Matt Cavenaugh was his name…. the coolest guy in the school. Everybody loved the guy…. girls and guys and when you’re in middle school, like I was at the time, you just want to be around a guy like that. He was awesome at soccer…. the best player on the team in fact…. awesome at basketball… got good grades etc, etc…. but as I look back on it now he understood something that no one else did. He understood that people were looking up to him… and he understood that he had an opportunity to be kind and to see the good in people around him. Maybe that was the biggest part of Matt that made him so much fun to be around. When everyone else would be trashing you, this guy would walk up and tell you something like “Bro you’re killing it…. great job!” I remember vividly the day that I scored 2 goals in a soccer game against our cross town rival. Several of the guys on the team didn’t like me very much… probably because at the time I exuded weakness, and it was easy to not like me then…. but after I scored my second goal they were all laughing at how “ugly” it was. Matt ran from the other side of the field and high fived me like I had just won the super bowl and what do you know??? They all SHUT UP!! BRASH optimism can actually silence negativity!
Time went on and I moved to Texas and lost track of Matt, but my first two years of high school were just as bad as my days in middle school in North Carolina. Then one day a thought occurred to me. What made Matt so cool?
I did an experiment my junior year in High School. Up until that point in my life I was pretty much forgettable. I decided I would make an attempt at “changing my stars” and trying to be the Matt Cavenaugh of our school. I wondered what would happen if I decided that I would talk to every single person I saw in the halls and tried to make them smile. What if I introduced myself to everyone and attempted to be encouraging to all of them? What would happen around me?? My first attempts were a bit awkward as i worked on the ins and outs of being an extrovert…. which i had never been before. After a while I started to notice a change in me and in the people that I was meeting…. they started knowing my name and even being happy to see me on a day to day basis. The more that I talked to people and became a source of optimism, the more that they wanted to talk with me… and a little at a time I started to be encouraged as they were encouraged. I found that being optimistic as a HABIT actually began to make me optimistic in BEHAVIOR.
Soon I was one of the more “known” people in the school… wether I was popular or not didn’t matter, people actually knew who I was and enjoyed the time that they spent with me… and honestly I began to rise in “popularity” as a result. It was crazy… before long I was on a first name basis with people who were in social circles I had never even thought about entering in the first place. The truth is that I was a believer and some people were turned off by that, but that didn’t mean that they didn’t know my name and consider me one of the more influential people at our tiny little school in Mount Pleasant, TX. Not only that, but because I was practicing talking with people all the time, I began to notice that I had an extra measure of strength internally when it came time to share my faith.
Now, to be honest, I didn’t become the person that I am today in high school…. no, I struggled with my own insecurities as much as anyone else did, but I found that part of leaving insecurity behind was the my internal belief that God had plans for me and that I didn’t have to be afraid of what other people thought of me. The more I practiced being an extroverted, encouraging, confident, kind hearted person… the more I became that person.
Who among doesn’t struggle with some form of insecurity, or self doubt?? NOBODY. Maybe the way to move away from these things is to begin to believe what the Lord says instead of consistently quoting scriptures as words instead of TRUTHS?? His words are TRUTHS… so believe them.
Matt Cavenaugh had a real and lasting impact on my life on a social level, and it was only after years of unconsciously practicing extrovert behaviors that I finally realized that I was simply forcing myself to live biblical principles the whole time. Now that I am the front man of BUILDING429 and worship pastor of GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH I have found the power comes from practicing simple behavioral patterns coupled with living in light of the truth. It has made me a more confident leader. My pastor said in an email the other day that I was a “people magnet” which is hilarious because I am actually an extreme introvert based on every test that I’ve ever taken. Funny though, how God can take what is weak and feeble, and make it into a powerful influence for His kingdom. He can and WILL do the same thing with you if you will take Him at HIS word!!!
I want to finish this blog by asking you guys to chime in…… what are the scriptures that you remind yourself of when you get a bit discouraged that help you to remember that YOU WERE BORN TO LEAD THE WORLD TO JESUS!!
Here are a few of my favorites:
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
2 Timothy 1:7
For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
I COULD GO ON FOREVER…. in fact we should go on forever… what are some of your favorite scriptural truths that we all need to believe???