Damage Control

Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come. 
Psalm 71:18

I recently met a man who does HR consulting for companies, both large and small.  We got into an interesting conversation of our common interest:  millennials in the workplace. He said company after company were having issues with millennials that didn’t exist years ago.

He cited one company that elevated a 29 year old to be the supervisor of 14 people. He said that it was a disaster.  The young man may have had the technical skills and aptitude for the job, but he was totally without any social soft skills or, EQ.  EQ refers to Emotional Intelligence.  

Some people are wired without natural soft skills, but most of the millennials have become that way through no real fault of their own.  In my law days, I had one lawyer in my office who lacked any sense of social savoire faire which usually surfaced when he was working on a difficult matter.   About once every three months, I would have to go into his office and tell him “Tom (not his name), you’ve done it again.”  

His response was always one of surprise.  He had the interpersonal social skills of an anvil dropped off a ten story building. Once in a while he managed to verbally step on a staff person (figuratively, of course).  He was totally unaware which is the reason for my frequent intrusions.

The pandemic has only made it worse. Isolation from others (even via social media) has only deepened a problem that existed before, largely due to  digital natives who don’t have much experience with face to face interactions.  

A recent article from Tim Elmore struck me as one solution that I hadn’t thought about. The topic was SEL (Social and Emotional Learning). SEL is the skill set required to have reasonable social skills in all settings. Some people have it naturally; others have to learn the skills. 

What struck Elmore is that, for some reason, we have defaulted to the schools to teach SEL. One of the teachers at his event posed the question:  “How do we get parents to help us teach SEL when the children are at home?”  Bingo.

Elmore had one of those moments of what I refer to as the blinding glimpse at the obvious,  “Parents and communities ((not schools) for the entirety of human history” have taught these skills until they were collected up and labeled SEL and introduced in the schools. That was the way it was up until as recently as 30 years ago. 

Elmore looks at who should be in charge of the social and emotional development of our children. It is not a hard question nor a trick question, by the way. His conclusion:  Parents or adults other than teachers. He gives five suggestions as to how to achieve that. 

The first is to develop self-awareness. Try using things like self-assessments. The old model was Myers-Briggs Test, but now there are Value AssessmentsStrength Finder or The Big Five Personality Test.. Each is designed one to discover your uniqueness within a family. I have used these many times in mentoring and have found them helpful.

Self-Management with your family is the second where each member determines an area or two where they lack discipline (e.g. brushing teeth every day). Then each member commits for a week to practice three steps with a follow up session to see what worked/didn’t work.

The third is to develop social awareness by watching documentaries available online on topics that cover social issues that are not familiar to your family. Netflix has a list, but there are other sources, too. The idea is to discuss what life looks like for the people involved and how they felt about the issue they are facing.

Next is helping them build relationships. Have your next generation list on a piece of paper the people they consider part of their “support network”. Have them assign a role (only one role per person):  heroes (people that you look up to), mentors (people who coach); role models (people who do what you want to do) ; inner circle (those closest who are like family); mentees (those that learn from you); and partners (those that hold you accountable).

Are there any gaps or anyone on the list that one needs to reconnect to?  We really need all of those role players in our lives.

Lastly, and most importantly, help them make responsible decisions. Take an issue – even a local one – that your community is facing that does not have an obvious solution. Brain -storm to see how what options there are, what people should be consulted, how they would decide and what values drove them to their conclusion.  This helps develop critical thinking which is a skill that has declined in the next generation.

What is interesting is that each of these steps can be used by Mentors in helping their mentees prepare for a world where soft skills are needed more than ever.  Sarenz, in his book, concludes that taking time to develop and consciously engage in social skills results in having our deep core beliefs “drive our behavior automatically.”  Good stuff.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  One of the important and often forgotten roles that the next generation needs is a mentor willing to invest in their life.  Do it today if you haven’t already.

FURTHER READING:  Why SEL Has to Be More Than a Class – Elmore

Emotional Intelligence in Leadership -Learning How to be More Aware – Mind Tools

The EQ Intervention – Adam Saenz

WORSHIP: Moment of Awareness – CrossWise 

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The New Rules

Furthermore, just as they [those in Rome] did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not be done. Romans 1:28

As I look around at what is increasingly a Romans 1 world, I often have to stop myself because the changes have come so fast and are so pervasive. It’s hard to look at any aspect of life in this country that has not had dramatic changes in the past 15 months. 

I have watched these new trends unfold in rapid succession over the past year and have written about many of them.

Perhaps it was Covid-19 that acted as a triggering effect.  I am convinced that it had a role in the changes we are seeing in our country, its institutions, schools and government.  Everywhere, we are faced with a woke narrative that is premised on a distorted history and has Marxist roots. The result is to further divide the country, not bring it together.

Victor David Hansen recently wrote a piece in the Daily Signal which caught my eye.  It is titled “Ten Radical New Rules that are Changing America”.   I will cover several of the “new rules”  which are shaping our culture and our society before our very eyes. 

The first one is a change of our concept of money.  It is now a “construct” and under the economic theory called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), money can be created out of “thin air” with no negative consequences. What could possibly go wrong? (Hint:  A lot!).

The second is that laws are no longer binding anymore. In a country that is based on a legal system and the rule of law for society, it apparently is now optional to follow laws you don’t like. Immigration laws are being ignored, and arrests, trials and prosecutions are being sidetracked by progressive district attorneys such as those in Philadelphia and Los Angeles

Predictably, crime is soaring  by 20% or more in cities where police are being defunded or policies make it difficult to get convictions for even serious felonies.  Car-jackings in Chicago are up 124%.

