Thursday, October 30, 2014

Financial Planning the Kingdom Way
















by Willie Thomas Butler

Planning Never Hurt Anyone

Within the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) are many important object lessons to be learned and embraced.  Understanding your responsibility—and thus, accountability—before God for all He has entrusted to your care is, in my opinion, at the top of the heap.  Like it or not, we will all give account one day for how we managed what we were given to nurture, preserve or increase for the Most High.
As a financial planner professional I have been more sensitive to our role as God’s stewards than most.  What I have learned through decades of God’s teachings and what I have counseled others to do based on my own life-events and academic training have greatly informed my every financial decision.   And, His teaching could not have come at a better time.  With today’s economic challenges and financial uncertainties, life may never have been as challenging as it is at the moment.

Planning Is For the Rich and the Not-So-Rich

An ancient biblical proverb exhorts us to “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to thy herds” (Proverbs 27:23).  During a more agrarian era in human history, this passage would have seemed most appropriate for the conditions and experiences of working with livestock.  Today, farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses are probably closest to seeing how this passage might literally apply.  But for the rest of us, it would help if we substituted the words flocks and herds with words like wealth, riches, business interest or resources.  In that context the passage could read:

“Be diligent to know the state of your possessions [i.e., your wealth or riches], and look well at your business interest and other resources.”

Why is this important?  Because there are two duties each of us have that stem from what we possess and have been given to preserve and, in many cases increase.  First, we are accountable to the Lord, just as we see in the Parable of the Talents.  When the master returned and called his servants together, it was so that each would give their personal accounting for what he entrusted to their care (v. 19). Second, we have a practical mandate from God, sometimes referred to as the Dominion Mandate (Genesis 1:28; 9:7), and we have a moral and spiritual duty to work, to be productive and to leave a legacy for our progeny.  This is strongly encouraged in several Old Testament sayings such as:  “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children…” Proverbs 13:22

To Whom Much Is Given . . .

Considering these represent two of life’s major responsibilities, would you be comfortable today with saying that you know the state of your possessions: that is, your wealth, riches, even your gifts, talent and ability?  And, if asked to make an accounting of these today, would you be able to offer an update that might please the Lord?
If you answered no to these questions, don’t panic.  There is still time to become knowledgeable and to learn how to manage everything to God’s expectation.  It begins with learning to take inventory of your possessions and then making decisions on how each item should be uniquely managed.  This process is what stewardship is all about.  Stewards manage what is entrusted to them by others, and in this case, it includes the earth and everything in it (Psalm 24:1).
Based on these biblical truths, you may need to shift away from thinking you own, therefore can choose to handle your possessions your way.  If this is how you think, then this is your wake-up call.  Instead, you would be better off adapting the Kingdom view that you own nothing but are responsible to account for all that you possess.  Such a shift will realign your core beliefs and values to understand how God thinks and what He requires of you, and it will make managing the Lord’s resources easier in the end.

LifePlanning Is Kingdom Planning

How can you gain the knowledge and understanding needed to be accountable?  By letting the LifePlanning Institute help you.  We are experts at integrating God’s instructions with state of the art financial techniques and practical skills training in wealth and financial management for everyday life.  We have economic and sophisticated financial tools that can assist you in reorganizing every aspect of your life.  All we ask is that you give us an opportunity to help you!  You can visit us online at www.MyLPI.org or call me at (757) 447-3260 to schedule an appointment.
A Premier Kingdom Financial LifePlan should be dynamic, and it is accomplished through the gathering of diverse data while deriving useful information from it. However, you will not retain much of that that great information for very long without an effective presentation. Your Financial Health Checkup is your portal to accomplish just such a task, and this video demonstrates the ease of use of Your Personalized Financial Dashboard.  To schedule your Financial Health Checkup today email Info@MyLPI.org, or call (888) 337-0345 ext 209, or (757) 447-3260.

You can also obtain a Free Copy of my latest eBook titled “Seven Keys to Living a Kingdom Life” (2013).
Whatever your preference is for support, please pursue an advisor or resource center that will help you prepare for the unknown.  For, no one knows when the Master may return and ask for an accounting of His possessions...


