Dan Robling

Consulting services for your business   


Dan Robling

Priest APKC

President, American Business Consultants, Inc.

Adjunct Professor of International Business MBA/MSM

Retired Chrysler MFG. Exec. 33 years

Our philosophy
Each situation (and company) is unique. One-size-fits-all approaches will never help your business reach its full potential. Custom solutions take advantage of opportunities that your competitors can't. That's what we deliver to you.

Our commitment to results
When we work with you, we roll up our sleeves and become your business partner. Our success is measured by the success of your company. That's why we invest whatever resources are needed to get and keep your business on the right track.

My International Business Experience
 have been in your shoes and done business in many regions of the world.

Get to know our approach

Companies do not fail because of poor followership; they fail because of poor leadership. It has been said that the difference in leaders and managers is that managers do things right and leaders do the right things. As customer requirements, technologies, workforce sophistication and emerging competition changes and evolves, leadership styles of the past are less effective for business survival.

This way to business success

As you talk with your peers, subordinates, superiors, children, and significant others this week please remember "Each of them will forget what you said. They may forget what you did. But, they will never forget how you made them feel." author unknown

Also keep in mind that, "Managers do things right. Leaders do the right things." Be a leader in all aspects of your life and you will enjoy tremendous personal and professional success.

Make the life of one person better and learn something new each day. Your days will be wonderful and your life will be enriched beyond measure.

This way to God's Blessings
One of Doral’s parishioners and best friends, Dr. Carl Schlageter was on duty in the emergency room.  Luther and Dr. Carl lifted him from the gurney and laid him on the emergency room table.   Doral immediately looked across the room and smiled a tremendously happy smile. His eyes were beaming.  He seemed as though he was seeing a long lost friend. He raised his arms and reached towards what he was seeing. He exclaimed, “Oh Jesus, I love you!”  Those were his last words as he took his last breath.  Praise God, he saw Jesus come to get him! He was thrilled to go home with Jesus even though he was not homesick!  Luther told Mom about witnessing this event.  Since hearing about Dad’s experience, I have moved beyond believing to knowing!  My heart has been so filled with a passion for the love of Jesus Christ that frequently I cannot contain it.  This is one of those days.  That is why I must share this good news with you today.  Praise God!  He lives, he lives, and we live forever through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

The Rev. Dr. P. Doral Robling was pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sparta, Illinois at the time of his passing.

WHY I AM WHO I AM  article 1

I am going to tell you a story today about sowing seeds. There are over ninety references to sowing, as in planting, dispersed throughout the Old and New Testaments. The most significant of these references are in sermons presented by Jesus. In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus talks about planting a tiny mustard seed that grows into a bush and then into a tree. In the Gospel reading for last Sunday, Jesus was talking about sowing bad seeds (weeds) among good seeds (wheat). Use of "sowing/planting" analogies is useful for understanding the biblical story.

I recently asked one hundred-seventy high school students to write individual themes describing the most significant hero in his or her life. Their responses were very touching. Their heroes were parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, teachers, and ministers. While reading their papers, the thought occurred to me that none of the heroes would likely recall the incidents that so wonderfully influenced the children. The heroes had planted small seeds. The seeds grew into plants that bore significant and lasting fruit.

Reading about the student's heroes caused me to think about the heroes of my life and to pick the most significant one. My most significant hero is Delsa Mae Thompson Robling. Delsa was born late in the nineteenth century during the mid 1890s. The area of her birth was in the rural Midwestern United States. Agriculture, coal mining, and a small college town primarily supported the area.

Life began wonderfully for little "Delsie." Her mother was a wonderful lady frequently referred as "a saint on earth." Delsie's dad was also a loving and highly respected man of faith. Delsie's dad became ill with the flu and died when she was two years old. The mother and daughter moved in with grandparents. Life was OK, but not as wonderful as when her Daddy was with her.

After a time of mourning, a respected gentleman farmer from an adjoining community courted and married Delsie's mother. They joined him at his farm where eventually two baby sisters were born. Life was good again. Delsie dearly loved her baby sisters. Shortly after Delsie finished the third grade, her mother gave birth to a baby boy. Her mother died giving birth to the baby boy.

Once again, life was not so good for little Delsie. Going to school and learning had been a highly prized part of her life. She loved reading and learning. It was necessary, however, for the nine-year-old to quit school to help her stepfather raise her three siblings. She lost her mother and the joy of going to school.

At Sunday School one Sunday morning, during her fifteenth year, she met the handsomest young man she had ever seen. She was "in love." They married after a short courtship. Life expectancies were short in those days, so couples were usually married during their teens.

Life was wonderful again. Her husband was a coalminer. He was intelligent, industrious, and energetic. He was soon promoted to a supervisory position and their income increased. They were able to get a loan with which to buy a farm and house. They also purchased a shiny new black Model T Ford. Delsie gave birth to two daughters and later a son. Her husband was indeed the Prince Charming of her dreams. Life was better than she had imagined possible.

Her husband became ill with a heart condition while her children were ten, eight, and four. He was ill and unable to work for a few months. He eventually spent a month in a hospital where he died.

Life was not so good again. Their savings were spent for medical expenses for her dying husband. Their mortgage payments were past due. Taxes were due for the farm. She did not even have enough money for her husband's funeral. She paid fifteen cents a week for twenty-five years until the funeral bill was paid in full.

The difficulties of her past had made her strong and resilient. Delsie developed a plan. The crops were already planted. She would complete the crops. Harvesting would provide food and cash for paying the mortgage payments and taxes. She would have time to come up with a longer-term plan for her little family's future. She hooked up the farm implements to a team of horses and headed for the fields. Stories are told of the pitiful young widow wrestling the implements as she walked up and down the crop rows from dawn until dusk with her three little children following her.

She was not able to complete her plan. One day the Sheriff came and placed all of the family belongings in the front yard. He brought all of the equipment out of the barn and placed it with the animals. He auctioned everything, including the house and land. She stood in the road with her three children owning only the clothes they were wearing at the time.

A family took pity on them and took them into their home. The house of the charitable family was accidentally consumed by fire. Delsie stood in the road again beside her three children owning only the clothes they were wearing at the time.

The nearby college town was touched by her desperate situation. A local lumber company felt compassion for the widow and her children. Lumber was donated and the Boy Scouts along with other citizens of the town built a small house for the unfortunate family. Railroad tracks ran through the town. Railcars containing coal from the mines accidentally spilled coal along the tracks daily. Her children took burlap bags to the tracks and picked up coal. A generous person gave them a stove. Life was tolerable. They had a house. They had heat. Delsie used her "washboard" to hand-scrub neighbor's clothes for about three dollars per week. Three dollars provided a meager fare of food and paid the property taxes.

On an extremely cold Midwestern night Delsie stoked up a fire in the stove. The chimney caught on fire. The fire spread to the roof. The house burned to the ground. The family was left in the cold with only their sleeping clothes.

Throughout all the hardships and tragedies, Delsa taught her children to love Jesus by loving all of his creation. She assured them that life was eternal and there would be a better time someday. She was planting seeds of faith and righteousness.

Delsa, was a young woman of great Christian faith and love. She taught her children about faith, love, charity, and eternal life. She was planting small seeds of love and understanding that would eventually grow into giant trees.

Delsa would not allow her children to speak negatively about anyone. She would always stop judgmental conversations by interrupting with, "If you can't say something good don't say anything."

The pain of having only completed the third grade was unbearable. She wanted her children to develop an appreciation for education. She read EVERY book in the library of her hometown to gain knowledge and provide an example for her children. She raised three children. All went to college, one achieved a masters degrees. One earned two doctoral degrees and also received an honorary doctoral degree.

She had six grand children. All are living. Four have graduate degrees.,

The seeds she planted have borne fruit that has literally touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Although she has been gone for nearly forty years, her witness continues to thrive. One of her daughters retired from an elementary teaching career during a time when every class began with a scripture reading, prayer, and devotion. She had one son and two grandsons. All became preachers. Her only son became pastor of a large Presbyterian Church. He had a television ministry in a metropolitan market and a radio ministry. Her oldest grandson became an Episcopal missionary to Iran. He is currently active as rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Henderson, Kentucky. Her lesser grandson (me) became pastor or priest of fifteen Methodist, Presbyterian, and Anglican churches.

Almost thirty years ago, I had the privilege of spending a couple of days with the renowned Quaker orator, professor, and prolific writer Dr. Elton Trueblood. Dr. Trueblood, in his book "THE LIFE WE PRIZE," summarized the meaning of today's Gospel lesson. He wrote, "Man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit."

Christ is calling us today to go forth from this place to plant shade trees and along the way plant seeds of love, compassion, faith, and righteousness in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Oakland City Indiana in 1940 was a small coal mining town suffering through the Great Depression until after WWII.  Wilma and Doral Robling lived in poverty as did most of the 3500 residents.  The Roblings were living in a small house without modern conveniences.  There was a large plot of land behind the house and railroad tracks where coal was hauled across the nation.  There was a outdoor toilet at the end of the yard.  Doral raised a large garden in the yard and Wilma canned(preserved) the food.  Doral made $15 per week cutting meat in a local grocery store.  The family ate what we grew, preserved, shot while hunting, or caught while fishing.  Coal that had fallen off the railroad cars could be picked up in large cloth vegetable bags referred to as “tow sacks.” and carried to the house for heat.  There was no heat during the middle of the winter nights.  Wash basins and glasses of water beside the beds would often freeze while we slept.

There was no hospital.  There were a few men who called themselves “Doctors.”  Few people in the community had cars.  The “Doctors” came to us.  Wilma was told that she was too small in frame to have children.  She was soon pregnant with me.  The Doctor told her that I would die during birth and she would probably die as well. 

On a stormy July night the time came for my removal.  Mom was placed on the kitchen table.  Kerosene lamps were lit. The practice of cesarean delivery did not exist.  The doctor took a knife and some forceps and began the process of making room to remove me and used all of his strength, at any risk, to my mother and me, to remove me. 

The doctor noticed that I was breathing.  There was and still is a large forceps indentation in the front of my skull. My jaw was dislocated.  My skull was cone shaped.  My dad’s wedding ring would fit the end of my head. There were knife wounds over my body. The doctor exclaimed, “This baby is alive.”  He handed me to my dad’s mother and instructed her to keep me awake for eight hours.  He indicated that I might have a chance to live.  My grandfather entered the door as my grandmother held me up to begin eight hours of spanking.  Pappy screamed, “Wilma and Doral have had a monster.”   He ran to his house, fell to his knees, and cried out to God that I would die.

Someone inquired as to which day was my birthdate.  The process took place around midnight.  None knew whether I was born on July 11 or 12.  They decided to make the certificate for the 11th. The 11th was one of my aunts birthday.  They thought she would be pleased enough to buy a larger gift.

On the sixth week, they took me according to our custom to the church to be dedicated.  Throughout the rest of this story I will explain to you how I know that I was spared by God’s touch to spend a lifetime serving him by serving others.

According to family tradition, we attended church services twice on Sundays and every Wednesday evening.  One Sunday evening, as I was approaching the age of four,  I enquired of my dad, “ Who are the elders of the church?”  He was astonished as he asked, “Why do you ask Danny?”  I replied that Preacher Bond had said in his sermon that evening that, “If the Elders placed their hands on your head, anointed you with oil, and prayed for your healing. You would be healed.”  I had been a sickly but precocious child since birth.  I said to my dad that I was tired of being sick. 

An hour later there were three uncles and my dad standing over me, anointing me, and praying for my healing.  That was beginning of a call and introduction to a healing ministry that continues to this day.  I was eighteen years old when I became chaplain of the first of three nursing homes over many years.

Our only formal entertainment was by battery operated radios during the day time.  Most radio stations were required to turn down their power at sundown during the war.  All of the stations close to us were constrained by that requirement.  Entertainment for us was chatting with the milkman as he delivered our milk in a horse-drawn carriage.  Next the iceman and his carriage arrived.  The Mailman came next as he walked his route.  We chatted with each of them. 

I was born a year before the United States entered World War II. Most of the men from our small coal mining community were already gone to the war before my dad was drafted. That afternoon while I was four, my dad received a letter from "his friends and neighbors." They had selected him to serve our country in the armed services. He read the letter to me and asked me not to mention it to anyone. He wanted to tell Mom in his own way in his own time.

A few days later, we piled into my grandfather's car and took Dad to the train for him to leave for the war. After returning home and getting out of the car, I laid on the front sidewalk of our home and kicked, hit, and screamed, "I want my Daddy" until there was no longer a voice with which to scream. That night and every night for months thereafter, I cried myself to sleep repeating "I want my Daddy." I was convinced that I would never see my father again.

We had already learned to fear the Western Union delivery man. We would pray that he was not going to stop at our house while he was walking through our neighborhood, we would watch to see where he stopped. We converged on the house where a message had been delivered to console the recipient family. Church bells rang and the people of our village gathered to pray and console each other.

