March 5, 2006
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank


Dear Marketplace Friend,

"So, Shank, where are you today?" Phoenix. "What are you doing there?" Wanted to be as far away from the Oscars foolishness tonight as I can get. I'm over here, on the saner side of Brokeback Mountain. Sorry for my cynicism; I'm on my way home from a weekend with Christian leaders who are members of YPO, the Young President's Organization. They conferenced in Tucson under Bob Buford's mentorship. Cheri and I were "presenters" on Saturday. The theme? "Success to Significance."

Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity, was the man-of-the-evening last night. Still hearty and hammerin' at 71, he joined into the choir of speakers who were singin' "Pursue your Calling... and Never Plan Retirement." We're writing new verses for that future hit-parader. I loved Fuller's title: "Significance: by Whose Measure?"

Boy oh boy, what a great question to pose. Tonight, in Hollywood, "the members of the Academy" will announce their decisions about what's "significant." Good chance that their choices and my standards are going to have some deep gulfs of separation. I don't go to the movies much; my time's too precious these days to pour three hours into an "artistic" cesspool, hoping to find some random pearls floating in the muck. We'll read the list of "significant people" ala Oscar in tomorrow's paper. Will they be... significant?

The Donald has declared himself to be significant. If our generation has a "self made man," he's da Man. Significant? Only a man who has trademarked the term could write a book like Trump: Think Like a Billionaire: Everything You Need to Know About Success, Real Estate, and Life.

According to one reviewer of Trump's now year-old book, "There is no one better at promoting Donald Trump than the man himself." His "insights" are the recipe for people who are no longer motivated by a mere million; the secrets needed to add three more zeros and a comma to your net worth include:

• Whether you have someone managing your bottom line or you are doing it yourself, money, like anything, takes maintenance and planning to grow

• If you run out of money, you can start over again. But when you've run out of time, there is no starting over

• There is nothing more self-destructive than having a great idea and then putting it off If the book isn't enough Donald for you, you can become his Apprentice... if you can prove that you're more self-serving and slimy than the rest of the wanna-be's around the table. Become his Apprentice... and you just might become... just like him. Is that "significance?"

The Donald is vastly overshadowed by my choice. Bigger than that Oscar statue erected next to the red carpet tonight, The Savior looms over 'em all. He isn't soliciting Apprentices; he's recruiting Disciples. So, Jesus, what do you think about the Oscar winners, or The Donald? Are they the standard we should revere? Should we set our course for life based on their insights and influence?

Jesus' answer is in His book. Listen to His opinion of the other voices: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." (Luke 6:39-40)

Look, it would be great to play the "I'm my own man/woman" game. Truth is, Bob Dylan was right: "you're gonna serve somebody." We're all under someone else's influence; the only question is, whose? Pick your hero and you'll set your course: everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.

Go to the movies that will "win" tonight and you'll have your sensitivities shifted on things with deep moral implications. Go to Barnes & Noble and buy DT's book and you'll get his opinion about "everything you need to know about success... and life." Or...

Pick up that copy of God's bestseller (the movie based on one of its stories was a box-office titan, but it never made the Oscars last year!) and get some REAL input on significance... and life!

Significance: by Whose Measure? I think The Donald has been Trumped by The Savior...

Bob Shank

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