Monthly Archives: May 2017

Memorial Day Hero

Preparing for this Memorial Day weekend, I have been thinking about heroes not usually counted. I choose Booker T. Washington. If you’ll hang with me for a paragraph or two I’ll tell you why.

Mental illness among youth is now considered an epidemic. https://yourot.com/parenting-club/2017/5/24/what-are-we-doing-to-our-children

• 1 in 5 children has mental health problems
• 43% increase in ADHD
• 37% increase in teen depression
• 200% increase in suicide rate in kids 10-14 years old
The result of this is felt and expressed:

“Ín America, there is ‘…an underlying feeling of inevitable negativity.’”

John Eldredge and his adult son Blaine (Ransomed Heart Podcast) talked this week about envy. (Jealousy is wanting what someone has or can do or how they are blessed. Envy is a driving need for what someone else has and the deep-seated desire that the other person(s) not have it.) Envy shows up in 2017 in the current political hatred pointing to the 2016 Presidential election and social justice claims. I think it drives the negative aspect of removing Confederate statues—much like the destruction of icons by ISIS.
Eldredge says envy is expressed by the pervasive “Offended Self.” The victim mentality and generations are offended that they do not have all that others enjoy. They feel they are getting the short end of the stick and they are targeted for nothing but negativity. The offended self is worth more contemplation than we have room to talk about here.
Martin Luther King, Jr., said of Booker T. Washington,

“He lit a torch in Alabama; then darkness fled.”

It is ludicrous to think of anything I lack as I contemplate what Washington lacked and climbed over and fought through. He adamantly refused to see himself as a victim. He was not bound by offense, he was committed to establishing ways to solve problems. He said, “…must not lay too much stress on their grievances to the exclusion of their opportunities.” A historian says, “Booker’s challenge was to transform the values, frame the habits, and instill the knowledge that…success required.”

The agenda at Tuskegee was:

• Habits of thrift
• A love for work
• Economy
• Ownership of property
• Bank accounts—understanding money and how to handle money.

Education—whatever else it includes—must teach these!

Mark Zuckerburg in his commencement address at Harvard nails it:

“…give everyone the freedom they need to pursue purpose.” Create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.

That goal by Zuckerman and the Booker T. Washington education agenda is the answer to the offended self and the envy that kills. How does that happen? Let us ask God to raise up a generation of entrepreneurs, mentors, ministers, teachers, parents and grandparents who see their calling and their own life purpose as stimulating their tribe and flock to catch a life purpose.

So, I choose Booker T. Washington—my hero on this Memorial Day.

Then Darkness Fled—the liberating wisdom of Booker T. Washington, by Stephen Mansfield.

©2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org
Writer, Wonderer, Ponderer, Meanderer

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Identity

We arrived too late to visit the museums or see the monuments. But I felt the spirit of Tuskegee. We got sandwiches at Burger King. That Burger King is etched in my mind as I tried to sort through what I was experiencing in Tuskegee, Alabama. That was in the early to middle 70s. I’ve begun a book about Booker T. Washington written by Stephen Mansfield. Three pages in I began to be revisited by that feeling. It is partly an unexpressible appreciation for Booker T. Washington and how Tuskegee was founded and built. The other part is a horror of what he and family and peers suffered.
Washington never knew when he was born or who is father was.

“…he didn’t know because it didn’t matter, and it didn’t matter because he was just property, a small Negro slave valued at a very optimistic $400. Only people permitted an identity need know when they were born. But then what did it matter? He was just another near naked half-white, half-black waif of the kind that scampered about southern farms and plantations by the thousands. When you were born and who your parents are only matter if you are somebody.” (The Darkness Fled, Stephen Mansfield. Highland Books—Nashville, ©1999) Page 44.

I am rewriting Meanderings, a collection of my favorite stories centered on the biography and adventures of Abram whom God renamed Abraham. Three verses into the Abrahamic story (Genesis 12:1-3) and the importance and value of identity is striking. Abram knew his father and ancestors. The fresh revelation was about identity—not to the past, but to the future. And we are members of his family. He is the father of faith to whom God promised as many offspring as grains of sand.

I feel swamped by all this. Our grandchildren have been busy lately winning scholarships and redefining their lives. They have reached passageways to a more explicit identity. I’m wondering what part of their identity coming from us will grow into a heritage. Some of that depends upon their response to God’s call, and diligent faithfulness in fulfillment of that call while living out their uniqueness. That’s true for you and me as well.

