10 Musts for a Home Mortgage

Do you have a home mortgage? Do you want to own a home? This advice mostly comes from Dave Ramsey and his material. I’ve put it in my own words. Owning a home is a good investment, but there are some “musts” you should know before you take the plunge. Here are my top ten in no particular order:

  1. It’s not as complicated as it sounds: The Financial world has complicated the mortgage process. It’s not that complicated, and you shouldn’t let the endless amount of paperwork scare you. You should be thorough, prompt, and know what you’re getting into, but don’t be scared.
  2. Have an emergency fund: When you buy a house, Murphy moves in. When Murphy moves in, you have to pay to get him to leave. If you don’t have an emergency fund of 3 to 6 months of living expenses, then Murphy will bring his cousins, Broke, Desperate, and Stupid with him. Do not buy a house without an emergency fund.
  3. 25% of take home pay: Your mortgage should not exceed 25% of your take home pay.
  4. 15 year fixed mortgage: This will spark some debate, but the best mortgage is a 15 year fixed mortgage. If at all possible you should get this type of mortgage. If you get your emergency fund in place, this type of mortgage is not as expensive as you think.
  5. 20% down payment: It is not wise to purchase a house without a down payment. If you make at least a 20% down payment, you will avoid PMI and save yourself on your monthly payment. Again, if you have your emergency funds in place, this 20% is not as hard to come by as you think.
  6. Have an inspection: This one goes without saying. Never buy a home without having it inspected. That’s just asking for trouble.
  7. Too much house: That 4 bedroom house is nice, but is it what you need? Don’t fall for the nicest, shiniest, biggest house. Know what you need and don’t buy too much house. It will cost you in your mortgage and increased maintenance costs.
  8. Read your title: This comes from personal experience. When you sign your paperwork, take all the time you need. It’s your money, your life, and your house. The other parties involved can just be patient.
  9. Commit: When you buy a house, plan on living in it for at least seven years. I would say, for a rural community with a small real estate market, plan on staying for 10 years.
  10. Patience: Don’t rush into buying a home. This is a huge financial commitment. There will always be houses available and there will always be mortgage brokers. Take your time and invest well.

I know there are scores of opinions on mortgages, home ownership, and all other factors related to buying a home. This is my opinion from what I’ve learned from Dave Ramsey and my own experience. You’re welcome to ask questions if I’ve been unclear in any of these 10 must haves.

Other posts about finances

10 Money Myths You Can’t Afford to Fall For

If you are in the Rich Hill or Western Missouri area and you’d like to take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, our church is hosting the class on Monday nights starting February 12th.

You can request more information here

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You can sign up for the class and purchase materials here

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10 Money Myths You Can’t Afford to Fall For

I am a Dave Ramsey fan. My wife and I have followed his personal finance plan, and it has changed our lives. The following post comes from Dave’s teaching. I have not copied his words directly, but the ideas are his. Without further ado here are 10 money myths you cannot afford to fall for:

  1. I need a credit card to rent a car or reserve a hotel room:  No you do not.  The credit card companies would like you to believe this myth, but if you have a debit card with the Mastercard or Visa logo on it, then most hotels and car rental companies will do business with you.  I have rented cars and hotel rooms for several years now without a credit car.  If the hotel or rental car company doesn’t want to take my cash, I’ll move on to some other company who does.
  2. I need a credit score:  No, you do not need a credit score.  Your credit score is a compilation of how good you are at having and managing debt.  The higher your credit score, the better you are at managing debt.  If you have no credit score, you have not had any debt for a period of time.  (I don’t know how long you have to go without debt before your credit score is zero.)  I’d rather have no debt than have a high credit score.
  3. I need a good credit score for a mortgage:  There are some mortgage companies who are too lazy to manually underwrite a mortgage for someone without a credit score, but it can be done.  You have to ask the lender for manual underwriting.  It usually takes more time, but it can be done.
  4. I should buy a house now because rent is just throwing my money down the toilet:  You should not buy a house until you have a 1000 dollar emergency fund, are debt free, and have a long range emergency fund of three to six months living expenses.  When you buy a house, Murphy (Murphy’s law) moves in, and if you don’t have emergency funds in place, he brings his cousins broke, desperate, and stupid with him. Yes, it may seem like paying rent is throwing money out your car window, but I’d rather rent for a time, and not get into a mortgage that’s over my head.  That will cost more money in the long run.
  5. I need my credit card because it gives me cash back and airline miles:  Dave Ramsey says, “I’ve never talked to a millionaire who said they earned all their money on cash back offers and airline miles.”  90% of people who have credit cards carry a balance on them.  Let’s do the math:  If you carry a balance on a credit card and are charged 15% interest and you get 1% cash back, who wins?  The credit card company gets 14%.
  6. I need the maximum amount of tax taken out of my paycheck so I can get that huge refund in the Spring:  Many of us don’t make enough money to owe any federal tax at the end of the year.  We get all the tax that was taken out of our checks back in a refund check.  When that happens, you are loaning the government your money.  You are making no interest on that money.  You could have no federal tax taken out of your check and invest that money.  It is never a bad idea for you to have more of your money than the government.
  7. I might lose all my money when I invest:  The facts are that the stock market, throughout it’s history, has averaged a 10-12% rate of return.  You have to be patient and consistently invest.  There have been some scary stock market tumbles, but the only people who lost money in the great recession were people who pulled their money out of their investments.  The stock market has returned the money and is setting records almost every week.
  8. I have to have a car payment:  No you don’t have to have a car payment, but this requires planning.  Drive a beater for a couple of years while you save up money for a better car.  Will driving a beater cost you some in maintenance?  Yes, but not as much as you might think.
  9. Leasing a car sounds like a good idea:  Want to know what leasing a car looks like?  Drive down the road with your window open and throw one-hundred dollar bills out.  Anything is better than leasing a car.  Leasing a car is a terrible idea.  When you lease a car, you make the payments and at the end of the lease, you own nothing.
  10. It’s okay if I’m not responsible with my finances, the government will take care of me:  I don’t even need to comment about the government’s glorious history of handling money.

These are just 10 money myths that have been perpetuated through the years.  we cannot afford to fall for these.  If you want to know how to not fall for these myths, our church is hosting Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University on Monday nights, starting February 12.  Sign up here to receive more information.  Take responsibility for your finances now, and don’t fall for any of these myths.

 

Scripture Alone Sermon Manuscript

I’ve decided to begin posting my sermon manuscripts for your consumption.  I’ve edited this past Sunday’s sermon manuscript to make it more readable, so here is my sermon on Scripture Alone.

Scripture Alone Sermon Manuscript

2 Timothy 3:16

I wanted to begin this year with a series about what we believe. When we step out in faith and have gospel conversations, we’re going to encounter different beliefs and denominations.  These days, we’re more likely to encounter a combination and confusion that we’ve never seen before in American Christianity.

There are those who just look at a sign and if it says church, they go in and become involved, never knowing the essential doctrine of the church.  We need to understand the doctrines and theology of our church.

With that in mind, let’s look at the first of five pillars of our theology.  It’s called scripture alone, and for our text we’re going to turn to the second most famous 3:16 in scripture.  There’s of course John 3:16 that almost everyone knows, but then there’s 2 Timothy 3:16.  The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, and for training in righteousness,” and moving to verse 17 the bible says, “So that the man of god may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  In short, we believe scripture is the final and the only authority for our lives.

Through this five sermon series, I’m going to try to give you some of the history as it relates to how we got to where we are today. Through the Middle Ages, roughly the period from around 400 AD until the 15th and 16th centuries, the bible was only available in Latin.  The common people, the people sitting in the pews at church, were unable to read the Bible because most of them could not speak Latin.  The church at that time recognized the authority of scripture, but as time passed, they also recognized the traditions of the church as having the same authority as scripture, and they also recognized certain statements given by the pope, as having the same authority as scripture.

When the reformation came along, Martin Luther and others began to read the scriptures in the original Greek and Hebrew and were also able to translate the scriptures into English.  A man by the name of William Tyndale was the first person to translate the Bible into English.  He was burned at the stake for his efforts.

Why is this important?  The people sitting in the people, your everyday run of the mill church members could now read the Bible for themselves and not have to depend on a priest or a pope to translate and apply the Bible for them.

