Author Archives: rogerallred

Money Essentials for Kids

coins-in-hand-1245246-639x477I have played a game with my grandchildren where I give them choice of a piece of candy or a $1 bill.  When they choose the money, I know that their parents have begun the process of teaching that child about the value of money.  That, however, is just the beginning of the lessons that need to be taught.

Money will be a powerful force in the lives of our children.  They will not intuitively know how to handle it.  Parents have the responsibility to teach these basic money management lessons. 

  1. People are more important than cool stuff.

It is not the one who has the most toys that is happiest.  It is the person who has done the most with his or her life.  Happiness cannot be measured in terms of dollars, as popular philosophy teaches.  “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” — Helen Keller

As the Bible says, “The love of money of money is the root of all evil.”  We need to teach to value others more than we value money and to use our money to show what we value.

  1. Learn to delay gratification

If we want our children to be happy, we will help them understand this thought from Zig Ziglar, “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”  That warning applies to more than just money.

Children typically want to spend money as soon as they get it.  “I have heard that money talks but when I give it to my kids, all it says is, ‘Good Bye!”  We must teach that money can often provide instant gratification, but that gratification leads to regret when they don’t have the cash to buy something that they want even more.

  1. There is a difference between needs and wants

If children are so coddled that they believe that all of their “wants” are “needs,” we have created an insatiable beast.  Some adults also have this problem and they usually end up in bankruptcy court.

When spoiled children get everything they want, they usually become ungrateful for what they do receive.  Ingratitude has its own set of problems.  Eugene Hansen gave this wise instruction, “It has been said that the sin of ingratitude is more serious than the sin of revenge.  With revenge, we return evil for evil, but with ingratitude, we return evil for good.”

  1. An allowance is not payment for doing household chores.

Giving the children an allowance is a good way to teach money management.  It also frees the parent from being constantly used as the kids private ATM.  You give them an allowance and then tell them to live within their means – a lesson that many never learn.

Since the parents provide the necessities of life and most of the wants of their children, children must be required to do something for the privilege of being pampered.  If you pay your kids to do their chores, you are setting yourself up for labor slowdowns and strikes.  You don’t want to have to negotiate with a child about whether he should pick up the family room, even if it is his baby sister’s stuff.

  1. Save money for improvement and opportunity.

Hopefully, our children will want an education to prepare to take care of themselves.  They should also want to prepare for marriage and having children of their own.  They must begin when they are young to save for these and other significant events so that they will see the value of these goals.

Children can be taught how to budget by keeping a spending log.  The spending log documents all the money they receive and where they spend their money.  This spending log will provide a basis for creating a budget.  Budgeting is a critical tool and practice in becoming a responsible adult.

  1. Comparison shop.

Learning how to shop is nearly as important as learning how to make money.  You can’t fill a sieve with water and you can’t earn more money than you can spend.

Children should be taught how to evaluate the options.  They need to distinguish between quality products and shoddy workmanship that appeals to the eye but doesn’t last.  They also must understand quantity discounts and the relative value of generic products.

  1. Use credit wisely.

Credit cards are not money.  Just because we have checks doesn’t mean we have money.  Just because we can qualify for a loan doesn’t mean we should borrow.  Borrowing for a house or an education might make sense.  Every other kind of debt should be avoided, if at all possible.

Buy only what we can afford.  Pay the credit card bill completely every month.  Let the kids know that staying out of debt, especially credit card debt, is very important to you.

  1. You can’t have everything.

Everyone must set priorities because no one can have everything.  Buy necessities, including insurance, and save a portion for luxuries and unforeseen expenses. No one knows what the future holds, but we must do our best to prepare for it. 

Kids must understand that an automobile is the ultimate money eater.  Almost every teenager has found a “great deal’ on a used car.  They have the money to buy the car but they don’t even think of the cost of gas, insurance, repairs, etc.  Many have purchased a car only to become its slave.  They neglect school, church and other responsibilities because they have to work to pay for the addiction. Cars are big tin holes you throw your money into.

  1. Help others.

Starting at an early age, children must know that you use some of your money to help others.  Talk to them about paying tithing to your church, supporting the homeless center or helping a relative who lost his/her job.  Being charitable is the best way to overcome selfishness.

  1. Learn the basics of economics

Help your kids understand the fundamentals of capitalism, socialism and taxation, the pros and cons of big government, and the law of supply and demand.  Without understanding these concepts, our children will be wrongly influenced by those who have never had to make a profit, be accountable for a budget, or live within their means, and that money can corrupt people and organizations. 

Since money influences almost every aspect of our lives, parents must be cautious about how important money is to them, how they react when the money is in short supply and how they spend the money they have.  As you contemplate your child’s future, think about the words of Alexander Graham Bell, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

A version of this article was published by here.