I had already seen many of the boxes containing the remains of friends, neighbors, and relatives return to their homes. Each box was draped with an American flag. I did not know what the flag was all about, but I suspected that it had some special significance. Six soldiers or sailors accompanied each box. Each of the six men carried an M1 (30 caliber) rifle. One of them carried a bugle.

Townsmen, too old to go to war, would dig a large and deep hole at the cemetery. The flag-draped box was suspended on boards above the hole. Every citizen of our little town would gather at the cemetery. I would walk up to the hole and look in. Sometimes, I would kick some dirt into the hole and watch it hit the bottom of the hole. I did not know what it all meant, especially the flag. I understood that war was about men going "overseas" to fight, get killed, and come home in a box.

The six military men would fire several rounds from their rifles. It was called a "military salute." It was a way of honoring the person who had died for his country. One of them would slowly play the eerie sounds of "taps" as other men lowered the box into the hole. While our ears were still ringing from the rifle shots, the soldiers would ceremoniously fold the flag in a deliberate manner. One of them would slowly and carefully carry the folded flag to "the next of kin." The mother or widow receiving the flag would cry uncontrollably. Those were confusing and disturbing experiences for a four-year old child. It hurts to think of them again.

We moved from our hometown when I was seven. Eventually, we moved to Indianapolis where I attended the world's largest high school. The high school had been an arsenal during the Civil War. In keeping with its military history, military training was part of our curriculum. I received an Army uniform and my own M1 rifle from the "Magazine Building" from which weapons and uniforms had been issued during the Civil War.

The war had ended eight years before my high school freshman year. All of the materials captured from the Japanese and Nazis had been sorted through and analyzed. Our government had captured many films among the spoils of war. The Japanese and Nazis had delighted in filming the acts of atrocity committed against American military men. Our training was for infantry service, hand to hand combat. Although we were fourteen, we were shown the movies frequently to desensitize us to killing and to teach us to understand and hate our enemies.

We were not viewing video games or Tom Hanks movies. The heads and arms flying through the air were real and "they" were "us." I remember seeing a man running down a hill. His head fell off and his body continued down the hill with the momentum and pull of gravity.

Our enemies delighted in taking pictures of taking down our flag. It was a supreme honor for them and horribly dishonorable for us. The films helped me understand that there has been a price paid with blood and lives for our flag to continue flying.

As the experiences and studies of my adult life took me throughout the industrialized world, I learned the rest of the story of our flag. Most of the world is hungry and wants what we have. Much of the world is angry and wants to destroy us for fanatical reasons. Even our friends around the world are jealous of what we have and would be satisfied to see us have less. Many people and groups around the world are dedicating their resources and lives to taking down our flag forever.

After decades of living and learning, I have come to understand that the flag is a symbol of everything good in the world. It stands for faith, love, and charity. It stands as an emblem of freedom to pursue one's dreams. It stands proudly in honor of every person and every generation who paid the price for our flag to fly majestically above the earth

I can recall waking up one morning when I was five years old. I was so excited. The impression of that day is still clear in my mind. It seems as though it happened yesterday. My dad would be returning from World War II that evening on a troupe train and I was going to Vincennes to meet him. The war wasn't over yet. Dad was getting a disability discharge. I had no idea what that meant but it really didn't matter. All that mattered was that he was coming home. Our family didn't have a car but Uncle Lee had agreed to take us to the train station in his green Ford V8. Most folks in our town didn't have cars back then. I couldn't remember the last time I had ridden in a car. What a day that was! I saw Dad coming down the steps of the train. I outran everyone and jumped into his arms. We hugged, cried, and repeated I love you. Seeing Dad again and riding in a car both in the same day! It was a significant emotional event in my young life.

Another memorable event took place a few months later. Dad borrowed Pappy’s (Pappy was my grandfather) team of horses. He had found a discarded car setting in a barn lot. He paid fifteen dollars for that Model “A” and pulled it home with the horses. I watched and handed him tools as he worked on the car that day. It was my first experience at serious father/ son bonding. It was a man thing. It wasn't something that he would do with Mom or my sister. It was just us guys and the car. We took a rope hoist and pulled the engine. Dad rebuilt the engine, put it back in the car, and had it running again within twelve hours. That was a proud moment in the life of this kid and his dad. We had a car!

I will always remember fondly the very special, proud, and close feeling we shared when Dad and I would go for a ride in that car. We took a fly spray pump and painted the car black. We thought it looked great! Because of the shortages of civilian supplies during the war, we could not buy a battery or tires. Dad had to start the car with a crank and it ran on a magneto. We carried a frequently used Camel tire patching kit and a pump. We didn't mind the inconveniences. We were thrilled with having a car and being together.

With a car, Dad was able to become pastor of two churches and continue his college education. When people were seriously ill, and with few Doctors or hospitals around, families were usually advised to “call the preacher.”  I did not want my dad out of my sight. I would always ask to go with him when I saw him preparing to leave.  Dad wanted me with him. We did not want to be apart.  The hurt of the short separation during his active duty time was fresh in our hearts. 

Sometimes he would say, “You may come but you must be quiet.  We are going to be with Mr. Jones as he is dying.”  I would stand quietly in the room and watched what my dad was doing.  I always felt a special presence with us.  Other times he might say, “You may go but Mrs. Smith died  and we are going to comfort her family.  I stood in the room and watched what my dad was doing.  I always felt a special presence.  I eventually came to know that presence as the Holy Spirit.  This was the beginning of call and answer to a ministry of comforting the dying and grieving.  It led to a nationwide grief ministry that I share as chaplain today.

There were many interesting experiences meeting and listening to the stories and experiences of older shut-in members of his churches.  His first assignment was in the southern Indiana area where Abraham Lincoln grew up.  I remember visiting a couple frequently who had known Abraham Lincoln when he was a young man.  They told me some unknown stories about the young Lincoln.

During this fifth year, He continued to touch me. My first experience at preaching at a regularly scheduled church service came when I was nine years old. Dad got up on Sunday morning with a wretched case of the flu. There was no else available to preach. I had climbed up on top of the chicken coop, gathered the neighborhood children around on the ground and preached many times. I would preach, pray, sing and invite them to know my Lord from the time I was five years old. Preaching was a natural thing for me to do. By the time I was eighteen, I was pastor of a church, chaplain of a nursing home, and an evangelist.  It was not difficult for me to preach at nine or be a pastor at eighteen.

About a year after Dad returned, the war was over and victory was declared. The whole town was celebrating. Dad and I took the Model “A” to town to join in the jubilation. People were driving up and down Main Street in our hometown (Oakland City, Indiana population 3500) honking their horns and shouting with joy. Dad knew how to cause an electrical misfire that would cause the car to backfire with a loud bang. It sounded like a cherry bomb exploding!. We blew the muffler off of the car that day. It was a special day. There has never been another like it. The old car didn't last much longer after that and Dad is also gone. But, the glowing memories of those experiences, my growing love for Dad, and my fondness for cars continues steadfast. Now, my son and I frequently go for a ride in our car, just the two of us. It's a man thing, I guess.


After serving as pastor of a Presbyterian church, nursing home chaplain, evangelist, and full-time college student (simultaneously) for two years, I became a twenty year old Methodist minister; I was assigned as pastor for a five-church circuit surrounding a county-seat town of fifteen thousand people. The District Superintendent, the equivalent of an Anglican or Episcopal Bishop, took me for a drive to each of the five churches.  He told me a little of the history and personality of each congregation.  The first church he took me to was established in the Jackson Purchase.  It was founded by six white families who were the only whites in that Indian occupied area.   There were graves in the cemetery dating back to 1620. 

As we approached the second church, he told me that the building we were about to enter was one-hundred and thirty-five years old.  I was amazed when he went on to say that the building was the third building built in the history of that church.  There were slaves buried in the cemetery.

As we entered the building, he turned to me and said, “Young man there are only six members left in this church.  If you do not build it up during the next twelve months, I will shut it down.”

I vowed that that church would not close on my watch.  I returned to that place the next day and while kneeling at the rail invoked God’s blessings and guidance for making that place a beacon of the Light of Christ for that community. 

The five churches had historically been provided with one or two services per month.  I gave a service to each church every Sunday and one week of revival meetings each year. 

The first service provided on the first Sunday of my ministry there was for the folks at the one-hundred thirty-five year old church building.  Aside from my wife and baby, there were six people in attendance.  I accompanied the service at the piano, led the singing, said the prayers, and preached.  I decided to empower those precious few with the truth.  I relayed the Superintendent’s admonition that the church would be closed if it did not grow.

The six people were horrified by the news.  They inquired, “Preacher, we must not lose our church.  Our great-grandparents grew up in this church. How can we save it?  Can it be saved?”  I replied, “It will be saved if you follow my lead and directions.”  I reminded them that I was a full-time college student with a family and four other churches.  I told them that I would not be able to do the work for them.  I promised them that if they followed my lead, they would see the pews so crowded that there would be people standing outside the building looking in the windows by the end of a year because there would not be enough room for them inside.  They committed to go to work immediately.  Three months later there were people standing outside looking in the windows and doors during services because the pews were filled with people and there was no more room inside the building.

The leaders of the congregation came to me concerned that the crowds were putting so much weight on the old wooden floors that there was a possibility the floors might collapse and someone might be injured.  I replied, “Let’s build a new building.”  They asked if I thought it would be possible.  I reminded them of all of my other duties, but committed that if they would follow my advice and “do the work” we would build a new building.

At the end of my year there we had a brand new brick building constructed and paid for except for four-thousand dollars.  I do not know the extent of their sacrifices.  The area was a poor rural area where weeds barely grew.  Farming was done with mules pulling ancient farm instruments.

I did not get to hold any services in that new building.  The county community decided to hang me from a tree at the County Courthouse Square one week before the first service was held in the new building.  My dad was scheduled to lead a revival week there and did so a few months after I left. 

These events took place over fifty-years ago.  The congregation was still thriving when I last heard from them. When a church whines about their plight today, I tell them this story and remind them that through God all things are possible.

Our parsonage (rectory) was located in the town. The five churches were located fifteen to twenty miles in varied directions surrounding the town. While we were having a late Sunday lunch at home one afternoon, I noticed a large billow of black smoke. It appeared to be about two blocks away. We were in a residential area, so surely the fire was a neighbor's house. I ran from the parsonage toward the burning house.

It was what we called a "shotgun house" in that neck of the woods. It was a long narrow house. The door opened into a living room. From the living room one would walk through a door into a second room. The second room in a shotgun house was either a dining room or bedroom. Walking through the second room one would find a third area divided into two small rooms, a small kitchen and a small bedroom.

The fire had started in the kitchen. I ran into the house and joined others carrying out furniture, clothing, and other personal belongings. We carried kitchen stuff first and worked our way to the front yard. We were able to remove most of the family belongings and placed them in the front yard.

As I placed the last article in the front yard, I stood up to rest my back and survey the situation. I was astonished to see a heretofore-unnoticed multitude of white people glaring at me as though they were going to kill me. I realized two things. The first thought occurring to me was that I was looking into the depths of the eyes of evil. The second realization was that everyone but my cousin (now Father Gordon Morrison) who had been carrying out items from the house was Black. I cannot adequately describe the sickening feeling that came over me as the reality of the situation became clear.

I asked to meet the owner of the house. He stepped forward and extended his hand. He was the local Black dentist. The good doctor had grown up in that community of hate. He left the community after high school and went to Chicago. He was able to find a job in Chicago where he worked his way through college and dental school. He was able to establish a successful dental practice in Chicago and was on his way to a life of comfort. Thoughts of the people back in the hate-filled community of his childhood haunted him. He kept thinking about his suffering people back home knowing that they could not get dental care from white dentists. Thoughts of their unbearable pain overwhelmed him. Even though he realized that his people could not pay for his services, he gave up his Chicago practice and life of comfort to return to his people. The "shotgun house" with its meager furnishings was all he had.

The call from Christ that I was answering was not limited to boundaries of my parish. It was a call to bring the world to salvation. I could not walk away from this good man and that evil multitude without taking a stand.

I asked the Doctor what I could do to help. He said that I should meet Dr. A.M. Alcorn. Dr. Alcorn was the A.M.E. pastor and the leader of the local black community. The dentist invited me to the evening service and arranged an introduction to his pastor. Dr. Alcorn greeted us warmly and told us that there was something we could do to help. He said for us to come to a meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday evening of that week and we would learn about what we could do to help.

I will never be able to forget the significance of that meeting and how it has affected my life. The group was already assembled when we arrived. The Reverend Doctor Alcorn introduced us and said, "See, I have told you that there are other people who care." The group simultaneously knelt around us and gave thanks to God for our presence. I have never felt as honored, humbled, or as inadequate as in that moment. Those wonderful people were thanking God for sending a twenty-year-old preacher and his seminarian cousin to change the miserable conditions of their lives.

