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J.P. Morgan: Guaranteed Formula

But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand. Isaiah 32:8

This is the eleventh in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

“There’s an old story about J.P. Morgan, the banker and philanthropist, who was shown an envelope containing a ‘guaranteed formula for success’.

He agreed that if he liked the advice written inside he would pay $25,000 for its contents. Morgan opened the envelope, nodded, and paid. The advice?

1. Every morning write a list of the things that need to be done that day.

2. Do them.”

J.P. Morgan story as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 129.

With my GTP staff, we are mapping out our faithful activities in planning documents and then going after them. As a team leader I find it’s the only way to get the work done that God wants us to do.

If there is such a thing as a guaranteed formula for life and generosity I think it would go something like this: “We must be faithful and do what God made us to do, if we want to be fruitful.”

I found it interesting that today’s Scripture, is also translated in the NLT as follows: “But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.”

Today Jenni and I are flying home from Manila via Tokyo. On these long flights I generally get some sleep and when I am awake, I turn my attention to spending time with God and discerning with Him the next work to do.

I would encourage you to live, give, serve, and love with a similar sense of focus. Get the rest you need then spend time with God and make a list of the work to do and deploy all you are and all you have.

Focus on being faithful and doing faithfully and the fruit will take care of itself.

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Bill George: Authenticity

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

This is the tenth in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

“Harvard Business School professor Bill George argues that the essence of a great leader is about ‘being genuine, real and true to who you are’. It’s an approach reflected within the All Blacks camp.

Enoka says of McCaw, ‘people say to him, how do you manage the public arena? And he said, “Well, it’s easy, because what you see in public is exactly what I am like in private.”

‘Most leaders who fail,’ says Bill George in an interview with Pamela Hawley, ‘really suffer from a lack of a strong identity, belief in themselves and, to be frank, respect for themselves.’…

‘First we need to take a look at the meaning behind life,’ he says. ‘Leaders need to think: Why are you here? What’s your purpose? How do I use my time here?

‘I believe that leadership begins and ends with authenticity,’ says George. ‘It’s being yourself, being the person you were created to be.’ Adopting the styles of other leaders is the opposite of authenticity.”

Bill George as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 124.

Today is our last day in Manila. I am attending the Lausanne / World Evangelical Alliance Anti-Corruption and Integrity conference so today’s post is fitting and timely. For any effectiveness in ministry we must have authenticity.

This impacts generosity as well, as others will not engage with us in God’s work if we are not authentic and if we do not preserve, value, and guard trust and integrity. All this starts with knowing yourself and your purpose.

What do you think God created you to be? As being precedes doing, lean into that question first. Then consider these questions. Why are you here? What’s your purpose? This then shapes your use of time on this earth. Your greatest generosity decision has nothing to do with money. It’s about how you will spend yourself and the time given you by God.

People ask me how I get so much done or have so much energy. My answer is this: Get up as early as possible, spend time alone with God, be reminded of who you are as His child, what your purpose is, be filled with His love and truth, and then go accomplish it with every ounce of strength, confidence, and authenticity for His glory.

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Gilbert Enoka: Situational Awareness

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10

This is the ninth in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

“Pressure is expectation, scrutiny, and consequence… Under pressure your attention is either diverted on track. If you’re diverted, you and a negative emotional response and unhelpful behavior. That means you’re stuck. That means you’re overwhelmed. On the other hand, if your attention is on track you have situational awareness and you execute accurately. You are clear, you adapt and you overcome… Clearly, in any game played with the body, it’s the head that counts…

I think that anyone in our arena who looks at performance and looks at improvement… it’s all about state shift… and ensuring that you can get your head into a good place… The brain essentially has three parts — instinct, thinking, and emotion… Invariably under pressure it is the thinking that shuts down and that means you are relying on emotion and instinct and can no longer pick up the cues and information to make good decisions. If you become disconnected then you can focus on outcome and not task and the ability to make good decisions is compromised…”

Gilbert Enoka as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 111-115.

I’m approaching the ten year anniversary of these Daily Meditations. The first one went out on 27 June 2019. Why mention that this morning?

Keeping my mind focused daily on what God’s Word says linked to Christian generosity has helped me maintain “situational awareness” though many factors in life have swirled around me over that timeframe.

Cancer bills. Treatment fees. College tuition payments. So many other financial decisions along the way. Each one could tempt me to limit our living, giving, serving, and loving.

I’m convinced that Enoka describes how Apostle Paul stayed focused despite all the factors around him and all the pressure. He could stay focused because he kept one thing in view: Christ.

What about you? Are you focused on Christ?

When we are, we keep our head in the game of life. When we are not, we won’t exhibit Christian generosity. We will follow emotion and instinct and these factors will take us the way of the flesh every time.

If you want to keep your head in the game of life and maintain situational awareness linked to Christian generosity, read these daily posts so that your living, giving, serving, and loving stays focused.

