Neighborly Love Podcast, Episode 27 – Mike Colella

Ordinary People. Extraordinary Conversations.

If “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” collided at an intersection, then the Neighborly Love podcast would be the result. It features casual conversations over coffee in a “virtual coffee shop” that lean into the power of empathy. It’s about feeling heard, valued, and understood. It’s about serving others. It’s about depositing money in our relational banks.

Neighborly Love is an original podcast by MindWolves. Host Marc Casciani, author of Craft Your Calling, interviews ordinary people about their heart for God and serving other people for the greater good.

Mike Colella

Marc interviews Mike Colella, Senior Vice President at TriState Capital Bank. Mike answers three thought-provoking questions: (1) Tell me about a time when you did something nice for someone?, (2) What would you do for a living if money weren’t an issue?, and (3) Do you have a dream that involves serving others? Mike tells how he and his wife support the Light of Life Rescue Mission in Pittsburgh, PA and City Rescue Mission in New Castle, PA, describes the need to create a company that promotes the dignity of work, and shares his heart for helping the city and people of New Castle, his home town.

Neighborly Love, Episode 27 – Mike Colella (11-21-22)

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One Another

Dozer and Honey Casciani

Dogs are pack animals by nature. A pack is a group of animals that live together to thrive and survive. In dog packs, there is always an alpha dog that is considered the top of the pack. The pack looks to that individual member for leadership, structure, and protection. Dogs are not meant to be alone.

Humans also are not meant to be alone. We’re not designed to go through life isolated, trying to do everything by ourselves. Success happens when we work alongside others.

We need one another. We’re to love one another, help one another, serve one another, and bear one another’s burdens. Maybe you are struggling to accomplish your goals because you’ve been going at it alone. You were never meant to live without community. The work you are called to do will always be accomplished in partnership with others. This is what it means to have team spirit.

When great leaders have a dream, they build a team. That’s what great leadership is all about. Great things happen when people are united with words of affirmation and opportunities to succeed in something they’ve always wanted to accomplish … together with one another.

Not everyone will want to be part of your God-given purpose and plan. That’s ok. Love everyone, but focus your time and energy on those who want your help and those who want to help you. Invest in the willing and don’t spend much time responding to critics. No plan is accomplished without friction and opposition. If all you did was respond to what other people think of you, you’d never get anything done. Instead, reply with love and forgiveness and simply move on.

Most importantly, focus on your community, i.e. your pack, who can help you build a dream. Anything significant you do in life will require help from others. God intentionally wired us to need one another so we will learn how to work together.

Life is a Binary System

Life is pretty simple when you think about it. We tend to make it complex. It’s about our choices. We choose to “do” or “do not”. It’s a string of 1’s and 0’s. In general, a binary system is any system that allows only two choices. Life is a binary system. The string of 1’s and 0’s we individually execute comprise our life’s work. They tell our story.

Our mind is the computer that makes our choices. Within each choice, there is either belief or unbelief. Trying is essentially unbelief. When you say, “I’ll try”, you are not committed. When you say, “I’ll do it”, you are putting a stake in the ground and making a promise you will get it done no matter what gets in your way. It takes guts, persistence, and stamina.

The right decision depends on the choice we need to make. Sometimes, a “do” or a 1 is the right answer. Other times, a “do not” or a 0 is. We don’t always get it right on the first attempt, however, we will always get another attempt if we are contrite, humble, forgive ourselves and others, learn from the mistake and have the strength to endure.

Eventually getting it right is the definition of success. It does not matter how many times it took. You did it. You did the right thing. And doing the right thing over and over, overcoming your hurts, hangups, and bad habits makes you a successful person. Every prosperous person fails and overcomes. Every failure lets fear, guilt, resentment, or pride inhibit them.

Success or failure. Belief or unbelief. “Do” or “do not”. 1 or 0. It’s that simple.

This post was originally published on June 18, 2017, and was republished on November 13, 2022.

Active Patience

Good things happen when we’re patient, but only if we remain active. What? Active patience? That’s an oxymoron.

Not an “empty” active where you’re just doing things to stay busy. Rather, an “intentional” active where you’re meaningfully serving others. Carve out daily quiet time for yourself to reflect on who and how you can serve. Your acts of service will directly benefit others and also shape your character.

Your purpose in life will be revealed in waiting and serving. Even when you’re doubting, and it’s seemingly taking forever, keep serving. This is faithfulness. This is active patience.

Being patient does not mean just sitting around waiting for something to happen. It’s not a passive quality. True patience is thinking, acting, serving, and learning in a trial-and-error fashion.

Being actively patient is to be meek, not weak. Many people equate meekness with weakness. Meekness is strength under control. Think of a wild stallion that has been tamed. They are just as powerful as when they were wild but are now under control. Meekness and weakness are 180 degrees out of phase.

There is strength in humility, power in gentleness, great force in kindness, and beauty in meekness. To be meek is to possess active patience.

