Live Ten: Jump-Start the Best Version of Your Life

Live Ten: Jump-Start the Best Version of Your Life

by Terry A. Smith


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400205554
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 10/01/2013
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Terry A. Smith has served as lead pastor of The Life Christian Church for more than twenty-one years. He is a cofounder of the New York City Leadership Center and an instructor in its Leadership Fellows program.He holds a bachelor of science in organizational management and master of arts in organizational leadership. Terry has been married to his wife, Sharon, for more than thirty years, and they have three adult children: Sumerr, Caleb, and Christian.

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Jump-Start the Best Version of Your Life


Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2013 Terry Smith
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4002-0555-4



A REALLY COOL THING HAPPENED TO ME. I WAS AT THE ESPN ZONE AT Times Square for a Cotchery Foundation benefit. The Cotchery Foundation was founded by Mercedes and Jerricho Cotchery. Jerricho was a star wide receiver for the New York Jets. He and Mercedes are friends of mine, and I was at this event to support them and the causes they care about. Oh—and I'm a big football fan.

On this night, the Cotchery Foundation was raising a lot of money for several causes, but the primary beneficiary was Pride Academy Charter School. Pride Academy is located in East Orange, New Jersey. East Orange sits in the shadow of Newark and is plagued by severe problems in its educational system—problems all too common to urban America. The hope is that a successful charter school like Pride Academy will make a powerful difference in the future of many kids and the future of the community itself.

So I'm standing there in a crush of people, many of them fans who had donated in order to be there. They were given the opportunity to hang out with Jerricho, some of his teammates, and other celebrities. Lots of autographs were being signed.

A woman kind of forced her way over to me. The two beaming young girls at her side were about ten or eleven years old. "I want to meet you," she said, "and these girls said that you were the celebrity they want to meet tonight." I laughed. Politely? I thought I had been confused—again—for an old retired lineman. Big guy. Shaved head. Still eating to gain weight but not working out enough anymore. Celebrity? Ha! The last autograph I signed was the signature line of a personal check.

"No," she said with a smile, "we know who you are." Then the girls introduced themselves and started to thank me. They attend Pride Academy. The woman was the principal.

So what did this have to do with me?

Well, I am the senior pastor of The Life Christian Church in West Orange, New Jersey, a fairly prosperous suburb of Newark and New York City. A young woman named Rose Mary Dumenigo attends our church. Rose Mary says that she was so inspired by the message in my weekend talks that she decided—along with three other women—to create Pride Academy Charter School.

Rose Mary was a schoolteacher in Newark. She was pouring her life into kids, as do most teachers, but felt stuck in a system that didn't work. She wanted more. She heard me say—again and again—that we have the God-given ability to create new realities. She believed me. She started a school. Kids' lives are being saved.

Enter Jerricho and Mercedes Cotchery. In one of our weekend celebrations, Mercedes experienced a presentation about a serving opportunity at Pride Academy. She was inspired to become involved. She started RESH 180, a mentoring program where she taught the students values that provide the foundation for life success. She rallied many other volunteers to serve at Pride Academy. The Cotchery Foundation has raised a lot of money to help this school succeed.

And I got to be a celebrity—at least in the minds of two beautiful kids—for about sixty seconds.

But that's not the point. The point is that I've had a lot of people, though usually in less dramatic ways, tell me that the message they hear me share again and again and again has changed their lives and the lives of people around them.

What is that message? Well, here it is. I hope it impacts your life too.

* * *

The future is in you now.

Most of us have some awareness of the future that is in us. We have moments when we catch our breath in wonder as we briefly glimpse possibilities vastly preferred over our past and present. We intuit something great and grand and from God percolating just beneath the surface of our lives.

We can become fully awake to this future. We can bring this future from the nebulous realm of the subconscious into the world of the conscious. We can move the mystery toward the intentional. Once we do, we can partner with God to create the tomorrow He has dreamed for us—the future we were made for. We can create our God-inspired futures.

God-inspired futures are futures that are better, best, preferred. But God does not force these futures on us. He allows us to choose whether to actualize them. We can cooperate with Him in the continuing act of creating the life and the world He envisioned. And we can experience more and more what He made in the beginning, before terrible human choices messed everything up.