The next is:  “radicalism is now in vogue and acceptable”.  That makes it permissible to call someone racist because of their skin color, not based on who they are or what they have ever done. You are guilty until proven innocent which is upside down in a law system that is just the opposite.  

Instead of there being a commonality of being an American, we are now judged first on our ethnicity and our religion.  If you are white, denying that you are a racist now makes you more a racist. Get it?  The result is rules that openly discriminate against whites which is justified as an “unspoken payback for past sins”.  

Next, immigrants have more rights than U.S. citizens. While we are mandated to wear masks and remain socially distanced, illegal immigrants get a free pass.  Immigrants breaching our southern border are not given COVID tests, and recently, 82 teens immigrants housed in the San Diego Convention Center had COVID.  

What makes this maddening is that homelessness is a major problem in urban areas, yet the homeless are ignored, and all the attention is placed on immigrants. In some twisted logic, it is more human to let thousands of homeless people perpetually live on sidewalks using drugs and defecating on the streets than to fix the problem with affordable housing or providing mental health care.

Hypocrisy is dead. Virtue signaling is in. “Climate change activists fly on private jets” like John Kerrywho arrogantly justified his conduct by saying he was working hard on climate change. He managed to use 40 times the emissions by flying in his private jet to Iceland to accept an ice sculpture. Social justice advocates live in gated communities where the impact of their policies cannot be felt or even seen.

Cancel culture is “in” which is a throwback to the days of McCarthy in the early 1950’s when he ruined people lives in a quest to unearth communists in America. One wrong statement can and will cost you your reputation or even cost your job. Just ask parents in Loudon County, VA

The last two are particularly important because the next generation have largely been indoctrinated (I don’t know any other word to use here).   “Ignorance is now preferable to knowledge.”  Changing school names or toppling statutes of our founders and adopting the 1619 Project curriculum doesn’t “require any evidence of historical knowledge”.

And lastly, “wokeness is a new religion and is growing faster than Christianity” according to Hansen.  Let that sink in. It is not just a way to view racial justice; it is an ideology which demands conformity. The woke “gospel” is brought to us by Silicon Valley which is the “new Vatican”. In some ways, wokeness mirrors Islamist Jihadists.  Any person denying their creed is treated as an infidel; no redemption is allowed.

Hansen notes that American fear these rules but do so privately and publicly appear to accept these rules. In part that is because of the risk of public “flogging” on social media. 

The next Generation – particularly Gen Z – make decisions which are informed by equality for all and the woke culture overall, according to Tim Elmore. They are also an “anything goes” generation – they have grown up in an environment when “traditional morals are in question.” They feel betrayed by the older generation and are questioning “everything” just as the Boomers did in the 1960’s.

The challenge here is obvious. These new rules and the trends that underly them are taking this country by storm. I am sitting in Madison, GA right now, and I am reminded of Sherman’s union army march from Atlanta, GA to the ocean during the Civil War where he met little resistance. As a result almost every city in the way was destroyed (except Madison). 

Our next generation has questions just as prior generations have had,  but the traditional sources for getting answers has changed. We can no longer rely on schools to provide historically accurate answers. Mentors are needed to provide a correct historical and biblical context for our culture. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: Mentors can be heard over the media din if you have developed a trust relationship with your mentee. 

FURTHER READING:  MMT is a Disaster Waiting to Happen – James Rickards

Taking on Progressive Prosecutors – City Journal

School Board Members Reportedly Targeting Parents Who oppose Critical Race Theory

The Educational Woke-Ocracy – Federalist

25 Cities Where Crime is Soaring – Samuel Stebbins

Ten Terms that Define Generation Z Today – Elmore

Course Corrections:  Two Narratives for Generation Z – free eBook 

WORSHIP: There is Nothing That Our God Can’t Do – Passion

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Priorities

There was a man all alone;
    he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
    yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
    “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
    a miserable business!

Ecclesiastes 4:8

I look back at my life and can often see where my priorities were out of balance. I’ll bet you can too, and they still may need tweaking even now. There was a time that I was the workaholic described by Solomon above. I was never satisfied with how much I had to the detriment of my family.

When I became a Christian, I knew something was badly out of kilter and that I was missing something. It was a game changer for me.

A friend of mine, Mark Wohlschlaeger, recently gave me a short book written by Mike Breen and Ben Stenke. It is titled Oikonomics.  It is an intriguing and worthwhile read and the good news? It is less than 100 pages.

The title uses the word Oikofrom the Greek word meaning house. The second part is based on the Greek word nomos which means “custom” or “law”. Thus, the original word “economy” was the rule or management of a household.  

Oikos meant more than a house with a family; it includes the broader relationships of the family of aunts, uncles and even business associates. 

The book looks at what the authors describe as the “Five Capitals” that each person invests in during their lifetime.  Each Capital is a different dimension to a person, but Jesus spoke about all of them. As the authors note, He was a great economist.  These concepts are another way of describing how one prioritizes his life. 

The five “Capitals” include Spiritual Capital, Relationship Capital, Physical Capital, Intellectual Capital, and lastly, Financial Capital.  That list is the order that Jesus prescribes, for Jesus considered Spiritual Capital as the most valuable. 