A Pebble of Kindness Always Creates a Ripple

A19pebbleThe American clergyman, Edward Everett Hale, said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”  The concept of just doing “something” to help others is inspiring. 

As humans, we often think of something we could do for someone else but rationalize not doing anything.  We might think, “Someone else will take care of it,” or “I don’t want to appear to be foolish, or presumptive, or self-righteous,” or “They brought this calamity on themselves,” or, or, or…

My wife, Sue, and I know how simple acts of kindness can profoundly impact one’s life.  The following are examples of what others have done for us that might serve as food for thought.

Guidance – In my early teens, I was making a smart aleck remark at a Boy Scout meeting.  Byron privately told me that I was “better than that,” and encouraged me to change my attitude.  I am a better man because of it.

Helping – When we were just starting out as a young married couple, we only had one car and three children.  Many kind friends helped us by taking the family to meetings when I was on assignment elsewhere.  That service strengthened our determination to help others whenever we can.

Random encouragement – Several times when we took our nine children out to eat, random people would complement us on the behavior of our kids.  Raising children to be good adults is made easier when others are supportive.

Simple gestures – Kris came to visit Sue on her birthday when we were new in the area and brought her a bouquet of flowers from Kris’ yard, placed in a Mason jar.  It brightened Sue’s day and created a lasting memory.

Advice – As we tried to find a cardiologist to care for my deteriorating heart condition, Bruce, a doctor, helped us find the best possible care.  It allowed me to feel better and have confidence in the future.

Listening – I was in the hospital being treated for heart failure symptoms and Sue was left at home to care for our children.  Alana was there to lend a listening ear.  It was just what Sue needed at that time.

Comfort – When I was waiting for a heart transplant, Katy would always check on Sue to make sure that she was OK and give her encouragement.  It helped her when I was not able to help.

Making life sweeter – When Sue was out of town, Randy and Becca made it a point to invite me over to their house for dinner.  Kind acts always create better friendships.

Job assistance – Dennis helped me find and get jobs, on two different occasions.  The income from those jobs was essential for our family.

Physical labor – When I lost my job, we had to move to a rental house.  Ron brought over a moving van and helped us move our large family.  The manual labor was much needed but the kindness was even sweeter.

Charity – Terry and Karen heard that I had lost a job and was having a difficult time finding another.  One night, they came to our house with several bags of food for our family.          They did the good that they felt they should.

Compliments – Both of my younger brothers have said, “You’re my hero.”  Kind words strengthen bonds of love.

Letters – When we moved from the home where we raised our children, Brian took the time to mail me a letter telling me how much he appreciated our friendship.  That letter is a wonderful keepsake and his friendship is priceless.

Neighborliness – Our neighbor, Fred, is well past retirement age but he insists on mowing our lawn because he is already mowing his.  He shows his Christianity in his actions.       

If we all did something meaningful for another every day, the impact would be like a tidal wave of goodness washing over a world of selfishness.  You never know how much good your simple act of kindness will do, but be assured; a pebble of kindness always creates a ripple.

Listen if you want to be a good parent…Listen

shoe-carrier-1433922-639x852Child rearing is relatively intuitive for those who want to be a good parent, once we get past our selfishness and ego.  This means that child rearing books are usually not necessary because generations of good parents have raised well-adjusted and good children without them.  I am a CPA by training so you will not find any psychological theory in this article, but you will find what has seemed to work for the nine children that my wife and I have raised.   

Every one of us is unique.  Methods that help one child might not help the next.  Therefore, the wise parent will listen to other’s ideas and decide what is best for each individual child.

The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”  This is truly wise counsel when raising children.  It’s not easy but it is essential.

These are five important reasons to listen to our kids:

  1. It shows them that they are loved.

Time invested in our children when they are in their early teens will yield dividends for their entire lives.  When you listen, it shows your children how much you value them and their opinions.  Take time to hold and kiss your children and tell them that you love them.  Love in words and in actions.  Even teenagers need to be hugged, whether they admit it or not.  This is particularly important when disciplining is necessary.

  1. At times, they just need to vent.

 There are plenty of causes of stress in children’s lives.  The home should be the shock-absorber, not the shock-creator in life.  Children must know that they are safe sharing problems with their parents.  As much as possible, control your temper, control your tone, control your preaching and allow them to blow off steam.  When they settle down, you can respond honestly and share facts and your feelings.

  1. Given enough time, they can usually solve their own problems.

The best way for children to grow up and take responsibility for their actions and for their own mental health is for them to evaluate and solve their own problems.  Good parents are good sounding boards.  Ask questions.  Never say, “You always…,” or “You never…,” because exaggerations undermine your credibility.  Give them enough time to come to their own solutions.

