The Humility and Courtesy of Love

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you’ll know this is Part 3 of my series about the nine elements of love as written by Henry Drummond in his book The Greatest Thing in the World.

We are on the fourth element, which is Humility. Drummond wrote:

“Love as humility does not promote or call attention to itself, is not puffed up, is not bloated with self-conceit, and does not dwell upon its accomplishments. When you exhibit true love, you will find things to praise in others and will esteem others as you esteem yourself.”

When some people hear the word humility, they think of it as a weakness. Even Jim Collins, the author of From Good to Great, told his researchers to recheck the data when humility came up as the second trait of great leaders. He couldn’t believe that humility could be one of the top two traits! But I’ve always thought of humility as a strength. In fact, one of my favorite sayings was coined by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Orange County, California:

“People with humility don’t think less of themselves, they just think about themselves less.”

If this statement applies to you, there is a good chance that you have what it takes to be an effective servant leader. Rather than spending your days doing things that benefit yourself, your loving spirit wants to serve others.

I learned this lesson early in life from my father, who retired as a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. When I won the presidency of the seventh grade in junior high school, I came home all proud and told my dad that I had won. He said “Congratulations Ken—but now that you are president, don’t ever use your position. Great leaders are great not because they have power, but because people respect and trust them. Leadership is not about you, it’s about the people you’re serving.” Quite a lesson for 13-year-old kid!

Here’s what Drummond had to say about the fifth element of love, Courtesy:

“Love as courtesy is said to be love in little things. It behaves toward all people with goodwill. It seeks to promote the happiness of all.”

It’s all about being polite—holding a door for someone, saying thanks when someone does something nice for you, and the like.

In the Disney parks, their first value is safety, followed by courtesy—the friendly, helpful service you get from each cast member every time you visit one of their parks or hotels. It can be as simple as a smiling face or a “My pleasure”—whatever brings happiness to their guests.

So this week, remember to reach out in love with a humble heart and be a courteous and considerate person in all your interactions with people. You’ll be surprised how good it feels when you make somebody else feel good!

Defining Love, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my continuing discussion on love! The second element of love according to Henry Drummond is Kindness. In The Greatest Thing in the World, he writes:

 

“Love as kindness is active. Kindness seeks to be useful. It not only seizes on opportunities for doing good, but also searches for them.”

A lot of people are writing about kindness these days. God knows we need a kinder world where people search for opportunities to do good, rather than getting into win/lose battles about who’s right and who’s wrong. What a difference it would make if people were constantly looking for ways to do good. I’m sure many of you know this quotation that is generally credited to a Stephen Grellet, a French-born Quaker missionary:

“I expect to pass through this world but once; any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

That gets us back to the “precious present.” Be kind when? Now! Today!

Drummond’s third element of love is Generosity

“Love as generosity does not envy the good fortune or accomplishments of others. If we love our neighbors, we will be so far from envying them and what they possess or accomplish that we will share in and rejoice at these things. The prosperity of those to whom we wish well can never grieve us.”

Here we’re talking about generosity of spirit—showing no envy toward others. When most people hear the word generosity, they think you’re talking about giving away money. But in the Bible, before it mentions sharing your treasure, it talks about sharing your time and talent. In other words, if you are volunteering to help others, that shows a generosity of spirit.

In the book The Generosity Factor which I coauthored with the late S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, we added a fourth aspect of generosity: touch. By touch, we meant reaching out to encourage others. Truett lived his life by the quotation “Who needs encouragement? Everyone!” Isn’t that the truth!

So today, with a spirit of kindness and generosity, look for opportunities to do good for others by sharing your time, talent, treasure, or touch. Life is not about being served, but serving others. That is love in action.

Defining Love, Part 1

Have you ever been to a wedding and heard someone read this message?

 

 

 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

 

When people hear that passage at weddings, it puts a smile on their face.

Henry Drummond, a 19th century Scottish preacher, scientist, and author, wrote a wonderful little book entitled The Greatest Thing in the World. In it, he contends there are nine elements of love described in this “Love Passage” from the Bible. I’ll be sharing one or two of these elements in each of my next few blog posts. Why? Because we need more love in the world—and it can begin with each one of us, every day.

The late Richard Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute? used to ask people, “Would you like to make the world a better place?” Everyone, of course, would say, “Yes!” Then he would ask, “What’s your strategy?” and he would get blank looks.

Bolles’s theory went something like this: You can make the world a better place by the moment-to-moment decisions you make as you interact with other human beings. Suppose leaving your house in the morning someone yells at you. You have a choice: you can yell back, or you can go back in the house and give that person a hug and tell him or her, “I hope you have a great day!” Someone cuts you off on the highway. You have a choice: you can chase after that person and give them an obscene gesture or you can send them a prayer. It’s all up to you.

