In the NFL about this time of year, dreams die. That is, another team loses and is knocked out of the playoff race. Their dream of making it into the playoffs and hopefully getting to the Super Bowl can vanish in a weekend.
However, does that mean that the dream really died? Not at all. Pretty soon every team will begin to strategize for the next season, the next run. And the dream will live again.
Think about Joseph and his dreams in the book of Genesis:
Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words (Genesis 37:5-8).
Then through a series of incidents he found himself in an Egyptian prison. The years passed. As he sat in the prison cell I can imagine his dream continually surfaced in his mind.
I wonder, did his dream ever die? After a series of providential circumstances Joseph not only got out of prison, he rose to an unprecedented level of authority. Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground (Genesis 42:6).
Maybe your dream didn’t die. Maybe its just not the right time. As you get ready to begin a new year, maybe it’s time to dream again.
Joseph in the book of Genesis sat in a prison cell for well over a decade, but he eventually became a ruler in Egypt.
In the 1600s, John Bunyan sat in a prison cell for twelve years because of his preaching, but it was there that he wrote one of the greatest Christian classics of all time, “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”
And there are perseverance examples outside the church world.
In history and archaeology, King Tut was almost not King Tut. What I mean is today he is known around the world…but only because one guy persevered.
In 1904 at the age of 31, Howard Carter had no job and no money, so he left the field of archaeology. In 1907 a series of fortuitous events got him connected to the wealthy Lord Carnarvon.
At the same time another archaeologist, Theodore Davis, assumed there was nothing to be found in his search and gave up his rights for his digging area. Carter took over the spot and began years of digging.
In 1922 Lord Carnarvon told Carter he was done. You have to have money, so Carter pleaded with him to reconsider.
Carnarvon agreed to ONE MORE SEASON.
So on November 1 they started digging again. And on November 4 they found the stairway that led to King Tut’s tomb!
One of the greatest discoveries of all time was made possible ONLY BECAUSE OF PERSEVERANCE.
The fact is, we live in a quitter culture. People walk away from their jobs, their spouses, their new year’s resolutions, and their churches.
Near the end of the apostle Paul’s ministry some of his coworkers abandoned him. That absolutely amazes me. Just the thought of being able to serve alongside Paul fires me up. But people left him. My guess is, based on typical human reasoning, they had “good reasons” for leaving Paul high and dry. After all, they had “justifiable concerns” of Paul.
Over the years I have followed some pastors with incredible ministries. Men like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, and Perry Noble. Their stories are similar. They have all had good friends and coworkers abandon them, and of course, all left for “good reasons.” In every case it was the pastor’s fault.
So I’m sure it was the same for the apostle Paul.
Perhaps those who abandoned Paul were concerned that his prison sentence showed that God was not in his minstry.
Whatever their reasoning they left. But under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Paul in 2 Timothy 1:16 is asking God to greatly reward Onesiphorus who stood with him and encouraged him while he was lanquishing in prison. “May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains...”
My guess is you will cross paths with someone this week who has been abandoned by someone. They are feeling incredible loneliness.
Stay alert and take the time to step in and encourage. You will be glad you did. And God may just happen to shine on you, and even your family.
The story of how Starbucks almost went away, in fact it’s stock price was well below $10 a share, and how it recovered to where it is profitable and how it’s current stock price is at $60, is in one word, fascinating.
This is a great read for any individual or organizational leader to read. The quotes that I have included will just give you a taste of what’s in the book. Also, another word that describes the book is hope. The light had almost gone out at Starbucks.
While my copy is highlighted and dog-eared all over, I have chosen just a few quotes to give you an idea of what’s in the book. In the following quotes I have italicized some key words.
9. “Every time a barista had to tell a customer, ‘Sorry, we’re out of vanilla syrup’ or ‘We didn’t receive our banana shipment so I can’t make your Vivanno,’ the fragile trust between Starbucks and our partners and between Starbucks and our customers fractured.”
10. “Starbucks’ store managers were keys to the company’s transformation. All the cost cuts and innovation meant nothing unless our baristas understood their personal responsibility to connect with customers…” p. 193
11. “…reinforced how much a barista’s job matters given that he or she quite possibly might serve up the only human connection in a customer’s day.” p. 198
12. “I’ve never embraced traditional advertising for Starbucks…our success had been won with millions of daily interactions.” p. 211
13. “In September 2008, Starbucks had parted ways, somewhat painfully, with our primary advertising agency of four years…” p. 211
14. “…the more critical the times, the more important it is…to work together in a non-political, non-emotional, fact-focused way.” p. 221
15. “Although I never stopped believing that Starbucks would emerge from the darkness, I was nonetheless experiencing an emotional roller coaster daily.” p. 222
16. “And while I would not want to constantly battle against the odds, the raw feeling of accomplishing something that others did not think possible, or leading people beyond where they thought they could go, is extremely gratifying.” 302
17. “Never expect a silver bullet…Stick to your values…Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes…Believe.” p. 309
As you read the book you realize that Howard Schultz put himself through a lot. In other words, he had enough money. He did not have to go back to Starbucks. So why did he do it?