Dr. Alcorn advised us that there was one hospital in the entire county. The hospital was built and operated on tax revenues. The area was a sub-marginal area that, other than a few cotton fields, would hardly grow weeds. There were a few slave-wage industrial plants. People did not have insurance and few could pay medical bills. Four of the beds in the huge county owned hospital were designated for black patients.

The group's concerns had peaked the week previous to our meeting. A Black teenager had required emergency surgery. The only available bed for Blacks was in a room with her dying mother. She suffered the pains of surgery and healing while enduring the agony of watching her mother die. The situation was intolerable.

As a twenty-year-old preacher who had been called to "call the world to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ," I was equipped with fast answers for every situation. I suggested that Dr. Alcorn call for a meeting with the hospital administrator and the board of directors of the hospital. The truly wise Dr. Alcorn, a member of the board of trustees of Wilberforce University, advised me that he had requested a meeting and his request had been denied.

He suggested that as the pastor of five white churches, I would have the power to force a meeting with the hospital board. We people of Black African heritage have found it necessary to organize frequently for leading godly change. Yes, I said Black African Heritage. My mother’s grandmother was born to a former slave.  My dad’s step-father knew Grandmother Williams, the former slave.  I never met her. She passed on before I was born. I did know her daughter though, our Grandmother McDonald. When I think of Grandmother McDonald, I recall a woman with a sweet spirit. I am sure she learned and received that sweet spirit from her mother, a former slave.

 A meeting was arranged with the hospital administration in combination with other issues. I told the young girl's story. I spoke of the four-bed situation and demanded change. I was advised that change would not occur. I reminded them that the situation was ungodly, immoral, and illegal. They laughed. I left.

They called a meeting of the townsfolk, some were my parishioners, at the Courthouse Square. The courthouse was one of those that had "colored only" drinking fountains and restrooms. I had been there many times to speak to various government agencies. People always reviled me for drinking at the "colored only" fountains. A consensus decision was made to hang (lynch) me.

I sent my nineteen-year-old wife and eighteen-month-old son back to Indiana by bus to her mother's house where they would be safe. While I was waiting to be hanged, I received an urgent call from my District Superintendent. He said that he needed to talk with me in his office immediately. He was curious about the situation and wanted to hear my side of the story. I told him the story as described to you today. He asked, "Do you know that they are going to hang you?" I replied in the affirmative. He asked what I planned to do about it. I told him that my plan was to be hanged.

I wanted my life and death to send a message that standing against the evils of prejudice and racism was worth dying for. He replied that he appreciated a preacher with a "social conscience." He did not understand this was about brotherly love.  He concluded that having a preacher hanged at the Courthouse Square would reflect badly on the church. I was whisked quickly to a six-church parish with a larger and nicer parsonage in another county.
Recovering respect for the Church and its leaders took several years. The passion for standing against the sins of injustice has never lessened.

I have looked into the eyes of evil, escaped the hangman's noose, and ducked the bullet whizzing past my head on its way to shattering the glass window behind me. I KNOW EVIL WHEN I SEE IT. I KNOW EVIL WHEN I HEAR IT. Prejudice and racism, at best, are subtle forms of hatred. Hatred in any form is evil. Evil in the heart of any person will prevent that person from knowing the full joy of the salvation that Christ died to provide.

Jesus did not say, "Feed my white sheep." He did not say, "Those among you who are white, feed my sheep." In Matthew 11:28 Jesus is quoted as having said, "Come unto me ALL who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."

Sometimes people say, "Dan, you sound angry when you talk about racism." The voice you hear through my writing today is the voice of my heart. It is not an angry heart. It is an agonizing and pain-filled heart. The agony is shared with the revolutionary Jesus who looked down over Jerusalem and wept. It is pain shared with Jesus as he looks down on his world today, on this state, his church, and into the hearts of people who have not embraced his love.

The revolutionary Jesus who fed multitudes has left US in charge of continuing his revolution. WE must lead all of his family to love and understanding.

If anyone reading this story today is uncomfortable with reading about racism and is angered by what I am saying please understand that there is not room in a human heart (the soul of a person) for the love that accompanies a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and the hatred that accompanies racism. The two cannot dwell in the same heart.

Rediscovering A Means of Grace   article 3

After the “Hangman’s Noose Experience” as a twenty year old Methodist minister in Tennessee, I became pastor of a Presbyterian church in Illinois.  All the while my disappointment in the church in general with its failure to take a proper stand against racism and for brotherly love was causing me to lose respect for Christian churches and their leaders. 

In April of 1963, at the age of twenty-two, I along with two other student ministers made an appointment to visit Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham and offer our help there.  When we arrived in Birmingham we heard on the car radio that Dr. King had been arrested. We heard that President Kennedy had called the Sheriff in Birmingham and threatened that federal troops would occupy Birmingham if Dr. King was harmed in any way.  We were also told that President Kennedy talked with Dr. King on the phone and assured him the President’s support.

I asked a stranger on the street where the headquarters of Dr. King and the S.C.L.C. was.  I was directed that we could find his staff working in an office in the Atkins building.  Everywhere we walked in downtown Birmingham, we were followed by a young white man dressed in a suit wearing hearing aids.  He was followed by a state policeman, deputy sheriff, and a city policeman.

We found the Atkins building and introduced ourselves to Rev. Ralph Abernathy and Rev. Wyatt T. Walker along with some teenage activists working with them.  Rev. Abernathy was busy preparing literature and planning activities.  I asked Rev. Walker what we could do to help. 

Rev. Walker said the group was getting prepared to leave for a large department store downtown.  Britt’s department store was a very large store with a lunch counter for shoppers.  The two men with me were white.  I looked white.  Rev. Walker asked us to go to the lunch counter minutes before the departure of the young workers.  He asked that we go ahead and order something to eat and observe the activities as the young people came behind to join us.  We were then requested to return and report our observations.

The report I gave to Reverends Walker and Abernathy was that all sales activity ceased in the store as the young brothers and sisters tried to place orders at the lunch counter.  By the time the police arrived, arrested, and removed the young people a few hours had passed.  People were not shopping during the period and cashiers were not even trying to make sales.

I asked how many helpers were already in jail and when they would be released.  I suggested that we work out a schedule that allowed the last available members to enter the store as the previous group was leaving for jail.  My expectation was that with an effective schedule, all business could be halted around the clock.  I felt that “no sales” would bring great pressure on the management and owners.

Reverends Walker and Abernathy thanked us and expressed support for the idea feeling it had merit and they agreed to try our plan.

I was reading the St. Louis Post Dispatch a few days after returning to Illinois.  Bold letters read, “SCLC changes strategy, applies economic pressure, Birmingham business men agree to come to the bargaining table.”

A few Sundays later, I confirmed nineteen new members at my assigned church and submitted my resignation and returned to my hometown in Indiana. I felt complete disillusionment with the church.  God is love. Christ revealed THAT love and instructed us to give his message to the world.  I felt that we had disintegrated into social groups with social agendas that missed God’s purpose for his church.

I did not attend church for about five years.  I prayed daily and tried to present a personal witness to all around me

I became critically ill with pneumonia and pericarditis (infected heart). My parents were called to Indiana from Illinois to say goodbye.  Faye brought the children to my room with a tape recorder to record a last conversation with me.  I do not remember the next four weeks.

Later during recovery, I recalled entering the hospital.  It was a special hospital for me. I had played in the high school band at the ground breaking ceremony for the hospital while Vice President Nixon turned the shovel

I recalled that, during the admissions process, a young clerk asked what church, parish, or synagogue I belonged to.  I replied, “none.”   He inquired as to what minister, priest, or rabbi should be notified.  I tersely replied, “I just told you I do not have one.”

As I was being wheeled down the long hallway from Admissions to the Critical Cardiac Care Unit to die, some words came to me from the past.  It was not a voice, but words I had read several years before in the Methodist Book of Common Discipline.  The words were, “The church affords a means of grace that can be found in no other way.”  I remembered in that moment what the church had once meant to me.  I made a promise to myself that if I should survive, I would try to recapture that wonderful means of grace.  It was not a promise to God.  It was a promise to me. 

Needless to say, I found it.  Today, I am a priest in the Anglican Church preaching the love of God as it is expressed in Christ’s admonition to “Love one another as, I have loved you.”  Brotherly love for everyone is an essential part of the call of God to every person.

                                                          What Does Jesus Do?  article 4

The church, of course, is more than a building. The church is the people who have come to understand the message of God through Christ. We, you and I, are the church. Therefore, our prime purpose for being is to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel presents a wonderful story of a man who was blind from birth and had to beg for a living. Jesus made mud, put it on the man's eyes and gave him specific instructions to follow. The man followed Christ's instructions and was healed. He could see! It is a wonderful story. The greater significance of the Gospel for today is more than the miraculous event of bringing sight to a man that was blind from birth. It is that CHRIST DEFINED HIMSELF in this Gospel story from John.

Humankind has sought to understand God from the beginning. We have read the biblical stories. Other people long ago isolated in the deepest jungles and on unreachable islands sensed the presence of a power greater than themselves. They were so driven for defining that omnipresence that, in the absence of revelations, such as Jesus, they felt compelled to create answers for the burning questions, "Who is God?" "What is that spirit around us?"

Our curiosity and desperate desire to know and understand God is profound. All who have heard the name need to know who Jesus is and what he does.

Our youngest child was a busy little boy. He was precocious, curious, articulate for his age, and above all …..busy. We took him to church every Sunday. Church for his first three years meant playing in the downstairs nursery and hearing stories. As he was approaching the age of four, I realized that this inquisitive little creature was going to be promoted to the Preschool Sunday School class and would be joining us upstairs in "Big Boy Church" for communion. Preparing him for NOT distracting the adults during communion would require planning and training on my part.

I developed a plan for Danny's introduction to "Big Boy Church." We had a very small chapel (former storage closet) in our church building that consisted of eight folding chairs, a kneeling stand, an alter, a small credence table, and a votive stand. Every Wednesday we had a midweek communion service in the chapel. Usually Father David and I were the only ones attending. I thought the midweek service would be a good way to introduce Danny to proper etiquette and procedures for attending and participating in a communion service.

As we were walking up the sidewalk approaching the church doors, I took his little hand in mine to slow him down. He was always in a hurry. I pointed toward the building and said, I said, "This is God's house. We must be respectful in God's house by being quiet and listening." He inquired, "So God lives here?" I replied, "Yes, God has many houses and he lives in all of them." He said, "OK, I'll be quiet."

We arrived in the chapel a few minutes before Father David. Danny was sitting in a chair next to the credence table. On the credence table was a copper impression of Our Lord's Supper. Danny looked at the picture and quietly asked, "Who are those guys?" I replied, "That is Jesus and his disciples." Danny inquired, "Which one is Jesus?" I said, the one standing in the center is Jesus." "So that's Jesus, huh?" "Yes Danny that is Jesus." He then JOLTED me with the next logical question, "Dad, what does Jesus do?"

As I was catching my breath, Father David walked into the chapel. I quickly advised him that Danny had a question. "What does Jesus do?" I can assure you that Father stammered for a minute before providing an appropriate answer for an inquisitive three-year-old.

Even a three-year-old child who hears the name of Jesus needs to know who Jesus is and what he does.

Jesus said, "I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD." The life, teaching, sacrifice, and love of Jesus revealed the nature of God and his expectations for us. Through him, mankind was enlightened.

In a greater context of  Jesus said, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." We affirm in every communion service that Jesus died, was buried, rose again, and ascended into heaven. NOW his light shines in the world through his church, through us. WE MUST LET THE LIGHT OF CHRIST SHINE THROUGH US so that people around us will be brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

What will YOU do this week, this month, or this lifetime to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus?

                                                    BECOMING SUCCESSFUL  article 5

The following speech is delivered to 400/750 high school students weekly. Yesterday it was given to five classes (150 students) at a local high school. Three of the classes responded with generous applause. Three seniors came up to me and hugged me as they thanked me for the speech. Two individual students came to me and said, "What you said today will change my life forever. Thank you for sharing your story with us." ……………………………………………………………………………………………..

I am here today to share a quotation from C.W. Buecher with you and explain how applying the concepts, contained in the quote, can help you become personally and professionally successful. The quote is: "People will forget what you said. They may forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel."

I grew up in the inner city of a large metropolitan area. It was not a nice way to live. It was a terrible way to grow up. It was a violent place. The violence was horrible. Even though being violent was contrary to my nature, it was necessary to do violent things to survive in that environment. Ever-prevalent poverty was unacceptable to me. I did not really view it as poverty. I just thought we were broke. I viewed poverty as a permanent state of mind. Being broke was a temporary condition that I could and would fix eventually. The concept of being either poor or broke was totally unacceptable to me.

