What do I know about forgiveness?
Enough to know that it isn’t easy. Enough to know that it is a process. And enough to know what it is not.
I was raised to know the importance of forgiveness. It was an easier principle to put into practice as long as I was in the loving home of my childhood. However, as an adult, I have had more reasons to forgive and more years to face its challenges. When it comes to forgiveness, I’ve lived it, accepted it, given it, and messed it up.
It has been decades ago, but I will never forget the feeling I had when I first realized forgiveness would be a constant presence in my life. I’ll never forget where I was sitting. The way the air felt. The feeling that the bottom had just dropped out of my world. The knowledge that things would never be the same.
My husband--the love of my life, the man I saved myself for, the only man I had ever known in the Biblical sense--had just told me that he had “known” another woman. Not just any woman. A close friend.
He cried. He was SO sorry. He begged my forgiveness.
God did a healing in our marriage.
I did not believe in divorce. However, I did believe in forgiveness. He promised it would never happen again. He told me if I really had forgiven him, I would not talk about it or bring it up.
Then a few years later, it happened once again. Again, he begged my forgiveness. By then, we had a precious baby girl and pastored a large church. Again, he begged me to tell no one.
We went to six months of marriage counseling which resulted in his promise that it would never happen again--and a promise from me that if it did, I would leave. We stayed together and had another precious baby girl.
God did another healing in our marriage.
Two years later, he confessed to me that he had been involved in three additional affairs over the period of one year. Once again, he begged my forgiveness and wanted to stay together and work it out.
Something inside me broke. I was done. Done covering up. Done having my heart torn to shreds. The divorce was difficult with years of drama and pain.
So you may ask, what do I know about forgiveness?
We cannot balance the scales. Forgiveness means the scales are forever out of balance. It means that one person is always going to owe a debt. It’s only when we forgive the debt that we can heal.
Several years ago, after we had both remarried and re-established our lives, a deep healing came. As we sat visiting on the front porch after he had visited our daughters, I shared with him that although the intellectual decision to forgive him had been made years ago, only recently had I felt that I had emotionally forgiven him. I told him he did not owe me anything and I wanted him to know that I released him to be happy and free in his life. He in turn asked my forgiveness. This time there was such a feeling of peace. I am so grateful the Lord allowed us to have this conversation, because he tragically died two months later.
What do I know about forgiveness?
I know that forgiveness allows you to put the pain and hurt behind you, release it, and move beyond the hurt and heal. With all we have been forgiven in our own lives, how can we not offer forgiveness, love, and mercy to those around us?
If one word could depict a life, Julie Davenport’s would be “redemption.” As a child in the Perkin household, Julie’s character was forged within a legacy of faith, godliness, and ministry. So when she married a charismatic young pastor on the fast-track to prominence, life was everything she’d dreamed it would be . . . on the outside. But inside, alone and hidden from view, Julie endured abuse, betrayal, and infidelities that spiraled to include miscarriage, cancer, divorce, mental illness, and eventually suicide. With a BA in Art Education from Southwest MO State University, Julie served as a parent educator with the Independence MO School District for many years. She is now an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God. Today, through speaking engagements and two daughters continuing the legacy of ministry, God is using Julie’s life-story to validate His immeasurable grace and prove His power to redeem what Satan tried so hard to destroy.
Things certainly don't turn out the way you plan.
God knew what he was doing when he brought Kris into our lives. He planned everything out right down to the very last detail. He laughed as we bought cribs and strollers. He waited patiently as we begged him for a baby. And I know that He must have smiled the day that we moved all of our son's stuff into our house for good.
Our licensing worker actually laughed at us the other day when we came to a foster care training and dropped him off in the babysitting room. She asked how things were going, and when we said they were going great, she said "Age range zero to one? Hah!"
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (The Message)
Yes, things certainly don't turn out the way you plan...they turn out better!
