The Magic of Compounding “Interest”

4 Generations

The older I get, the more “interested” I am in Fatherhood. I am interested because I believe that there is a compounding or cumulative effect of being a good father. Just like there is a compounding effect to our money due to the interest it generates in an investment vehicle, so it is for us a fathers.  A good father begets a good father who begets another good father. And so it goes down through the generations. Or at least it is possible for it to happen that way.

This reality was driven home again today as 4 generations sat around the tables and enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal. We were fortunate to have my father, my son, and my two grandsons with us together for several hours fellowshipping at the table.

I have spoken many times about the impact that my father has had on my life. But up to this point I have not really made many statements about the impact that he is having on subsequent generations. He is a humble man and I will do well to model that as I continue to write this.

So what is the point on Fatherhood Friday?

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Legacy Leadership – Part 5 – Living a Worthy Legacy Now


LL - 5 - 1If I told you today that you would die on November 7, 2024 at midnight, how would you spend the next 10 years of your life?

If I told you today that you would die on November 7, 2014 at midnight, what would you do?

Would there be any difference in your approach?

I have be been very fortunate to hear some of the greatest Gospel voices preach in our church, at camp meetings or various retreats.  One of the greatest in my mind is Dr. William McCumber. For those of you who may not know, he was a pastor, teacher and publisher of a magazine.

LL - 5 - 2He preached a message one time that I think is relevant to our Legacy Leadership theme as I bring this series to a close.  In his message he was trying to help us come to grips with how we are to live our lives in light of the coming end of this age.  Dr. McCumber was asked one time what he would do given that we may be living in the last days before Jesus returns.  He said, with no intent to create humor, that he would go home and fix the leak in his roof.

That is an odd response, wouldn’t you say?

His point was this.  We should be living our lives in such a way that if we knew that Jesus was returning, we would be so ready to go that we would just go on about our daily activities.

That challenges me.  If I knew for sure that my time was near, would I be running around making amends?  Would I be trying to make up for lost time? Or would I just go about my daily routine?

I realize that this is a gross oversimplification. But it makes the point that I think I want to make today.

What is the legacy leadership point here?

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Legacy Leadership – Part 4 – Leaving a Legacy


LL - 4 - 1You and I can have an impact upon others that outlasts your lifespan on this earth. In fact, it is unavoidable. The big question is whether or not that it will have been a positive impact.

Following certain Biblical principles, you can leave a legacy, a spiritual inheritance that will affect the lives of others for all eternity.

I have discussed this in my previous articles. And many others have discussed the idea of leaving a legacy as well. Presidents often speak of leaving a “legacy” when their term is done. You hear expressions like: “President Clinton’s legacy is…” or “What will President Bush’s legacy be?” These expressions are referring to the impact that their presidency will have upon future generations. It means, how will history remember them?

I want to talk to you today about leaving a Spiritual legacy, a spiritual inheritance, for those who come after us. Passing on to the next generations a legacy with eternal value is far more important than a temporal inheritance of money and property.

Proverbs 13:22 says, “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.

But what does that really mean? I have already said that things of eternal value are of the utmost importance. So, on a practical level, what can I do?

LL - 4 - 2My wife and I recently met with our financial advisor. We looked at where we are currently and whether or not we are “on track”. He told us we are on track. That was good news. I asked him to share with us his projections and the parameters that he was using. He ran our life span out to age 90. And at the ripe old age of 90, he said we still had a little money left over to “leave to the children”. I felt pretty good about that. You know, leaving money to our young children and all. But then my wife asked him to run the projection out to age 100! Strangely enough we don’t have a whole lot of money left at that point. I was downhearted at the prospect of that. But, my intelligent and highly mathematically inclined wife quickly reminded me that when we are 100, our “children” will be in their early and mid 70s! They will probably have been retired for 15 or more years themselves! And their children will be in their 50s and probably thinking about retirement for themselves! I had it all wrong.

Well, consider the following as some practical guidance from a Biblical perspective.

Our children and grandchildren should be target #1 for our legacy. – Your primary task in life is

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Legacy Leadership – Part 3 – Restoring a Legacy


LL Part 3 - 1Restoring.


Something is either broken or old. In either case, the word connotes that something needs to be repaired. I am not sure exactly how that aligns with my understanding of restoration. But I think it is not too far from the reality of it.

There are several recent examples of restoration that are at various stages of the process. One example is from the industry in which I am employed. And the second is from the world of college football. Consider with me for a moment – the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico and the scandal that erupted involving a former football coach at Penn State University.