While attending the eighth grade, I devised a plan for getting out of the inner city permanently. The plan was very simple. I was not capable of developing a complicated plan at the age of thirteen. Preparation for plan implementation included meeting as many people as possible. It required being where things were happening and meeting people of all stations of life.

There were two simple strategies included in my plan. The first strategy required meeting and observing successful people. I would look for common characteristics shared by them. Being highly successful, by my definition, did not mean achieving the ability to pay large house and car payments. Success was not about a "big year or five years." Success for me meant being effective over the course of a lifetime. As I detected common characteristics among successful people, I would embrace those characteristics and assimilate them into my evolving adult personality. My hope was that sharing common characteristics with successful people would facilitate my success.

The second strategy was to observe total "losers." I would try to identify unique characteristics shared by losers and make sure to never embrace or emulate them.

The first vivid impression that evolved as my plan was being implemented was the vast difference between the behaviors of successful people and losers. They shared little more than their humanity. 'They did not act, think, or respond to other people in similar ways.

The second discovery was that most of the people who were highly effective, over the course of a lifetime, were sensitive to how they made other people feel. This characteristic made sense to me. When we respond positively and in a supportive manner to what other people are feeling, they will like us. If they like us, they will become our friends. They will hire us, give us raises, promote us, work for us, and buy what we have to sell. They will vote for us and if there are enough of them THEY will make us successful.

I eventually got a job running a machine in a large factory owned by the world's fifth largest corporation. The job was a "big deal" for a guy from the old neighborhood. The pay has fantastic! I was paid $2.57 per hour, overtime pay, health insurance, and life insurance. It was also an opportunity for implementing my plan for success. I responded to what my peers were feeling in an empathetic and supportive manner. I treated the people for whom I worked the same way.

Guess what! They liked me! Within five weeks, I was promoted to an office job. Approximately five years later, I was an executive. A few years later, I was leading some the world’s largest manufacturing operations. By the time I was fifty-three, it was no longer necessary for me to work another day of my life. At the age of fifty-four, I decided to retire.

Before submitting a retirement notice, my employer provided a timely assignment. I was assigned, along with a team of respected associates, to the dream assignment for a manufacturing executive. We were told to build the world's latest, greatest, state of the art, manufacturing plant. The plant would produce automatic transmissions for the 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee. We were required to complete the plant within two years. The entire project could not exceed one billion - four hundred million dollars. The initial product launch must occur in 1997 to provide transmissions for endurance and process testing. Missing the timing and budget requirements would be interpreted as failure.

We accepted the challenge. We traveled throughout the industrialized world visiting some of the world's best manufacturing plants. We observed best technologies, organizational cultural concepts, and management practices.

We proceeded to build the plant, develop the processes, purchase the manufacturing equipment, install the equipment, hire the employees, train the employees and launch the plant.

After our objectives for the assignment were met, I realized that I had achieved everything professionally that was included in my plan. My eighth-grade plan had worked! All of my financial objectives were met as well. The realization became clear that another dollar or another million dollars would not contribute one whit of additional happiness to my life. I decided to retire.

I had to make a decision as to what I should do with the rest of my life at the age of fifty-six. I thought about the old neighborhood and how wonderfully I had been blessed throughout the years. I felt an obligation to give thanks for my many blessings by dedicating the rest of my life to my religion and my community. You are my community. My life is now, in part, dedicated to each of you.

As news spread of my retirement, a university asked if I would be interested in teaching in their Business graduate degree programs. They asked me to teach because they believed that my business experience, academic achievements, and sensitivity to others would contribute positively to the learning experiences of evolving business leaders. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to share this story. I could share successful strategies with the students and also help them learn from some of my professional failures.

I taught on campus for Indiana Wesleyan University for a year. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. At the end of the year, we decided to move here to Scottsdale. We wanted to be near our only daughter and grandchild. Our daughter had moved here twenty years before to attend Arizona State University. She loved the Valley of the Sun so much, she did not return to the land of snowy winters. A vice-president from IWU contacted a vice-president of Grand Canyon University here in Phoenix. He recommended that GCU should use me in their College of Business. I taught International Business at GCU for a year. At the end of the GCU school year, I received a request from IWU to become one of the charter professors in the launch of their online MBA program.

I accepted the challenge. My experience in an early IT operations was good preparation for such an adventure. My new classroom would be expanded with worldwide opportunities for helping more developing business leaders. Teaching worldwide is exciting and interesting. One of my recent students was living in Kuwait. I am constantly learning from my students. The online forum for teaching provides great flexibility for time-management. I am free to be involved in other community and religious activities.

VALUES    article 6

During our first year here in Scottsdale, I frequently heard about a critical shortage of substitute teachers in the public school district. My teenage son and teenage grandson were constantly telling me how mean and stupid their teachers are, how mean and unruly the students are, and how vicious and unfair the school administrators are to students. I decided that, with my new flexible teaching schedule, there would be time to answer the call for substitute teachers. It would provide an opportunity to help teachers and students while analyzing the school system from within. If the system were truly bad, I would organize and lead a political movement to change it.

Last year I taught all grades including kindergarten through twelfth-grade. It was a wonderful learning experience. Learning, by the way, is part of my daily life-plan. I try to make one person's life better and learn something new each day. It is not an ambitious plan. After all, I am sixty-one now. It is achievable though even for this "old" person. I met many terrific teachers and administrators last year. I also met many wonderful students. Some of you are more wonderful than others. Some of you are just beginning to work on becoming wonderful. I have confidence that you will all achieve being wonderful eventually.

We live in a time and place where being "cool" involves dividing ourselves into little groups. Each group has an agenda. Each agenda includes doing and saying cruel things to people in other groups. It is cool to be insensitive to people who of different religions, color, national origins, gender, are fat, ugly, have zits, or are poor. I cannot imagine how hurting someone enhances the quality of your life.  Listen closely to me! This is the definition of a loser! Losers are insensitive to others.

I have two goals for today and each day of my life.  First, I try to learn something.  Second, I try  to make the life of one person a little better.  Making someone's life better is as simple as a smile, being friendly, being helpful, a hug or saying :I love you."  Each day I learn something and make one person's life better is a good day. As I put a large amount of these days back to back, I createe a wonderful and joyful life.

You must soon make a decision. You must decide whether you will become a successful achieving adult or spend your life as a loser. If you embrace the "cool" agenda, you will be a loser for life. On the other hand, if you try to respond positively to the feelings of everybody you encounter every day of your life, I promise that you will be successful. You will build a network of friends that will make you successful in every way. 

I have told you all of this "stuff" about myself for a reason. I want you to understand that I could be anywhere in the world today doing virtually anything I want to do because I have the time and the money to do so. I chose to be here with you sharing this quotation. I think it is the most important thing I should be doing today. If you listen, understand, and apply the lesson of this quote you too will become personally and professionally successful. By the way, the people I have learned from and emulated were the happiest people I have ever known. Happiness is the truest measure of success. I know, because I am probably the happiest person you will ever meet.

"People will forget what you said. They may forget what you did. But, they will never forget how you made them feel."

                                                                               DOUBT    article 7

The story of Thomas's doubting is even part of secular conversation. When we cannot convince someone at work, at school, or at play we call him or her Doubting Thomas. Doubting is profound. It does not have to be taught. Doubting is basic to our nature.

While riding home from church one Sunday our ten year old son asked, "Dad are the stories about Jesus true or are they like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny?" I replied, "Yes they are true son. Why do you ask?" He said, "Well a guy coming alive after being dead and turning water into wine are kind of hard to believe. I thought they might just be stories. I needed to ask you about it." Our son was not taught to doubt. It was basic to his humanness. If Thomas who had walked with the Master, touched him, heard his message, seen him perform miracles, and loved him could doubt anyone can doubt. We have all doubted and felt the associated guilt. Imagine what poor Thomas felt while and after doubting.

Father Jon recently mentioned that he was a preacher's kid. He stated that his father was the strongest man on earth and knew more than any other person. I am also a preacher's kid. I must tell you that my father was the strongest and smartest man on earth. He knew everything. You could ask him about religion, politics, psychology, morality, cars, baseball or anything and he knew the answer. He had answers for every question I could ask.

Dad taught me everything. By the time I was eighteen I knew everything. I had a pat answer for every question. As the possessor of this vast amount of knowledge, I felt compelled to share it with the world. By the time I was eighteen I was pastor of a church, chaplain of a nursing home, and a traveling evangelist preaching in virtually every Protestant denomination.

While venturing into higher education I encountered new universes of thought. I was introduced to other faiths. There were people of other faiths who were just as sure of their knowledge as I was mine. Parishioners and friends turned to me for counseling. The discovery that not all of my pat answers were pat for every question and situation was alarming. I became disillusioned, began to doubt, and eventually became a nonbeliever. I wandered through a universe of ignorance for five years. It was a dark, lonely, frightening place.

I did keep searching for more answers and the truth. I eventually concluded that there is a God. Further, I concluded that the nature of God was consistent with the life and teachings of Jesus. I returned to being a Christian; a Christian with doubts.

Funeral Remarks for Wilma Janetta McDonald Robling

by Father Daniel P. Robling (son)

January 4, 2000

She Lives!  article 8

By Daniel Robling

Please accept my sincerest thanks to all of you who have joined me today in this celebration of life. We are celebrating the life of my mother and the gift of God, which is eternal life.


There is a great reunion going on in heaven today as Mom has been reunited with Dad (her sweetheart from the sixth grade), her mother and father, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and friends who have gone before her. What a day of rejoicing this is!


As I look around the room, I sense that we are in the midst of a paradox. I see sad faces and tears of grief. Our tears do not appear to be tears of joy. How can this be? We people of faith profess to believe that this life is merely a time of preparation for a better and more satisfying life. Why are we grieving if we truly believe that Mom has gone to a better place? Is our faith faltering? Do we truly believe what we profess? Are the promises of Jesus without substance? Are we false prophets? Did he not say, "And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also?"


I have a theory about the sorrow we are feeling simultaneous to the jubilation of this triumphant celebration. I think we are grieving for ourselves, not for Mom. Our lives will be different without her. She has always been there for us. We are fearful of what our lives will be like without her love, encouragement, and prayers. We do not know how to deal with the differences in the way we will feel and act without her presence and support.


It is surely all right to grieve for ourselves. After all, Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. He knew that though "Lazarus was dead yet he lived." Jesus said to Martha the sister of Lazarus, " I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"  Family and friends, we do believe this. Through our tears of grief we are rejoicing and celebrating life. Have faith that God will console us in our grief and lead us to walk on in joy and comfort without the earthly presence of Wilma/Mom.


Many years ago, the Bishop of London was visiting a dying child. As he crossed a dimly lit room to the side of the little girl, he asked her if there was anything he could do for her. She pleaded, "Please help me. I am afraid to die." He asked if she would like for him to carry her into the sunlit living room where everything was bright and cheerful. She replied that she would enjoy that very much. He smiled and said, "That is what God is about to do for you. He will soon be reaching down with his loving arms and carry you to a more beautiful place where you can be happy forever."


All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God and his purpose for us. So did Mom. But, she has been cleansed in the blood of the Lamb and stands worthy before God today in his dwelling place. Praise God that in his infinite love, he has lifted her up from the heartaches and pain of this world and she now dwells in the house of the Lord forever.


Thirty-six years ago, Mom and Dad enjoyed a few nights of camping. On the day of their return home, they went for a hike and enjoyed the beauty and warmth of a sunny spring day. During the evening Dad asked her to call for his friend Luther to bring the ambulance and take him to the hospital. He was feeling some discomfort in his chest. Luther was the local funeral director and ambulance driver. They had conducted hundreds of funerals together and Luther was a trusted friend. Luther put Dad on the ambulance gurney and took him three blocks to the small town hospital where Dad served as volunteer chaplain. As Luther removed the gurney containing Dad from the ambulance, Dad said, "I'm feeling better now, I can walk to the emergency room." Luther had listened to Dad's heart with a stethoscope before departing for the hospital and had not liked what he heard. He said, "Dr. Robling, I'm sure that you are all right but since you are already on the gurney let me wheel you in." Dad consented. Luther pushed him into the emergency room. One of Dad's parishioners and best friends, Dr. Carl Schlageter was on duty in the emergency room. Luther and Dr. Carl lifted him from the gurney and laid him on the emergency room table. Dad immediately looked across the room and smiled a tremendously happy smile. His eyes were beaming as he reached towards a corner of the ceiling. He seemed as though he was seeing a long lost friend. He exclaimed, "Oh Jesus, I love you!" Those were his last words as he took his last breath. Praise God, he saw Jesus come to get him!

 Now Jesus has come to get Mom. What a glorious day this is!

I no longer believe.  Now I know!

