Fear, the Ring in Our Nose
by Terry Magness
I received a strong message growing up that I could do nothing right. As an adult, this belief led me to become a major people pleasing procrastinator. For an example, as a young married, I took art classes...for twelve years, and probably produced as many paintings. My work never reached the unattainable standard I set for myself. I continued painting on my pieces even after they were framed. A couple of decades ago I wrote two books. The first book took five years to construct, and the second, seven years. Why? Because I continually rewrote them! In my eyes, the books were never good enough for anyone to appreciate. Blogging is something I have had on the radar for years. However, the voices in my head as to why not to write have had the final say.
It was confusing. While involved in ministry in other countries, I experienced a confidence and boldness; but when I return to my own turf, I found fear waiting for me.
Something was wrong.
I did not realize how paralyzing fear could be even to a servant of the Lord. As a pastoral counselor, I was unprepared for the kinds of manipulation I encountered. I found it hard to say "no." I need to prove myself, right? Besides, I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings or to have anyone angry with me. I thought if I demonstrate God's love by being there for people, it would help them find and know the love of Jesus.
That was good intent, but because setting boundaries was difficult for me, I allowed myself to be swallowed up by the needs of others to my own detriment. The inevitable eventually happened. I experienced major burnout. I functioned superficially. My faith and trust in God was intact, but I was unable to relate to people more than skin deep. I was empty. I stepped down from my church staff position as pastoral counselor.
None of us can afford to ignore the signals. Fear in any form must be acknowledged and faced or it may well be our demise. Picture a bullfighter grasping the large ring in the bull's nose. That ring gives the bullfighter a distinct advantage. By that seemingly insignificant ring, he can conceivably pull a 500-pound bull to the ground onto his knees.
Is fear the ring in your nose? The Bible says, as followers of Christ, Satan is an enemy who seeks to stop us from accomplishing what God has called us to do. As long as we have a ring in our nose, Satan has the advantage. We can be faithful, powerful Christians, but the enemy will look for and find our weakness. He will target that fear, grab hold, and bring us down. Once he brings us to our knees, Satan then whispers lies in our ear. His lies convince us we cannot be what God created us to be or do what He called us to do. He accuses us again and again of our failures until we believe we cannot succeed. We lose confidence, our sense of self-worth, and our desire to try.
Recognizing fear for what it is and how it works in us is half the battle. I finally recognized the fear of man and the fear of failure that had plagued me for years. The recognition gave me courage to change. This was the first step toward ridding myself of fear, and obtaining victory.
Understanding what had happened and why, I began praying and asking God to deliver me from fear, to make me bold as a lion and harmless as a dove. Right away I saw small encouraging signs of answered prayers. Over time fear retreated. Boldness to be who I am to speak the truth in love began growing daily.
Even though fear confronts us from time to time, we know Who we believe! 1 Thessalonians 5:24 ESV tells us, "He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." He gives us victory!
And guess what...I'm writing!
Obedience and Transition
by Anna Maschmeyer
A ministry family seems to either exist in the assurance of their mission and longevity of their position or in a state of uncertainty and desire for transition. My ministry family recently took a leap and moved to a new church and city across the state. Transition means many things in the ministry, but for me it meant an opportunity to move in faith into untried territory.
For years I served the church as pastor and volunteer and taught full-time in a public high school. It was the most rewarding and exhausting life. The students are apathetic, curriculum is challenging to implement, assessments are labor intensive, actual learning is complex to assess, and federal and administrative regulation is exhausting. I loved teaching, but the all-encompassing nature of my pastor life and my teacher life took everything out of me.
Roughly three years ago, I began to pray for a better way to do life. I wanted to devote more time to our family and serve the church in a healthier capacity. Our family deserved more of me than it was getting. I intensely wanted to reserve the best of me for my girls, husband, and church. As I sought the Lord for a way to accomplish this, two things became clear. First, God spoke deeply into my heart that my calling was not about my career, but about being more like Him. I had preached this for years. Yet suddenly, it wasn’t just something to say. Jesus did not need my effort at school, my worries over the job, my time preparing lessons and grading; He needed my heart. My job was distracting me from giving Him my full attention. I was in essence serving two masters.
A year ago, we began thinking about transition to a new position. One of the things I wrote in my journal as we began to pray over the transition was, “Lord, I want to be free of the classroom.” I was not trying to be a stay-at-home-mom. As a driven, independent woman, I champion college and career ambition for my female students. So I looked for a position in a school, but out of the classroom. I thought just being out of the classroom would be enough.
When we relocated, the timing of the move meant teaching jobs were not available. As I’ve sought the Lord and explored options, more and more I was called to walk away from my career to be more like Jesus. Since August, I have started teaching our oldest to cook and do laundry. We finally have a regular chore schedule (something I never had time to put together before) for all three girls. My husband and I have been on a date every week since we’ve moved. I've written a 5-week Sunday School curriculum and taught it. The girls and I have had deep conversations about real things like politics, Jesus, and how to make friends. A couple of times my husband has asked, “Who are you?” because I am not falling asleep on the couch at 7 PM or cranky for no reason.
Don’t get me wrong, many of those things I listed above happened in small doses while I was teaching. My girls had chores; we did homework together; we read at night sometimes. My husband and I did date. Our family was not falling apart, but there wasn’t the structure or purpose in our home that I wanted. It was good, but not great. I had two masters constantly pulling me in different directions. The message is that there are good things we can do in our lives and there are God things. Our family was doing good things, but the God things were being squeezed out by exhaustion, stress, time, and mess. Although the budget is tight, I have not been this happy, nor this at peace, in a long time.