  1. Sometimes, they will reveal issues that are very important to know.

If you listen well, you will learn what is bothering your kids.  You want to know these things.  Allowing my kids to explain themselves fully, has saved me many times from saying the wrong thing and given me needed information.  Even if there is a serious problem, it is better to know the full extent of the problem before looking for solutions.  Think before responding and reinforce your love for them before you share the harsh realities of consequences.

  1. It is the best way to know what kind of people they are becoming.

You can only know what is going on in their head if they tell you.  You can assume that you know, but you don’t.  You want to develop a relationship with them that will last so, admit when you are wrong, show them how important they are, use humor to make the situation less tense and praise them every time you can, without artificial flattery.

My nine kids will assure you that I am a very imperfect parent, but I tried.  Even as badly as I behaved at times, our ninth child wrote this after she graduated from high school, “I knew I could tell Dad anything.  I knew that although Dad didn’t particularly care who was dating who in my choir class, he would always be there to listen. He may have rolled his eyes or laughed at my stories, but I knew he was listening and really cared what I had to say.”

Relationships that last into adulthood are built on having serious conversations with our children when they know we are listening, that we love them, and that we are considerate of their opinions.  Listen.


A version of this article was published by here.

Money Is A Big Deal

money-money-1518532-639x425Many say, “Money is the root of all evil.”  On the other hand, Mark Twain said, “The lack of money is the root of all evil.”  While each statement has its arguments, the apostle Paul is more accurate, “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10).  The love of money leads to selfishness, pride and defiance.

Money matters because it influences almost every aspect of our lives; therefore, it is imperative that we distinguish when money is a curse or a blessing.

Money is a curse when it…

  1. Is used just to buy a lot of cool stuff. The philosophy that “The one who dies with the most toys, wins,” naturally separates us from others because, in this selfish state, we obsess about things rather than enjoying people.  The American Bar Association has determined that arguments over money are the most common cause of divorce in the United States.  Cool stuff will never be as fulfilling as loving relationships. 
  2. Is used to impress others. A desire for conspicuous consumption sells a lot of houses and fancy cars.  The downside is that impressing others is a phantom that cannot be captured, no matter how much money is wasted.  Parents must be cautious about how important money is to them, how they react when the money is in short supply and how they spend the money they have.  As my wife wrote, “Live where you are comfortable.  We could have moved to a country club neighborhood one time.  I said, ‘Not until we can keep up with the Jones’.  I don’t want our kids to feel like they are playing catch up.”
  3. Gives you power to boss around other people. It is the nature and disposition of almost all people that when they get a little authority; they want to control others around them.  It is a test of one’s integrity to have the wealth or position to impose your will and opinions on others but choose to be collaborative.  Using money to stroke an ego reinforces arrogance and is damaging to any relationship.  It also gives the person a false sense of importance.
  4. Makes you think you can do whatever you want. How to properly handle money is not intuitive.  Watching the personal failures of suddenly-rich pop stars and athletes is proof.  No one can have everything and no one is above the law.  Some rich people get more consideration than they deserve, but it eventually catches up with them, often with tragic consequences.  
  5. Allows you to live a life a drugs, sex and rock and roll. A lifestyle of unconstrained excess is almost impossible to maintain and makes it absolutely impossible to achieve fulfillment as a person.  No one knows what the future holds but history shows that hedonism always ends badly – the money runs out, illness and accidents occur or the aging process catches up.  When any of these happens, the person who had lived “to party” is just another empty shell of someone who could have achieved success and happiness.

 Money is a blessing when it…

  1. Provides a roof over your head. In 1942, Abraham Maslow established what he called the Hierarchy of Needs.  Based on his studies of accomplished people, he established that physical safety is needed before people can focus on higher achievements.  Money frees up time and concentration so individuals can develop to the full extent of their potential.
  2. Feeds and clothes your family. Everyone wants to have the basic necessities and some of the luxuries of life.  Money can solve a multitude of annoying problems that can impede other worthy pursuits.  It makes day-to-day living more enjoyable for everyone.
  3. Increases access to education. There is an abundance of evidence that education increases earning power and promotes an appreciation for the diversity of people and philosophies. These are all blessings to those who take advantage of opportunities for learning.  The potential downside is succumbing to intellectualism, an arrogance that can corrode clear thinking.
  4.  Expands your sphere of influence for good. A good person that has money can improve the lives of many people.  Money also influences politics and politicians, and can be beneficial as long as politicians are not allowed to be compassionate by spending other people’s money on their pet projects.  The actions of good people and good politicians can help create better lives for individuals and a better civilization.
  5. Gives the means to help others. Helping others in need is a fundamental principal of Christianity and of all worthy religion.  There is real joy in rendering service.  Making monetary contributions to good causes is commendable, but the measure of a man/woman is not how much money is donated.  It is how much service is given and how others are treated.  Money allows people more time to do good.  Some examples are; helping at an elementary school, taking dinner to the sick, paying attention to those who need to talk, serving in the local government, etc.  We also need to be in tune with God so we will be guided to take care of those who truly need our help, including those we meet on the street.