                                                                                          9/11     article 9
I w
aspeaking to a group of high school seniors in Scottsdale on Friday September 7, 2001.  I said, “I believe that my father’s generation and generations before him paid a down payment and several installment payments for us to fly our emblem of freedom.”  I went on to say that many more payments will be required and their young generation may have to pay more than preceding generations.

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001 fanatics acting in the name of “Allah” awakened “sleeping demons” buried deep within the minds of Americans who have lived and experienced the horrors of war.

For senior citizens, the events of September 11 reopened all of the nightmares we thought we had put to sleep.  All of the memories of pain, fears, sorrows, smells, sights, hunger, rationing, and loneliness of war were horribly awakened. 

For young people, the events of Tuesday do not compute.  The world of “me” is not all there is.  War is not a video game now.  It is real.  It is here. Our realities have been amplified and changed forever. 

What we have to do now is not acceptable, but we have to do it.  The paradoxes between love, judgment, and discipline tears our faithful and loving hearts.  We must kill but we cannot hate.  We must cause suffering but we must feel compassion as we do it.  We must harm our brothers and sisters while simultaneously loving them.

At a prayer meeting the evening of our Great Tragedy, our parish priest, Fr. Jon Coffey said, “At the heart of our faith is forgiveness.  But, justice is consistent with forgiveness.  Forgiveness keeps us from becoming slaves to revenge.”  He was right.

                                                                                In Memory of Our Innocence    article 10

At the Memorial Service Friday in our National Cathedral, Rev. Billy Graham said, "Tuesday September 11, 2001 was a day that will be remembered."

I turned on the television that dreadful morning at 6:00 am Pacific Time and watched the events unfold as they happened. I cannot say that I was surprised that we were experiencing a terrorist attack. My first thoughts were a smug, "I told you so." I was very detached from the events for several minutes.

It was not until the Twin Towers fell to the ground and the sky showed through the dust where the towers had stood that reality sank in. Suddenly the realities of the events ripped their way into my consciousness. Part of America was gone. Part of our lives was being changed forever. The world would never be the same. America would never be the same. We would never be the same. I would never be the same.

A sickening feeling began to form in the pit of my stomach. The suppressed demon memories of World War II and the Cold War arose from the crypts of my mind and I felt like the frightened child from long ago. For a while I became the child crying for his soldier dad. The little kid kneeling beside his bed naming every soldier friend and relative in prayer. Listening to the radio to see if we had been attacked. Wanting a bomb shelter in my backyard.

It was a day of nostalgia and disbelief. The carnage was too much to process. It was a day of shock. We hugged and clung to each other.

Wednesday was a day of anger. I wanted my M1 rifle back and an opportunity to kill the barbarians. We spoke harsh words and expressed great feelings of anger.

Thursday was the beginning of a lingering grief that will never end. We are hurting deep within our souls. The hurt goes on and on and on.

Friday I felt compelled to express my feelings in writing or burst. I cried and cried and cried. We cried. All of the days of this week were days of prayer, unending prayers. We begged the Lord to help us.

Today, we must remember the fallen and move on. We grieve for what might have been, the lives that were shattered, the dreams that were lost, the gifts they would have given to the world, and the love of which their relatives and friends have been robbed. We grieve for lost freedoms. And we grieve for the lost innocence of our children.

The fallen are all soldiers in a war for freedom. We must revere their memory and pray for their families. We must never forget what happened to them. We must learn from this experience. And build an impenetrable fortress of strength and love that will never allow it to happen again.

Those of us gathered here in our Senior Living Community have known war. We have known defeat. And we have known victory. We are concerned and we are wrestling with our memories, but we know that by the grace of God we will move on.

Our children, though, are not equipped to process what they are feeling. The situation does not compute. The world of "me" is not all there is now. War is not a video game now. War is real. It is here now. Their realities have been amplified and changed forever. We must respond to what they are feeling with love, understanding, and assurance. We must listen to them and hug them.

Ignorant people are committing hateful deeds towards people of Islamic faith. We must understand that Osama bin Laden does not represent their faith any more than Timothy McVey represented Christianity. Timothy McVey was a madman. Osama and his little band of men are madmen too. My Islamic friends are gentle peoples of faith as are my Hindu, Hebrew, Christian, and Buddhist friends. We must be careful with our anger. All people have one father. He is in heaven. He made us sisters and brothers of the earth. We must remember that as we do what we must do.

What we have to do now is not acceptable, but we have to do it. The paradoxes between love, judgment, and discipline tears our faithful and loving hearts. We may need to harm but we cannot hate. We may cause suffering but we must feel compassion. We must protect the right of all to worship Jesus Christ in an environment of freedom.

At a prayer meeting on the evening of our Great Tragedy, our parish priest, Fr. Jon Coffey said, "At the heart of our faith is forgiveness. But, justice is consistent with forgiveness. Forgiveness simply keeps us from becoming slaves to revenge." He was right.

Now, we must have the courage and confidence to do what we must do. We must be swift and just. The demon memories must be returned to the crypts of our minds and put to sleep again forever.

Our faith and flag must rise above the dust of destruction.

O God, make speed to save us. O Lord, make haste to help 

                                      Who Are You?    article 11
                                      by Dan Robling

(an article written after my return from a genealogical research trip to Wales)

Mankind has been in search of Adam for centuries. Massive volumes have been written about this quest. "Roots" had one of the largest viewing audiences in television history. People of every racial and ethnic background could identify with what Alex Haley was feeling in his search.


Young people usually wander through adolescence trying to find out who they are. Adults who have been adopted as children and have never known the identity of their natural parents sometimes spend years and thousands of dollars in search of their natural beginnings in hopes of better understanding who they are. The pursuit of genealogical information has become a national past time and a burgeoning business. You can actually hire services to trace your family tree for you.


Almost every American family has some family member who is researching to find who was in the family tree and what part of the world they can identify as their land of heritage. Somehow, we seem to feel that if we can return to our roots we may better understand why we are who we are. We want to take pride in those who contributed to our being. Many of us seem to be driven to validate our existence through gaining knowledge of our history. We sometimes travel across the continent to attend family reunions in hopes of gaining and nurturing some sense of belonging. One can surf the internet and find help and solace among the thousands of folks across the world who share their passion for knowing from whence they came. Many of us dream of having an opportunity to visit the "old country" to feel some sense of our past. We hope to find and experience some mystical bond with previous generations of relatives who have lived and walked there. Members of fragmented families may become consumed with the quest for knowledge about their preceding generations.


I understand these feelings. I have felt them for most, if not all, of my fifty four years. For those who may find it interesting, I will share a personal experience about my quest for knowledge of my roots and the impact this experience has had on my life. I hope the rest of you will excuse this personal indulgence. Please be assured that we will return to our normal business discussions next week . My paternal grandfather died when he was thirty four years old. My dad was only five years old at that time and did not visit much with his father's relatives. We moved away from the area, where our relatives lived, when I was seven years of age. Although we returned for annual Christmas visits, I never really got to know my extended family as well as I wished to. I have always felt somewhat cheated by having not known them well. Although I love the ones I have met and am certain that they return my affection and admiration, I have always felt that sharing more of their daily lives would have been a wonderful, meaningful and supportive experience for me and, hopefully, for them. Thoughts about shared physical and mental traits, from past generations, have often wandered through my mind. Did "they" make me who I am? Did "they" have some influence on what I have done with my life? Who were "they"? I have always felt a longing to return to the place of my roots in hopes that I might better understand myself and have a greater sense of who I am and, perhaps, gain some greater sense of belonging.


I have always known that my mother's paternal grandfather came to this country from County Cork, Ireland, and her paternal grandmother was of black African descent, but I did not know until this year which country previous generations, carrying forth my surname, had called their homeland. I recently discovered a distant relative who is an accomplished genealogical researcher of my paternal family history. She has spent a major portion of her life doing this research. I told her that I was planning a trip to Europe and that I would be happy to schedule some time to do family research there if she needed for me to. She was excited to have me do some research for her and I was thrilled with the opportunity to do so. She asked me to go to the Pembrokeshire area of South Wales in search of the Rhydwilim Baptist Church register from the late 1600'S and early 1700's. It seems that few accurate records were kept during that period and the most accurate information can be found in church records, where available.


I had a business appointment scheduled in Birmingham, England. Much to my pleasure, I found that Birmingham is only four hours drive from the National Library of Wales and this library has been collecting genealogical documentation for the last twenty years and would be the most likely repository of old church registers . Since they drive on the wrong side of the road in that part of the world and their intersections are actually roundabouts in which the best American navigators could get confused, I set about to find a way to get there. Fortunately, I was able to hire a car and driver who was willing to drive across Wales to the seaside town of Aberystwyth on Cardigan Bay, wait for me while I researched the genealogical archives of the National Library of Wales and then return me to Birmingham.


My heart was racing with anticipation as we crossed the lovely Welsh Mountains to Aberystwyth. The beauty of the country was breathtaking as I gazed at the natural and virtually unspoiled landscape. I felt a great sense of history as I saw the large mountainside homes that have been passed on from generation to generation throughout the centuries. As the road took us across the green grassy covered rounded hills, we suddenly found ourselves looking down on the most uniquely beautiful small bayside town I have ever seen. There is truly a sense of centuries past in Wales and especially in this ancient town.


As I walked up the steps to the library my heart was filled with emotion, my mind was filled with thoughts of my dad, his dad and generations before them. My eyes filled with tears that were soon running down my face and mingling with the gently falling rain. Questions were whirling about me. Would I find anything? Would I find nothing? What would I feel, if I found something? Was I on a wild goose chase?


As I entered the library, I was greeted by a lovely and friendly young girl who asked if she might help find what I was looking for. I told my story to her. She asked me to wait as she looked for the church register of the Rhydwilym Baptist church of Pembrokeshire. I waited with the expectation that she would momentarily return with disappointing news. In a few minutes she rushed back into the room beaming with a smile and in an excitedly high pitched voice said. "We have it! I found it! Here it is!". She proceeded to hand the book to me. I was allowed to take the book into a study room and look through it.


As I gingerly turned through the original pages which had been written during the years from 1600 through 1780, I felt greatly humbled. I was beginning to believe, though, that there was nothing of my ancestors to be found in the register as I labored through the old and often hard to read script. Suddenly from a page containing entries from the 21st day of February during the year of our Lord 1719 the baptism of Margaret Roblin seemed to jump from the page. This was a significantly critical moment in my life. Who I am and what my roots mean to me instantly became clear in earthly terms. I am a grain of sand on a beach, a wisp of air in a storm, a blade of grass on a prairie. Margaret and all of the others for whom I have been searching do not make me who I am. They are gone from this earth and are forgotten, as we too soon will be. I am what God has made. My only significance is because of His grace. In the short and due course of earthly time, it will become as though I had never been.


I no longer look back except for purposes of curiosity and amusement. I no longer feel a need to look back. I know that my mission is to make this day all it can become for the good of those around me as I swiftly pass through it, in the hope that God will be pleased with me and let me share in a more meaningful life to come.


In a greater sense, from the perspective of ourselves as individuals, nations, companies, churches, or any other identity given to us, history is only meaningful in the lessons learned from it. Yesterday does not make us who we are today. Yesterday cannot be fixed. Today is our opportunity to become what we need to be and the credit or blame belongs to you and me. . DAN ROBLING©1995

Robling update 1996          article 12

Continuing Robling Genealogy Studies 1996

This is not an article. It is a trip report about my second trip to Wales for genealogical research. I have written it for the edification of my family. Feel free to read it if you care to.

The earliest known Welshmen were Celts, descendants of the Vikings. They had no formal governments. The only influencing units were the family and church. They tended to live separately, in hamlets or small villages. They had no surnames. During the occupation of the Normans, government and social organization began to evolve. The taking of surnames began in Wales during the thirteen hundreds. One of the earliest Welsh surnames was Roblyn (The Surnames Of Wales, John and Sheila Rowlands 1996, page 23, Federation of Family History Societies; also refer to Dictionary Of Surnames, Oxford 1988, entry: Roberts page 453).

Roblyn was a derivative of the Anglo name Robert. Robert was a derivative of the French name Robertson or Son of Robert. All Roblin, Robling, Wroblin, Wrobling, ,Robline, Roblene, Robleyne, Robbins, Robinsons are derivatives of Roblyn.

In June of 1996 my daughter, Dana Robling Shaul, and I continued to follow the leads of our foremost family genealogist, Natalie(Mrs. Dale) Robling of Vincennes Indiana. Our pursuits were a continuation of the research I began in February of 1995 at The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, Wales. Our findings were as follows:

Jordan Roblyn 1326 in The Black Book of St. David's (owners of property)

Adam Roblyn Archdeacon of St. David's Cathedral September 19, 1350 and March 12, 1365 in the Papal Registers of the Diocese of St. David's also in the Episcopal Registers of St. David's in 1383

We held in our hands and read the original will of Ievan Roblin of Llawhaden county Pembrokeshire along with his inventory from the year 1609 registered in 1611. The documents were in mint condition and still had the wax seal affixed to the will.

