Be a Leader of Yourself First (The Brother’s Keeper #59)


Dear Y.B.M.,

In my first series of letters, I strongly encouraged you to “think for yourself.” Today, as we begin this second section in Even Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men, “On Character & Leadership,” I want to strongly encourage you to be a leader but be a leader of yourself first.

That terminology might sound odd at first, but bear with me. I believe that more young black men should be leaders. You may not have any followers right now, but, under God and with God’s blessings, you ought to be a person who thinks for himself and follows his own mind based upon God’s will and God’s Word regarding the direction of your life.

This world has too many followers and too many people looking for someone to take them by the hand and show them the way — all of the way. I stopped following people long ago when I realized that Jesus is the only Leader I need. Most importantly, He is the only Leader who will never let you down. And, because I follow Christ alone, He has blessed me with the privilege of being a leader to others.

The Apostle Paul rebuked some folk for creating factions in the church because they were obsessed with which human leader they were following (including him). Some were saying, “I follow Paul.” Others said, “I follow Apollos.” And others said, “I follow Cephas.” But Paul said, ‘I thank God I have not baptized any of you. I’m not following anybody but Jesus.’ And because he was following Jesus alone, he was bold enough to tell people, “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

I want you to be able to say the same thing. Get your life in order under the direction and headship of God through Jesus Christ and you will be ready to be a leader in your own right for the glory of God and for the benefit of many others. Now, this does not mean that you can’t listen to advice from others who are older and wiser. I have a small circle of pastors and leaders who are twenty to thirty years older than me from whom I learn and seek advice. And, thanks to God, these guys have been with for some twenty to thirty years. I listen to their counsel, but I make my own decisions, I take responsibility for those decisions, and I accept the consequences of those decisions be they good or bad. I encourage you to do the same.

There are many different types of leaders. Some are loud and bombastic; others are quiet and contemplative. Don’t be concerned about style. People recognize great, positive leadership when they see it. If you start taking the lead in your own life now, and start leading yourself first, you will be prepared to be a leader, a mentor, a guide, and a role model in your family, in your community, in your church, and in the world.. One day, you may look up and find that people are actually following you as you follow Christ.

Love well. Lead well.

Daniel Whyte III

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Tony Evans said, “A kingdom man may be defined as a man who positions himself and operates according to the comprehensive rule of God over every area of his life. And every area of life should feel the impact of a kingdom man’s presence.”

John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Tony Dungy said, “The secret to success is good leadership, and good leadership is all about making the lives of your team members or workers better.”

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a railroad maintenance gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

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Satisfied (The Brother’s Keeper #58)

Dear Y.B.M.,

The word satisfied means contented, pleased, or fulfilled.

Most people are unsatisfied with their lives. According to Harris Polls, 67% of Americans are not happy with their existence. The song they sing is, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” They live unsatisfied and they die unsatisfied. In this letter, I will show you how not to live (or die) that way. But, first, what are some reasons why the default setting for most people is “unsatisfied”?

The first reason is because most people pursue only material success. Yes, many of those who count themselves as successful are unsatisfied. Raj Raghunathan, a professor of marketing at The University of Texas McCombs School of Business, wrote a whole book on why accomplished people are not happy with their lives. The problem, he said, is that most people pursue “yardsticks” that signify accomplishment. They chase money and recognition which is a sure recipe for dissatisfaction. “Those yardsticks are ones that people adapt to really quickly. So if you get a huge raise this month, you might be happy for a month, two months, maybe six months. But after that, you’re going to get used to it and you’re going to want another big bump. And you’ll want to keep getting those in order to sustain your happiness levels.” It is sinful human nature that the more you get, the more you want, and this will always leave you unsatisfied. Even if people recognize you for your accomplishments, half of them will be envious of you, and the other half, once they pat you on the back, won’t give you that recognition again, so even that is fleeting and, therefore, cannot be satisfying.

