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.”

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.”

Don’t Settle (The Brother’s Keeper #53)

Even Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men
Letter One: Don’t Settle


Dear Y.B.M.,

When I was a young man, there was one thing I wanted almost more than anything else. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than me. I wanted to do something that mattered with my life. Although I was having fun partying and living life as I pleased, the thought that came to my mind quite often was: “There’s got to be more to life than this.” More than working a nine-to-five job. More than getting a paycheck. More than living the same, mundane lifestyle that I saw so many other people living.

I looked at the Civil Rights movement, seeing it as a period of history where people did something that was bigger than themselves. I considered becoming an attorney who stood up for the rights of black people in society.

There is a reason why young people have been at the forefront of major political and social movements throughout history. God has put in every one a desire to live a life that counts, to live a life that matters, to do something that matters. The problem comes when many people, as they grow older, decide to settle. They settle for the mortgage, the car note, the job they don’t enjoy, the steady paycheck, and keeping up with the Joneses. They settle for mere existence, and not really living. The only goal they look forward to is retirement.

This kind of life is a waste of the talent that God has given us. God would not put the desire to do something that matters inside of us if He didn’t intend for us to use it as impetus for our future. God has plans for you, young black man. He wants you to live a life that counts. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…”

I did not find my true purpose in life until I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior on December 19, 1979, when I was nineteen-years-old. So, I was still a young man. I thank God that Jesus saved me. It has made all of the difference in the world.

Shortly, after I gave my life to God, He called me to preach. During this time, I also found that I had an interest in words and writing — something that I had not had before. By the grace of God, I have spent the past thirty-six-plus years preaching the Gospel and writing, and I am not ready to stop. I say with the old saints, “I don’t feel no ways tired.” That is the great thing about doing something that matters with your life: it never gets old. It is always fun.

Yours for never settling,

Daniel Whyte III

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Rick Warren said, “Without God, life has no purpose, and without purpose, life has no meaning. Without meaning, life has no significance or hope.”

Steve Jobs said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”

John Herrick said, “Gideon saw in himself an unqualified, insignificant individual. But God saw someone He could use. God feels the same way about you. He sees potential and value that you might not see in yourself. He wants you on His team.”

Seneca said, “Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing.”

Even Mo’ Letters to Young Black Men: Introduction (The Brother’s Keeper #52)


Dear Y.B.M.:

I trust that you are doing well.

I hope that you have taken heed to the advice I gave in my first two series of letters to you. In doing so, I trust that by this time you have received Jesus Christ as your Savior and that you are growing in your relationship with God through prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, and sharing the Gospel with others in your community.

I trust also that you are making headway on the road of education and that you are learning and growing in knowledge and understanding. Most importantly, I hope that you have prayed for and received God’s wisdom.

I hope that your relationship with your family members, friends, and acquaintances are strong and healthy, and that you have taken seriously the Biblical directives given regarding dealing with your parents, grandparents, siblings, wife, children, or what have you.

In the over twenty years since I wrote Letters to Young Black Men, a lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same. Honestly, I still have to say that our community is in a bad away generally speaking. But there are pockets of hope amid the decay, light amid the darkness. And, through this third volume of letters, I hope to nurture the light, feed it, and help it grow so that young black men in America may rise and lift their communities out of the mire by the power of God.

In this volume, we will discuss three very important topics:

1. Living a life that matters: Everybody wants to (or should want to) do something of significance with their life. I will show you how to find your purpose and pursue it with all your might.

2. Character and leadership: Our community needs people who are leaders rather than followers, but a good leader is not just one who can inspire, but one who has the character to do the right thing and lead others to do the right thing even when the odds are against them.

3. Finances and business: Like it or not, money is very important in this life. In this section, I will teach you how to get some and keep some. I will also show you how to live a life of freedom by working for yourself by doing a job that you love.

As always, everything that I share will be based upon Biblical principles and proven wisdom.

I hope that you are ready for this leg of journey that will change your life and benefit your family and your community.

Yours truly,

Daniel Whyte III

On Becoming Color-blind (Letter 23)

Dear Y.B.M.:

I trust that you are winning over racism.

In this short note, I would like to say a word to you about becoming color-blind.

America is a multicultural society. America is not just made up of white and black, but of many colors, races, nationalities, and languages. If you are going to be a leader in this country, you had better shed your “black thing” mentality and become color-blind in your dealings with all people. To help you with this concept, here are some suggestions:

1. I have had the privilege of traveling all over the world, and believe it or not, all people are basically the same. No matter where they come from, or what language they speak, all people desire the same things, for the most part.

2. Learn how to speak the universal language of love. You must develop a loving heart for all people. Smile and shake hands. They are just as afraid of you as you are of them.

3. Show an interest in other people’s culture and ways. Ask them questions. Learn a few words of their language. Eat their food. (By the way, I would strongly encourage you to learn how to speak Spanish and Chinese fluently, in light of the new, global economy.)

