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

Proverbs for Young Men to Live By (Letter 24)

bible-proverbsDear Y.B.M.:

Over the years, the Book of Proverbs in the Bible, has helped me with many practical things in this life. May I encourage you to read this book at least twice a year. The Book of Proverbs has thirty-one chapters. Why not get into the habit of reading one chapter a day? The truths contained therein will help you greatly in your life. Here are just some of the key verses that have been a great help to me over the years:

Proverbs 1:5: “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning, and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.”

Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

Proverbs 3:9-10: “Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

Proverbs 4:23: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 5:16: “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.”

Proverbs 6:6: “Go to the ant thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.”

Proverbs 6:27: “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned?”

Proverbs 12:22: “Lying lips are abomination to the Lord: but they that deal truly are his delight.”

Proverbs 18:22: “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.”

Proverbs 9:9: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

Proverbs 16:7: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.”

Proverbs 15:16: “Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith.”

Proverbs 16:16: “How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”

Dear brother, just read the book of Proverbs, and be blessed. There are hundreds of other Proverbs that can help make you a grand success in life.

Yours from Proverbsville,

Daniel

P.T. (Power Thoughts):

Lord Tennyson said, “Bible reading is an education in itself.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon said, “Some people like to read so many [Bible] chapters every day. I would not dissuade them from the practice, but I would rather lay my soul asoak in half a dozen verses all day than rinse my hand in several chapters. Oh, to be bathed in a text of Scripture, and to let it be sucked up in your very soul, till it saturates your heart!”

Someone said, “Reading the Bible without meditating on it is like trying to eat without swallowing.”

Your Road Map to Real and Lasting Success (Letter Four)

Dear Y.B.M.:

I trust that you have been doing well since my last letter. Today, I am writing this letter from the law library at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. By the way, I just had a long and interesting conversation with a young black man who is a law student here.

In this letter, I want to expand on something that I barely touched on in a previous letter: i.e., the importance of the Bible in your life. Frankly, if you desire to be truly successful in life, you will need to read, meditate upon, and obey the Bible. In doing so, God promises good success. Notice what God says in Joshua 1:8:

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Do you want genuine, lasting success? If you do, you will have to make God’s Word a vital part of your daily life. Your doing so, will guarantee success.

How should you read the Bible? Well, read it as often as God leads you to. And here are some additional, well-tested suggestions:

1. Pray, Then Read. Praying and reading the Bible go hand in hand. A good practice is to pray and ask God to open your spiritual eyes before you read so that He can help you understand what you are reading. For you see, the Bible is a spiritual book, and it will take the Holy Spirit of God to teach it to you.

2. Read And Retain so that you can meditate upon what you read. To meditate means to think upon, and you cannot think upon something that you can’t remember. Please don’t be like the man who looked in the mirror and one second after looking in the mirror, forgot how he looked.

3. Read And Obey. You and I will never be perfect this side of Heaven. But God wants us to strive to obey His Word. And, of course, this is for our own good. Don’t just be a hearer of God’s Word, but a doer as well.

If, perhaps, you are just starting out in reading the Bible, may I suggest reading a chapter in the New Testament in the morning before leaving home and then reading a chapter in the Old Testament before going to sleep at night. It is good to have the Bible on your subconscious mind throughout the night. Later, as you grow, you may want to increase that to two chapters in the morning and two at night.

There are many benefits of reading and meditating upon the Bible. Here are just a few:

1. It will make you wise.
2. It will give you direction in life.
3. It will strengthen, fortify and stabilize you.
4. It will help you to help others.
5. It will make you genuinely successful.

As I wrap up this letter, let me leave you with what some successful people have said about the Bible and its greatness over the decades:

Abraham Lincoln said, “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man. All the good from the Saviour of the world is communicated to us through this book.”

George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

Napoleon said, “The Bible is no mere book, but a living creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it.”

The Gideons said, “The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

“It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.

“Christ is the grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgement, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.”

Read, study and love your Bible. It is the road map to true success.

With the Bible in my hand,

Daniel Whyte III

Power Thoughts

Vance Havner said, “The Bible humbles or hardens the human heart. We have to do something about its message, for we cannot leave it alone. We may think we have done nothing about it, but it will do something to us.”

Psalm 119:105 said, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Oswald Chambers said, “The key to my understanding of the Bible is…personal relationship to Jesus Christ.”

C. H. Spurgeon said, “Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years.”