Tag Archives: Southwestern Advantage

Blessings through crossed paths: Are we not all children by the same Father?

Throughout my life, I’ve had some incredible opportunities to be blessed and to bless others. Truthfully, I get way more satisfaction in being a blessing to others. I’m not just writing this because it seems like the right answer of two choices. We are called to have a servant’s heart. Anyone who has served from a pure heart knows what I’m talking about.

Those who bless others will be abundantly blessed themselves;
those who help others are helped.
Proverbs 11:25 (MSG)

DSCN0191.JPGAs I write this*, I am traveling solo in the Dominican Republic building relationships and seeking worthwhile organizations to partner with for service projects with the college students participating in the Southwestern Advantage summer sales and leadership program. It’s 1:00 am. I usually have a travel partner. (Hi Tabitha Taylor, if you are reading this!). We seek out people and places where Christ leads us so the students can make the biggest impact. We want to help those that need the most help. They are generally not helpless, they just need a helping hand. But this time… this time, it’s different.

Being alone with my thoughts is quite a different range of emotions for me. There’s no one with whom to process what I’ve seen. There’s no one to share an experience of both baby-and-barsheartache and resiliency, of poverty and happiness, of pain and pride. I’m alone with my thoughts. I’m alone in my prayers. I miss my family. I wish my wife and daughters were with me to further expose them to the good, bad, and ugly this world consists of – and how there is always a light that shines through the darkness. 

As I drift to sleep each night, I try to keep those I meet in my prayers – whether I know their names or not, I see their faces. With some, I recall their smile. With others, I recall their anguish. Some images haunt me, while others bring a tear of joy. From the innocent and tragic little victims found in imprisoning orphanages, victims of mutilation, sex trafficking, extreme poverty and hunger to the heroes of their community who start trs-2schools, save lives by teaching a vocation, provide medicine, dig wells, and start Bible groups – each image has a place in my memory and heart. Each face has a story. Each one has a past. Each one has a future. No matter the nation I find myself, the human condition is the same – the haves, the have-nots, and the never-will-haves. I often reflect on the dichotomy between the scenes played out before my very eyes.

There’s this:

  • The time when school children stole black paint from a work project to paint theirpaint-shoes shoes so they looked new
  • The time orphans had been locked behind bars most of their lives; a baby was locked and housed in a closet who could not crawl and was not used to the light
  • The time when an orphanage I wanted to visit was closed down because they had been harvesting organs

But then, they are balanced by this:

  • The time a toddler ran up to me and grabbed my leg asking in Spanish if I was there to take him home (melted-heart moment)
  • The time I carried an injured little girl up a mountainside to her village in Africa and the villagers said “God bless you” – the only English they probably knew (seems to be a universal language)
  • The three times God put people in our paths years before we would be back to be able to help them and their cause by showing his masterful plan three, three, and six years in advance of the open opportunity

Having been fortunate enough to travel with work and participate and lead in missions, I’m never let down by the lessons of compassion God teaches me through the experiences I encounter and the people I meet. I’ve had people tell me before they don’t buy into missions or service projects because they are “temporary relief” or “false hope.” Well, I’m not buying what they are selling. trs-1I know for a fact the people who receive help, receive hope. It’s real easy: the outcome of your mission is determined by the scope of your project and the intentions of your heart.

Yet again, I am reminded why God puts me in the places where I find myself. He will do that for you, too! It may not be International missions, but it may be an elderly neighbor, a widowed coworker, a single mom, a sick relative, or a local group you find delight in helping. Blessing others really should be a daily practice, not a random or singular occurrence.

On this particular journey in the DR, I was led to a partial verse that has echoed in my head from Malachi 2:10. I believe I have found my inspirational self-talk in the form of two questions with obvious answers to me – whether in a remote village, destitute barrio, or down the street from my house.

Are we not all children of the same Father?
Are we not all created by the same God?

Yes! With this being so, should we not show mercy in the face of misery? Should we not bring peace to the poor? Should we not give bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty? Should we not show up where we are called to be? Should we not just show? Should we not be a blessing to others?

As I read a book I brought, Mark Batterson says it best in Primal:

“Don’t let what you cannot do keep you from doing what you can.”

Words to live by. And that, I shall do.

Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com
*Posted after I returned with access to wifi.


With controllables, it’s all about the process – not the results

“Controllables are process-oriented, not results-oriented.”

Amy Pigozzi
Amy poses with a family who bought educational products from her. In running her own business, Amy makes process-oriented decisions that yield desirable results.