The Southern Missouri District recognizes and supports churches in the crucial and viable ministry to foster and adoptive parents. The following organizations may be of help in the development of this type of ministry:
Every day, I get to do what I love. Create, teach, equip, resource, and encourage.
I could live by the motto: Eat, breath, sleep, repeat, when it comes to my vocation. Events, training, collaborative meetings, serving, new ideas, emails and social media messages seem to come as if I am playing a rapid fire game of Minute-to-Win-It.
It has never been my desire to create an on-demand life, but some days, I find myself fighting an uphill battle of firefighting instead of purpose making.
Looking back, an on-purpose fixed schedule is the only way I have ever accomplished big dreams, like graduating from college, writing books or running a marathon. When I finished my masters program a few years ago and had more space in my schedule I decided I would try an on-demand schedule (say yes to every invitation). I do not regret that choice. Saying yes to every opportunity or need is how I discovered what was next. It has led me here.
Over the last six months as God started putting bigger dreams of what was next on my soul, I knew it was time to put down the fire hose and have a calendar makeover.
That means this leader needs to quit playing whack-a-mole (thank you Carey Nieuhwof for the analogy), responding immediately to every need or dust bunny that appears and go back to an on-purpose fixed schedule like the one that led me to success in school, writing and running. If you are not already doing this and have a dream, I hope you will join the adventure.
Here are five ways to live a life on-purpose:
Living on purpose is how we offer our best selves to the world.
When our focus is intentional and single focused, people will know we care.
Angelia Craig is a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, a writer, a minister, a coach, and a social justice and non-profit junkie. Angelia says, "Not necessarily always in that order. In my role as director of the Women’s Department at the Northwest Ministry Network, I get to do what I like to do best: create, teach, write, and learn through others. I am also passionate about helping people discover and live out a passion—and purpose-filled life in my role as a certified Gallup Strength Coach and president of the Give Good Awards Foundation. My favorite quote by author Paulo Coelho: “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation” encapsulates my mission in life." This blog was posted on June 19, 2017 at hergreenroom.com.
It's not what you say, it's how you say it.
It's a cliché, but it's true. Body language is a crucial part of communicating. The way you act can warp the entire meaning of what you're saying.
That being said, bad body language habits are the often hardest habits to break. We become so accustomed to slouching, averting our eyes, or folding our arms that we barely even notice what we're doing.
Here are several body language mistakes that are going to be tough to ditch. Still, if you're able to quit them, you'll definitely thank yourself later.
If you've gotten into the habit of fidgeting, it can be difficult to snap out of it. But it's important to take steps to reigning in this nervous habit.
Fidgeting demonstrates nervousness and a lack of power, as body-language expert and The Power of Body Language author Tonya Reiman previously told Business Insider.
Leave your hair alone. Constantly running your hands across your scalp and twirling your locks is pretty distracting. Plus, as ABC reported, it can damage your hair overtime. It can be hard to quit, so try playing around a stress ball instead of your hair.
Adopting a defensive pose
Many people naturally cross their arms or hunch over a bit just because they don't know what to do with their hands.
However, this posture can make you look uncomfortable, defensive, or untrustworthy.
“You should always keep your hands in view when you are talking,” Patti Wood, a body- language expert and author of “ SNAP: Making the Most of First Impressions Body Language and Charisma,” previously told Business Insider. When a listener can't see your hands, they wonder what you are hiding.“
Doing weird things with your hands
To gesture or not to gesture? That is the question. Some people keep too still while speaking, while others flail all over the place.
As The Washington Post reported, behavioural consultant Vanessa Van Edwards notes that using hand gestures while speaking is actually an effective way to engage your audience.
The trick is, avoiding the hand gestures that will trip you up. Don't point, don't pretend to conduct an imaginary orchestra (seriously), and don't get too choreographed.
Shuffling instead of walking
Humans are pretty judgmental creatures. We think we can tell a lot about someone based on snap judgments over something as simple as their manner of walking.
BBC reported that how we walk can actually determine our risk of being mugged. Criminals are less likely to target people walking with an air of confidence.