I will do them for years to come because I want to run the race of life to the finish and win a prize. Stay focused. Run with me. The prize will be entering the joy of our Master, and that victory will be better than winning the Rugby World Cup.

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Ross Piper: Thrive

The righteous thrive like a palm tree and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, they thrive in the courts of our God. Psalm 92:12-13

“Thrive means “to prosper or flourish.” We think it also sums what happens when we take hold of the abundant life found only in Jesus Christ.

But how do we thrive in a world filled with brokenness, stress, and competing demands for our time and attention? We think the vital starting place is to realize that thriving is not so much a destination, but rather, it’s God’s design for us on the journey of life in the midst of all the craziness around us.

We have found that healthy rhythms related to our work, rest, finances, giving, and serving position us to care for our own souls. They also help us thrive in relationships and in community. This enables us to thrive on good days or even the most difficult ones. Sound inviting? We hope so.”

Ross Piper in Thrive: A 30 Day Devotional by Gary G. Hoag and Ross Piper (Rhodes: Christian Super, 2019) 1. I want to thank Ross Piper, CEO of Christian Super, for his vision to work with me to create a resource to help people thrive all over the world.

If you want a short devotional to help you thrive, then this is just the tool for you. Simply reply to this email, and I’d be happy to share a free PDF copy of Thrive with you. I recently co-authored it with Ross Piper. And, yes, it has a Van Gogh on the cover that beautifully illustrates the theme of the book.

Thrive is a 30-day reflective journey that explores a range of real-life issues. Each day includes a Scripture verse, related thoughts, a prayer, and an idea for application. We created it this way because we have found that we don’t figure out God’s way of living until we follow the teachings in His Word in real and ordinary ways.”

When this Daily Meditation posts I will be speaking at the Generosity Summit in Manila. I am giving a copy of this book, Thrive, to each of the 200 people in attendance. I’d appreciate your prayers for Spirit-filled teaching and receptive hearts.

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Richie McCaw: Start Again

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

This is the eighth in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

“Richie McCaw tells Greg McGee that he has always kept a notebook. It’s a working document, a library of affirmations, mantras notes-to-self, reminders, exhortations, expectations, anchors, and priming words. 

‘Need to be positive and keep believe with the boys and what we’re doing.’

‘Physicality is the key.’

‘Positive mentality in how we’re going to play.’

On game day the first words in McCaw’s book are always the same — ‘Start Again’ — a reminder that you have to prove yourself again today. For McCaw, if it’s not written, it’s not real.”

Richie McCaw as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 94.

To put this post in context, Richie McCaw is one of the greatest All Blacks of all time, and among the greatest rugby players in the history of the game. For him to control his attention and stay focused, he journals.

Do you journal? Do you make notes of lessons God is teaching you to help you remember them? My favorite word of wisdom from McCaw’s journal is to daily ‘start again’. It’s echoes the idea of today’s Scripture.

We must forget what is behind — both failures and successes — while simultaneously remembering the lessons they teach us. What is God teaching you these days?

Journal to remember what God is teaching you on your generosity journey. This will shape your thinking today and impact your living, giving, serving, and loving into the future. Start a generosity journal today.

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Bene Brosnahan: Control of Attention

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

This is the seventh in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

‘The work we do is all about the control of attention,’ says Brosnahan. In pressure situations, he says, it is very easy for our consciousness to ‘divert from a resourceful state to an unresourceful one’, from a position of mental calm, clarity, and inner strength into what he calls ‘defensive thinking’.

We’ve all felt it — the sensation as our shutters come down, our horizons narrow and we find ourselves in an ever-tightening corridor from which we feel there is no escape. In this state we’re thinking about survival, says Brosnahan. ‘A negative content loop’ forms and our perceptions create feelings of being overwhelmed, tightening and tension.

This in turn leads to unhelpful behaviors — overt aggression, shutting down, and panic. We let the situation get to us. We make poor decisions. And we choke… If we can control our attention…we can focus on controlling the things we can control, without worrying about the things we can’t. We stay in the moment. We can lead with clarity.”

Bene Brosnahan as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 104-108.

What does ‘control of attention’ have to do with generosity? Everything. It means that we must stay focused. We need to fix our attention on things we can control. In a word, we aim at faithfulness. We let the fruit take care of itself because that’s out of our control. Thus, we live and lead with clarity.

When we lose our focus, everything unravels. Our generosity become enslaved to worry, to fear, to trying to make things happen instead of trusting God, and to aim at providing instead of depending on God to serve as our Supplier. In our everyday stewardship, this leads to poor decisions related to money.

What distracts you?

I will ask that question tomorrow when I speak in an all day seminar on The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance. When we keep every thought captive and fix our gaze on things we can control, we grasp life in the moment and bear fruit that lasts.

Ask God to help you control your attention.

