I’m passionate about employment.  My corporation in California currently employs 15 full-time people, six part-timers and a number of contract laborers.  During the past five years of recession, we have fought for every position and have let no one go for financial reasons. My wife and I always joined the team in taking 10% payroll cuts whenever needed.  We also continued to give medical and vacation benefits to our hard-working staff, considering it a privilege to help in any way we could.

It seems like its open season against employers and job providers. The bottom line is that providing employment is an amazing and noble endeavor. God Himself is the greatest provider of all. It is an interesting study to see how He provided for the fledgling nation of Israel in the wilderness. The ‘manna’ from heaven fell every morning to satisfy the hunger of a million people. Even after the Israelite people worshiped the golden calf, the next morning they woke up and the manna was there. Jesus was a provider and His great feedings of multitudes had one goal, provide the practical needs of people. Even on the cross while dying, Jesus called to Himself the apostle John and made sure that the care and provision of His mother Mary was transferred to John.

Jesus told one particularly insightful story about an employer in Matthew chapter 20. The man went looking for people to hire at the beginning of the day and then in the third hour, the sixth hour and again in the ninth hour. Even in the 11th hour he went again and hired more people. At the end of the day he paid them all the same. What I learn from this parable is that God loves to see people employed. The employer in this story represents God and his payment of the employees was based not just on what he could get from the employee but on what he could provide to them and for them. He saw employment as a way to bless people, to provide dignity and worth to their lives in addition to providing for their needs.

So what is the solution in our nation? Let’s encourage job providers, not punish them.  Let’s end the envy and the class warfare rhetoric. Let’s invest in American products, American workers and local home grown services.  Let’s return a climate of opportunity, growth and a celebration of success to our shores.

Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend to Husband and noticed a distinct slowdown in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend.

In addition, Husband uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance and Personal Attention and then installed undesirable programs such as Rugby, Football, Sailing and Continuous TV. Conversation no longer runs, and Housecleaning simply crashes the system. I’ve tried running Nagging to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?

Signed, Desperate


Dear Desperate,

First keep in mind, Boyfriend is an Entertainment Package, while Husband is an Operating System. Please enter the command: ‘http: I Thought You Loved Me.html’ and try to download Tears.

Don’t forget to install the Guilt update. If that application works as designed, Husband should then automatically run the applications Jewelery and Flowers, but remember – overuse of the above application can cause Husband to default to Grumpy Silence, Garden Shed or Beer. Beer is a very bad program that will download the Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-law (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources).. Also, do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband.

In summary, Husband is a great system, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. It also tends to work better running one task at a time. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend Food and Hot Lingerie.

Good Luck,
Tech Support

Now that the royal couple have tied the knot, I felt it was time to provide some practical advice on living peacefully with each other, not just Will and Kate but all of us. My wife and I have been ‘happily’ married for 25 years. She comes from a large Italian Midwest family with a few somewhat dubious connections. When we were engaged, my future mother in law called me over and issued to me the following dictate, “I just want you to know,” she said eerily, “that we in this family do not believe in divorce but we do believe in murder.”  I just want to repeat, we have been ‘happily’ married for 25 years (Just violated point #6).

Looking back at those years, I have tried to identify not only the fear of my mother in law as a source of marital success but also I must attribute it to my wife and I learning to overcome what we view as the 12 major sources of conflict in relationships. These we call the dirty dozen and they are listed below.

By revealing and understanding the roots of conflict, steps can be taken to resolve each challenging situation. Although these apply largely to marriage or dating relationships, most of the following principles actually apply to all human interactions.  If there is one area that people need help, it is in the arena of relational wisdom. This blog shares some powerful, insightful and helpful tips that provide some practical answers to conflict resolution.

A former teacher of mine once shared an anecdote about his marriage. He confessed at the time to have been at his wits end with his wife’s behavior. Being a person of faith he finally blurted out at her, “I cannot understand why God made you so beautiful and yet so stupid.” She barely missed a beat and fired back at him, “He made me beautiful so you would marry me and he made me stupid so I would marry you.” Sometimes it just takes one light sentence for a woman to put a 200 pound man in his place.

