ARE YOU WONDERING HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN TODAY’S CULTURE THAT WILL BENEFIT FUTURE GENERATIONS? Former Governor Mike Huckabee shares how to live a life that will continue to be felt by those who carry your legacy forward. Whether in politics, family, education, or business, what matters most is leaving a legacy for future generations. Rare, Medium or Done Well emphasizes the importance of understanding where we’ve been, where we are now, and how both determine where we’re going. Mike asserts, “A person who has no standard to live by other than the culture of the moment is a person whose principles might as well come from the latest public opinion polls.”
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About the Author
Mike Huckabee served as the governor of Arkansas from 1996-2007 and as lieutenant governor from 1993-96. Before entering politics, he was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister and worked for twelve years as a full time pastor. He recently started a political action committee, HuckPAC, to extend his grassroots movement. He lives with his wife, Janet, in North Little Rock, Arkansas; they have three grown children.
Read an Excerpt
LIVING HAPPILY EVER AFTER
"Once upon a time ..."
When I was growing up, my bedtime ritual every night included a fairy tale that always started with the same words and always concluded with the familiar, satisfying phrase that marked the end of the story and let me know it was time to go to sleep. You remember those famous closing words, don't you? I imagine a smile has already come to your face as the words formed in your mind: "And they lived happily ever after."
As a child of the optimistic 1950s, I dreamed that life might be something like that. No matter what obstacles, dangers, and perils might come my way, in the end we could all live happily ever after.
I was a teenager in the late 1960s. I went to college and got married in the 1970s. I raised young children in the 1980s. I raised teenagers in the 1990s. In the '90s, I also embarked on a political path that would take me to almost eleven years in the Arkansas governor's mansion and two runs for the White House. During the decade beginning in 2010, I really hit the jackpot with the arrival of the six cutest and most adorable grandchildren on earth. I say that humbly, objectively, and quite truthfully!
My journey so far has convinced me that while we all may start with certain expectations, life does not always lead to living happily ever after. Life can sometimes be hard-very hard.
A Not-So-Fairy-Tale Ending
Not long ago, I came across a heartbreaking article about former NFL superstar Aaron Hernandez. By every account, young Aaron's life seemed like a fairy tale that would surely have a "happily ever after" ending. An outstanding football player at Bristol Central High School in Connecticut, Aaron set several state records and even a national high school record for yards receiving per game. He soared to national fame his senior year, when he was named the 2007 Gatorade Football Player of the Year and ranked as the top tight-end recruit in the country.
Yet despite his exceptional football performance, Aaron began making some unwise choices off the field. Devastated by the death of his father, Aaron started partying and using drugs. Worse, he began hanging out with the local gangs his father had been trying to shield him from.
Thankfully, the University of Florida gave him a football scholarship and a fresh start. Aaron had a standout career at Florida, helping the Gators win the 2009 BCS National Championship and being recognized as a first-team All-American. With his star on the rise, he decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
But several off-field incidents in Florida revealed that Aaron was making the same kinds of poor choices he had made in high school. He failed multiple drug tests and was charged with possession of marijuana. One night he got into a drunken fight with a restaurant employee after refusing to pay his bill, and a few months later, he and four other University of Florida players were questioned about a shooting.
Because of these and other issues, Aaron fell to the fourth round of the 2009 NFL draft. He was signed by the New England Patriots, starting the 2010 season as the youngest player on any active roster in the NFL. He appeared to embrace this new start, playing three successful seasons with the Patriots and even helping lead the team to Super Bowl XLVI. Aaron was finally on his way to achieving his fairy-tale ending of fame, fortune, and Super Bowl titles.
Yet living so close to his hometown, Aaron was unable to resist going back to the gang life. Just ten months after he signed a $40 million contract with the Patriots in 2013, Aaron was charged with the murder of a friend, Odin Lloyd. After Aaron's arrest, the Patriots released Hernandez from his contract. In 2015, Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was later accused in two other cases, one for attempted double murder and one for witness intimidation.
By 2017, Hernandez's success story was over. His money and career were gone. His endorsement deals were cancelled, his likeness was erased from popular video games, his award-winning photo was taken out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his memorabilia and merchandise were removed from the University of Florida and NFL pro shops. He had few supporters or friends. As one commentator put it, "He was no longer Aaron Hernandez the Super Bowl tight end, the star of Boston's nightclubs, or even the celebrity defendant. He was just a 27-year-old convicted killer doomed to live his life in a prison cell."
In the early morning hours of April 19, 2017, on the same day his Patriots teammates were scheduled to celebrate another Super Bowl victory at the White House, Aaron Hernandez's body was discovered tied with a bedsheet to his prison cell in Shirley, Massachusetts. His death was ruled a suicide.
Aaron Hernandez's life is a stark reminder that some life stories, no matter how promising, just don't end "happily ever after." At such times, it becomes more important than ever to begin assessing the difference between the immediate and the ultimate. What we do and how we live really do matter.
