The Good Neighbor

How has the human raced evolved, or perhaps more accurately devolved, into creatures that can’t sit still at a stoplight for one minute without checking their smartphone? Every time I’m stopped, I look around at other drivers to take notice. It makes me so sad to see so many with that addiction.

More than likely, they’re checking a social media feed … Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc … More and more people, day after day, reveal what’s in their hearts by revealing it on social media. They think everything revolves, or should revolve, around them.

The online world is populated with more than a few who disregard one of God’s most basic and serious commandments, “Thou shat not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Many neighbors verbally assault their digital neighbor, tribe against tribe, avatar against avatar, misrepresenting one another, lying about each other, presenting half-truths, and smearing reputations without remorse. Even worse, it’s done with pride and arrogance.

What is a witness? A witness is someone who ought to speak the truth they know. Meaning, they should attest to what they saw and heard. Their words lead to vindication or condemnation.

What is a false witness? A false witness is someone who is a threat to individual lives and the life of the community at large. They stir up animosity and division by lying and perverting justice. A false witness is also someone who refuses to speak about what they know to be true. Being silent when you know the truth is just as bad a telling a lie.

Now, ask yourself a question. How do you talk about your neighbor? Do you publish their faults and mute their virtues? Do you lie and tell half-truths to hurt them? Do you elevate yourself at their expense? The commandment, “Thou shat not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” concerns your name and your neighbor’s name, and the point of it is to not harm theirs unjustly.

Whether or not we’d be better off without social media is not the question. However, one can’t deny it displays the state of our hearts. Based on the evidence, many hearts are envious, bitter, hateful, jealous, or angry.

We need new hearts, new loves, new hopes. We need forgiveness. We need redemption. We need to be people who don’t just avoid falsehood but speak truth and love about our neighbor.

While the world cancels and devours one another by being false witnesses, those who follow God’s commandment will pursue a true justice established by true witnesses. That’s what a good neighbor does.

Would you mind joining me as a good neighbor?

The MindWolves Creed

In daily spiritual battles, there is a special breed of athlete ready to answer God’s call. An ordinary human with an extraordinary desire to do God’s will. Forged by adversity, they stand alongside Jesus’ finest disciples to serve the Holy Spirit and usher in God’s Kingdom on earth. I am that athlete.

My Tetrahedron is a symbol of honor and heritage. It embodies the trust of those I have sworn to mentor and influence in God’s name. By “wearing” the Tetrahedron I accept the responsibility of my calling. It is a privilege that I must earn every day. My loyalty to God, Country, and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my neighbors always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, I value others above myself. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other humans. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

I will lead and be led with humble obedience. Instead of seeking my own way, I will seek God’s way. I will serve God by serving others. I will love others genuinely and consider them better than myself.

I will prayerfully take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish my call. I lead by example in all situations. I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. I will be mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength. I am never out of the fight.

The MindWolves pack demands discipline. We expect innovation. Lives are at stake and depend on us – our technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. Our training is never complete. We train for spiritual warfare and fight in God’s name and for God’s glory. We stand ready to bring the full spectrum of God’s power to bear in order to achieve our calling. The execution of our duties will be swift when required yet guided by these very principles that we serve to defend.

We will not boast in our wisdom, we will not boast in our might, we will not boast in our riches, but we will boast in this, that we understand and know God, and that He is the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness on earth.

In God’s name, we will not fail.

Win Humble

One of my mentors, Seth Godin, said this on a recent blog titled, Compared to what?

Organized sports, particularly for school-age kids, present a real challenge. The results are easily measured and are on just one axis. Points scored. Winning vs. losing.

If we teach a child to identify with the outcomes in this way, we might create arrogance. If you win, after all, you must be better than the others.

This is where the big man on campus comes from, the push for dominance and the brittle self-worth that can lead to bullying.

And of course, it’s not just sports, and it’s not just high school.

But in any scarcity-driven competition, sooner or later, you’re not going to win. You’re not going be state champ, national champ, world champ… Sooner or later, if you’re honest, you’ll need to acknowledge that winning isn’t going to happen.

And then what happens?

If you have a chance to play a game that’s based on scarcity and winner-take-all, perhaps it pays to play a different game instead.

