The Will Of A Warrior

My Grandma Surratt faced many challenges in life, but none was greater than cancer. She had a smile, a hug and kiss and a big meal waiting for me every time I came to visit. I was her boy. She called me Craig-O. If we were going to visit and I tried to place an order over the phone, she would say, “Craig-O, I already know what you want. I will start frying the chicken and cooking the corn. I’ll slice up some tomatoes just the way you like them.” When I knocked on the door, she would drop what she was doing and rush to greet me. We had a special bond that is hard to explain except by saying I could feel her hugging me from a thousand miles away.
Unfortunately, my grandmother didn’t find out about her cancer until it was too late. For seven years she had the will of a warrior and fought through the pain. During those years, for the most part, the only Grandma I saw was upbeat, excited to see me, with a smile on her face and a meal in her kitchen. Then I got the call from my mom saying that grandma was being rushed to the hospital. The doctor said I probably would not make it in time to say good-bye.
He didn’t know my grandmother! She was stubborn, with the will of a warrior. Although cancer had ravaged her body, and every breath was labored, she knew it wasn’t time to let go because there was one person who wasn’t there yet, her boy, Craig-O. She slipped in and out of consciousness, but every time she woke, she would ask, “Where’s my boy?” After being reassured, “He’ll be here as soon as he can,” she would drift off again.
Before I boarded the plane, my mom said, “She keeps asking for you; she won’t let go until you get here. Hurry, Craig.” I was worried that I wouldn’t make it in time, but I had failed to realize that she had the will of a warrior. When I got off the plane, my mom said, “You won’t believe it, she’s still fighting.” God was honoring her fighting spirit, because God loves the will of a warrior. He kept breathing life into her so her grandson could love on her one last time and let her know it was okay to go.
My sister met me at the hospital, saying, “Craig, it’s a miracle she is still alive.” She refused to stop fighting until she had finished what she had purposed to do. As I walked into the room I said, “Grandma, I’m here, your boy is here; I love you.” With every bit of strength she had she took a breath and said, “Craig, I love you.” Those four words were all she could manage but they were enough for the both of us. She was gone before the next sunrise, but she did what she set out to do. My mother told us that before her final battle in the hospital, she talked about having peace, knowing that she had fought the good fight of faith and that she had finished the race. But she had one more battle to fight. She wanted to make sure her boy had peace too.
What does it take for a person to bounce back, to fight through until his or her last breath? When your will is intertwined with God’s will, that is the will of a warrior. John Osteen said, “Great it is to dream the dream when you stand in youth by the starry stream, but GREATER it is to fight life through and say in the end the dream is true.”

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Baseball Buddy

Over the years I’ve been honored to watch countless volunteers help children in their time of need. My son Connor plays in a baseball league for special needs kids called the Challenger League. Where most kids can pick up a bat and swing it, Connor will let the bat drop to the ground. My daughter, Courtney, volunteered to be Connor’s baseball buddy. She showed him how to catch, run, swing the bat and just have fun.
When Connor went up to bat for the first time, we all waited in anticipation for him to get his first hit. Courtney assisted him to the batter’s box, helped him get in a stance and wait for the pitch. The first pitch came and Courtney let Connor try to swing on his own, but he dropped the bat. With the second pitch, she got behind Connor and helped him swing and hit the ball. The ball barely moved, but to him it felt like he had knocked it out of the park. It was brilliant watching our daughter help our son get his first hit. What Connor couldn’t do on his own, Courtney created the possibility of his success because they did it together. We screamed, “Run, Connor” and instead of going to first base, he took off for center field. What a moment!

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You Are Not Who People Say You Are You Are Who God Says You Are