It can be hard to change up your walk once you've fallen into bad habits, but it's important to walk with confidence and coordination. Don't shuffle through life.
Forgetting to smile
Reiman previously told Business Insider that smiling demonstrates confidence, openness, warmth, and energy.
“It also sets off the mirror neurons in your listener, instructing them to smile back. Without the smile, an individual is often seen as grim or aloof,” she explained.
There's nothing more irritating than talking to someone who's clearly not paying attention to you.
Some people are just naturally distracted or busy, so it can be tempting to check your phone or watch at every available moment. Still, you've got to keep this impulse in check when you're around others. Otherwise, you'll just come across as a rude and uncaring person.
Stand up straight. Terrible posture is easy to develop, especially if you're slouched over a desk for the majority of the day.
Slouching doesn't just make you look un-confident, writes Catherine New for Psychology Today, it's also bad for your back. Improve your health and the image you present to the world by standing up straight.
Nonexistent or aggressive eye contact
Here's another body language pitfall where moderation is key.
What Your Body Says (And How to Master the Message) author Sharon Sayler previously told Business Insider that the ideal amount of eye contact should be “a series of long glances instead of intense stares.”
Overly long stares can make whoever you're talking to pretty uncomfortable. On the other hand, averting your eyes indicates disgust or a lack of confidence.
Being too still
It's definitely good not to be jumping all over the place, constantly. However, you don't want to be too eerily calm during conversations. This may make people feel uneasy, or that you're not interested in what they're saying.
Instead, try to mirror the person you're speaking with. Don't mimic them - they'll probably get offended by that - but subtly copy some of their gestures and expressions. Writing for Psychology Today, Dr Jeff Thompson notes that mirroring will leave people perceiving you as positive and persuasive.
It can be tough to break out of your poker face, especially if you're just naturally not that expressive - but it's worth trying, since it can improve how you're perceived.
Mismatching verbal and non-verbal communication
You might be saying all the right things - but if your body language doesn't match up with your words, you might end up rubbing people the wrong way.
In fact, researchers at Sacred Heart University devoted an entire study to this phenomenon. Their subjects were married couples, but their finding was pretty universal — when verbal and non-verbal messages do not align, “nonverbal signals carry the brunt of the emotional message.”
In every storm and heartache, he carried me, especially when I couldn’t carry myself—and he does the same for you.
God loves you. God is good, God does good, and God is always working all things for our good—even through all the unexpected events (Romans 8:28). He doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but he’s always there leading us, working in the midst of them for our good. He always has a plan, purpose and destiny for our lives regardless of what we see going on (Jeremiah 29:11).
These are words written by Christine Caine of Propel Women to speak life into us. These are words we should indelible write upon our hearts and preach to ourselves each and every day. This piece was written by Christine at the beginning of 2017, but forget about the year these words of wisdom were written for, and apply them to this year, this time, this moment in your life.
1. Stop doing things that aren’t working so you can start doing some things that are working.
I know this sounds so basic, but it’s amazing how long we will continue to do the same old thing expecting a different result—and it’s not going to happen. Just because you’ve always done it that way doesn’t mean that’s the way you need to continue doing it. Maybe it’s something you’ve connected to—like the pain from abuse—and it’s time to put it down and let it go. Maybe it’s how you’re balancing your family life or how your running your office. I continually evaluate our leadership of A21 and Propel, along with my team, to see what is working and what is not. And what is not, we have to let go.
2. Stop investing in relationships that are taking you nowhere so that you can start building relationships that will take you somewhere.
It’s amazing how many friends and acquaintances we have in our lives that really just drain us. It’s time to lean away from the people who might have been good for you in the last season, but they are not good for you in this season. You may love them dearly, but they are no longer good for you. God wants you building your inner circle with people who can help you get to where you’re going—who can help make a difference in your life.
