It Is Within Your Reach

Mentors Open Doors, But You Yourself Must Enter
By Emmanuel Oluwatosin

Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter end. There are many plans in a man's heart, but the Lord's counsel will prevail. - Proverbs 19:20-21

What is it that you are trying to achieve? Start a business, go back to school, get that job or even get that promotion at work, or turn a bad situation into something good? It is within your reach.

In this world, even difficult situations present us with so many opportunities every day to achieve our goals. Do we take advantage of these opportunities or we just allow them to pass us by? I believe you know the answer in your heart. Your answer is the exact reason why you are where you are today. If things are not unfolding as you would like, it means you have to take action and explore other possibilities.

Exploring possibilities is a personal task. No one can do it for you. While your loved ones (family, spouses, mentors, etc.) may be able to provide you with the platform you need, the main responsibility is on you. Don't let others achieve your goals for you lest you will be at their mercy. You know what you want and must be ready to pay the price to achieve it. People around you (mentors, boss, parents, friends, etc.) can only show you the way. They may be able to teach and advise you and enable you to become a wise and effective human being. But taking the actual steps is your responsibility and it is only yours to make.

If you continually wait and hope for things to be different or for others to provide, then you will most likely remain a victim of circumstances. And really, how much fun is that? And how much fun do you think it is to be at the mercies of others? People can only do so much for you. Irrespective of what people tell you about being successful towards achieving your goal, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort. If you don’t have the drive to be successful, you are not going to succeed. So, here are some things that may help you move in the direction of your goals:

1. Make the commitment to reach your goal

“One person with a commitment is worth a hundred who only have an interest” – Mary Crowley.

Your goal is worth nothing without your commitment to follow through on it. You need to constantly remind yourself that nobody can achieve your goal for you. How committed are you to your goals?

2. Be prepared for change

Something are definitely not within your control. For instance in business goals; the foreign exchange fluctuation, radical changes in oil prices, inflation, interest rates, government policies, etc. are things that you can not control. Stick with your decision to move towards a goal – but be willing to change your direction to get there as conditions and circumstances demand.

3. Be accountable

Commit yourself to detailed accountability. Get a mentor that you know would be interested in you. Remember that the mentors are not there to help you achieve your goals. They are to ensure that you remain on the right track.

4. Give yourself another chance

Whether you will achieve your goals depends on how you respond to tough circumstances. Most people give up when all that they need is just to try one more time. Join the league of the few that succeed because they did not give up. Give yourself another chance.

5. Hang around with successful people

Being around successful people will make you want to be successful as well. Look for people that you know are going somewhere and engage them. You might need to go extra miles to build relationship with this set of people but it is worth the effort. Just remember that “iron sharpens iron”.

6. Get back to reality

Spending hours in front of TV, watching movies and even playing games is a great way to escape from reality. This may be fun but it will pull you away from your goals. While you may have immediate satisfaction, you may be sacrificing your future at the same time. Concentrate on your long-term goals and don’t get caught up in things that take you away from reality.

7. Stop thinking and start acting

There is a limit to how far thinking can take you. The best laid plans, the most comprehensive preparation, can still lead to nothing unless you endeavor to take the necessary action. No matter how strong and promising your thought, plans and preparations are, once you fail to act, you would still be heading no where. The action step does not have to be perfect but ensure you start acting on things.

8. Listen to success stories

There are a lot of biographies of successful people and case studies of different successful endeavors. Learn their secrets of succeeding as well as avoid their mistakes. Following these people would help in motivating yourself.

Above all, remember, the first step is to know and be certain of where you are going. If you do not know where you are going, you will undoubtedly end up somewhere else.

You can do better, you can achieve more, you can be the best God has created you to be. Start now to make your goals happen! It is never late to pursue worthy endeavors in life. Go for it!

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be healthy, even as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2)

A man's heart plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the motives. Commit your deeds to to the Lord, and your plans shall succeed. (Proverbs 16:2-3)

When a man's ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7)

Better is a little with righteousness, than great revenues with injustice. (Proverbs 16:8)


Doing Unto My Political Other

7 Tips for the Public Square
By Dr. John Mark Reynolds

The Torrey Honors Institute

Rhetoric detached from morality harms people and societies.

Political talk has had an ugly side, but things are getting worse. Hateful talk is no longer underground, but practiced openly and shamelessly. Mainstream politicians are more willing to tolerate association with fringe rhetoric.

Why is this so?

Is There a Breakdown in Shared Ethics?

It is hard to talk to someone when you have nothing in common.

Some research suggests that Americans share many common values, but this research obscures differences in how we prioritize values when goods come into conflict. For example, most American value personal liberty, but when it comes to health care many Americans place a lower priority on this than on a strong social safety net. Those that make the opposite choice, valuing liberty over services, seem cruel to the other camp.

