What is my one thing?

(this personal project was inspired by a guest post on Michael Hyatt's blog and I encourage you to read that article by clicking on the image above)

Sitting in a student leadership workshop one summer between grades in high school, I heard a speaker ask the question, “What is your life mission statement?”

At age 16 or 17, I had a million dreams and opportunities, but a life mission statement, COME ON!?! Professional golfer, pharmacist, musician, the President of the US, author..heck, I didn’t know. Something where I could make a lot of money, pursue the “American Dream”, and maybe influence a few people for Christ..if it were comfortable and easy.

But the speaker continued asking questions and encouraging us to think about things differently. He didn’t want to know WHAT we wanted to be..he wanted us to discover HOW we were going to impact those around us. And with the help of the workshop and the facilitator, I hammered out this statement:

I exist to be a catalyst for change in people’s lives through … _________________.

Even at an early age I realized that what comes after the ellipsis wasn’t super-important. The fill-in-the-blank could be anything! At the time, I was flipping burgers for McDonalds. And I wanted to influence change in those working around me by modeling a good work ethic, building relationships, earning trust and sharing Christ.

Later, it was through music. I wanted to encourage change in people’s lives by affecting them with meaningful lyrics partnered with creative music. This was realized through my efforts with Rocketboy (quasi-christian 90’s alt-rock).

Then, it was through leadership both in the sacred and secular realm. I wanted to encourage change in people’s lives by encouraging them out of their comfort zones, challenging the status quo, while pointing and leading them toward a real relationship with Christ. (Worship Leader, VP with local business, and now Executive Pastor)

My mission still feels the same..but it’s time to refine it.

I recently completed a spiritual gifts inventory that I found from Tony Morgan’s blog and my top spiritual gifts are:

  1. Leadership (20)
  2. Knowledge (19)
  3. Administration (19)
  4. Apostle (17)
  5. Teaching (16)
  6. Wisdom (16)

Frederick Buechner says that the place that you ought to serve is “where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” (via Mary DeMuth) So, I’m in search of my greatest joy and what I think is the world’s greatest need.

My passions are strong for my family.

I love music.

Leading resonates with me.

I love to read and devour information, twist it, turn it and share it.

Writing brings me joy.

I love my Lord and desire to live for Him and serve Him.

Encouraging change in people’s lives still excites me!

I love to communicate..by writing, singing and speaking.


  • I’m trying to figure out who even listens to me..
  • I’m trying to figure out where I can center myself and completely utilize my gift mix..
  • I’m trying to narrow my focus from a broad light to a sharp laser..

What do you see?

What would you say my “one thing” is?

(DISCLAIMER: After reading this, I realize that it may sound very “selfish” or “self-centered”..I hope that it doesn’t come across that way to you. I am truly just doing some soul-searching to try and refine who I am and where I can best serve those that are listening. And the fact that you’re reading, means I could use your help.

And, I’m completely and utterly satisfied with my current occupation. I feel like I’m right where God wants me to be..this is a great feeling, by the way..but I think I can be a more effective minister of the gospel if I hone things down and stick to my passions and gifts..I just need help recognizing those.

Thanks for your help. I truly appreciate you. Leave your comments and discussion below.)

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
  • Though I don’t know you all that well personally, I would have to say that I discovered early on that you are a rather gifted debater. (Something I can appreciate much more from the sidelines. Haha.)

    Great apologist. Your comment a while back defending your stand on Christianity to the ‘other’ Trey Bailey was amazingly well-stated. All the while, showing great respect for the other person. (Still praying for him, by the way.)

    Gifted orator / worship leader. God has used you in great ways through this aspect of your ‘job’. You’re obviously passionate about your faith and eager to share what you’ve gleaned. And again, conveying it with a great amount of respect and humility.

    All that said…. I have to say I agree with Chad as well.

    When we look to Him, He will direct our paths. And I believe, open up opportunities to minister, one day at a time, should we keep our eyes on Him.

    And I think I’ll leave it at that. I don’t want to open myself up to a debate!! 😮

  • Chad

    Joy and contentment. Living today and truly allowing tomorrow to be just that, tomorrow. When we read the gospels we see that Jesus rarely mentions the future. (he did at times speak of things to come but added that even he didn’t know when they would pass) The point is he was truly involved in everyday knowing that the actions of that day influenced the events of tomorrow. So what am I talking about?