The muster rolls of 1613: John William Robline, Newport Parish John Roblin, Ambleston & Reynalston Philip Roblin, Walton Thomas Roblin, St. Ishmells

Pembrokeshire Plea Rolls 1723 John Roblyn, of Roch Aug 10 1723

Cofnodion, Ewyllysiau, Tyddewi Probate Record of St. David's 1700- 1749 page 279 from The Facsimiles of Frances Green updated Feb 27, 1996.

Name............Parish..........Township........County..........Status.......ref........record no

John Roblin.....Lambston........Waseland........Pembroke............yeoman.......sd1704/46..110647

John Roblin**...Llan-y-cefn..........................P..........................yeoman.......sd1740/144.118951

Owen Roblin***..Walton East......................P.............................................sd1700/226.109995

Peter Roblin*...Llan-y-cefn....Llwynbedw......P.............................................sd1733/216.117622

Henry Robling...Warren.................................P.........................yeoman........sd1721/199.114509

John Roblyn.....Burton...................................P.............................................sd1717/5...113370

Phillip Roblyn****Llandysilio........................P..........................gent.............sd1720/07..114155

. * We held and read the original will and inventory of Peter Robling Jan 26 1728 along with the execution of the will Nov 24 1730. He and his wife Catherine had two sons, Thomas and John** and four daughters Alice, Elizabeth, Susan and Mary. Catherine and son John were executors of the will. The daughters could receive their inheritances only after marriage.

**We held and read the original will and inventory of John, son of Peter and Catherine. The will was executed Oct 7, 1740. John left everything to his mother Catherine.

****Phillip was the son of ***Owen. Owen and son Phillip inherited part of the estate of son in law/ brother in law William Phillips Aug 15 1700.

William Roblin built the Mansion Roblinston during the reign of Henry IV. The ruins of Roblinston were still standing during the early 1900's. I have not established whether they still exist. References to Roblinston, a mansion of greater size than normal for the time, can be found in the following books:

Caermarthenshire, Cardiganshire & Pembrokeshire Pedigrees From About 1700 to 1710 John Philipps Allen Lloyd Phillips, Esq. of Dale Castle, county of Pembroke. Typis Medio-Mentains, Impessit Jecobus Rogers Pembrokeshire Pedigrees, page 35 and Roblinston & Wooldalf page 130 "William Roblin of Roblinston"

Historical Tour Through Pembrokeshire, Richard Fenton, F.H.S. Davies & Co. Bridge St. 2nd Edition 1903 page 86 William Roblyn

I have researched many of the Parish registers and Probate records of several counties. This research includes baptisms, weddings, funerals, disputes regarding land holdings, wills and other probate matters, and various church records. All references to Roblyn, Roblin, Robling and other derivatives of Roblyn in Wales during the period of 1300 through 1800 occur only in Pembroke (Pembrokeshire means "county of Pemproke". It should be further noted that various record referring to the same person will often be found spelled with different spellings of the name of that person.

Welsh history lists show no criminals and among our ancestors.

I am Daniel Prentice Robling father of Prentice Daniel Robling, grandfather and adoptive father of Daniel Prentice Robling. I am the son of Prentice Doral Robling, grandson of Prentice William Robling, great grandson of Horatio Seymour Robling, great-great grandson of George Robling, great-great-great grandson of Peter Robling of Pike County Indiana, also descendant of Lewis and Peter Robling of North Carolina.

Peace be with you,


July 5, 1996

                                                             What Does Jesus Do?  article 13

John 9:1-38

Last year, when our Archdeacon, Bill Greeley, preached at our parish, he reminded us that the prime reason for the existence of the church is to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I don't know why, but I was startled to hear him say those words. We believe it, of course, but we seldom say it in that way. If we truly believe in Jesus, we know that every ministry of the church is about bringing people to a greater knowledge of God.

The church, of course, is more than a building. The church is the people who have come to understand the message of God through Christ. We, you and I, are the church. Therefore, our prime purpose for being is to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel for today presents a wonderful story of a man who was blind from birth and had to beg for a living. Jesus made mud, put it on the man's eyes and gave him specific instructions to follow. The man followed Christ's instructions and was healed. He could see! It is a wonderful story. The greater significance of the Gospel for today is more than the miraculous event of bringing sight to a man that was blind from birth. It is that CHRIST DEFINED HIMSELF in this Gospel story from John.

Humankind has sought to understand God from the beginning. We have read the biblical stories. Other people long ago isolated in the deepest jungles and on unreachable islands sensed the presence of a power greater than themselves. They were so driven for defining that omnipresence that, in the absence of revelations, such as Jesus, they felt compelled to create answers for the burning questions, "Who is God?" "What is that spirit around us?"

Our curiosity and desperate desire to know and understand God is profound. All who have heard the name need to know who Jesus is and what he does.

Our youngest child was a busy little boy. He was precocious, curious, articulate for his age, and above all …..busy. We took him to church every Sunday. Church for his first three years meant playing in the downstairs nursery and hearing stories. As he was approaching the age of four, I realized that this inquisitive little creature was going to be promoted to the Preschool Sunday School class and would be joining us upstairs in "Big Boy Church" for communion. Preparing him for NOT distracting the adults during communion would require planning and training on my part.

I developed a plan for Danny's introduction to "Big Boy Church." We had a very small chapel (former storage closet) in our church building that consisted of eight folding chairs, a kneeling stand, an alter, a small credence table, and a votive stand. Every Wednesday we had a midweek communion service in the chapel. Usually Father David and I were the only ones attending. I thought the midweek service would be a good way to introduce Danny to proper etiquette and procedures for attending and participating in a communion service.

As we were walking up the sidewalk approaching the church doors, I took his little hand in mine to slow him down. He was always in a hurry. I pointed toward the building and said, I said, "This is God's house. We must be respectful in God's house by being quiet and listening." He inquired, "So God lives here?" I replied, "Yes, God has many houses and he lives in all of them." He said, "OK, I'll be quiet."

We arrived in the chapel a few minutes before Father David. Danny was sitting in a chair next to the credence table. On the credence table was a copper impression of Our Lord's Supper. Danny looked at the picture and quietly asked, "Who are those guys?" I replied, "That is Jesus and his disciples." Danny inquired, "Which one is Jesus?" I said, the one standing in the center is Jesus." "So that's Jesus, huh?" "Yes Danny that is Jesus." He then JOLTED me with the next logical question, "Dad, what does Jesus do?"

As I was catching my breath, Father David walked into the chapel. I quickly advised him that Danny had a question. "What does Jesus do?" I can assure you that Father stammered for a minute before providing an appropriate answer for an inquisitive three-year-old.

Even a three-year-old child who hears the name of Jesus needs to know who Jesus is and what he does.

In today's Gospel Jesus said, "I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD." The life, teaching, sacrifice, and love of Jesus revealed the nature of God and his expectations for us. Through him, mankind was enlightened.

In a greater context of today's Gospel Jesus said, "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." We affirm in every communion service that Jesus died, was buried, rose again, and ascended into heaven. NOW his light shines in the world through his church, through us. WE MUST LET THE LIGHT OF CHRIST SHINE THROUGH US so that people around us will be brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

What will YOU do this week, this month, or this lifetime to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus?

                                                It Is Not About Me   article 14

The most difficult lesson of life …the lesson least often learned is that it isn't about me.

The only time in life that was ever about me was the instant God breathed eternal life into my being.

Everything since that magnificent moment is, was, and will be about communicating, sharing, and giving the message of His love to others…to care for all of His creation…to bring peace to the lives of His children…to give all that can be given to make His world and the lives of His family better.

Accumulating my things...all of the searching for the meaning of my life and my purpose is and has been a waste of time. It is not about me…

I wish I had known throughout the years...It is about you.

dan robling December 2002

                                                                        Look Up Into the Face of God   article 15

by dan robling

We send missionaries all over the world to bring things to the needy. As they travel to far away places to serve the needy, they drive past and fly over the greatest mission field on earth.....our neighborhoods and our country.

Our nation is perishing in sin and immorality, an estrangement from God. Of course God is here. We just will not let him near us.

We are all called to be missionaries. Our mission field is outside our front door. It may begin in our homes. Yes, we need to travel to the remotest areas to reach some of the needy. But, if we do not conquer the evil that surrounds us, we will not continue to be free or continue to have resources to venture anywhere.

We, as a nation, killed three million babies last year and are proud to say that is less than in previous years. Most children's heroes are evil. Look at the movies we let them view. Listen to the music we let them listen to. Check the history of sites they have visited on the Internet........ Ignoring evil does not make evil good, tolerable, or less evil.

Nations like China are not afraid to compete with us economically or militarily. They do not want us in their country because they are afraid that we will contaminate their cultures. The reason they are afraid we will contaminate their cultures is because we ARE contaminating their cultures.

I spend several days a week with teenagers. Most of them are orphans. Many live in fine houses and have parents, but there is usually nobody at home. Most of their parents are somewhere chasing wealth and/or other interests. Large numbers of our kids, in the pain and anguish of neglect, are self-medicating and/or looking to other sources for attention and identity.

WE are missionaries called by Christ to bring understanding of his love and compassion to the world. Our world begins at our address and extends to every place we go in the course of each day.

We must speak the words and exemplify his goodness and love. The beginning of the end of our beloved nation has begun. You and I are likely looking for someone to blame. Each time I look in the mirror I see a person to blame.

I challenge you to look in a mirror right now. Talk to yourself. Mention the last time you spoke of Christ's love to someone....anyone. Mention the last time that you took the time to be a child's hero. Mention the last time you stood up to evil. Speak of your highest five priorities in order, the most important to the least important.

Now look away from the mirror. Look up into the face of God and tell him that you are doing your part as his missionary. Listen to God's reply.

My Personal Mission Statement    article 16

The development of my personal mission statement was the product of my early life experiences and learning. I was a preacher's kid (P.K.). I was sure that my dad had all of the correct answers to all of the questions of faith and life in general. Early on, I also believed that his answers were correct and would always be adequate and satisfactory for me. My first experience at preaching came when I was nine years old. Dad got up on Sunday morning with a wretched case of the flu. There was no else available to preach. I had climbed up on top of the chicken coop, gathered the neighborhood children around on the ground and practiced preaching many times. I would preach, pray, sing and invite them to know my Lord. Preaching was a natural thing for me to do. By the time I was eighteen, I too was pastoring a church. It was not difficult for me to preach at nine or pastor at eighteen. My dad had given me all of the answers for life and religion. As my life began to unfold, outside of my childhood home, more complex questions developed and I was forced to develop and present theological, philosophical and daily life answers for my parishioners, college friends and wife. Many issues and concepts no longer seemed simple and clear. I was studying and learning new ideas and developing some thoughts of my own that were not always consistent with the pat answers of the past. I became a doubter to the point of becoming an nonbeliever, even while pastoring churches. I dedicated significantly more time to study, discussions with my colleagues and evaluating who I was, what I was here to do, and in general searching for the meaning of life. This was occurring for me at a time when our society was beginning to question almost everything.

One day in the midst of reading and contemplation, it occurred to me that the order of things was not accidental. I cannot say that I was struck blind on the road to Damascus like Paul. It was more of an intellectual growth experience, although emotional at its conclusion. I realized that there was truly a god and that my understanding of God was actually consistent with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. As I remembered the response of Jesus to the question, "Which commandment is the greatest?" and when he said in The Sermon On The Mount, "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.", my purpose was revealed to me. The experience I am describing occurred when I was twenty one. Thank God that even when I did not know him, my purpose had never changed and now that I do know him it will never change.

"My purpose (mission) is to respond to God's love by loving all people with whom I share life, using every resource I can find or generate for the enhancement of the quality of their lives."  Dan Robling 1997

What's It All About?         arcticle 17

A friend in grief recently asked me to share my thoughts on the frailty of life. This issue is probably the most difficult of all life's questions to face. For most of us, it is wrought with confusion of purpose and definition in addition to a desire to indefinitely continue our physical life. We are, for the most part, limited to knowledge of physical definitions. We can define our bodies. We know that we are alive. We don't know what makes our minds work, why we feel. We can replace a heart or mend a limb, but, we are seldom able to fix a mind. Spirit is beyond comprehension. We don't know what death is or means.

As children, we tried to contemplate the end of space. It must end, but, it can't end. Could this dilemma be one of trying to limit spiritual concepts to physical concepts? Perhaps our attempt to limit God to what we now of him and life is the reason we struggle with understanding our purpose and the meaning of life and death as we know it. During my years as a church pastor, I often conducted funeral services and counseled grieving families. I also prayed with and held hands with some of my parishioners as they past on from this life. These painful experiences helped me gain some greater understanding of what life and death means. I once observed to a funeral director that the passing of the last parent of a family seems to be the most difficult for the progeny of the dead. He affirmed my observation. He continued with a more profound observation. He said, "The most difficult experiences are with nonbelievers. For them, there is nothing more. Their grief manifests in emotional despair and anguish."

