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Enjoying the Journey

A story of happy accidents.

Do you have something you are passionate about but maybe are not the most talented in that area? For me, that is running. I started running almost by accident. One year, after moving to a new school, I found out I had missed football tryouts. Instead of sitting out of sports completely I decided to look for another option. That’s when I found out the Cross Country team doesn’t have tryouts. They will take anyway willing to suffer a hilly trail, blisters on their feet, and constantly sore calf muscles. While running through country roads, winding paths, and quiet downtown streets I fell in love with running. It was a hobby birthed almost on accident.

If only all accidents had a happy ending.

I heard the sticky note was created by accident. I wish I had more accidents like that. Most of my accidents would lead to me giving up on creating, not creating something that changes a company for the better. Most times in life an accident means trouble, pain, or at least a change of plans. 

Have you ever had an accident slow you down?

I set the goal of finishing a half-marathon under two hours. About six months later I finished a half marathon at 2:00:44 (Two hours and 44 seconds). I started slow and missed my goal by 44 seconds. I wasn’t exactly happy about this, but at least I was getting close. It seemed inevitable that I would break two hours at the next half marathon. When the next race came a few months later I finished at 2:00:04. Four seconds people!

At that point, I wanted to throw my running shoes over the nearest powerline (ala Marshawn Lynch) and give up forever. I would let my running dreams hang over the neighborhood by their treacherous laces as a reminder to all who saw them to never run. Running will break your heart.

Instead of giving up though, I doubled down on my efforts. I found a partner who was a Boston Qualifier, aka much faster than me. I went back to the gym and committed to a cross-training plan. I showed up early mornings at what I call the unforgiving circle of torture or what you may know as the local track. I put in the work. I even took it easy when I got too soar. I did everything right, and you know what. I was running much faster than a two-hour pace.

Everything was working according to plan until another accident found its way into my plans. Seven days before my race where I was almost destined to obliterate my two-hour goal I allowed my momentum to carry me down a hill too fast and twisted my knee in an awkward way.

I wouldn’t be able to run my race. I wouldn’t make it to my goal.

What really upset me was that I had never worked so hard, been so consistent, and invested so much time towards a running goal. So many times I got to the finish line and know I didn’t do my best in preparation. This time I had. I truly did my best but wouldn’t get the satisfaction of finishing. It felt like something I paid for was taken from me right as it almost touched my fingertips.

But was there any lemonade to be made from these lemons? The thing that caused me the most pain, the amount of time I had invested in this goal, would ultimately be my saving grace. When I really thought about it, yes it was a sacrifice, but getting up early to run and going to the gym to workout was its own reward. I was healthy, had lots of energy, and felt good about myself. Making new friends and growing in relationship with old ones all came as a result of the journey to get to that under two-hour mark.

I didn’t make it to the finish line, but that was always only 1% of the experience anyway. If you can’t enjoy the other 99% of the process than you probably aren’t investing in the best thing for you. When I looked back over the time leading up to that disappointment I can happily say that I enjoyed the experience of preparation. The final destination was not the two-hour half marathon expected through. Instead, the journey took me to a place that taught me a new lesson in enjoying the journey.

Life is full of unfinished business, unrealized expectations, and unfulfilled dreams. If we measure life by destinations then we ignore the lessons and pleasures of the journey to those destinations. Many times God is not just leading us to somewhere or to do something but to become someone. I want to be someone who enjoys the journey and helps others do the same.

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Digging Ditches

Inspiration to Reach Your Mountaintop

By: Suzannah Driver

What could go wrong?

If you can do any other job other than church planting and pastoring, do that!” Joe and I looked at each other and joined the chuckles coming from other future church planters sitting in the room. We had a combined twenty-two years of ministry under our belts and knew God had called us to plant a life-giving church in Pensacola, Florida. So, what could go wrong?! The short answer is: Everything

Nearly three years into leading and pastoring Echo Life, I think back on the cautionary statement spoken to the eager church planters. Would we have ever chosen a different route? No. We know through and through this is exactly where we are supposed to be and what we are called to be doing. But this has single-handedly been the most challenging and difficult three years we have experienced in ministry. 