Seth Godin

Well said, Seth. It pays to play a different game instead. In that spirit, I’m launching a new program to play a different game called, Win Humble. What does it mean to win humble? Here are the mission, vision, and values:

Mission

The mission of the Win Humble program is for every athlete to focus on giving their best effort every day. It’s less about the outcome than it is about whether they put in the best effort relative to the team’s potential.

Vision

Win Humble’s vision for every athlete is to use their talents and gifts to serve the team, not themselves. Winning is associated with success, but not wins and losses. Success is peace of mind knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming. Win or lose, we do so with humility and gratitude.

Values

  • Start each day with a positive outlook. We have an attitude of gratitude.
  • When something doesn’t go our way, we choose to stay positive. We may not have control over what happens, but we can choose how we react.
  • Learn from losses. We won’t allow ourselves to go into a dark place when things don’t work out. Thinking back on how we felt and what we did on the field is a greater positive than whatever benefits might have come from winning.
  • Be mentally tough. Mental toughness is centered on doing the best we can in the present while believing we can do even better in the future.
  • We are never victims. We gain nothing if we get angry or frustrated. By staying in that place, we will just make things worse. We will get off the X to move forward.

Are you “all in” to Win Humble? I am.

Heartbreak Into Victory

Have you ever had a problem that appears to have no solution? Has your heart hurt for healing and burned in hope for a rescue? What’s the key to seeing an opportunity for good in all the mess and chaos? How can someone look at what everybody else looks at, but sees what nobody else sees, an opportunity for good?

That type of vision is a heart issue. It must stir the passions of a leader. Many people may see the problem, but at least one person must be convicted to take action. Can that person be you? Absolutely. If you want people to warm up to your vision, you must have a fire in your belly. That fire is what propels you from heartbreak to victory.

The standard definition of an influencer is a person who affects the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. They inspire people to accomplish a vision or goal while fulfilling the individual needs of each person involved.

However, I have another definition. An influencer is a person who has been touched by God through grief, morning, and prayer and is ready to humbly serve others in God’s name. There are many great needs, but unless there’s an influencer willing to champion the cause in the world, it will not get off the ground. In my own experience, here’s what’s happened:

  • I became burdened over a hot issue.
  • It broke my heart to see people I care about get hurt.
  • Through sadness and prayer, God planted passion in my heart.
  • A vision was revealed by spending time with the Holy Spirit in His Word.
  • While being aware of the world, I was called to action to be the one to meet the need in the world.

It’s so easy to feel inundated or even paralyzed by what some experts call “decision fatigue.” This exhausted, overwhelmed state is also an indication we are being controlled by the idols of our age – technology, business, work, and the countless other things we consume. Time and time again, this has proven to lead to failure, burnout, and even death. The only way to break free from the cycle is to surrender to God’s will and purpose for your life.

It’s the one true way to transform heartbreak into victory.

Not On My Watch

I’ve always been different. My entire life, it seems like I have been placed into situations and environments where I didn’t fit in. I’ve always wondered why. Why do I always feel like the anomaly? It would be so much easier to simply fit in with the crowd, to row with the current, not against it.

And in every one of those situations, I’ve always wanted to be lifted and elevated. I wanted others to see me. I wanted them to notice I was there. But time and time again, it just never happened. Someone else got the glory. It’s as though I was being told no.

So as I look back over my life, and specifically the past 24 years, I realize that I was not being told no, but rather not now. I was also being told, “It’s not about you, Marc.” I see it all so clearly now.

Everything has led up to this moment. This spiritual battle. And I’m ready for it. Thank you, God, for preparing me for it. Your right, it’s not about my glory. It’s about Your Glory. Your Will. I see that now.

Every situation and environment you’ve placed me in, you’ve done it so that I may be persistently vigilant. So that I may keep careful watch for possible danger or difficulty. So that I may demonstrate bold leadership. As I was selfish in those past moments, I failed the tests. But your loving correction, Father, is not in vain, for I have learned from those experiences. I am so grateful for the good you’ve brought out of all those mistakes I’ve made and the painful experiences I’ve had. I am the wiser for it.

