Participants: Karen Thomas, Delbert Baker
Series Code: IAA
Program Code: IAA000081
00:01 ¤ ¤
00:31 Welcome to Issues and Answers. We're glad that you're able to
00:33 join us today. We're going to talk about achieving your
00:37 personal best. And here to talk about this very interesting
00:41 topic is Dr. Delbert Baker. He's the president of Oakwood College
00:44 a pastor, administrator, professor, counselor and a whole
00:48 host of a lot of other things that he's done. With a rich
00:50 background of professional experience he has served on
00:54 numerous committees, he has been a past editor for Message
00:58 Magazine and has authored six books, Telling the Story, Make
01:03 Us One, Secret Keys, Profiles of Service, From Exile to Prime
01:07 Minister and the Unknown Prophet. Thank you so much
01:10 for coming to talk to us about Achieving Our Personal Best.
01:15 Is that a little selfish?
01:16 I don't think so. I don't think so. I think Christians are very
01:19 much about growing deep spiritually and many Christians
01:24 are about deepening their connection with God and even
01:28 working with others. But there's another dimension, Karen, that
01:32 is wide open and that is really achieving your best for Christ.
01:36 Living the abundant life that Jesus talks about.
01:41 So tell me about that.
01:43 Well I think there are many facets to the abundant life and
01:47 I think that as Christians we need to think about it. We're
01:51 talking about getting involved in the very heart of life, that
01:56 you do fun things. You're a well-rounded person. You're not
02:01 simply that spiritual person who only knows the Bible and that's
02:05 it. Now you know I'm saying you've got to know the Bible
02:08 we have to have that connection with Christ. What I'm also
02:11 saying though that the Bible leads us to develop the total
02:15 person, the whole person. And I think it bears emphasizing
02:19 the Christian life, that we really need to do more things
02:23 and to be sure that we have a life that is well rounded,
02:27 physically in terms of developing the body. We do talk
02:31 a lot about health reform and being...
02:33 And a lot about discipline.
02:34 Discipline, you're right and that's key. I mean, I think of
02:39 Ellen White's statement when she says the body is a most
02:42 important medium for the up building of the character.
02:45 That's powerful and it really says that we need to have
02:49 bodies that are fit, that are sound, that are so in tune that
02:53 the Holy Spirit can speak to us and through us so that health
02:57 side is so crucial to anything we do. But there's also the
03:02 relational side. How are we with our families and our friends and
03:05 our loved ones? I mean, are we so caught up with our work, into
03:09 being a workaholic? I speak to myself too. I mean, got to have
03:12 that balance and I say that to myself all the time that it's
03:16 good to be good but if you have it thrown off and you're
03:19 excluding you're family and your loved ones then that's being off
03:22 balance. Then there's the mental side. Are we really challenging
03:26 the mind to be sure that we can be all that we can be. Are we
03:29 really pursuing those classes or that deeper level of education,
03:33 a mastery that we should from the mental perspective.
03:37 There's so many areas, professionally and in terms of
03:41 relationally. I think of this statement that Ellen White makes
03:44 and it's one of my favorites. In fact, I did a search on this
03:47 once on the CD ROM and realized that she'd mentioned the same
03:51 statement more than 50 times in different places. She says, and
03:54 I quote, Our greatest duty to God and man is that of self
03:58 development. I'll repeat that. Our greatest duty, our greatest
04:02 duty, to God as well as to man is that of self-development or
04:06 self-improvement, she says in certain places. Which means that
04:10 we should be in a life long quest for learning and
04:13 development and achievement. And when she talks about
04:16 eternity and the Bible talks about eternity, it doesn't talk
04:20 in static terms of sitting around playing harps and
04:24 floating around this ethereal atmosphere. It talks about noble
04:28 enterprises and grand jobs and tasks and objectives. It talks
04:33 about worship in a dynamic sense It talks about interacting with
04:38 people, visiting other worlds. All these wonderful things.
04:42 So the abundant life is a full life that is chock full of
04:47 things and challenging ourselves and pushing ourselves. I think
04:50 of the aim of our mission at Oakwood. It's summed up in three
04:54 words: Education, Excellence, Eternity. Now we're about
04:58 education and we definitely believe in education and
05:01 eternity. But I also think we need to stress the excellence.