What intrigues me about the list is that I and others have gotten the list mixed up and in the wrong order. Jesus said:  Love God first and your neighbor as yourself second.  That puts Spiritual Capital (loving God) and Relational Capital (loving your neighbor) in order. But we often seek one or more of the other “Capitals” first.

Spiritual capital is a “way of talking about our relationship with God” which is our spiritual equity that we can invest in others. Its currency is wisdom and power. 

Relationship Capital is how much relational equity that we can use in investing in others. Mentoring the next generation comes to mind. It is an example of using that currency.

Intellectual capital is how much “creativity, ideas and knowledge” we have to invest. Physical Capital, similarly, is how much time and energy we have, resulting in how we use our time and our health.  Being physically and emotionally fit is important to maintain our other priorities.

Finally, Financial Capital is how much treasure we have to invest, as a result of our careers. Its currency is money.  Most are familiar with this, and we often get it wrong and put this at the top of the list. It can be, as the author’s note, “overvalued”.

The authors cite that studies show that after a certain threshold of income is achieved, “obtaining more money has almost no impact” on our satisfaction with life.  

The recent spectacular financial demise of philanthropist Bill Hwang is a case in point on misplaced priorities. As a person, he was charitable with many recipients including Fuller Seminary, Young Life and other Christian causes.

Yet, somehow, his motive to maximize the increase of his wealth took him to make foolish leveraged bets on the stock market with devastating financial effects. Billions of dollars were lost by banks who facilitated his investments.

Greed takes many forms.  Ecclesiastes 4:8 comes to mind where the workaholic invests all of his time and effort in his career without asking the question “Why am I doing this?”  Bill Hwang apparently didn’t ask that question either.

Where the authors take these concepts in different environments is thought provoking and interesting.  For example, the priorities of the Five Capitals in the workplace are in the following order of value: 

  1. Financial
  2. Intellectual
  3. Relational
  4. Physical
  5. Spiritual

That makes sense, but these are not the balanced priorities that Jesus taught.

In Academics, the order of value switches somewhat to the following:

  1. Intellectual
  2. Financial
  3. Relational
  4. Physical
  5. Spiritual

And finally, the order of the values of capital in the Church may surprise you:

  1. Physical (attendance)
  2. Financial (tithes and offerings)
  3. Relational
  4. Spiritual 
  5. Intellectual

If there was ever a messed up order of priorities for a church, these are the times. We are seeing wholesale closing of churches in America after the pandemic, and most of them are closing because of the above priorities.  

Churches that survive in today’s world will value the Spiritual Capital of its members most. Investing in the next generation is important and mentoring is one of the tools that God has given us to pass on our Spiritual Capital to future generations. 

The challenge is for each of us to consider what our priorities are and what they should be according to Jesus. It is easy to get sidetracked. The next generation is also struggling with their priorities in a very difficult cultural world. They need help in navigating the right choices.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  A mentor has experienced  wrong priorities and choices in life and is in the best position to guide a mentee to avoid mistakes. That is invaluable. 

FURTHER READING:  Oikonomics:  How to Invest in Life’s Five Capitals the Way Jesus Did

Money only Buys Happiness for a Certain Amount – Purdue

WORSHIP:  Is He Worthy – Chris Tomlin

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Benjamin Franklin

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

In this day and time, most millennials and Gen Z probably know Ben Franklin best for his picture on the $100 bill.  What has been lost is that he was a gifted writer, publisher, diplomat, inventor, scientist and even a swimmer.  

He is the only person to have signed all four documents which created the United States, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Treaty of Alliance with France, and the Treaty of Paris which ended the Revolutionary war with Great Britain in 1783.  But he was never President.

Even though he only had two years of formal education, he was the publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanack from which came the saying:  “Early to bed, early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise.”  His writing contributions included contributing to the drafting of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. 

Ben was also a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame which grew out of his swimming in Boston and he even invented wooden paddles which he used to propel himself in the Charles River. 

Another invention came out of his musical talent. He invented a glass armonica which became popular with Beethoven, Strauss and Mozart who created music for it. He even created a phonetic alphabet because he was annoyed by the inconsistencies of English spelling. 

As many other founders, Franklin has been caught up in the Cancel Culture movement to erase historical figures based solely on their connection to slavery. In later life, Ben Franklin staunchly opposed slavery and became an abolitionist. He freed his own slave and demanded that his children free their slaves in order to inherit anything from him in his will.

Not bad for a man who at age 16 set out with only 4 rolls of bread and 25 cents (2 shillings) in his pocket plus the clothes on his back. One wonders how he achieved so much, and the real answer comes from his autobiography:  his father’s influence on his life. We can learn from that. 

The world has changed a lot since the 1700’s in terms of family values.  I have already written about the devastating impact that the lack of fathers has on their children. The statistics are grim. Since 1960, the number of unwed mothers has gone from 5% to 41% in 2015 according to the Center for Disease Control. 

At the same time, children raised in fatherless homes has tripled for white households and doubled for black households during the same time period according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For white families, the number of fatherless households was 18.3% in 2010, and a shocking 48.5% for blacks. That’s almost half.

The question that comes to mind is how Benjamin Franklin’s father influenced him to greatnessand how we can use those principles today? Fortunately, Ben Franklin’s autobiography details three things every father or mentor can do for the next generation.  They are not complicated.

First, Ben’s father helped him with his homework. Ben was a gifted writer and worked at a print shop, and his father, Josiah, “offered constructive criticism to help his son’s writing.”  I resonated with that because my father did the same with me in high school, and I, in turn, have helped each of my children with their writing.

