Who’s Your Person?

Recently, I’ve been encouraging my staff to seek out a mentor in their lives. Someone they can call, email, text or visit with during the month that can help them process thoughts, ideas and decisions.

This is a great idea for a young married couple as well. I think it would be great if each newlywed could have a seasoned couple in their lives to help them navigate this new adventure of marriage. How many couples could avoid collapse?

I know I have personally benefited from many different people in my life. One of those that has impacted me greatly, is my pastor, Tom Paino. I only had one pastor my whole life of growing up in the church! He dedicated me, baptized me, performed our wedding, ordained me, and dedicated our daughter. The most important thing he did was lead by example. His steady leadership taught me the value of perseverance, continuity, and strength. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked his opinion, sought his counsel and asked, “What would Pastor Tom do?”

Who do you have in your life that you can trust to have wise advice? What person can you reach out to that is further down the road and knows where the potholes are located? Let me encourage you to find that person. If you don’t have someone today, then get busy thinking through your contacts, acquaintances and friends. Get them in your life and you’ll be the better for it.

Today’s reading of the One Year Bible affirms this when it says, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.” This principle is not only true for a nation; it’s true for you.

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It’s such a juxtaposition to think that the way up is down. Most people would assume that the way up is up. But, Jesus clearly taught something different when it comes to greatness.

One day Jesus was asked if He could arrange who would sit next to Him in eternity. The question was asked by two disciples, and probably really ticked off the others. Jesus defused the situation by defining what it would take to be great. He said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” (Mark 10:43b-44)

The desire to be on top will hinder, not help. Rather than seeking to have your needs met, look for ways that you can minister to the needs of others.

It seems backwards, but Jesus gave us an illustration of how it works with His own life. Here He is this eternal King, but comes as a poor child in a manger, lives a simple life as a carpenter, teacher, preacher, Rabbi. He then dies a death for a criminal, yet it was this act of humility that formed His rise in popularity. By the time He’s resurrected, the story of His life is the most popular topic in town. Now, over 2,000 years later, He’s considered the greatest person who ever lived by most.

The key to all that greatness was His willingness to humble Himself and serve us by giving His life. In a culture that thinks up is up, let’s choose to follow the true path that Jesus showed by example.

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Why Be Kind?

Posted in Attitude, Friendship, Fruit of the Spirit, Leadership, Relationships by PCraig on October 15, 2014

Do I really have to be kind? It’s almost like some people are asking that question.  Really?  Recently I had someone asking me about somebody we both know if I knew why that person is so mad, angry and arrogant acting. The sad thing is, I really didn’t have a good answer.

Here’s why kindness is important:

  • Jesus was kind.
  • You’re not filled with the Spirit if you’re not kind (see Galatians 5:22)
  • People get enough grief just from living life without you being unkind to them.
  • When you are kind, it draws people to you.  (you get more friends)
  • Unkindness repels people.  They just won’t tell you the real reason they’re too busy to go with you.

Of course, you don’t have to be kind, you just need to like loneliness, being a follower, and being the last one picked.

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Feed Yourself

Posted in Expectations, Leadership, Personal Growth by PCraig on August 7, 2014

When I was a baby, I was pretty dependent upon the people around me to eat.  I had people that fixed bottles, mushy cereal, and ultimately real food (love this!).  However, the day came that the people around me expected me to start putting my own spoon in my mouth.  Then, they even thought I should pour my own cereal into a bowl and add the milk myself (the nerve!).

Why is it that this is a normal expectation of us, yet when it comes to other areas, we still want people to feed and care for us?  Like for example, people come to church for the pastor to spoon-feed them the Bible or a spiritual truth that they can digest for the week.  Many people never give thought to feeding themselves.

Here’s the problem, in any area of life if you are to get stronger, more mature and achieve greater things, then you will have to be a self-feeder.  I heard a saying that the person who doesn’t read is no better than the person who can’t.  Think about that.  The illiterate person is at no disadvantage from the person who chooses not to read.  To grow and be healthy, we have to take in nourishment for our bodies.  The same thing applies to our mind and spirit.  Paul scolded some believers because they still acted like babies in 1 Cor. 3:1-3.

What are some ways that you can grow and feed yourself this week?  How about reading the Bible online (we send it out each day via email), get a good book and load it on your phone and other devices so it is always with you, or do an audible book that you can listen and learn while driving or doing other tasks?  My family fully expects me to feed myself, and it’s not just about food.  Every leader is a learner and every growing person is intentional about it.

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The #1 Ingredient

Posted in Character, Integrity, Leadership by PCraig on January 16, 2014

In my meeting with our Trustees today, we discussed another portion from the book, Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft.  Chapter 8 gives the statement, “Character counts.”  Dave quotes John Wooden, “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Who you are will take you much further than what you can do.  So, we looked around the room and gave the challenge to be people of integrity.

My question is: how’s it going with you?  Anything you’re afraid of being discovered?  Are you the same person in private as well as public?

In a culture that is more concerned with competence than character, let’s be a stand out example for others to follow.  Integrity is the number one ingredient people want in their leaders.  It should be a no-brainer for those who are followers of Christ.

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Tough Questions

Posted in Character, Integrity, Leadership by PCraig on July 24, 2013

During my summer break I’ve been reading several books, one of which is The Lombardi Rules.  The sub title to the book is 26 Lessons from Vince Lombardi – The World’s Greatest Coach.  In this insightful book, which is a great read for leaders, it states, “the first steps on the road to self-knowledge involves asking ourselves tough questions.”

This got me thinking about another great leader who asked this, “Search me O God…” (Psalm 139:23).  What would happen if you and I asked ourselves tough questions and then asked God to do the same thing?  What would those questions look like?