Reaching the Summit

Mount Fuji, though it is a mere 12,388 feet tall, is no joke. I have had the opportunity to summit this mountain twice. On both occasions, we began the ascent at midnight, guided only by our headlamps and a small, braided cord leading to the top. The climb is virtually straight up. The terrain is made up of unstable pumice stones. The air is thin, making it difficult to breathe. Most of my climb was alone, in the dark, feeling light-headed, stumbling my way up, and rolling my ankles at least 30 times. This is also church planting. 

I would love to say that everything has been a beautiful mountaintop experience, but that would be so far from the truth. It has been a lonely uphill climb full of bumps and bruises. For several months now, I have felt like I have been struggling up a mountain and have only seen the light of day for a moment. This is the kind of discouragement that leaves you sitting on your laundry room floor weeping and asking God if this really was the right move (by the way, the enemy is a jerk and loves to kick you while you’re down. Don’t pay any attention to the thoughts you have in these dark moments. Find a friend who can share a light with you and show you that you are still moving in the right direction). 

Kings Digging Ditches

As I have been fighting my way through the deep, dark, discouragement, my time with Jesus has landed me in 2 Kings 3. Three kings have come together to fight against Moab and they find themselves wandering in the desert and completely out of water. They call for a prophet and Elisha shows up on the scene and gives them a word. “Dig ditches all over the valley.”

I imagine these kings looked at each other in disbelief. Surely they knew about the exodus story (kind of a big deal). They knew God had provided water from a rock, manna from heaven, so surely He could do it again! But no, God instructs the people to…digditches.

This is the desert. The sun beating down, the tools are primitive. The prophet continues, “You won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water…This is easy for God to do; he will also hand over Moab to you.” (2 Kings 16-19 MSG) 

Can you imagine crying out to God for help and then Him telling you to do some back-breaking work in the desert. “Dig ditches.” How many? How deep? For how long? When is the rain showing up again? How are these going to be filled? The people had no answers but instead had an opportunity to operate in faith and obedience. 

Filling Up the Valley

Like many other believers and pastors, I am in a season of digging ditches. I am asking God for provisions, and I know He will provide, but the nagging question of when and how make faithful obedience even more difficult. Add to that the age of social media and I’m over here looking at other churches wondering why they got the provisions and I’m still having to dig with no end in sight.

This is where I have been the last several months. Many days of tears, frustration, anger, and feeling abandoned by God. Then I remember, “ You won’t hear the wind, you won’t see the rain, but this valley is going to fill up with water…this is EASY for God to do…” My responsibility is to be faithful. My responsibility is to obey. My responsibility is to dig in where I am placed and not check to see whose ditch is already finished. 

Maybe you’ve been digging for weeks, months, or years. Maybe you feel like your ditch is significantly deeper than the people around you. Maybe God is preparing you to be a well of great depth for future generations. Maybe He is preparing you for far more than you could ever imagine. Don’t give up! Don’t keep looking for the wind and rain, but know and believe that He is faithful. He sees you. He will answer you! Keep digging! You are not alone. 

Suzannah Driver

You can follow Suzannah on social media at @SuzannahDriver. You can find out more about the church she pastors along with her husband Joe in Pensacola, Florida, at echolifechurch.com.

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The Case for Critics

4 Ways to Benefit From Your Critics

You may think I am crazy, but I believe there is a place for critics in our lives. We can benefit from them if we approach their feedback in the right way.

Shake the Haters Off?

A couple of friends of mine once asked me to pray over them at their wedding. Let me pause here and say I am not a very ceremonial person. I am, by nature, a little irrerevant. I communicate in a direct, casual way. If you win an award, please don’t call me to introduce you. It would be awkward for both of us.

So back to my friends’ wedding. It was beautiful, and I was honored to have the chance to pray over this couple in such a significant moment. The prayer started sophisticated enough. But towards the end, I guess I got a little excited. As I was wrapping up, I all of a sudden blurted out, “And shake the haters off in Jesus Name! Amen.”

