Friday, September 26, 2008

My Mission Statement

Steven Covey is a big proponent of establishing a meaningful mission statement. I have made an effort to do so in times past, but haven't seemed to have it come together quite like it did today for me. While I'm certain I'll modify the mission as I continue to pursue it, here's what I came up with today in my effort to define my mission statement:

My mission is encapsulated by my motto: Progressive Pursuit of Perfection

My mission is therefore broken up into three parts, and can be stated thusly: I am a man of God who continually improves in my ability to become all that is good that I can become, remaining committed to and focused on accomplishing all that I am capable of accomplishing that is right.

I am Progressive; which means I am not content to languish within the status quo while new methods for accomplishing righteous purposes can be developed and implemented. Within systems or organizations or independently, in both personal and public affairs, I am able to creatively envision and move towards the best possible solution. Constant improvement is a signature part of the makeup of my character.

I am involved in the Pursuit; which means I am committed to being in motion towards worthwhile objectives at all times. I continually work hard and do Good. “What’s next” is my motto for pursuit; I am a man of action.

Perfection is my end destination; which means that no matter what my weaknesses may be today, I confidently expect that through my personal effort and the grace of God, in time, they will be blotted out by my strengths. I know my strengths and magnify them in a directed effort as I accomplish the purposes of my existence. It is not enough for me to simply be good, but I am good for something—a great many somethings, in fact. I maintain my perspective on the eternal nature of my soul in each moment, remembering always that perfection is my end; I thusly maintain integrity in all I do. I am a man of honor.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The President: Who to vote into office? --It's ALL about Heart!!!

Below is a letter about President Bush. The letter is reportedly from Utah State Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff. The note that preceedes the letter is reportedly from Elaine Huish, someone who knows Mr. Shurtleff personally. I haven't done any background checking or personal verification, but I believe the source is authentic. Mr. Shurtleff has been undergoing several surgeries as he's been recovering from a serious motorcycle accident (thanks for the correction). I therefore find it likely that Mark would consider offering political support in "deeper" terms than perhaps he usual might.

Regardless, this letter sums up what I believe is at the heart of most of President Bush's political action: which is, heart. Bush does what he does, because he has heart. While "heart" isn't a specific voting issue, it's what I'm personally looking for in the next presidential candidate I'm voting for. Rather than pursuing motives of power, honor, or a name in the history books, I want to vote for the candidate who, at his core, loves his country and wants nothing more than to serve in a way that will best bring about the purposes of Heaven for our people. I want a candidate with heart.

The candidates' sincere motives and desires--and their personal drive to stay true to their heart--are such a hard thing to judge just by listening to their political rhetoric or reading their books. It's even harder to discern it by muddling through what the TV networks (each of which has its particular view of who would be the better man for the job) are reporting about the candidates. That's why I'm so appreciative of this letter from Mark Shurtleff. It's simply an un-edited report of what he took away from a long and meaningful meeting with the President. What's nice is that it looks like what Mr. Shurtleff saw in President Bush is just that: heart.

A final thought: Thankfully, in addition to reports, letters, books, and TV--what little insight it offers--we also have prayer. While I don't believe that God will choose our next president for us, I DO believe He will direct the minds and hearts of the people who turn to Him for guidance. He will, by His Spirit, give us insight into the hearts of the men and women who would best benefit the nation. From this insight, we can get a view of how God's purposes might be brought about to benefit us.

And yes, I--along with the vast majority of the founding fathers of our nation--believe that this nation was established in very deed as a "Nation Under God". Sam Adams, the great patriot, made a speech about the birth of our nation at the State House in Philadelphia, August 1, 1776. Among other things, he made this statement, "We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom all alone men ought to be obedient. He reigns in Heaven, and with a propitious eye beholds his subjects assuming that freedom of thought, and dignity of self-direction which He bestowed on them. From the rising to the setting sun, may His kingdom come." It really is our right and obligation, as a nation under God, to bring about his purposes. What candidate will help us best do that?

