“How To Keep The Faith”

I am trying to remember a time, during which I was a Michigan Jaycee, where we were +31 during at the half-way point of our year. I am trying to remember a time in my Jaycee career where we came into the August Fellowship Breakfast at year-to-date growth. I am trying to remember but I’m not coming up with it. Perhaps this is because, as my children remind me, I am getting really old. Or perhaps it is because this year is going so well and our chapters are spreading the fire so extensively that it’s blinding to me. Whatever the reason, I am so very grateful to all of you in this room for doing what you’re doing because it is making the Michigan Jaycees stronger. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL OF YOU!

Today, we continue our musical adventure by returning to the topic of faith. We all say, at some point of most Jaycee meetings, “We believe that faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life.” Today, we’re really going to examine this line.

If we believe that God, whoever that may be for each of us, created each of us, then there is a bit of God in each of us. We could re-write that first line of the creed to say: “We believe that faith in Man gives meaning and purpose to human life.” Now, I’m curious about something. Has anyone here ever been burned by your fellow man? Anyone here believe that you’ve been wronged by someone else? Have you ever been hurt by the actions of another person? If “… faith in Man gives meaning and purpose…,” and you get harmed by your fellow man, what does that do to your faith?

Have you ever had your faith shaken and not stirred? How do you recover? To find the answer, we now turn to today’s song, “Keep The Faith” by the King of Pop – Michael Jackson.

I will be honest with you, with the King’s passing, I really felt that I need to pull from his songs for today’s message. However, I just couldn’t get a good message from “Dirty Diana” and my ankles aren’t strong enough for the “Smooth Criminal” lean anymore. But for whatever reason, today’s song has been popping up on my iPod in a more consistent manner lately.

So, with that introduction in mind, here we go with the song for the quarter.

Keep The Faith
By Michael Jackson
If you call out loud will it get inside
Through the heart of your surrender to your alibis?
You can say the words like you understand
But the power’s in believing, so give yourself a chance.

‘cause you can climb the highest mountain, swim the deepest sea.
All you need is the will to want it and a little self-esteem.

So Keep The Faith.
Don’t let nobody turn your ‘round.
You gotta know when it’s good to go to get your dreams up off the ground.
Keep The Faith.
Because it’s just a matter of time before your confidence will win out
Believe in yourself no matter what it’s going to take.
You can be a winner but you got to Keep The Faith.

And when you think of trust does it lead you home
To a place that you only dream of when you’re all alone?
And you can go by feel ‘stead of circumstance
But the power’s in believing so give yourself a chance.

I know that you can sail across the water, float across the sky – high.
Any road that you take will get you there if you only try.

So Keep The Faith.
Don’t let nobody take you down
Just keep your eyes on the price and your feet flat on the ground
Keep The Faith
Because it’s just a matter of time before your confidence will win out.

I told my brother how to do the thing right
Lift up your head and show the world you got pride
Go for what you want, don’t let ‘em get in your way.
You can be a winner but you got to Keep The Faith.

I know that Keepin’ The Faith means never givin’ up on love.
But that power that love has to make it right
Makes it right.

Keep The Faith
Don’t let nobody turn your around.
You got to know when it’s good to go to get your dreams up off the ground
Keep The Faith,
Because it’s just a matter of time before your confidence will win out.

Better stand up and act like you wanna do right.
Don’t play the fool for the rest of your life.
Work on it brother and you’ll make it someday.
Go for what you want and don’t Forget The Faith.
Look at yourself and what your doin’ right now.
Stand back a minute just to check yourself out
Straighten out your life and how you’re living each day.
Get yourself together ‘cause you got to Keep The Faith.

Don’t let nobody take you down
Just keep your eyes on the prize and your feet flat on the ground.
Keep The Faith
Because it’s just a matter of time before your confidence will win out

Life up your mind before your mind gets blown.
Some things in life you best just leave them alone.
Go for what you want don’t let it get in your way
You can make it happen but you got to Keep The Faith.