How about some like this:

  • Why do I want this new job…really?
  • Why do I work such long hours…really?
  • Why do I drink so much…really?
  • Why won’t I let go of this hurt?
  • Why do I not want to ask myself these kinds of questions?

What are the questions you are avoiding to ask yourself?  Are there questions you don’t want to really allow God to ask?  What are you pretending not to know?

Lombardi was an incredible coach that suggested one way of getting there was asking tough questions, so let’s start there.  Then, when you’re ready to go the next step, let God start asking as well.  I believe Lombardi was right, and we can learn from his lesson.

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Nehemiah Impact

I’ve had incredible feedback from the Nehemiah series that just concluded this past weekend.  God is stirring up a wave of commitment to get involved in making a difference in the world.

Since the series has had such an impact, I thought I would take some time to recap the principles from each week.

Week 1 we learned to express passion, seek God, and take action toward our cause by:

  • Ask what breaks your heart?  (human trafficking, poverty, other…)
  • Pray and ask God to speak, grant favor, and empower you
  • Activate your sense of personal responsibility rather than excuses

Week 2 we saw that we are a leader whether we think are or not.  God specializes in using ordinary people who:

  • Have clarity.  If you can’t define it you can’t do it.
  • Make a plan.  Define your next step and then take it (repeat this process).
  • Communicate passionately.  Get lit up about your cause and others will too.

Week 3 we learned that whenever you move forward for God, your enemy wants to stop you.  To defeat discouragement you must:

  • Overcome attacks from the outside by taking criticism to God and get back to work.
  • Overcome attacks from the inside by remembering the Lord is with you, and keep fighting for your cause.

Week 4 we discovered that our enemy distract us and discredit us.  To avoid this we must:

  • Not allow the good to keep us from the great work God has for us to accomplish.  We must declare: “I’m doing a great work and I’m not coming down!”
  • Not allow any compromise that would blow our testimony.  We must declare: “I’m not giving up…on my good name, my integrity, or my cause!”

Nehemiah stood the test and completed the project as an ordinary cupbearer.  Without any grand miracles, he just put these principles into practice and with God working with him a great work was done.  The same can happen for you.  What great work does God have in mind for you?  What distractions, discouragements and excuses have kept from making progress?

God specializes in using ordinary people, so why not you and me?  Let’s get busy on the wall today and do something great for God, what do you say?

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Dr. King & Nehemiah

Posted in Change, Dreams, Hope, Impact, Leadership, Purpose, Vision by PCraig on January 22, 2013

Just yesterday our nation remembered the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  His leadership helped pull the nation together in a non-violent way to confront racism.  He truly had an incredible impact upon our country in a time of unsettledness.  The power of his words stirred the hearts of many and brought hope of change.

In much the same way, Nehemiah of the Old Testament was used of God to bring hope and vision to those who had lost it.  His inspiring words and personal courage led people to do more than they had done before.

This weekend, we launch a new four-week series called NEHEMIAH: Making A Difference.  What we will learn is that Nehemiah wasn’t anything special, extraordinary or overly gifted.  But, he was simply willing to be used and gave everything he had to make a difference.  This series will inspire, challenge and encourage you to be more than are right now.  Discover the passion, drive, and power to make a difference in this world.

Also, to have greater impact, join a small group experience during this series.  You can sign up for Life Groups from our website: www.crossroadsavon.com

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What Will You Teach Today?

Posted in Christian Lifestyle, Leadership, Parenting by PCraig on April 6, 2011

What will you teach your children today?  Some will teach how to get angry.  Others, how to be unhappy.  More will show how to be ungrateful and greedy.  While others will demonstrate selfishness.  It doesn’t have to be that way.  We have a choince as parents to impact the next generation and help them to show a greater depth of character than we do. 

The trouble for many is that they don’t understand that they are always teaching something.  Therefore, the question is not “WILL you teach…?” Instead, it’s “WHAT will you teach…?”   Ps 78:4 We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.  5 For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel.  He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, 6 so the next generation might know them-even the children not yet born-and they in turn will teach their own children. 7 So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands. 8 Then they will not be like their ancestors-stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful, refusing to give their hearts to God.

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Ten Stupid Things

Posted in Books, Church Growth, Leadership by PCraig on November 18, 2010

Thought I would share another book report with a clever title: “Ten Stupid Things That Keep Churches From Growing.”  Besides the humorous title, the book makes some very good points concerning what can hinder the advancement of God’s Kingdom through the local church.  So, you ask, “Craig, what are the ten stupid things?”  Here they are:

  1. Trying to Do It All
  2. Establishing the Wrong Role for the Pastor’s Family
  3. Providing a Second-Rate Worship Experience
  4. Settling for Low Quality in Children’s Ministry
  5. Promoting Talent over Integrity
  6. Clinging to a Bad Location
  7. Copying Another Successful Church
  8. Favoring Discipline over Reconciliation
  9. Mixing Ministry and Business
  10. Letting Committees Steer the Ship

 There are several things that God used in this book to get my attention, but the one I’ll share surrounds the leadership question.  Throughout the book, Geoff Surratt, refers to the importance of developing leaders.  The longer I am in ministry, the more convinced I am that this is essential.  You can’t grow past what you cannot sustain and you cannot sustain without leadership.  Our staff is spending hours talking about this topic right now and envisioning new ways to empower leaders in our church. 

 What is your next step in leadership?  Is God calling you to something bigger than yourself, but right now you’re too scared to jump?  What great thing might happen if you did?  Get positioned right now to hear God and obey His voice for what He wants to do through you in 2011.  How do you get positioned?  Shut everything else off and get alone with God, let Him speak, then get up and obey.

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