They have not spoken to me since. Just kidding. They thought it was great, at least that it was they have led me to believe…

A lot of advice out there in regards to critics sounds like my wedding prayer – just shake the haters off. I don’t think that is always a great idea. That may surprise you, but here are a few reasons why.

4 Reasons to Listen to Your Critics

What if they’re not a critic?

Not everyone who gets labeled a hater is actually sipping hater-ade. We should be slow to dismiss good advice we may not want to hear because it doesn’t line up with our immediate plans. Sometimes a little constructive feedback is what we need to keep us from taking the next step prematurely. It can also be the very thing that helps us prepare to move forward when the time is right.

Take it as a compliment

When someone criticizes you it means they are taking time to think about you, your point of view, or what you have created. “Why thank you, Mr. Critic. I had no idea you were so obsessed with me!” LOL

But seriously, you don’t have the chance to get criticized if your ideas are not being elevated beyond your existing sphere of influence. Critics show your influence is growing. “Thanks again, Mr. Critic, for that reminder of how awesome I am!” 🙂

Turn lemons into lemonade

A critic is someone keenly aware of your faults. They may not have the most delightful way of bringing them up, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of their fault-finding. Those shortcomings are areas we need to address to get better. We can turn a critic’s lemons into lemonade whenever we ask them, “what do you mean by that,” and learn how we can get better, instead of getting defensive.

Destroy your enemies

I know that sounds kind of strong, but check out this quote from Abraham Lincoln:

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

Abraham Lincoln

When this becomes your strategy of dealing with critics, life becomes more fun. You have more friends and fewer enemies. Instead of getting entrenched in your opinion and lobbing online grenades at those who have a different perspective than you, you get to disarm people and possibly turn them into a fan.

What I am not saying

I don’t think you should take all criticism to heart. Obsessing over what people who don’t know you have to say about you is a wacky way to spend your time. On the other hand, offering people grace and understanding, even when they do not give it to you first, is a great way to begin to make a small change in your world. I also think it is a fantastic way to reflect Christ in a moment we can easily make about our feelings.

We shouldn’t ignore everything we don’t want to hear. At the same time, we also shouldn’t take everything others say to heart. We should listen, though. It can lead to some fantastic things.

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Your Story Is Not Over Yet

How to Find Your Happy Ending

What if the movie Rudy would have ended before he played in that final game? Our last image of him would not be of a courageous victor, but rather a bruised and defeated failure. It wasn’t that Rudy was the greatest athlete that makes his story so inspiring. It’s that he finds a way to keep his dream alive when it seems no one else could. His triumph was not in his success, but in his ability to never give up.

That kind of fortitude is hard to conjure up in our own setbacks. It’s like Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”

Redefining the Valley

When you find yourself in the valley, it is much easier to just accept the possibility that the best parts of your story have already ended. The peaks never seem further away. The shadows appear to linger so much longer. There is another way to view the valley though. You can see you valley as your lowest point, which might be true, or you can also see it as the halfway point to your next mountaintop. Maybe your happy ending is not in this chapter of life, but will be found in the next.

Whether it is a relationship that did not pan out as you had envisioned, a dream that seems to be delayed, or unfair circumstances, this life provides many opportunities to end our story before the desired conclusion appears. There will always be seasons we wish we could erase from the pages of life. Unfortunately, there is no whiteout for regrets. The good news is our happy ending is not based on our present circumstances, but on how we respond in those situations. You are not the first one to experience difficulty or find yourself at a dead end. Anyone who ever dared greatly, dreamed wildly, or attempted courageously, have all found themselves at those same crossroads.

In the Bible we get the luxury of knowing how each story ends. As a result, we can sometimes overlook being in the dark hours with some of these heroes of faith. In those moments they did not know if God would come through for them or not. There were no guarantees their stories would conclude with a happy ending.

Aren’t you glad it didn’t end when:

…Moses fled from Egypt in fear and defeat, but rather when he returned in faith as a deliverer.

…the flood waters of judgment fell around Noah, but rather when the rainbow of forgiveness rose above him.

…Abraham doubted God’s ability because of his own limitations, but rather when God did what was not in Abraham’s ability because of HIS promises.