Many years ago, the Archbishop of London was visiting a dying child. As he crossed the dimly lit room to the side of the little girl, he asked her if there was something he could do for her. She pleaded, "Please help me. I am afraid to die." He asked her if she would like for him to carry her into the sunlit living room where everything was bright and cheerful. She replied that she would enjoy that very much. He smiled and said," That is what God is about to do for you. He will soon be reaching down with his loving arms and lift you to a more beautiful place where you can be happy forever."

Our struggle with the frailty of life is not really necessary. We have spent our physical lives focused on providing for comfort in this life. We work, build houses, gain education, develop friendships, become popular, gain wealth, keep ahead of the Joneses and etc., all for this life. If we can focus on life in its entirety, not limit our beliefs and values to what we see, and stop trying to reduce the power of God to our limited knowledge, the frailty of life becomes almost irrelevant. There is nothing to fear. There is, after all, only one important thing to cling to. That is love.


                                                                         LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF    article 18

Jesus said, "The first commandment is this: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these."

Memories stir between senior moments for old retired guys like me. Occasionally I record them in an email. I would like to share today's flashback with my friends in Christ:

I was student pastor of a Presbyterian church in southern Illinois. Three days a week I traveled to a college sixty miles from our manse. One of my parishioners suffered the death of a brother. The brother had been living in the college town. Their mother, a member of another church, lived in the town of my church.

The man left three small children and a working wife. The mother of the deceased often asked to ride with me to the college town to visit and care for her grandchildren.

Our first trip included a very interesting conversation. Mrs. Jones inquired of this twenty-two year old pastor, "Reverend Robling what do you think of the World Council of Churches?" I viewed the question with the same caution as, "Yes or no, have you stopped beating your wife?" I was proud of myself for having the quickness of wit to answer her question with a question, "Mrs. Jones what do you think of the World Council of Churches?"

She quickly replied, "I think it is a communist organization." I responded that her revelation was interesting and inquired as to how she had reached that conclusion. She said, "It is run by the Jews and you know that all of them Jews is Catholic." Astounded by her confidence in the logic of her conclusions, I inquired as to the source of her information. She replied, "Brother Lester told us so at church Sunday." Mrs. Jones was offering her newly discovered knowledge in the name of our Lord.

Thirty-seven years have past and unfortunately we are still faced with an overwhelming abundance of the same ignorance and anger based information and attitudes as were manifested in Mrs. Jones' comments. My heart aches with concern that there are too many of them for us to reach. We must devise ways to reach larger numbers of them. If not us, who?

As long as we have breath, we will continue to bring the good news of Christ's love to as many as we can reach. But, our joy will always be tempered with sorrow for the ones we cannot reach. Our rest will not satisfy as long as passion burns within us for bringing the comfort of a saving knowledge of our Lord to angry hearts.

Thank you for making this world a better place.

Peace, --dan

DEVELOPING A SYSTEM FOR CHANGE    article 20 incomplete

by Daniel P. Robling, President of American Business Consultants, Inc.

Increasing industrialization of other nations along with technological improvements in communications and transportation has brought international competition to almost every American industry. Most industries have struggled with meeting the challenges and in some cases failure has occurred. With the industrial development of countries like China, the potential for large additional markets is promising. It has been said that the propensity for consumption of goods and services by China alone has the potential to exceed the entire world's supply of goods for fifty years. Several new trade agreements negotiated by the United States government have created a greater need for U. S. industries to understand the requirements of international competition to improve its competitive position. Process and product technologies are forever changing in current and new competitive markets. Availability of scarce resources is constantly increasing and decreasing. Frequent changes taking place in business requirements throughout the world are creating a need for finding new ways of conducting business. New results are required. Changing work and trade practices is often essential to become and remain competitive. Benchmarking and developing and implementing systems for change are tools for successfully changing work and trade practices.

There are several ways to become knowledgeable about successful foreign industrial practices. A company may purchase a foreign company known for achieving excellence through new paradigm approaches. Employ the practice of benchmarking, pursue available academic resources, or hire consultants who have knowledge of successful competitive practices.

There are limitations to these methods of becoming knowledgeable about foreign industrial practices. Acquisition of another company may be cost prohibitive for an average company. Knowledge gained from benchmarking is very desirable but the process is time consuming and expensive. Valuable leaders or workers may be attending to immediate needs and unavailable for travel. There is usually some time delay in the development of resources for teaching and learning to compete through academic methods.

Consultants who have first hand knowledge of an industry, extensive benchmarking experience, management experience, training experience, and education are often available. For a few hundred thousand dollars, or sometimes less, a company may take advantage of knowledge that cost millions of dollars to acquire initially.

American Business Consultants, Inc. is one of many companies that provide manufacturing companies with information and training for competing and achieving excellence in a changing market. It shares knowledge based on highly effective manufacturing leadership experiences, extensive worldwide benchmarking, academic knowledge, and as training providers. The company has developed and teaches a management system that is based on its knowledge of best competitive practices. The company provides information based on benchmarking research conducted in Europe, Japan, Mexico, Canada, and the United States.

Benchmarking in industry is the practice of conducting technological and organizational practice exchange visits with other companies. It often occurs even between competitive companies. The purpose of benchmarking is to learn best practices. Each company expects to learn something from the experience that will enhance its opportunities for improvement.

Benchmarking has come prominently into vogue during the past decade. Prior to that time, it was very difficult, if not impossible, to arrange benchmarking visits. Most companies within the U. S. were reluctant to have open visitations and extensive information sharing with domestic competitors. Successes were usually protected from all competitors. Details of manufacturing processes, statistical information, and effective management practices were not available outside a company.

During the current decade, most company and union leaders in major companies have participated in benchmarking trips. It is frequently done internationally. It requires a lot of time and investment. The dividends can be as great as a participant's ability and willingness to listen, learn, and change. As world markets expand and demand grows for greater and more diverse supplies of goods and services, companies are eagerly reaching out to share and learn new technological and management behavioral information.

American Business Consultants, Inc. benchmarking has revealed that there is nothing particularly fancy about the organizations and processes in the world's greatest companies. They do share common threads. They all have similar senior management behaviors, are process focused, emphasize training, measurement, communications, and have effective human resource systems. Plants and processes are frequently kept simple and are less modern than many less successful competitors.

Research indicates that similarities in interests, concerns, technologies, and fears are basically the same throughout the world. Businesses are at various stages of transition, but they are virtually discovering and moving in the same directions.

First, businesses are discovering that their greatest assets are the minds and ideas of their people. Within every large business organization the knowledge is present for making the company great. The obstacle to realizing greatness is the failure to share knowledge and vision between the employees with the answers and the senior managers or other decision- making member of a company. The world's most successful companies share a common characteristic regarding communications. In those companies communication is two way. It includes listening by management and input from all quarters of the organization. Most traditional companies must greatly diminish the adversarial positions of management and labor for communications to flow in both directions.

Listening is the most critical management skill. It must include more than managers listening to other managers and engineers. Real listening includes an opportunity for everyone in an organization to be heard.

Many American companies have gone through catastrophic experiences and some have disappeared while trying to adjust to changing markets and competition. Most of their grief and tragedy could have been circumvented if those organizations had systems for listening and sharing visions and ideas.

Second, businesses are learning that allowing people performing work some control over how they function creates a feeling of ownership, results in increased dedication of energies, yields greater results, and provides more satisfaction.

Third, businesses are discovering that combined teams of management, production, maintenance, and engineering armed with database information, tracking and control while functioning in business units (profit centers) often brings phenomenal success.

Fourth, they are learning that using statistical approaches to controlling manufacturing processes is critical to maximizing quality. Guess work is removed, resulting in consistently manufactured products that function the same time after time. This enables better analysis of how well products are engineered and how best to improve them for enhanced function and reliability.

Fifth, they are discovering the need for lean management and lean administrative organizations. They are learning as they try new ways of operating, that too much management and administration creates non-value- added work and frequently causes misuse of scarce resources.

Sixth, they are learning that participation in developing and expanding international markets can create greater demand for goods and services. Companies can grow, markets can expand, and more jobs can be provided by expanding international trade.

Seventh, They are discovering that cooperation between management and labor must be developed and nurtured to achieve excellence in quality, efficiency, and profits.

Strong feelings about change are universal regardless of country, company, plant, leader or worker. And yet, The most significant pressures confronting companies and leaders today are for change as they strive to survive new market forces. The most difficult lesson for companies and leaders to embrace is the fact that everyone in their organization, each role, product, and process must change. Culture and personalities of those individuals involved influence the stage of development of change within organizations.

Change is usually painful, even when for better, and requires a great deal of planning and facilitation. Management and labor leaders must first cultivate a consensus regarding need and implementation. Leaders should be trained to become sensitive to what workers and supervisors are feeling as their work environment changes. Leaders should understand that ways of the past represent the ways people have survived and achieved perceived success in the workplace.

In The Fifth Discipline Peter M. Senge said, "Yesterday's successes may cause tomorrow's failures." Leaders who look backwards to lead into the future will walk into walls and bang their heads until they fail. Those who follow them will fail with them. "Getting back to basics" is a phrase frequently used in business when things are not going well. It means doing things the way they have been done in the past. This is often the pathway to continued failures in business.

The characteristics essential for competing as individuals and as companies must include versatility and a propensity for change wherever and whenever change is required. Leaders must look ahead and plan for change.

Resistance to change is usually the most detrimental characteristic a manager or company possesses. Facilitating overcoming resistance to change is probably the most difficult of all management skills to acquire. A company's personality and values will ultimately reflect the attitude of its leaders. It is, therefore, extremely important to provide essential training and facilitation for leaders to become new paradigm leaders (agents for change).

Learning organizations that systematically embrace change and encourage risk will not only own the future, they will design the future in which all organizations will have to compete. The basic building blocks for building an excellent organization must be systematically put in place. Every member of the organization must help create the system, build the system, understand the system, and help maintain the system. Peter Senge said in The Fifth Discipline, "There is something in all of us that loves to put together a puzzle, that loves to see the image of the whole emerge. The beauty of a person, or a flower, or a poem lies in seeing all of it. So it should come as no surprise that the unhealthiness of our world today is in direct proportion to our inability to see it as a whole." System thinking must look beyond personalities and events to the underlying structures that shape individual actions and create conditions where types of events become likely.

Our ultimate system for excellence must include each member of the organization participating in the development of and the ownership of an overall mission (understanding who we are), vision (who or what we want to become), a strategic business plan (how we are going to become who or what we want to become), meaningful goals (objectives to support our plan), measurements (for knowing how we are progressing towards our vision), access to all essential information (for developing plans to use scarce resources wisely), team identity (a sense of importance to the team), and pride in being a part of the whole.

Senge reminded us that, "When you ask people about what it is like being part of a great team, what is most striking is the meaningfulness of the experience. People talk about being part of something larger than themselves, of being connected or generative. It becomes quite clear that, for many, their experiences as part of the truly great teams stand out as singular periods of life lived to the fullest. Some spend the rest of their lives looking for ways to recapture that spirit." The feeling of being part of a great team is described by Senge as "metanoia", a shift in mind.

Implementing a system cannot be left to chance. Each feature of a system must have supporting subsystems (building blocks) that assist each member of the organization in contributing to the success of its team.

The first building block is establish trust. Stephen R. Covey made a very important point in his 7 Behaviors of Highly Effective People by saying that "Trust is the highest form of human motivation. It brings out the very best in people." Peter F. Drucker in his book Managing for the Future said, "The final requirement of effective leadership is to earn trust." He went on to say, "Trust is the conviction that the leader means what he says. It is a belief in something very old-fashioned called integrity." The key element to establishing trust is to be honest. Honesty is found in all truly successful people and processes.

The literature is clear, there is no shortcut to personal and organizational integrity. There is no permanent personal gratification and organizational success without it. Leaders must be able to trust subordinates, customers, peers and those to whom they report. All stakeholders must in turn be able to trust a company's leaders. Cheating to win actually results in losing.

Authors James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner point out, "honest people have credibility and that's what gives leaders the trust and confidence of their people." Fifteen thousand employees surveyed by the authors were asked to prioritize twenty characteristics of leadership. Eighty-seven percent rated honesty first.

In Understanding Organizational Integrity, Lynn Sharp Paine says, "Attention to ethics is increasingly seen as a fundamental aspect of organizational leadership." She goes on to say that the main explanation for increased attention to ethics is "that many have come to regard a value system based on sound ethical principles as a foundation of organizational excellence." To more fully understand the importance of a strong ethical framework for organizations, beyond the economic success of organizations, we must understand that the consequences of organizational decisions are frequently felt beyond the confines of the organization.