At the same time, I'm sure each voter hopes his own interests will be served by our next president. We have all read the words of the great Patrick Henry who asked in his speech at the Virgina Convention March 23, 1775, "Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbit it, Almighty God." The economic controls and means by which life and peace may be purchased today might be somewhat more subbtle and complex than Brittain's overt mis-allocation of powers and revocation of liberties at the time of the revolution. Yet, the chains and slavery that purchase "life and peace" are still offered--and suprizingly all too often accepted even today. And I believe this is happening more readily than ever before in the history of our nation. While seeking a candidate who will serve our personal interests, let us ask: At what cost to the nation will said interests be served? If the answer has any foreseeable detrament to the nation, might we have the honor to do the right thing.

My simple hope is that the people of our nation will continue to discern between that which will bring good and that which will bring evil upon us. In an Essay in The Public Advertiser, 1749, Sam Adams wrote, "Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt." I believe we are not yet--as a people--at the phase of 'universal corruption'. But there are those who will--knowingly, or out of the pursuit of a simple desire that lacks heart--lead us in that direction. I pray that we, the people, will discover and avoid such men and women.

So it all comes down to heart--the heart of the voter and of the leader. Who will trust God? Who will preserve the liberty of the people? And who will lead us in a direction that sustains virtue? That is the candidate I hope to come to discern and vote for.

With no further adieu, below is the exchange between Elaine Huish and Mark Shurtleff that inspired the above thoughts:


No matter your political affiliation…………I thought I would share this letter from our Utah State Attorney General (he thought it was just going to his family) I thought it was VERY nice of him to personally respond to me, his email was on the forward I received. Of course we often don’t get reports like this from the media, so I felt it was refreshing to hear a TRUE account of this recent visit (late May or early June this year if I remember right).



Hi Elaine!

Thanks for asking. Yes it is true and accurate. I wrote it as a personal family letter and one of my nieces or nephews sent it to a friend and they forwarded it to someone, and the www being what it is, I've heard from people all over the country. Now that its out, feel free to share it. There is so much negative misinformation out there about the president, that he deserves a little positive truth to get out.

Thanks for your kind well wishes. I'm doing much better of late. Please keep our president in your prayers.


Mark L. Shurtleff
Utah Attorney General

-----Original Message-----

Sent: 7/30/2008 10:49:36 AM
Subject: President Bush's Visit to Utah letter ?

Hi Mark,

I just received this letter as a forward from my sister-in-law in Arizona! J I always check forwards validity before I send them on. Is this really something you wrote and do you mind if we send it out. I hope you are recovering well from your leg issues we keep hearing about in the news. L

Subject: Re: President Bush's Visit to Utah

Dear Family,

I had an extraordinary experience this week with President Bush's visit and wanted to share it with you. I was on the host committee and, because I was able to raise a couple hundred thousand from friends, I was able to be at all the meetings and with a small group that welcomed him. He spent over two hours in two appearances speaking and answering questions and the most common remarks people had of the experience was that (1) he seemed so relaxed, happy, and "at peace," and (2) he is nothing like what the media portrays him to be; in fact, he was articulate, personable, and very spiritual.

I believe he was in such high spirits because he knows that Utah is one of the few places where he still has a favorability rating above 50 percent. He joked that he was surprised by the friendly welcome. "In fact, while I was driving up here in my motorcade, most of the people were waving at me with all five fingers!"

Cynics say that we here in Utah still look favorably on him only because we are "sheeple" not "people" and used to "blind obedience," or that we must not be educated enough. I believe that, in fact, we here hold the office of the president in high regard because we are led by the example of our prophet to pray for President Bush and to support him in a very difficult task. I know he felt that special spirit while he was here. In over two hours of comments about such pressing national issues such as the economy, war on terror, energy crisis, immigration, etc. he spent a lot of time talking about faith, religious freedom and prayer!

When I greeted him at the Stewart mansion for his luncheon appearance, I had a moment to speak to him and told him that we here in Utah love him and are praying for him. i told him my brother had served recently in Afghanistan and that he had informed me that the troops support him. He seemed very touched by that and, as I said, he spent a lot of time while here speaking about spiritual matters. Members of his entourage said that was unique--that he didn't often speak so much about religious things.

He spoke of the importance of religious freedom and emphasized that "it didn't matter whether we were Mormon or Catholic or Jew or Vegetarian..." He paused while people chuckled, and then he said with a wink, "See, this is why I didn't let cameras in here." I know that Vegetarian isn't a religion, but if someone had been filming that, the only news out of my entire visit to Utah would be how stupid Bush is for thinking Vegetarian is a religion." He laughed and then got serious again.