In the first blog on this topic, I will cover the first six areas of the dirty dozen and mention the other six. In a future blog, I will cover the other six in more detail. Let’s look at the first one.

1)   Pride – An old adage says, “Only by pride comes contention.” By this definition, whenever there is conflict, pride is either in one party or both. – Solution: both parties kick pride to the curb and swallow a good dose of humility. Remember that when you point a finger at someone else, there are 4 others pointing back at you. Always start with yourself and if both parties humble themselves, you create a pathway to forgiveness and healing in the conflict.

2)   Differences of Perspective – We all see things from a very subjective viewpoint. Often not understanding the other’s perspective leads to strife.  Solution: Each person needs to step out of their own shoes and make an effort to put themselves into the shoes of the other.  Role playing and arguing from the other’s point of view may help both of you understand where each person is coming from.

3)   Misunderstanding based on a lack of communication – How many times do people in a conflict start a sentence with “I thought…” Remember that a lack of communication always leaves room for imagination. Solution: a healthy dose of listening, not just to the words but also to the non-verbal communication of the other. Some have pointed out that God gave each of us one mouth but two ears, from which we can deduce that we should do twice as much listening as we do speaking. Whole wars have been started and continued because of bad communication. Probably the most famous is the Japanese Premier’s use of the word mokusatsu in response to the allies Potsdam ‘terms of surrender’ Declaration at the end of World War II. The word has two meanings, one is “to withhold comment for the moment” and the other means to “ignore”. The premier meant the former, the press interpreted the word as meaning the latter. The rest is history, Truman made the decision to drop the atomic bomb and hundreds of thousands of innocent lives were lost as a result. That’s an extreme example I know but the point is that miscommunication can have dire consequences.

4)   Differences of convictions, beliefs and opinions – These are often deep seated and frame our worldview. They can be like impenetrable barriers to healthy communication and understanding. Solution: People in close relationship need to have respect and a high degree of tolerance for the convictions of each other. Even the Apostle Paul in the New Testament taught that if someone has a problem eating meat, don’t criticize them. Never try and impose your freedom to do something on another human being’s inability to embrace your position. This must work both ways, liberal to conservative and conservative to liberal. Where there are few or no convictions, then some framework of right and wrong will have to be found, agreed upon and adopted if there is going to be peace.

5)   Selfish behavior – This is behavior that does not consider the implications of personal actions on the livelihood and well being of others.  A woman is free to smoke but not if she is carrying a child because then her actions will damage the life of an innocent other. People can consume alcohol but if they get behind the wheel of a car under the influence, then their behavior moves into a realm of utter selfishness. Gambling, drugs, alcohol, reckless spending and self-abuse would all fall into this category.  Solution: Each person in the relationship needs to understand that they are not an island unto themselves. Both parties must learn to respect the law of sowing and reaping and realize that every decision in life has consequences beyond themselves, both for good and for bad. Doing one’s best to obey the golden rule will solve most conflicts caused by selfish behavior.

6)   Outside influences (parents, relatives, work etc.) – This is a tough one for many because it overlaps a later reason for conflict, which is a lack of right priorities. Most of the conflict caused by outside influences in relationships come from people who have a high degree of manipulation and control in people’s lives. Solution: Ancient Jewish culture mandated that a man had to sever the controlling relationship with a father and mother when he got married. I only start with the influence of parents because the control of a mother in law is legendary in relational lore. When people outside a relationship try to interfere, they need to politely or not so politely be told to mind their own business. If that control is coming from a boss, boundaries to the influence need to be established. Work time and non-work time need to be clearly separated. So in a nutshell, identify the source of conflict from outside parties, set boundaries on it and do your best to neutralize or distance yourselves from those influences.

