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Q&A With Mike Foster and Jud Wilhite

A discussion on how they defeat the seven assassins in everyday life.

Mike Foster teamed with Jud Wilhite to write Deadly Viper (Ethur). We sat down with the authors to get their thoughts behind the book and how they defeat the seven assassins in everyday life.

DEADLY VIPER CHARACTER ASSASSINS IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL SELF-HELP BOOK. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA?

Mike: This may sound very selfish, but we wrote the book for ourselves. Jud and I realized we needed some simple and straightforward strategies on how to not get tripped up and get off course. That’s what Deadly Viper is all about. We are going for broke in our lives, and we want others to lay it all out there too. But there is a catch. In order to go all-out for something with no reservations, you have to maintain great character and integrity. They go together. Integrity is the foundation for big ideas and big change to flourish.

Jud: I think both Mike and I realized that the stakes for us and other leaders keep getting higher and higher. If you’re not diligent about being transparent and honest, then you’re at risk. We have also seen so many of our friends and fellow leaders get taken down by a character assassin. It hurts. It is painful. We are so passionate about all of us finishing strong with no regrets.

IN YOUR BOOK THERE ARE SEVEN ASSASSINS THAT YOU CLAIM RUIN A PERSON. WHY JUST SEVEN?

Mike: I think there’s seven because we wanted to keep it short and concise. In reality there are probably 70 assassins, but we will let someone else write that book. We realized people don’t have a lot of time, and we wanted Deadly Viper to be a fast download for the reader. We made it as easy as possible for someone to engage with it. That’s why it’s a full-color book with lots of pictures, graphics, drawings and killer interviews with some incredibly influential and interesting people.

Jud: The seven assassins addressed in the book are ones we deal with on a regular basis in our lives. We knew if we could manage these seven areas really well, then we would finish strong. And even if we are getting worked over by these assassins, at least we are aware of it and talking about it. Radical grace and second chances is a huge message in Deadly Viper . This is not about being perfect and a nattering list of dos and don’ts. It is about being honest with our weaknesses, failures and struggles. That is the warrior way.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE, WHICH OF THE ASSASSINS HAS BEEN THE HARDEST FOR YOU TO DEFEAT?

Mike: I don’t think I’ve defeated any of them. Maybe Jud has, but I haven’t. I’ve only gotten wiser at holding them off. We say in the book that our most unguarded strength can become our greatest weakness. I think that is so true. As soon as I get cocky and think I’ve got this whole integrity thing licked, that’s when I’m most vulnerable. So, not to duck your question, my biggest struggle is the Bling Bling Assassin and the Assassin of Boom Chicka Wah Wah. Also, I would throw in there the Assassin of Zi Qi Qi Ren, which means self-deception while deceiving others. It has dawned on me lately that I’m a big fat liar. I’m way too concerned about being liked than being truthful. That sucks.

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Jud: I’ve wrestled with all of the Assassins, which seem to come at me in seasons. The one I’ve had to learn to fight the hardest recently is the Assassin of the Headless Sprinting Chicken. I have a sick thing in me that keeps pushing and pushing and loses perspective. My family has paid for this again and again. So, I’m really trying to be aware of this and guard it not only for my sake but for the sake of those I love the most.

WHY DOES THIS GENERATION NEED TO JOIN THIS CONVERSATION ABOUT THE CHARACTER ASSASSINS?

Mike: I truly believe character and integrity are the pathway to incredible Kingdom impact. We lack credibility in our culture because our culture frames religious folks as liars, hypocrites and fakes. And you know what, we absolutely are all those things. So let’s stop pretending that we’re not and start living a life that is transparent, honest and lived out of humility. There is a huge disconnect with what we say and what we do. When we live with integrity and grace, our voice will be heard. When we don’t, we just look like a bunch of clowns.

Jud: Our generation is so skeptical toward leaders—for good reason. We’ve got to really protect the trust that is given to us by friends and others. This trust is a gift, and by talking about character we treat it as such. This generation can change the image of Christianity in our culture to a large degree just by living with character and grace.

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