My One Word With Rachel Olsen and Mike Ashcraft

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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.

Read about my word Greatfull from 2013

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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Redefine Rich

Redefine Rich

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13 Responses to My One Word With Rachel Olsen and Mike Ashcraft

  1. Billy Beasley January 13, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    I love the ‘One Word.’ concept. Instead of a list of resolutions that I will probably fail at. I have ‘One Word,’ to focus on. I don’t look it as failure when I fall short of the mark, which I will most certainly do. I just keep focusing on my ‘One Word,’ and pray over it on a hopefully daily basis……………………………RELEASE… my one word of 15..

    • My One Word January 13, 2015 at 10:38 am #

      May this be a year of RELEASE for you, Billy.

    • Matt Ham January 14, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

      This brings a vision of an open palm, Billy. Let Him work in ALL THINGS!

      • Billy Beasley January 14, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

        Very true Matt..I have to watch those time I clench my fists..

  2. Jon Stallings January 14, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    Great interview Matt. I actually intended write a post on my blog about my one word over this past weekend but life happened. Hopefully – next week.

    My one word for 2015 is “Generous.”

    • Matt Ham January 14, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

      Great word, Jon! That’s the heart of the Invest in Others principle.

      My favorite verse to the end is 2 Corinthians 9:11

      • Jon Stallings January 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

        Thanks Matt for the Scripture. – I will be using that in m blog post

  3. Catherine January 23, 2015 at 2:50 am #

    This is my second time doing the my one word process with my Sunday school class. My one word is spirit.

    • Matt Ham January 29, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

      Spirit is a great word, Catherine.

  4. Robby Robbins January 29, 2015 at 10:13 am #


    Loved the Podcast, the part that really hit home was being ungrateful,
    man is that a struggle. Just that part along was worth it.


    Just one commit, around the thirteen minute mark Mike mentioned that resistance training build strength in relation to resistance build faith. In reality, resistance only breaks you down so that when you are resting your body can repair and be stronger. I hope this help to take a deeper look in to faith, our growth often comes in resting after the resistance occurs. Matt you know that when training for a race, if you over train you break down get injured and gains are lost. Its’ that push, rest, push, rest and repeat
    that help your gain. God is the perfect coach because he know what you are really capable of doing.

    • Matt Ham January 29, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

      Great insight, Robby! Push, Rest, Push, Rest, Repeat!


  1. My One Word for 2015 | Jon Stallings - January 19, 2015

    […] of my mind an let it marinate and bake a while. Finally last week I reveled my word on comment on Matt Ham’s podcast where he interviewed Ashcraft along with Rachel […]

  2. One Word for 2015 | Tammy Helfrich - February 6, 2015

    […] I don’t really believe in resolutions anymore, but I do like the idea of setting an intention for the year. If you’re not familiar with the concept, there are lots of posts talking about it. You can read about it on my friend Corie’s blog or listen to a great conversation about picking a word on Matt Ham’s podcast, Redefine Rich. […]