When people started reading the bible for themselves, they started to see that the bible says nothing about the authority of tradition or the authority of man’s words over scripture.  In fact, in passages like 2 Timothy 3:16 make it clear that the bible is our authority.  The Word of God is the foundation for our lives.

The words of man, while wise, are not the Word of God.  The traditions of man and the church, while some may be good, are not the Word of God. They do not carry the same authority.  Let’s look at what scripture alone means.

First, we believe that scripture was divinely inspired by God.  The words God breathed, in the Greek, literally mean that God took a deep breath in and then exhaled scripture, or His Word.  We also believe that God divinely inspired the pens of human men as they were carried along by The Holy Spirit to write down His word for us.  In 2 Peter 1:20-21, the Bible says, “First of all, you should know this:  no prophecy of scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, moved by The Holy Spirit, men spoke from God.”  There was never and will never be a time when man’s word that comes from man’s mind is equal to

God’s word.  If you read your Bible and you find that I am wrong in my sermon, then the Bible is right 100 percent of the time.  What I do, is interpret and apply the meaning of scripture for us, but I am in no way infallible.  I am in no way perfect, and while I may be guided by the Holy spirit, I am in no way divinely inspired or breathing out God’s word.  I am giving you my interpretation and application of scripture, and if my interpretation and application goes against what the Bible says, then I am wrong.  If any religious leader says something or interprets and applies scripture in a way that is not Biblical, then that religious leader is wrong, I don’t care how revered he is.  I don’t care how many crusades, books, or podcasts, that religious leader has produced, mans’ words will never equal the Word of God.

That’s what we believe about how the Word of God came ot be, and we also believe that the 66 books contained in most Bibles are the only inspired Words of God.  There are other religions and denominations who believe there are more than those 66 books, but we believe that those 66 books, 39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament, are the only divinely inspired Word of God.  I could tell you more about why we believe in those 66 books, and if you want to know more, feel free to ask me. One more word about inspiration before we move on.  Almost all denominations who claim Christ believe in those 66 books.  The issue becomes the ones who believe in the inspiration of other writings.

Now to the issue of inerrancy.  The bible is more than 2000 years old, and in the case of the first books in the Old Testament, and some think the book of Job, the Bible may be as many as 6000 years old.  How can a collection of documents survive in tact for that long?  We believe the Bible is inerrant.  What does inerrant mean?  It means that the scriptures are true in all that they claim and are without error.

The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 3:4, “Let God be found true though every man be found a liar.”  In Isaiah 65:16 the Bible says, “Whoever is blessed in the land will be blessed by the God of truth.”  John 17:3, the Bible says, “This is eternal life:  that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ.”  Are there human errors in transmission of the text?  Did the humans who translated the text make some mistakes?  I think it’s safe to assume that some minor mistakes were made in each translation.  The question to ask about inerrancy is not does every Greek and Hebrew word line up perfectly with every English word.  The question to ask about inerrancy is does the Bible communicate truth?  The Answer is Yes.  Has that truth changed over the thousands of years that we’ve had the bible and through multiple translations?  The answer is No.  Does the bible ever contradict itself?  No it does not.  There may be some minor human errors.  Some scribe forgot to add a word, or some scribe added a letter where there shouldn’t have been.  Those are very minor errors and do not change the truth of scripture.  When we start elevating man’s words to the same level as scripture, then we are saying that scripture does not contain the truth that we need, and that we need to somehow improve on the truth of God.  We do not need to improve on the truth of God.  We have all we need right here in our Bible and we need nothing else because the truth contained in the bible is the only absolute truth we can depend on, the only absolute truth we can build our live on, and the only absolute truth that will stand forever.  The Bible says in Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers and the flower fades but the Word of the Lord will stand forever.”  Long after we’re gone, God’s truth will still be here.  Long after our church is gone, God’s truth will still be here.  Long after the descendants of our descendants have vanished from this earth, the Word of God, the truth of God will stand forever.  Don’t let anyone ever tell you that God is not truthful, that God is not trustworthy.  God cannot lie.  It is not in His character.  What God has spoken is 100 percent truth.