Late 7th century BC, near the time of the transition from the Assyrian to the Babylonia empires, the prophet Habakkuk engaged in a profound dialogue with Israel’s God. Habakkuk begins by asking how long God will allow evil to triumph. God’s reply is that He is raising up the Babylonians as His tool of correction. When the dialog concludes, Habakkuk celebrates God’s dramatic intervention for Israel in the past and prays that He will do it again. Habakkuk resolves to be actively patient for God’s coming.

1I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint.

3This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.

Habakkuk 2:1 & 3 (NLT)

Wanting to speed up God’s plan has always been a challenge. Part of His plan may include a slower timetable than what you or anyone else wants. One reason God moves slowly is that He knows delays make you stronger. God knows you will benefit when things happen slowly.

So, remember, there’s no need to rush to make your life go the way you want it to go. Instead, be actively patient as you completely trust God’s plan for your life.

This post was originally published on August 19, 2018, and was republished on November 6, 2022, with the addition of a story about the prophet Habakkuk to the ending.

An Invitation

Everybody everywhere was born to do something. The first challenge is believing that statement. The second challenge is understanding what it means. The third challenge is fulfilling it. “What should I do with my life?” is the question to which we all want an answer.

Here’s a hint to finding the answer: it’s not about you. The secret to discovering what you were born to do is about believing there’s Someone (yes, that’s a capital S) bigger than you at work in the universe who loves you and created you for a purpose. That Person (yes, that’s a capital P) wants to have a relationship with you so that you can grow to understand your unique gifts and how to use them to serve other people, not your own ambition. Fulfilling what you were born to do is an others-focused, life-long quest about learning to subordinate your will to His (yes, that’s a capital H).

So, the question, “What should I do with my life?” is really an invitation. God commands only what He empowers. He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, who comes to dwell in us and be our Advocate in life. We simply need to accept that gift of advocacy. If we do, then the Holy Spirit is always with us to help our discernment in the ebb and flow of our days. If we don’t, then we will go wherever life’s current takes us, which may feel good at certain moments, but in the big picture will be fleeting and leave you feeling empty.

For many years, I didn’t open my envelope. When I finally did and RSVP’d “YES” it transformed my life. No longer do I walk alone. Through the good times, I have a friend who keeps me grateful and humble. Through the bad times, I have a friend who keeps me grateful and hopeful. Either way, I am grateful because I know that in all things God works for my good because I love Him and am called to fulfill His purpose for my life.

I too hope you will RSVP “YES,” and may the Holy Spirit be with you.

Neighborly Love Podcast, Episode 26 – Jeff Coleman

Ordinary People. Extraordinary Conversations.

If “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and “The Parable of the Good Samaritan” collided at an intersection, then the Neighborly Love podcast would be the result. It features casual conversations over coffee in a “virtual coffee shop” that lean into the power of empathy. It’s about feeling heard, valued, and understood. It’s about serving others. It’s about depositing money in our relational banks.

Neighborly Love is an original podcast by MindWolves. Host Marc Casciani, author of Craft Your Calling, interviews ordinary people about their heart for God and serving other people for the greater good.

Jeff Coleman

Marc interviews Jeff Coleman, Founder & Principle of Churchill Strategies and author of With All Due Respect. Jeff answers three thought-provoking questions: (1) Tell me about a time when you did something nice for someone?, (2) What would you do for a living if money weren’t an issue?, and (3) Do you have a dream that involves serving others? Jeff tells how he doesn’t view surprise encounters as accidental or incidental, shares his gratitude and passion for doing exactly what he is doing today, and reveals his heart to minister to people in public life and their families, a vision he shares with his wife, Rebecca.

Neighborly Love, Episode 26 – Jeff Coleman (10-28-22)

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Ultimate Success

As I walked out of the Pine-Richland Athletic Hall of Fame banquet last evening, I noticed something painted on the wall as I exited the cafeteria. It was something I had never noticed before, a quote from Mister Rogers.

There are three ways to ultimate success:
The first way is to be kind.
The second way is to be kind.
The third way is to be kind.

– Fred Rogers

So simple. So wise. Thank you, Mister Rogers.

Upon reflection, as I listened to each inductee give thanks and testify to who and what made the honor possible, there was a common thread in each story: other people went out of their way to be kind to them. Someone … a parent, a sibling, a grandparent, a coach, a teacher, a friend … did something they didn’t have to do to help them. Each five-minute autobiography was a narrative about kindness.

Going a little deeper in my reflection revealed the root cause of each story’s common denominator: each inductee had to decide what to focus on in their speech, what to rehash, and what not to worry about. Their life story could have been told in many ways, yet the way they told it would reveal what the audience remembers. Each finished product was a case study about kindness.

We write our own autobiography each day by deciding what to focus on, what to rehash, what to forget, what to forgive, what to learn from, who to give grace to, and who to love. Our life story can be told in many ways, and the way we tell it changes who we are and who we become. We are in control of that narrative, however, we have to be good editors of our own story. Ultimate success in life is owning it.

Who’s editing your story?

Retirement

The Moses is a sculpture by the Italian Renaissance artist, Michelangelo Buonarroti, housed in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome.

