The late former-President Nixon spent his years out of office writing. I understand he wrote 10 books in his “retirement” and often was on the public speaking circuit. As the only President who resigned his office in disgrace, his return to public life was rather impressive.
Richard Nixon was a very intelligent man and his understanding of foreign policy was remarkable. Few people however, realize he was a great negotiator. I recently ran across a booked called Richard Nixon’s 10 Commandments of Statecraft written by James Humes back in 1997.
The book’s sub-title is what made me pick up this work. His Guiding Principles of Leadership and Negotiation caught my eye since I like reading about leadership. Richard Nixon’s first “commandment” as described in that book is “Always Be Prepared to Negotiate, but Never Negotiate Without Being Prepared.”
Think of how important preparation is to any task. Whether you’re buying a car or making a sales presentation, if you are prepared, you have a much better chance of being successful. It’s really a no-brainier when you think about it. Being prepared tilts the scales toward a favorable outcome.
What strikes me is how poorly many of us incorporate this fundamental truth into our spiritual life.
We fail to prepare.
We fail to read, pray, invest in our spiritual health and then wonder why we don’t hear God or don’t see Him working on our life. We think just appearing at church a couple times a month makes us a strong believer, but we put no effort into reading and understanding His Word.
Many of us complain about the evils around us and can wax eloquently about how “bad” things are now. But can you really expect anything else when few people really prepare?
The temptation of this is to blame the organized church and they do bear a measure of responsibility. But to me, that is the easy way out – blame others. I wonder if the problems are a reflection of how many of us are Biblically illiterate. We don’t know His Word, we don’t pray (beyond a periodic saying of “grace” at the dinner table), we aren’t obedient to His principles and we don’t invest the time and effort into knowing Him. In other words, we aren’t prepared.
I think this may be part of what Jesus was teaching in Matthew 7, verses 24 through 26.
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. (NKJV)
I know we traditionally teach this as Jesus pointing out that He is the rock and we need to build our foundation on Him. I totally agree with that point. But I think this goes much deeper. What does it mean to have ourselves “founded on the rock” in the context of this verse? Isn’t this verse also saying how we need to be prepared? The wind, rain and floods mentioned in these verses come to both the wise and foolish builder. What is different about the two builders? It’s their preparation isn’t it?
Yet I think many play the part of the foolish builder! We say we are believers, we go to church – unless of course we need to go to something else – but we haven’t really made Him the foundation in our life.
Is He foundational to your life? By foundational I mean does Christ take that number one position? How important is His Word to your life? – ya I know, ouch.
The last thing I ever want to do is throw a guilt trip on people. Life is hard enough without someone scolding you for not serving God. But the fact is, for us to be prepared to face the trials of life and for us to fully walk in a disciplined life serving Him, we need to have His Word filtering our life. I need to see the world around me through the lens of His Word and I need to walk as He would have me walk.
Preparation takes work. It requires us to make a decision. Am I going to make the necessary effort to prepare for life or am I just going to do enough to get along and hope I do ok.
I close with the words of Richard Nixon, “Always be prepared to negotiate, but never negotiate without being prepared.”
Blessings My Friend