I want this preferred future God planned for each of us and for those we love. I'm not only referring to future generations—opportunities that only our children or even their children will be able to experience. I am talking about imminent futures, eventualities that we can all witness sooner rather than later.

I want to help you birth the futures—yours and others'—that are gestating in you but are yet unborn. Countless lives are waiting to be changed. There are always new futures waiting to live. Dr. Thomas P. Barnett, former advisor to the Office of the Secretary of Defense of the United States, was tasked with the burdensome responsibility of studying the future of the world. He wrote about the need "to imagine a future worth creating" and to "actually try to build it." He said, "I choose to see it as a moral responsibility—a duty to leave our children a better world."

If someone has the ability to imagine a better future and holds the power to create it, he or she is morally responsible to do just that. We all have facing us incredible potentialities that can cause an entire new reality to exist. When we consider these possibilities, common and moral sense should direct us toward purposeful action.

We must take the actions necessary to bring about the promptings in our hearts. In the New Testament, James talked about the worthlessness of knowing the good we ought to do and not doing it. He said it is a sin (James 4:17). If opportunities lie dormant in our minds and are never actualized, we are living inferior lives. Purposeful inaction is a detriment to the future of our world.

Donald Miller wrote a beautiful book about how to write a better story with our lives. He said, "A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it is the basic structure of a good story." Profound. I think living a good story is a loaded proposition. One part of good is "interesting." We should live interesting stories. The more important part of good is "moral." It is not enough to live an interesting story; there must be a moral to our story. What great story does not have a moral conflict?

Who can say what is moral? What authority determines what is good? I am a Christian. My understanding of morality is premised on the Judeo-Christian worldview. Whether or not your worldview is the same as mine, I think we can agree that there is a difference between right and wrong, good and evil. And I hope you'll keep reading. Whether you are a Christ follower or not, I hope we can agree that we can create a good future together.

Anyone who thinks one thing should be done rather than another has acknowledged a "moral ought." Keep the law. Help the poor. Save the trees. This "ought to" is rooted in the idea that better, best, and preferred must be practiced in a moral context.

There has been a common understanding of morality throughout time, even though it has been expressed uniquely through various cultures at various times. I believe, as do other people of faith, that this implies the existence of a moral lawgiver: God—the Creator of conscience. He gave us the ability to discern right and wrong.

And I believe that the future we are responsible to create must be pursued with the idea of what's right and what's good deeply impressed in our minds. Doing this guarantees that our stories will be filled with moral conflict. Good.

One of the greatest moral conflicts in American history was the struggle for the abolition of slavery. William Seward was a New York state senator (1831–34), a New York governor (1838–42), a US senator (1849–61), and the leading candidate in the Republican Party for the 1860 presidential nomination. The relatively unknown Abraham Lincoln defeated him. Seward, however, decided to continue serving his country during a time of tremendous moral crisis by accepting President Lincoln's invitation to become secretary of state.

During his earlier years as a US senator, Seward set a moral momentum toward ending slavery by advocating an allegiance to "higher law." He acknowledged that some believed that the US Constitution permitted, or perhaps ignored, slavery. In a famous speech to the Senate, Seward said, "But there is a higher law than the Constitution." He then made a future-changing argument, based on moral law, against the inglorious institution of slavery.

President Lincoln was influenced mightily by Seward's concept of a higher, moral law. He coupled that philosophy with his strong conviction that the basis of American independence—that all men are created equal—came directly from God Himself. The argument against slavery was essentially a moral argument for a better future for a nation and its people. This concept was anchored in God's mandate for the equality of every human being, a partial motive for the Civil War, which won freedom for millions of formerly enslaved people and their progeny.

When Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederate States of America, fell to Union forces on April 3, 1865, Lincoln and his entourage showed up the next day. They walked dangerously through the streets of the city—now golden streets—echoing the voice of freedom as throngs of newly freed slaves flocked the vicinity of the defeated capital. The emancipated surrounded the Great Emancipator with such force and determination that the soldiers guarding him were helpless in keeping them at a safe distance. With deep passion, this group sang the president's praises, hailing him as their Messiah, shouting, "Glory, hallelujah!"

Lincoln knew better than to accept such acclamation. He responded, "Don't kneel to me; that is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy." Although Lincoln was used as an instrument to unfold the preferred futures of people who had never tasted the fruits of freedom, he knew that this better future came from God, the highest law.

So, the future is in us.

