Lifting Others Up

Posted in Attitude, Character, Criticism, Humility by PCraig on May 4, 2017

How good are you at cheering for the success of others? I know we all appreciate hearing remarks about how well we’ve done, but how do you do with praising others? It can be even more challenging when you are hearing the accolades from others in private. Pastors can be guilty of this. They hear of the success of another colleague from across town seeing his church grow, so they say things like, “Well, he doesn’t preach very challenging messages is why his church is growing.”

Nowhere in Scripture is this very scenario more illustrated than in today’s reading of the One Year Bible. John 3:22-36 tells the story of how a friend of John the Baptist informs him that Jesus is now attracting more followers and baptizing more people than John. Here’s his response in verse 29, “I am filled with joy at his success.” What? Where’s the, “Yeah, but he’s not fasting like I am” or, “He’s not preaching the Word as strong as I do, so that’s why so many are attracted to him.” Instead, John takes the high road and realizes that the universe doesn’t revolve around him. He’s not God’s gift, …but Jesus is!

So, in our lives, how does this play out? Next time you hear of a co-worker doing well say, “That’s awesome that she’s excelling like that, I wish her the best.” Or, when competing and you come in second, let the first place player know that you’re proud of their effort and sportsmanship.  Stop yourself before you’re tempted to open your mouth and criticize.

When you take on this attitude, it actually raises your value in the eyes of others. Days later, when Jesus is asked about John, He says that, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Lu.7:28). Pretty cool praise from the King of Kings. It just shows what the Savior thinks when you take on humility and lift others up, He lifts you up!

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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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Disappointing People The Right Way

Posted in Choice, Commitments, Decisions, Family, Perspective by PCraig on June 23, 2016

There are times I have to disappoint people, and I don’t like it.  I can’t be in two places at once, so I have to make a choice.  There is a call to answer and so you can’t answer everyone else’s.  Opportunities present themselves, but you can’t have it all or possibly do it all, so what do you do?

I’ve failed in this area so many times that it isn’t even funny, but over time I have learned some principles that serve as a guide and help me sleep at night.  One thing I would suggest is you must prioritize your life and do so with the idea of living your life on purpose.  What are your priorities?

Here are mine:

  • What do I feel would please God most in this situation, choice or dilemma?
  • What does my family need me to be right now?  Present? Listening? Engaged? What does that look like?
  • What does my church family need right now? Is there an area I need to pay closer attention to at this season?

Now, this list is written in priority order for me.  God first, family second and occupation third.  I would like to tell you that this is the way it’s always been, but I’m afraid my wife might write a blog someday and embarrass me.  The truth is that it used to be church first, God second (because I thought He put me in charge of the church), then family a distant third (because God liked it when I let Him be in charge of my family.  The problem came when I saw in the Scriptures that He said HE was in charge of His church and I was in charge of my family.  That changed my life!

For many I’ve witnessed, the miss-alignment looks more like family first, career & personal ambitions second, then God (and things of God) a very distant third.

So, if you were to apply the priority list of God first, family second, and occupation/dreams/goals/job third, what does today look like for you?  How about this coming weekend?  How about the year so far?

We’re about halfway through this year, so the good news is you can still turn it around and finish strong.  Here’s what else I’ve found, when I put God first, not just in my words, but in my time, talent and treasure (the real measurements); then He has a way of blessing the other areas in ways only He can do — see Matthew 6:33.

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The $5K Prize Winner

Posted in Attitude, Business principles, holiday, Thankfulness by PCraig on November 25, 2015

I heard about the owner of a large department store that offered a prize of $5,000 to the one giving the best answer to the question: “How can my business be most speedily and surely improved?”  Many students of economics submitted different lengthy answers.  A guy by the name of Roy McCardell received a check for $5,000 for simply writing on a postal card, “Tell your clerks to say ‘Thank you!’”

Many of us could greatly improve our marriages, homes, families, extended families, jobs, offices, schools by heading the same advice.

Wishing you and yours a most blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Invest In Your Core

You may not be into fitness, but experts say that you’ll be better off as you age by investing in your core.  What exactly is core training?  It is building up the muscles that support your spine and help with balance.  Two very important areas.  The idea is that you build up the entire area that supports the spine, so that the burden of supporting your body weight isn’t just placed on your bones.

Besides our physical bodies, what are some other core areas where we need to be paying attention?  Faith, family, our minds, spirits, soul, thoughts, finances, marriages, and ministries are some I thought about.