How did the word “retirement” creep into America’s culture? The dictionary defines it as the action of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work. Leaving one’s job, ok, that is not too far-fetched. People leave their jobs every day. Ceasing to work, well, is another story. Ceasing to work is like ceasing to live, at least if you define work like the Bible defines work.

Biblically speaking, everything we do is “work.” People confuse employment with work. There is a difference.

Employment is a contract where we are paid a certain compensation in exchange for the work we do. Employment includes work, but not all work is employment. Not all work earns compensation. God in his infinite wisdom planned that some vocations will receive financial compensation and some won’t.

Parenting is work. Volunteering on my school board is work. My job is work. However, I only earn money via my job. Why then should I do the other two? Because being a parent and serving my local community are callings. God has called me to them according to His purpose for me. My reward for them is bigger than getting paid. Think of it as an inheritance rather than compensation. This is why in everything I do, I work as though I am working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Michelangelo’s famous statue of Moses is a powerful depiction of God’s servant, someone who is working for the Lord, not for human masters. Moses is presented as a figure of massive proportions and strong stone, carrying the wisdom of God beneath his arm. But how did he start out in life? As a baby set adrift in a river. A child raised by an adoptive family. A young man who was very conflicted. However, from that fractured life, God raised up a leader who united His people and freed them from slavery. That’s what Moses was called to do. He didn’t receive compensation for it, but he did receive an inheritance.

You can retire from your job, but you can’t retire from what God calls you to do. You can try, but God has a way of never leaving you or forsaking you. No matter what sets you back or makes you feel unworthy, you will never lose dignity in God’s eyes. You were made in His image, He has a purpose for you, and He wants you to believe and see it.

Retirement? It’s a beginning, not an end. Finally, you can live up to the life you were called to live.

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Humility is the fulcrum of a virtuous and civil society. At the far left is envy. At the far right is pride. Envy produces feelings of discontentment or resentfulness where one longs for someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. Pride produces feelings of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, qualities, or possessions that are widely admired. Neither extreme is healthy nor productive for the common good. Humility lies at the center and provides balanced feelings of contented ambition and perpetual gratitude regardless of circumstances.

As I reflect on this quality of humility, my favorite U.S. president comes to mind, our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln lived his life at the fulcrum of humility. As I reflect on the last five years of his life, it’s hard to deny he was prepared for that moment in history. His purpose, and God’s will for his life, were fulfilled.

To honor him, I wanted to share key milestones in those final five years of his life, as well as his closing remarks of his First Inaugural Address and the full text of his Second Inaugural Address. Thank you President Lincoln for who you were and what you did for this country.

  • March 4, 1861 – First Inaugural Address

  • April 12, 1961 – America’s Civil War Starts

  • November 19, 1863 – Gettysburg Address

  • March 4, 1865 – Second Inaugural Address

  • April 14, 1865 – Assassination by John Wilkes Booth

  • May 26, 1965 – America’s Civil War Ends

Closing of His First Inaugural Address

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Full Text of His Second Inaugural Address

At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it — all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war — seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!” If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond — man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether”

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Right vs. Ability

Response attributed to Benjamin Franklin at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation.

In America, we have the right to a free country, but we may not always have the ability to maintain it. It depends on who lives here, what our attitudes are, and how good our leadership is. Benjamin Franklin famously answered a question upon leaving the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “A Republic if you can keep it.” In more ways than one, seems like that’s more true than ever.

America is founded upon the principle of natural rights, that is no one has the right to dominate anybody else without their consent. In other words, nobody has the right to rule another without the consent of the governed. It is the essence of human equality. It is the essence of human dignity, the quality of being worthy of honor or respect.

To create the United States of America, our founding fathers had to make compromises in the ratified documents. Neither they nor the documents were perfect. After all, they were human and all humans are flawed. Nonetheless, the foundation was set for the freest country in humankind’s existence. Over our nearly 250-year history, we’ve attempted to address the flaws in those documents by fighting a civil war, engaging in nonviolent civil rights movements, and peacefully securing new protections in federal law for the civil rights of all Americans.

All this hard work affirms a moral claim that our natural rights arise from the notion that not only are we born equal, but we also deserve to live equally free. And that comes from the idea of the natural right to liberty from which all other rights can be derived.

  • If you have the right to be free, then you have the right to not be assaulted.
  • If you have the right to be free, then you have the right to not be killed by another.
  • If you have the right to use your own mind and body to acquire property, then you have the right to property.
  • If you have the right not to be dominated in the way you worship God, then you have the freedom to practice your religion.

Human equality is a moral claim in two ways:

  1. Moral rights and obligations of human beings to each other.
  2. Right to rule, born equally free and independent (not born into a slave or subordinate relationship – except for children who are under the temporary wardship of their parents as a preparation for the freedom of adult life.)

The only way to maintain these rights is to live under a social compact, an agreement we all have with each other to form a government and accept the rules of that government, which is for us and our rights.

Having rights is not the same as being able to keep them. For the sake of future generations of Americans, I pray we find a way to do so.

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