When we act on our passions of the moment and succumb to the feelings of "right now" without regard for the impact these actions will have, we have committed a grievous sin — letting our lifestyle ruin our lifetime.
Life Is Not a Dress Rehearsal
I once was visiting in an office and noticed a sign that proclaimed, "Enjoy life. This is not a dress rehearsal." That simple message stuck with me and still does.
How painfully true that is. Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is the real thing. We make choices that have consequences for a lifetime.
This book seeks to challenge our culture's perspective of "If it feels good, do it." For decades, our nation has been focused on personal pleasure. Baby boomers were known as the "Me generation." Today's generation has been dubbed "iGen," with young people so fixated on self and selfies that even our gadgets start with I. Modern advertising bombards us with the message that life is all about me; it is all about now. Such messages may sell products and services, but they will cause us to sell our souls if we follow this philosophy to its logical conclusion.
At point in life, we will all experience events that shake up our everyday routine, much like the agitator in the washing machine shakes loose the grime in our clothes. Such experiences are neither desired nor enjoyed. But they are necessary to force us to focus on the frailty of life and the certainty of death. They also force us to begin asking what really matters and why.
It is a safe bet that one hundred years from today, most of us will have passed from this life. We have no way of knowing if we have already celebrated our last birthday or observed our final Christmas. We will be challenged from time to time to ask whether in the final analysis our lives really mattered and, if so, in what way and for whom. If we live and then die, and that is all there is, then it may not matter a great deal what we do or how well we do it. But if we believe there is even a remote possibility that our actions have lasting implications beyond our lifetime, this should cause us to think differently, live differently, and leave a different kind of legacy.
Living Beyond Your Lifetime
Without apology, I believe the spiritual side of our lives really does matter. To believe otherwise is, in essence, to define humans as little more than animated protoplasm hopelessly going about our routines for no particular purpose. I prefer to believe that as spiritual beings, there is more to us than flesh and blood. If we do possess a soul capable of living beyond our lifetimes, then the seeds we plant in this life will yield fruit forever. If you believe those things, the ultimate becomes more important than the immediate.
When we decide to live beyond our lifetime, our responsibilities to the next generation will outweigh our roles in our current jobs. More important than the money we are paid for our work is what we will become as a result of our work. Our character will become more critical than the careers we follow.
For all of us, life began "once upon a time." Unlike the fairy tales, however, it is up to you to make the choices that determine whether the last line of your life story will read, "And they lived happily ever after."
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
1. What experiences have you had that made you realize life is not always like a fairy tale — that not everyone ends up living "happily ever after"?
2. What evidence do you see that our culture promotes the idea, "If it feels good, do it"?
3. In your opinion, what are some of the characteristics of a life that really matters? What are some of the characteristics of a life that counts for nothing?
4. What do you think the author means by this statement: "As spiritual beings, there is more to us than flesh and blood"?
5. Do you believe that what we do and how we live really do matter? Why or why not?CHAPTER 2
POTATO SALAD TIME
I had never felt so alone in my life.
I stood in a well-kept cemetery just off US Highway 67 in Hope, Arkansas. I stared at the cold stone marker on which the names of my parents were etched, along with the dates of their births and the dates of their deaths.
It was rare for me to be alone. I had asked the governor's security detail from the Arkansas State Police to give me some space. My mother had died on the last day of September 1999. For the first time since I showed up on this planet, my only family links, other than my sister and my wife, were now my descendants. When my mother drew her last breath, I became the oldest living link my children had in their bloodlines on my side of the family.
The depth of my grief was not so much over the circumstances of my mother's death. Since a brain aneurysm and series of strokes in early 1992, her health had declined steadily. In her last days, it was no longer merciful to pray for continued existence as she was experiencing it. I was comforted by my unwavering faith that there was in fact a God in whose arms she would fall. I knew death was not the worst thing that could happen to her. Continuing in her state would, in fact, have been worse.
It wasn't so much that she had died as it was the fact that her death had closed the book on an entire generation. Her passing had taken away my last link to the past and forever physically separated me from the one in whose womb I was formed.
It would have been easier if I could have wept bitterly. God has a wonderful way of washing away our grief with a cleansing shower of tears. But some pain is far too intense to be expressed with the same emotions we once used for a scraped knee, a sad movie, or a loss in a championship basketball game. In that moment, I understood better Romans 8:26: "The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (NKJV). The phrase "groanings which cannot be uttered" became more meaningful as I sought in the depth of my soul to find a vehicle of expression of my grief.
None of us gets to choose how we come into this world. We can't choose our parents, our hometown, or the physician who ushers us into this life. Unless we end our lives by our own hands, neither do we choose the circumstances or date of our death.
Even though we don't choose how we start life or how we end it, we most certainly choose how we live. It is how we live that may determine how people feel as they stand staring at our name chiseled into the gravestone. It is how we live that will affect generations to come and countless people whose names we don't even know.