    Ever since we have been friends we have shared many conversations on how we hope to be a part of change and a revival of God’s kingdom. Always looking ahead to what will be. I have come to realize that change is taking place right now…here at this very moment, but if I look for it to happen tomorrow I have missed the boat and my chance to be apart of it. It is very important that we all strive to be that which God desires us to be. None would argue with that. That quest can backfire if we ourselves become to involved in the process. There is one area where we should pinpoint with laser focus, one area only; dying each and everyday so that Christ may perfect his work in us. If we choose to make that choice then Christ will do the focusing, he will shape, and mold us into the most effective disciple we can be.

    All of that to say this; you can’t narrow it down into gifts major and minor. If our desire is to serve Christ our gifts are secondary to our submittance to him. Basically its not up to you to figure it out. Die to ourselves, find joy and contentment this day and submit.

    • where is the altar of repentance???

      indeed, Dr. Caldwell..living in the now is where i will find the most joy and contentment..and with children it has become even clearer to me how quickly the now turns into the past..i want to enjoy every second i have with them..

      however i still wrestle with the burden of the future..plans, goals, time-lines..i believe that they are all great and useful tools when used in accordance with God’s will..the old testament is filled with prophets who foretold with pinpoint accuracy what the Lord would do (not what they themselves would do)..take for instance Joseph..
      Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams and protect an entire country from a devastating famine SEVEN years in the future..
      he followed his God..and his God lead him..and this was his lot in life..to plan, administer, organize, and vision..this was apparently God’s will..

      i concur that gifts are secondary to abiding in Christ..and dying to self daily, nay, moment by moment, is a very difficult way to live..but the only completely fulfilling way to live.

      you have challenged me, sir..thank you.

    • Just read this from Francis Chan’s book Forgotten God:

      I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.

      I thought about you, Chad, for this is almost what you said exactly. Wow.

  • Rick James

    Wisdom is a deep understanding of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to choose or act to consistently produce the optimum results with a minimum of time and energy. Wisdom is the ability to optimally (effectively and efficiently) apply perceptions and knowledge and so produce the desired results. Wisdom is comprehension of what is true or right coupled with optimum judgment as to action. Synonyms include: sagacity, discernment, or insight. Wisdom often requires control of one’s emotional reactions (the “passions”) so that one’s principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one’s actions.

    • thanks Rick Webster James..
      nah, seriously Denny..that means a lot that you would list the definitions of wisdom..
      i need to work on “controlling one’s emotional reactions (the “passions”)” sometimes though..
      passion is such a vital part of leadership..however unbridled, it can lead to destruction..
      so i’m sure there’s a balance somewhere..
      i’ll continue my search..
      thanks again for your input..

  • Denise Barrett

    You are capable of holding ones attention no matter if it’s one person or a congregation. Your love for the Lord is very obvious. You are compassionate and care for others. You are definitely a leader of worship & because of your love of music, should probably do more of it. You have a passion for life and it shows in your love for your family, church, work & Your love for the Lord.

    • thanks Denise..i hope to lead worship as much as possible..it truly is a joy..

  • Shane

    Many people major in an area and have a minor or two, and some even have multiple majors. Most only excel in one or two areas, but focus on their strongest gift/trait to become successful in their career. That same person may or may not be successful in their personal life. Your job and personal life are not separate. Therefore, your personal measurement on success will only peak when you are great at both. Those are just the facts and not really alot of guidance there, but follow me here. YOU are a servant of Christ as we all should be, in all areas of your life. Are you happy doing that? Is that your purpose? Only you know the answers. Of course you are a great leader and a great worship leader, you have knowledge and wisdom to share that help you be the apostle that you are. Keep following me here. Now i’m disappointed. Being the leader that you and all of your follower’s know you are, how can you not know who listens to you? I do agree that you are capable of many things and certainly pinpoint laser accuracy in leading, but the answers you are searching for lie in the answer to your first question. Once you have that, you want need us in this brainstorming expedition.

    If you started your service on Sunday and i was the only person in the congregation, would you have service anyway?

    A pretty wise fellow once told me that how i felt after a service was irrelevant.

    We are selfish by nature. If you really are in the distillery, do you want us mixing the ingredients?