The other main reason why people are unsatisfied with life is that their focus is always on themselves. It is the worship of ego, or what philosopher Immanuel Kant called “your precious little self.” Dr. Steve McSwain said, “Ego is distinguished by the fact that it is self-centered, self-obsessed, and self-absorbed.” Motivational speaker and writer Wayne Dyer said the goal of ego is to “edge God out,” and I will add it edges others out as well. You, more than anyone else, know that you are not perfect. And because of that, you will never be satisfied with yourself or your life.

So, how can one live a satisfied life? The secret to satisfaction rests in knowing, believing, and living in light of the goodness of God. Man is not perfect. This world is not perfect. But God is. And, in His perfection, He seeks our highest good. David expressed this knowledge of the goodness of God when He wrote in Psalm 16:2, “Thou art my Lord: my goodness is nothing apart from thee.” He knew where to look for satisfaction in life. Psalm 73: 25 says, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”

Those who are truly satisfied do not focus on themselves or on what they can get from life in this world, because, as the Bible says, “this world passeth away.” The only way to be content, satisfied, and fulfilled in this life is to know God by believing on Jesus Christ, God’s Son. You must get out of your mind that such things come from the success you gain, the accomplishments you achieve, the money you make, or the level of “self-actualization” that you reach. You will only be 100% satisfied when you know God through His Son Jesus Christ and when you are living according to His will and His word.

You don’t have to be like most people. You can be

Satisfied,

Daniel Whyte III

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Oswald Chambers said, “The man or woman who does not know God demands an infinite satisfaction from other human beings which they cannot give, and in the case of the man, he becomes tyrannical and cruel. It springs from this one thing, the human heart must have satisfaction, but there is only one Being who can satisfy the last abyss of the human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.”

John Piper said, “Every ounce of good in this world comes from God. Nothing can possibly be good unless it comes from God. A joyful Christian believes this truth. He banks his life — and his joy — on it. God is good. God alone is good. And all good comes from God.”

Albert Schweitzer said, “The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.”

Charles Spurgeon said, “In spiritual things, when God has raised a desire, He always gratifies it; hence the longing is prophetic of the blessing. In no case is the desire of the living thing excited to produce distress, but in order that it may seek and find satisfaction.”

Joni Eareckson Tada said, “Real satisfaction comes not in understanding God’s motives, but in understanding His character, in trusting in His promises, and in leaning on Him and resting in Him as the Sovereign who knows what He is doing and does all things well.”

It Won’t Be Easy (The Brother’s Keeper #57)


Dear Y.B.M.,

Nothing worth having in life comes easy. That is something you need to get ahold of early. Just because your gift comes naturally to you, that does not mean you will not have to work hard in order for you to fulfill what God has called you to do.

Take a look at the Apostle Paul. Shortly after he trusted Christ as Savior, God said, “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” From there on out, one would think that it should have been smooth sailing for Paul. But it wasn’t. While he was a gifted preacher and evangelist, he faced plenty of difficulty in his life. He was persecuted by his own people and by Gentiles. He still had to work his “day job” as a tentmaker in order to make money to live.

He wrote in one letter, “I am in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.”

Yes, Paul was a hard worker but he was also an overcomer. He had a litany of mountains to climb and obstacles to get through. And if you want to reach your goals and fulfill the purpose that God has given you for your life, you will have to work hard as well.

You must develop a mindset of determination that says, “No matter what obstacles I am faced with, I will overcome. I will be victorious in the end.” You cannot give up at the first sign of trouble or opposition. You cannot think that because you are doing God’s will, you will not have any difficulties.

No, God allows difficulties in our lives in order to develop character and in order to allow us to be tested so that we can see areas in which we need to improve. It is these difficulties that create within us the conditions that will allow us to maintain success once we have achieved it.

In life, just because it doesn’t come easy, doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. If you battle through the difficulties in order to fulfill your purpose, it will be worth it in the end.

Working hard and overcoming,

Daniel Whyte III

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Michael Jordan said, “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

Cristiano Ronaldo said, “Talent without working hard is nothing.”

Henry Ford said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

Maria Bartiromo said, “Don’t ever, ever, believe anyone who tells you that you can just get by, by doing the easiest thing possible. Because there’s always somebody behind you who really wants to do what you’re doing. And they’re going to work harder than you if you’re not working hard.”

Booker T. Washington said, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”