3. Stop trying to change other people, and just let the Holy Spirit change you.
In my 50 years of living, I can tell you, no one can change anyone but God. Changing people is the Holy Spirit’s job, not yours. You are simply not that strong. If you will drop this, you will sleep much better and have a whole lot more peace in your life.
4. Stop trying to please everybody, and start just trying to please God.
The truth is you are never going to please everybody—not even some of the time. So set yourself free. If I tried to please everyone with what I post on social media or write in my books, I would be a man-pleaser and not a God-pleaser. I certainly don’t want to offend or hurt people, ever. I love people, but I can’t please everybody—and neither can you. Drop it and let it go.
5. Stop looking for the path of least resistance, and start embracing the challenging path of going to where you want to go.
You’re not going to build the spiritual muscle, the tenacity, that you need to end up where you’re going, if you take the path of least resistance. We’ve grown accustomed to having an app do the work for us in so many areas. But there are no apps for building character or tenacity. We have to do the hard work of crucifying our flesh, obeying Jesus, and going the distance in our race.
John Maxwell says everything worthwhile in this life is uphill. He’s right. By choosing to be all that God has created and called me to be, I’m choosing the challenging path and daring adventure of where he wants me to go—even if it’s uphill.
6. Stop procrastinating, and start doing what you need to do.
Just because you’ve decided to do something doesn’t mean you’ve done it. Too many women make New Year’s resolutions and a year later haven’t accomplished any of them. Don’t be that woman. Don’t put off what you can do today for tomorrow. Don’t say, “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow. I’ll eat healthy tomorrow. I’ll start reading my Bible tomorrow. I’ll start being nice tomorrow.” It’s not good when that becomes the story of our lives.
I have wanted to get my master’s degree for years, and I have decided to go for it in 2017. No more putting it off until tomorrow. Whatever it is you need to do—apologize to someone, get a relationship right, address inner issues in your heart—stop procrastinating. Do it today.
7. Stop expecting people to be Jesus, and let Jesus be Jesus.
A lot of the conflicts in our marriages and friendships could be eliminated if we quit expecting from others what we can only get from God. I get up early so I can get from Jesus what I need from Jesus—and so I won’t unintentionally try to get it from my family or pastors or team.
When we let people off the hook, when we quit expecting them to be Jesus in our lives, then we quit being a victim and start taking responsibility for ourselves. That’s when we make Jesus bigger than anything anyone has done to us in our past. That’s when we get free.
8. Stop blaming everything and everyone else for where you are in life, and start making what Jesus did for you bigger than what anyone has ever done to you.
Maybe you’ve had a past like mine where there’s been pain and abuse. It wasn’t our fault. We didn’t ask for it. But we can’t live our lives as victims. I’ve made what Jesus did for me bigger than what anyone did to me. I’ve made what Jesus said to me bigger than what anyone else has said to me.
This is your year to drop the baggage. Get my book, Unashamed, and learn how to walk free from all that you’ve been through. God has used this book more than any other I’ve written to help people find freedom.
9. Stop being so hard on yourself, and start loving yourself.
Jesus took all the commandments and summarized them into the two most important points: Love God, and love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-3). When you don’t like yourself, you tend to not like others. When you’re hard on yourself, you tend to be hard on others.
So give yourself forgiveness, grace, mercy, genuine love and kindness. Start with discovering and loving who you are in Christ. Learn to truly love yourself so you can genuinely love others.
10. Stop doubting and start believing for the best.
Perhaps from your perspective—and certainly from so many who’ve posted on social media—you think everything that happened in 2016 was a mess—from the political process to the social unrest to the tragedies around the world. And it has stirred up insecurities in you, anxiety, fear and doubt. Consider this instead: Two thousand years ago, God said he would build his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
Well, I’ve read the end of the book and we win. So, even if all the economies of the world are in flux, let’s keep moving forward sharing the love and grace and mercy and goodness of God with everyone we encounter.
Let’s stay focused on the truth: The government rests on Jesus’ shoulders (Isaiah 9:6). All things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26). He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, and no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9). We are on top and not on the bottom (Deuteronomy 28:13). We are women of God, women of prayer, women of faith.