…Joseph was cast into a pit, chased from Potiphar’s house, or chained in prison, but rather when he was put in charge in the palace.

…twelve spies were discouraged by their obstacles around them, but rather when Joshua and twelve tribes were encouraged by their opportunity before them.

…death gained access to man through the disobedience of Adam, but rather when man gained access to life through the obedience of Jesus.

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”

Orson Welles

Keep Writing Your Story

We must be careful not to stop our own stories prematurely. Comparing ourselves to others can cause us to quit because we do not get context when we focus on others. We don’t know what storms their ship just came out of or may soon enter. The best thing to do is to keep sailing, and hold on to our anchor of hope, Jesus. He is,after all, the author and the finisher of our faith.

When we focus on the pain left by people in our past, instead of the healing we can bring to others through Jesus, we become a supporting character in someone else’s saga. Turn down the cameo role of the person who falls victim to their circumstances. Be determined to assume the lead in your own story of redemption and healing.

The doubt we have in our most trying hours will one day turn to awe and wonder if we continue to trust the One who has the final say on how our story ends.

This is a repost of a past blog I have written and also shared at youthministry.com and other sites. I thought it would be something good to post as we go into Holy Week.

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Enjoying the Journey

A story of happy accidents.

Do you have something you are passionate about but maybe are not the most talented in that area? For me, that is running. I started running almost by accident. One year, after moving to a new school, I found out I had missed football tryouts. Instead of sitting out of sports completely I decided to look for another option. That’s when I found out the Cross Country team doesn’t have tryouts. They will take anyway willing to suffer a hilly trail, blisters on their feet, and constantly sore calf muscles. While running through country roads, winding paths, and quiet downtown streets I fell in love with running. It was a hobby birthed almost by accident.

If only all accidents had a happy ending.

Most times in life an accident means trouble, pain, or at least a change of plans. I wish they were all happy accidents, but most of the time they are not. I heard the sticky note was created by accident. I wish I had more accidents like that. Most of my accidents would lead to me giving up on creating, not creating something that changes a company for the better.

Have you ever had an accident slow you down?

A New Goal

Last year I set the goal of finishing a half-marathon under two hours. About six months later I finished a half marathon at 2:00:44. I started slow and missed my goal by 44 seconds. I wasn’t exactly happy about this, but at least I was getting close. It seemed inevitable that I would break two hours at the next half marathon. When the next race came a few months later I finished at 2:00:04. Four seconds people!

At that point, I wanted to throw my running shoes over the nearest powerline (ala Marshawn Lynch) and give up forever. I would let my running dreams hang over the neighborhood by their treacherous laces as a reminder to all who saw them to never run. Running will break your heart.

One More Try

Instead of giving up though, I doubled down on my efforts. I found a partner who was a Boston Qualifier, aka much faster than me. I went back to the gym and committed to a cross-training plan. I showed up early mornings at what I call the unforgiving circle of torture or what you may know as the local track. I put in the work. I even took it easy when I got too soar. I did everything right, and you know what. I was running much faster than a two-hour pace.

Everything was working according to plan until another accident found its way into my plans. Seven days before my race where I was almost destined to obliterate my two-hour goal I allowed my momentum to carry me down a hill too fast and twisted my knee in an awkward way.

I wouldn’t be able to run my race. I wouldn’t make it to my goal.

Another Disappointment

What really upset me was that I had never worked so hard, been so consistent, and invested so much time towards a running goal. So many times I got to the finish line and know I didn’t do my best in preparation. This time I had. I truly did my best but wouldn’t get the satisfaction of finishing. It felt like something I paid for was taken from me right as it almost touched my fingertips.

But was there any lemonade to be made from these lemons? The thing that caused me the most pain, the amount of time I had invested in this goal, would ultimately by my saving grace. When I really thought about it, yes it was a sacrifice, but getting up early to run and going to the gym to workout was its own reward. I was healthy, had lots of energy, and felt good about myself. Making new friends and growing in relationship with old ones all came as a result of the journey to get to that under two-hour mark.