Second, Ben’s father educated him about life and instilled good values in him.   Ben wrote: “I remember well his [father] being frequently visited by leading people, who consulted him for his opinion on the affairs of the town or of the church he belonged to.”  Dinner often included some “sensible friend” to converse with and Ben’s father would select an ingenious topic to discuss.

“By this”, Ben writes, “he turned our attention to what was good, just and prudent in the conduct of life.” 

Third, he helped his son for his future career. Ben had no interest in becoming a candle maker like his father.  His father realized that and made the effort to introduce Ben to different trades that were available. Ben realized he loved tools, and his career ultimately led him to the printing trade.

When I was a young college student trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, my father contacted some of his friends in different occupations and set up meetings for me to talk to them and find out what their careers looked like from the inside. I met an accountant, a stock broker, and an expert in public utilities. 

It opened my eyes to possible careers different from my father and was extremely helpful. I am grateful for his help.

Many in the millennial generation have married and started families. As a father or a mentor, your challenge is to come alongside and help them understand their value as parents and how they can help shape their children’s lives. 

As Ben Franklin notes, you only have to do three things.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  You are in a position to help your mentee on at some of the things that helped Ben Franklin to greatness. It is an invaluable investment in their future.

FURTHER READING 11 Fun Facts About Ben Franklin History.com

The Autobiography or Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin – History.com

Why Fathers Matter: 3 Things Ben Franklin’s Father Did to Raise Him to Greatness – Epoch Times

WORSHIP:  This We Know – Vertical Church

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The Woke Gospel

 

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. Revelation 22:18

Being “woke” is defined as being sensitive to injustice in society, particularly racism.  In America, only the black race matters which is being pushed forward by the Black Lives Matter movement in schoolsgovernmentuniversities, Hollywood, the militarycorporations, and even the study of mathematics.

Much of it is likely to end up in the courts as flouting the clear non-discrimination provisions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Schools were designed to teach students how think, not what to think. Another word for this is indoctrination.

Asians and Latinos who have faced discrimination don’t get a seat at the table. It is a one horse race based on Critical Race Theory (CRT) which is historically flawed and a distortion of this country’s beginnings.  

It is a cultural pandemic that is now infecting our Churches. It is the age old question about Christianity – is the Gospel enough to deal with all cultural problems, or does it need a little help by inviting something from the outside to deal with race?

This issue is now a central issue in the Southern Baptist Convention where a measure was adopted stating that CRT and “intersectionality” are useful analytical lenses.  CRT is defined as something that “explain how race has and continues to function in society”.

Intersectionality is “the study how different personal characteristics overlap and inform one’s experience”.   Brad Jukovich of the Conservative Baptist Network, said that the SBC resolution is taking a “road that is twisting what God’s Word is saying about things like human sexuality, biblical racial reconciliation and socialistic justice.” I agree. 

In fact, I would go one step farther and state that this drift toward incorporating the “world’s values” is actually false teaching and those that advance it are false leaders.  

At a meeting of the MentorLink roundtable in Kenya several years ago, the international leadership were emphatic in wanting to have a tool to call out false leaders and teachers. The collective result can be found here

At every step along its path, the Christian church has balanced the sanctity of the Gospel with current world views which can easily creep in.  In the second century, for example, something grew called The Third Way.

The Third Way was a movement to recenter Christianity which had gone in two opposite directions at the time. One stream bought into, openly embraced and reflected culture. In other words, it looked like the it was “of the world” not just “in the world”.

The other stream went in the opposite direction into a classically separatist movement which put Christians in isolation from the world. Its isolation made it largely irrelevant to the surrounding culture.

The Third Way permitted Christians to engage the culture without compromise yet remain distinct without being isolated and irrelevant. At the center of the movement was the identity of Jesus and becoming a disciple by following Him. 

I am the first to admit that race has been, and probably always will be, a very difficult and complex issue for Christians. It is a personal one to my black brothers and sisters, which makes it personal to me.  I don’t see people as black or white. I see them for their character and potential. 

One of the big issues with CRT is that it eliminates any chance at redemption or forgiveness. You are judged on what a group did centuries before, and therefore you, as an individual, cannot be redeemed and there is no atonement.

Our God is a God of second chances, and he judges us individually, not as a group. Even King David was redeemed despite the fact that he had Uriah murdered to gain access to Bathsheba.  

On the last day when you stand before Christ at the judgment seat, He won’t be asking questions about your racial group. He will be asking what you did (or did not do) with your life, your talents and your gifts for the Kingdom.

The move by some to incorporate CRT into the Church is actually a move to say that it is the Bible plus something else which needs to solve racial problems.  I would only note that John, in the concluding paragraphs of Revelation, gave a stern warning that this is bad idea with dire consequences.

The challenge is that this pervasive philosophy and ideology which has Marxist beginnings is coming at the next generation from many directions, and now some churches are joining in that message.  Jesus, not the world’s values, is our Cornerstone.

MENTOR TAKEAWAYYour mentee may have had some level of exposure to CRT. You should educate yourself on the biblical worldview to be able to counter it.

FURTHER READING:  Conservative Baptist Network Launched Amid “Woke” Trend in SBC– Christian Post

John Piper Explains Why He Believes CRT is a Problem for Christians – Black Christian News

A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory – Tim Keller        

Subversive Education – City Journal                

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Equity

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return. Genesis 3:19

Equity has such a nice feel to it. It has the connotation of fairness and is a bedrock principle of American law.  Courts in equity always attempted to come to a fair and equitable result.  But the word has now been hi-jacked into something entirely different. The change in meaning is intentional to disguise an agenda. It is really a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

So, let’s start with the classical dictionary definition of equity which is: “Justice according to natural law or right; specifically, freedom from bias or favoritism.”  That is not a new definition.