They agree on the values, but have fundamental differences on how to apply them.

Persistent and pervasive ethical differences can begin to strain the republic's politics by discouraging compromise. When the gap between our assumptions and our opponents grows too large, our opponents become not just wrong, but perverse or wicked. Nobody hastens to compromise with the immoral!

The results are bad when pressed to an extreme. Some Americans will not even listen to a fair exposition of moral views with which they disagree, even if the majority of the nation believes them.

American Christians should not behave this way. Jesus called us to love our enemies in a nation ruled by cruel Caesars. Any religion that can love Tiberius can surely find room to love Obama or Gingrich.

Seven Suggestions for Political Discourse

Living in a republic means making political decisions. From Socrates to Reagan, wise political heads have given good advice on how to conduct oneself in public life. I don't always live up to their wisdom, but these ideas are worthy goals.

1. Be slow to speak.

The new media environment lends itself to haste. We size up a candidate or a policy in the blink of an eye and few encourage us to reevaluate the situation. "Blinking" may sometimes be necessary in a crisis, but it is a horrific way to form our general principles and opinions.

2. Strong opinions encourage authentic dialogue.

One bad reaction to a toxic political environment is to develop mushy and "inoffensive" public opinions, but it is hard to talk to people who will not say what they really think. We should argue hard for our ideas in the public square and see how things turn out.

Arguing forcefully helps minority opinions get a hearing. If we relegate ourselves to safe discourse, the tendency is to repeat what the present cultural power brokers accept with small variations.

3. Attacking ideas is different than attacking people.

Ideas have no feelings, but people do. Hurtful talk about actual people, and the President and Glenn Beck are real people, ought to be merited by their actual behavior. We must weigh harm done to their persons against harm they are doing. While it ought to be legal to call the President the "Antichrist," nobody should do it without overwhelming proof.

An actual Hitler or Stalin (in the modern context one thinks North Korea's Dear Leader) is a worthy target for pointed personal barbs, but the local zoning board member rarely is. American politicians are often wrong, but it is hard to think of any that merit comparison to the Taliban or to the present Chinese oligarchs.

Those are real bad guys.

4. Authenticity is useful, but posturing is not.

Few things are more irritating than reading a piece that seems written to get the writer "good-guy" points with the establishment in his or her own group. This happens on both the left and right and is a temptation for all of us. Instead of saying what we think, we write to curry favor with our betters in hopes of praise or reward.

5. Anti-intellectualism prevents discussion.

The United States is not a pure democracy for the very good reason that a majority of the people can be and often are wrong. Democracy killed Socrates and mob rule in France killed liberty during the French Revolution.

Experts are not always right, but they usually are. Christians have always understood that a calling to leadership most often requires intense training and hard work. We are people of the Book and thus long for literate leaders as well. An excellent model was an Englishman whose work helped shape American culture: John Wesley.

The great evangelist and shaper of English culture John Wesley was at home in the pulpits of Oxford and on the streets. He was well educated and could argue well, but also knew how to move men's hearts. There is no anti-intellectualism to be found in Wesley and he was no blind admirer of popular trends.

The recent trend to worship the whims of the mob, even the Christian mob, smacks more of Robespierre than Wesley.

6. Intellectualism prevents authentic discussion.

Just as bad is the posture that feigns intellectual interest, but never really listens to opponents.

President Obama has done a good job talking about finding common ground, but he has sometimes communicated a sneering attitude towards those who persist in disagreeing with him. He is not alone in this attitude as many in the cultural elite confuse their own jargon with knowledge and professional skills with wisdom.

It is easy to confuse the trappings of intellectuals with being an intellectual. Mainstream media often is more interested in someone sounding "smart" than in his or her actual accomplishments. Especially if accent or ethnicity does not fit stereotypes of intellectual achievement the candidate will face a higher barrier to acceptance. Having the "right opinions" also allows for a greater pass from the media in this area. A medical doctor like Tom Coburn is not given the same presumption of intellectual acumen as people with "better" opinions.

Sometimes commentators confuse intellectual achievements with wisdom. University or college education is valuable, but it is not the only way to learn important truths. In particular there is no evidence that most American college education by itself is making us wiser. Wisdom can exist in many different types of people and can be gained from many different kinds of experience.

Resentment of this intellectualism breeds more anti-intellectualism that in turn breeds more intellectualism. Real dialogue vanishes.

7. Be charitable in your assumptions about your opponent.

This last really sums up all the rest. It can be summed up in the wisdom of Jesus Christ that we should do to others what we wish they would do to us. Never was this advice more important for American Christians who are involved in politics.

John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Professor of Philosophy at Biola University. In 1996 he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester. John Mark Reynolds can be found blogging regularly at Scriptorium Daily.