People tend to emulate others whom they perceive as being successful. That emulation goes beyond the workplace. Organizational leaders are usually found on the board of directors of organizations such as United Way hospitals, banks, Junior Achievement, Boy Scouts, schools, the arts, churches and most philanthropic organizations. Inconsistent displays of values by leaders between their business roles and their lives in their communities send mixed signals to those who are watching them, learning from them, and following them. Organizations, communities, and individuals that follow conflicted leaders are likely to enjoy less than optimal success.

The difference in growing beyond being a "good" company and becoming a "great" company depends on its collective will and abilities to continue to strengthen its ethical framework. Organizations that want to become great must first learn to develop, communicate, and implement strategies that balance the results of addressing ethical dilemmas. Leaders must be sincere, consistent, rid organizations of fear, and include everyone in the organization in establishing and nurturing trust.

The second building block is the development of shared mission and vision. An organization's statements about its mission and vision can be developed in workshops. These workshops are most effective when facilitated by the leaders of the organization, leading by example, and serving the members. Every member of the organization should be allowed to participate in the development of mission and vision.

First, it is necessary to provide all necessary information to promote understanding of what the company must achieve for survival. The information must fully explain the threats and opportunities, as they are known.

It is important to provide group dynamics training to every person. Each needs to understand the fundamentals of brainstorming, consensus decision making, importance of use of data, and group behaviors (functions and anti-functions). Depending on the size of the organization, a workshop or series of workshops may be set up that includes all members of the organization. They should be allowed to develop the mission and vision. Taking part in the workshops will promote understanding, ownership, and dedication to successfully achieving the mission and vision. Senge says, "Shared vision is a force in people's hearts, a force of impressive power." It makes people want to learn and change to achieve the organization's dreams. It sets the stage for metanoia.

Building shared vision goes beyond team building. It includes team learning. Team learning includes learning how to learn. It also requires self-knowledge, patience, and becoming exceptionally proficient. To truly share vision, an organization must recognize the uniqueness of each of its members. It must nurture that uniqueness and encourage the risks that prizing uniqueness entails. Shared vision creates the courage to step beyond the known to get to what might be.

The third building block is regular solicitation of ideas from every member of the organization. In The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook, Senge said, "At the heart of building shared vision is the task of designing and evolving ongoing processes in which people at every level of the organization, in every role, can speak from the heart about what really matters to them and be heard by senior management and each other. The quality of this process, especially the amount of openness and genuine caring, determines the quality and power of the results."

Properly conducted skip-level meetings provide an opportunity for everyone in the organization to speak from the heart. Every leader/manager at every level should set aside blocks of time each day for meeting with individuals selected randomly from the organization. The selections should be made from every level within the scope of a leader's responsibility.

The meetings should be very informal, not conducted from behind a desk. Not using a formal agenda is best. It is preferable to be dressed in non- threatening attire (no tie, casual if possible). Introductions should be friendly and informal.

Starting the meeting by recognizing the employee's contributions and importance to the team usually reduces anxiety. Using the meeting to learn about the individual as a person as well as an associate shows personal interest in the employee. Finding out what the employee is interested in, what he/she likes and dislikes is a good approach. Asking about his/her life and work experiences will usually help the employee to begin to participate in the discussion. The leader should share information about his/her interests and experiences.

The leader should ask if there is anything that he/she, the leader, can do to help the employee accomplish tasks more safely, more enjoyably, with greater ease, with improved quality or efficiency. The leader should take extensive notes as the employee shares ideas.

In closing it is important to thank the employee for his/her help, assure him/her that his/her ideas will receive follow up, and set a time or establish a method for feedback to the employee. He/she should be told how to initiate future skip-level meetings. Follow up on implementation of ideas is crucial to this process.

It is best to give the employee opportunities for participating in the implementation of his ideas when possible. Providing feedback to the employee preferably at his/her workstation is important. He/she should be praised for his/her contributions. Explaining why some ideas could not be successfully accomplished will promote understanding. His/her leader should thank him/her again for his/her help and tell him/her that he/she is looking forward to their next meeting.

The fourth building block is development of a systematic approach to goal development and measurements relative to goal achievement for salaried and management employees. Having a goal system for salaried and management employees is critical to maximizing the achievements, productivity and satisfaction of employees.

Few companies or managers actually use goal systems. They often banter about buzzwords that indicate they are using systems, but even where a goal system exists, it is seldom employed effectively. The main reason for the lack of effective goal system implementation is it forces face to face communications regarding personal performance.

Most managers and employees are not comfortable with exchanging criticism or praise. The degree of comfort one feels in giving praise is usually equal to the comfort felt by that person when receiving praise. This same dynamic applies to giving criticism face to face except in the presence of anger. Hence, anger or threats in work environments most frequently accompany criticism. Unfortunately, criticism is seldom helpful in that context.

Peter F. Drucker in Managing In a Time of Great Change said, "The new organizations need to go beyond senior-junior polarities to a blend with sponsor and mentor relations. In the traditional organization (the organization of the last one hundred years) the skeleton, or internal structure, was a combination of rank and power. In the emerging organization, it has to be mutual understanding and responsibility." Developing a goal system should be accomplished in a series of friendly and non-threatening meetings wherein the leader assumes the role of sponsor and mentor allowing free and open discussion to take place. The meetings should include only the manager and subordinate for whom the goals are to be developed.

The first meeting should be one of recognizing some of the contributions the employee is making and the need for some measure of formal recognition for his or her accomplishments. The person should be informed that his/her goals would always contain three elements. The goals will be achievable, agreed upon, and dynamic. Goals that do not possess these three qualities are useless except as tools for disciplinary action.

The person should be asked to prepare a list of each of his/her duties for the second meeting. He/she should also be requested to provide a check mark or other designation beside each measurable item. Initially, meetings should be held weekly at a mutually agreed upon day and time. A time that will be most convenient and least likely to be interrupted by other meeting requirements should be established. This will provide an opportunity to give the employee regular personal attention and allow the employee time to give feedback, contribute ideas, and express concerns.

During the second meeting when the employee presents his/her list of duties, the parties should mutually agree upon a ranking for each of his/her measurable duties. It is important to take plenty of time to discuss the relative importance of each item until a consensus is reached.

The leader must not dictate. Coaching is appropriate, however, in the absence of consensus, using the employee's opinion of the ranking of an individual item is acceptable. An assignment for the employee's third meeting is to determine which duties he/she believes should be included in his/her goals. The employee should be given latitude to determine whether the top five will be used as goals or if a sixth or seventh will also be included. Open discussion is essential to the process but the employee should make the decision to include a goal item.

During the third meeting, there should be a discussion of the relative importance of each of the decided upon goals. Agreement and application of some percentage value to each of the goals should be achieved. For example, the number one ranked item may be deemed to be forty percent of the total importance of the selected items. The second item may be given a value of twenty percent. The third item may be given ten percent and so forth. Consensus is to be reached on the percentage value of each goal and a decision is to be reached regarding the maximum number of points that may be earned each week. At least one hundred points is desirable. The manager should have decided what the annual appraisal ranking descriptions would be before the meeting.

Most large companies have formal appraisal rating forms that include numerical or descriptive categories. In the absence of rating categories, establishing them and making them the same for every evaluated employee is critical. For example, a high rating might be "ten" or "outstanding". A low appraisal rating may be "zero" or "unsatisfactory". The designations are important only as they provide consistency to the process throughout the organization. The manager or company also prescribes the number of points required for earning each designated appraisal rating. The employee should next be requested to prepare performance charts for the fourth meeting that reflect current performance for each of his/her chosen goals.

The fourth meeting should begin with discussing the fact that current performance is obviously attainable. Seeking agreement that the current performance will fall within the satisfactory or median range is necessary. Discussing and reaching consensus on the number of earned points that would be required for future performance attainment to fall within higher and lower appraisal ranges should be accomplished. It is important to consider that the goals must be dynamic so it is all right to try a few weeks at almost any point range. A formal record system for keeping track of the employee's goal performance is essential. The average weekly score for the appraisal year will be the employee's appraisal rating for that year. In all future weekly meetings reviewing the validity of the requirements for scores and reaching consensus on any changes that are to be made must occur. Goals may be adjusted up or down by consensus. It is important to remind the person being appraised that continuous improvement is essential for the organization to achieve and maintain excellence.

The weekly meetings should be used to recognize accomplishments. It is not wise to look for miracles. Small improvements over time add up to significant improvements. These meetings should also be used to encourage improvement in specific areas where improvement is not occurring and to ask how the leader can help the person to become more successful in that particular goal area. The leader should take notes as ideas are discussed that require his/her help. High priority should be given to doing what is needed to do to help and give feedback on those issues in the next meeting. Improvements should always be recognized and rewarded.

The purpose of a goal system is to make sure each employee has the opportunity and support to excel. This system removes subjectivity from the appraisal process. The employee has chosen and defined his/her goals. He/she has determined the value of each of his/her goals, defined how to measure his/her goal progress, and tracks his/her own performance to his/her goals. He/she is free to develop supporting plans to achieve an excellent rating. The system assures regular upper management recognition and support for him/her. The employee always knows where he/she stands and why. The annual rating is no surprise and the person being rated has full ownership and buys into the rating.

The employee must be encouraged to develop a business plan that shows how continuous improvement will be achieved. Well-conducted goal meetings will provide important opportunities for the employee and will actually become viewed as welcomed experiences.

The fifth building block is development of specific plans to support individual and team needs. After the goals of a staff member have been established, Specific plans must be developed for achieving an outstanding or excellent rating. Plan items should include a description of the action to be taken, who will take the action, when the action will be completed, expected results, and the expected value of successful implementation of the plan item.

It is essential to encourage the employee to be ambitious with plans, take risks, and expect a failure rate of approximately fifty-percent. If the failure rate is low, the plan will probably not facilitate the achievement of maximum improvements. The employee should be guided to look to every possible source for plan ideas. Plans may come from, skip-level meeting notes, suggestion plans, his/her own ideas, ideas provided by his/her supervisor, suppliers, customers, union officials, or any other source.

Plans should be recorded on a standard organization plan form. As plans begin to develop, personal goal and plan review meetings should be held on alternating weeks. Using the personal plan reviews to encourage, recognize, praise, and coach the planner will become an important function of leadership. The meetings should be supportive and positive. The leader should use the meetings as opportunities to determine what he/she needs to do to help the employee achieve excellence.

The sixth building block is to provide support, resources, recognition, and rewards for the efforts of individuals and teams through mini- operations reviews. A leader should have his/her individual staff members along with their staff members present their entire team's plans in an operations review format every four to six weeks. They should show actual performance to goals in every category where they have established performance goals. They should show their plans for achieving goals.

The purpose of the review is to provide opportunities for praise, recognition, encouragement, coaching, and for the team to appeal to higher management for resources. All of the teams within an organization should meet in an operations review forum at least quarterly. In addition to providing previously mentioned benefits, this exercise should provide information sharing regarding successes and failures.

It is important for leaders not to cancel goal meetings, business plan reviews, skip level meetings, or mini operation reviews. Canceling makes a negative statement about the importance of people, their goals, plans, and ideas. The success of the organization as it employs the system depends on the leader's responses.

Leaders should never criticize during skip level meetings, goal meetings, business plan reviews, or mini operation reviews. If criticism is necessary, separate meetings should be scheduled for focusing on problems rather than individuals. Even if an employee is the problem, it is important to ask the employee for ideas regarding identifying and solving the problem. Asking the employee for help in solving the problem will usually lead to ownership and resolution.

Companies do not fail because of poor followership; they fail because of poor leadership. It has been said that the difference in leaders and managers is that managers do things right and leaders do the right things. As customer requirements, technologies, workforce sophistication and emerging competition changes and evolves, leadership styles of the past are less effective for business survival. The essence of great leadership for the long term begins with dedication to servicing the led. Robert Greenleaf, said in his essay The Servant Leader, "A new moral principle is emerging which holds that the only authority deserving one's allegiance is that which is freely and knowingly granted by the led to the leader in response to, and in proportion to, the clearly evident servant stature of the leader."

At some point in the future, every organization that does not provide systems for its people to develop and own its mission (who it is), vision (where it wants to go), and a plan to get there (strategic business plan) will likely fail to achieve excellence. Just as doing things the same old way and expecting different results is insanity. Expecting an organization to prosper and maintain its prosperity with management thinking alone is absurd. Every organization should decide how it will gain understanding of the underlying reasons for the successes of its most excellent competitors successes. Each company has a responsibility to all of its stakeholders to understand its competition and to develop systems for achieving excellence. Many companies will purchase the service of a business management consulting company as a quick, inexpensive way to gain insight into the required changes. Intelligent change has to be an orchestrated operation.

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