There must be a distinction made between loving money for selfish reasons and using money to do good.  Money does not have a personality of its own.  Its use can help or hurt people; do wonderful or horrendous things.  The same dollar bill can cause a murder or help the needy; it can care for the ill or buy addicting drugs; it can bring people to God or cause nations to go to war. 

Money matters because our happiness can be enhanced or destroyed by how we honor it.  The secret is that we value others more than we value money and we use our money to show what we value.

A version of this article was published by here.

Your Words Label You    

exchange-of-ideas-222788_640Pygmalion was a sculptor in Greek mythology who fell in love with a statue of a woman he had carved.  The ivory statue was transformed into a human being by the goddess Athena to be Pygmalion’s wife.

The award winning Broadway play and film, My Fair Lady, was based on the play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.  In My Fair Lady, a girl from the gutter is transformed into a princess by Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics.  This transformation was not magic.  It was a transformation of how she saw herself and others saw her based on the way she spoke.  As professor Henry Higgins sings, “An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him.”

Whether we like it or not, the same is true today.  When you begin to speak, you are classifying yourself, creating your own label.  Your speech is your personal advertisement of how you want others to see you.  It might not be totally accurate but it is the billboard of yourself that you have erected.

Even in our society where there seems to be nothing sacred and where moral boundaries are quickly eroding, crude and vulgar language is still a sign of who you are.  Regardless of your title, profanity damages your authority and reputation.

Most intuitively agree with this explanation, “Profanity is the effort of a feeble mind to express itself forcibly” – Spencer W. Kimball.  If it takes profanity to make your point, then you are unable to express yourself adequately.  If don’t have a feeble mind, then you are using profanity because you lack the cultural, legal or charismatic authority to persuade others.

The following are five legitimate reasons that the use of crude or vulgar language by bosses, parents, coaches, foremen, etc. degrades your leadership.

  1. Crudeness is often associated the unlearned and uncultured. You might have many advanced degrees but when you use profanity, you are classified with those who speak as if the f-bomb is the only adjective they know. Some say that profanity is normal language for those in certain types of jobs.  If you aspire to be more that “just one of the boys,” speak like a man or woman of distinction.
  1. Using filthy language shows a lack of respect for oneself and all who are within earshot. It makes others uncomfortable to be subjected to such a display of boorishness.  People try to protect their children from profanity because they desire to protect their children’s innocence and virtue.  Virtue in adults is just as valuable and no one deserves to be assaulted with bad language.                                                                                                     
  2. Swearing is a sign of aggressiveness. Otherwise dignified people will launch into profanity when they are angry. In the workplace, this type of behavior could be cause for termination for an employee, or a lawsuit if it is a boss who is creating a hostile work environment.  Such aggressive behavior is not motivating at work, on the ball field or in the home.
  1. Profanity is not the sign of someone who is in control of him/her self. It is juvenile and it is what juveniles do to show that they do not have to follow rules.  One of my favorite shows is The Profit, with Marcus Lemonis.  Lemonis shows his remarkable talent helping businesses to succeed using his formula of “People, Process and Product.”  My only criticism of his method is that when he is in a confrontational situation, he reverts to the use of profanity to make his point.  This is not a good process to use with people to sell a product.  Self-control is always the best way to deal with others.
  1. It is obvious that Americans are not very concerned about offending God. Even though many believe in the Ten Commandments, they ignore the commandment that prohibits taking the name of the Lord in vain.  In today’s society, no one would use the N-word in polite society but using the name of God in vain is as commonplace as saying “lettuce.”  Let me be very clear, taking the name of God is vain is offensive to God and to those who worship Him.         

The way you speak classifies you.  By elevating your language and avoiding profanity, you transform yourself as a boss, a parent, a coach or a foreman.  You will have more respect for yourself and those you lead will have more respect for you.  You label yourself as a better person.

A version of this article was published by here.

The Six Secrets of Good HEALTH

heart-66888_640Good health is necessary for peak performance in any endeavor.  If you are a CEO, parent, minister or Little League coach, you will accomplish more if you feel well.  I remember being in a meeting over thirty years ago and the speaker said, “You are not much use to God in helping his children if you are dead.”  That was a wake-up call!  I came home and started a jogging regimen the next morning and have not stopped.

Most would agree that maintaining good health is a worthy goal.  The problem is that health problems typically sneak up on us so slowly that we delay making healthy choices until we have a serious issue.  Be proactive and begin a healthier lifestyle today.

The following are some ideas to help motivate you to identify what you might change for better H.E.A.L.T.H:


University of Illinois professor emeritus of psychology Ed Diener, a senior scientist for the Gallup Organization, of Princeton, N.J., led a team that analyzed more than 160 long-term studies of human subjects, experimental human and animal trials, and studies that evaluate the health status of people stressed by natural events.  He is quoted in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being as saying, “The overwhelming majority of studies support the conclusion that happiness is associated with health and longevity.”