An Unexpected Destination

I didn’t make it to the finish line, but that was always only 1% of the experience anyway. If you can’t enjoy the other 99% of the process than you probably aren’t investing in the best thing for you. When I looked back over the time leading up to that disappointment I can happily say that I enjoyed the experience of preparation. The final destination was not the two-hour half marathon expected through. Instead, the journey took me to a place that taught me a new lesson in enjoying the journey.

Life is full of unfinished business, unrealized expectations, and unfulfilled dreams. If we measure life by destinations then we ignore the lessons and pleasures of the journey to those destinations. Many times God is not just leading us to somewhere or to do something but to become someone. I want to be someone who enjoys the journey and helps others do the same.

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Unfinished Business

3 Ways to Handle Unmet Expectations

Have you ever thought of the perfect comeback except it was too late? Maybe someone put you on the spot and you didn’t think of the right response until the ride home. You left the conversation with unfinished business. Once you realized precisely what you wanted to say the chance to show the world your wit and brilliance had passed you by like someone waiting for a bus that has already come and gone.

It’s taking too long

Lately, I have been working on an outside project that is taking much longer than I expected. Ladders, tools, and pieces of wood are spread out all over the place. It has become a huge inconvenience. Not only that but each item is also a reminder that the project I want to be complete is currently just a mess. Parts of my heart can look this way at times as well.

Unfinished business can leave us with an uncomfortable weightiness. It’s like a cold for the soul. What do we do with this feeling? It can come from the abrupt ending of a hope or dream we wanted to work out. It’s the ache in the soul that arrives when people we love depart too soon. We know this feeling when the plans that we meticulously document in the journal of our heart are surprisingly blotted out by someone else’s intrusive marks.

What exactly are we supposed to do with unfinished business?

1. Honesty – This may be the most difficult thing to do, but we first need to be honest with ourselves. We should ask if this should ever have been our plan or desire to begin with. Was this ever the right relationship or career path or is it just wanted I wanted to work out? Is there a better fit elsewhere?

2. Healing – We need to be careful about continuing our journey on broken feet. Pushing through without pausing to heal may appear to be the best path but often leaves us stranded, vulnerable, and worse off than before. Wounded warriors are immortalized in film but are often the first casualties in the story of life when they do not stop to get the help they need. You will encounter pain in your journey but if every step hurts it may be time to not give up, but rest for the sake of finishing well.

3. Hope – Unfinished business can sometimes just be a reminder of who is the one actually writing our story. When we take the pen out of God’s hand we often settle for a dimmer version of the brighter story he had planned for us. Unfinished business reminds us to trust, have faith, and lean on the Author of our lives. You never know what surprise ending He may have in store for us if we insist on our own narrow expectations.

A missed opportunity, a failed accomplishment, and people who leave our lives too soon can leave us with feelings of despair. These are also opportunities for us to not only be reminded where our trust and comfort should really be but to also witness the miracle of God finishing the dream in a way that is beyond anything we could have ever expected.

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Pushing Through Your Fears

3 Answers to the Problem of Fear

In my previous post I talked about not failing before you start. Sometimes we have voices that come to embody the fear that keeps us from trying. When we listen to them we fail before we even start. If this sounds like something you have faced then you may want to check out that post.

In this post I wasnt to discuss how to answer the fears that cause us to question taking a step of faith. What do you do when doubt keeps you from doing something different from what you see other people doing? Here are three ways I keep fear from derailing my momentum.

Inspire the prisoners

When dealing with the fears that come with writing in a vulnerable and authentic way a friend of mine encouraged me with this thought, “Wright to the prisoners; not the guards.”

Instead of trying to convince those who may disagree with us look for those in need of inspiration. Don’t be afraid of those guarding old paradigms but also don’t waste your time trying to convince them to give up old ways of thinking. You’d be better off giving hope to the prisoner looking for a way out and watch the magic happen.

Remember why the bird sings

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” This quote is most often attributed to Maya Angelou who also said, “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Simply put there is a song inside of all of us that must be let out, not because it is an answer or because it will get unanimous approval, but because it is what we were made to give back to the world. It is more of a burden to keep that in then it is to face the fear to let it out.