But now, we have a new racially tinged definition where progressives have taken a word and changed its definition to suit their purpose, which is intentionally confusing. The new definition is now something else entirely. “Equity involves trying to understand and give people what they need to enjoy full and healthy lives.” 

Note the operative verb “give”, not “earn” or help someone to advance using their own self-effort. It is not a “hand up” to help those who are disadvantaged to improve their life circumstances. It is a pure handout and viewed as an entitlement. 

Recently, President Biden issued an Executive Order which orders the Federal Government to Advance Racial Equity.  It starts out with the phrase “equal opportunity” but that’s not where it ends up. 

I have previously written about the Marxist threat to our culture and our country. One of the techniques that this movement uses is to take words of common meaning and change the meaning so that the casual observer thinks that what they are doing sounds good. Equity and Social Justice are two examples. 

Equity is different from equality which is “equal treatment under the law”. As Charles Lipson writes: “It’s the difference between equal treatment and equal outcomes. Equality means equal treatment, unbiased competition and impartially judged outcomes.” 

He continues: “Equity means equal outcomes, achieved, if necessary, by unequal treatment, biased competition and preferential judging.”  This is diametrically opposed to our founding principles that all people should be treated equally and judged as individuals, not as members of groups. 

The words from our Constitution that “all men are created equal” are not a myth. 

The push for equity also contradicts centuries of Anglo-Saxon law and the Enlightenment principle of equal treatment for people of different social class and religion. As Lipson notes, the claims for unequal treatment are carefully hidden in “word salads” praising equity and social justice.

This move to racial equity is also unbiblical. God’s economic system is based on a work ethic. It is a principle, and like most biblical principles, if violated, has unintended consequences. In my 45 year law career, I observed the sad results of the unintended consequences of wealthy parents leaving their children so well off that they didn’t have to work.

Invariably, second and third generations do not lead productive lives if they haven’t earned it. One very wealthy client went to an estate planning seminar and asked the presenter how many children in the second or third generation who have been inherited wealth actually lead successful and productive lives. 

My client was prepared for an answer of a small percentage. Instead, the presenter said that in his entire 30 year career, no child was successful. Not one.  That answer changed his idea of leaving his children and grandchildren a lot of money.

The reason?  The next generation didn’t learn to work, resulting in a life that no one would admire. This same conclusion was confirmed to me by a lawyer who worked in one of the largest Trust companies in the U.S. whose responsibilities involved doling out trust money to children of wealthy people. He said that large inheritances, instead of helping children and grandchildren, usually did the opposite.

The point is that wealth does not assure success. On the other end of the spectrum, equity will not produce what those who advance it as a policy.  It is based on Critical Race Theory which is flawed historically and biblically. 

The move to equity is a claim that “the unfair treatment of previous generations or perhaps a disadvantaged childhood entitles one to special consideration today as an adult”.  In other words, treating people differently based on their race “could be based on a history of discrimination that has existed for a long time.” 

That last quote comes from Marcia Fudge during her testimony before the Senate so she can be confirmed as Secretary of HUD

In order to achieve the goal of equal outcomes, one might ask how and when are the outcomes to be fair enough? The goal posts can be easily moved. Equity is really a new name for “the oldest program of achieving equal outcomes”. It’s called Socialism. A rose by any other name is still a rose.

Ironically, I believe that many of means and programs to create “equity” will violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits any discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The Act was intended to eliminate racial discrimination to blacks, but it cuts both ways. A lot of this will end up in the courts. 

The challenge here is that we are facing a progressive push for equal outcomes, not equal opportunity. We need to be wary and push back when we can. The push for equity is not just at the federal level, but in our school systems and Universities. The next generation is in favor of socialism and equity without realizing what they are asking for. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:   Racism is a tough issue to deal with, and it is very complex. Your mentee may not be aware of the universal failure of socialism as an economic system, so the term “equity” might sound like a good approach. 

FURTHER READING:  ‘Equity’ Is a Mandate to Discriminate – WSJ

The Feds “Racial Equity” Dilemma – WSJ

How Equality Lost to ‘Equity’ – WSJ

Why Socialism Always Fails – AEI

WORSHIP:  Your Grace Is Enough – Tomlin

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Curve Ball

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kind. James 1:2

For those who aren’t familiar with the term “curve ball”, it is a pitch in baseball which curves to the right or left and is intended to confuse batters. It often works, and there have been great hitters in major league baseball over the years who were never able to hit the curve ball successfully.

It also is an expression I use as to events of life.  Just when you expect something, God throws you a curve ball and you have to react to something unexpected.  This past week is an example of a COVID curve ball to our family.

My youngest son took his family skiing out in Montana. On one of the last runs down the mountain, his wife, Lanie, fell and broke a bone in her foot. They returned to their home in Washington, DC where she went to an orthopedic doctor who took X-rays.

The doctor confirmed that she had a broken bone in her foot which needed surgery. Just putting the foot in a cast would not fix the problem.  That was Monday and surgery was scheduled for Friday.  

As part of the protocols for the surgery, the hospital required the family (Richard and three children) to be tested for COVID. 

