As a high school freshman, our religion class was preparing for an upcoming test on the 6th and 9th commandments. For those unfamiliar with the Ten Commandments, the 6th and 9th ones address the full gamut of sexual improprieties.

Moses-Ten-Commandments Moses Breaking the Tables of the Law (1659) by Rembrandt. (Gemäldegalerie, Berlin)

Our teacher for the class, a priest who was also the school counselor, could not be present during homeroom. To cover, a senior nicknamed Bubba, who was a big defensive lineman for the football team, monitored our class.

As we reviewed our notes for the test, someone asked the football player, "Bubba, how do you prevent venereal disease?"

Bubba's strategic advice?

"Keep your d!@% in your pants."

Even though the phrasing of Bubba's strategic advice would not earn maximum points on our upcoming test, I have never forgotten his answer.

Strategic Advice to Avoid Trouble

While for so many problems we try to deal with the AFTER effects of the root problem, Bubba's strategic advice was to avoid the possibility of creating a problem you need to address later.

That's a great thinking and strategic advice.

In the book, "America's Pastor" by Grant Wacker, he addresses evangelist Billy Graham's impact on society from the late 1940s through the early 2000s when he was a highly visible public fixture (affiliate link). Billy Graham’s reputation, while being challenged on some political alliances, opinions, and even religious points of view, remained untarnished in areas befalling many evangelists - especially those achieving prominence in the television age.

Why was Billy Graham able to rise above issues ruining so many prominent ministers?

One reason may be a 1948 meeting Billy Graham conducted with his staff. They identified downfalls plaguing other high-visibility ministers: "Misuse of money, exaggerated results, sexual misconduct, and criticism of other clergy."

As with Bubba's strategic advice, Billy Graham's four factors all targeted avoiding potentially fatal problems before they could develop.

4 Keys to Remember


Billy Graham's team created its four-item list more than sixty-five years ago. With slight adaptations, however, it is a solid list categorizing many challenges cratering businesses, organizations, and leaders.

As you take on personal and organizational leadership roles, make sure you are doing whatever possible to avoid:

  • Misuses of money
  • Efforts to exaggerate, inflate, or misrepresent performance
  • Immoral, illegal, or unethical activities of any type
  • Activities focused on talking about or portraying a competitor as anything but a decent corporate citizen

It's worth keeping the list nearby - whether physically, virtually, or simply as a heuristic for protecting any organization. Avoid these four “sins,” and you and your organization will be in a much better position to weather business challenges you might typically face in the normal course of events.

Or if you want an even shorter version of this strategic advice, remember Bubba’s comment, and you'll avoid a wide array of problems you really don't want to face! – Mike Brown


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