Given those choices, let’s look at Drummond’s first element of love—Patience: “Love as patience endures evil, injury, and provocation without being filled with resentment, indignation, or revenge. It will put up with many slights and neglects from the people it loves, and wait long to see the kindly effects of such patience.”

Sometimes you send out love to someone and get nothing in return. You send out more love and still get nothing back. But things don’t always happen when we want them to happen. Our timetable is not always the most important one. Realizing that, don’t be in a hurry! Be patient.

When I wrote The Power of Ethical Management with Norman Vincent Peale, he said there are two characteristics we need in life if we are going to make a difference: patience and persistence. When our patience runs out, we need to turn to persistence and keep on keeping on. When we get frustrated with our persistence not getting results, we need to return to patience. We have a cute little plaque in our summer cottage that says:

“May those who love us, love us. And those who don’t, may God turn their hearts. And if He doesn’t turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limping.”

Ha! That’s the ultimate patience and persistence! Today if you send out loving feelings toward someone and don’t get any positive reaction, don’t give up! Because love understands and, therefore, waits.

Next time I’ll talk about Drummond’s second and third elements of love: Kindness and Generosity. Hope you have a great week!

 

 

Love versus Stuff

Over the past week, those of us living in southern California have had a whole new complication thrown into our busy holiday schedules: wildfires. For me it’s a reminder of the lesson I learned ten years ago, when our long-time family home burned to the ground in the massive Witch Creek fire of 2007. The lesson is this:

What matters in life is who you love and who loves you.

Everything else is just stuff.

Sometimes in our lives—and particularly during the holidays—we get lost in accumulation. We want to buy more things, do more things, see more things—and we get ourselves and our priorities out of whack.

How are you doing so far this month? Are you focusing too much on stuff—such as what you have and what you have to do—and not on the people you love?

It’s not too late to turn that around.

Reach out today and tell the important people in your life how much you love and care for them. Better yet, cozy up around the fire and spend time talking and laughing together. That’s the real spirit of the season.

Remembering Stephen Covey and Zig Ziglar

Two great men who were mentors and friends to me passed away this year—Stephen R. Covey in July and Zig Ziglar just this past week. I’d like to share a few thoughts about these wonderful guys.

Stephen Covey was a devoted husband to his wife, Sandra, and dedicated father of nine, grandfather of fifty-two, and great-grandfather of six. He was also a great friend and colleague to many, including me.

A great memory I have of Steve was when we did a session together in Salt Lake City. During my presentation, I talkedstephen_covey about how the most popular management philosophy was “Seagull Management,” where managers don’t come around until something goes wrong—and then they fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everybody, and fly out.  That line normally got a good laugh from audiences, but not this time. Then Steve whispered to me, “Ken, the seagull is the state bird of Utah.” Oops!  He later told me about the role the seagull played in Mormon history.  When the early Mormons were settling in Utah and planting their fields, they were plagued by swarms of locusts that began eating all of their crops. The people thought they were going to starve to death. At one point they looked up and saw a huge cloud of seagulls flying toward them. They thought the seagulls were coming to finish off what the locusts hadn’t eaten.  Instead, the seagulls ended up eating all of the locusts, saving the settlers’ harvest and their very lives. Steve even took me to the place in downtown Salt Lake City where they have a statue of a seagull.

Steve was such an inspiration and a teacher to so many.  He was a giant in our field and a very special human being.  His legacy here on earth will go on for years to come.

Zig Ziglar had a big impact on me. During the times we were on the platform together, he modeled for me that it was okay to share my faith as long as I wasn’t trying to convert folks. He told me, “Your faith is part of who you are, and people want to know what makes you tick and what is important in your life.”

Zig ZWhen I was 65, I called Zig because Margie and I had been invited to the 59th Anniversary of his 21st birthday. I asked him, “Zig, are you going to retire?” I will never forget his reply: “There’s no mention of retirement in the Bible!  Except for Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and David, nobody in the Bible under 80 years of age made much of an impact. I’m not retiring—I’m re-firing!”  What a difference his phrase of “re-firing” has made in my life the last eight years.  I quote him all the time. In fact, I’m working on a book on “re-firement” and my coauthor and I are going to dedicate the book to Zig.

One last thing I learned from Zig.  He once told me, “I never met a golf game I didn’t like.”  Ever since, I play a lot of N.A.T.O. golf—Not Attached To Outcome—and I enjoy the game so much more. He was an inspiration to everyone fortunate enough to meet him.

It’s always tough to lose important people in our lives. I think the best way to honor them is to make sure you reach out—today—to the people you love, and tell them how important they are. As Margie says: “Keep your I-love-yous up to date.” You’ll never regret it.