Have you ever had someone in your life that was a complete collision of clarity? They just appeared one day and understood you like no one else ever has?
What I mean by this is someone who compliments you and helps you get where you want to go. It’s a person who has similar interests and cares about your well-being. They know your dreams and support you without fail. They know you like a family member and you can talk to them without holding back. They aren’t afraid to pray for you and be prayed for. They advise and offer wise counsel even when you don’t ask. They are available. They are a human GPS to help you get where you want to go, become the person you are called to be. They lead you to greater clarity of your life’s goals. Not only that, they help you reach them.
We all need someone like this in our lives. Why? Because there is community in Christ. Just like we should carry each other to victory, we should carry each other’s burdens. Community between two people is not a fair-weathered friendship of convenience. It’s taking the good with the bad and making the bad become good.
Carry each other’s burdens,
and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
– Galatians 6:2
When you collide with the person who sets you on fire for life, you become more alive. When that collision is based on a mutual, shared faith in Christ, the fire rivals the sun’s heat and radiates it’s light.
Can you be that person for someone? Can you allow a person to be that for you?
What ever your life’s goals – find a best friend you can bless and who can bless you. Your direction will be where God has planned for you.
In countries where corruption can be as rampant as the poverty, there are often things that go on behind closed doors that make you question if you really want to open that door.
I’ve opened these door many times – up to this point unafraid of what laid in waiting behind them. I have become all too familiar with the reality of the places I go in search of those who need help for my company’s annual incentive trip’s service projects.
I’ve been asked before how I deal with it – especially with children involved. What I say to that is this: one spoonful of hope can feed a child for a lifetime.For me to expose myself to another’s misery may temporarily relieve them of that misery. It’s not what you do for the small amount of time – it’s the hope you offer. And hope is way more valuable than anything consumable. This will never make me or anyone else a hero. But perhaps a messenger of hope is something better.
The Holy Spirit has always led me where I need to be. He has always led me to those who have hearts of servants. It’s refreshing to know there is someone fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves. Some of the areas I’ve been to do not always take care of their own. But, then some do.
One of those places is in Puerto Vallarta, Centro de Capacitacion y Convivencia para Silente. Translated, it means Center for Training and Coexistence for the Silent. We always called it the Center for the Deaf & Mute.
I first came to know of this organization in 2011, as it was one of our first corporate service projects. Since it is government-sponsored, high ranking officials and the local media covered our presence and what we were doing to help. Honestly, it was positive PR for the politicians, but, hey, that’s okay!
While there, I met Juan Carlos Pena Guitierrez. While setting up our service itinerary for 2017, I was able to revisit the center. Juan Carlos is still there! This time, I got his story.
He has a passion for the deaf in the community. In fact, so much so, he was fired from his position because he stood up for his principles. But then he was hired back a year later when his successor failed to be as successful. He refuses to let the children’s hearing disability define them and be used as a social crutch or excuse. He believes they need socialization with those who can hear in order to acclimate to society and be productive contributors. In fact, he has fought the notion of the center becoming a school because if that happened, the students would not be able to go to the local schools. Being a “center,” the students get additional tutorials in sign language and help with social skills and school work.
What makes Juan Carlos special beyond his leadership and love for helping those who are disadvantaged by their disability, is he gets it. When meeting with him, he could have asked for anything. He didn’t ask for money or a new building. He simply wants supplies to teach with. He wants the tools the school needs to maximize their impact with those who they have been given charge of, giving a few more cards than the hand they’ve been dealt.
And for that, I have the utmost respect. Juan Carlos is on the ground, building hope for those who can’t hear everyday. He is the hero because the hope he delivers can’t be measured by the spoonful. You can’t measure heart.
This past week, I spent hours and hours speaking one-on-one with college students from all over the states while at a key-persons meeting for Southwestern Advantage. I love this time together because I always feel like I learn more from them than they do from me, yet I still feel I make some sort of connection that makes an impact. It’s rewarding.