So let’s stop doubting and start believing for the best. We’re entering... 2018 on the winning side!
Christine Caine is an Australian-born, Greek-blooded activist, author and international speaker. She is cofounder of the anti-human trafficking organization, The A21 Campaign, the founder of Propel Women and the author of the new book Unashamed: Drop the Baggage, Pick Up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny. For more information visit www.christinecaine.com.
“I was just trying to be encouraging.” I told my husband (with a pout) after he pulled me aside during a dinner party to tell me I had interrupted a friend before they’d barely had a chance to tell their story. Somehow, my husband and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on my conversation style. He thought I was being rude, and I thought I was rescuing the person from the isolation one can feel sharing personal details.
After a good amount of reflection, and some more pouting (ineffective, might I say), I realized my husband was right. I realized during my time of reflection and observation that not only do I interrupt people to encourage, I also interrupt to:
Interruption is also common in workplace teams. I have been on teams where people didn’t hear or reflect on anything the speaker was saying. They were simply waiting for the speaker to breathe so they could give their own opinion or ideas.
Do you see yourself in these reflections? If you do, don’t worry—this is human nature. We have experiences and opinions to share. This isn’t all bad.
The question to answer is: When to speak and when to be silent?
Throughout history people have been trying to answer this question.
I learned a lot about listening on a recent trip to Ireland. We visited several monasteries that were established around the 4th century (maybe earlier). From the beginning, monks have had the highest regard for silence. After reading the monks’ guidelines for speaking, my 16-year-old said: “If you did all these things, you would rarely speak.” He might be onto something.
Here are the five standard guidelines for speech (summarized):
The Bible is also filled with teaching about speaking. I found at least sixty Scriptures on the benefits of listening and silence. As we close today’s blog, here are a few Scriptures to consider and meditate on:
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20 ESV)
Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Proverbs 17:18 ESV)
Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20 ESV)
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. (Proverbs 18:2 ESV)
The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. (Proverbs 16:21 ESV)
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4 ESV)
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One of the reasons I love and trust the Bible is that very few of the “heroes” always do it right. In fact, most of the main characters are deeply flawed.
I love this. It speaks to the authenticity of the Scriptures. I mean, who in their right mind, if they were trying to create a religion would make all the characters as messed up as the characters in the Bible?!
Secondly, because the heroes in the Bible are a tangle of brilliance and bumbling, I feel like I can relate and learn from them. In fact, I think one of the greatest lessons in leadership comes from the Bible.
So, today I want to share a leadership lesson from one of the leaders in the Old Testament. I realize none of this will be new or ground-breaking but hopefully this will redirect us and keep us from slipping into unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior.
So here we go…Remember that crazy story from the book of Numbers where the people are complaining again? That’s pretty much the entire journey from Egypt to Canaan, but in this particular story, they are complaining about being thirsty.
And then, if you remember, God tells Moses and Aaron to speak to the rock and water will pour out. Instead of speaking, Moses strikes the rock and then God disciplines him by barring him from entering the Land of Promise. Ouch.
What’s the point of this story? And what can we, as leaders, learn from it?
Here’s the simplest way I can think of summarizing this story: As a leader, God cares more about your heart than your results.
Whether he spoke or hit the rock the results would have been the same… water. It’s what the people needed and what they demanded. But, God took issue with the “how” and it had everything to do with trust and obedience.
For me, the trouble in this area started in Bible College. My personal Bible reading morphed into my required Bible reading. This began a merger between my professional spiritual life and my personal spiritual life.
The results of my ministry, from an external perspective were right on track but at the same time, my heart was not fully engaged with God. This is a dangerous place to be. Thankfully, I was able to correct this behavior by reprioritizing my personal relationship with God.
A few questions I might encourage you to wrestle with as you consider where you’re at:
One secondary temptation here is to believe that all that matters is having a vibrant faith. I do think that our efforts do matter. This is why we talk about strategies, measurable goals and excellence.
