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Mike Ashcraft has been married for twenty-two years and is a father of two daughters, nineteen and thirteen. These are his most important roles. Aside from that, Mike is the lead pastor of Port City Community Church in Wilmington, North Carolina. In spite of all of this, Mike describes himself as average. Instead of comparing himself to others, he’s learning to rest in who God has called him to be.
Rachel Olsen finds it hard to answer the question, “What do you do?” She’s an accomplished writer, she’s a teacher at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, a national speaker, and a personal coach. In the end, her passions united under the motivation to help other people.
Where did My One Word begin?
Mike: “I started in 2004 with a word journal. Then, in 2007, we led our church through the process. I thought, if I can focus on something for a year, I’ll see some things I’ve never seen before. By the end of that year, the stickiness of the process really became evident.
When one of our church members and a dear friend was diagnosed with cancer later that year, I went to visit her in the hospital. As soon as I walked in, she looked at me and said, “I’ve already picked my word for next year.” At that moment, I realized the depth of the process and the hope that it breeds.”
Rachel: “Mike and I have worked together for ten years creating content for our church community. When the My One Word series began to emerge, we found more depth than we realized. On year, I was attending a conference in Raleigh with a friend. At the end of the event, she went into this in-depth explanation of the concept of My One Word. When she came down off the stage, I said, “Where did you get that?” From there, I knew it was something that we needed to do.
This process for me is more about changing the process by which you think, right?
Rachel: “What we’ve found is that the more you do it, the better you become and, the richer the experience becomes.”
The first principle in Redefine Rich is: Recognize You’re Broke[n]. How was My One Word birthed out of brokenness?
Mike: “The awareness that I wasn’t who I’d wanted to be was where this began. It wasn’t self-deprecating, but there were things that I wanted to do that just weren’t happening.
I think about my kids struggling to learn the piano. They would get frustrated after their first few attempts failed. I saw this process as it applied to people’s struggle to stick with their resolutions. The reality is, you have to learn something you haven’t done before which requires a process.”
We get this when it comes to lifting weights. Resistance builds strength. The same is true with our faith; resistance builds our character. The struggle is a really important part of the process.”
Rachel: “I think research shows that 93 million Americans make New Year’s resolutions. I think that’s the case because, as people, we recognize we’re broken. We long to be different, but we very quickly hit that resistance and assume, “I can’t do this.” With My One Word, we’re not asking you to check a box, we’re inviting you to participate in a process.
Mike: “Too often we live in streaks. I’ve done my quiet time for forty-two days or whatever. We have the same approach to personal growth and we believe that when we mess up, we start over. That’s just not true. This process allows us to see the overall picture, a longer view to see your growth.
Rachel: “You can’t break a word.”
For us, richness is never meant to be enjoyed alone. In this quest for richness, we need to Invest in Others. How does this apply to My One Word?
Rachel: “I think for me, that’s the beauty that has come out of My One Word. It used to be that my resolutions were all about myself, but with this process I think about how my heart is changing, not just my actions. It’s about the maturation of my heart and I owe that to everyone I interact with.”
Mike: “Most people are afraid because they think if they make a claim that they will be seen as a failure when they don’t do it. When it comes to picking a word, I think most people believe that this is something they can do. Giving people a million things they should do is overwhelming. The investment piece, to me, is about giving somebody a process and empowering them to do it. With My One Word, people get to see that God is doing something in their lives.
Also, it’s natural for people to share their word with others.”
Rachel: “A couple of years ago, we encouraged folks to write their word on a note card and place it on the dash of their car. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve, how about wearing your word on your dash.
For me, Choose Gratitude is intimately tied to My One Word. Tell me about that.
Mike: “Gratitude begins with a foundation that believes, this has been given to me. The opposite of that is entitlement. Gratitude believes that every single day begins with His mercies. The Bible says that we need to be grateful in everything. We have been given life. We have been given grace. That is where it starts.”
Rachel: “For three years in grad school, I kept a gratitude journal. It pushed me to open my eyes and gave me a new lens to view my blessings.”
Mike: “God doesn’t want us to be grateful for the things He’s given us, He wants us to be grateful for the very grace and life He’s blessed us with.”
In regards to where you are, what have you learned about Confidence and Humility?
Rachel: “The actual translation of the word meek is, power under restraint. So Jesus actually had more power than anyone, but He didn’t arrange it for His benefit. Instead, He used it to do the Father’s will. There’s plenty with confidence: nothing is impossible with God, my prayers are answered and heard, and the hairs of my head are numbered. The humility comes in when we use it in service to others.”
Mike: “Many people start by saying, humility is seeing yourself… Humility begins with seeing God first. It led me to live this prayer: God, humble me by your presence so I don’t have to be humbled by my circumstances. Let me see you enough to recognize what You’re doing so You don’t have to knock my legs out from underneath me.
One year, my word was light. The idea was let your light shine. There was allowance and identification. I thought that if people would see my light, then they would say, ‘Oh, he loves Jesus.’ When in reality, I found myself apologizing for the work God was doing.
At some point, humility became false humility. If God has given you this, why are you apologizing for it?
Confidence is not swag, confidence is understanding the promises of God.
I need to recognize that my efforts at obedience are not just me presenting something to God, it’s because I believe and trust in the promise that He’s given me. Every fruit of every labor is a product of His provision. Jesus said, ‘If you want to be great, serve other people.’ You can’t do that without humility.”
As we close, I would love to hear a snippet of what you guys think about the word, rich.
Rachel: “Well, I’m a woman which means I’m partial to chocolate, so I think about a rich chocolate torte. And that takes me to the verse, ‘Taste and see that the Lord is good.’ So, richness, then, is to taste and see that the Lord is good.
Mike: “I’m biased because I’ve read your book and I’ve lived this struggle, but the word that comes to mind is full. It’s laying down at night and saying, ‘Today was full.’ Foundationally that is from God.
So, where do you find fullness, or richness?
Mike: “I love to surf. But, I have to be careful not to build it up to always be perfect. Sometimes it’s about being in the water and relaxing.”
Rachel: “I love to run, I love to go to the beach, I love to write. I believe that there is an element of showing up and doing the work.”
QUESTION: What is your word for 2015?
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