05:04 Being the best we can be and not comparing ourselves with others
05:08 but pushing ourselves, stressing ourselves, challenging ourselves
05:12 to really reach the extra limit, to go the extra mile.
05:18 I have to ask you. Had I heard somewhere that you climbed Mt.
05:21 Yeah. That was one of my goals. That's one of the things I speak
05:26 about when I say about setting goals for yourself that
05:28 challenge you. That was one of my life goals. I wanted to climb
05:31 Mt. Kilimanjaro. I heard about it; this fabled mountain 19,340
05:34 feet that straddles both Tanzania and Kenya on the
05:41 borderline in Africa. Some years ago I had the privilege of
05:46 taking that heavy, serious trek to the top of that mountain.
05:50 And it was a challenge. I mean it took three days to go to the
05:54 top and two days to come down. It was dangerous, it was hard.
05:58 We had to prepare for it, we had to eat right, we had to think
06:01 right and sleep right. There were six of us in that group.
06:05 In fact, we had Neil Wilson who was president of the General
06:09 Conference at that time, Ted Wilson, his son, who is
06:12 currently in the General Conference, Bill Johnson who is
06:16 the editor of the Adventist Review, and myself and then we
06:20 had a physician and a physical therapist. We were the six
06:24 people who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and it was a
06:27 wonderful, wonderful experience and what it did was it tested us
06:32 It just really made us take that tough challenge and hang in
06:37 there and do it and there's no thrill like reaching the top of
06:41 the mountain and saying by the grace of God and through some
06:44 discipline and practice I did it Now that's only symbolic.
06:49 That's only a symbol. I believe each of our viewers, no matter
06:54 who they are, they need to have personal goals, fun goals, that
06:58 they want to do that really excite them, that gets them
07:02 charged and enthusiastic. It takes the mundane aspect of life
07:06 away. It does away with that and it gets some more variety and
07:10 some more positive Christian excitement. How about that?
07:16 Now I also understand that you have recently run a 26.2-mile
07:21 marathon. That's true. Now I'd be real curious to find out what
07:26 your personal day planner looks like.
07:29 Well now that was the spot. I'm glad you added the 0.02
07:33 because the 0.02, a mile marathon is really important
07:37 because the last little section there is a tough one. That's
07:41 true. About three weeks ago I ran a marathon and it was quite
07:45 a joy, it was a real thrill. It was the Marine Corp marathon in
07:49 Washington, D.C. I've actually run eight marathons, this is my
07:52 eighth one, but I haven't run a marathon in seven years and so
07:55 this was kind of a test to see if you can still have it, old
07:59 man, can you get out there and do it, you know. Of the seven I
08:04 ran before, actually five of those were full marathons, 26.2
08:09 and the other two were half marathons. So with the passing
08:13 of time I really wanted to challenge myself and see if I
08:17 could do it and I believe in staying in shape. Every day I
08:21 do my best to get some exercise in, 15, 20, 30 minutes or more
08:24 where possible. I'm pretty consistent with that. I walk, I
08:28 run I do the treadmill, I lift weights and I try to eat right
08:32 and balance my diet. I follow New Start. I'm really into that.
08:35 Let me just say, for our viewers,
08:39 NEW START, the N is for nutrition, exercise the E, W is
08:43 water, the S is sunshine, the T is temperance, the A is air, the
08:47 R is rest and the T is trust in Divine power. I directly believe
08:50 that those eight principles are key to the healthy life. If a
08:54 person does that that will give him the platform, all things
08:57 being considered, that will allow them to do so many
09:00 other exciting things in their life. So I'm a strong advocate
09:03 in being the best and really pushing yourself. And God wants
09:06 us to do that I believe. He wants that.
09:08 Yeah. I believe that he does. Now tell me about some other
09:13 people maybe that you've observed in your life that have
09:17 impacted you, of those who have achieved their personal goals.