“Quite simply, I love this company and the responsibility that goes with it. Onward…” p. 311
Onward is a candid and compelling story of a remarkable comeback. This book is required reading.
As I get older I often tell Carol that I when I can no longer keep up on the court I will hang up my basketball shoes. Now that will be a tough day. Right now my goal is to be able to play until I’m sixty. Keep in mind most of the guys I play with are in their late twenties or thirties.
Fortunately for me I was blessed with some speed in the game. Actually it was speed not skill that often kept me on a team.
But the reality is as I age I will slow down. And when the day comes that I can no longer keep up, I will stop playing.
Now think how uncomfortable that is. How often does someone in the workplace approach their boss and admit that they are not keeping up? How hard is it to approach someone and tell them they are no longer keeping up? I still recall the days in steel erection where some guys just could not keep up, and we had to let them go.
One day you and I will leave our jobs. One day I will have to quit playing basketball. One day you and I will have to stop driving our cars.
Those will be tough days. But they are coming. And yes, it will continue to be one of life’s most difficult questions.
Am I still able to keep up?
Wouldn’t it be nice if our character was like that? What if we could develop courage and never think about it again?
What if we could learn to love really well and then put that one to rest?
We know that is not how life works. On the other hand, are we daily pursuing the development of our character? It’s actually harder than you think. On the other hand it’s not, in that we have daily opportunities to build upon our character.
Let’s take a look at several aspects of our character.
Courage: every day we are faced with choices between convenience and courage. Paul reminds Timothy that God has not given us the spirit of fear. 1 Timothy 1:6.
Discipline: this is doing today so you can have what you want tomorrow. Just like the boxer trains for the next match so we must do things today with tomorrow in sight. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV).
Delayed Gratification: sometimes we just have to work for something or wait on God’s timing. Jesus faced this in His own ministry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3 ESV).
Contentment: being thankful for what we have is always a challenge while we are on the journey to attaining or accomplishing more. But godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6 ESV)
Perseverance: the test of your character is what it takes to stop you. This phrase has been repeated countless times. The apostle Paul was able to come to the end of his life saying, I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7 ESV)
Love: this is not to be understood as a noun. It is a verb! That means it takes work just like all the other aspects of character. This one goes right up at the top. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Realize you will never be done. You can’t work on one and then go to the next one. No. You must work at spinning all the plates at the same time. Daily you will have opportunities to continue construction on your character.
How’s the building coming?
In many ways January is the height of the losing season. College football games, the NFL Playoffs, and personal reminders about 2013.
After all, that’s where New Year’s Resolutions came from. Failures or losses from the previous year are acknowledged and drive us into a new year.
Losses. Sometimes that’s where our focus is. Losses happen. If everyone won all the time there would be no inspiration to change.
Many losses sting for a long time. Whether it’s a championship game or a marital breakup or the loss of a job.
You can’t just shake it off in five minutes or five days or even five months.
Let’s admit it hurts. But let’s not quit playing.
5 Ways to Comeback After a Loss
1. Expect some horrible days. That’s normal.
2. Don’t take it personally. Yes, you experienced a loss, but that does not mean you are a loser. Auburn lost the National Championship game. Trust me. They are not a bunch of losers. Neither are you unless you pack it in and quit.
3. You may have to forgive someone. He missed a tackle, your spouse forgot it was your anniversary, or someone forgot to pick you up from the mechanics. Forgive and move forward.
4. Lose the guilt. We spend too much time focusing on what we did to contribute to the loss. The truth is you alone were likely not responsible for the loss.
5. Get back in the game. Never forget that others are watching. Your kids, your coworkers, and your teammates. Write down on a piece of paper what you think a winner would do after a devastating defeat. Then go do that. You know what to do.
Fascinating. You already know what to do. You already know the answer to the question, How do you come back after a loss?
Life is full of adversity. Obstacles seem to be around every corner.
If you ever feel like throwing in the towel and bailing on your dream think about the guy who…
*failed in business at the age of 32.
*ran for the state legislature and lost at the same age.
*gave business another shot at age 33 and failed again.
*lost his sweetheart at age 35.
*had a nervous breakdown at age 36.
*defeated running for Congress at 43.
*defeated again at age 48.
*ran for the Senate and defeated at 55.
*ran for Vice Presidency and defeated at 56.
*ran for the Senate again at 58 and lost again.
But he never QUIT!
*In 1860 he was elected President of the United States!!
Abraham Lincoln kept believing in himself.
Keep believing in yourself. You’ll be glad you did.