Here are the other 6 sources of conflict, which will be covered in Conflict Resolution Part 2

7)   A Violation of the three As – Adultery, addictions and abuse

8)   Unfulfilled and unrealistic expectations

9)   Finances – their mismanagement and a lack of communication & unity in their use.

10)  Wrong priorities

11)  A lack of clear good definition of roles and responsibilities in the relationship

12) A violation of the relational requirement to love and respect each other and to treat each other with dignity.

Please subscribe to the blog if you want to get notification as to when part 2 will post. You can also order a full copy of this message, which my wife and I team-taught for a Valentine’s Day meeting. It is hilarious but also very helpful, especially on the resolution side of the equation. Order that $10 Audio CD (shipping included) by clicking on the following link. Resolving Conflict


In another blog Hunting for Wolves, I encourage people to be optimistic no matter how bleak their situation looks. In the funny story below, the only lesson you can learn is to stick your (hopefully true) story no matter how crazy it may appear.

There were two friends in a park, one guy with a Doberman Pincher and the second guy with a Chihuahua. Both were extremely hungry so the owner of the Doberman Pincher said to his friend with the Chihuahua, “Let’s go over to that restaurant and get something to eat.”

The guy with the Chihuahua says, “We can’t go in that nice eating place. We have our dogs with us and they will never let us bring our dogs into that restaurant.”

The guy with the Doberman Pincher says, “Just follow my lead.” They both walked over to the restaurant. While the friend with the Chihuahua watched from the outside, the guy with the Doberman Pincher put on a pair of dark glasses, entered the restaurant and approached the maitre d’.

The maitre d’ immediately blocked him & the dog from entering and said, “I’m very sorry, sir, but our policy is that no pets are allowed in the restaurant.”

The guy with the Doberman Pincher said, “You don’t understand. This is my seeing-eye dog.”

The maitre d’ was incredulous, “What! a Doberman Pincher as a seeing-eye dog?”

The owner of the Doberman replied, “Yes, they’re using them now, they’re very good.”

The maitre d’ reluctantly relented, “I apologize sir, please come on in and be seated.”

Well the friend with the Chihuahua was watching all this from the outside and figured it was worth a try so he put on his pair of dark glasses and also walked in. The maitre d’ immediately stopped him and politely said,

“I’m so sorry, sir, we don’t allow pets in our restaurant.”

The man with the Chihuahua says, “You don’t understand. This is my seeing-eye dog.”

The maitre d’ this time responded, “What! You have a Chihuahua as a seeing eye dog?”

The man with the Chihuahua answered back and said, “What!!! Are you telling me they gave me a Chihuahua as a seeing-eye dog?”


This has to be one of the funniest stories I remember hearing, and I need to apologize upfront to PETA and to many wildlife lovers. I was raised in Africa and I love the wild, but please see the humor in this one without having your sensibilities violated!

The story revolved around a man going to court facing a felony conviction for being caught, red handed, eating a bald eagle. It appeared to be an open and shut case. The man was caught by park authorities, bird in mouth. The accused requested no lawyer, as the law was clear and the penalties were laid out by the state of California. The sentence mandated by the legislature was six months in a federal prison and a minimum $10,000 fine. The prosecution described the case and the judge was about to rule, when the accused raised his hand, requesting an opportunity to give a defense.

The judge allowed the accused to approach the bench. “Sir,” the man began, “please allow me to share my side of the story. You see I went hiking alone in the wilderness and got hopelessly lost. I ate all my supplies and drank all the water I had taken with me. After three days I was almost delirious with dehydration and came over a high mountain. There, far down below I saw a river and made my way carefully down the mountain to it. I was so relieved to find water, and I drank and drank to satiate my thirst. At this point I was starving and suddenly noticed some beautiful fish swimming in the river. I wished I had the tackle and bait to catch one of them, but I had none. Suddenly, right in front of me, a gorgeous bald eagle swooped down, picked up one of those fish, and flew up into the tree above my head. Then I began to think, if only I could get that eagle to drop the fish, I could at least eat the fish and satisfy my aching hunger. I picked up a nearby log and threw it at the eagle, never intending to hit it but just hoping to scare it into dropping the fish. Unfortunately, the log struck the eagle and killed it. Now I had a dead eagle, I was starving and I thought. ‘There is no use wasting it.’ I prepared it and had just started eating when a search party sent out to look for me arrived on the scene and arrested me.”

