"You shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free"
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When the Tail Wags the Dog

July 18, 2022

The following testimony is by author/speaker Ty Bennett. What Mr. Bennett says in this short testimony is a life-lifting principle for those who put what he says into practice. 

“What is the best advice you have ever received? For example, a coach told you, "When you quit, you fail." Or maybe a friend said, "It's ok to say no." Or perhaps it was your mother who told you to wear clean underwear.  

In any case, advice from the right person at the right time can often change our perspective. That happened to me the first time I met Dr. Stephen Covey. At first, the advice he gave me seemed specific, but I have found his advice applies to almost everything and has shaped my mindset.  

When Stephen Covey found out I was writing a book, he said, “Make sure you write the book for the reader, not the writer.” Let that soak in. It's excellent advice for a writer or speaker. I have thought about it often as I have written my four books.  

But the thought has more application when you think about it as a mindset. It's not about you – it's about the reader!

The focus of an influencer is always on the audience. If you are a speaker – it’s about the people listening to you. If you are in sales – it’s about your customer or prospect. If you are a leader – it’s about the people you lead. If you are a teacher – it’s about your students. If you are a parent – it’s about your children.

Almost every influencer has this backward. They think being influential means they need to become polished or powerful. Influence, though, is all about the audience. Be it an audience of one or one thousand. They get it when it's about them, and we grow in their eyes.

A tremendous transformation takes place by thinking 'out' instead of 'in,' concentrating on others instead of on us. We go from inner-directed to outer-directed, from a taker to a giver, from self-centered to others-focused, from tightfisted to generous, from shortsighted to farsighted, and from selfish to selfless. We begin to see and act on behalf of others' needs ahead of our own. Our thoughts become more  'we' instead of 'me.' 

That’s what Stephen Covey taught me with what seemed to be a simple piece of advice. "Make sure you write the book for the reader, not the writer.”

Last October, I had the privilege of speaking at Primus University at their annual conference. I created a class for the university students entitled, ‘How to Write Your First Book So It Won’t Be Your Last Book.’ The very first thought I presented was the following.

People buy books for their sake, not your sake. They are the customer; you supply the product. Writing a book aims to communicate and add value to people's lives. Connect the message with the audience. Don’t preach or show off your supercalifragilisticexpialidocious knowledge. Instead, aim for oneness with yourself and the writer. Ask yourself, “Am I communicating with my readers, in heart, mind, and soul?” Transformation starts with communication. 

My thought about writing is the same as Ty Bennett’s thought. You help yourself by helping others. You serve yourself by serving others. Using others to your end, especially as a writer, speaker, educator, or public servant, is like the tail wagging the dog. You can’t turn people on if they want to turn you off.

In John 17:26, Jesus is praying to the Father. "…and I have made Thy name known to them and will make it known …" Let me paraphrase what Jesus is saying here. "Father, I didn't come to make myself known. I came to make you known. It's not about me. It's about you. I'm not serving myself; I’m serving you.” 

In Romans 1:1, Paul writes to the church in Rome, saying, "Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle ..." Notice Paul says he was a servant of Christ and to others first before he was an apostle. So many in our culture today hide behind a title or office, serving themselves and their self-serving agenda as first, and the people they were elected, hired, appointed, or called to serve second. They have uphill aspirations but downhill mindsets, agendas, and habits. That's a lose-lose for everyone. 

Someone recently posted this idea on Facebook for the church world. Jesus was speaking, “Well done, my good and faithful…Pastor, Bishop, Evangelist, Apostle, Preacher, Doctor, Missionary, Teacher, Singer, Worship Leader…SERVANT. The word leader is used six times in the Bible. The word servant is used 900 times in the Bible. Any more questions?  

You could also say this about other cultural influencers intoxicated with their titles and agendas. “Well done… President, Vice-President, Senator, Representative, Provost, Professor, Governor, Attorney General, CEO, Newspaper Publisher, Mega-Tech Business Owner, Basketball Player, School Teacher, Singer, Activist, TV Diva…SERVANT. Anything other than a servant serving with truth is the tail wagging the dog. And, whether intentional or unintentional, it’s devaluing people.

Here's a reality that is unfortunate but true. Most people don’t lead their life. They accept their life. That’s why they need trustworthy, truthful, and caring servant leaders to inspire and lift them in business, church, government, media/entertainment/arts, and education. 

So, you public or private servants of any type, consider the four questions people want to know beforehand for a trust relationship to form. Do you really like me? Can you help me? Can I trust you? Will you add value to my life? 

In other words, will the tail wag the dog, or the dog wag the tail? 

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com