The Deepwater Horizon created an oil spill and plume covered almost 360 square miles with the most severe reduction of biological abundance and biodiversity impacting an area about 9 square miles around the wellhead, and moderate effects seen 57 square miles around the wellhead. Yet, once the flow was finally stopped and the initial massive cleanup efforts were concluded, the area today is largely unnoticeable from an ecological standpoint. I will not argue the relative merits or impacts to onshore locations or the local economies. Those seem to operate sometimes outside the bounds of reasonable expectations because of the human emotional impact. But my point here is, although potentially unpopular and controversial, that nature began to heal itself. Nature restored itself.

LL Part 3 - 2Now consider the scandal that erupted at Penn State over the deplorable and unconscionable acts of a former coach, Jerry Sandusky. Following a very tumultuous time in which the collateral damage was significant, the guilty party was sentenced to jail where it is my hope he will spend the rest of his natural life. I am not concerned about his legacy. I am concerned about the legacy of a good and decent man who died during the tumult that surrounded the scandal.  Joe Paterno died in the days following the scandal eruption and his son and assistant coach, Jay Paterno, is striving to restore his father’s legacy. Unlike nature, his father’s legacy will not restore itself. Even when the final chapter is written on the scandal and the record will show that Joe Paterno followed the protocol of the university, he will be forever tarnished by the scandal in which he played no part.

So, how does a guy like Jay Paterno go about restoring the legacy of his father?

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Legacy Leadership – Part 2 – Building a Legacy


Building a Legacy - P2 - 1Building a legacy involves many things. It involves a high degree of introspection. Legacy leaders are constantly asking themselves questions about their activities and interests. Here are just a few questions I want you to consider as we discuss building a legacy.

  • If you knew with absolute certainty that you’d die exactly 24 hours from right now, what would you do?
  • If you knew with absolute certainty that you’d die exactly 10 years from right now, what would you do?
  • Would there be any difference in your activities or the energy in which you went about them?
  • Who are the top five people that you’d want to invest your time in?
  • Do you know what you would want to pass on to them after you’re gone?

Every day, without knowing it, we are passing on to those around us who we are, what we possess and what we learn. But are we really passing along the stuff that matters for now and for eternity?

Building a Legacy - P2 - 2Most of us desire to leave an inheritance of significant value to those around us. Although we don’t always know what that means, what it includes, or how to go about it. We are bombarded in the media to plan for how to pass down our wealth. And we have some authors who are a part of Leadership Voices who can help you with those issues. But when it comes to the intangibles – the kind of stuff money can’t buy – we hear crickets from the media and from pop culture. Pop culture is concerned about the here and the now. In contrast, Legacy Leaders are concerned about those that come behind us.

We tell ourselves that we have lot’s of time. We tell ourselves that it’s OK and we will figure it out later. But the truth is, the average person will fail to pass on what matters the most to the people they care about the most.

Lord, please don’t let that be said of me.

Who comes to your mind first when you think about those you would want to pass down a lasting legacy?

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Legacy Leadership – Part 1 – Focus on Legacy Leadership


Legacy - Part 1 - 6A focus on legacy leadership will drive every decision that you make and every action that you take. So, what is Legacy Leadership?

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

2 Timothy 2:2 (NIV)

 Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value. — Albert Einstein

It surprises me how many husbands and fathers don’t spend enough time thinking about their legacy – what they will leave behind for the family that they love and the people they serve. I won’t even go into how many husbands and fathers only carry the life insurance supplied by their employer. But they seem to care more about the financial legacy they will leave than the Spiritual one that will be left behind.

Legacy - Part 1 - 1But the harsh reality is that each of us is leaving a legacy whether we realize it or not or whether we want to or not.  The question is whether or not it is a legacy that is positive and has far-reaching implications into the following generations.  And for me, the legacy that I want to leave is a spiritual one.  I want to leave one that is pleasing to God.  And if it is pleasing to God, I am pretty sure I will be OK with it as well.

Webster’s dictionary defines legacy as, “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.

Legacy is not bound by age or time served. Legacy represents your entire body of work at each stage of your life as you establish the foundational building blocks of a family and accumulate the required wisdom to contribute to the success of that family unit. Your legacy grows with each new experience, with each test or trial, and each time you inspire others to see something beyond our current circumstances.

For many, leaving a legacy is associated with the end rather than the beginning of one’s life.

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Train up a child…

I’m the father of three little kids, and we’re just starting school for them. I’ve wondered a bunch lately about the things that they will learn this year, and where they will be successful, where they will struggle, and how I can lead my family through both ends of that spectrum. I’ve wondered how well they will be reading and writing, what sort of social experiences they will have… you get the idea if you are a parent.

I’ve also been thinking lately about the things that my children need to learn: an understanding of football, baiting a fish hook, how (and more importantly, when) to throw a punch, how to safely handle a pocket knife (for my oldest, at least), for a few examples.