Each time though, I realize the reality of where they are in life. At any given moment we are at different levels in our lives because of many varying factors including past experiences. For young people, they are in their formative years where they are beginning to form habits and opinions that shape who they will be. Of course, these can change, but the foundation is being laid. Those habits and opinions happen to also be shaped by things both in and out of their control. Therefore, some of the habits and opinions they have are formed by past negative things that have been out of their control. These are the rocks in their lives they must remove because they are blocking progress. Enough rocks, you have a mountain. Enough mountains, you have a range.
With all of the stories, memories, testimonies, and laughs we shared, I was drawn back to something I had written in the past: The courage we muster is equal to or greater than the strength we possess.When confronting past demons, overcoming obstacles, or preparing for change, it seems like both our courage and strength are hiding under the rocks in our lives that need to be moved.
These students possess great strength and courage. I’ve seen it firsthand with how they conquer their fears with their summer business. What they sometimes need is a push in the right direction for the courage part. While they are some of the most confident people you will find when it comes to running their business, there are other aspects of life they are seeking a cup full of courage to maximize their strengths.
Isn’t our faith like that? Don’t we often lack the courage to “move mountains” when all along we always had the strength to do so? Rather than move mountains, we get buried in a rock slide. Then we have even more rubble in our life to dig through.
Courage is a necessary first step to breaking the rocks in your way. I love when the college students find the courage they need to carry the next boulder life presents them. And I love having a front-row seat. Sometimes, you just have to encourage others in order to see courage develop in others.
Here is are some verses to turn to when you need courage to smash rocks and move the rubble out of your life:
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? 2 When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. 3 Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. – Psalm 27:1-3
Integrity is one of those words most people know what it means, but may struggle to describe it. One word often used to describe integrity is moral. You may have heard of having a good “moral compass?” This means you are leading an honorable, just, and ethical life, one of principles. The question here is, whose principles? Yours or God’s?
Another definition of integrity is the state of being undivided. If you are undivided in your principles, you are deemed a person of integrity. Again, are these your principles, or Biblical principles? There’s a distinct difference. God’s principles are given to us through His Word. Our principles are often self-driven rather than God-given, selfishly desired rather than divinely inspired.
Getting through the day with our integrity intact is a challenge for all of us. It’s hard enough working against ourselves with our flaws and sinful nature, but we must also work against the dark powers around us. The enemy mounts a constant assault against us. He knows if our integrity is compromised, he has breached our spiritual armor. We choose whether this happens or not.
Integrity is one thing that no one can take away from you – but you can take it away from yourself.
Integrity is focusing on what lies ahead, approaching anything that shows up along your path with a sincere and authentic desire to do the right thing. Look ahead to see what’s coming your way and be prepared to defend yourself against our enemy’s plans.
Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil. – Proverbs 4:25-27
Recently, my Life Group enjoyed some extended, shared prayer time. Just prior, my friend made a comment for which I took note. He said Satan was feeding him a lie, and in his ravenous hunger, he was eating it up. Satan is a liar. A good one at that. Over the course of time, I want to break apart the lies he is telling those in my life I care about. I have a feeling many of you reading this will be able to relate too. I know I do.
I thought about this because Satan is always force feeding us lies. In fact, the devil’s lies are one of his greatest weapons against humanity. Why? Because we’re buyers. We buy what he is selling. We fall for all the lies because he and his hoard of demon lackeys are experts in penetrating our soul through our insecurities, vulnerabilities, and desires.
This particular lie was: “You are useless.”
When you hear this, how does it make you feel? Being told you are useless is a big-time slam. It’s being told you are good for nothing. You have no abilities to make anything worthwhile happen. You are weak. You are worthless. You are a pimple on the butt of society. Well… that’s a little harsh, but nonetheless it’s how you perceive being told you are useless. This is a statement that cuts to the core of our insecurities – if we begin to believe it.