Their review found “clear and compelling evidence” that – all else being equal – happy people tend to live longer and experience better health than their unhappy peers.

Shawn Achor, author of New York Times bestseller, “The Happiness Advantage,” and former Harvard University professor writes that studies have shown the following daily activities improve our level of happiness

  • Recall three things you’re grateful for
  • Journal a positive thing each day
  • Exercise
  • Meditate
  • Perform a random act of kindness.

Illness eventually comes to almost all people.  It is a part of life and must be dealt with rationally and with as much faith and hope as possible.  It doesn’t help to complain.  In fact, it is harmful.  Living as normally and happily as possible is better for everyone.


The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states these facts:                                                                                                  “To lose weight, you must use up more calories than you take in.”          ”People who have lost weight and kept it off typically engage in 60—90 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity most days of the week.”

Of course, it is easier said than done.  However, it will not become a burden if you:

  • Find an activity you enjoy
  • Exercise with someone whose company you enjoy
  • Set aside a regular time to exercise

I began jogging three miles a day, three to four days a week in my twenties.  I have continued that regimen but as I got older I increased the number of days and decreased the speed to a brisk walk.  The net effect is the same, burning calories.

Ron Friedman, identified in his article “Regular Exercise Is Part of Your Job,” in the Harvard Business Review, October 3, 2014, the following side benefits:

  • Improved concentration
  • Sharper memory
  • Faster learning
  • Prolonged mental stamina
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Lower stress

Appetite Control

Even though there is a new fad diet each month that some doctor or movie star endorses, there is only one that works.  Eat less, exercise more.  If that were not true, Oprah Winfrey would be skinny.

The CDC states, “Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.”  There is no reputable evidence that vegetarian or vegan diets are better for humans.  There is also no evidence that nutritional supplements are as healthy as proper food choices.

The CDC guidelines are as follows:

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Compare sodium in foods and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

My wife is the mother of nine children and she has always looked great.  This is her advice. “To lose weight and not make your body think you are starving – lose 5 to 8 pounds a season. That’s 20 to 30 pounds a year. You won’t have to buy so many new clothes and you go slow enough your body can get a new set point. You only need to tweak your diet or exercise program a little to lose 1 to 2 pounds a month.  To begin, I increased exercise by one day per week. Next, I ate an apple or had a drink of water when I started eating everything in sight.  Also, eat every four hours so your blood sugar doesn’t get so low you have to eat a lot.”

Loving Relationships

Our loving relationships with family and friends are more fulfilling than wealth, jobs, degrees, honors, fame, or anything else.  They are also essential to good health.

According to a Harvard Medical School publication, dated December 1, 2010, “Social connections like these not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.”

The U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health states this, “For example, Berkman and Syme (1979) showed that the risk of death among men and women with the fewest social ties was more than twice as high as the risk for adults with the most social ties. Moreover, this finding held even when socioeconomic status, health behaviors, and other variables that might influence mortality, were taken into account. Social ties also reduce mortality risk among adults with documented medical conditions. For instance, Brummett and colleagues (2001) found that, among adults with coronary artery disease, the socially isolated had a risk of subsequent cardiac death 2.4 times greater than their more socially connected peers.”

The message is – if you are fighting with your brother or have a grudge against your neighbor, stop it!  For the sake of your good health, be a better friend, neighbor and relative.

Time for Rest

Sleep deprivation has long been used to debilitate a captured enemy.  Don’t debilitate yourself.  Your good health depends on getting sufficient sleep, typically 7 – 8 hours every day for adults.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following to improve your sleep hygiene:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning.
  • Make sure your bedroom is a quiet and dark.
  • Make sure your bedroom is neither too hot nor too cold.
  • Make sure your bed is comfortable.
  • Do not use your bed for reading, watching TV, listening to music, etc.
  • Remove all TVs, computers, and other “gadgets” from the bedroom.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.

Habit Change

Nothing is more important to good health than eliminating bad health habits.

The CDC states, “More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States during its history.”

“Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is costly to our Nation, exacting more than $700 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and health care,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

The personal costs of substance abuse, include the following:

  • Drunk driving deaths
  • Automobile accidents
  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Life destroying alcoholism / cancer / disease
  • Divorce
  • Child and spousal abuse
  • Loss of a job
  • Loss of the trust of ones colleagues
  • Saying things that should never have been said
  • Wasted time, wasted money and wasted lives

Good H.E.A.L.T.H. is important to everyone so we can do the things we want to do, for our self-image and how others perceive us, for our longevity, our effectiveness at work and at home and for the enjoyment we get from every day of life.  Begin today to improve your own. 