These things really do matter. From my experience, we are at our best as ministry leaders when we strike a balance between heart and results. When our hearts are fully committed to God and our efforts are focused on leading with excellence, we are in our sweet spot.
Moses didn’t lose the opportunity of a life-time because of a bottom-line issue. He lost it because of a heart issue.
It is very unlikely that you and I will lose our ministries because of attendance dipping. However, we will be in serious danger of losing our ministries when our hearts drift from God.
The lesson here is heart over results.
This post was written by Aaron Buer on July 6, 2017 for www.breezechms.com.
“Are you saying no because of your weight?”
Those words caught me off guard and stung. I’m always amazed at the freedom some feel to say what they do.
Rather than respond with a full-frontal attack, I used gentle words so I could hide the hurt. “No, I just don’t want ice cream right now. Thanks, though.”
In that moment—at a dinner with old friends that should have been filled with joy and celebration—I found myself in a very tangling situation. I put on a brave face and pushed through. The last thing I wanted to do was ruin the evening for everyone else. But honestly, I’m so tired of just pushing through. Even more, I’m frustrated that my self-worth is still so easily tangled.
Isn’t there a point in our lives when insecurity shouldn’t knot us up anymore?
The shaming voice inside tells me I should be able to overcome it. And so often I agree:
The struggle to see the truth of our worth isn’t new. Chances are you’re intimately aware of the places you don’t feel like you “measure up.” And dare I say it’s a battle we’ll most likely carry to the grave because part of the human condition is wondering if we’re good enough.
Those insecurities cause us to take a sobering look at our life to see if we’ve been a success. We want to know we made a difference—our lives, our words, our actions—during our time here. We need to know we matter.
So we wonder… Am I raising my kids the right way? Have I been the kind of wife my husband needed? Am I doing enough to create healthy community and love on others well? Am I a good friend? Have I volunteered enough hours? Am I nurturing my relationship with Jesus enough? Do I handle our finances like I should? Am I as encouraging and affirming with my words as she is? Do my opinions and ideas matter?
We want to know we’ve contributed to the world in significant ways. Our hope is to know we’re beautiful in our own way, and others see it too. And we need to know that no matter what, we are valuable.
So when a careless comment tightens the tangle of worthlessness, it hurts so deep.
In my naivety, I thought I’d eventually grow out of insecurities. I assumed being an adult meant the craving for worldly acceptance and approval would stop. But for many of us, we are still getting tangled by the same ole people and the same stupid situations.
But here is what I’ve learned. Victory doesn’t mean we’ll never struggle with insecurity again. Victory means that when we feel the knot begin to tighten, we are quicker to see it and faster to take our tangle to God.
And even more, God never measures our value by the way we look, what we’ve accomplished, the money we have made, the health of our body, or any other worldly measuring stick. God values us simply because we’re His.
“You are the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For the things that are considered of great value by people are worth nothing in God’s sight.” (Luke 16:15 GNT)
What a beautiful reminder that God’s scales are not the same as the world's. And this scripture offers a powerful warning not to allow the world’s definition of success and beauty be the judge of our value and worth.
So how can we learn to see ourselves through the eyes of God?
Because when we do—when we truly untangle—words won’t hold the same power over us anymore. And when someone questions why we’re skipping dessert (or we get triggered in some other way), we’ll remember that God sees the beauty and complexity of our heart… and delights in His creation!
This blog post was written by Carey Scott for Propel Women in June, 2017. She is an author, speaker, and life coach, honest about her walk with the Lord…stumbles, fumbles and all. She is the author of Untangled, a book where she bravely shares her story of abuse, the insecurities birthed from it, and offers practical advice on how to live in freedom. Carey lives in Northern Colorado with her family. Learn more at CareyScott.org. You can also connect with her on Facebook,Twitter or Pinterest.
No matter how great of a minister, husband, leader or father he is, he’s not immune to adversity.