Now, I can serve as the bridge that forges alignment and friendship despite enormous differences in class, temperament, culture, race, sensibility, and personal history. Friendship that is about something. An underlying commonality that builds the most powerful, cohesive team. Thank you for giving me that gift and purpose.

As I sit on the cusp of a new test, I am adequately prepared for Thy Will to be done. I realize that what is at work won’t happen again and this opportunity to make things better won’t happen again.

The entropy of organizations means that difficult conversations and a positive ratchet of culture change are unlikely to occur on their own. This is a moment that I am prepared to say “not on my watch” and provide the bold, loving leadership you’ve groomed me for.

May You get all the Glory.

Neighborly Love Podcast, Episode 8 – John Goda

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 and Neighborly Love, interviews ordinary people about their heart for God and serving other people for the greater good.

Episode 8 – John Goda

Marc interviews John Goda, President and Steward, of RTI Insurance Services in Sarasota, FL. John 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? John shares how he believes in the I’m Third philosophy, feels he’s in God’s Sweet Spot of his career and craves a bigger platform and scale for his ministry.

Neighborly Love, Episode 8 – John Goda (4-15-21)

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Conduits, Not Cul-De-Sacs

Are you a conduit or cul-de-sac for truth? Are you a pipeline that allows truth to pass through, or does truth reach a dead end with you? Here are four traits upon which to reflect:

Pride vs. Humility

Do you look out on the family you have, the career you have, the reputation and influence you have, and quietly say to yourself, “Look what I have built.” Pride inflames arrogance and coddles insecurity. Humility sees any progress, success, or status for what it is: a gift from God. Truth flows through humility and is crushed by pride.

Boasting on Yourself vs. Boasting on God

Self-reliance receives any blessing as proof of your strength and ability. The impulse is rooted in pride but manifests itself in boasting about yourself. You don’t merely take credit, but brag about how great you are. Truth is found in developing an allergy to boasting about yourself. Whenever the blessing comes, you instead say, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked hard for what I have, but it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”

Serving Self vs. Serving Others

Self-indulgence receives the blessing as a warrant for selfishness. You see the whole world as a means of fulfilling your cravings. Self-sacrifice, however, receives the blessing as an opportunity to demonstrate love. Truth is found in seeing blessing as an opportunity to spread neighborly love by serving others in God’s name.

Your Glory vs. God’s Glory

How often have you gloated to yourself over achievement or a possession? Over a good deed or wise word? How often have you stopped to bask for a moment in the false sense of your majesty? Truth is revealed by enjoying the reward of knowing that all we have, and all we do, is from God, through God, and for God’s glory.

Upon reflection, are your more like a conduit or a cul-de-sac? I believe we can train our minds to become conduits for truth. By renewing your mind, you will see the world differently. You will feel like you’ve had an awakening and will be more aware of the Holy Spirit working in and through you. That’s what renewing your mind feels like.

And as you “move 1%” forward in your training each day, you’ll continuously grow in Spirit and truth. You’ll humbly serve others while giving God the credit and glory. You’ll grow in influence in your community and be equipped to expose lies and distortions of the truth. You’ll engage prideful, self-reliant, self-indulgent naysayers with love and forgiveness so that truth, justice, and righteousness will prevail.

God’s PPP Loan

Our best-laid plans won’t survive the first contact with reality. When life punches us in the gut, our actions will default to the level of our training. We need an action system to prevent us from freezing and to keep us moving when adversity strikes. How do you train to take life’s punches? Do you have a system to operate within? What worldview is your action system based upon?

Today, we get so many ideas thrown at us about what goals we should have and how to plan to live our lives. Some of these ideas seem pretty good, but they are not our own. They might feel right, but deep inside, we know there is something else we should be doing in life. That’s because we all have a God-given calling, and until we find it, we won’t be able to experience the fullness of life.

Unlike the Bible’s story, the narratives of other worldviews fail to connect with reality, which is why goals and plans based on them ultimately fall short. What I love about the Bible is that its story connects with our personal story at our point of deepest need. Its storyline connects us to our roots, whether we know it or not. It affirms a longing we all have, a longing to know our Creator. When we set our affections on something that cannot satisfy, demanding of them something that only God can provide, we lose the glory of being fully human, which exposes the idolatry of our hearts.