09:20 Well and I think that's key, Karen. When you think about
09:24 being your best models are wonderful things and I think
09:27 that we need to scan our horizon and see our own world and see
09:30 individuals that are doing things that we believe in and
09:34 that can inspire us. I've had a number of individuals who have
09:38 really made a big impression in my life. I remember back in 1986
09:42 when I was editor of Message I was fascinated by Ron McNair,
09:47 the black astronaut, and I followed his life in 1986 when
09:51 he and the other members of the Challenger crew experienced that
09:55 explosion. I was crushed like so many people who saw that, that
09:59 situation happen. I mean it just broke my heart like the hearts
10:04 of so many other people. And I remember that at that point in
10:08 time we had a cover story from Message Magazine that we
10:12 scrapped, and I said by the grace of God we need to meet
10:16 with Cheryl McNair, his widow. And it was just a few days
10:20 after that, and I didn't even know if this was possible, but
10:24 I said maybe this lady, and I knew Ron was a Christian, I knew
10:27 she was a Christian, I say maybe she might want to share her
10:30 testimony and tell what it was like to be married to Ron and
10:33 what his testimony was about Christ and that kind of thing.
10:36 Well, through a series of providential events I was able
10:40 to make contact with her home finally and I talked to Cheryl.
10:43 I told her that we were a Christian magazine, he'd be a
10:49 wonderful model for our readers and it would just be a great
10:51 thing if she could share her testimony. Well she was of
10:54 course broken by grief and it wasn't the time really to talk
10:56 about that, but she said she would consider. I tried to call
10:59 her back three times but I couldn't make contact with her.
11:02 So on a wing and a prayer, I said by the grace of God I said
11:06 I'm going to Houston and I want to interview Cheryl McNair.
11:10 So even though I didn't get the final word I jumped in the plane
11:13 and flew down there and I never will forget that night when in
11:17 the hotel I called her home and I said Mrs. McNair, I'm in town
11:20 I left a message on her voice mail. I said I'm in town
11:22 and I'm here to get
11:23 that interview. About an hour and a half later she called me.
11:27 She said you're what? I'm in town. She said well, I don't
11:30 know but I'll think about it. She said this is a tough time
11:34 she said but I do think Ron would have wanted me to share
11:37 his testimony. He would want me to tell people what he thought
11:42 of Jesus and what God meant to him. And she did. She met with
11:47 me the next day. We arranged a meeting and I never will forget.
11:50 She walked in and you could just see she was burdened with grief.
11:53 And as she shared her very emotional testimony she talked
11:59 about how she and Ron had talked about the possibility of him
12:04 dying and that this was such a dangerous enterprise that per
12:08 chance that he would never come back after one of his trips to
12:10 space. She said but he had the strong conviction that God was
12:16 with him, that God was directing his life. He believed in the
12:19 providence of God and that his times were in God's hands. And
12:22 she said he wanted to set a model for boys and girls, young
12:25 men and young women that they could be their personal best.
12:28 That's why he devoted time to community service and that's
12:31 why he worked on Little League teams and that's why he gave
12:34 himself in reading programs and that's why he allowed himself to
12:37 be used in ads to inspire young men and women. He had a rough
12:40 upbringing and yet by the grace of God and through applying his
12:43 life he was able to reach this high point. And she said Ron
12:46 would want me to say that he did his best and they could do their
12:49 best. You know, we ran that story. It was one of the most
12:54 popular stories that we ever ran in Message. We got letters from
12:58 around the world. We were invited to the White House
13:00 because they wanted to hear about Ron's testimony, how he
13:04 was his personal best. And Cheryl was so blessed and she
13:07 wrote us a note later and said I'm so happy that we shared the
13:11 story. It was the first story where she shared his experience.
13:15 And it all boiled down to being your best and striving for
13:19 excellence, not allowing your life to kind of slip down into
13:22 just the average _ of the mundane. That's one of them.
13:25 Let me give you another one real quick. That is about Mother
13:30 Teresa. That was a lifelong dream of mine as well and I
13:32 wasn't editor of Message at that time. In fact, I was at Loma
13:36 Linda University. I was going to India to do some meetings. In
13:39 fact I was running an evangelistic meeting and a
13:42 series there. There were two things I wanted to do besides
13:46 the meeting. One I wanted to visit the Taj Mahal. I just had
13:49 to visit there. And then the second one I wanted to visit
13:54 with Mother Teresa. This wonderful lady, the Sisters of
13:58 Charity, who had literally transformed the world in her
14:03 lifetime, a lady who was so committed to giving herself in
14:07 service for the poorest of the poor. That was her life story,
14:11 the poorest of the poor. This is what I'm talking about now, what
14:15 I'm saying, achieving your personal best. She devoted
14:18 herself... This was her magnificent obsession.