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It’s a Small World

dsc_0447The theme for yesterday for me was “small”. Josh Johnson wrote an outstanding debut article and the word “small” played a significant role. Later in the day I saw an item on Facebook written by my friend Dr. Bill Dyment on “Serving Small”. And then while finding something to watch with the grandkids before bedtime, I hear “It’s a Small World” playing on the Disney Channel.

So, I figure there is a message in there somewhere.

If there is a message in there for us on Fatherhood Friday, I think it may be this. Our children are not looking for a huge display of affection. This is especially true as they approach adolescence and the teen years. Instead, what they are looking for from us are the little gestures that say, “I love you”.

It's a small world - 1Many times we get caught in the trap of thinking that, since I can’t do ALL that I would like to do for my children, then I will not do anything for fear of falling short or missing the mark of parental perfection. This is a simple trap to fall into and a deep trap from which to try to escape.

Busy lives and hectic schedules will cause us to fall into the trap. But, guilt will keep us firmly in the iron grip of the trap. We feel guilty that we had to work late so we don’t know what to say to our children if we miss dinner together with the family. And those feelings of guilt cause us to withdraw and not reach out when we do get home. Exhaustion from a long day and the guilt of having missed spending time with the children are a bad combination that can feed upon itself and quickly spiral out of control.

What exactly then is the point on Fatherhood Friday?

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Fatherhood Friday: Negotiating

Negotiation - 1Let me say up front that I negotiate for a living. That is one of the main functions that I perform on a daily basis. So you would think I would be good at it. Some days you would be right. Some days you would be wrong.

As I write this I am currently enjoying the pitter-patter of some additional little feet in my house. And it is a blessing that is beyond belief. I am so thankful to get to be an influence in these children’s lives in the absence of a real father figure in their lives.

And I think I am a little more observant at this point in my life than I was when I was younger and raising my own two children. I don’t recall someone flipping a switch and one of my grandchildren suddenly embracing the “terrible twos.” It’s almost like she was reading a magazine article written by another toddler that inspired her to begin consistently using the word “No”, or reverting to guttural grunts instead of using her incredible vocabulary.  But a switch has been flipped.

Negotiation - 2Now I’m not a pediatric psychologist or anything, but I’m sure this is all part a child’s natural development – she’s developing her own independent personality and part of that is testing boundaries and also understanding the dynamic between a stimulus and a reaction. Having said this, as parents (and even as a grandparent living in the same house), it doesn’t mean we have to like it.

Also at play here is a paradox that all father’s struggle with – trying to balance protecting a child from getting hurt versus consciously allowing them to fall or get hurt so they can learn more about those boundaries that we have established for them and that they are constantly testing. During the first two years of childhood this balance is not overly difficult to manage – for most of the first year you allow your baby to develop their neck muscles, try to crawl, hold a bottle, and finally walk on their own. Sure, there’s some steps you can take to prevent unneeded injury, like adding table bumpers, but overall the baby needs to learn how to execute these essential tasks.

Fast forward to age 2 where there is much more advanced control of motor skills.  But these little ones are still constantly teetering on the edge of serious injury. With this new physical competence there is also an ever-maturing personality and one that is determined to get exactly what they want all the time. As a parent, we of course know what is best for our children, particularly in the area of what actions will end up with a gaping wound, broken limb and a trip to the emergency room.

Negotiation - 3But we struggle knowing when to let them figure things out for themself and allowing them to fall, experience pain, cry a little, but hopefully learn a valuable lesson as a result. With that said it is also important for our children to learn what is right and wrong based on our guidance, feedback, and instructions.

This will ultimately end up being an important life-lesson. As good parents we would never dream of letting her try cocaine one day just so she can experience the side effects and learn on her own how harmful cocaine can be.

So what is the point on Fatherhood Friday? 

Dealing with an energetic and bright toddler requires parents to enhance their negotiating skills. Why?

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I am not a buffoon. And I don’t need a new tie.

Fathers Day 2014 - 1Sunday is Father’s Day.  And from this man’s perspective, there is no non-Christian holiday or special day that is more important to our society and to our culture than Father’s Day.  Let me explain.

Pop culture and the entertainment industry serve up a steady diet of the father as the hapless buffoon of the family.  The poor father in the TV show can barely create a string of coherent thoughts.  And he is constantly overwhelmed with the affairs of the family.  He doesn’t understand his wife.  He can’t stand his kids.  And so he either explodes emotionally or he retreats to the easy chair with a beer in his hand to watch TV while the family swirls around him and mocks his behavior.

This is not me.  I don’t act like that.  I never have.  Have you?

Yet the popular image and the prevailing picture of Dad is the sitcom version.  If you believe the sitcom message, most families would be better off if Dad weren’t even there.  Yet how far from the truth that thought is in reality.

Fathers Day 2014 - 3The foundation of our society is the family.  And the foundation of our family is the father.  Stay with me now.  This is not a “Fathers are more important to the family than mothers” kind of article.  In fact,

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