Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Lasting Legacy of Consistency

“The signature of mediocrity is not the inability to change, it is chronic inconsistency.” Jim Collins

People who make a lasting impact  are those who seem to always do or say at least one thing consistently.Therefore the signature of a lasting legacy is intentional consistency.

Thomas Edison for instance, famously attempted for 14 months to invent the light bulb and during that time he made 1,400 individual attempts before he finally was successful. Where would we be without the Edison’s intentional consistency?

My middle school basketball coach would consistently say to our team, “If you do it right, you will do it light. If you do it wrong, you will do it long.” There’s a reason I remember that phrase.

My childhood pastor used to say at the conclusion of every sermon, “The invitation (response) time is the most important time of this service.” I don’t remember a lot of what he said over the course of hundreds of sermons, but there is a reason I remember that consistent phrase.

Jesus Christ, the greatest teacher in the history of Planet Earth said over and over again that He came in flesh to die to ransom the souls of many.

But this raises a question, if not the most important question: “How does a person choose what they should consistently do and say?”

The truth of the matter is that all people do a thing or things consistently. Some people watch TV consistently. Some people exercise consistently. Some people are consistently inconsistent. And therein lies the answer to “the question.” We do consistently, whether intentionally or not, what we value. If you spend quality time with your family, then it stands to reason that it is your family that you value since you intentionally give them the best of your time. If you consistently spend most of your time with your 50 inch LCD, then you can identify what you value.

It seems to me that the key to consistently doing and saying things that will truly impact others is to intentionally decide what you value and then making a plan to maximize the consistent communication of that value. We might say that this is what discipline is. Discipline is doing with diligent and painstaking effort that which would normally not be done.

Let me illustrate from my own life an effort to try to be more intentional and consistent based on what I value..

When I seriously assess my life there are two predominant values that drive me. I value and make constant effort to try to value Jesus Christ and His whole person with all of my actions and words. I also value and make constant effort to try to value my wife and my two boys with my actions and words. In the last year I have been consistently trying to weave these two big ideas into the fabric of our family. They are summarized in two purposes that are constantly spoken:

  1. My partnership with my wife, and my job as a dad is to do everything that I can to teach and model for my boys the absolute worth of obeying Jesus in everything. Jesus is to be championed as supreme in everything we do and say. My summary statement to the boys is this: “Daddy’s most important job is to help you love Jesus.”
  2. My partnership with my wife, and my job as a man is to do everything that I can to teach and model for my boys what it means to be a man. There is a difference between being a male and being a man. Being a man means being tough, yet sensitive. It means keeping your word and treating others the way you would want to be treated. Being a man means taking initiative and being a leader. Being a man is being like Jesus. My summary statement to my boys is this: “Daddy’s second most important job is to help you become a man.”

Occasionally I will ask one or both of my sons, “What are the two things?” They answer: “Loving Jesus and becoming a man.”

I’m not perfectly consistent at these things and I fail often along the way, but one thing is for sure, I won’t accomplish either of these things with my boys  if I don’t discipline myself to be intentionally consistent at teaching them.

You and I may not be destined for the history books, but we can deeply impact and shape the lives of people and perhaps generations of people for eternal causes. But we must be clear about what is worth valuing and we must have a plan to consistently communicate and reinforce those values.

So what do you value and how are you communicating it? Few people get to the end of their life and are glad they left a meaningless legacy. A lasting legacy that matters in eternity won’t happen by accident. May God give us everyday the strength to fight mediocrity with the weapon of consistency.

Eclipse; What I Saw

Luke (our six-year-old) wanted to make sure that he witnessed the lunar eclipse he had been hearing about. So I set my alarm for 2:15 a.m. CST, believing the reports that this would likely be an optimal time to view this rare astronomical event. My alarm went off as it was purposed to do and I promptly arose to wake my son so that he could view the sight with his mother and I. After a small amount of urging he stumbled into the living room where I picked him up to take him outside. The three of us walked out the back door at the same time and we looked toward the east and then we looked toward the west and the we looked directly above to see the red-tinted moon. Luke, who was still a bit dazed, looked up for about one second and said something to the effect of, “Okay, can we go back in now?”  I don’t know what I expected him to say or do, but he had seen enough. There was no “wow” moment, just an: There it is. Back to bed and nighty night.

How could my son, the son who couldn’t wait to see this lunar eclipse, have such a lackadaisical response?

Maybe it was my fault he didn’t have the perspective and knowledge to fully appreciate the uniqueness of what he just observed.

Maybe I didn’t help him to understand that not everyone could see this particular lunar eclipse, which took place on a perfectly clear winter’s night. There was no obstruction by cloud, fog or smoke. On this night this event was begging to be seen – at least from where we were standing.

Maybe I didn’t educate him about why this particular lunar eclipse was so unique. Besides the fact that lunar eclipses don’t occur every day, this particular eclipse was special for other reasons. This eclipse took place on the Winter Solstice of 2010, meaning on this day that the sun is at the southernmost point relative to the earth, which also means in the Northern Hemisphere that this is the shortest day of the year – approximately 9 hours and 46 minutes long. The last time all of these factors coincided was in 1638 and they don’t come together again until 2094. Whether 372 years or 84 years between events, this is a merely rare event compared to the span of human life. If my son lives to be 90, he might see two of these events in one lifetime, which would be doubly rare.

At any rate, I can probably dismiss his lack of interest to the fact that he is just a boy and his perspective is very limited at the age of six.

But as I lay back down in my bed and pondered his reaction I was both amused and concerned. Amused because when it came down to it, his bed was warm and more important than taking in a rare moment that was completely outside of his control. Concerned because I fear that his response and my part in it may foreshadow his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus is by far more rare and wonderful and amazing than a moon being shadowed by the planet that I live on. Jesus created the planet that sometimes temporarily blocks the sun from shining on the moon that orbits the planet I live on. Jesus is magnificent beyond all telling and yet the Bible tells the story that the creator became a part of the creation to redeem it from brokenness and to ransom the souls of many, including the soul of my son.

What will my part be in my sons response to the creator of the moon and the orchestrator of the once in a lifetime lunar eclipse? Will he zealously desire to gaze at Jesus only for a moment and then to retreat back to whatever brings him comfort in the next and fleeting moment? Will I nurture his perspective about Jesus and give him the knowledge he needs to see how wonderful and unique Jesus really is, or will I communicate that Jesus is just another event in a big universe?

I pondered these things for quite some time last night as I tried to go back to sleep. What I do know is that the eclipse I saw last night and the opportunity I have with my son have one thing in common. I only have one chance to do all I can to persuade my son that Jesus is worth marveling at and obeying for the rest of eternity. That’s what I learned from an eclipse on December 21, 2010 in the early hours of the morning and I hope I don’t too soon forget it.