“Where’s the Gift I Got You?”


January is always a scary time to be asked that question. It’s long enough after Christmas that you ‘should’ have used the gift by now. It is unfortunately long enough as well to have forgotten what you actually got.

We’re given and receive gifts for various reasons. Some gifts are given out of appreciation for no reason at all (especially is your love language is “gifts”). Other gifts are given out of obligation (“they got get me something so I better find something to give them”) or because of the expectation of the routine (Valentine’s Day, birthday, Christmas, etc…). Some come with no strings attached. Some do.

But let’s imagine for a moment that you are given a gift… out of trust. Like a “I thought it best that you have this” or a “I was thinking of you when I saw this and knew you would like it” kind of gift.

I bring this up because of something I wrote in another blog about the fact that our church views each person that comes through the door as a “gift”. So as I was thinking about that very thought, it was like God asked me, “Craig, what did you do with that gift I gave you?”

It is important to note that we need to understand the difference between “gift” and “gifts” and why I believe it mattered so much that God’s question to me was asked in the singular.

I think that churches / pastors / PIPs (people in pews) worry too much about the amount of people that are there / not there each and every Sunday. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that a healthy church grows… in various ways; and so attendance can be in itself its own language. But some people are more concerned about the amount of gifts under the ‘tree’ (the local church) than the care of every gift under it. A tree with lots of presents under it looks way more appealing than one with only a few… even if the boxes are empty and just filler for the social media status update.

Gifts tree1


What if we took the time to actually care for each ‘gift’ that came within our four walls? What would happen if it wasn’t about the ‘gifts’ (plural)… but each ‘gift’ (singular)? Do you think that God would entrust us with more gifts if each ‘one’ was given the attention, care, and purpose that God intended it to have? Do you think that perhaps, per chance, the ‘amount’ of gifts under the “tree” would increase not simply because we got more… but because we lost, broke, or forgot less?

Last Sunday we did something we periodically do called “Name Tag Sunday”. As the sadistic pastor that I am, I love when we plan them because the people who come have no idea we are going to do it. After a time of singing and worship and right before they are seated I have the ushers come down with name tags stickers and markers and ask them to put their names on the tag, stick them on their shirts, and then mingle for the next five minutes.

I know that the initial reaction of many is “are you kidding me?” – (all the introverts). But once I say “go” it is like trying to corral cats… they go everywherePeople are craving to be noticed and appreciated. They simply need an opportunity to let it happen.

Gifts tree2

I think I’m onto something and God’s words have been echoing in my heart for a while now. For me, I know that I can only handle caring for so many gifts. We all have a limit. But imagine, for a moment, if every one of us cared for “each” gift that God gave us? Oh, we wouldn’t need to worry about fitting all of them under a new tree… we would need to look into buying a forest.

At least that’s how I see it,





Do Organizations Need ‘Have You Met Ted’s?

Have You Met Ted Cover

I’m throwing this question out there. I started by putting down some jot notes in my journal but then I decided to keep it raw and throw out my thoughts for the blogosphere to read and comment on.

I think every organizational success story is a concoction of right place, right time, right people, and right need. If any of those four ingredients are not present then the journey will be a struggle.

When it comes to volunteer organizations (churches, service clubs, humanitarian groups, etc) the difference between one’s first day / experience and the rest of their journey is how well they ‘fit in’ to what is going on.

Have You Met Ted Quote 1

Some people seem to do a great job of being ‘bridge builders’… or what I like to call “Have You Met Ted”s.

If you don’t know what “have you met Ted” means, welcome to the population that never watched How I Met Your Mother. Short version, Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) plays a womanizing narcissist who’s best friend is Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) – though Ted would argue ‘his’ best friend was Marshall.

Anyways, I digress.

Barney had this repeating pick up line to help Ted meet women. He would walk up to a woman and ask her, “Have you met Ted?” and then walk away leaving a deer-eyed Ted to now make the next move and say something to her.

The first time he did it was hilarious! Ted had NO idea what to do. But as time went on, he became more and more comfortable with the notion that Barney was going to go out of his way to help Ted meet other people.

I wonder if we need more people like that?

As a church minister and working with other organizations, I know that putting people in the same ‘space’ does not mean that they will be in the same ‘place’. Proximity does not equal intimacy. They need, and perhaps, we all need, Barney Stinsons who will make the point of connecting people to one another.

Have You Met Ted Quote 2

I recently was at a gathering when a person asked me what my hobbies were. I quickly found out that ‘my’ interests were not very similar to his…. but when I spotted a guy a few feet from me who shared a similar love for this hobby of his, I reached over, brought him in and basically said, “Have you met Ted?”

