A Statue of Responsibility

December 11, 2009

I have a friend who has a dream… a big dream… let’s say a 300 ft. tall dream.  He believes that just as Lady Liberty stands proud on the east coast of our nation, so should a Statue of Responsibility tower above the California coast as a reminder to American citizens and visitors from around that globe that both attributes (Liberty and Responsibility) are essential to sustain the freedoms (economic, spiritual, etc.) we so often take for granted:

The Statue of Responsibility is not a pipe dream.  And it’s not IF it’s going to happen, it’s where.  Foundations, celebrities, and politicians are flocking to this important mission.  Several locations are under consideration.


What an incredible pair of transcontinental bookends.  Remember you heard it here first!

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Highest Dreams

February 10, 2009


My highest dream through college was to fly jets.  No aspiration I could envision compared with the possibility of piloting an F16 through high G-force maneuvers as I blasted through the sound barrier.  My dreams were shattered, however, when – unlike two of my college buddies – I failed the Air Force pilot test.  For years I fantasized about an alternate path in my life, flying as Captain Sapp for a prominent airline while pursuing successful entrepreneurial ventures on the side.  I couldn’t understand why God would not fulfill my desire to sit behind the stick.


A few weeks ago my incredible children (who would not be a part of my life if my dream had been fulfilled) and wonderful mother surprised me with a “Bucket List” birthday event – to sit behind the stick of an old Navy Fighter and actually guide the plane through maneuvers.  What an opportunity!



Every once in a while we learn better how to appreciate God’s sense of humor.  It took exactly two aileron rolls and one loop for me to take my hand off the stick and reach for the airsick bag.  If a prop-plane graciously gliding through calm acrobatics propelled me into dry heaves, what would a jet pulling 10 Gs do to my gag reflex?   My flight was a great experience as I laughed my way through violent nausea, while gaining insight as to one reason God did not fulfill my “highest dream.”


How can I turn to anyone else? I would be insanity, foolishness.  You are God, I am not.  I abandon myself to You.  Like Jabez, I ask that you bless me.  I ask that you satisfy the highest dream my heart can envision – an encounter with You. 


Larry Crabbe, Shattered Dreams


Thank God that He shattered my dreams.  Thank God that, even when I don’t feel blessed to my own specifications, my highest dream can be still be fulfilled, and that is to know Him better.


Too Risky to Play it Safe?

May 18, 2008


It’s dangerous playing “not to lose.”

A football team leads by ten points heading into the fourth quarter.  The coach just wants to survive for fifteen minutes.   He fears a fumble, an interception, or a blocked field goal.  So he plays it safe. The opposing team, on the other hand, escalates their strategic risk – scores – shifts the momentum – scores again – and wins the game.


A professional golfer walks onto the 16th tee with a three stroke lead in the final round.  It’s less safe to hit it over the hazard and lay up with a wedge, so he chooses a more conservative shot.  The runner up takes the risk and birdies the hole.  The two players end up in sudden death and the player once behind wins the match.


A software company attains first to market status with a new product.  An initial marketing campaign produces huge returns.  They replicate the same campaign over and over, producing less and less results.  A few other companies enter the market with similar, but slightly more inventive features.  The first to market company – unwilling to change their strategy, enhance their Value Proposition, or create an exit strategy so that they can pursue another idea – continues to lose market share and eventually closes their doors.


A young man heads to college.  His heart and gifts point to international non-profit opportunities, but he chooses accounting to assure a steady job after college.  His potential entrepreneurial and service experience is at best delayed, but most likely decimated.


Renowned marketing guru, Seth Godin, states that today – whether in business or life – it’s too risky to play it safe.  Playing “not to lose” as opposed to “playing to win” produces a cancerous paradigm that permeates through the heart of an individual, a family, or an organization. 


Cinderella Man is the true story of James Braddock, a professional fighter in late 1930’s and early 40’s, who overcame the economic implosion of the Great Depression to fight for the heavy weight championship.  He entered the title fight as the overwhelming underdog to a much stronger and much younger existing champion named Max Baer. 


In this scene, Braddock, through shear bulldog tenacity and heart leads Baer in points as they enter the final round.  His manager exhorts him that the best way to win is to play it safe and stay away from Baer who will be looking for the knockout.  Watch Braddock’s strategy:



Why did Braddock choose to stay on the offensive, even when he was ahead?  Why do we so often choose to play “not to lose” as opposed to playing to win?   Fear of unknown?   Fear of pain? Fear of embarrassment? Fear of rejection? Fear of failure? Fear of success? 


I met an incredible man twenty-five years ago.  When I met George Constance he had completed 45 years in African field missions, and was currently involved in domestic ministry.  He and his lovely wife Helen helped churches around the country transition between pastors.  George was 83 years old when he served during our pastor search; we were his 33rd church.  I’ve never met a man with more energy, devotion, and an incredible sense of humor.  George and Helen certainly could have chosen a less stressful occupation at their age or no occupation at all.  But they chose, as did Caleb in the book of Numbers, to “think differently”.   They played to win until the end.


We – as John Wooden states – need to maintain physical, emotional, and spiritual intensity despite how far ahead or behind we perceive our current condition.  We also need to train and encourage our young men to “play to win” in an age where mediocrity is the designated target.   Young men often leave high school with emotional and mental baggage as well as a “passion void” of a dream to achieve.  We must help them to think differently.




What is the next decision your son needs to make regarding academics, sports, church, relationships, etc.  Is one of the available options the better choice, but more risky?  Encourage him to take that option and do what you can to support his decision.


The Towing Line

May 16, 2008


I’m a former competitive swimmer.  My older son was a Florida ranked sprinter and an All American Water Polo player in high school; he also played for the University of Florida.  Needless to say, we have a higher than normal percentage of chlorine coursing through our veins.


I heard recently that USA Olympic swimmers engage in an interesting training exercise called “The Towing Line”.  Swimmers who are fast but not yet world contenders are fitted with an apparatus that allows them full arm rotation, but pulls them through the pool at world record speed.  It’s like the aquatic version of a fighter pilot simulator.  The Towing Line gives athletes the “feel” of swimming faster than anyone else in the world.  As a result, they are able to visualize more clearly, perform better, and inch closer to achieving their dream. 


I have a friend who’s son, David, will soon enter engineering school with a focus on trains.  David is passionate about trains as well as the future of railway travel and commerce.  He is also one of the nation’s experts on model trains – the expensive scale model versions.  Not only does Disney hire David on a regular basis to design, setup, and maintain elaborate landscapes at EPCOT – he also maintains a thriving eBay business buying and selling these model trains. 


David’s father, also named David, enabled his son to experience the “Towing Line” over the past decade by taking him on numerous trips to ride and view working trains around the country.  Father and son will venture west this summer to ride some of the tourist locomotives, including the famous Silverton Train in Durango, Colorado.  These trips have expanded David’s dream of becoming an expert on train engineering, and improving rail transport around the world.


My younger son, Kyle, also has a dream.  He wants to be a singer/songwriter.  I’m helping him write his own music and filming him (amateur of course) singing at high school talent shows and open mic events. 

Although Kyle is more than capable of creating his own “Tow Line Events” I want to take every opportunity to let him experience what it feels like to move closer to his dream.


What is your son’s dream?  Is there a Towing Line you can provide to give him a simulated experience of the home run?