14:20 I got there and my goal was to before I met with her I wanted
14:24 to see some her homes. I visited the home in Calcutta, the home
14:28 of the dying, where the lepers were and the people, not the
14:32 lepers. This was another place. But this right here was just
14:36 those people who they collected off the streets of Calcutta and
14:39 they were dying, literally, and the sisters would provide them
14:43 simply the philosophy was give them a loving caring place to
14:47 die. They knew they were going to die but just a place where
14:51 they could show them love. It was Saturday night. I went into
14:55 the home there in Calcutta and it was the most overwhelming
15:00 feeling I've ever experienced. I walked in there and throughout
15:05 the building I saw all these people literally lying there on
15:09 mats dying. And these sisters were walking among them and they
15:13 were touching them, they were putting their hand on their
15:18 chest. I tried to think, what would I do, could I do that?
15:22 I mean the smell was strong, it was kind of a pungent odor
15:26 in the place and yet it didn't bother them. I stayed there and
15:28 I watched and I think in my mind I was transformed because I said
15:33 this is service. This is going the extra mile. This is really
15:38 what you call giving yourself to a true cause and making a
15:42 difference. And it was following that I went to Mother Teresa's
15:46 home there where the sisters stay in Calcutta and she wasn't
15:51 there that day. They said she's out of town and we don't know
15:56 if she'll be back. So we don't know if you should stay here or
16:00 what. I was really sort of disappointed but I said I want
16:05 to stay by so I agreed to work with some of the orphans in a
16:09 children's home and I didn't know how I would do with that
16:13 because I had never worked with little kids before. I don't if
16:17 they drove me crazy or if I drove them crazy but I did do it
16:20 for a while. You know, I stayed there for a while. Finally one of
16:22 of the sisters came to me and they said they had another place
16:26 for me to work. So they invited me out and they showed me they
16:30 were building this roof on her home there in the place where
16:33 the children stayed in the orphanage. They figured a big
16:37 guy, maybe I'd be better off on a roof top, working with that
16:41 you know. So I agreed to do it. I agreed to do it and so for the
16:46 next four or five hours I worked out there with the Indian, the
16:50 nationals there and we helped to repair this roof. And they
16:54 watched me. I would notice them come up periodically and just
16:58 stand and stare at me. I was the only expatriate working there.
17:02 The others were nationals. So they watched me. Finally at the
17:06 end of the day I was ready to leave and I said well I've
17:10 enjoyed it and they said well you've worked well. They said
17:14 maybe the mother will be in this evening and you can see her then
17:18 So I said well that's really _. Mother Teresa is going
17:22 to be here you know. They said well maybe so. They said come
17:26 back at six or something like that, at 6:30. And I went back
17:30 there and I had a chance to meet with Mother Teresa. It was one
17:35 of the high points that I can recall. She was so humble and
17:39 she was beautiful in her humility and she came up and I
17:42 said to her, I had about five minutes with her maybe. It
17:45 wasn't a long period of time. And I said Mother Teresa tell us
17:48 how you are impressed to do these wonderful things and work
17:51 with people. She said oh, no, no no. She grabbed me hand, I've
17:54 got a picture of it. She grabbed my hand and she said no, no, no.
17:57 She said it's not about me. She said it's about Jesus. It's
18:00 about Jesus and it's about working for the poorest of the
18:04 poor. She said by giving yourself she says and you don't
18:07 have to come here. You don't have to come here from the
18:10 United States of America. She says nobody has to come to see
18:13 Mother Teresa. She say you can be wherever you are and if
18:16 you're serving the poor and if you're serving the oppressed and
18:21 those who are outcasts you're doing the work of Jesus. That
18:25 has stuck with me all my life ever since those many years ago.