The judge was clearly moved. He struck his gavel and dismissed the case. As the accused was leaving the courtroom, the judge called him up to the bench one more time. This time in a whisper he said, “Sir, I was really moved by your story, but I have one personal question. Out of pure curiosity, please tell me, what does a bald eagle taste like?”

The man paused with a quizzical look on his face, “Well your honor, it’s more tender than a California condor, but not quite as tender as a spotted owl.”

This story tells how you should always look on the positive side of things no matter how bad your situation gets.

Phil and Ernie were friends who lived during the time of the Wild West in America. Wild animals still roamed the countryside and traveling without a gun was often dangerous. Phil and Ernie did not have a lot of money. They went from town to town looking for employment. One day they came across a poster, which was put there by the state government. The poster told how farmers were losing hundreds of sheep to packs of wolves that lived in the mountains. The poster then announced a reward of $1,000 for every wolf that anyone killed. Now in those days $1,000 was a large amount of money. Phil and Ernie scraped together enough money to buy a gun and they headed for the mountains to hunt wolves. For five days they searched for wolves and found none. One night they went to sleep in their small tent only to be awakened in the night by some terrible growling. Phil woke up and discovered a pack of 12 wolves surrounding them. They were hungry and Phil could see their eyes glowing as they came closer and closer. He reached over and shook Ernie. “Wake up Ernie,” he said, “you won’t believe it – we are rich.”

On a more serious note, if you or someone you love have lost a loved one, please check out this amazing story of former miss America, Cheryl Salem on the loss of her 5-yr old to a brain tumor. One of the most uplifting stories I have ever seen. http://berinblog.com/resources/

A young boy had just received his driver’s license. He asked his father, who was a rabbi, if they could discuss his use of the family car. His father took him into his study and said, “I’ll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study your Talmud a little, get your hair cut and then we’ll talk about it.

After about a month, the boy came back and again asked his father if they could discuss his use of the car. They again went into the father’s study where the father said – “Son, I’ve been very proud of you. You have brought your grades up, you’ve studied the Talmud diligently, but you didn’t get your hair cut.” The young man waited a moment and then replied, “You know Dad, I’ve been thinking about that. You know Samson had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair. The rabbi said, “Yes, and everywhere they went, they walked.”

The Key to understanding Mandela is those 27 years in prison. The man who walked onto Robben Island in 1964 was emotional, headstrong, easily stung. The man who emerged was balanced and disciplined. I often asked him how the man who emerged from prison differed from the willful young man who had entered it. He hated this question. Finally, in exasperation one day, he said, “I came out mature.”
Richard Stengel – Managing Editor, Time Magazine

The life and profound leadership of Nelson Mandela has been a huge inspiration to me. His personal discipline, his principled behavior, his refusal to embrace hatred and revenge and his profound leadership have all challenged and motivated my life. Although a US citizen, I was raised in South Africa and was in the country right before the elections that transitioned power from a white apartheid government to Mandela and the ANC. How Mandela navigated the nation peacefully through that transition is still a wonder to the world. South Africa could so easily at that time have gone the way of genocide like Rwanda and Burundi.

Mandela’s ability to bring the extremely polarized peoples of the nation together using the 1995 Rugby World Cup have been immortalized in Clint Eastwood’s masterful movie Invictus. Richard Stengel followed Mandela for more than a year working on a brilliant biography about his life. When he wrote an amazing article in Time Magazine about Mandela, the above quote jumped out at me. I had already chosen the title for my new book “Mentoring to Maturity.” Mandela epitomizes to me the fruit of a life that has come to maturity in so many areas.