Early on Wednesday morning I texted my son, Richard to check on things. He replied that they were getting an MRI of the ankle at that moment, and Lanie’s parents were coming to help in her recovery.  Everything lined up and looked in place. So far, so good.

When I returned to our home around 10 am, my wife was on the phone with Richard and put him on speaker phone

Lanie and their children’s tests came back negative, but Richard’s test came back positive. This was a real curve ball. If Richard was positive, he would have to quarantine himself for up to 14 days. He couldn’t help his wife who was in pain and needed surgery and she couldn’t help him. And neither of them could help their three kids. 

Richard said: “Mom, my head is spinning.  I don’t even know where to start to deal with this.”  That statement comes from a person who has an abundance of common sense and is quick to solve problems. Not this time.

Lanie’s parents had not been vaccinated yet. That meant Lanie’s parents couldn’t come, but we could because we had been vaccinated. After a small discussion, we decided that Sis (my wife) would fly to Washington to help out.  I put her on a plane in the early afternoon. Sis needed to be in DC and that was paramount.  You drop everything for someone in need if you can.

In the middle of all of that chaos, I reached out to close friends to start praying for our situation. Until you have had COVID invade your life, you don’t realize how quickly the world can turn upside down. 

I now appreciate how disruptive a positive test can be. For example, Sis couldn’t fly home because one of the questions they ask at the airport before you board a plan is “Have you been in contact with anyone who has COVID?”  If the answer is “yes”, you don’t fly.

In hindsight,  we were grateful that we had gotten our vaccinations early. We had planned to go skiing with my daughter the following week. That went out the window.  

I called the airlines to change our ski trip flights with hat in hand to see what could be done. When the representative came on, she asked how she could help.  I said: “I have a COVID problem.”  She laughed and said: “We get a lot of those”. Tickets got cancelled and changed and we collectively decided that I should stay on the ski trip with my family. .

On Wednesday night, I got a chance to talk to Sis and said: “I’ll bet they are glad you came.”  She said Lanie cried when she arrived, which actually made me tear up.  That’s a picture of gratitude 

Several people suggested Richard get a retested for COVID, because there is a 30% chance that his test was a “false” positive. He got retested as soon as he could but quarantined himself in their house in the interim. 

The next morning, he got the test results which were negative.  Just to be sure, he took a third test which came back negative on Friday morning.  Things were looking up.  Lanie’s surgery went fine, but she must stay off her leg for 12 weeks, so she will need some help for a while.  

Not all stories turn out as well as ours (except for Lanie’s broken foot), but it’s an important lesson on dealing with a curve ball in life. It is also a lesson on how we can help another in need when they cannot do it themselves. Having friends and family to rally around you is important.

In this day and time, the next generation have had a lot of curve balls thrown at them.  Lockdowns and COVID protocols have limited normal interaction with their friends. They feel isolated and lonely.

We need to rally around them and let them know that they aren’t facing life alone. Family and friends are a key to solving the curve balls of life, even if they just pray for you.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY: When your mentee gets a curve ball in life, you can come beside him and help him (or her) make good decisions.  We need one another.

WORSHIP:  More Than a Hallelujah – Amy Grant

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Happy Socks

Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Genesis 18:13

Many of my recent posts have covered serous topics that affect our world, culture and the next generation.  Scripture is full of human emotions, but we often don’t emphasize laughter and joy. Even Sarah and Abraham got the joke when she got pregnant at age 90.

But life isn’t all serious all of the time.  I identify with the picture above, because I have a lot of socks that are colorful and made by a company called “Happysocks”.  

I was delighted to find out they actually have stores where they have a huge selection to choose from. I wear them to church, and people come up to me so see what I have on that day. The colorful socks make a quiet statement that I am not all that serious. 

When it comes to humor, I have always wondered where the name funny bone originated. For one thing, it is not a bone, but something called the ulnar nerve in your elbow. For another, if you are unfortunate enough to strike that nerve, it is anything but funny. It can be very painful.  

In this day and time, when the pandemic has so affected our daily lives and routines, it is hard to maintain a sense of humor. There is a lot of humor in the bible, but much of it is obscured by cultural subtleties and the Hebrew language which don’t translate well. 

Mark Biddle wrote a book several years back called A Time to Laugh: Humor in the Bible which takes a look at six bible characters who did unexpected things. His book breaks through the language and cultural distinctives to show readers how they can actually “get the joke”. 

But we don’t need to look at bible humor to get a laugh.  I believe people need to lighten up and not lose their sense of humor, even when things get difficult.  I interact regularly with people around the world who live in much more difficult life circumstances than I do.  I make a point to try and get them to laugh, even if it is at my own expense.  

On a Zoom call with my friend Sam Sundersingh in Chennai, India, a couple of weeks ago, I asked how he was doing.  He said he was suffering from tennis elbow.  Now, I know Sam well enough to know that he doesn’t play tennis, so I replied: “Stop playing tennis!”. Sam wrote back “I love your sense of humor.”  I made him smile, which made me smile.

There used to be a section in the magazine Reader’s Digest titled “Laughter is the Best Medicine”.  It contained humorous stories – many of them true.  They still have a section devoted to funny and humor.  

I always loved to read their jokes and stories, and am a firm believer that laughter is good medicine for almost every occasion.  Our family get-togethers with kids and grandkids are full of laughter.  It makes life go a lot better. Certainly more fun.

