CIRCLE OF MENBy: Darrelyn L. TuttIn a circle of great minds and men ... I do find myself.Present companions of compelling interest, inspiration, and insight speak wonderfully to me and foster challenge, growth, and change in me. Of this "quest" I never tire.How can I be anything but empowered and inspired in the presence of such notable companions?Allow me to introduce you to the fine men in my life who gather about me this week.-------+Frederick Douglas's portrait sits handsomely before me.In 1844 he picked up a pen and wrote a compelling autobiography speaking to the horrific treatments and tortures endured by the enslaved. So brilliant was his writing and so notable was his mind that the book had to be prefaced by William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, who vouched for the author's authenticity and extraordinary literary work.Frederick Douglas was a liberated, hopeful voice in a dark, lengthy season of slavery."I was born in Tuckahoe, near Hillsborough, and about twelve miles from Easton, in Talbot County, Maryland." Rubbing shoulders with a Frederick Douglas is empowering. -------+Sir Francis Drake strides in with the look of a "knight in shining armor," a famous privateer, explorer, slave-trader, and naval officer in the Elizabethan era (1500's).Hated and envied by the nobility for his humble origins and passionate nature, Drake's bravado captured the hearts and minds of all of England and beyond. An enflamed soul of depth, determination, and zeal, he became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. He also claimed a parcel of California ground for England and fought ardently and bravely in the 1588 invasion of the Spanish Armada.Drake's early life prepared and launched him successfully into his later life,of which few men rival.Rubbing shoulders with Sir Francis Drake is empowering.-------+Sir Jeremiah, the youthful looking prophet and son of Hilkiah, now joins us.A brilliant and curious mind composed of intelligence, resilience, and wonderment, Jeremiah questioned his ability to be God's "voice" in a dark season of Israel's depravity. The hemorrhaging nation caused fear and anxiety to well up in Jeremiah but God's sovereignty assigned him a sure and secure position as prophet."Then the word of the LORD came to unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sancitifed thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.Then said I, Ah LORD God! Behold, I cannot speak; for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not I am a child; for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth."Jeremiah 1:4-9Rubbing shoulders with Sir Jeremiah is empowering.-------In conclusion, I leave you with an empowering and life-changing challenge issued by the brilliant and motivating Tony Robbins:"Years ago, one of my teachers, Jim Rohn, taught me that reading something of substance, something of value, something that was nurturing, something that taught you new distinctions every day, was more important than eating. He got me hooked on the idea of reading a minimum of thirty minutes a day. He said, 'Miss a meal, but don't miss your reading.' I've found this to be one of the most valuable distinctions in my life."Mmmm ...-------Choose wisely your circle of men ...and expand the circle.