In the many blogs that will hopefully follow, I want to examine the lost art of mentoring people to maturity. I want to identify the principles that under gird mentoring and to examine the practical elements or ingredients that will help people to more effectively mentor others. The goal of mentoring is to mold into the lives of people true godly character and to set individuals on a pathway to fulfilling their life’s mission.

We need to develop a generation of people who are full of conviction but not legalistic, bold but not brash, strong but yet gentle. We need multifaceted individuals who are cognizant of their callings, full of vision and purpose, able to articulate their faith and ideas while understanding and respecting the positions and perspectives of others. We need those who can intelligently express their intellect and their emotions and whose lives reflect the genuine fruit of God without hypocrisy or double mindedness.

We will examine many of these areas more fully in future blogs. Please subscribe at the blue button on the top right if you want to be notified of future postings. Please also take advantage of the free YouthBytes DVD download and viewable pieces that teach mentoring using the sport of snowboarding.

President Obama spoke for 109 minutes in his 2011 State of the Union speech. The most memorable word people heard from his address was not jobs, the economy, optimism or business, it was “salmon.” In describing the over regulation of US industry, the President pulled out this illustration:

“The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they’re in saltwater. I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.”

This blog is about using powerful memorable stories, examples and object lessons to illustrate truth. Think of how much our society and world loves interesting stories. Hollywood films and television movies are built around them and so is the news. We tell bed time stories to our kids and Jesus communicated most of His teachings through parables. I have been collecting powerful stories to illustrate truth for 25 years now and this blog will share those with you.

The second element that made Obama’s “salmon” comment so memorable was that it was funny. In a recent tweet that got amazing feedback I wrote: My wife Lisa recently said if she ever died, I had permission to marry the very next day. I asked why so soon? She said “so the kids will live.”

I am actually married to a stand up comic who makes me laugh daily even after 25 years of marriage. I plan to draw on the humor in my life, I mean my wife, to make this blog a fun read every time.

So in conclusion, what I have taught you in this first blog is to follow the words of Charles Spurgeon, “Never make a point without telling a story and never tell a story without making a point.” Use it in your blogging, your tweeting, your speaking and in your life.


Gandhi and Candy

April 7, 2011 — Leave a comment

The great spiritual leader of India, Mahatma Gandhi was not a Christian but taught many good principles about life that are worth following. There is a story about him being visited by a very worried mother. She had a young boy who would eat large amounts of candy and sweets all the time whenever his mother was not looking. She would try and hide the candy but the boy would find it or get the candy from relatives and neighbors. The boy would not listen when his mother told him how bad the candy was for him and how it would destroy his teeth. Finally in desperation, she thought of taking him to see the famous Gandhi. Gandhi was respected in all of India and she knew if he told the boy to stop eating the candy, he would certainly listen. It took the lady three days of standing in a very long line to get an audience with the great leader. When she finally saw him, she told him her story. “Please,” she said, “will you tell my son to stop eating candy. I know he will obey you.” Mr. Ghandi looked up at her and simply said. “Lady, please come back and see me in two weeks.” The woman left looking confused, not understanding why she had to come back.  Two weeks later, she again waited three days in the long line and finally got to see Mr. Gandhi again. She brought her boy to the great leader and again presented her story. Mr. Gandhi looked the young boy sternly in his eyes. “Young man, I want you to stop eating candy.” He said. The boy bowed down and said, “yes sir. I will not eat candy anymore.” As the mother and boy were leaving the room, the mother turned back with a question that was bothering her. “Mr. Gandhi,” she said. “Why did I have to wait again in that long line a second time? Why did you not tell my son to stop eating candy two weeks ago?” Mr. Gandhi looked up at the woman and said: “Lady, it took me that long to stop eating candy myself.”

The moral of that story is that we should not tell other people to do things that we ourselves are not doing.