What were you created to create?

Tell the truth

When I first started blogging over 10 years ago I most often chose to take the position of an expert. I would pontificate in a  sermon-like style telling other what they should do and how they should live. I wasn’t telling the truth. My insecurities caused my to write as if I had all the answers because I was afraid of admitting the areas where I still had doubts. I never got a big response from those posts. Hmmm…. I wonder why?

Eventually I wanted to change that. So every time I sat down to write I challenged myself with one simple but difficult task – tell the truth. Those three words changed how I wrote. When I would begin to hide behind my expertise I would either throw that post out or begin to tell the truth of how I wrestled or was still wrestling with a topic. That changed everything.

These are three answers I give my doubts when they keep me from writing. I love encouraging people to tell their story through writing but that’s not the only way to face your fears. What is something fear is keeping you from trying that you need to step out and do? What answers do you give fear when it causes you to question your calling? I’d like to hear from you!

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Don’t fail before you start

Finding Success in the Face of Fear

My failures are not found in a lack of achievement but rather in a lack of trying. This fear of trying is a pattern I can trace throughout my life. Can you say the same? Do you ever wonder what you would be capable of if only you had tried?

Writing is something I hesitated to do for a long time even though in my heart it felt as natural as eating or breathing. When I finally did start sharing my most vulnerable thoughts in a public way there was a great response. I wondered what took me so long.

The answer is simple – fear. I didn’t try because I was afraid of what people would think about me. I imagined voices saying, “Who are you to think you have something to say?” or “What have you accomplished that gives you the right to ask others to read what you write?”

The Voice of Fear

One day in particular sums up the voices that kept me from writing. I was in a meeting with a few other people when I mentioned I wanted to one day write a book. One of the other people immediately made a face like they had just stepped in dog poop and said, “You?! Wight a book?!?” And then laughed uncomfortably.

Similar voices sometimes (almost always) haunt me when I began to work on a book or blog. “You?!? Write a book?!?” Each time these thoughts surface like shark fins in my sea of creativity I have a choice to make. Am I going to listen to the lies, the ghosts of insecurity, or am I going to believe the truth about who God says I am? In other words, am I going to fail to try or at least fail trying?

Become Who You Were Made to Be

You don’t become who you were made to be by waiting for universal approval and unanimous permission. You must discover that something inside of you that wants out for the benefit of others and find the best way to set it free.

For me that’s writing. For you it may be somethings else. Maybe it’s curling in the Winter Olympics or starting a non-profit. The “it” doesn’t matter. Just find “it” and dig up the courage to begin doing “it.”

When we are brave enough to embrace our calling or purpose we will not only bring God the most glory, but also experience a closeness to him we would not know otherwise.

What is your it?

What voices have you been listening to for far too long that you need to be hurdles you hop over instead of dead ends to your journey?

What are you capable of that you’re not even aware of because you have failed to try?

Would you rather be someone who failed to try or at least tried and failed?

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Reignite Your Dream

A Biblical Approach to Unfulfilled Dreams

Have you ever tasted the bitterness of an unfulfilled dream? What should we do when we start with a dream but find ourselves left with disappointment? There is a biblical approach to unfulfilled dreams that will reignite things that we thought were long extinguished.

God gave Joseph big dreams. They fit him like a child walking around in her parent’s shoes. Fulfilling these dreams seemed too big for him and meant for someone else. Sharing his dream did not bring about affirmation or praise. Instead, he suffered rejection and persecution.

This is his brothers’ response to hearing Joseph’s dreams:

““Here comes the dreamer!” they said. “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”” Genesis‬ ‭37:19-20‬ ‭

The thing they thought would stop the dream is the very thing that brought it to pass. No person can stop what God is doing. Our job is not to bring God’s dream about in our timing. It is to guard our heart as He brings it about in His timing.

This doesn’t mean what Joseph experienced next wasn’t painful. It was. This doesn’t mean that guarding his heart brought immediate reward. It didn’t. In fact when Joseph was offered a quick fix to his heartbreak doing the right thing did not make things better. It made them worse.

“Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained.” Genesis 39:19-20 

Instead of giving in to despair after another betrayal Joseph does something that changes everything. When his dreams weren’t coming true he focused on the dreams of others. This turned out to be the key that would unlock his dreams.

“While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker each had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning. When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. “Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them.” Genesis 40:5-7

Joseph did not overlook these two people or allow his own hurt to excuse himself from getting involved. He didn’t blame others for his pain but instead did his best to bring healing to the pain of others. If we want to reignite our own dreams then we should become a spark for someone else’s.

Without helping the cup-bearer with his dream Joseph never gets the chance to help Pharaoh with his. Without being sold as a slave Joseph never gets brought to Egypt to liberate not only his family but the known world from hunger. Without guarding his heart Joseph misses the opportunity to be lifted up as a result of bending down to help someone else.

3 Keys to reigniting our dreams

Remember that no person can stop your dream. The very thing you think may stop your dream may be the thing that accelerates it into motion.

Guard your heart above all else. Don’t allow feeling sorry for yourself excuse taking the easy way out.

Focusing on other people’s dreams reignites and refines the dreams in our own heart.

Joseph was elevated because he found a way to focus on others when he could have focused on himself. A God-given dream is never about you getting promoted but about you being the best position to do the most for others and bring glory to Him in the process.

 

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Dare Greatly

Overcoming Critics While Daring Greatly

2017 is almost over and I thought I would share one last post to wrap up the year. This is not an encompassing post to process all of 2017, but rather just a final thought.

The Critic

When I began my first position in full-time ministry in 2005 I framed a copy of “The Critic” to be displayed in my office. It’s a lengthy quote from Theodore Rosevelt but is worth the read.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Some people just like being a critic. Criticizing can even become part of your identify without even realizing it. A critical mindset is dangerous. It will cause you to justify the fear that keeps you from standing out and making a difference. Most critics can be found putting more energy into finding fault in others instead of next steps for themselves.

The Solo

When I was in Jr. High I played the drums. I chose this because if you are going to be in the band you might as well pick the coolest instrument possible. Our school’s symphonic band was actually extremely good. In preparation for our most important state-wide competition I was given a solo. This was a big moment for me. The only problem was the more we practiced the more I got it wrong.l I didn’t think I would ever get it right. To highlight my embarrassment one day after band practice a girl put me on blast in front of a group of friends.

“Why can’t you get your part right? You are going to ruin the competition for everyone!”

That stung pretty bad. Mostly because it was true. It’s true I was doing horrible, and that if I didn’t get it right it was going to ruin it for everyone.

Never Trust a Clarinet Player

You know what was also true though? It was true that I was given a solo and she wasn’t. It was true that she could hide in a large section of clarinet players and no one would ever know if she played or not. It was also true that the only reason she had the opportunity to criticize me is because I had the opportunity to stand out. If you can’t take the criticism then don’t do anything worth noticing. If you want to make a difference then you have to be willing to accept the criticism thats come along with being different.

Must critics like being a critic more than they actually want people to benefit from their criticisms. They are normally stuck in places where their decisions won’t make a difference but they are willing to criticize you as you make decisions that could. Don’t listen to someone hiding in the clarinet section when you have been given a drum solo. (Did I take the band illustration to far? If so, I apologize. Also, sorry to all the not-so-evil clarinet players at there. I am sure there at least one or two.)

The Crescendo

Eventually our competition came. Up to the final practice everyone in the band, especially our conductor, was nervous about whether I would be able to execute my solo. When the moment came and the entire band become silent I lifted my drumsticks to perfectly play the beat I had practiced so many times. We received the highest rating possible at that competition, but the most important lesson for me was to never listen to someone in the clarinet section on my way to do something that stands out.

Later on I would see this quote from Theodore Roosevelt. It would remind me that the only reason someone has the opportunity to criticize is because I am doing something worthwhile that they are not or they would be helping. I do not want a cold and timid soul. I want to know the thrill of a worthy cause and be someone who dares greatly. Here is to 2018 and daring greatly.