Category Archives: Biography

The 10,000 Hour Rule

Among the things I wish I had learned before it was too late was the 10,000 hour rule.  Malcolm Gladwell’s amazing book, Outliers, was my first exposure to this principle.  Stated simply: If you want to become an expert in any given endeavor, it is necessary to involve yourself (study and practice) for a minimum of 10,000 hours.  You want to be a great musician?  Learn the basics of music and your instrument and then practice for 10,000 hours.  You want to be a great scientist?  Get the basics of your field and then research, experiment, collaborate, etc. for 10,000 hours.  Baker, butcher, chef, artist, salesperson, preacher, teacher, actor, you name it…after 10,000 hours of serious pursuit you will achieve expert status.  You can read more here.

My attention, sadly, has always been divided.  I have always had too many irons in the fire.  I have been too interested in too many things.  I see something that interests me and I think, “Hey, I can do that!”  Maybe so…but without the dedicated pursuit and practice…no achievement of expertise.  Now, I find myself at the “twilight years” able to converse about many things but not as a maven, guru, whiz-kid, ace, go-to-guy, virtuoso or hotshot.

I may come close in a couple of areas where I have some native ability, but it’s a bit too late to become a real expert.  What was needed was to find my passion of passions and then focus, focus and focus.  Hopefully, it is not too late for you.

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Filed under Aging, Biography, Book Reviews, Ignorance, Initiative, Life, Music, Preaching/Teaching, Science

The Life of Rafferty

Since I became aware of the death of Gerry Rafferty I’ve been thinking about how we hear so many truths from unexpected sources.  For example, it is all too easy to go Back, Jack and Do it Again because You Don’t Always Get What You Want.  When You Can’t Hide Your Lying Eyes and Life in the Fast Lane makes you lose your mind, The Devil is Pleased to Meet You (we could go on but I’ll stop with these classics).

Rafferty’s rendition of Baker Street, has never failed to move me…not only with its haunting music, but with the truths in his lyrics.  In so many ways, they describe the life of Rafferty including his struggle with alcohol and his reclusive spirit.  The lyrics speak of misguided struggles leading nowhere, lessons learned but not heeded, of truths realized but never internalized.  Sadly, you and I have probably known some pathless pilgrims on Baker Street.

Winding your way down on Baker Street
Light in your head and dead on your feet
Well another crazy day, you’ll drink the night away
And forget about everything.

This city desert makes you feel so cold
It’s got so many people but it’s got no soul
And it’s taken you so long to find out you were wrong
When you thought it held everything.

You used to think that it was so easy,
You used to say that it was so easy
But you’re tryin’, you’re tryin’ now.
Another year and then you’d be happy
Just one more year and then you’d be happy
But you’re cryin’, you’re cryin’ now.

He’s got this dream about buyin’ some land
He’s gonna give up the booze and the one night stands
And then he’ll settle down, it’s a quiet little town
And forget about everything.

But you know he’ll always keep movin’
You know he’s never gonna stop movin’
Cause he’s rolling, he’s the rolling stone.
And when you wake up it’s a new morning
The sun is shining, it’s a new morning
But you’re going, you’re going home

Rafferty never found the lasting inner peace longed for in his lyrics.  From his beginnings as an unwanted child with a dysfunctional family to the end of his life, his history is one of hopelessness addiction and unrealized potential.

Would Jesus Christ have made a difference in his life?  I think so, but you be the judge.  Since Jesus is the bringer of light and life, peace and hope — I believe it would have made a huge difference.  And since fellowship with His followers brings comfort, compassion, encouragement and shared strength, I am confident his life could have been very different.  Tragically, we shall never know.

Look around my friend.  Do you see someone on a hopeless highway, trying to find their way home?  Help them find the way to a new morning.
♦♦♦♦

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: dwhitsett.wordpress.com

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Filed under Biography, Christlikeness, church, Community, conversion, Culture Wars, Current Events, Devil, Faith, Jesus Christ, Life, Meaning of Life, morality, Religion, Satan

Tiger

“Those birds can’t make up their minds whether to fly north or south,” he said as I was walking to my table in the coffee shop, “…they’re going around in circles.”

Thus began a strange and confusing conversation with a man who calls himself “Tiger.”  He was out of the Army as a combat engineer but apparently had not seen combat.  He was now at loose ends, living out of his car and delivering pizzas in the evenings.  He was not completely broke since he was in a coffee shop but was about to leave for a bookstore where they served free coffee.

I asked him where he was from and he said, “Baytown.”  But it turns out that he was from all over Texas and elsewhere.  In short order I learned that he suffered from bone loss, damaged ligaments in his right arm and several industrial injuries.  He had been married twice, had three children and had lost another son to murder.

“I consider myself a professional singer,” he told me at least twice.  He had sung with several bands but it didn’t work out because he wouldn’t sing songs by Judas Priest for moral reasons.  Nevertheless, he had tried to be an alcoholic like the rest of his band but was thwarted by an allergic reaction to alcohol.

Finally, I questioned him about his journey of faith.  He had started out as an atheist because “something really bad” had happened to him and he decided there could not be a God.  Then “another really bad thing happened” to him and he nearly died.  He decided then there must really be a God because “He let me live.”

I asked him if he had been baptized.  “Oh yes…several times,” he said.

“Several times?” I asked.

“Yep.  Several times in different names…Father, Son, Holy Ghost, and in the name of Jesus only.”

“When I was seventeen I got the Holy Ghost at a Pentecostal church.  But then I noticed how the church people were treating others,” and even though he didn’t lose faith in God, he lost faith in churches.  Now he’s an attender of churches but member of none.

As the conversation continued, it was clear that Tiger’s mind is as confused as his life.  As we talked, different, disconnected details kept emerging.  “I try to forget the past, and press on to the future just like the Bible says.”

When I asked him about the future he told me he wanted to be a mercenary with the Israelis but he was vague about when and where.  “I don’t think I can kill anyone,” he said, “but I can hand bullets to those who will.”

What will happen to the Tigers of this life?  Is he destined to wander aimlessly taking life as it comes for good or ill just like those birds flying in circles?  What will be the eternal destiny of those like him?  I honestly don’t know.  But maybe I was not there for him.  Maybe I encountered Tiger so I could count my blessings.  I left the coffee shop in my old, but trusty car I’ve never had to spend the night in.  I drove to my comfortable home to eat a nutritious breakfast.  I sat down in my comfortable chair at my computer to write this article.  Later on I will talk with my beloved wife of 48 years.  Today I will be doing meaningful and purposeful work in the kingdom.  Thank you, Lord and thank you, Tiger.  Point well taken.

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Filed under Atheism/Theism, Baptism, Biography, Blessings, church, Eternal Life, Faith, homelessness, Life, Meaning of Life, morality, Scripture

Living and Dying Well

Bob Vance

1928 – 2007

 

bobvance1.jpg One of life’s compensations is to be in the acquaintance of extraordinary men and women. Even though I did not know him as well as some others, I think all who knew him would agree that Bob Vance was one of the most outstanding.

I think I was drawn to Bob for several reasons. Continue reading

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Filed under Biography, Missions/Evangelism, Whitsett News