before going any further, please read this short piece my daughter wrote to her children, ages 5, 2, and ten months. Click here, if you dare, and brace for impact.)
Okay. Back? Let’s get to it.
You don’t have the luxury of praying for people you love – especially your children or grandchildren – like a sissy.
The time is too short…
The enemy is too cruel…
The church is too powerless…
The Lord is too near His return…
…for you and me to sit on an arsenal mightier than a nuclear weapon and ask God to make their lives more comfortable…
Safer to whom, for God’s sake? The devil? The world? The ACLU? The media?
Stop asking God to make your little angels little angels. Or mild-mannered weenies. In the name of all that is holy, I dare you to ask God to make them dangerous. Call on Him, in the heavenly realm, to put a sword in their teeth and courage in their hearts to blast a hole in the kingdom of darkness. [click to continue…]
Can’t believe it’s been a whole year, but I got to see Walter again yesterday. We took a little ride and shared a little fellowship. It was good to catch up.
Two years ago Walter was going through a severe depression. He had been through a series of deep losses, including his job and health benefits. That’s tough enough for anybody, but at Walter’s age new careers don’t just grow on trees. I really don’t know how old Walter is, but I’m 54 and he’s a good five-to-ten past that. I have to say, though, he makes it look good.
There is none of that suicidal darkness remaining that so gripped this man just a couple of years ago. And make no mistake about it – this was no bootstrap operation. Walter is joyfully explicit about Who gets the credit for raising him out of the pit. His life radiates with gratitude and joy, even when he’s all business.
Walter is especially excited because he and his wife are meeting their children and grandchildren in a few weeks. [click to continue…]
(Sort-of-random thoughts at the end of a very long day in a very crazy week… and I DO mean crazy)
Even though I know all the reasons it’s supposed to be a bad idea, a bowl of cereal at 11:30 at night is probably the closest thing we have today to manna.
It’s been so long since I’ve heard my mother or grandmothers’ voices, yet lately for some reason I’ve found myself hearing them in my heart at random times. In fact, so random and fleeting it hardly ever becomes a point a conversation. But is it odd to wonder if their love for me is still somehow living, even though they aren’t?
You never know how you may hear that still, small voice of God. But if an idea or a person keeps coming and going in your thoughts, pay attention. That may be a whisper from heaven for you to stand strong in prayer on their behalf, or maybe to sit still and listen to them.
I remember one of the things that swore I’d never do is be a teacher. Or go back to school after I finished my master’s. In the words of the GPS system in your car… “Recalculating!” Be careful what you vow you’ll never do. That’s why lately I’ve tended to swear off vowing. Well, except for that one thing… I vow I’ll never make a whole buncha money! Never, never I say!
We used to play this game with the kids at restaurants, especially at a cafeteria or buffet. [click to continue…]
(Inspired by and dedicated to a great group of leaders I have had the privilege of working with over the last 12 weeks.)
It was a lonely life, but Jesse’s baby boy made the most of it. His brothers probably learned the same way he did, but had gone on to other exploits.
David? He was confined to the idiot patrol. He was his father’s shepherd. And it was there – alone with the dumbest animals on the planet – that David learned to be a leader.
He was alone when a lion came and seized a lamb from his flock. He was alone when a bear did the same. He was alone when he delivered those sheep from the valley of the shadow of death. And the passion, courage, and wisdom he gained there – alone – forged pathways of leadership in Israel that were still in place years after his death.
Goliath? That was just mop-up duty.
It’s true that leadership is on display when everybody else is looking. It’s also true that leadership is being forged when no one is. You may feel you’re in a wilderness, stuck making up silly songs to sing to the sheep. In fact, you may assume that your solitude or lack of position means you’re no leader at all.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Here are eight ways to influence an entire generation, even when nobody is looking to you as the obvious solution to their leadership needs. [click to continue…]