Paul had a take on this. God gave him something: “a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” This was a weakness Paul said he was proud to boast about. He was told by God how grace is all he needed because His power works best in weaknesses.
For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
– 2 Corinthians 12:10
Get it straight: You are strong in your weaknesses! This is when God works his wonders. And hear this: don’t associate weaknesses with uselessness. No one is useless. Each person is important in God’s eyes and was created with purpose. He loves every hair on your head and cell in your body. You are strong in God’s eyes even if you are not in yours. Let your weaknesses turn into strengths that make you useful rather than useless!
Useless is one sock. Useless is the white crayon. Useless are shoes for a snowman. Useless are male nipples, or your tonsils. Useless is talking to your cable company’s customer service. What is not useless: you. You have a mind to think, a voice to be heard, and hands and feet to be productive. You may not control the messaging of Satan or others who try bring you down, but you do control whether you accept it or not.
I’m issuing a challenge to anyone who thinks they have a heart big enough to accept it:
For seven days in a row, I challenge you to do at least one act of service for someone else.
Here’s the rules:
1) There are none – other than performing this intentional act at least once a day.
2) There will be no regulation of how big or small your act of service can be.
3) There will also be no prize or recognition. An act of service is a benefit to someone else and has no strings attached.
It doesn’t have to be something that will make headlines… it can be something simple because all the simple things add up to something really big! Greatness is not made up of one great big thing, it’s a combination of many great little things. Tom Brady is not the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) because of one game. It’s the preparation and practice that leads to the precision of execution that makes him great. And so it is with having a servant’s heart.
Why a service challenge? Let me start from the beginning. I was inspired recently by one of those simple, little things someone else does while putting others first. Each Sunday as I drive up a hill, around a curve through one of the entrances to my church, I see a lone vehicle. You see, Executive Pastor Jim Johnston parks in the parking space farthest away from the building. It’s not because he enjoys the walk, but rather he enjoys serving others. Though on nice days, I’m sure the walk is not bad either.
This is a small way in which Jim serves others – he selflessly gives up a closer parking space so others may benefit from not having to walk in the heat or inclement weather. He didn’t do this for recognition or so someone would write a blog about it. He did it because he has a servant’s heart.
Another example that caught my attention was that of one of the college students I work with and invest in, Alex Szymanski, a student at the University of Central Florida. When I met with him in August, he gave me a post card addressed to my wife. Through his words, he shared the impact I have made on his life. He didn’t just share this with me, he went the extra mile and shared it with someone important in my own life. He didn’t have to do that, but it was because he realizes the value of making others feel special. (And I don’t include this to brag… I just think this was a thoughtful gesture from a college student that goes beyond a plain thank you).
For me personally, I have a self-imposed service challenge of 30 days. My personal service efforts have ranged from the small and seemingly insignificant to bigger things that take lots more time and effort. All in all though – they are each as important as the one the day before.
Examples have included:
Taking letters to the post office for someone short on time
Donating clothing for a clothing drive
Helping a stranger unload a refrigerator at the dump
Taking the kids to school so my wife could sleep in
Participating in a county-wide service day with my church: painting, cleaning, weeding at a local school
Donating to the Texas flood relief
Helping a friend move furniture
And the all-important gesture of love: Giving my daughter my last Chick-fil-A fry
I encourage anyone who reads this to do a little self-reflection and think about all the ways you can serve others for the glory of God rather than the glory of self. I have found my attitude and heart change significantly when service is at the center of the love I show others. We are all God’s people. Show His compassion. Share His love. You will be amazed what comes out of your efforts.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
– Hebrews 6:10
We all have a ministry. The secret is knowing it when you find it. Don’t let this intimidate you. God doesn’t call everyone to be Mother Teresa or move overseas – though He does some of us. It may be something as simple as taking care of your aging parents. Or volunteering with children. Or serving your community.