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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Leadership In A Partnership of Equals: What Helped Others Build Successfully














A business partnership is usually hatched in a state of inspired optimism when two or more seemingly like-minded individuals come together with an idea to create a product or service and develop it into a business, says Stacy Perman of Bloomberg Businessweek (2008).  Such was the case for Larry Page and Sergey Brin who met [while] working on their doctorates in computer science at Stanford University in 1995. Together, they created a proprietary algorithm for a search engine, with the goal of organizing the vast amount of information available on the Internet (Businessweek, August, 2008).  In 1998, the pair dropped out of Stanford, changed their startup’s name to Google, set up shop in a friend's garage, and raised about $1 million in capital from friends, family, and other investors.

Two Schools of Thought

Business partnership is an unincorporated organization formed by entities or persons who join to carry on a trade or business (Wheeler and Shumofsky, 2007).  Its main purpose is to enhance collaborative advantage in the increasingly challenging market environment, and to produce long-term mutual benefits for all partners (Wagner et al. 2002; Carr and Smeltzer, 1999). Partnerships offer more freedom for business owners with shared business responsibilities for a common goal (Kanmogne and Eskridge, 2013, p. 944).
Formalizing such a partnership agreement early has been the advice of some whose own experiences with partnership inform their view.  Steve Hindy and Tom Potter, who founded Brooklyn Brewery in 1987, feel it is important to define a partnership from the outset and that formalizing it on paper with a set of parameters that could be referred to when questions or troubles arise (Hindy and Potter, 2006).  Countering this view is Gary Dushnitsky, a professor of management at the Wharton School, [who] doesn't favor formalizing a partnership agreement too early.  According to Dushnitsky, the early stage of the business relationship is the time to determine what each person can bring to the partnership in terms of capital, contacts, level of engagement, as well as to see how each views their commitment to the venture, their vision, and the time line they see for its development (Businessweek, August, 2008).
From my personal observations and learning on leadership in a partnership of equals, I conclude there are four key considerations that all partnerships must acknowledge:
  1. For individuals who agree they bring different but complimentary vision, values and commitment to accomplish a common goal, partnership can be a viable organizational strategy.
  2. Those differences must be defined and each individual must agree to specific operational parameters, otherwise disputes could more easily result in severing a partnership agreement.
  3. Most important, in my view, all partners must understand that regular and continuous communication on all issues that can affect the partnership, whether personal or professional, must be initiated and maintained. 
  4. Finally, unless previous organizational hierarchy has been established, time will likely provide strategic insight into who might serve best as the partnership’s administrative, operational and technical leaders.  Effective leadership communication—throughout all parts of the partnership—demands a clearly defined and agreed to communicative process which can and should emerge, correspondingly, from this time-honored approach.

Can also be read at blog.mylpi.org  (effective Tuesday, April 8, 2014)

References

Hindy, Steve, and. Potter, Tom. (2006). Beer School: Bottling Success at the Brooklyn Brewery. Wiley, John & Sons, Inc.).
Kanmogne, M., & Eskridge, K. (2013). Identifying some major determinants of entrepreneurial partnership, using a confounded factorial conjoint choice experiment. Quality & Quantity, 47(2), 943-960.
Perman, Stacy. (2008). “Contemplating A Business Partnership,” Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved April 5, 2014 at:


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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Financial Planning With A Kingdom Perspective















On March 1st the LifePlanning Institute (LPI) hosted its first free financial education seminar titled LIFE PLANNING-101.  This is the first in a series of monthly two-hour free seminars we will be hosting throughout 2014.  Our goals, quite simply, are to: 1) Teach Individuals (and Families) how to successfully navigate the Five (5) Financial Landscapes of Earning, Protecting, Saving, Spending and Investing in the 21st Century; and, 2) Provide a comprehensive planning strategy that vastly improves on the conventional financial planning methods being promoted today.