Let’s move on to the issue of authority.  The debate over the issue of the authority of scripture comes down to who has the right to tell people what to do and how to live?  That’s what was at the heart of the reformation.  That’s what was at the heart of why we are who we are today.  Who has the right to tell us how to get right with God?  During the middle ages, the church continued to claim the right to tell people how to get right with God.  Let me illustrate:  During the middle ages, the church sold what were called indulgences.  That’s a fancy word for forgiveness.  In other words, if you paid the right amount of money, your repentance and forgiveness from sins could be sped up, or fast tracked.  The church claimed authority over you in that way.  I may be over simplifying it a little bit, but the essence was that forgiveness could be bought.  The Bible says that forgiveness was purchased through the blood of God’s Son.  The Bible says nothing about buying our forgiveness from man.  If you search the scriptures, you will not find that practice, but the church, wanting to claim authority over the lives of its members and in some cases, wanting to pad the treasury, claimed that forgiveness could be bought.

Let me give you one a little closer to our century.  Do you remember, back in the 90s there was a big battle in a lot of churches about the style of music.  Do we want to have contemporary music? Do we want to have traditional music?  The final authority on that issue does not rest with what the church thinks, although some saw it that way at the time.  The final authority rests with what the Word of God says, and the word of God says that our worship is to be directed to Him.  Our worship is to glorify Him.  Our worship is to encourage one another as we glorify our Savior.  If our worship is doing that, then style does not matter.  That’s just one example, and I’m sure there are others. We believe that the bible is the only authority, or the only truth that can tell us how

to live, how to get right with God and lead us in what to do.  Does God use pastors and fellow Christians and their interpretations of His Word to accomplish that purpose?  Yes He does, but at the end of the day, the final authority rests with the Word of God.  If anyone else claims authority over us, they are wrong.

That’s what the reformers believed who broke off from the church back in the 1500’s, but we Baptists have taken authority to a different level.  Most of the denominations who came out of the reformation believe the church still holds some measure of authority.  For example, the Methodist church still has a hierarchy that appoints their pastors.  The church has some say in the matter, but ultimately the final decisions rest with the higher ups in the district.  We don’t do that.  The Southern Baptist Convention cannot come to our church and make us do anything.  Neither can the Missouri Baptist State Convention, nor can the Osage River Baptist Association.  We get to make our own decisions, and it’s set up that way because Baptists believe that only the Word of God gets to have authority over us and tell us what to do and how to act, both as a church and as individuals.  Baptists are one of the only denominations that does not have a hierarchy that exercises some sort of authority over the local churches, unless you’re an independent church with no denominational affiliation.

Here’s why this is so important.  The church, in the Middle Ages, believed that sole authority of interpreting scripture and doctrine rested with the elite spiritual hierarchy.  Unbeknownst to the common church member, because remember, they couldn’t all read the Bible in their language, the elite spiritual higher ups began to change doctrine, theology and practices.  They also added new doctrine, and even removed the second commandment forbidding idolatry, but to maintain the appearance of ten commandments, they split the last commandment into two commandments.

That is, in a nutshell, what happens when we allow anything but scripture to have authority over our lives and our church.

It’s important to remember that God uses men and women to give us the correct and biblical understanding of scripture.  The danger only comes when the words and traditions of men assault God’s Word.  Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for letting their legalistic traditions rise above or equal God’s Word.  He said in Matthew 15, verse 7, “Hypocrites!  Isaiah prophesied correctly about you when he said:  These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.  They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.”  The Lord Jesus claims for Himself all authority in heaven and on earth, and He has given us His Spirit and His word, and it is sufficient for us.

John Rogers was the first English martyr and he was a disciple of William Tyndale. Before being burned at the stake, he was interrogated by one of the bishops.  The bishop maintained, “you can prove nothing by the scripture.  Scripture is dead, and it must have a living expositor.”  Rogers replied, “no, scripture is alive.”  Rogers was right. “The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, able to penetrate as far as to divide soul, spirit, joints, and marrow; it is a judge of the ideas and thoughts of the heart.  No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.”

What can we do with this?  Let scripture run your life.  Let the Word of God be your foundation.  Know God by knowing His Word.  There will never be anyone who gets to the end of their life and regrets reading God’s Word every day.