So, just like there are core exercises to strengthen your physical core, what are some things you can do for these other areas?  Read the Bible, meditate (on Scripture), pray, eat dinner as a family (without devices and only dialogue), listen to worship tunes, attend church regularly, work a plan for getting out of debt, establish a regular date night, discover, develop and deploy your spiritual giftedness, build margin in your life.

Hope this got you thinking about ways to invest in your core – in all areas.  Make it happen!

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Things We Talk About

There are things we talk about more than do.  Here’s some examples:  exercise, diet, eating healthy, getting involved, volunteering, investing, prayer.

I want to suggest something – pick one today and put some action behind it.  Stop talking about it and just do it.  You probably can already think of a thousand reasons why you should.  So, take your own advice, pick one off of this list or one you’ve created, and start today.

Think of how much better this week could end if you put your actions where your mouth is.  Let’s do this!

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Get Fired Up

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Events, Friendship, Personal Growth by PCraig on August 13, 2015
I think many of us tend to underestimate the value of inspiration and what impact it has upon us.  Studies have been conducted that show a connection between inspiration and increase in well-being.
There are outside sources of inspiration that cause us to feel better about ourselves, connect more with God and gain a feeling of confidence.  I gained some of this just this past week by attending a conference put on by the Assemblies of God.
Here were some things that brought inspiration to me during the past week:
Sermons/Talks given (One by Christine Caine was awesome)
Worship (especially the night with Kari Jobe)
Getting with friends (saw people from college days – what fun and laughs!)
A change of scenery (love looking at palm trees sway)
Reading books (I read 4 1/2 books over the week)
These are a few things that got my fire going and lit me up with new and creative thoughts.  Thing is, I don’t have to go way off somewhere to have this happen.  I can get inspired right here in my office and in our worship services each weekend.  So, the question is, what inspires you and what are you going to do about it? Go to a bookstore, meet a friend or mentor, attend church this weekend, or head outside for a walk?  Let’s get fired up!
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Learn To Encourage Yourself

Posted in Attitude, Encouragement, Excuses, Faith, Victorious Living by PCraig on March 5, 2015

Many people have learned the art of experiencing failure in advance.  If you are imagining a future, where you depict the worst possible outcomes, it’s no wonder you battle depression, have trouble staying positive, and feel discouraged.

I’ve discovered that there are those who seem to experience success in advance. They spend time visualizing the best possible outcomes before they happen, thinking of all the good that might occur.

In Jude 20 the Bible talks about “building yourselves up” in faith.  Instead of picturing the worst that could happen, you make a conscious effort to push yourself toward a desired outcome.

One reason this is difficult is that we’ve got a false humility that pushes us to avoid it.  Some think that others will take us as bragging.  The other is that some have found it more comfortable to complain about their circumstances, why the entire world is against them and if it weren’t for the hand they’ve been dealt, they would have made something great happen.

If you expect negative results, it’s a lot easier to slack and be lazy. That doesn’t make sense to those who strive to live as overcomers. But therein lies the difference between those who have learned to encourage themselves.

Don’t wait on someone else to pick you up. Go ahead, pick yourself up, build yourself up in faith and encourage yourself in the Lord.

See also: 1 Samuel 30:6

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Reinforce It

Posted in Character, Parenting by PCraig on January 22, 2015

Do you ever feel like a repeating track, saying the same things over and over?  One of the most important tasks that a parent can do in the life of a child is reinforcing what’s important.  Children (and adults) learn mostly by repetition.  So, a parent has to be ready to reinforce the values that are important time and time again, trusting it will one day pay off.

Now, I wish it didn’t work that way.  It’s not fun going over the same things again.  It can be draining and even seem like they will never get it, but you just have to keep reinforcing it anyway.  I know you’ve told them to wash their face so they don’t get breakouts, but they would rather be doing something more fun.  So, a good parent keeps reminding them that, “If you want clear skin, then you have to take care of it.”

The problem is that parenting isn’t the only thing you and I have to do.  There’s work, projects, home responsibilities and other obligations.  It can make it seem overwhelming to have to remind your children of good behavior, but keep your eye on the long run.  It may be tiring to have to continually say the same thing or similar things over and over again, but many of us learn by repetition.  So, suck it up parents and stop whining at your kids and instead step it up and reinforce values.  It may seem like they’re not changing, but over time, you’ll be glad you didn’t quit.

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