18:29 I said you know we strive to be great and we strive to be good
18:34 and we strive to be recognized but that is the essence of life,
18:38 serving and helping and that I believe is achieving your
18:42 personal best. When you give yourself to a cause and you give
18:46 yourself to something that is bigger than you are and you may
18:49 never receive recognition in this life, but that's greatness.
18:53 That's your greatness. Those are a couple of models that have had
18:58 a transforming impact on my life.
19:00 And on so many others. From just hearing the story. You often
19:06 wonder how to reach people and get to where they are and to
19:12 hear such a humble reason and that is the reason. I mean,
19:17 Jesus Christ when he came on this earth. He came in as a baby
19:22 in a manger, the most humble place that he could have been.
19:26 He wasn't able to stay in a hotel. He wasn't able to stay in
19:30 an inn or with someone's family in their home. None of those
19:34 things. He didn't have a place to lay his head, yet he was the
19:37 greatest, he was the greatest.
19:38 You know I think if each person can find, can discover, that's
19:45 the word, discover. Because God has a place for us and he has
19:50 something special he wants to do but we've got to discover it.
19:55 And it seems to me that the real challenge, and most of us our
19:58 problem is we're not looking for it, we're not seeking it, we're
20:03 not searching. We're not seeking to discover that which God has
20:08 for us. And to me that's what really what separates those who
20:12 are successful from those who are not. Some people search for
20:16 it and they don't give up until they find it. And other people
20:19 if it doesn't come to them, if it doesn't come, if they try two
20:22 or three projects and they don't realize it, they just give up
20:25 and say well I tried. And they become satisfied with some mean
20:29 attainment. But those who stress themselves, who commit
20:32 themselves to self-improvement to self-betterment, to self
20:35 achievement, those are the ones who keep on searching until they
20:39 find that niche, that place and that is the point of personal
20:43 fulfillment. And again I want to stress, we're not talking about
20:47 necessarily recognized greatness here. These are the anonymous
20:51 great people; people who realize their place by doing good. They
20:54 are great because they are good. And it's not about fame and
20:59 glory. It's about glory to God. And I think that is the secret
21:04 to the self-fulfilled, the self actualizing life isn't it.
21:09 I mean to find that spot and to just do what it is that God has
21:13 for you to do, to find your niche.
21:16 That's interesting you use the words self-actualizing because
21:19 you know there was this idea that we take care of food and
21:23 the emotional needs and then we shall have arrived to become
21:27 self-actualized. But then what is that? And I think you've
21:31 defined that as being in God's will and doing those things that
21:37 he did. When Jesus was here what did he do? And the examples that
21:43 you've given have been people who have committed their lives
21:46 to service.
21:47 You know, and I believe in Maslow's hierarchy and I
21:50 totally buy into that whole how you start with the basics and
21:53 then you go to the self- actualizing. However, I want to
21:55 give a little different twist to it. I really believe that if we
22:00 can seek self-actualization even from the beginning, even
22:04 before the food and the basic safety issues that God will
22:09 bless us in a way if that search is about his will. You see if
22:14 we seek him first and his kingdom all the other things
22:16 will be added to us. So if that self-actualization, seeking the
22:20 kingdom of God which many people argue that it can be
22:22 and is, that as we do that these other things will be added as
22:25 well. And so I think that we ought not to become so caught
22:28 up, let me get my basics first and then when I've got all these
22:30 things out of the way then I will go for that. In the
22:34 abundant life, the life in Christ, he says you come to me
22:37 and he will take our nothing and make it into something great
22:41 and something special. He will give us exceedingly above all
22:45 that we could ask or think. And if we're used by him here he
22:50 also will continue that in the earth to come in eternity.