Transforming How We Learn and Apply Financial Concepts

We pioneered use of the term Life-Planning because achieving your financial goals should not be determined without first determining your “P,” or what LPI refers to as your “Pursuit of Purpose.”  If you are a long-term reader of our blog, then you may recall a previous post providing an introduction to our comprehensive planning model that I developed and now teach LPI students using the LPI Financial Formula I + P = V™.  One such article can be found at http://blog.mylpi.org/2013/01/what-factors-will-most-affect-your.html. In effect, no matter how many small buckets you use to breakdown financial activity, it all gets categorized under one of three major areas.
  1. It is subject to obligations that are imposed or statutory—which is (I),
  2. it provides for what you define as your basic human needs, even necessities—which is (P),
  3. and, it is spent in discretionary (or voluntary) ways which can have the ability to be modified or avoided altogether—which is represented by (V).
The LIFEPLANNING-101 seminars will address each of five key financial planning considerations, such as Taxation, Risk Management, Investing, Retirement and Estate Planning.  These are the conventional categories that every professional financial planner will teach you and work from in order to devise a customized financial plan.  However, how do you know what financial goals you want to achieve without first determining what financial goals should apply to underwrite your P”, or Pursuit of Purpose?   This is where I + P = V™ makes more sense.

Matching Career Objectives (and Your “P”) With Financial Assets, Earnings and Obligations
As a general overview, LPI’s Financial Model will begin by helping you determine some or all of your personal goals (or “P”), which includes career objectives and the education pathway and cost associated with achieving that goal; the appropriate spending-levels related to the differing stages of achieving these goals, and any other commitments you make towards other family members, organizations or transition stages in life.  An individual pursuing a career goal of teaching at a pre-college level should realize that their income potential (from their professional field) will probably max at much less than someone pursuing an engineering career.  Starting salaries, e.g., might range from $20,000 in a private school to $40,000 in a public school system.  An engineer, on the other hand, might be offered a starting salary of $65,000 - $100,000 immediately upon graduating from college.
Over their careers the engineer will earn significantly more, yet both might spend just as much on obtaining their four-year college degrees.  Therefore, what is earned and available while pursuing their education and what is available once graduating and securing full-time employment in their respective field might generate vastly different amounts for meeting basic human needs, such as housing and transportation, and for saving and investing in future goals.  Assuming both paid for their college tuition with student loans, the engineering grad will have a smaller percentage of their earnings going towards loan repayments while the newly-minted teacher may find that their monthly loan repayment premium is a much bigger percentage of their earnings.  I + P = V™ will factor in the career objective along with your current, projected and future asset base, to determine a realistic net worth.

Your Goals Are More Than Just Financial

Another important area where LPI’s Financial Model differs from conventional financial planning has to do with its recognition of another unique planning term called Glad-Giving.  Most individuals believe in benevolence and donate their time, talent and treasure out of sheer gratitude for their own successes in life, some because they understand and are motivated by a specific need among others; some give to mitigate their tax obligations but, most according to many studies, give out of a desire to be a blessing and see others benefit and obtain goods and services they might need for themselves or their loved ones.
Accordingly, Christians should categorize Glad-Giving under “I” and the same way they render unto Caesar that which is Caesars’ (Mark 12:17), they should allocate a portion of their total worth and potential service to God.  In doing so you elevate God’s portion to be as important—although truly more important—than what is statutorily allocated and paid to federal, state and local governments, and for food, beverage and item purchases, such as gas, clothing, etc.  While Malachi 3:8-10 has been used in the past to bring Christians to a place of compulsory giving, much like statutory obligations impose, our effort here is merely to acknowledge that when an individual chooses to give to God, or as a benevolent gesture in general, that generosity and/or act of obedience needs to be factored in to your overall financial planning blueprint.  In some cases, that monthly expenditure alone might range from 1% of gross earnings to a very generous 15%-20%.  Either way, it has a direct and corresponding effect on distribution going from your gross income to determining your net income and discretionary spending.

Why Not Take Part In Our Next LIFE PLANNING 101 Seminar?

These subjects are just a tip of the iceberg of comprehensive financial planning using the LPI Financial Model and planning strategy.  While the actual seminars are hosted live and will be taught at a specific locations throughout Hampton Roads, Virginia, please join us if you are in town or reside somewhere nearby.  For all other readers, effective April 4th, LPI will be recording and offering each seminar as an online course that can be accessed via Webinar.  A schedule of dates, times and specific seminar topics will be made available in the upcoming weeks.
More to the point why not tell us what topics you would like covered and would participate in?  We are flexible and want to provide subject-matter that will interest and educate you as a loyal reader of our blog.  Please tell us what topics to address by clicking here:     And don’t forget to get your FREE Copy of my latest book titled “Seven Keys to Living a Kingdom Life.”  It is FREE as a Limited Time Offer while in pre-publication as an eBook.
Happy Planning!