But from time to time, we can get a little off track. We lose our focus. We look inward to please our self rather than outward to serve others. We just quit listening to what we know is right and seek that which we want to hear. Our ministry takes a back seat to our desires. You can’t drive from the back seat. As such, your ministry will be off course.
For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound
and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires
and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their
itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth
and chase after myths. – 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Reading these two verses above, what do you think? Do you think this time is here? Do you think it is near? With a drop in church attendance nationwide and the millennial population not terribly engaged, there is a concern this generation is following their own desires and listening to where their itching ears lead them. It could be said their ministry has strayed off course.
Pew Research Center analysis from research in 2015* noted: “The falloff in traditional religious beliefs and practices coincides with changes in the religious composition of the U.S. public.” Their research showed a drop off in that religious composition. Does this mean people are following their own desires only to further reject truth and chase myths? And it’s not just millennials.
But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you. – 2 Timothy 4:5
Yes, there are those who live for themselves rather than for God. Keep in mind when given a choice in a damaged, defective world… there will always be those who choose a path of destruction. History tells us this is the way it’s always been. Adam listened to Eve. Cain slaughtered his brother. Pharaoh was stubborn and brought plague after plague to his nation. Everyone was messed up but Noah. Towns were destroyed because of those who lived a lifestyle of the flesh. I could go on and on.
But what are we told in verse 5? Keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering. For who? The Lord. Tell others the Good News. And carry out the ministry God has given you. That last part can easily be overlooked.
Don’t miss this. God has given us each a ministry. If you don’t seek it out and carry it out, you’re chasing wind, my friend. Seek your purpose so you may fulfill it!
That’s what I am working toward now. My mission and my ministry are on a collision course to collide. And I can’t wait. #leadmeforward #staytuned #moretocome #12Jars
Do you affirm yourself? Do you affirm others? I ask these two questions because the power of self-talk can’t be denied. Positive affirmations can help remind you of your end goal or who you want to be. They can be repetitive assertions that get you through challenging times or change your attitude. Just as important as it is to positively affirm yourself, it is just as important to affirm others.
An affirmation is defined as “emotional support or encouragement.” It’s generally a word or phrase that serves as a catalyst for self-improvement. While you may have your own specific affirmations that play on autopilot in your mind, what about how you verbally affirm others? How do you support and encourage someone else so they will believe in themselves enough to experience success and gain a sense of self-worth?
It’s a balancing act. To be fruitful, you have to not only affirm them in the form of giving them hope and belief, but you must also build confidence. When you affirm someone, they feel better about themselves and their actions. After this happens several times, your belief in them begins to transfer to a belief in themselves. Congratulations! You have successfully passed the torch of affirmation and graduated to confirmation. You confirm that their behavior, actions, words, or choices are deemed worthy of your praise and approval.
I want to share three affirmations that have made all the difference in how I approach two of the most important roles I have – that of a father and that of a role model. Working with college students can be a challenge. While some have found their confidence, others are seeking who they are. And some are over-confident, to the point of arrogance. Where ever they land on the spectrum of confidence or belief, it’s important they hear one of more of these simple phrases:
“I believe in you”
This phrase of affirmation shows the recipient you not only acknowledge them, but are of the opinion what they are doing is going to lead to the realization of accomplishment. It boosts confidence and let’s them know you are supportive.
“I’m proud of you”
This is an affirmational phrase of approval. It serves as an acknowledgement that what they have done meets your general approval.
“I appreciate you”
This goes one step further than being “proud.” It is a statement beyond approval. It says you care.
There is one more important phrase that goes along with these three affirmations. I always use the phrase “thank you.” Find a way to thank someone so they know you recognize them in a way that is special to them.
Affirming others is an important tool to building relationships and leadership. To lead, love, and serve, you must humble yourself to the point where you seek genuine interest in others.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.
– Philippians 2:3