22:55 I hear that you're saying we really have accountability. We
23:01 have a responsibility, we have a personal stewardship to move
23:06 beyond. We have it for ourselves and we
23:09 also have it for others and I think that anyone who has this
23:12 sense if whatever a person is doing good in their own lives
23:15 and they realize that they are being blessed with success, they
23:18 have a responsibility to pass it onto others. They have a
23:21 responsibility to mentor and to share this with other. They have
23:24 a responsibility to share with others their secret of success,
23:28 how they came across this self fulfillment and discovering what
23:30 God has for them. They don't simply have a light and hide it
23:33 under a bushel but they share it with everyone and they say
23:36 this is how God used me and God can use you the same way and
23:39 that way we kind of pass the dream and keep hope alive and we
23:42 just give it from one person to the next. It's a wonderful thing
23:45 I think at this point in time in the nation when we have gone
23:48 through many tough periods; we're going through a tough time
23:51 right now that probably will continue for a bit. This is the
23:54 time when people need to share joy. They need to share the
23:57 abundant life. They need to share what it means to trust in
24:00 God and to believe in him and have confidence that whatever
24:03 happens God is in charge and his providence will be the
24:07 controlling power to the very end. That's the abundant life.
24:11 In achieving your personal best doesn't sound like you're doing
24:15 much comparison with other people.
24:16 No, no it's not about comparison with other people and I think
24:19 that's where many of us make our mistake when we say I want to
24:22 better than someone else. You know whatever your goal is be it
24:25 if you want to go to school and get another degree or you want
24:28 to get classes, if you want to be in better shape, if you want
24:32 to develop or mend relationships with others or create new
24:35 relationships, if you want to be more diverse in your
24:39 relationships. You know if you want to do something special on
24:44 you job, if you want to be about improving your work place, what
24:49 that word initiative that special word which means you go
24:51 beyond what is expected or required of you. If you really
24:54 want to soar spiritually, it's there, you can do it. If you set
24:58 the goal and by the grace of God you move toward that he can help
25:02 you to achieve that. But we've got to set it and we've got to
25:06 be willing to get off our seats and before the television and
25:09 the remote control and kind of just moving around in our own
25:12 little safe world. We've got to get out there and do something
25:15 special so God can bless us. It's up to us.
25:20 Again thank you so much for coming to the program. And is
25:22 there anything else that you would like to say before we end?
25:26 Well it's a great topic and I enjoy talking about it and I
25:30 just want to encourage any of our viewers to look within and
25:34 say what is it that God wants me to do? I mean what can I do to
25:38 take my life to the next level? There are so many wonderful
25:42 things that we can do and that the world needs. We need people
25:46 to look for the abundant life who then enrich the entire
25:49 society and especially after September 11 and all these
25:53 events that this nation has experienced and is experiencing.
25:56 We need people, like I said before, we need people to share
26:00 the joy and pass the news on and to make a difference where they
26:03 are. And I know that if people will look God will reward their
26:07 search with discovery and they'll see what he wants for
26:09 them to do and they will experience that abundant life
26:12 and even take it to the next level.
26:13 Thank you so much for coming to the program. Would you offer
26:17 prayer before we end today?
26:18 Yes. Our Father, we thank you for the opportunity to share
26:22 here in this program. We thank you for this broadcast and this
26:24 program and we pray that it might bring inspiration to the
26:28 hearts of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions. We
26:32 know that you have a wonderful plan for our life, a wonderful
26:35 future and we want to find it. So we pray the Holy Spirit might
26:38 help us to discover what that plan is and that we might find
26:42 joy and fulfillment when we do so. And so Lord we ask that we
26:45 might search your word, we might pray and we might seek, we might
26:49 look that you might reward our search that we might have
26:52 satisfaction not only in this life but also satisfaction and
26:56 joy and eternal joy in the life to come. These things we pray
27:00 and claim in the name of Christ our Lord and Savior Amen.
27:04 Amen. Thank you again. And for those of you who are watching
27:07 the program, if you'd like to have more information about some
27:10 of the topics that we have covered of some of the books
27:13 that Dr. Baker has written, visit the 3ABN website at
27:16 www.3ABN.org or you can call the 800 number 1-800-752-3226
27:29 Take advantage of this opportunity to achieve your
27:32 personal best. Stretch beyond what is comfortable. Make a list
27:36 of things that you have been thinking about that have been
27:40 upon your mind and put them before the Lord and allow God to
27:44 make something wonderful, wonderful happen out of your
27:47 life. So take today and say hey I'm going to achieve my personal
27:51 best. I'm going to go as a personal steward to do the best
27:55 that I can, not only for myself but for others too.
27:58 God bless you.