Emily dreamed of serving as a peace officer just like her father.
As a child she had played cops and robbers with her two brothers,
but she always ended up being the robber because she couldn’t
make it over the wall on the obstacle course they built.
Their father had taken them to visit the police academy and
had told them that the wall was the final obstacle a new officer
had to overcome. They built a mini obstacle course at the house
and her brothers decided that whoever could get over the wall
could be a cop and whoever could not get over the wall would be
the robber. Emily would speed through the tires, jump over the
mud puddle, and crawl through the plastic tube; but even on a
good day she could only get three quarters of the way up the wall.
She would fall to the ground with her brothers, yelling, “You’re
the robber . . . again.” Year after year she tried to climb the wall
with no success––never the cop, always the robber.
Gradually that mindset seeped into everything she did. She
began to feel that she was a loser, not a champion. After high
school graduation when her dad encouraged her to apply for the
police academy, she was worried. The academic test would be easy
for her, but Emily feared the obstacle course. Two instructors were
assigned to the cadets to prepare them for the physical test. One
instructor worked Emily hard to help her live up to the standards
set by her father and brothers. The other instructor didn’t say
much but kept an eye on everyone and offered encouragement
when necessary.
The day of her first attempt, the first instructor berated her,
saying, “I heard you can’t make it over the wall. Why don’t you just
go home?” Deep inside she knew he was right. Her attitude determined her actions, and she hit the ground hard, failing to clear
the wall. When the first instructor turned away in disgust, the second
tried to stop Emily from giving up, saying, “Where are you going,
recruit?”
“I’m done,” she said. “I’ll never be the cop, just the robber.”
“Who told you that?” asked the instructor.
“It’s a long story,” Emily said. “I’m leaving.”
“Wait a minute, here’s what I want you to do,” he said. ”I want
you to close your eyes and imagine helping someone else climb
the wall.”
“What? Don’t you want me to picture myself climbing the wall?”
Emily responded with surprise.
“No,” he said, “I need you at the bottom of the wall looking up
and believing for someone else. Your struggle isn’t just about you, it’s about all of the recruits that you will encourage with your story of getting over that wall . . . and you will get over that wall!” he said firmly.
“But I haven’t climbed the wall yet; how can I help someone else?”
“When you start building others, God will build you,” he replied.
Emily met Ellen the same day she considered quitting the academy.
Ellen also found the wall to be an impossible obstacle. With a
childlike spirit and the will of a warrior, Emily stopped focusing on
herself and started helping Ellen, giving her the encouragement she
needed to finally make it over. With arms raised, Ellen yelled, “Yes,
we did it!”
“You mean you did it,” said Emily, joyfully.
“No, we did it, and now it’s your turn.”
For the first time in her life Emily believed she could master the
wall. She prayed, “God, if You help me climb this wall, I’ll try to always
focus on others first, because if I do that, I know You will take
care of me.”
Emily ran to the wall, grabbed the rope and with her teammate
cheering her on, she ran up the wall and leaped over. With her hands
lifted high in exhilaration, she learned the most important lesson
in leadership: Building others ultimately builds you.
Emily’s experience as a child had shaped in her an attitude of
failure: always a robber, never a cop. She let others dictate her mindset.
We all face a similar challenge: Will we let others determine who
we are, or will we pursue the purpose for which we were created? If
you don’t know who you are, someone will tell you who they
think you should be.
From The Book Lead Vertically

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One Word Of Encouragement Can Change How Someone Feels About Themselves

At a recent visit from a youth group at our church, one of our team leaders, Clayton Hurst, met Alex and Savannah. He remembered teaching Savannah as a toddler, when she had been a bright, confident little girl. As she grew she excelled in everything she did. But Savannah took after her parents physically, having inherited her mother’s red hair and her parents’ height.

Not having seen her since she was a young girl, Clayton was surprised at how tall both she and her brother were. Though only a sophomore, Alex was already six foot six. “Alex, you are huge!” shouted Clayton. Alex put his head down, shy but loving being seen as a man. He told Clayton proudly about having lettered in three sports as a sophomore. When Savannah came around the corner, Clayton saw that she, too, was very tall for her age, and he held his arms open and said, “Savannah, you are so beautiful!” A big smile flashed across her face and she talked to him for a few minutes about how she was doing.

Clayton had no idea that his one comment had a huge impact on Savannah. He received the following email from her mother the next day:

I’m sure you didn’t know this, but Savannah’s been going through an awkward time right now because of her height. Both the girls and boys in her grade are shorter than she is, and events like dances have been miserable! One girl told her she was a freak. When most people see her, they say, “Oh my gosh, you are huge!” “Huge” isn’t what a young girl wants to hear. When you saw her and said, “You are so beautiful,” it meant the world to her. It opened the door to a good conversation with her and I know it blessed her. It was a small seed of confidence. My heart is full of gratitude for the way God’s love shows through your actions.

In seeing Savannah as beautiful, and not just tall, Clayton lifted her spirits and her confidence. We can help others soar where eagles fly, not where the chickens grovel. Savannah was so happy because of what he saw in her. She needed to see her world from a new perspective, and Clayton inspired her to do just that.

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Lead Vertically

Changing one’s mindset is a challenge, but it’s one of the first obstacles faced by most leaders. Whether you serve on a team or lead the team, you come with attitudes that can prevent you from becoming the person God wants you to be.

Vertical leaders view the world from a different perspective.While they use conventional leadership tools, their primary concern is to see things from God’s perspective and help others discover what they were created to do. If you’ve ever wished you could help your ministry or organization thrive, but your heart has deflated and your mind is confused, then you are ready to see the world differently.

You are ready to become a vertical leader. Why? Because you are now at the place where God can use you, because your desperation is birthing God’s inspiration. You’ve stopped seeing things from everybody else’s perspective and now are open to see things from God’s perspective.

I tell my leaders that when you lose your mind, you should borrow God’s. We are not searching for the mind of leadership; we are searching for the mind of God. Vertical leaders have less interest in how others view a situation, but they care how God thinks about it.

To achieve success, one has to think unconventionally and believe for the impossible to become possible. Becoming a vertical leader starts with looking up and having the mind of God. What would God say here? How would God build this person? How would God respond in this situation?

“God Ideas” defy logic and position you to do what nobody else would have even considered. Great mountains are moved not because it’s logical but because someone chose to believe. When you hear a good idea you might say, “I wish I would of thought of that.” When you here a God idea you will say, “I would have NEVER thought of that.”

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

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