A Formula for Fulfilling Your Dreams (Diet for Dreamers)

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What did the successful Chick-fil-A entrepreneur S. Truett Cathy have in common with David, the Biblical King of Israel?

I give up. Did they both eat chicken?

King David was a warrior, a diplomat, a musician and a poet. He was a model of brilliant leadership, both on and off the battlefield. He led the Israelites to numerous victories, and strengthened the kingdom of God’s people. Today, he is considered the greatest King Israel ever had.

S. Cathy Truett (March 14, 1921-September 8, 2014) founded the phenomenally successful fast food company Chick-fil-A in 1948. Today, the company is the leading fast food chicken chain in  America, with more than 1800 restaurants operating throughout the southeastern United States, and over 5 billion in annual revenues. Cathy accomplished this feat using an unusual business model grounded by his deep Southern Baptist beliefs: he promoted people over product, and he put God first in everything. Cathy’s decision to close his restaurants on Sundays drew criticism from some diners, and even pressure from other businesses, but the entrepreneur frequently stated he wanted his employees to be able to enjoy their Sundays, spending time with their families and attending church if they chose to do so. The entrepreneur’s beliefs often came under attack as well, because he was outspoken and refused to compromise the basic principles taught in the Bible.

Although he missed sales opportunities by being closed on Sundays, and lost a few customers by standing up for God’s Word, Cathy nevertheless prospered … tremendously. When he passed away, the entrepreneur had an estimated net worth of roughly $1.2 billion. But again, he never put money before God and people: he funded countless charities, and he took good care of his employees, who benefitted from a college scholarship program and several other perks.

Cathy had his priorities straight: God came first in his life — in every area; he stayed tuned in to God’s truths; and he never strayed from doing what’s right according to God’s Word. These are qualities he shared with King David, “a man after God’s own heart,” and they provide us with the perfect formula for success:

1. Stay plugged in to God and His truths; and refuse to compromise His principles or take an easy out by siding with those who choose to disagree with God’s Word. The Bible teaches, “Blessed is the person who does not follow the advice of wicked people, take the path of sinners, or join the company of mockers. Rather, he delights in the teachings of the LORD and reflects on his teachings day and night. He is like a tree … that produces fruit in season and whose leaves do not wither. He succeeds in everything he does.” (Psalm 1:1-3 GOD’S WORD) Part of staying plugged in is:

2. Renew your mind. We need to flush out the negative, selfish, fearful, faithless thoughts we collect each day by “washing” our overtaxed brains with the Word of God. This means reading the Bible and meditating on (thinking about) what it teaches. “Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” (Joshua 1:8 NLT) After all, we ARE what we think we are. Are we down-and-out losers or I-can-do-all-things-through-Christ winners? “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”  (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)

3. Talk to God. Thank Him for what He’s done for you; praise Him for who He is; then share your hopes and dreams, your problems and fears. “Commit your way to the LORD; Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Psalm 37:5 NASB) King David met with God the first thing every morning, demonstrating that although he had a busy schedule, he was putting God first. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee….” {A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness…} (Psalm 63:1 King James Bible)

Reaching new heights with God.

4. Keep God as your first love — not your success, money or fame; not your goals or unfulfilled dreams. These things will fall into place, once your priorities are straight. “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4 ESV)

Want to achieve your goals and realize your dreams? Then put God first in all things. Seek to be pleasing in His sight and to do His will. That’s God’s formula for success! “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 NIV)

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Encouragement for Creators: Critical Care for Creators

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As long as someone somewhere is trying to accomplish something, there will be critics. And as long as there are critics in this world, you’ll hear or read negative, even ugly, comments on just about everything under the sun. If you’re a creator, inventor, entrepreneur, athlete, leader, business professional, or _____________ (fill in the blank), your work and quite possibly you yourself, will be criticized at some point. Critics will take special aim at you — whether you deserve it or not. And a few will try to get in some cheap shots. Fact of life. So you need to learn to be bulletproof.

U.S. President Ronald Reagan, like many leaders before him, came under frequent attack while in office. We can imagine the political criticism of his policies, whether legitimate or unfounded — along with all the slurs, jokes, and trivialities that accompanied it — had to get old fast. But Reagan never seemed to get frazzled by his critics. In fact, the media labeled him The Teflon President, because nothing nasty that anybody was spouting seemed to stick. Reagan simply let everything slide off his back.

There are two kinds of criticism: valid and invalid. If you encounter valid criticism (Truth), try to learn from it and improve. “To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring….” (Proverbs 25:12 NLT) However, if you encounter invalid criticism (unwarranted, untrue, or immaterial), take it with a grain of salt. Never allow such barbs to pull you down. Think about the motivations behind invalid criticism:

1. Money: There are professional critics who get paid to “evaluate” books, movies, music, sporting events, food, restaurants, public figures — you name it. The best of these critics try to be honest, unbiased and realistic. The worst are nit-pickers who find great pleasure in exposing the minutest flaws and tearing things apart, usually to be entertaining. Face it, critics get paid to be critical. Many feel if they can’t find something wrong, they’re not doing their job thoroughly. Weigh the value of their OPINIONS, and discard any unjust or unfounded criticism. Then move forward.

2. Jealousy: We need to explain this one? Seriously? Okay, there will always be people who are envious of your accomplishments, especially if THEY aren’t successful. Writing or saying bad things is often an attempt to minimize what you’ve achieved, and justify their own shortcomings. Some people try to lift themselves up by lowering others. Soar above it!

3. Fear: No one wants to be left behind! Your friends and family may fear you’ll succeed, while they won’t. By the way, fear and jealousy are critical collaborators. Negative comments from a fearful person should elicit a degree of compassion. Smile and encourage these cowering critics. Don’t take their words to heart.

4. Competitiveness: You may not know this — heh! — but people are competitive. We’re born that way: a baby will compete for a mother’s attention; children quickly learn games rooted in competition; teenagers compete for friends and acceptance; students for scholastic honors and college placements; and adults in the workplace jockey for career advancements. It’s best to not allow this motivator to rule your life and control your thoughts and actions. Many do, though. So, when they try to minimize your achievements, don’t allow their negative comments to DISTRACT you from your personal goals.

5. Pessimism and negativity: Some people are just plain negative. Some actually have a critical spirit; and these people will always find something to complain about, something to nitpick. Antidote: continue to be positive; let these people pick their nits. You have more important concerns.

There will always be critics in your life, people who don’t want to see you rise higher; who may even hope you fail; people who want you to stay right where you are! Understand the motivations behind invalid criticism.  Love the critic, but let the criticism bounce off you. How did Jesus respond to His critics? For the most part, He didn’t. He stayed focused on His mission and mostly ignored them. Go, and do thou likewise!

“We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us.” (2 Corinthians 6:8 NLT)

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