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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Leading Change Towards A Better Tomorrow!













If the initial task of the language of leadership is to spark energy and initiate forward motion, its never-ending task is to ensure that the change idea continues to be pursued with sustained élan, spirit, and passion (Denning, 2007; p.199).


A United Goal and Historic Achievement

In an era when global economics and establishing universal social reforms have become common concerns to all, world leaders find themselves governing from a central fishbowl as the world’s audience peers into every facet of the programs and policies they enact.   Vladimir Putin of Russia, knows this all too well since terrorism threats and social concerns about Russia’s gay rights law became center-stage news.  The 2014 Winter Olympics (in Sochi) provided a stage, established a set of common interest and concerns, the purpose, and months of world media coverage on which the world’s audience could arbitrate for their values.  Similarly, the political and social unrest occurring in nations such as Syria, now also in Ukraine, have been top news, particularly as human rights violations and the consensus that senseless slaughtering of protestors have become alarming events (The New York Times).
An ongoing concern for global leadership has been economics, both domestic and global, and how to strengthen and restore the economies of developed nations while working to address—among several major issues--poverty while also developing new, sustainable economies in the world’s poorest nations.   In 2000, the solution that 189 (UN) nations agreed to was dubbed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  And, with a goal to target eight specific areas of global concern, the MDGs deadline of 2015 is less than 1,000 days away, says John Podesta, Chair of the Center for American Progress.   As a member of the High Level Panel, a group formed to oversee and encourage the ongoing pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, John is one of many global leadership voices representing the United Nation’ 2000 initiatives, but also a global panel mission to look into post-2015 work of nations towards eradicating each of the eight MDGs.
At the Millennium Summit in September 2000 the largest gathering of world leaders in history adopted the UN Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets, with a deadline of 2015, which have become known as the Millennium Development Goals.  (Source: MDG Success:  Accelerating Action, Partnering for Impact (23Sep.2013)

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Targeted for 2015 are to:

1.      Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger (halve the poverty of the world’s population between 1990-2015)
2.      Achieve Universal Primary Education
3.      Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
4.      Reduce Child Mortality
5.      Improve Maternal Health
6.      Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Other Diseases
7.      Ensure Environmental Sustainability
8.      Global Partnership for Development

Setting the Stage for Accelerated, Measured and Supportive Leadership

The Secretary-General’s event replaced multiple single issue events with one coherent day-long event that drew lessons across issue areas and mobilized support for the full range of MDGs. This provided a platform for progress on the Secretary-General’s initiatives and validated his vision for strengthening strategic partnership across the UN system.
In September 2013, the Secretary-General hosted a high-level forum to catalyze and accelerate further action to achieve the [eight] MDGs. The event focused on concrete examples of scaling up success and identifying opportunities for more. The emphasis will be on the “how” – bringing together examples from partnerships across the spectrum of MDGs and Secretary-General’s initiatives. It is intended that the outcomes of the forum will enrich the deliberations of the General Assembly...  (Source: Speech by the UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – Jul. 1, 2013 (in Switzerland)
Given how little time remains to accomplish these eight goals, immediate, strategic alliances and networking are critically needed.  As Denning (2007) says, The first steps aim at creating the spark; once that’s happened, the flames need to be fanned and turned into an unstoppable conflagration (p.199).   In fact, in speeches by both the Secretary-General and John Podesta, there are clear undertones of trying to encourage the 189 nations of the world to remain vigilant in the quest to achieve the MDGs, but also to envision moving beyond them to a new development era on connectedness and engagement.  In other words, a consistent energizing and unifying voice is needed, particularly in light of the economic pressures so many nations have faced this past decade.   This begs the question:  Are the world’s leaders still onboard with the MDGs Initiatives, or have some—even the most prominent, like the U.S. and Great Britain—backed off to address more domestic-oriented but pressing issues?   And, if so, what must the UN and Podesta’ High Level Panel do to stimulate all nations—to the original agreement—to continue their support and engagement?
Global leadership communicators [such as the Secretary-General and Podesta, must] strive to reach both head and heart, according to Baldoni (2013) p.129.   Each must develop a narrative that allows them to connect with the[ir] audience by:  1) stimulating the intellect,  2) appealing to their emotions, and 3) encouraging [continued] physical engagement (p.129).  Denning posits that conversations are crucial to leadership because leadership entails the co-creation of innovation (p.206).  He recommends that leaders who attempt to stimulate desires in others “use a springboard or factual story to relate to the substance in an attentive, sympathetic way . . . [that] with the story, the listeners begin to imagine the future, and so it became credible” (p.225).  This is important since not every MDG co-signer is onboard or even stimulated to do anything about the goals.   According to Podesta, the American public hates foreign aid.  Polls show it is the least popular item in the budget and the only area where people consistently support spending cuts (Center for American Progress).
But not all nations feel like Americans about global relief efforts. A few key the Millennium Development Goals have shown impressive progress, such as reducing by half the number of those who live on less than $1.25 per day.  But as Podesta notes in his April 8, 2013 speech to the Center for American Progress, “moving more than 600 million people out of extreme poverty in the process—we must not let up on pushing this target forward” (Center for American Progress).  This will demand the participation and resources of every nation if the goals stand any chance of being achieved.