In the South, there's a time-honored tradition that friends of the deceased bring more food to the family than can ever be eaten. Obesity among Southerners may in fact be tied to the number of funerals we are part of. After a loved one dies, there will soon be a parade of people, a pastor's visit, lots of hugs, and without fail, large bowls of potato salad. The potato salad is such a Southern fixture during the period of grief that some refer to it as "potato salad time."
"Potato salad time" is a good time to do some serious reflection about what really matters. No matter how busy we are, it's often in the presence of the potato salad that we are brought to a halt and reminded of how temporary this life is. Consuming large quantities of potato salad may not be good for your health, but being consumed by overwhelming doses of reality can be helpful.
The Value of a Life That Matters
You don't have to leave behind millions of dollars to have lived a life that matters. The size of your tombstone doesn't indicate the size of your life. I sometimes take casual walks through cemeteries and read the tombstones. You can learn a lot about people by reading information on tombstones about those whose voices are stilled but whose legacies live on. Most of their names never made the headlines. More died poor than rich in terms of money accumulated. But many of the poorest in terms of material possessions died the richest because of the lives they lived and the legacies they passed on.
The real legacy of life cannot be calculated by an army of accountants. The value of one's life is seen in the character of those whose lives were touched, whether children, extended family members, or even strangers who benefited in some way from a person's influence.
The theme of the popular Christmas movie It's a Wonderful Life comes to mind at "potato salad time." Years ago, as I navigated through midlife, I was more acutely aware than ever that I was on a collision course with the moment when that bowl of potato salad will be in memory of me. Now as in what is undoubtedly the final third of my time on this earth, I have several friends who have died, and if they were around my age, it always seems like it was way too soon!
I didn't grow up with wealth, but it was perhaps the lack of money that kept me from always wanting more. I had the basics: food, shelter, clothing. Most of all, I had a family, loyal friends, a community, and a church. I realized I had all I really needed and more than I really deserved. As I continue the pilgrimage toward "potato salad time," I want to make sure I leave something behind that has far more value than money or property.
My goal throughout my life was never to leave behind a great deal of wealth, and for most of my adult life I succeeded wonderfully!
It wasn't until I was well into my fifties that I started making some pretty decent money. Prior to that, my entire adult life was mostly spent in nonprofit work or in politics. I earned enough to eke out a living, but I had little saved or put aside — and running for public office pretty much emptied my retirement account, life insurance, and savings. After two runs for president, I've made it clear to people that I'm done running for office. I can only raid the retirement fund so many times before it becomes just plain reckless and irresponsible. When rumors persisted that I was going to get back into a campaign and news reports kept surfacing that it was true, I finally put a stop to the rumors in March 2017 when I announced at the Republican Party of Okaloosa County, Florida, that there was a greater likelihood that I would have transgender surgery than run for political office again. That ended the rumors!
The lack of material wealth for most of my life has been a blessing in many ways. Because it has not been my goal to own things, it has not been my life's curse to be owned by them. I can honestly say that I was no happier living in the governor's mansion in Little Rock than I was when Janet and I occupied the north end of a forty-dollars-a-month duplex apartment in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, as newlyweds. (At forty dollars a month, it was greatly overpriced!)
In the years since I started working for Fox News, being a host of anew weekend show taped in Nashville on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) being on the speaking circuit, writing bestselling books, and having some successes in business enterprises, I have been able to enjoy material things that I never dreamed of as a child or even a young adult. But Janet and I have realized that having more is really the opportunity to give more, and we have delighted in giving more to our church than we used to dream of earning, or simply being able to leave a tip for server that was more than the meal costs just to be a blessing to someone who was working hard and probably needed an unexpected boost for that day. We have discovered that the value of a life done well cannot be measured in bank accounts or stock portfolios. One of the simple joys of a life done well is giving generously and freely to others.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Rare, Medium or Done Well"
Copyright © 2018 Mike Huckabee.
Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
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
Foreword by Former President George H. W. Bush, ix,
Author's Note, xi,
Part One | A LEGACY LOST,
1. Living Happily Ever After, 3,
2. Potato Salad Time, 11,
3. The Culture of the Moment, 19,
4. The Politics of Personal Destruction, 27,
5. Families in Free Fall, 37,
6. From Love to Lust, 47,
Part Two | A LEGACY LEARNED,
7. Parents Do Matter, 61,
8. The Faith Factor, 69,
9. Faith with a Future, 79,
10. Faith Is a Process, 87,
11. Winning an Election, Losing a Generation, 91,
12. The Ditto Factor, 101,
Part Three | A LEGACY LIVED,
13. The Power of Being Positive, 111,
14. It's the Money, Honey, 121,
15. Using What You Have, 129,
16. No Pain, No Gain, 137,
Part Four | A LEGACY LOVED,
17. How Much Will You Leave Behind?, 151,
18. The Follow Factor, 161,
19. Toward the Exit Sign, 169,
20. The Legacy of Your Loot, 183,
21. How Will You Be Remembered?, 193,
"Keep Your Fork!", 199,