This was a phrase uttered by Amy Pigozzi, an Associate Sales Leader with Southwestern Advantage, during a recent focus group that caught my attention. It got me thinking about more than the question or topic it was a response to.

The word “controllables” is part of a driving principle and an undeniable mantra we’ve had for many, many years at Southwestern Advantage (est. in 1855). The complete phrase is “control the contollables.” This means you should only worry only about the things that are in your power to control. All other things are not in your control and are of no matter, yet keep in mind they are of consequence. If you are truly focused on controlling the controllables, then you will have all your efforts based on the things you can change or improve – such as your attitude, for example.

However, getting back to Amy’s phrase above that triggered my thought process… those things that are controllable are based on the PROCESS and not the RESULTS, as she noted. It’s the process we control to get to the results.

This is evidenced everyday in our lives. If we are hungry, we eat. But if we are trying to lose weight, we might make the choice to eat a salad rather than a burger and fries. The reasoning of eating the healthier option is part of a process that yields a specific result. This controlled decision was process-oriented.

What’s more is, we are in a constant process ourselves. In order to get to our final results, our lives are one big jumble of both controllables and uncontrollables. Knowing where to put our focus helps us get through life a little more seamlessly than if we try to problem-solve those things we can not really do anything about or effect.

That brings me to a verse in Proverbs 19:

Many are the plans of a man’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
– Proverbs 19:21

We all have plans for our lives, but it’s God’s purpose for us that wins out and carries the day. His purpose is in the uncontrollable category. But some of the ways we fulfill our purpose, however, are in our control. The key is to make our plans as part of the process so we can obtain the desired results – the Lord’s prevailing purpose.

Contact: Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com
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5 Ways to Deal with Disappointment

Disappointment is something that’s as sure as a shadow on a sunny day. And yet, it’s still there on the gloomiest of days – seemingly even more so. It comes in many forms: from adisappointment little blip on our radar of life to a full-blown EF-5 tornado of devastation bringing in winds
of change and total annihilation.

The subject of disappointment has been on my mind lately: having felt both the pain of being let down by others and admittedly and surely letting others down. If this is you too… have faith! I came across this motivational quote and was reminded how, just like pain, disappointments are temporary.

“Don’t let today’s disappointments cast a
shadow on tomorrow’s dreams.”

Isn’t that what we do? We let disappointments delay or destroy our dreams. We let what
others tell us determine our destiny. It’s through the discouragement of disappointment our dreams die – if we surrender to setbacks.

Everyone deals with disappointments. That’s the bummer of it, right? Disappointment breeds negativity and discouragement. It lends to lost hope. It can be a dream-killer – but here’s the caveat: only if we allow it to do so. Disappointment is something that is somewhat controllable, just like our attitudes. To control it, it you have to first accept it. Once accepted, you can begin to contain and reduce it. After a while, you will train yourself in the art of resiliency. It’s about how you react to it that makes all the difference.

Keep in mind, there does exist a scale of sorts when it comes to the level of disappointment you are facing. It contains variable factors contributing to the particular degree of letdown or inconvenience. More or less, always ask yourself where the defeat falls in the range from a “little bothersome” to a “really big deal?” Bothersome is simply a mild irritant. A big deal means it’s time for you to deal.

Here are five ways to deal with disappointment when it rears its ugly head:

  1. Audit your perspective on the situation. Are you too close to it? Is your perspective reality, or is it just your perceived reality? Often what we think of as a disappointment is actually turns out to be a blessing in disguise. As well, we often do our best Chicken Little – is it just a falling acorn or a piece of the sky falling? Overreactions are common when the disappointment is our disappointment. Look within to see if your perspective is warranted or an overreaction.
  1. Talk it out/Work it out. Talk out loud and then act! There’s a whole lot to be said for self-talk and problem-solving. Both self-talk, the discipline of positive verbal motivation, and simply finding a way are two exceptionally underused methods of getting to a place or state of where you want or need to be.
  1. Seek or give forgiveness. In a broken world with broken people, it feels like everyone is throwing rocks and all of our shattered glass is making it hard to walk. Whatever the genesis of disappointment, make it a point to either own the cause of disappointment or exonerate those who have given you the grief. Paul Boese said, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” Enlarge your future by being the best version of yourself.
  1. Learn from every disappointment as you would each victory. In fact, the greater education is more often found in our defeats than in our victories. C.S. Lewis said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” I believe this. It’s from our falls we learn to get up.
  1. Focus on the good. When in rains, splash in the puddles! At Southwestern Advantage, we train to look for three positives in every situation no matter how undesirable it is. When you find the positives in a negative situation, everything seems to fall into the perspective that you should have taken inventory of from Step #1.

