Weekly Thought – March 5, 2019
Fred asked questions much more frequently than he gave opinions and advice. On the Breakfast With Fred website there are over 300 questions he asked. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but gives everyone an effective help in mentoring others and in personal development. Before his death, daughter Brenda asked him many of the questions and captured his top of mind answers.
Fred’s files are replete with speech memos, “middle of the night” thoughts, correspondence, and articles. In 2019 we are going to begin another phase of uncovering and organizing the material to continue providing his timely and timeless wisdom. Thank you for supporting our efforts through your prayerful and financial support.
- Q: Do I drag difficult experiences from the past into the future? Fred Smith (FS): Certainly the past can become a real drag on the future. The remembered past is often made up of mistakes and sins. The human mistakes we can do our best to correct. The sins must be confessed and then forgiven by God. Putting the past into proper perspective may be a difficult, but worthwhile discipline. To take the Apostle Paul’s advice, “forgetting the past, I press forward.”
- Q: Do I basically motivate or manipulate people? FS: It all depends on one’s definition of each. I have the simple rule that motivation is recognizing mutual interest and manipulation is concerned with only my advantage in mind. Many times leaders who claim to be motivators are in reality manipulating for selfish purposes. Serving the other person or the business isn’t their primary concern. I know one writer who said he was writing a book on motivation titled, “How to get others to do what you want.” That is manipulation, not motivation.
- Q: How do I separate spirituality from superstition? FS: I had a friend who formed a corporation and promised to give 15% of the profits to Christian causes. As I talked with him I felt this was an act of superstition, rather than spirituality. Without accusing him, I felt he was almost bribing God to bring success to the enterprise. The CEO of a nationally traded company told me the SEC should investigate a company he knew because they claimed Christ served on their board. My response was to seriously doubt this claim when the stock dropped precipitously. We cannot manipulate and maneuver God with gestures which are actually forms of bribery. He is interested in our obedience, not just our success. We must be careful to make judgments and assessments, though. One person’s act of spirituality can be another’s superstitious behavior.
- Q: How do I view respect tradition and view change? FS: I certainly respect meaningful traditions which exemplify scriptural principles. Change should always be aimed at improvement and not simply the avoidance of boredom. There can never be progress without change. However, change just for its sake doesn’t assure progress.
- Q: Do I pray to change God or change me? FS: I do not believe I have any power to change God. My talking with Him aligns my will to His. Loving cars I use an automotive way of thinking about this. When I am getting ready to talk with God I get myself into neutral gear without turning off the engine. This allows me to go in whichever direction He chooses. It is on His itinerary and schedule, not mine. Christ in the garden was the example: “Thy will be done, not mine.” I believe God can act differently in various circumstances without changing His character. Because God is immutable He can adjust the appropriate action to the circumstances.
This week think about: 1) How much time am I spending asking questions? 2) Which of these spurs my thinking? 3) What mental disciplines do I need to be pursuing?
Words of Wisdom: “There can never be progress without change. However, change just for its sake doesn’t assure progress.”
Wisdom from the Word: “When the queen of Sheba heard about Solomon, she came to challenge him with difficult questions.” (1 Kings 10:1 NET Bible).