I’ll show my brother how to do the thing right
Lift up your head and show the world you got pride
Go for what you want don’t let ‘em get in your way
You can be a winner if you Keep The Faith
Straighten out yourself and get your mind on track
Dust off your butt and get your self-respect back
You’ve know me long enough to know that I don’t play
Take it like you want it but you got to Keep The Faith.

Don’t let nobody take you down
Just keep your keep your eyes on the price
And get your feet back on the ground.
Keep The Faith
Because it’s just a matter of time before your confidence will win out

But ‘til that day I said you got to Keep The Faith.

What I appreciate the most about this particular song is that Michael’s definition of “faith” isn’t about God. It’s about love. We have to love ourselves and if we’re going to truly be the best organization for young persons in the world, then we must love the Jaycees as well. And that means all of the Jaycees, even the parts that drive us crazy.

There are a number of chapter presidents throughout the time of our organization who can tell you tales upon tales about drama within their chapters. There are RD’s and DD’s who can spin a good yarn about the soap operas in their regions. There are MIJC officers who can tell you about the drama of some of our meetings (but they better not because what happens at E-Board stays at E-Board). And I’m sure there are at least 82 former MIJC Presidents who could give you an earful about the troubles they faced (but not President Fay or COB Brian … because they’ve got things going pretty good for the past couple of years).

Here’s the thing with drama – it burns people out. And when people get burned, they lose faith. When Jaycees get tired, we get chippy and sometimes we turn on each other. It happened a lot in the days when we had contested elections. When we turn on each other our faith in our fellow man can lose its meaning. We have to remember, however, when those things happen why we joined the Jaycees. We have to remember that, while we are the greatest young persons organization in the world, we are not a perfect organization.

I will admit that there was a long time where I wasn’t willing to remember this particular lesson. I was wrapped up in the drama, licking my own wounds from people who had (in my opinion) turned on me. Here’s where we come across the second lesson, and hardest part about our faith. We have to forgive. I don’t forgive very easily.

The annoying parts of our organization, the annoying parts of people, are still a part of what’s good in them. Again, if we are going to be Jaycees and if we’re going to love being Jaycees, we have to embrace everything about the Jaycees. And we have to forgive those parts of the organization that hurt us. And that’s pretty damn tough.

For the longest time, I was the type of person who would say “Fine. I’ll forgive you when I have made things even with us. When I’ve made things square between us, then I’ll forgive you for what you’ve done.” That’s not forgiveness – that’s vengeance, that’s drama. Forgiveness is looking past the hurt. Forgiveness is looking past the drama. Forgiveness is looking past the desire for vengeance and saying to people who harmed us “It’s all good. I forgive you. There’s nothing more that needs to be done. I accept you as you are, nothing more and nothing less. We’re square.”

It’s taken me close to five years to get to a point where I was willing to say that. I’ve been able to say that to a number of folks around our organization. I’ve not had the opportunity to say it to some others and look forward to having the chance to do so. And there’s one man that I’ll never be able to say that to and I hope today he’s looking down from Heaven and will forgive me for my failures in our relationship.

It’s a tough thing to do, to forgive, but if I’m going to be a Jaycee, it’s something that I’ll have to learn and start doing. I suggest to you, that if we’re all going to be Jaycees, it’s something that we’ll all have to learn and start doing.

Now, the nice thing about our organization is that we don’t let anything get in our way. Like the King said, “… it’s just a matter of time before our confidence will win out …” if we Keep Our Faith.

So as we begin the annual election cycle for our organization, in the event we have some contested elections, in the event we have to make choice, in the event that things may or may not turn out the way we want in regards to appointments that will be made – at the end of the day we are all Jaycees. At the end day, drama burns itself out and leaves the best to be built upon.

And what is the best for our organization?

Well that’s simple … it’s every person who raises their hands with me right now and says: “We believe that faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life.”

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