Some of my humor is self-directed at stupid things I’ve done or said or because I  forgot something.  My wife is a great list maker so she can mark off things and not let them slip through the cracks. She actually volunteered to keep a list of things to do for me when I retired.  I declined, of course.

Recently, we went together to the grocery store.  Instead of bringing a list, she turned to me and said we only need to get two things, so “help me remember to get item A and B”. “No problem”, I responded. We got to the grocery store, and quickly found item A and she turned to me and asked me what item B was. 

I totally blanked out and couldn’t remember. We laughed at each other. The result was that we bought a lot of other things hoping we could remember, or if we didn’t remember, we might get it by accident.  We still don’t remember what item B was, and that’s pretty funny to us. Humor is where you find it, even in mundane circumstances.

For the next generation, which has endured a big recession and more recently a pandemic, humor may be hard to come by. Life can be very serious at times, but it is not serious all the time.   Passing on your humor to others can be infectious, even if it means just wearing Happy Socks.

Both Abraham and Sarah laughed when God told them that she would conceive, and she would be the mother of all nations. It’s a good example to all of us.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  Life is serious enough, but easier to take with a little humor. Your mentee will appreciate it when you lighten his day.

FURTHER READING:  A Time to Laugh: Humor in the BibleBiddle

WORSHHIP:  I’m Going Free (Jailbreak) -Vertical Church Band

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The Great Reset

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. Romans 8:13

For the past 50 years, there is an annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.  It is the goal of the forum “to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.”

The list of attendees is an annual “who’s-who” in the world – leaders of business, technology, political leaders all mingle and exchange ideas. These are the movers and shakers in the world.  Many are billionaires.

They are the global elite. They are also current day pharisees who were the religious elite in biblical times. Instead of extolling outward religious appearance, the new brand of “pharisees” advocates eliminating fossil fuels in the world. An example is John Kerry, the new Climate Change Envoy of the Biden administration and a speaker at Davos. 

Last month, Kerry was questioned on why he flew his private jet to Iceland to receive a climate change ice sculpture award. He defended emitting 40 times the amount of carbon emissions per person had he flown on a commercial flight, saying he was entitled to fly private jet because he needed to get things done for climate change.  

In other words, rules for thee, but not for me. Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites. Reminds me of the saying that if a shoe fits, wear it.

Not all are enamored with the Great Reset. I never thought I would agree with Putin, the President of Russia.  Putin realizes that eliminating fossil fuels will decimate the Russian economy which relies on exports of oil and gas. He spoke at Davos via teleconference and said “not so fast”.

Klaus Schwab, the founder of WEF, says that the goals are to revamp “all aspects of our societies and economies” from “education to social contracts to working conditions.” They avoid using the term socialism”, but to me, rose is still a rose even by another name. 

Increasingly, the agenda has taken on progressive issues like gender equality, inclusivity and climate change. Included in their tasks is what has been called The Great Reset which was adopted in 2020 as a response to COVID 19.

One has to look behind the curtain a bit to see where this is going.  WEF uses terms like “social justice” and changes to our social system to be more “fair, resilient and sustainable”. Sounds good, but let’s look at it from a biblical worldview. 

According to the WEF, climate change requires us “to decarbonize the economy” and to bring human thinking and behavior “into harmony with nature.” The aim is to build “more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies.” 

Under the covers, one can see the move to socialist ideas propounded by Bernie Sanders, and Alexandria Cortez, et al, including the Green New Deal Plan.  The latter would cost an estimated $32 trillion in the US alone. Mind you that until 2019, our annual federal budget was $3 trillion.

In order to pay for these grandiose programs, one has to adopt Modern Monetary Theory which has its own flaws.  On top of that, it sets up radical goals including being carbon neutral and using only renewable clean energy in 10 years.

The world cannot run on renewable green energy alone through windmills and solar panels. Texas and California are suffering from over reliance on renewable energy – 25% of Texas electrical production comes from wind turbines in the western part of the state.  Both have mothballed fossil fuel plants that are reliable. 

A series of winter storms has shown the fallacy, and the result is that people are dying in Texas because of power outages. It is a complicated issue, but it is clear that the failure of the system was partly caused by unreliable green energy like wind power. 

When snow covers the solar panels and wind turbines freeze, energy production stops. There is inadequate backup from fossil fuels to fill in the gap. This is happening in Germany, too, where renewables are now 40% of its supply of electricity and they have been closing fossil fuel and nuclear plants. With a harsh winter, they now have rolling blackouts of electricity.

The Davos summit also included thousands of members of the Global Shapers Community who are trained youth from 400 cities around the globe. Many have received training from the Al Gore founded Climate Reality Project.  These are activists like Greta Thornbergwho are well-intentioned but misguided. 

At the January session in Davos,  Xi Jinping called on the world to be “inclusive” and to “uphold the common values of humanity”,  ignoring the fact that China is committing genocide of the Uighurs and people in rural Tibet.  Religious persecution of Christians and other minorities is ongoing in China.  Somehow, the term “inclusivity” doesn’t mean what I thought it did.

The Great Reset is frightening in many ways, not the least of which it is the enemy of capitalism,  personal freedoms and Christian values.  The pandemic is a crisis that was perfect storm for them to advance a radical transformation of our world. As one writer put it, “the consensus has emerged at the annual Davos meetings that the world needs a revolution, and that reforms have taken too long.”

In Romans 8:21, Paul describes a biblical form of reset – a time in the future where creation will be liberated from decay and bondage.  But that will be done by God, not by human hands.  Only He can reset creation as he has promised.