Church dilemmas erupt, leaving his leadership landscape shaken. Sin happens, either committed by him or against him. A friend that was life-giving awkwardly leaves the church. Exhaustion eventually affects his emotional stamina. The list continues.
Whether his struggle is private or public, as his wife you feel a version of his pain and walk in the aftershocks of his struggle.
How do we walk wisely with our husband in the landscape of his suffering?
Resist reacting with emotional solutions that bring temporary relief.
When he hurts, you hurt. Any path to relief, even if temporary, seems right in the moment. Job’s wife could only think of one thing to relieve her husband from his suffering – quit! “Curse God and die.” Let’s not rush to be too harsh on her. I’ve entertained saying, “quit” to my husband, too. Everything they had built together was gone! She had been the wife to the “greatest man of all the people of the east” (Job 1:3). They both lost children, financial security and reputation in the community. And now she’s watching her suffering husband and probably thinking, “ENOUGH!” Yet, temporary relief doesn’t change reality.
Cling to the reality that God is sovereign in our suffering.
Pain in the present distorts our ability to comprehend anything beyond our present circumstances. Job and his wife didn’t have a clue that a conversation had occurred between God and Satan. While their circumstances were incredibly painful, there was another reality they weren’t privy to. And no amount of logic attempting to answer the question, “Why is this happening?” would have unveiled the real reason. God’s sovereignty shadows our suffering.
Recognize his vulnerability and the value of your strength.
In suffering our husband is more vulnerable than he may admit. He may flirt with quitting or react by isolating. Chuck Swindoll confessed, “Men are weakened when times of affliction hit…In our weakened condition we lose our objectivity, sometimes our stability. We become vulnerable and most men don’t know how to handle themselves in a vulnerable state of mind. We become – hard as it is to admit this – afraid. So in light of all this, hear me – we need your clear perspective, wisdom, and spiritual strength. We need your words of confidence and encouragement. We even find it hard to say, ‘I need you right now.’”
Be present, but don’t always talk.
A loving presence that is courageously resolute and unconditionally available speaks loudly. Sometimes, there are just no words that need to be said. Give him a safe place and space to process. At times he needs be alone. Other times, he needs you near without words. If he speaks, listen. A safe space is comfort to a hurting soul. Your presence in pain creates a deep, unspoken intimacy.
In the shadow of our leader-husband, we often default to his initiation in spiritual intimacy. However, we are in partnership on this journey. When my husband was in his own pit of despair I asked him, “What do you need from me?” His first answer was, “I need you to initiate praying because I just have no words.” Don’t ask if he wants to pray, just start praying out loud with him. Initiate ushering both of your hearts before the throne of God.
Discipline yourself to build-up strength reserve, now.
Adversity will come. You can’t fake strength. Those who possess it have built it from a disciplined conditioning of the heart. Build up strength and you will walk wisely beside him in his pain.
Here's a blog from Breeze Church Management Systems. Their slogan is "We're sharing everything we're learning as we help churches simplify." This is a topic we don't always hear about, but is one of vast importance in our churches. How important are your volunteers to you?
Recently, my team embarked on a project. We asked ourselves:
“What’s the one thing?”
In other words, what’s the one thing that if we focused on it, it could impact everything else in our ministry in a positive way? We wanted to focus. Our desire was greater effectiveness in our ministry.
After some research and a series of team debates, we landed on volunteers. In our ministry, our success rises and falls on the effectiveness and longevity of our volunteers. My suspicion is that your ministry is the same. Whether you lead a children’s ministry, student ministry, hospitality ministry or care ministry, the number and quality of your volunteers is a determining factor in your success. So, here’s a question: How do you inspire volunteers towards greater effectiveness?
This is a question that we’ve been wrestling with and although we’re not completely where we want to be, I think we’re headed in the right direction. Here are a few ideas.