    • hmmm..good points..
      i would hope that regardless of the participants, i would still worship and lead..dynamics do make a big difference in the “how” part of the leading..
      but i do hope that i would still lead with bold assurance knowing that God would be in control and receiving the glory..

      on the point of knowing who is listening..i was probably unclear about that question..it was designed to see who was reading the blog..
      based on the normal “commenters” i know who is engaged in the conversation with me..but i was also reaching out to the “readers” who have yet to comment..they too have a perspective that i haven’t heard yet..and a valuable one..sometimes it is the quiet ones in the room who have the clearest perspective by listening and taking it all in without throwing their opinion out there..they are often the ones who can see all sides of the issue/topic clearly since they haven’t voiced an opinion and feel compelled to defend it..so i was simply “asking” for them to participate in this conversation..but after rereading the question in context, i do see how i miscommunicated that point..

      thanks for the insight, Shane..few people know me as well as you do..i value your words..

  • What can I say? I’ve known you about as long as anybody, and I’ve always known you to be a leader. No matter the arena or scenario, you’re a natural leader. It’s no surprise whatsoever to me that the highest-ranking spiritual gift for you was leadership.

    I’d say you’d make a good president, but that would take you way from ECC, so don’t get any ideas…

    • thanks Chris..

      i feel comfortable leading most of the time..
      and when i don’t..it’s obvious to the world..
      but i don’t want to ever be content..thus this project..

      thanks for the insight..i value your opinion..

  • Cheryl Turner

    As a fellow musician, and worshipper, I remember how impressed I was the first time I heard/saw you at Eastridge. Then, like the next week you left ECC for a time…I am glad you came back. You are a natural leader, and have a obvious gift for leading praise and worship. I’d like to hear you teach sometime. But, be careful with negative commercials from the pulpit.

    • sorry about the AT&T slam Cheryl..i haven’t slept since i made that comment..and knowing that Ma Bell signs your checks..yeah..i felt bad..ok..just a little..

      thanks for the word..however..it is very easy to lead folks when they’re so stinking good at what they do..we have some great media folks, tech geeks, musicians and worship leaders..so..i’m pretty sure a monkey could lead this smokin’ team.

      (i hope Kris Hodges doesn’t hear that)

      • Cheryl Turner

        In my short time at ECC (since ’03), leaders come and go, there is short list of the “called”. You, Trey are called.

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  • Michelle

    I think you are truly a gifted delegator. I mean the way you have things to do and so swiftly shift them to my plate is just amazing. Haha..I kid I kid.

    You are a leader..a great leader. An encouraging leader. You get passionate about something and then you lead everyone else to jump on board. You are passionate about your Lord..so keep being passionate and you are gonna have a train full of Jesus freaks. Don’t make us drink kool-aid though.

    • no kool-aid,Michelle..but i am thinking of taking up snake handling..

      and i don’t think it’s really delegation, i’m just leading you to do my tasks for me..

      so yeah..that’s just leadership, right?

      thanks for your help..i value your opinion.

  • Nikki Adams

    You are a very gifted Leader! Brett and I have said since the first time you led Worship on a Sunday Morning (that we were there) that you had a great “presence” on stage. You handle yourself well in difficult situations and you have a “natural”/”realness” about you when you lead. I’d say your “One thing” would be leading. I still remember the Offering thought you gave months back about your daughter and the pictures she gives you and how you continue to supply her with the paper and crayons! Great stuff!

    • thanks Nikki..

      i like word pictures..that’s why i use them..
      they make the complex world make a little more sense..

      thanks again..this helps.

  • Ellen Chaffee

    Well..let’s see..I have known you for a very long time..the first time I ever saw you and heard you on stage worshiping and leading others for God I was quite impressed. At the time (I was still in middle school) I remember thinking that “this man has a purpose, to show all of us who God is and who he represents.” You are talented in many areas, vocally, leadership, speaking. You’re a great dad, and people are drawn to you. I wouldn’t change a thing about who you are or what you are doing with your life but there are ways to enhance your gifts. I am sure that the youth at ECC or in the community would love to hear your talents.

    • thanks Ellen..

      sharing with more folks..that’s kinda like an apostle..
      and they were all killed in the new testament..
      so..maybe on that one..


  • Cassie Laffan

    You are truly a gifted speaker. You make something that can make no sense at all to others truly come alive and be real to me. You are very passionate about what you do and you work well at encouraging others to get on baord with what they are passionate about as well.

    • thanks for helping me sort through this..

      passion and communication..got it.

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