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In the spirit of the times in which we live as well as our recent celebration of Father’s Day, I thought it apropos to share an article that I recently read entitled The 12 Things The Negro Must Do For Himself by Nannie Helen Burroughs.  It originates from a booklet that was sold in the early 1900’s but echoes true given the climate of the times and the need for People of Color to transcend an ever increasing contradictory context.  It was shared on the web by Black Men in America.com.  Take a thoughtful and critical look at the list below and determine how it can apply in our modern setting individually and collectively. 

- Dr. Craig L. Oliver, Sr.

  1. The Negro Must Learn To Put First Things First.  The First Things Are:  Education; Development of Character Traits; A Trade and Home Ownership. 
    • The Negro puts too much of his earning in clothes, in food, in show and in having what he calls “a good time.”  The Dr. Kelly Miller said, “The Negro buys what he WANTS and begs for what he Needs.”  Too true!
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“You are not fighting for a victory…You are fighting from victory! Victory is already yours.”

  • - Priscilla Shirer

The audacious and tenacious faith we possess to declare “i” WIN in all circumstances and over all adversity is founded in our connection to the ULTIMATE WINNER’s victory.  We WIN because Jesus Christ emerged victorious over Death, Hell, and the Grave and by virtue of His victory righteousness and justification have been imputed to us.  Moreover, our justification through faith in Him has given us access to His efficacious grace whereby we are empowered to stand victoriously! We WIN because He WON!

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“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”

- Winston Churchill

Perhaps one of the most challenging obstacles that we face in our lives is the challenge to remain focused and on task when there are multiple things competing for our attention.  Even when engaged in God-inspired spiritual work the tendency to shift our focus to the most recent or sensational items can be compelling.  The mark of a true WINNER is highlighted in the person who has the ability to maintain their focus regardless of distractions, fears, and alternative agendas contending for their attention.  We WIN by remaining FOCUSED!

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“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.”

— Ralph Lauren

Some of you may look at where you are in your life and ponder the question: How did I get here? The truth is, we all end up somewhere in life, but very few of us arrive to our destinations by way of intention.  Clear vision is the deciding factor between arriving at your place of destination intentionally and stumbling along into it.  True leaders understand the value of having clear vision! 

The Israelites of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, were exiled to Babylon 150 years before Nehemiah’s time.  After seventy years of Babylonian captivity and in accordance with the prophets, the Persians under King Cyrus, overthrew the Babylonians to assume power.  By way of Divine Providence the heart of King Cyrus was moved to allow the Hebrews to return to Judah and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  Nehemiah’s family along with many other Jews elected to stay in Persia as they had fared well under Persian rule.  Nehemiah had been identified as an intelligent worker in the court of the king and rose through the ranks to become his cupbearer ensuring that wine served to King Artaxerxes was safe and serving as his counselor and confidant. 

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“My conscience is captive to the Word of God.”

- Martin Luther

One of the most powerful things that we can do as sons and daughters of God is to get into agreement with the Word of God.  To agree with the Word of God means that we walk in step with its directions, ordinances, and trajectory.  It means that we choose His will over our own even when our emotions would lead us elsewhere.  WINNERS recognize the utter futility in trying to live a life contrary to God’s Word and conversely understand the power involved in aligning oneself congruent with it. 

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“If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart.”

-          Neil Anderson

Did you know that we are all called to be missionaries every day? The average person has a mental construct of missionary work being abroad in the jungles of some third-world country replete with sleeping on dirt floors, eating little to no food, and keeping an eye out for wild animals with whom you may temporarily share living quarters.  Let me challenge you, however, to actively renovate your paradigm concerning the work of the missionary.  The work of the missionary, in the life of the believer, can occur in everyday circumstances.  This is what I call being an “Everyday Missionary”.

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“I shall participate, I shall contribute, and in so doing, I will be the gainer.”

  • Walter Annenberg

Each of us has a unique virtue and grace assigned to us by God that gives expression to His presence in the earth.  We have an inimitable set of skills that comprise our imprint on the world designed to answer a specific need or call in the earth.  These talents and virtues were given to us to actively engage them in service to our families, our communities, and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.     

We all win when everyone actively participates collaboratively functioning as a single unit to accomplish the mission.  A common quote often attributed to Gestalt psychology theorists is “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” which intimates that we are far more effective functioning collaboratively rather than the sum total of our individual efforts.  Simply put we can accomplish far more working together than we can apart from each other.     

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