Global Agenda(s) Require Global Partnerships

Hackman and Johnson (2013) offer a strategy designed to organize a global effort involving leadership from all nations.  They term it Global Team Charter (p.233).  Specifically, they recommend 5 keys to forming and operating a global team charter:
1.      Charter- should list both task and process goals in clear, specific, and measurable terms.
2.      Expectations-  at list of 5-6 specific goals should be identified and established
3.      Policies and Procedures-  boundaries are needed for evaluating team behavior
4.      Timeline and Project Plan-  charter should divide project into tasks with appropriate timelines and completion dates
5.      Rules-  ensure that both task and process roles are clearly assigned
These keys are a foundation upon which differences created by language, socio-economic, ideological and cultural barriers might be bridged.   Notable leaders, Hackman and Johnson assert, “Pay close attention to assumptions, values and symbols that create and reflect organizational culture” (p.239).  Given the many other issues governments are focused upon today, such as GDP, annual budgets, human rights and terrorism, it is critical to find a narrative for common global initiatives.  As Christian leaders who recognize the convergences of economic, social and cultural changes that are taking place globally, it is important to remember, as Os Hillman notes, “The world is looking for a solution, not necessarily a Christian solution.”  Eliminating poverty and the underlying cause is a moral and humanitarian mission that should stimulate all nations back to the MDGs table.


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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Count the Cost" - Do You Know What You Owe?














Well, it is now February 2014, and those holiday shopping expenses have begun showing up on your monthly credit card bills. Or, if you are like some cash-buyers, perhaps you deferred paying certain bills in order to buy Christmas gifts, attend parties and eat out with friends; or, perhaps you took that special holiday trip you’ve always wanted to take.


Either way, it is time to pay the piper. The day of reckoning has come, and I’d guess it is not very welcomed right now. According to a study by the American Research Group, the average American planned to spend about $801 on holiday shopping in 2013, which is down from $854 in 2012. You can read their report at the: American Research Group website.

Do You Know What You Owe


Knowing this, just how ready are you to face the bill paying process this month? More to the point, do you even know what you really owe in 2014? Not just what your holiday debt may be, but what new expenses you might be facing in 2014?

At an average credit card annual rate holding between 14% (Fixed) and 16.5% (Variable) in 2013, Americans paid $12 billion in credit card penalty fees alone, this according to R.K. Hammer/Card Knowledge Factory, and Bankrate.com.

Ironically, that amount is down from $17.8 billion in credit card penalty fees paid in 2012, the only bright light in this story.

And with many Americans planning to make the mere minimum required monthly payment—ranging between $30 and $50—paying down your 2013 holiday shopping alone could take an average of five years once you discount each minimum payment by the total of fees, charges, interest and possible penalties. Yes. It is conceivable that as much as 10% of each minimum payment you submit actually gets applied to the principal balance owed. So, if you spent and charged the average $801 on holiday gifts, you will be repaying for the privilege of using credit (and incurring debt) for years and not months.

So, again I ask, “Do you really know what you owe in 2014?” And, even if you think you do, are you prepared to address your total budgetary needs in 2014?

