by Lane Kramer
I don’t know about you, but I have already set some goals for 2017 for The CEO Institute and for my personal life as well. For example, I want to attend my nephew’s wedding next month in Washington D.C. and participate in our Flock family reunion this summer in Colorado.
On the business / ministry side, I want to help launch the new Fair Park Business Incubator this spring, teach my class at DBU again this Fall on becoming a Kingdom Business Executive and allow God to keep making divine connections for our CEO Institute Members this year.
What are your goals? I hope they are all truly worthwhile and accomplishing them will have both a powerful temporal and eternal impact on your business and in your home/ church life too.
But what if I told you that you only had thirty days to live? What if you did not have a full 365 days to accomplish all your goals? Would you still keep the same goals in place or would your game plan suddenly shift to a higher level of priorities? How would this knowledge of your mortality immediately impact your attitudes, actions and behaviors?
Let me share with you my own recent story. In late December I went in to see my medical internist Dr. Gist for a routine physical. He did a PSA test (yikes!), the normal blood and urine work and listened to my heart and lungs. All results were A okay except for a little too much bad cholesterol. Oh well, statins can help solve that problem.
Yea, life is good…. but not so fast. “Dr. Gist, I have been experiencing a pain under my right rib cage. It kind of throbs from time to time and then it goes away. I think I may be getting an ulcer from chasing the cats around at The CEO Institute for so long.” Next thing I know Dr. Gist pokes around and says you may have some stones in your gall bladder. We better do an ultra sound on that to get a definitive diagnosis. A “bad read” on the ultrasound then triggered the need for an abdominal CAT Scan.
The next thing I know the phone rings on Friday morning. “Hello Lane, this is Dr. Gist,” he starts. “Where are you.” “I am in the car with Melody,” I respond. “Are you parked?” he asks.” I assure him we are. “Well I am afraid I have some bad news for you. You have a tumor on your pancreas measuring 8 centimeters and four mets on your liver. This is a very serious situation. You need to go get a biopsy of your pancreas and find a cancer surgeon and an oncologist right away.”
Wow, you talk about a gut punch! One moment I am having a great time with my bride Melody on vacation and the next moment I am told that I have a very uncertain life expectancy and to get my affairs in order. Oh God, how can this be happening?
In the twinkling of an eye, my world just turned upside down. The goals that I had set both on a personal and business basis all suddenly seemed to be much less important. For example, Trying to figure out how much money was needed in order to retire comfortably with Melody, was no longer an immediate concern. Planning how we would celebrate my daughter’s graduation from medical school in May of 2017 was too far away to think about.
Let me tell you what I have learned since my diagnosis and I pray it will be of help to you as a business executive and as a Christian disciple.
- There is no such thing as a self-made man or woman. We are totally and completely dependent on God’s mercy and grace in every area of our lives. We all know that we don’t earn this grace and mercy. It is bestowed on us as Christians because of the atoning sacrifice of The Lord Jesus Christ. Everything we have is a gift of God. EVERYTHING! Even the gift of your business! It is all on loan to us and one day we will give it all back !
- There is no security in this world apart from the eternal security offered to us by The Lord Jesus Christ. I don’t care how many zeros are in your net worth column on your business and personal financial statement. Don’t believe the mirage that your money will allow you to build an impregnable fort around yourself or your business. It won’t. Cancer can trump gold and silver at any time.
- Life is fragile. There are no guarantees offered to us by God on how long we will live. We are signed up to a series of one day renewable but cancellable contracts. We are not entitled to long life here on earth. So treat every day as a gift and thank God for your blessings every single day even when bad things also happen.
- Now is the time to love and live well. What will really matter at the end of your life? Will it be the price per share you got for selling your stock through the IPO? Will it be how many vacation houses you built? Will the size of your new corporate headquarters building be important to you in Heaven? No I don’t think those things have any value to you in eternity. What will matter is the fruit that was produced in your life by Christ inside you!
- So where should our focus be as Christian disciples who have been deployed in the business world for Christ? The answer has gotten very simple for me in the last ten days. In a nutshell it comes down to how well I am loving God and loving other people.
If you can’t say that you are doing that really well (which is the Number One Commandment), then all the other things are your goal list in 2017 won’t matter a whit.
- Are you really living each day as if it could be your last day on earth? If not, what do you need to do differently?
- Are you loving God and loving your employees, customers and vendors, family members, church members, and other people who are less fortunate than you are? How could you do a better job of loving God and the people in and around your business?
- Do you have a light grip on the physical things of this world including your bank accounts, your real estate, your business, your other possessions? Are you acting as a steward of these assets on behalf of God or do you really believe that you own them?
Lane Kramer is President of The CEO Institute, a Dallas based peer learning group for senior Christian business executives. See www.ceoinst.com.