What do you want to accomplish in 2018?  Let 2018 be a year where you can say, I got to know God better through His Word.  “All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of god may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

Sanford And Son and Cultural Context

When I was a teenager, one of my favorite TV shows was “Sanford and Son”.  I have found full episodes on Youtube and have begun watching the show again, and one conversation from a fourth season episode epitomized how some in our culture have decided to interpret scripture.  Yes, Redd Foxx has informed my understanding of how many Christians allow culture to dictate their interpretation of scripture.

The scene features Fred, Lamont Sanford (Fred’s son), and a Chinese-American neighbor.  Fred, as usual, has just insulted his neighbor, and Lamont says, “You know what the Bible says Pop, love thy neighbor.”  Fred replies, “Well, the guy who wrote the Bible didn’t live in my neighborhood, else he would have said love thy neighbor but locketh thine window.”  The studio audience howls with laughter as Foxx smiles, having delivered another flawless punch line.  I laugh too.

The sentiment expressed by Fred Sanford is indicative of how scripture is viewed in many quarters of our society.  The Bible is seen as a guidebook to help us along life’s way.  The problem with guidebooks is that if the explorer finds a better route, then he changes the guidebook to reflect the reality he has just discovered.

Here’s a case study as an example.  There are many in church who have chosen to ignore the Biblical authority the husband is given over the wife. I do not wish to debate the issue, but one of the theological arguments used to support this practice, and how those who use this argument are allowing culture to dictate interpretation.

The argument goes something like this:  Ephesians 5:22-24 reads, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.  He is the Savior of the body.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.”  The argument advanced is that this command was written during a time period and to a culture where women were to be seen and not heard.  Their opinions were considered worthless, and they were to serve their husbands.  We live in a different culture that has afforded women a higher status, and therefore, we should not interpret that passage as being a command for 21st century women to submit to their husbands.  Culture has now dictated our theology.

There are three problems with this approach.  The first, and most obvious problem, concerns the verses following verses 22-24.  Paul writes in verse 25 and following, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the Word.”  If culture dictates that wives are not to submit to their husbands anymore, then culture would also dictate that husbands not love their wives anymore.  That sounds preposterous, but if culture renders one command in this list null and void, then it also renders the other commands in this list null and void.  How many of us would say that husbands are exempt from the command to love their wives as Christ loved the church?

There’s another command in chapter 6 verse 1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”  Is it no longer “right” for children to obey their parents?  Those of us who have children expect obedience.

The second problem with using culture to guide our biblical interpretation is:  culture is constantly changing.  The pace of change in our society makes our heads spin. Cultural norms are changing at a breathtaking speed, yet God says that His word never changes.  Isiah 40:8 reads, “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of our God remains forever.”  We cannot use culture to rewrite God’s word.  When we do that, it’s not God’s word anymore, but merely a textbook of rules that are good to live by, if you want to.  When culture rewrites God’s Word, then it must continue to rewrite God’s Word as the culture continues to change, and the result is a morass of confusion.

The final problem that occurs when we allow culture to interpret the Bible for us is that if we can change one verse in God’s Word, then that leaves the door open for us to change other verses in God’s Word.  This allows for all manner of false teachers, and false doctrines.

Fred Sanford may have been right, The guy who wrote the Bible didn’t live in my neighborhood,” but the Bible still says in Matthew 22:37-40 “He said to Him, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important command.  The second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the law and the prophets depend on these two commands.”

We cannot allow society to teach us Biblical interpretation.  We must use the Bible to teach society and inform culture.

Nick Saban and God

I know what you thought when you saw the title of this post. Has he lost his mind? Has he gone crazy? If Dave Miller reads this post, he may disown me as a friend.

I’ll answer your questions. No, I have not lost my mind. Nick Saban is not God. In fact, I’m not even much of a Nick Saban fan. He is the reason my Arkansas Razorbacks are always playing for second place in the SEC west. We could actually beat Alabama before Saban took the helm, but I digress.

Why the click bait headline? I’ll get to it shortly, but first, I have to give credit where credit is due. Monday night, we witnessed probably the gutsiest coaching decision in the history of college football.