If you want to help others, don’t continually badger them.  They know better than anyone that they have a problem.  They will ask for help when they want it if we let them know that we will help.  Until they ask, we should set a good example by exercising regularly, smiling, being kind, getting rid of unhealthy habits and eating healthy.  Most importantly, be good and do good.

A version of this article was published by here.

Principles, Priorities and Expediencies

road-sign-663368_640My mantra has always been, “Happiness is the objective of my existence.”  Simply put, this means that I will never knowingly do anything that does not contribute to my happiness.  The major caveat is that happiness rarely means immediate gratification.  As Zig Ziglar said, “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”

I have had a wonderful and happy life.  This might mean that I am one of those rare, if not fictional, people who never had problems in life. That is certainly not the case.  I have been fired three times from a job.  I was close to bankruptcy.  I am married to a woman who is as strong-willed as I am.  We had nine children with the exponential problems that come with an exponential number of kids.  Finally, I had heart disease for 13 years that lead to a heart transplant.

With that set of realities, maybe I was just deluded rather than happy.  I don’t think so.  I was happy because, in spite of obstacles, I was certain that I was being true to my mantra and I was working towards what I wanted most.

We all understand the importance of establishing priorities because we have seen what happens to people who have neither focus nor purpose in life.  “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else,” is how Yogi Berra, the renowned baseball catcher and philosopher, put it.

In order to find purpose in life and gain happiness we must establish priorities.  In addition, we must also understand the inter-relationship between principles, priorities and expediencies.

Principles – These are our core values and reflect those things that we believe in the most.  If one believes that riches will bring them the most happiness, then that person’s principles would be – “There is nothing more important than money.”  Or, “Make as much money as possible without risking going to jail.”

My principles are based on God’s laws; such things as virtue, honesty, kindness, etc.  These principles have kept me on course to a happy life.  That is not to say that I am always as virtuous, honest or kind as I ought to be.  However, when I get off course, because I have principles, I know what I have to do to get back on course.

Priorities – The duties that matter most are our priorities; such as our duty to God, our family, our work, our self-improvement, our country, etc.  If my priority is to have a career that produces the most income possible, I will make sure that I spend more time at work than at less important duties. I will also sacrifice whatever it takes to show everyone that my career is the most important thing in my life.

No priority in my life takes precedence over my duty to God, and then my family.  I must follow Him first.  In fact, the reason that I have been fired three times is that my employers expected me to make work my number one priority, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.  Work is very important but no job, boss or career is worth sacrificing those things that matter most.  I was a dedicated and hard-working employee but I was never going to do those things that violated my principles and priorities, so we parted ways.  No regrets.

Expediencies – Urgent demands that must take precedence over other priorities for a defined period of time are expediencies. Those would be such things as a family emergency, a big project at work, or helping someone in urgent need.

Our principles and priorities must never change but expediencies constantly change.  For example, my family is always a higher priority than my work.  However, my expediency is to be on the job each workday, focus completely on the task at hand and willingly work overtime, if necessary.  But, if I get a call to come home because a member of the family is going to the hospital, my expediency immediately changes.  My principles and priorities have not changed but the expediency of the family matter has taken precedence.

In conclusion, set-backs in my career, financial difficulties, family issues and health problems have all come to me.  None of these has kept me from being happy.  There is a joy and satisfaction in doing what you know to be right.  It will bring you self-respect and the respect and love of your spouse and children.  Being true to God’s principles also brings you his comfort, guidance and approval.  I know that true happiness comes in no other way.


A version of this article was published by here.

“God, you’re not the boss of me.”

angry-man-274175_640We recently visited our children who live across the country.  Since they live so far away, the grandsons are not used to having their grandparents around.  I was encouraging the youngest to help clean up his things in the living room.  He was not very happy and he looked up at me and said, “Grandpa, you’re not the boss of me.”

Later in the day, I was reading comments on Facebook regarding a post about religion.  I was shocked by the contempt and arrogance of some of the writers.  It was as if they were using adult words to express the same attitude as my grandson, “God, you’re not the boss of me.”

During my lifetime, I have met many people who have rejected or ignored God.  Their philosophies typically fit in one of the following five categories.

  1. “I believe in God, but I know what is best for me.”

These individuals recognize his presence, or at least, his potential presence.  But, they will not surrender their will to anyone, including God.  The only commandments that they will obey are those that carry a legal penalty.  They will not kill, or steal but the Sabbath is not a holy day, using God’s name in vain is nothing and sexual relations of any kind are fine with consenting adults.

Sadly, they do not understand the significance of God’s commandments and they miss out on the related benefits.  We can choose our actions but we can’t choose the consequences of those actions.  Commandments are the source of wonderful blessings from God. 

  1. “God cannot exist because he would not allow all the terrible things that happen to good people.”