To put it another way, idols are anything in our life – including goals and plans – we love, want, treasure, or pursue more than oneness with the Holy Spirit. When we allow anything to take precedence over that relationship, even something we might consider good, the results can be harmful or even disastrous. The reality is that human beings can make idols of just about anything, and these idols are often associated with a sense of identity or worth.

This is why we need an action system rooted in the Biblical narrative. Such a system operates within the power of the Holy Spirit and requires Prayer, Practice, and Patience. Let’s call this God’s PPP Loan because it’s power on loan from God. How do we get the loan? It’s only possible with forgiveness.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, “how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)

We have to forgive as God has forgiven us. It not easy, but necessary. If we want an action system that equips us for reality and connects us to our deepest need, we need to master the forgiveness of other people. It is the only system with the proper foundation to affirm the longing to know our Creator. It prevents us from freezing, keeps us moving when adversity strikes and equips us to experience the fullness of life as we were intended to have. If you’d like a coach and helper to train within such a system then click here: #TheSystem

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34).

Happy Easter.

Looking for Joy in All the Wrong Places

The happiest people in the world are not those who spend and buy for themselves, but those who spend and give for the good of others. Pursuing happiness in this way, however, is countercultural in a world of buyers, spenders, and savers.

Genuine happiness, a.k.a. pure joy, is when happy people give and serve others in God’s name. They are not looking for the credit, but rather humbly acknowledge God’s glory in being able to give, for what they have is a gift from God and they are merely stewards of what they’ve been given. For those that fall into the trap of taking their gifts for granted and start taking credit for them, happiness is fleeting.

So where does one look for pure joy? It begins with providing for the poor. Even the most affluent nations will always have the poor in them. And there are different kinds of poor and different types of needs, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Who are the poor where you are and how might your gifts meet them where their needs are?

The calling here is not just a lifestyle of generosity, but ambitious generosity. This could mean lending your time and hands instead of money. Here are some examples:

  • Open your home in hospitality
  • Cover bills in a crisis
  • Provide meals after a surgery
  • Surprise someone with a thoughtful gift
  • Spend time with someone lonely
  • Offer to carry boxes during a move
  • Babysit for young parents who need quality time together
  • Help with a house project
  • Bake for a neighbor

If you look for joy in these places, then you won’t grow to regret it. However, here’s a warning: it’s very difficult to do because of the daily onslaught of “it’s all about you” messaging from mainstream culture. The truth is it’s not about you.

Therefore, know that you’re doing hard work and God’s work. Do not grow weary in being ambitiously generous in God’s name for in due season you will reap, if you do not give up. That’s a life worth living.

Thorn in the Flesh

A thorn in the flesh is precisely what we all need to heal our relationships. We are broken, competitive, and needy people. A thorn in the flesh provides humility. As long as the thorn is in our side, then we feel discomfort. The discomfort creates awareness that we are not 100% and need help from something bigger than ourselves. That something is the Holy Spirit.

If we allow ourselves to receive the Spirit, then we can muster up enough energy and thrive. We achieve success, progressively realizing a worthy ideal, humbly. The thorn is just enough to temper our ego and let not our will, but His be done. The thorn helps us to align our desires and requests with His will. The thorn empowers us to overcome any apprehension that would stop us from doing what the Holy Spirit calls us to do.

The Holy Spirit wants us to be part of the world that He made and loves immensely. The thorn in our flesh is of our own doing because our purpose and identity were once extrinsically linked to how the world operates. Now, that very thorn helps us to detach from worldly thinking so that we can confront the world with the fruit of love in our lives, for the fruit of the Spirit is love.

This type of love enables us to love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s the only type of love that can heal, restore, and build healthy relationships. It’s the only type of love that can bring unity to our society. There’s a beautiful irony that the very thorn the world stuck in our flesh is the same thorn that can be used for the good of the world. That thorn gives us the right dose of humility for the Spirit’s love to flourish in our hearts.

Neighborly Love now available at Amazon

This love is neighborly love. It reveals the secret thread that forges friendship despite enormous differences in class, temperament, culture, race, sensibility, and personal history. Friendship that is about something. An underlying commonality that builds the most powerful, cohesive team. Our commitment to express neighborly love is only possible after we are humbled by a thorn in the flesh.

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