Budgets Are More than Spending Limiters


A few days ago, my 22-year old son’s car broke down in a recent snow storm in Virginia.  Rather than just having to install a new battery (for $109), he ended up incurring—but not paying for—a towing charge and mechanical work adding up to the tune of $828.  That is a total of $937 that he needed just for 1 auto repair incident.  And it would have been more if I did not have Emergency Roadside Service in my auto insurance policy.

That point set aside, my son was now in a predicament where he had to choose from one-of-three available options:  1) to pay out-of-pocket from savings set aside for another goal,  2) establish and incur conventional credit to cover this unexpected expense;  or,  3) borrow the money from dad rather than through some merchant credit program charging usury rates of interest.  In effect, these were his immediate options for addressing this pressing need.

Without option 1 being actionable, and not wanting to incur a hefty credit account charge for a few years, my son did as most would elect:  borrow from their parents at a zero to modest interest rate.  Of course, making the expense an outright gift would certainly be preferable to any borrower, but what would be the object lesson learned?  Here was an ordinary occurrence that many face in life every single day, and therefore it is a great opportunity to help someone young learn in the process.

For my son, his proverbial straw is an unexpected automobile expense.   Have you stopped to determine what, if anything might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in your financial plan?

LifePlanning Is a Solution


While debt should be avoided at all cost, the reality is that most people will rely upon it at some stage of their life.  It is possible to buy your first car or home or even attend college without ever incurring debt and it may not.  More realistically, we should plan our normal life events and anticipate—and plan for—the unexpected events which could severely cripple any momentum we make towards getting ahead in life.
 
This means plan your spending around the goals that you intend to pursue and achieve, and revisit your overall plan at least twice per year.   Click here to see how the LifePlanning Institute can help you establish a unique plan.

My son is fortunate that dad chose to help.  Not all situations offer the same remedies.  So, if you are pressed into choosing from other options:

  1. Try to keep the length and interest rate you may incur to a minimum.
  2. Revisit your Spending Plan and adjust it to make higher monthly payments
  3. See whether family or friends might help without charging interest
  4. Expect, on the other hand, that even family and friends have the right to say No!
  5. Don’t beat yourself up over these situations. They happen to the best of us!

May The Lord Bless You!


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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Who is Your Standard Bearer in Leadership?











During the 1980’s there was a strong emphasis on management by objective (MBO). This served as the gold-standard for good, effective leadership for decades. By definition, MBO represented a management system in which the objectives of an organization are agreed upon so that management and employees understand a common way forward. 

“Management by objectives aims to serve as a basis for (A) greater efficiency through systematic procedures, (B) greater employee motivation and commitment through participation in the planning process, and (C) planning for results instead of planning just for work. In management by objectives practice, specific objectives are determined jointly by managers and their subordinates, progress toward agreed-upon objectives is periodically reviewed, end results are evaluated, and rewards are allocated on the basis the progress.”

But, in real life, "Do as I say, not as I do" has long been the maxim of parents the world over. So says human resources expert Sophie Hobson of Smarta Business Builder: 

www.smarta.com/advice/employees/management-skills/a-bad-manager-doesnt-lead-by-example - Hobson further posits that “if an authority figure has one set of rules for themselves and another for subordinates, it's not only hypocritical - it's unfair. Managers with double standards are bound to foster resentment. And if employees are bitter, productivity suffers.”

So, if our follower standard should be doing as others say, that is, doing as our leaders say, not as they do, then perhaps we should ask ourselves what constitutes good examples for leaders-managers to present to employees? Should personal as well as professional character matter? And, if so, will issues such as whether they are religious, encourage drinking, smoking and use of illegal drugs, or whether they cheat on their spouse and lie to staff in order to get work done, be considered standards we should embrace or overlook in leaders?

Our Goal


We named this publication PAR-A-GON or Paragon because it defines “A person [or thing] that is perfect or excellent in some way and should be considered a model or example to be copied.” (Source: Merriam-Website Dictionary Online) In the minds of the average man there may well exist such a standard-bearer. But for Christians, there is only one person who ever lived that was considered perfect in all of His ways. That description only suits Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 2:10; 5:8-9; 7:28 ESV). 

In contrast to this model of virtue, Mark 7:21-23 says “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and they defile a person” (ESV). And Romans 7:18 says, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (ESV). If these verses describe all of mankind, hence anyone who rises to a position of leadership, then what should we as Christians embrace as acceptable leadership characteristics and virtues?