This philosophy assumes that God would not allow this life to be unfair.  A natural disaster, a baby dying, or a child that is a drug addict would not exist in the world that they would create.  They believe that since all of those are present in this life’s experience, there is no God. 

The truth is that we do not have all knowledge and what we think we know could be false.  It is also true that life is not fair, but it was not meant to be fair.  It is a test of our faith and faithfulness. The faithful know that through the omniscience and omnipotence of God, all things will be made fair in the end.  God has a plan for us.  People of faith receive great peace in this life when things go badly.  The godless have nowhere to turn for peace when things go badly for them.

  1. “My parents taught me about God but the more educated I became, the less I could see his relevance.”

Being wealthy, or intellectual, or very talented are wonderful accomplishments, but they often bring an arrogance that stifles a belief in God.  Those who are self-sufficient frequently think that they are smarter than those who recognize God’s hand in their lives.  This pride usually causes them to think that they don’t really need God.  Sometimes they will participate in religion because of the sociality or because it provides good programs for their children.  They, however, pick and choose what to believe, and what is not up to their intellectual standards. 

This cafeteria style religion prevents them from fully benefiting from God’s love and guidance.  As Jorg Klebingat wrote, “Selective obedience brings selective blessings.”  Arrogance does not benefit anyone.  It strokes a man’s pride for a season but that season will end.  The wisdom of man is foolishness to God.  Nevertheless, God is always waiting for the proud to humble themselves and submit to his will.  When they do, life is better because following God is the only true path to happiness.

  1. “Religion (or a belief in God) is the opiate of the masses.”

Some belief there is no force, or intellect or power higher than that of man.  Atheists often uses past abuses by religions as justification for categorizing all religion as evil and destructive but they choose to ignore the fact that the godless have historically been worse.  They also ridicule faith as self-induced in order to escape the realities of life.  Their belief is that we came from nothing and we will end as nothing.  Even brilliant minds, such as Dr. Stephen Hawking, have been seduced by their own intelligence.

Denying God does not make him cease to exist.  It only blocks the path of peace, joy, inspiration, comfort, guidance, family solidarity, hope and love that could be enjoyed by those who choose to reject him.  True disciples of God, and not those who would impose their religion on others, have always enjoyed divine guidance and better lives.

  1. “I believe in a God that lets me have it my way.”

In the early 1970’s, Burger King introduced an ad campaign that told customers that they could, “Have it your way.”  It appears that many people want the same in religion.  They know God exists but they want him to allow them to live the way they choose.  In essence, they want to create God in man’s own image.  Some believe that they deserve to go to heaven because of what they believe and those who don’t believe the same as they do go to hell.

A God of justice would never give his people laws and not expect them to obey them, no matter what they claim to believe.  Our merciful God loves us and wants us to follow him because he knows that the more we become like him, the better and happier we are.  As a group, those who do what God commands have always been better people than those who have it their way.

As a Christian, I know that God lives.  I know that Jesus Christ loves me and has atoned for my sins, if I just repent.  I know from personal experience that Christ visits his people in their afflictions.  I know that when the Lord blesses his children, he usually meets our needs through another person.  I know that his commandments are a blessing to me.  I know that life is not fair but I know in whom I have trusted, that there is a purpose to my life and, through Christ, I can overcome any challenge.

God is the boss of me and I love him for it.

A version of this article was published by here.

The Hope of Easter

resurrected-christ-wilson-ong-212048-mobileOn September 11, 2001, when terrorists killed almost 3,000 innocent people and caused over $50 billion of property damage, my wife and I were on a business trip to Washington DC.  When the plane crashed into the Pentagon building, we were in our hotel, about 2 miles away. 

My meetings were cancelled but we couldn’t get a return flight to the West Coast because all planes were grounded for the next 6 days.  We watched the terrible replays on TV of the planes hitting the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, and saw people jump to their deaths.  We watched the broadcast of the touching memorial service at the National Cathedral. 

It was very eerie to wander the deserted city of Washington DC and see armed soldiers with Humvees at all the major intersections.   The nation was grieving, somber and unsure of the future.  People did not know where to turn for peace.  If you are old enough, you remember the feeling.

So it is when we face the death of someone who is dear to us.  We grieve, we are somber, we are unsure of the future of loved ones and we yearn for peace.

As a parent, I want my children and grandchildren to understand what I consider to be of utmost importance when they have to deal with my death or the death of anyone else that is dear to them.