"My point is, it...doesn't...MATTER! What matters is that we are FREE. You see, that's what makes us so different from our enemies in radical Islam. They want to kill those who have different religious views. And that is why we must persist in our war against them. THEY MUST NOT PREVAIL!"

He spoke about the relationships he had developed with world leaders and that he often bore his testimony to them. (That's right, our president!) For example, he spoke of his relationship with the communist leader of China, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.He said, "I wanted to impress upon him how positive religion can be." He said, "I told him that God had changed my life. I was a drunk, Mr. Prime Minister! I had a serious problem and, if it hadn't been for God, I would not be here today. He saved my life! He had a little help from Billy Graham who was his messenger, but it was God who helped me with my addiction and turned my life around. Religion can make your people better, Mr. Prime Minister! Won't you please consider giving them their religious freedom?"

Isn't that extraordinary? Let me share another special story. He talked about King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. He invited him out to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, because he felt it was important to get to know him and develop a relationship of trust and a spiritual bond. He said that King Abdullah, of course, is a strict practicing Muslim with many wives, just like his father and grandfather before him, but noted that the King's son and heir has decided to have only one wife. He said he wanted to impress upon the King that, as a Christian nation, we are not
enemies of Islam and that we have much in common. He told King Abdullah, "I am a believer. I believe in God. I believe he is the same God as Allah. Now, we differ a little in that I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God and my Savior and Redeemer, while I know you consider him to just be a prophet, but we are 'People of the Book,' like you." King Abdullah wasn't really responding so he felt impressed that they needed some time alone so he invited him to go for a ride in his pickup truck around the ranch. The two got in alone and started down a dirt road (can you picture all the staff and security scurrying after them?)

President Bush was pointing out different trees and his cows when they came around a corner, and there stood the biggest tom turkey he had ever seen in the middle of the road just looking at them. He said that he was surprised because he didn't raise turkeys and had never seen a wild turkey on his ranch. King Abdullah sat upright and was suddenly very interested. They stopped and King Abdullah asked, "What is that?" "That my friend, is a turkey!" answered Bush, "and I've never seen one on my ranch before." "What is it's significance?" asked the King President Bush said all he could think of was to tell him that Benjamin Franklin once wanted to make it the symbol of our nation, but we chose the eagle instead.

"I will tell you what it means," replied Abdullah as he touched President Bush on the arm. "The turkey is sacred in my religion, and Allah has sent it as a sign to me that you are a believer and a good man!

"Pretty cool huh? President Bush talked a lot about his difficult decisions and became very emotional when he admitted he has made mistakes and bears the terrible burden of knowing that his decisions have led to the deaths of thousands, and then he got very quiet and said that he doesn't think he could go on without the prayers of the people. He said that, when he was a young man and heard people say, "I pray for you," he didn't give it much thought. But, at age 61 and the President of the United States, he said it means the world to him to know that millions are praying for him. He said, "Like it says in Second Corinthians, 'I am filled with Comfort'!" And he thanked us for that and said he would try to listen to the promptings and make the right and best choices for our nation and our people.

I want to bear you my testimony that whatever your politics or criticisms of President Bush and his decisions and the way he has prosecuted this war, he really is a good and decent man who believes in our Heavenly Father, who recognizes the terrible costs of his mistakes, and who seeks to do the right thing, and is buoyed up and supported, comforted, and guided by our prayers. He loves this country and is dedicated to service and has tried to do the right thing to keep us safe and to help others enjoy the blessings of freedom and liberty.

He spoke of his strong relationship with the Prime Minister of Japan and how important they are as friends and allies--notwithstanding that, when his father was 19, he was fighting them as mortal enemies and nearly lost his life in that war when he was shot down in the South Pacific. And now, just 65 years later, Japan has a vibrant democracy and is our friend. He told the graduating class at the Air Force Academy just prior to flying to Salt Lake that he believed that sixty years from now, their children would be friends and allies with Arab and Muslims around the world because we stood up to oppression and evil today in the quest for freedom and peace for all.I am very blessed to have had this experience.

Please remember President Bush in your prayers tonight.