You are a somebody.
You matter.
And before us is the potential of becoming.

“You shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2).

©2017 D. Dean Benton dean @deanbenton.org
Writer, Wonderer, Meanderer

Does God Award Scholarships?

We are shamelessly making a lot of noise about two of our grandchildren being awarded academic college scholarships. One of our friends is spending his summer in the Middle-East to study, teach and listen. He will calculate from what he observes what his senior years in college should look like to finish this season of preparation for responding to his call.

I would enjoy sitting with those three at a coffee shop and listen to their conversation about music, math and ministry. I can’t completely describe my pride in their accomplishments and my pleasure in them. While all the celebrating is going on, I’ve been stalked by a phrase in Philippians 1:

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it…” (Philippians 1:6).

I wonder what “good work” in me is God working on today? Is there an age we reach when God says, “May as well stick a fork in him, he is as done as he’s ever going to get.” The intent of the “work” begun is to equip for the next season of ministry and to make the relationship more intimate or mutually enriching.

The dog and I made a run to the dump to get rid of yard waste. I decided again: I don’t want to end up being evaluated as waste or a waster of seasons. Knowing we’re not done until we go to Jesus or He comes to us, what does God use to “finish” us? Unique to each of us. Some maybes:

• Events. Because of my work, weddings, counseling, baptisms sometimes imprint a growth opportunity. A wedding reception was filled with interactions with people from across the country. Diverse in so many ways, their observations, experiences and opinions filled me.
• God’s direct message. I like to hear preaching because I assume God is going to say something directly to me through one of his spokespersons. Sometimes a verse or paragraph from the Bible in my daily reading. Queen of Sheba told Solomon what she saw in his home, how he ran his businesses and affirmed his employees. Good for managers and employers. (1 Kings 10:1-13).
• Insights. They may come from a billboard, sports page or a thought triggered in my mind or soul.
• Conversations. A friend evaluated our relationship of 40 years ago. Her words raised my self-evaluation and led me to ask, “If that is true, then why not…?” Mark Lowery said to Tanya Goodman Sykes (who ended their conversation to go onstage to sing): “Stay on pitch, be present, stay in the pocket, express your passion and be persistent.”
• Confrontations and affirmations.
• Open doors and brick walls.

Any of that resonate with you?
Not completed.
©2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org

Clarity

“I have never had clarity. I have only ever had trust.” Mother Theresa

Within two hours of reading that somewhat stunning statement from Mother Theresa, I heard spiritual leaders talking about “The Fog of War.” They were not talking about the trenches of WW I, but spiritual fog that sneaks up on us. From my experience and my research on stress, depression and burnout, that “fog” is predictable and nearly always shrouds us the day after, or second day after, a demanding event. It is the body and soul calling for recuperation. Therefore building recovery/restoration time into your schedule pays dividends. “Fog” describes loss of clarity concerning your calling, your business or what you are to do next.

Jeff Goins writes, “When your calling is vague and unclear, you’re on the right track.”

Which is it? Clarity or unclear? If people miss the point of what you do, what business you are in and what you want from them, you lose. And probably go out of business. Clarity is a required field in business and all marketing. The problem with most websites is they lack clarity concerning the product, who the product is for, how to get it and why.

• Bring clarity to how your product works and what it does
• Make customers wonder how they’ve lived without your product this long
• Help customers see why your product outshines the competition
• Help narrow the gap between a prospect feeling interested and actually taking action

Donald Miller interviews Juliet Funt, the daughter of Allen Funt of Candid Camera. The link to the podcast interview is:
http://buildingastorybrand.com/ The title: —“The high cost of overload….”

She has great business and life perception on how to gain and maintain clarity. I have no suggestion why Mother Theresa did not sign up for Ms. Funt’s seminar “White Space at Work.”

The message I keep reading and hearing is, “Be clear on who you are, what you are devoted to doing, selling, service to provide, what you are giving your life to. Clarity is rule one for business, therefore marketing. But more critical: pertaining to life itself. Therefore Ms. Funt’s interview is helpful. Maybe life changing.

©2017 D. Dean Benton dean@deanbenton.org
Writer, wonderer, part time worrier, full time hunter for a better way.