These are the 5 things I consider to be the most important facts about death:

  1. When Peter rushed to the Garden Tomb after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, he discovered something very important…it was empty. It was empty because Jesus Christ had resurrected; the first person on this earth to do so.  More importantly, we all will resurrect because of Christ.  Death is a just a temporary separation from our family and friends.
  1. Neal A. Maxwell was the former Executive Vice-President of the University of Utah and died of leukemia. He said this, “Death is a mere comma, not an exclamation point!”  Since death is something that not even the most powerful and intelligent people on earth can control or adequately explain, death takes on a very sinister and mysterious aura.  With greater understanding that life is eternal, we realize that death is just a door to another, better life.  Death is not the most important event in our existence.  It is inconsequential compared to how we lived our life.
  1. There is no doubt that death brings sorrow and pain for those who are left. Russell M Nelson (Former director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and one of a team of doctors which created the first heart-lung machine) explains that, “The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.”  If we look at the death of a loved one from this aspect, we mourn because we loved; and love is the most important thing of all.
  1. It is our solemn obligation to show our support for those who are left to mourn. Of course, we weep for the loss of them that die, we mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.  We follow the example of Christ when he asked John to care for his mother, Mary, as he was being crucified.  We must care for those who are unable to care for themselves upon the death of their support.
  1. When faced with death, there is no comfort without a belief in a benevolent creator. The separation is complete and permanent if there is no God.  The song, “Where Can I Turn For Peace, by Emma Lou Thayne, explains the truth so well.  These are a few very meaningful stanzas:
Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.

Only in Jesus Christ can we find “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” (Phil 4:7)  I also know from my own personal experience, as I was at death’s door, that God visits his people in their afflictions.

In conclusion, I end with my favorite poem on the subject:

What is this thing that men call death,
This quiet passing in the night.
’Tis not the end, but genesis
Of better worlds and greater light.
O God, touch Thou my aching heart,
And calm my troubled, haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.
There is no death, but only change.
With recompense for victory won;
The gift of Him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy One.
                   – Gordon B. Hinckley

I am grateful for my understanding of the Lord’s plan of salvation, which is a plan of happiness.  Death is not a mysterious monster.  It is the doorway to greater happiness.  It gives me peace that, in the end, all will be right and I can enjoy the company of my family and friends for eternity – all because of Jesus Christ.


A version of this article was published by here.

“When you’re looking for an excuse, any one will do.” —— Roger C. Allred

Copy of SUB90This statement has universal application.  As your legal counsel will tell you, “Anyone can sue anyone else, any time for anything.”  That does not mean that the lawsuit is justified nor that it will end well for the person doing the suing, but it is a fact.

The same principle applies to leadership.  It could be said, “Anyone can justify anything at any time.”  This type of self-justification can destroy an organization if the leader is prone to making excuses.  As Mitt Romney said, “Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses.”

A leader can talk the talk of leadership, but if the leader doesn’t walk the talk no one will follow.  Psychologists also explain that leaders experience “cognitive dissonance” if there is inconsistency in what they say versus what they do.  Cognitive dissonance describes the anxiety that one feels when there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors.

No one likes the feeling of being anxious, so something must be done to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.  The failing leader can chose to do one of three things:

  1. Walk the talk of leadership.  This is, by far, the most difficult answer because it requires a change of attitude and performance.  However, it is the only choice for someone who wants to be a successful persuasive leader. 
  2. Stop faking leadership and say what he/she really thinks.  This is an honest but dangerous approach.  All of the leader’s cards are on the table and employees will have to decide if they are willing to work for a tyrant or a crook or an incompetent or a narcissist, etc.
  3. Make excuses – because any one will do.

The following are examples of leadership failures where the cognitive dissonance is temporarily relieved by an excuse.   

  1. I know that we should obey the rules but I am under incredible pressure to get this problem solved in any way we can.
  2. I know that most leaders praise their employees for a job well done, but I shouldn’t need to praise people for doing their jobs.
  3. I know that we need to work as a cohesive team but my employees are dumber than a box of rocks.
  4. I know that members of my staff are having serious disagreements but my employees work better when I let them fight it out.
  5. I know that my goal should be to create a positive work environment but I have to micromanage to get what I want.
  6. I know that I should train my employees and encourage learning but that’s not the way that I learned the business.
  7. I know that I should help members of my team to succeed but if they get too much credit, I might look bad.
  8. I know that I should reward my employees fairly but I am sure that would come back to bite me since “no good deed goes unpunished.”
  9. I know that I need to create a safe workplace but these goals and policies were developed by someone who doesn’t have to implement them.
  10. I know that it is more effective to discipline my employees in private and give them suggestions on how to improve but if I yell at them in front of their peers, everyone will know that I am in control.

These ten examples are just a beginning of the excuses that people in positions of leadership make.  Everyone is prone to make excuses for poor performance, but the successful leader will diligently work to eliminate excuses and show true leadership.

The “Four Way Test” established by Rotary International is an excellent way to question the virtue of our choices.  It will help to determine if our choice is a valid reason or an excuse.  The Four Way Test is this:

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Is it fair to all concerned?
  3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
  4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

“When you’re looking for an excuse, any one will do.”  Great leaders are those who stop looking.