These five steps will help you cope with your disappointments. Put them into practice, and they become habit. We all have things in our lives that propagate distress and discontent. To that end, here are a few scriptures to give you a lift when down with disappointment:

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. 
-Psalm 34:18

*Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. 
-Psalm 30:5
(*partial verse)

Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. 

-Psalm 55:22

By Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

Lessons in loss: the legacy of Creig J. Soeder

Dealing with loss is never easy.

It’s one thing if it’s the temporary loss of your keys, or even your mind every now and then. But it’s entirely something different when it’s the permanent loss of a person. More specifically, a special person of influence in your life. And more importantly, a special person of influence in the lives of tens of thousands.

That’s what Creig J. Soeder was. He was one of the “good guys” who loved life and lived love. His life was a culmination of not  what he did for himself, but for what he did for others. He lived a life defined by his faith through his words, actions, and love. He was a leader, mentor, father-figure, teacher, counselor, listener, and coach. He was a great salesman and an even greater master of relationships. He was genuine. He was the real deal.

Creig Soeder datesDuring a prayer vigil held in his memory, two things said about Creig clicked with me. To be honest, these two things have further encouraged me to live each day with a resolve to be the best person I can be through Christ. After all, one man’s mission in life is another man’s inspiration.

The first thing that resonated with me:

“His finest hour was his last hour.”

It struck me that these seven words are what every Christian should strive to have said in earnest about them upon their passing. And in Creig’s case, no words could be further from the truth. His impact on others was the resulting person they became after every interaction with him. He was a facilitator of foundations. With each passing hour of his life, he helped countless young people walk a path of purpose. His finest hours up until his last hours were spent building character in people. It’s what he did. It’s what we should all be doing.

The second thing that hooked me was this:

“When I see Christ, I don’t see Creig. When I see Creig, I see Christ.”

This is something I’ve heard before in a different situation, but nevertheless it’s a perfect way to view Christ through Creig. Christ is flawless, a lamb without blemish. While Creig was not Christ, he was doing his best to be Christ-like – he embodied Jesus through his efforts to connect with others. I’ll always remember how his outreach was farther than his reach.

As I grow wiser with age and time continues to collapse around me, I know I am blessed to have people in my life like Creig. I want to have each hour that passes be my finest hour. I want people to see Christ through me despite my many flaws. To do this takes effort. To exert effort, there often must be a channel of inspiration. One of my many inspirations are the people in my life who inspire me to greatness. The ones who inspire me to action. The ones of whom I see Christ in.

Seek out those people in your life. Don’t put off today for tomorrow when that tomorrow is all too unpredictable. Loss can be dealt with over time, however regret and time go hand-in-hand. Make the most of those around you and invest in those who need you. Creig did. There are lessons in loss and then there are legacies that are lost. Creig schooled us on life lessons and left us with a legacy.

*Creig influenced and impacted by my estimations over 70,000 college students and young adults over his more than 40 years at Southwestern Advantage. He was involved in his Church, Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, TN where he taught children, drove buses for homeless men, mentored in a men’s group, and lead by example by his many acts of service. He was a devoted husband and father. He made friends everywhere he went. He made a difference everywhere he went. Creig, may you be riding your motorcycle on heaven’s streets of gold!

Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

Using current marketing trends for my personal Jegenda

by Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

buzzwordsI’m not a particular connoisseur of marketing buzzwords, but I do take notice when advertisers and marketers make up stuff.  I probably notice this more because I like to get creative in my own promotions and marketing (career with Southwestern Advantage).

Here’s a few examples of what I mean:

1) When I had my last few years of taxes reviewed at H&R Block in March, they had a sign that used the word helpth”.
help + health = helpth

2) A rival direct selling company invited me to their headquarters for some friendly brainstorming.  They used the word “coopetition” to describe our proposed collaboration.
cooperation + competition = coopetition

3) In a current Sprint  promotion, they now have a “framily” plan.
friends + family = framily 

4) Among other places I’ve heard this, Tina Fey uses the word “hangry” in a commercial for American Express.  When you are hungry and it causes you to be angry, you become… you guessed it – hangry!
hungry + angry = hangry

5) By now, you may have figured out the odd and made up word in the title of this post: “Jegenda.”
Jesus + agenda = Jegenda

In the spirit of these word combos, I had planned to triumphantly stake claim to the new word followship!  Only… this seems to not be a new word.  According to dictionary.com, it means: the practice of doing what other people suggest, rather than taking the lead.  

Rats.  I thought I was on to something here.  Regardless, I will repurpose this existing word and give it a definition of my own spin!  (This is why they call PR professionals “Spin Doctors”).