True leaders recognize that we are all followers first and foremost.  How can you lead unless you have first learned to follow?  Clearly, Jesus taught His disciples the importance of learning before going out to transform others.  This process from being called to be sent is discipleship, where one learns to grow in the knowledge of God-given endowment and their ability to use the gifts, talent and exercise of good moral and ethical character inherent within them.  With proper training, one can become Christ-like in their exercise of leadership because Christ paid the ultimate price for our righteousness, making us able to become nearer to perfect in all of our ways.

We Are Worth Your Time!


What else can a leader do to find quality leadership from which to develop into quality leaders?  Please revisit Paragon where we will bring to you great principles and expert testimonies from leaders in all walks of life.  Our next article will feature our thoughts on author John C. Maxwell’s book “21 Indispensible Qualities of A Leader:  Becoming the Person that Others Will Want to Follow.”  Our specialty will be to generate near-perfect examples from which we can all find ideas and practical strategies for leading others and hopefully transforming lives in the process.

In the interim, feel free to comment and share your thoughts on our movement to equip leaders to change the world.  And don’t forget to visit us at www.mylpi.org for additional information and related publications.


ENDING THOUGHTS:

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Copyright © 2014 | LifePlanning Institute, Inc. | All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 3, 2014

It’s Here - Seven Keys To Living A Kingdom Life













As we bid farewell to 2013 and begin to make plans for 2014, it gives me great joy to offer you my latest book/eBook titled:  Seven Keys to Living a Kingdom Life.   For a limited time before I formerly publish this work, I have chosen to offer it as My Free Gift To You!.   It is my way of expressing gratitude to all the Lord has done for me and through me, and for saying thank you for your interest in the Count the Cost series and the LifePlanning Institute’s vision for Kingdom living.
Again, this is a limited time offer, and one I am grateful to produce and honored to provide.  Some things need to be shared when they are grasped and understood.  Offering it to you in a pre-published eBook (pdf) is the quickest way to make it available.

New Year’s Resolution

An important ingredient in any good planning for 2014 is determining what your purpose is and how you plan to accomplish it in the days ahead.  Until you understand your purpose it is difficult to accurately plan any of your future endeavors.   Resolutions require a firm determination and commitment to something you have chosen to embrace as direction.  Is that even possible without first knowing oneself and one’s Purpose?
Central to each of us who call Jesus Christ, Lord, is the responsibility to live our life according to His will and plans, and in a way that will bring Him honor and glory.  Some understand the subordination of self and self-will as a necessary prerequisite to Discipleship: evidence that one has chosen to follow Christ’ teachings and character.   Some do not attribute any label or tag to this decision but do acknowledge that as the Bible says, their life is no longer their own.
“Or [according to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20], do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?   For you were bought with a [very precious] price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

Enter Kingdom Life

Well, if our bodies are no longer our own, it is probably equally true that nothing of ours belongs to us.  What we each possess is not our own, not even our special gifts, talent or abilities.  This is why we talk about Stewardship in Christianity.  So, the right to use these things any way we please, even though the world might encourage such behaviors, is actually not a right at all.  Being bought with a price implies we—and all that we have or can do—are now God’s precious possessions.  Please tell us whether you agree with this interpretation and Kingdom principle.
My question to you is this:  How then should we live if we are not in charge of our own lives and if we are not actually welcomed in this world?   According to the sayings of Christ found in John 15:19, and of the Apostle Paul found in Romans 12:2, this world is not our true home, nor does it embrace those citizens that love and follow Christ.   In such an environment where you have been “chosen out of the world” and told “Do not conform to the pattern of this world,” how exactly should you live? 
Fortunately, Our Heavenly Father has left us with a way to not conform to the world’s pattern but rather can be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  Insight into this alternative life choice is available in my new book, which is only available FREE for a limited time offer.   So, please click here to obtain your Free Copy.  And, Happy New Year!..



ENDING THOUGHTS:

  1. Is this helpful? Please let me know in the comments below what you’d like to watch and read more of.

  2. Do you know someone who will find this conversation just as interesting as you? Take a second and use the social buttons below to share it with them. I create these blog posts and videos for you, and your closest friends.
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Copyright © 2014 | LifePlanning Institute, Inc. | All Rights Reserved.