This short post cannot adequately detail how radical the Great Reset is for transforming the world and society. I have provided additional resources below. I would ask that you educate yourself, because many influential leaders in government and business are already advancing the Great Reset agenda on many fronts. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  The next generation are very concerned about climate change. They need a dialogue with a mentor to provide reality to aspirational green energy goals which are not realistic.

FURTHER READING: The Great Reset: A Dystopian Future? Williams

The Great Reset for Dummies – Lena 

Stakeholder Capitalism – Rosenwald

From Lockdowns to the Great Reset – Mueller

Introducing the Great Reset: World Leaders Radical Plan to Transform the Economy -MSN

Five Questions Christians Should be Asking About the Great Reset – Gospel Coalition

Church Leaders and the Great Reset – Culture Watch

Texas Freeze Raises Cost of Charging a Tesla to $900

Great Reset? Putin says, “Not so Fast”

WORSHHIP: Awesome God

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The Gold Standard


Divide your means seven ways, or even eight, for you do not know what disaster may happen on earth.  
Ecclesiastes 11:1

Gold has been the currency of choice going back to 600 B.C. in what is now modern day Turkey.  Many countries, including the United States have had a gold standard at one time which means that paper currency is backed by gold reserves.  

The U.S. went on a gold standard in 1830.  Winston Churchill, in his storied career as Chancellor of the Exchequer, brought England back to the gold standard in 1925. It was controversial and he was widely criticized for his actions.  

Churchill later said that the “world” thought he was the worst Chancellor of the Exchequer ever. Looking back in 1930, he noted that he agreed with them, so “now it is unanimous”.

America printed its first paper currency in 1861.  In 1900, The Gold Standard Act made gold the only metal for redeeming paper currency and gold’s value was set at $20.67 and ounce.  European countries followed suit in the 1870’s printing money which was backed by its value in gold.

When World War I broke out, the U.S. and European countries abandoned the gold standard so they could print enough money to pay for the war cost.  Post-war, countries returned to a modified gold exchange, but when the Great Depression hit, the United States again abandoned the gold standard.

On April 20, 1933, President Roosevelt ordered Americans to turn in their gold (including jewelry) in exchange for dollars in order to prohibit hoarding and the redemption of gold by other countries. My mother was 24 at the time and remembered this event. 

Since America held the majority of the world’s gold,  most countries simply pegged the value of their currency to the dollar instead of gold. President Nixon terminated the ability to convert dollars into gold in 1971 and changed the fixed price of gold.  

Currencies in the post gold standard are now exchanged based on free markets, with the dollar still the primary reserve currency of the world. That may change in the near future.

The departure from the gold standard is important because now countries can print money without the being limited by how much gold reserves they own. 

Fast forward to today where we face what is called MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) which is a supercharged version of government fiat money. This is the new paradigm.

MMT argues that countries can print as much money as they want without concern of consequences.  While governments should have budgets, they don’t worry about debt because there is no limit to how much money they can print.

You have to understand the gold standard in order to see how far “out” the MMT paradigm is.  Sadly, it is upon us, both in the US and in Europe.  The European Union and the US have reacted to the COVID pandemic by enacting trillion-dollar stimulus packages to prop up their economies. They are literally printing fiat money.

The amount of national debt doesn’t seem to concern politicians – either here or abroad. Mind you this is happening during a time of unprecedented low interest rates and low inflation.

But what happens when inflation returns and interest rates increase?  Under normal circumstances, higher interest rates would cause a reduction in other parts of the federal budget.  

MMT advocates like Larry Summers of Harvard suggest that the new paradigm is that we should ignore the federal deficit and that “government borrowing for the right purposes is prudent.”  It assumes low interest rates for a long time in the future.  I am not so sure.

We didn’t foresee 9/11, nor how the world economy would be devastated by COVID.  Higher interest rates will eventually happen and could be a wrecking ball to the world’s economy.

While there are scholarly articles praising MMT, this is an untested economic theory and a departure from Keynesian economics and its effect on the developing world

What should a Christian do in uncertain economic times like this?  The answer comes from Solomon (above):  Diversify, for you don’t know what disaster “may occur on earth”.  For the next generation, some of whom are caught up in the Robinhood stonk frenzy, they need to learn prudent financial habits to survive in changing economic times.

Millennials, in particular, are caught in the crosshairs. They were recovering from the 2008 recession when COVID changed the job markets almost overnight. 

They need to save for retirement more than earlier generations because their social security benefits will not be the same. The Social Security fund is due to run out of money in the next 14 years. They need to plan for greater resources to get them through a longer life expectancy.

Motley Fool  has an abundance of free information about financial planning, retirement and investing basics. It is a great unbiased resource for the next generation to get sensible advice to help make good financial decisions. As mentors, we can be a Nehemiah in their lives helping them fill holes in their financial walls. 

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:   You don’t have to be a professional financial advisor to help your mentee learn to budget and make sound financial decisions.

FURTHER READINGThe Gold Standard – Loudis

What is Modern Monetary Theory – Likos

World Debt Clocks

5 Facts About the National Debt

5 Problems with MMT

The Upside Down World of MMT –Murphy

Addressing Social Security’s Shortfall – Motley Fool

Millennials Need to Save More if they Want to Retire Like their Parents and Grandparents

If I Could Do It Again: Retiree’s Investing Advice for their Younger Selves – Motley Fool

WORSHHIP: Crowns – Hillsong

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