Leadership is the act of leading a group or an organization or the state of position of being a leader.  Followship, on the other hand, is the act of following by example (maybe you’ve heard of leading by example).  Leaders still need to be followers.  No one ever masters the art of leadership.  Nor does anyone master the art of followship…  To be leaders through Christ, we must follow.  Our following opens doors to allow us to be leaders through Christ.  Leaders in faith.  Leaders in worship.  Leaders of men and women. Shepherds of our own flocks.

Followship involves patience.  Many times, God has shown me it’s far better to follow and gain wisdom than to jump into leadership when not ready.  On several occasions in the past, I would prematurely engage in conversation about leadership opportunities I could grow in to.  It took me years to figure out I was doing what God wanted me to be doing and doing it where He wanted me to be doing it.  To be in an accelerated position of leadership before I was ready would likely end in disaster.  And I know it too.  But that didn’t stop me from pursuing it.  When the time is right, God will present opportunity – and when the time is right, I’ll be better prepared to take any reins I’m given.

While it may be near-impossible for us to calculate the cost due to a lack of followship, we should seek out the great sacrifices we must make for our faith.  This is what it means to have total submission for a life of discipleship.  We should be willing to give up the worldly and selfish things that contradict a true life of followship.

Are you attempting to lead when you should be following?
Sheep off cliff

All you chameleons out there – change your colors for the right reason

by Trey Campbell, treycampbell1010@gmail.com

You ever feel like you sometimes become a different person, perhaps to relate to others?  That you bend who you are to suit the person or group you’re with?  Like a chameleon, changing who you are in front of others – even if just ever-so-slightly?

You’re either genuine in your interactions with others or you’re not.  Chameleons come in many colors – all dependent on their environment.  Either way though, they change their colors.  They do it to blend in.  It’s one of God’s awesome creations. Don’t we metaphorically do the same thing?  While they may do it for survival, we tend to do it for ourselves in one of two ways.

Currently, my Life Group is reading the book Beautiful Outlaw by James Eldredge. Eldredge briefly talks about how he finds himself adapting to his surroundings and makes a point regarding how we sometimes change because we care too much about what others think:

chameleon can't see“What people think of me” is a very powerful motivator.  It is still shaping us more than we’d like to admit.  It shapes our theology, our politics, our values.  I spent time today with a young man in the music industry; why did I use the term “dude” more than I usually do?  Before that, I was speaking with a woman in ministry; I never used the term “dude,” but I did talk about “the Lord” a good bit.  I feel like a chameleon.  I “adapt” myself to the social foliage around me.

Eldredge talks about the first of what I would identify as two types of chameleons – those who adapt to relate in order to have them like you.  Eldredge owned up to doing this, and I will too – because I’m also guilty.  But there’s another type of chameleon we can find ourselves being.

At Southwestern Advantage (my workplace), our Director of Leadership Development, Lee McCroskey, has a training session called “Becoming a Chameleon.”  Being a sales-based company, you can understand why we would train our independent sales force to sell to people the way they want to be sold.  This makes perfect sense in the world of sales because you must establish a rapport that leads to trust.  What this means is their behavior, attitude and emotions are identified and, in turn, somewhat mirrored or matched. People feel more comfortable buying from people like them or in the same emotional state as they are.  This is adapting to the sales environment (like a chameleon adapts to its surroundings…).

I use to struggle with being a “chameleon,” believing I was not being myself.  But then I realized: I’m not putting on a false front.  Just like a chameleon changes with surroundings, I change with time and the situation.  We all do.  My goal each day is to relate, understand, show empathy, and share commonalities with each audience I address. The only reason I’m grounded as much as I may be in the colors I front, is because both at the beginning and end of the day, I give it all up to Jesus.   When I sway, he steadies me.  When I fall, he catches me.   When I sin, he forgives me.  And when I change my colors, I trust he will have the right colors for me.

Keep in mind Paul admitted to being a chameleon – as noted in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 (below).  Notice how he adapted to the people he was with in order to share Christ.  As a Roman citizen, he chose to live differently in the presence of others.

Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.  When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ.  When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law.  Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this to bring Christ to those who are under the law.  When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ.  But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.  When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ.  Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some.

Yes, just like James Eldredge, I adapt to the “social foliage” around me.  While it often comes with the territory of my career, I will tell you this:  While I may bend who I am, I don’t break – just like Paul!   And that’s because I have a Savior who has saved me!  Be who you are – the person God made you to be.  If you change your colors, do it because you are growing into new colors, not to camouflage the real you God made in his image.