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Harry Bollback’s Advice

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Article 26 of 26 from the Ponder This - 2005 series

September 2005 – One night in early August, after I finished preaching at the Word of Life Campground in New York, Harry and Millie Bollback invited me over to their home for a late-evening snack. Other friends from Ohio and Texas were there also. Just before I left, Harry told me stories about his days as a missionary to the Indian tribes of South America in the early 1950s. He said that he and his co-worker realized early on, that the only way to build a lasting ministry would be to train the Indians they won to Christ to lead the churches they were establishing. That meant starting a Bible school. He mentioned that his attitude was to try something, and if it didn’t work, to try something else. As a Marine in World War II, Harry had gained a gung-ho attitude that served him well in pioneer mission work. As he told the stories, he applied that principle to the students he counseled at Word of Life Bible Institute. When they are about to graduate, he asks them what they plan to do. Usually they say they have two or three opportunities. “Are they good opportunities?” Usually they say yes. “Which one are you going to take?” If they say they don’t know, Harry tells them to go ahead and pick one and get started. “If it doesn’t work out, God can always lead you in another direction.” Then he added something that made perfect sense to me. “If you wait for another year, you won’t have done anything and you’ll still have to make a decision.” Years ago, I knew a man in Texas who was stuck in exactly that situation. He had so many things he wanted to do, and he was a truly talented man, that he weighed this possibility and that possibility, he dillied and he dallied, he thought about it and prayed about it, and he ended up repairing cars because he just couldn’t make up his mind. One writer called that the “curse of too many options.” By contrast, I remember hearing a professor say that at each step in his journey, he either went back and worked on the family farm, or he continued his education. He ended up going to college, then to seminary, and then to get his doctoral degree. That led to a long and distinguished career as a teacher. He said he just took the next step that was open to him and God took care of the details. There is a time to wait and there is a time to act. Sometimes you have to stop weighing your options and just make a decision. In leadership terms, they call that a “bias for action.” If you sit around forever talking about your options, all you will do is sit around forever.

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2013 KBM Winter Report