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Walter Isaacson: 50 People

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24

As my website has been down for nearly one week, click here to read the posts that I was not able to send via email. Today’s post comes from the El Nido Palawan region of the Philippines where I am enjoying rest and recreation with my wife Jenni, and two other couples: Anjji & Lyn Gabriel and Dean & Bing Ferrez.

This is the sixth in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

“According to Walter Isaacson in his book, Steve Jobs, the Apple founder once told his team: ‘the work fifty people are doing here is going to send a ripple right through the universe.’ He later said, ‘The goal was never to beat the competition or to make a lot of money. It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater. It was the purpose, the passion, and the products that mattered and made ripples.”

Walter Isaacson as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 38.

As Global Trust Partners gets going, I am thankful for 50 people who are collaborating with each other to make a difference through love and good deeds. Together we are making ripples for God in the Philippines and around the world.

These 50 people are board members, regional facilitators, financial supporters, staff members, and others who are giving their lives to a shared purpose. Together, though we only number about 50, we believe we can shape the world for God.

Like Apple transformed technology, I pray we influence how ministry is administrated globally in order to restore trust for God’s glory. As a result of our efforts, we pray that more people will participate in God’s work.

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Wayne Smith: Competitive Advantage

Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

This is the fifth in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

“In fact, in answer to the question, ‘What is the All Blacks competitive advantage?’, key is the ability to manage their culture and central narrative by attaching the players’ personal meaning to a higher purpose. It is the identity of the team that matters — not so much what the All Blacks do, but who they are, what they stand for, and why they exist.”

Wayne Smith as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 13.

The All Blacks manage their cultural and central narrative carefully by building individual and team identity. Related to generosity, there has been an expression in my family for at least three generations.

This expression focuses not on what we do but who we are. We say, “This is what it means to be a Hoag.” Then we add a statement linked to identity that explains who we are which shapes what we do.

Related to generosity we talk frequently about the fact that ‘we are blessed to be a blessing’ and that we are ‘conduits’ not ‘containers’ of God’s material and spiritual blessings.

When identity is shaped by a family or team, it then shapes the culture and the central narrative or the story of the family or team. What story will your family or team write?

Answer that by focusing on who you are and not what you do as an individual, as a family, and as a team.

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Victor Frankl: Worthwhile Goal

For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25

This is the fourth in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

“What a man [or woman] actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task…Being human always points and is directed to something or someone other than oneself… The more one forgets himself [or herself] — by giving himself [or herself] to a cause to serve or another person to love — the more human he [or she] is and the more he [or she] actualizes himself [or herself].”

Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 10-11.

Frankl concludes that our search for meaning as humans is only found in love and service to others. God designed us that way. He created us to give ourselves to others in service to Him. Greatness or actualization is found in that space and place.

Jenni and I have enjoyed a “tensionless state” this week. We have had a few days off in the tropical paradise of the Philippines. While rest and recreation are found in such places, meaning is not found here. It’s only found in struggling and striving toward a worthwhile goal.

What are you struggling and striving for?

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Owen Eastwood: Public and Private Domain

The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity. Proverbs 11:3

This is the third in a series of posts in a book I am reading on my Philippines trip. It contains leadership insights from the most victorious team in sports history (winning percentage = 86% as of the writing of the book): The All Blacks, The New Zealand National Rugby Union Team.

“The way you behave will either bring out the best or worst of your capability, and this applies to businesses and teams as well as individuals…Behaviors exist in two domains: public and private.

‘The Public Domain’ means those areas of a player’s life when he is under team protocol — whether at training, during a game, or on promotional duty. Professionalism, physical application, and proficiency are demanded here.

‘The Private Domain’ is the one in which we spend time with ourselves and where our mind-game plays out. This is the biggest game of all, as daily we confront our habits, limitations, temptations, and fears.”

Owen Eastwood as quoted by James Kerr in Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About The Business of Life (London: Constable, 2013) 10-11.

There’s a link between integrity and generosity. The connection fosters trust. In contexts characterized by duplicity, trust erodes and generosity wanes. This explains why God’s workers must exhibit integrity in the management of churches and ministries.

So, what’s the application for Daily Meditations readers on Father’s Day? We must make sure our public domain and our private domain match. This is especially true for fathers as our children will tend to do what we do and not what we say.

How do we win the mind-game? It is not won with determination. Life is hard and navigating it alone is impossible but with God all things are possible. The only way we win it is to follow the example of Jesus: fast, pray, and confess what is true as we face life’s challenges.

But this way of thinking and living only works if we do the same thing in both public and private settings. If our lives are characterized by duplicity, we must repent (or change directions) today. We must ask God to help us exhibit integrity as a basis for encouraging Christian generosity.

How we live teaches people to live, give, serve, and love like Jesus more than what we say. When our words and actions match, our testimony is maximized. We must assess our public and private domain and get them in sync to grow in generosity and point others that way.

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