And not just any future. It is the future that God has planned for us and our world.

We are responsible to bring this future out of the realm of the unseen and into the world of the seen and lived.

And we can. We can create a better future for ourselves and others. If we really want to.



WE CAN VIEW HISTORY THROUGH THE LENS OF AT LEAST THREE FUNDAMENTAL philosophies: pessimism, optimism, or pessimistic optimism. Those who have a pessimistic view of history obsess over the failure of humanity. They believe that because human beings are so messed up, history will eventually spiral down into tremendous failure. Pessimists are the folks we see parading through the streets of our major metropolitan cities, such as Manhattan, carrying signs for various causes that read something like, "The end is coming!" and offering no hope of escape from our fated extinction.

The other end of the spectrum is optimism, and it focuses strictly on human potential. This philosophy surmises that human beings alone have the ability to fashion a better world. Karl Marx, for instance, subscribed to this humanistic view. We have seen the demise of one of its offspring, communism, in our lifetimes. Can't we agree that we are unable to sort our way through the multitude of problems and unfortunate realities in this world just by human power alone?

In the middle of these two extremes, however, comes a balanced and biblical view—pessimistic optimism. This system of thought recognizes that the world and human beings really are messed up, but because God is involved in history, there is every reason to believe that things can be better. Sometimes, however, it's difficult to have hope.

On September 12, 2001, I spent a night serving as a chaplain in the ruins of the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. Man, did I see some horrific stuff! People were frantically looking for loved ones. Rescue canines alerted aid workers that something human was in a section of rubble, and I watched them furiously work in the hope of finding someone buried alive. Instead, they found only a body part. I spent time at the makeshift morgue where there was dark surprise that so few bodies were found. And I saw the widespread disappointment grow at the realization that virtually no one was alive to be rescued. I had the thoughts most people in the world did as they watched the story unfold: How can there be such evil in the world? How can there be such pain and loss and grief?

While walking through the devastation, I found a tanker truck from the West Orange fire department manned by a group of dedicated firefighters. They were working hard, trying to put out some of the smoldering fires as well as digging through the rubble, looking for survivors. Just a few weeks before, I had been asked to help dedicate a new fire truck in town. The mayor had smashed a bottle of champagne to christen the vehicle, and I prayed. I was also asked to pray for several new firefighters who were inducted that day, including the first female firefighter in the history of West Orange.

Well, in the middle of that 9/11 devastation, here stood that young woman. One of her first experiences as a firefighter. I wanted to somehow encourage her and those other courageous souls as they fought through one of the most terrible events in recent history.

I didn't know what to say.

So I simply asked, "Would you mind if we prayed?" The quickness with which they formed a circle and joined hands was revealing. We felt the presence of God in the middle of that destruction, in the buildings destroyed by evil. There was hope. I didn't fully understand it, and I imagine those firefighters didn't either. But there was hope.

I am reminded of the marvelous Bible story where Jesus was walking on the water toward His disciples during a tremendous storm. These men, huddled in a boat far from shore, tossed about by perilous waves, were overwhelmed by fear. And then they were sucker punched with a double dose of distress by what they thought was a ghost—Jesus walking on the water. The closer the image of Christ appeared to them, the more alarmed they became. In the midst of their trouble, Jesus calmed their fears by saying, "It's me. I am real. And I am here. Don't be afraid" (John 6:16–21, paraphrased).

Because of the presence of God in our world, there is reason to hope. Humanity is in somewhat of a mess, but things can get better. God intends for them to get better. Because of His active participation in our lives and in our world, we can believe that good will defeat evil, love will conquer hate, hope will crush despair, and we will be led to a better future.

I recently read a book that stated, "According to the literature, the development of high levels of hope is necessary to be an effective leader." I like that. We need high hope levels. All is not lost.

* * *

For preferred futures to leave the realm of mind and spirit and become physical and practical, we must practice leadership. In some instances, this may be leadership only of the self. We must lead ourselves to turn an idea into a reality, the potential into the actual. The kinds of futures that I advocate, however, are most often completely realized only by leading others.

Leaders accept responsibility for others. The kinds of preferred futures we can build must involve more than just ourselves. We should be bringing others, many others, into the realization of the dreams that exist in our minds and in their minds. Leaders do not just experience. They help others experience. They do not just do. They help others do. And they do not create only for themselves. They empower others to create as well.