Stories that Need to be Told
Over time we’ve come to recognize that nothing inspires like a good story. We’re built to resonate with a good story. This is why we love a good movie or book so much. Because of this we include a segment in each of our staff meetings called, “Stories that need to be told.” During this time, we share stories of impact in our ministry. These stories remind of why we do what we do and they energize us toward our goals. In short, a good story inspires.
Recently, we decided to expand this tradition by also starting each of our volunteer meetings with “Stories that need to be told.” The truth is nothing inspires volunteers like a good story — a good story that reminds them of three things:
If you want to inspire volunteers, you, as a leader have to become a story collector. Everywhere you go in your ministry and everyone you talk you, your job is to collect stories and then retell them in ways that inspire the team.
Most volunteers battle with a nagging question: “Am I doing a good job?” Everyone hates to fail. It’s part of human nature. We want to win. We want to succeed.
The trouble with volunteering is often that the win isn’t clear. In my experience, when the win isn’t clear, human nature often leads us to believe we are failing. Volunteers who believe they are failing won’t last long.
The remedy for this is clear wins. When your volunteers know exactly what it looks like to win, they are very likely to hit the mark.
So, in your ministry, what’s the win? Can you clearly and succinctly state the win for each volunteer role? If not, it’s time to gather your team and create one sentence job descriptions for each volunteer role. The clarity will inspire your volunteers.
Something I’ve learned in ministry that is incredibly frustrating and yet liberating is that people only want to know what they need to know only when they need to know it. It’s the principle of “right now.” What I mean by “right now” is “what is immediately next?” It’s perceived as “right now.”
In other words, your volunteers aren’t going to catch most of the information that you share concerning what they need to know next month or next semester but they will listen attentively to what they need to know next week, or even better, what they need to know today.
For years, I bucked this phenomenon saying things like “people need to plan!” and “people need to care about what is coming!”… and finally, “people are just the worst!”.
And then I found myself ignoring most of the communications from my kids’ teachers that didn’t pertain to right now. Sigh. I am those people.
Here’s what I’ve learned: The way to maximize your communication impact and keep your sanity is to focus on what matters right now. Why? Because that is when people are actually listening and you are serving them well by helping them prepare for and understand what is coming up next.
If you want to inspire your volunteers, adjust your communication and training plan to focus on what is immediately next. Focus on the right now.
Two recent conversations led me to a breakthrough in understanding encouragement. The first conversation was between myself and a co-worker. My co-worker told me that when people write him a letter of encouragement it’s basically a waste of time. He doesn’t even really read them. I was like: “Wow. You’re a horrible person!”
That was conversation number one. Conversation number two involved my entire team as one of our team leaders led us through a conversation about the book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace”.
You probably know Gary Chapman from “The Five Love Languages”. The book follows the same ideas but in the work-place. In the course of our team conversation, we all discovered that everyone on our team has one or two languages of appreciation that really speak volumes and one that really speaks nothing.
What I learned from this exercise is that while I may believe I’m appreciating the heck out of one of my teammates, they may not be receiving it at all. Hence, my teammate who could care less about an encouraging note.
One of the best ways to inspire your volunteers is to appreciate them really well. It may be worth your while to explore this book and learn more about speaking the appreciation languages of your volunteers.
The last strategy for inspiring volunteers is the easiest and quite possibly the most effective. Food. That’s right. People love food and when you show up for a meeting and there are great snacks, you know it changes your mindset completely!
If morale is low among your volunteers, you probably have a lot of work to do to get moving in the right direction but quality snacks can provide a quick boost.
Let’s wrap this up. For us, everything rises and falls on the effectiveness of our volunteers. I’m guessing, you are much the same. So, how do we inspire our volunteers towards greatness? Tell stories, provide clarity around the wins, focus on the right now, target encouragement and for crying out loud feed them!
I would encourage you not to become overwhelmed with this list but rather to focus on whatever one thing you believe would create the most immediate impact. Let’s inspire our volunteers!
This post was written by Aaron Buer on June 14, 2017 for www.breezechms.com.
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