Fred Smith Sr.

Fred Smith Sr.

Ministry to Ministries would like to share a message from Breakfast With Fred Leadership Institute (BWFLI) where they discuss why character matters.

Fred Smith Sr.’s library included books on speaking, elocution, and famous orators. He studied style, delivery, and content. As a lifelong learner he focused on clarity in his speaking and writing. He enjoyed tracing philosophical thought through generations, as well.

Character Matters

Browsing through a book flea market, I found a large four hundred fifty page leather bound, gilt-edged volume of “Famous After Dinner Speeches” delivered between 1875 and 1895 in Boston and New York. After digging deeply for the nickel it cost, I took it home and began reading through them.

In those speeches were many issues completely relevant today. As I studied them I saw a common thread: dignity. “A man is honored for what he gives, not for what he gets.”

In this time (1981) I see an attack on this principle. Recent surveys show that the “I am for #1” is the primary motivator. The sale of books on aggression and winning by intimidation regardless of the effect on character have skyrocketed. We are changing our definition of good and evil. That is vital. When we redefine the base as noble, our foundational values are gone. I see this change coming quickly and needs reversing.

When I was a kid among the poor (the socially acceptable phrase is underprivileged, but all we lacked was money – we had everything else, so I prefer to say poor) even the most impoverished had respect for Christian values. We had respect for those with strong character and integrity who didn’t get rich by whatever means were available. The ends definitely did not justify the means.

America operated on Christian principles, even if the population wasn’t scripturally based and “born again.” This is evaporating. The definitions of morality are being redone. I cannot think of anything more critical than understanding the source of definitions and the way we operate.

In business, leadership responsibility is perpetuity, not net profit. Profit is important because it allows for an ongoing institution, but it isn’t the basic principle. It is the responsibility of those privileged to lead to provide for the organization to continue. Inadequate management can wreak havoc on businesses that have provided livelihoods for employees and communities alike. Often it is a lack of character, short-term thinking, and failure to understand their leadership responsibilities.

Effective leadership precedes profit. Revenue is not the goal, but a means to the goal. Chasing money alone weakens an organization and often results in short-term decisions and compromise. It creates an environment which denies the dignity of longevity and perpetuity.
A value structure which has a long-term perspective is an essential part of dignity in business and in personal living. Allowing values to deteriorate into “whatever works” is the way to failure and defeat.

This week think about: 1) Fred saw these trends in 1981. What are you seeing today that concerns you in business, home, church, and community? 2) How are you creating personal habits to live with dignity? 3) Who is a leading influencer in your life?

Words of Wisdom: “Effective leadership precedes profit.”

Wisdom from the Word: “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, outstanding in dignity, outstanding in power.” (Genesis 49:3 NET Bible)

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