For the next ten minutes they talked, smiled, wowed and laughed about their hobby (in some sort of code language I must add as I am sure they wanted me not to know what they were saying… at least that’s how it felt).

But I didn’t care that I was now the foreigner in the middle of this hobby discussion… because I knew that my relationship with both guys was built on ‘other’ things. But now there was a NEW relationship that stemmed only from me noticing that maybe ‘this‘ person might like to talk to ‘that‘ person.

We must always remember that we can ‘exist’ in a community without being a ‘part’ of it. But to be honest, I don’t think we were created and fashioned for that purpose.

What do you think? How can organizations keep ‘engagement’ in the forefront so that those who ‘come’ are not the same ones who ‘go’ without even being noticed?

Let me know your thoughts,



4 Reasons People Don’t Understand You


I was recently having a conversation with a man I meet with regularly about a situation I was facing. He’s a mentor of mine and a seasoned retired business man who often brings great insight to my world of dealing with people.

I was venting to him that I was so shocked that someone I was dealing with couldn’t seem to see what I was saying. He quickly pointed out that the person was a “Quadrant 4” person. I had no idea what he was talking about.

I’m not sure where this teaching came from but over the next few minutes he opened my mind in understanding how different people respond differently to correction and instruction based on the “quadrants of what they know”.


1- “I know I know” – These people know that they are in the wrong and therefore choose to either correct their actions or else rebel against the expectations. Here you will get the greatest result of either compliance or confrontation.

2 – “I know I don’t know” – These people are aware that they are missing something in your attempt to correct the situation and are most likely to engage in wanting to understand you better. This is a great opportunity to mentor and guide them.

3 – “I don’t know I know” – These people are in the dark for some reason. Maybe they forgot the email laying out your expectations or the meeting where everything was discussed. Find the right way to smoothly remind them of what they forgot or misplaced and you can get them back on track.

4 – “I don’t know I don’t know” – These people are the most likely to become contentious and combative as their resistance is based on either their pride to concede or their incapablility of allowing themselves to be open to correction. Either way, you are probably going to hit a wall here. Either evaluate if you need to remove the ‘problem’ (let it go), the ‘process’ (find a different way to explain where they are not getting it), or the ‘person’ (wrong person for the reponsibility) in order to move forward.

Ask these four questions when hitting the wall.

1 – Are they the type of person to be resistent? Is this pride or is it lack of understanding?

2 – Where is this breaking down? Can it easily able to be put back on track?

3 – Am I communicating my expectations in a way that perhaps they are unable to understand? How does my message need to change?

4 – Is this person the right person for the expectation? Are they incapable of understanding what is desired?

If you don’t figure out quickly which quadrant they are in, you will expend unnecessary energy trying to get results from people who aren’t on the same page (quadrant) as you.

Onward… to knowing better.

Smothering Toxic Relationships

Toxic Relationships.png

There are three ways to put out a fire. Remove the fuel. Remove the heat. Or remove the oxygen. Simple as that.

Toxic relationships continue when you choose to keep the fire going. Sometimes you are not able to remove yourself from the actual person (fuel). They may be a family member or a co-worker. You may not be able to remove the ‘heat’ either due to proximity. Whenever you are around each other, your feelings ‘fire’ up without any ability to exert self-control.

Canadian Living defined toxic relationships as any relationship “that makes you feel consistently bad about yourself.” It goes on to write that these relationships leave “you feeling anxious, unrewarded and unaccepted.

Know anyone that fits that definition? Have any of those people in your life?

I like how Kris Carr (@Kris_Carr) said it when she tweeted that “we get to decide who we allow into our inner sanctum. Not everyone deserves an all-access pass.” For some reason we can feel obligated to keep people around us who are depleting us, not completing us.

So I would suggest to you that if you can’t get rid of the fuel or the heat, get rid of the ‘oxygen’.

You alone decide whether you are going to allow this person [these people] to ‘breathe’ into your life. Believe it or not, much of the toxicity of the relationship is based on the proximity of that person to ‘your’ sense of security, well-being, and happiness. They affect you because they affect ‘you’.

If it were people that didn’t matter to you (or never mattered to you) then their place in your life wouldn’t be an issue; you wouldn’t give them any ‘breath’. Where things go south is when you continue to let them matter to you. It is in those times that they end up taking your ‘breath away’.

So smother them (not literally… though sometimes you may have to squelch those thoughts). Don’t allow them to breathe into or over your life ending up taking away the joy and happiness that you long for.

Toxic relationships damage you. You don’t have the time, the desire, or the purpose to be damaged. Surround yourself with those who will better you. You will quickly discover how great it is to ‘breathe’ again.

Bring on the fresh air!