Maybe you don’t like Nick Saban, but ask yourself these questions. Would Urban Meyer have pulled Tim Tebow and inserted a true freshman if he had struggled? Would Bear Bryant have made that decision? Would Bobby Bowden, Frank Beamer, Darrel Royal, or any other legendary coach have taken that risk? I have come to the conclusion that the answer is no to all of the above, but maybe those hall of fame coaches would have.

What separates great coaches like Saban from ordinary coaches? Saban wants to win. He doesn’t just want to avoid failure. He wants to win. That’s the characteristic that all legendary coaches possess. They strive to win.

What does that have to do with God? First, if we’ve put our faith in God, we’ve already won the victory. God has given us the victory that no amount of national championships can match.

Do we live in that victory, Or do we live only trying to avoid failure? God wants us to be successful. No, I’m not propagating some kind of prosperity gospel. In Colossians 3:17, Paul writes, “And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” A few verses down, Pau writes, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

We serve a victorious God who loves His children and wants us to be successful at whatever we do.

He wants us to be successful for two reasons. First, He wants to receive the glory from our success. He doesn’t want us to have the type of victories which glorify men. Those are hollow victories which look a lot like the victories the world celebrates.

Second, God wants us to be successful because He loves us. He loves us, or as Dave Ramsey likes to say, “Your God is crazy about you.” Why wouldn’t He want us to succeed? Again, far from what prosperity gospel preachers preach, God only wants us to have success that brings Him glory.

I watched the postgame interviews of Alabama’s winning quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. He gave glory to God and His Savior, Jesus Christ, not once but twice. I believe God wanted him to succeed in that game. Did God want him to be the MVP of the game? Who knows, but I believe God would have gotten glory from Tagovailoa even if Davonte Smith had dropped that 41 yard rope to end the game.

No, I will never be a Nick Saban fan. I wish he would retire so the Razorbacks would have a chance. I still wish I had the confidence he has to make bold decisions that will bring God the glory, honor, and praise He deserves, because we’re already victorious through the blood of Christ.

May we never be satisfied with just avoiding failure, but may we be bold and desire success to the glory of God.

The Boston Celtics and Leadership

I have a confession. I’m a secret Boston Celtics fan. It’s not so secret anymore. I was watching the Celtics tonight and thinking about why I like the Celtics.

I like the Celtics because of their head coach. Can you name their head coach? He coached Butler to back to back National Championship appearances. He lost both championship games, and in 2013 he left Butler to coach the Boston Celtics.

I liked Stevens when he coached Butler, but I thought he was going to be the latest college coach washout in the NBA. I was sad to see another coach with limitless potential wasting his time in the NBA in what would ultimately be a colossal flameout a la Rick Pitino and John Calipari. You know who I wish would’ve tried the NBA? Bob Knight would have been entertaining as an NBA coach. Too bad, but I digress.

It is now 2018, and I was wrong about Brad Stevens. He has not only flourished as the coach of a franchise which expects championships, but I believe he’ll be the first coach to lead a team to the National Championship and the NBA Finals.

What is Stevens’ secret? Is he a great tactician? Does he know more about basketball than any other coach? What has made him so successful?

He’s an excellent coach, but his success lies in how he treats his players. How does that translate to a leadership lesson? 90% of our success or failure comes from how we treat others.

How does Brad Stevens treat others? I googled the phrase “playing for Brad Stevens and came across these results: Kyrie Irving on playing for Brad Stevens

JSU Crowder on playing for Brad Stevens

Here are five traits that make Brad Stevens an excellent leader:

  1. Consistency: Stevens is consistent. He’s not prone to do anything unorthodox or surprising. We all need more consistency in our ministries. Consistency is not flashy and it does not garner personal accolades, but it is a necessary ingredient in leadership. The best leaders are consistent in everything. Show me a great leader and I’ll show you a consistent leader.
  2. Knowledge: Brad Stevens knows a great deal about the game of basketball, but he knows a great deal more about the players he coaches. In the liked article above, Kyrie Irving recounts how Stevens took the time to produce a slide show of grade school picture of all the NBA All Stars. He did not have to make that effort, but a year later, Irving is playing for the Celtics and says he does not want to play for any other coach. Do we know the people we’re coaching? Do we know their strengths and weaknesses? Have we had a meal with them? 90 % of our success or failure comes from how we treat people,” and we can’t treat people right if we don’t know them.
  3. Drama free: we never hear Brad Stevens’ name connected to controversy. His players don’t mutiny when the team doesn’t play well. He doesn’t Smart off to the media, and we never see him deriding his players a la Dabo Swinney and his quarterback in last week’s Sugar Bowl. He runs a boring yet drama free team. There are some leaders who eat drama for supper every night, but they do not succeed, or at least not in the long term. Compare the culture Stevens has created with dumpster fire Phil Jackson left behind in New York. Phil Jackson could never win without a superstar. If you think I’m wrong, check out how Phil’s Lakers did the season after Shaw left. Phil headed for higher ground the next year, and only come back to coach the Lakers when Kobe Bryant became a mega star. Some say that Stevens has created a drama free culture. His results speak for themselves. I would compare Stevens to Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy. He is another coach who created a drama free culture.
  4. Teamwork: Stevens does not have a mega superstar on the Celtics. He never had one on his Butler squads. His teams play well with and for one another. No one demands the spotlight, and all egos are checked at the door.

Do you want to be a Celtics fan now? We could always use a few more fans. If not, take these leadership characteristics from a great young coach, and use them to lead better.

“Crisis of Character” Book Review

I’m going to start 2018 with a book review.  I picked up “Crisis of Character”, by Gary Byrne, from the library.  Mr. Byrne is a former member of the uniformed division of The United States Secret Service.  He served Presidents George H. W. Bush, and President Clinton.  He was posted outside the Oval office during the Clinton Administration and was witness to, as he writes, “the chaotic Clinton administration.” He also served in the Federal Air Marshall Service.  If you’d like to read this book, you can purchase it here: Crisis of Character.

Here are my three positive takeaways:

1)  The book shines light on an insulated family–The Clintons have always been protected media darlings, but assuming Mr. Byrne is telling the truth, this book shines a light on the Clinton reality.  In any society, people need to be free to expose the crimes and inappropriate behaviors of those in power, and Mr. Byrne attempts to expose what he terms a crisis of character in the ranks of leadership at the highest echelons of our government.

2)  His criticism moves beyond the Clinton administration–Two thirds of the book is focused on the Clinton administration and its various scandals, but Mr. Byrne also criticizes the Department of Homeland Security which was created during the George W. Bush administration, and the Federal Air Marshal Service which was greatly expanded during the second Bush administration.  Criticism should always be balanced.  The Republican party is not the savior of our nation, and neither is the Democratic party.  They both have their faults, and they both have had failures of leadership at their highest levels.

3)  It’s a quick read–I read this book in about 3 days.  It’s over 250 pages long, but the pages turn quickly as Mr. Byrne does not linger over one subject for too long, nor does he indulge in a systematic and overly detailed analysis of each incident.

Here are my three negative takeaways:

1)  This book is scary:  This is not a book for those of you who want to read something positive and uplifting to start the year.  In fact, this book is downright scary.  The details he divulges made my blood run cold.  The carelessness with which our nation’s leaders have treated our security is shameful.  If these are regular occurrences, then we should all be more vigilant and hold our nation’s leaders accountable for the character they display in public because the character they display in public is reflective of who they are behind the scenes and when the chips are down.  We should hold members of both parties accountable.   

2)   He complains about everything:  He spends the majority of the book complaining.  If you do not like complaining, this is not the book for you.  He gives a positive review of former Clinton chief of staff, Leon Panetta, but that’s the extent of Byrne’s compliments.  The book also reads like a bit of a gossip column.  Mr. Byrne proposes no solutions to any problems, only complaints.

3)  Mr. Byrne sounds like a hypocrite:  Mr. Byrne constantly writes about loyalty and trust and protecting the Presidency, but this book belies all those statements.  Why write the book?  Why rat on your boss?  Why take unnecessary jabs at the Clintons?  The American public has a pretty good idea of the Clintons’ lack of character.  Was this a vendetta book?  It certainly reads like Mr. Byrne has an ax to grind.

If you’re into politics, this book is an interesting read, and I warn you that the language and subject matter are adult in some chapters.  America needs better leaders.  America needs leaders who have character, whether Democrat or Republican.  Mr. Byrne brings to light an urgent crisis of leadership in America, but he proposes no solutions, only complaints.