Built to Last


Today, we live in a society that seems fixated on the latest and greatest. Our culture is consumed by each new trend and often forgets to place proper value on things that stand the test of time. I appreciate these lyrics from the song “Built to Last” by Heartland:


Here’s to the makers of things built to last

Like church bells and bridges, and baseball on grass

Like Ferguson tractors and Lucchese boots

My daddy’s old tools I still use


The pledge of allegiance, the stars and the stripes

The words in the Bible, the sun in the sky

And here’s to the twinkle in old married eyes

Still there after fifty years past

Here’s to the makers of things built to last


There’s great value in both material things and relationships that will stand the test of time, but committing to a passion or calling can also leave a lasting impact on the world.

I love learning from my good friend Justin Miller, who recently wrote a guest blog on this site.  Earlier this year, I asked Justin what he’d been learning, and he talked about his commitment to CARE for AIDS and the concept of a “long obedience in the same direction”—an idea Eugene Peterson discusses in his book.

The basic principle is this: The people who change the world are the ones who answer and work at their calling for a long period of time. As I listened to Justin talk about this concept and his decision to pour himself into his nonprofit organization, I became aware of something I’ve undervalued for most of my life.

In the past, I’ve been most intrigued by the people doing something new, creating an exciting new company, or working toward some bold new initiative. Today, I still admire these people doing new things, but the older I get, the more I’m impressed by the people who have been working at the same thing for a long time. Fleeting fads, a little more money, or the promise of fame haven’t distracted these people from pursuing their passion and calling. The fruit of their labor has made, and is still making, a lasting impact on the world.

Justin Miller started CARE for AIDS in college. We all know of organizations that began with a young person fired up to change the world, but most fade away after students move on and pursue other things. But CARE for AIDS just celebrated its ten year anniversary, and Justin is still leading the organization and is committed to the cause of “empowering people to live a life beyond AIDS.”

Commitments aren’t always limited to one person’s calling or career. Relationships require a long obedience in the same direction to be fruitful and successful. My parents have been married for 37 years and counting. On their wedding day, they committed to love one another through all of the highs and lows of life and now experience an even deeper love for one another than they did on that special day.

And speaking of lifelong commitments, today is Billy Graham’s 99th birthday. Billy Graham is one of my personal heroes. He’s stayed committed to his call to ministry, and his life and legacy devoted to preaching the gospel have permanently changed the world.

So today, I’d like to just stop and recognize those people who are staying committed.

My personality is wired to be energized by the next, new thing, but I’m realizing the true value in devoting yourself to something for life.

Whether you are a committed volunteer at a local homeless shelter or an employee that has faithfully worked at one company for decades, your efforts are making an impact. You show people the quality of your character with your commitment and consistency, and you are more likely to build something that lasts. We have a great deal to learn from you and want to thank you for the work you do.

We celebrate the biggest milestones of a person’s life and career, but staying committed day after day is an accomplishment, in and of itself. If you know someone who has been serving in your church, working in your organization, or volunteering in your community for a long time, tell them thank you. Take the time today to honor their long obedience in the same direction.

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Today, business means more than just mere products and services. Your organization needs to stand for something. Branding is what you tell the world; leadership is how you make it come true.

No one knows this dynamic better than Kevin Paul Scott.

Companies turn to Kevin for advice on how to up the meaning-quotient in their businesses, so that employees and customers alike champion the business as if it were their own.

Let Kevin come and teach your group about how to build a business and communicate corporate values in a way that resonates with consumers.

His speeches include:
• Building a Business with Meaning
• Leading When the Majority is Wrong
• In Changing Times, Hold to Unchanging Principles
• The War for Talent: Recruiting and Retaining Top Tier Talent
• Essential Exchanges: What You Have to Give Up to Go Up