Excerpted from LIVE TEN by TERRY A. SMITH. Copyright © 2013 Terry Smith. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Preface....................     xv     

Introduction: What Do You Want?....................     xix     

PART ONE: AWAKEN....................          

Chapter 1: The Future Is in You....................     3     

Chapter 2: High Hope Levels....................     9     

Chapter 3: The Role You Were Made For....................     15     

Chapter 4: Created to Transcend....................     19     

Chapter 5: Created to Create....................     25     

Part One: Reflection Questions....................     29     

PART TWO: DISCOVER....................          

Chapter 6: Naming Possibility....................     33     

Chapter 7: Travel in God's Mind....................     41     

Chapter 8: See What God Sees....................     45     

Chapter 9: God's Self-Limitation....................     51     

Part Two: Reflection Questions....................     55     

PART THREE: IMAGINE....................          

Chapter 10: Positive Audacity....................     59     

Chapter 11: Creative Audacity....................     65     

Chapter 12: Prophetic Audacity....................     69     

Chapter 13: Refined Audacity....................     75     

Part Three: Reflection Questions....................     79     

PART FOUR: GROW....................          

Chapter 14: Not Always This Way....................     83     

Chapter 15: Theory Y God....................     89     

Chapter 16: Know Thyself....................     95     

Chapter 17: Learn....................     101     

Chapter 18: Keep Doing the Right Things....................     105     

Part Four: Reflection Questions....................     111     

PART FIVE: ACT....................          

Chapter 19: Be an Actor....................     115     

Chapter 20: Be the Miracle....................     121     

Part Five: Reflection Questions....................     126     

PART SIX: LEAD....................          

Chapter 21: The Obligation of Leadership....................     129     

Chapter 22: A Place Called Willingness....................     137     

Chapter 23: What Leaders Do....................     143     

Chapter 24: What Leaders Do It For....................     155     

Chapter 25: Who Leaders Are....................     165     

Chapter 26: Who Leaders Are Leading For....................     173     

Part Six: Reflection Questions....................     180     

PART SEVEN: GO....................          

Chapter 27: Stuff Happens....................     183     

Chapter 28: Take Courage with You....................     189     

Chapter 29: We Will Get There....................     197     

Chapter 30: Yes, We Will!....................     203     

Part Seven: Reflection Questions....................     206     

Acknowledgments....................     209     

Notes....................     211     

About the Author....................     223     

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Live Ten: Jump Start the Best Version of Your Life 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When you read Pastor Terry's book, you can tell that this man speaks from authority and experience. This book challenges you to think hard about your life and sets you up for an amazing future.  Mixing real life experiences while explaining situations from a biblical point of view gives anyone, whether you are a student of the Word or not, a blueprint for living a great life from a biblical point of view. Chapters 4 & 5 are absolutely amazing and I encourage you to not only read this for yourself but encourage your family, friends and anyone who is in your circle of influence to get this book and start living the life that God wants you to live.
mojo_turbo More than 1 year ago
Author Terry A. Smith is the lead pastor of Life Christian Church in West Orange, New Jersey. Terry is also the cofounder of the New York City Leadership Center and is an instructor in its Leadership Fellows program. A sought after public speaker, Terry is now the author of "Live 10; jump start the best version of your life." But enough about Terry. Recently I put on a little weight. Actually, I am the heaviest I have ever been and so I fell victim to the body builder on TV yelling at me to get in shape and I bought his work out DVDs for three easy payments of 'I can't remember.'  The work out plan is simple - exercise every day for 30 days and the pounds will just melt off. Well suffice it to say the DVDs are good - and if I put then in the player and actually followed along, I might loose the weight. The point is I bought them to motivate me, but I still need to do the work. Terry's "Live 10" book is a lot like that. Live 10 is a motivational self-help book much like many others. Each chapter is four to five pages long and the book break down into a 30 day program. Yes, Terry is a Christian and the book has a Christian voice, but the book isn't trying to make you a disciple of Christ in 30 days, or even a better Christian, it's end goal is to make you a "better person." It's a locker room talk, it's a motivational speech, it's a set of really good exercise DVDs. If you're looking for a self-help improvement book with a Christian view - this is a good one to pick up.  Thank you to Thomas Nelson for a free review copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.