4. When you get the opportunity, please travel as much as you can. You will get a perspective on life that you can’t get any other way. From traveling, you will understand what I mean when I say, “all people are basically the same.”

5. If you can’t travel, please take the time to read about other people and their way of life. There are many good videos available that will help you become more cosmopolitan.

I hope you will quickly learn this valuable lesson: people are really just people.

Yours for being Color-blind and at the Same Time Keeping it Real,

Daniel

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Henry David Thoreau said, “It is never too late to give up our prejudices.”

Someone said, “Prejudice is opinion without judgement.”

Lyndon B. Johnson said, “Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.”

Winning Over Racism (Letter 22)


racismDear Y.B.M.:

I trust that you are treating your brothers and sisters “according to the flesh” more kindly and with dignity and respect, and I also hope that you are mature enough to allow God to give you some good white friends to help you down the road on this difficult journey.

It has been established that racism is firmly entrenched in this society. Frankly speaking, I believe racism will be here with us until the end. Here is how you can win over racism:

First, the best thing to do is ignore it and avoid it. One of the best things you can do for a racist White man or Black man, for that matter, is ignore him. Just leave him alone.

Second, do not get ruffled by racist/prejudiced people. If you get ruffled now, you will be getting ruffled the rest of your life. Always be cool, calm, and collected, as they say.

Third, “turn the other cheek”. Believe it or not, it works. It is kind of hard to fight a man who does not want to fight.

Fourth, do not allow yourself to become bitter. I repeat: do not allow yourself to become bitter. That is exactly what White racists want you to do—become bitter, angry and frustrated, because they know that you render yourself ineffective when you do so. Don’t let them get into your head like that. They know that a man who is filled with anger or bitterness cannot function or prosper.

Fifth, remember all White people are not racist or prejudice. Do not try to deal with the White community as a whole, but deal with each person on an individual basis. Treat them as you would like for them to treat you.

Sixth, become independent through knowledge and by having your own source of income, thus not putting yourself in a situation where you can be subject to racism.

Seventh, there are many dear White people who are not racist or prejudice; they simply do not understand some things. Take the time to help educate these good-hearted people in this matter.

Eighth, do not take racism too seriously. It is probably not that important of a matter right now. We can spend our energy in more productive ways.

Ninth, rioting, fighting, burning, and raising hell is not the way to deal with racism. All that does is drive the root of racism deeper. Avoid such asinine activities.

You can win over racism if you use your head and your heart.

Winning Over Racism and Prejudice,

Daniel

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Marcus Garvey said, “I would be nothing else in God’s creation but a black man.”

Ossie Davis said, “I find in being black, a thing of beauty; a joy; a strength; a secret cup of gladness.”

The Good White People (Letter 21)


racismDear Y.B.M.:

As I write to you about how to handle prejudice and racism in this great country of ours, allow me to quickly say here that, if God blesses you with some good white friends, give Him thanks. Just as there are bad white people, and bad black people for that matter, there are also some good white people in this country.

Don’t let anybody fool you, if it had not been for the Lord using some good white folks behind the scenes, many successful and notable black people would not have attained the success they have attained. Now, before you take that as a negative statement, please understand that it is a true statement. Many of the notable black people in this country, past and present, did not necessarily pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Some have, but most have had some help from some good black people and some good white people. Watch this:

1. Harriet Tubman had much help from some good white people on the underground railroad.

2. What would Frederick Douglass have done without his white abolitionist supporters?

3. Thank God for the good white people in Phillis Wheatley’s life.

4. Would slavery have ended if it had not been for the force of William Wilberforce?

5. Would Spelman College and Morehouse College have so superbly educated our best and brightest, including Martin Luther King, Jr., without some good white people? By the way, these historically black colleges are named after some good white people who made these fine institutions possible.

6. Even though Martin Luther King, Jr. led the way in the Civil Rights movement, there were many good white people who stood behind him and supported him with their prayers, presence, money, and some even with their lives.

7. And, finally, where would Barack Obama be with his historic run for the presidency without millions of good white people supporting him, against all odds?

Dear Y.B.M., please do not get into the mindset that all white people are out to get you. Even though I would encourage you to be “wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove”, when it comes to racism and prejudice in this country, be open to God using some good white people in your life, to open some doors for you that otherwise would not be open, and vice-versa.

Thank God for the good white people.

Yours for being wise,

Daniel

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

John Hope Franklin said, “We know all too little about the factors that affect the attitudes of the peoples of the world toward one another. It is clear, however, that color and race are at once the most important and the most enigmatic.”

Cornel West said, “A fully functional multiracial society cannot be achieved without a sense of history and open, honest dialogue.”

Margaret Atwood said, “I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one ‘race’ – the human race and that we are all members of it.”