The Greatest Tax Question
It was a time of tremendous revolt,
insurrection, revolutionaries and brutal
suppression. Local authorities held fragile
control on their power over the masses. At
the same time they walked a fine line
attempting to please the oppressive Empire
that lorded over all of them.
Amongst the rabble rousers arose one fellow
increasingly gaining a large, enthusiastic and
dedicated following. Everywhere he went,
everyplace he spoke, and everything he did
brought huge crowds…even to remote venues
several days’ journey far out in the
countryside. Worst of all, his ire was directed
at the native officials themselves, not at the
massive dominion. This man’s common
sense, leadership and knowledge brought the
average people to see their privileged class of
authorities as corrupt, inept, and morally
Clearly, this fellow had to be removed. He
was making a laughingstock of the existing
powers and people were getting motivated to
make changes. It would be disastrous if the
common folk rose up or if the Empire
brought in legions of hardened soldiers to
wipe out any insurrection…and make
wholesale changes in management. Either
way the local authorities would be made the
scapegoats. This rabble rouser had to go! The
best minds came together to concoct a
scheme whereby the radical would be trapped
into a situation that would prove a no-win
The answer was TAXES. The Empire
profoundly taxed the populace to such an
extent that several violent, armed revolts had
been battling the army for quite a while.
Those openly opposing the poll tax were
summarily tried for treason…and executed.
The Empire had zero tolerance for anyone
creating a ruckus.
Confronting this alleged teacher with only
two choices would bring the desired results.
He would either enrage the common crowds
who were his followers by backing the
Empire, or he would run afoul of the Realm
by denouncing it. Either direction would
eliminate him. Perfect plan.
Confidently, the designated task force of
local religious and legal authorities along
with representatives from the Dominion
approached, then isolated the leader. They
acted humble and complimented his wisdom
and learning. Then they sprung the question
that they knew would hang him:
"Teacher," they said, "we know you are a
man of integrity and that you teach the way
of God in accordance with the truth. You
aren't swayed by men, because you pay no
attention to who they are. Tell us then, what
is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to
Caesar or not?"
Isn’t it amazing and fitting that one of the
most famous interactions in history dealt
Jesus quickly understood that the true
answer would be to offer a combination of
enigma and quiet condemnation; a solution
completely lost to the tricksters.
He asked for a coin of the Realm. A religious
leader handed him a Roman Denarii. It had
the Emperor’s portrait on one side, the
goddess Pax (peace god) on the obverse, and
the slogan that Caesar was the son of
Augustus…who was a Roman god.
The coin was part of the Realm; created,
issued and utilized by Rome. The Israelis
had their own coinage, but like the Euro of
today, Roman money was more universally
accepted throughout the Empire.
But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said,
"You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap
me? Show me the coin used for paying the
tax." They brought him a denarius, 20and he
asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And
"Caesar's," they replied.
Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what
is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
When they heard this, they were amazed. So
they left him and went away.
Threading the needle, Jesus offered an
answer both fulfilling yet, unsatisfying to his
This most famous answer to a tax question
speaks to us in a practical way today. Yes, we
still give unto Caesar, but with the right tax
strategist, we can limit what is Caesar’s.
How do I know?
Because Jesus knew.
Of the 12 hand picked disciples, Jesus was
smart enough to have a former tax
And although another went over to the dark
side, there also was an excellent
accountant…Judas. Two of the 12 were
Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…and
Being in a car culture, chances are you know this simple
game. It’s used mainly by parents in the car to pass the
time on trips so kids stop whining “Are we there, yet?” every
two minutes. The rules are simple: When someone sees a
Volkswagen Beetle (the "slug bug"), they say the phrase,
insert the appropriate color, and hit (or hopefully just tap)
the other person.
Being a competitor, I have to admit that I got creative in
order to win. I started tagging for billboards and other
pictures of VW Beetles. It was a fun game. At some point,
as I watched the other side of the Interstate for "slug bugs,"
I got the message. They are Everywhere!
Why did I experience this? I noticed them so much
because I was paying attention. It’s the same with
opportunity. I'm looking for them, and I'm finding them.
The technical reason why this occurs is due to a part of our
brain called the reticular activating system (RAS). The RAS
is like a filtering system for the brain. It helps us sort what
we see, and brings to our consciousness those things that
we tell ourselves are important.
The reticular activating system helps us explain
assumptions, and prejudices, and a great deal more in our
lives. We can even thank the RAS for helping to keep us
from being in constant sensory overload. All of these
things could warrant a longer essay, but let me share what I
learned while watching for “slug bugs”:
We See What We Are Looking For
That's it - that's the message. We see what we are looking
for - that is the job of our reticular activating system. It
comes as a part of your human package. What a great
tool! Even better though, is how you can use this
capability. As humans, we get to choose what to look for.
Optimists look for the silver lining, and see it. Pessimists
look for the rain, and they find it. The important element is,
we can choose what we will see and find.
If you are looking for opportunities, you will find them. If you
have goals set, the answers to the obstacles will be found.
We see what we are looking for.
So, at one point in my life I was looking for VW’s, and I
found them. Because of that simple game, I quietly trained
myself to seek out a great many new prospects in my life.
What are you looking for? Make it a conscious choice to
find them…lots of them!
To your continued success…
Go Slow to Go Fast.
I’ve been telling people this for several years. The
admonishment, for me, began long ago. In previous
marketing ventures I found, to no one’s surprise, that
people often focus on the task – such as solving a
problem, much more than on the process – like finding
and understanding its causes (and planning better
Most of us in Western culture can easily focus on solving a
problem or removing a barrier. After all, we know what’s
wrong - just fix it! As many of you know through your own
business experiences, the desire to quickly take action
(Just DO Something!) often leads to incomplete solutions.
Most times, these ‘solutions’ just cause more problems,
occasionally ones that are worse than the original. Quick
solutions are answers that don’t solve. Go slow to go fast.
By taking time to focus on the process, in other words,
thinking about how to solve the problem, and then using
some sequence of steps that include understanding the
causes of the problem often we achieve better results.
The downside is that these steps may seem like they take
a lot of time. In the moment of decision, that time is often
seen as wasted ("Let’s just fix the problem!"). Go slow to
Several current happenings have worked recently to
remind me of this saying. I was reading a book and put it
down to think about it. This is very odd behavior for me,
because I’m a speed reader and can fly through books
and magazines. However, I find when I am truly enjoying
something like a book, I put it down from time to time
because I decided some reflection would make the book
richer, more valuable and more enjoyable. Go slow to go
After I had put it down and was contemplating what I had
read, I picked up a soda I was drinking. I thought it was
fairly empty, but as I quickly brought it up it spilled (mostly
on me!). I certainly didn’t intend to spill it, and the point is I
ended up spending much more time cleaning it up
because I assumed and moved too fast. Slow down to go
fast. A trivial example? Perhaps. But often the greatest
truths are often seen in the simplest acts. Go slow to go
This phrase is also in my consciousness as I work with new
options and opportunities that come through my office
each day. The temptation is strong to just roar through
each new situation. However, through my actions, I and
those I’m dealing with are learning the importance of
process - the importance of slowing down. As a result we
get things done more rapidly overall…and with finality –
not having to keep doing them over and over again.
I urge you to think about the application of this concept to
your life. I am sure you will come to the same conclusion I
have - that we can often improve our results simply by
slowing down and focusing on process as well as task.
When you come to this conclusion, I urge you to pick one
task or problem you are working on and apply this advice.
Focusing on the process you are using to solve the
problem will bring clarity and help you avoid mistakes. It
may be a bit frustrating, but in the long run it will be time