The lesson I am learning is that discerning His will is seldom about finding a place or a career, but it is always about becoming more like Him. Peace is there for us when we finally submit every area of ourselves, including our careers, to His Lordship. Our obedience even in the anxiety of transition makes us more like Jesus.
QUESTIONS: What have you learned in a ministry transition? About your faith? About yourself?
Can Discipline Make You Happier?
Discipline...sometimes I cringe when I hear that word. In some ways it comes across negative to me: hard work, restriction, sacrifice, failure. But deep down I know discipline is good for me, especially if I'm the one imposing it upon myself. I'm just not good at it.
This is one definition of discipline from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
1a : control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
c : self-control
Basically, we're talking about creating habits in our life. It seems that it's easy to create bad habits. Ever try to stop yourself from eating ice cream when you're sad? But good habits can be hard to create; it takes time, self-control, and determination. Remember hearing it takes 21-days to create a habit? Well, now they say that's a myth. Science now says it takes anywhere between 18 days and 8.5 months. Can it get any harder!
In her Propelwomen.org article, Building a Better Life Through the Power of Discipline, Hannah Brencher says,
It’s said that discipline leads to freedom, and I fully believe that now. When you learn to take care of yourself and order your tasks, your mind gets freed up. You're able to love people better and experience more peace.
Is it true that taking control of yourself, disciplining yourself in things you know are good for you, in things that you want for yourself, can make you happier? God's Word says yes!
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
I also know from personal experience that when I succeed in creating a good habit in my life or breaking a bad habit, it brings an overall good feeling of well-being, accomplishment, and happiness. For example, several years ago I took on the Whole 30 challenge. It was hard, but in the end I found out what was causing me to feel unwell...dairy...and I kicked a years-long habit of using Sweet 'n Low. Just that one thing alone, taking artificial sweetener out of my life, has made me feel like I accomplished a good thing and I am living a healthier life.
So, if disciplining myself is such a good thing, why is it so hard? I think it's hard for me because I'm weak and selfish - most of the time. I'm busy, distracted, and tired. When do I have time to add 'habit-making' to my agenda, let alone finding the energy to implement it? I don't think it's as hard as I make it out to be. Those excuses just might be my mechanism to justify not putting forth the effort.
But there are ways to make this habit-making or goal-making easier. Hannah Brencher suggests steps to start adding good and better habits to our lives:
I was recently having coffee with a girl about setting monthly goals. We were talking about how we love setting goals for the month and she told me that, for some unknown reason, she wasn’t nailing any of her goals. When she elaborated, I pointed out that her goals were really extreme. These goals were asking her to completely stop living one way and make a hard left turn in in the opposite direction.
So, what's keeping you from creating some good habits in your life? You know you've thought about it. Whether it's drinking more water, quitting artificial sweetener, reading the Bible in a year, or you name it, adding a good habit or deleting a bad habit in your life is good for you. And God's Word tells us we all have the power.
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
Read full article written by Hannah Brencher for Propelwomen.org here. This article written by Lisa Harris for Refresh Ministry Women.
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.
Recently, a church planter’s wife asked me for advice on her situation. I didn’t really premeditate my answer; it just came barreling out.
“Be flexible or die … those are your options.”
Her eyes got big, and so did mine. The advice was a strong blow to me, too.
But, if anyone is looking for a more thought-out word from a pastor’s wife today, this might be it.
If we are going to survive the tumultuous waters of ministry, we will have to be flexible.
According to Google, the definition of flexibility is, “the quality of bending easily without breaking.” To be honest, this word hurts my stomach right now. Growing up, I took pride in the range of motion in my joints. I stretched constantly and could bend in any direction. But recently, I tore the cartilage in my hip joint which has robbed me of all flexibility. I’m in pain just watching my daughters during their gymnastics classes.
Each group of joints in our body have different levels of extensibility. We may be flexible in our hamstrings allowing us to touch our toes but not in our quadriceps which affects our posture. See, you might think of yourself as flexible, but this isn’t really an all-or-nothing issue.
Let’s think about the different areas where we, as ministry wives, need to stretch in order to develop flexibility:
1. We must be flexible about scheduling. When something comes up that is unplanned (and it will), are we willing to let our preferences go? Or will we hold on with white knuckles or learn to trust God with every moment?
2. We must be flexible about family time. Yes, we schedule Thursday night as “family night.” But if “X-Y-Z” comes up, couldn’t we as easily protect a Sunday night?
3. We must be flexible in our expectations of others. We have both legitimate and illegitimate expectations of the people around us. While we may argue about which category it falls into, we can all agree that people will sometimes fail us. So, how will we respond? We’ve got to stretch far enough to reach grace.
4. We must be flexible in our expectations of ourselves. Even as I’m typing this, I’m frustrated because I was supposed to finish this blog post before picking up my daughter from class. I guess I need to adjust what I think I can accomplish in an hour. Anyone else with me?
5. We must be flexible in our patience. Not every season is equal. When my husband first started at Pillar church, he needed more space to figure things out. If we want our churches to flourish, we’ve got to stretch ourselves to develop patience ... especially when our husbands are stressed and fatigued under heavy loads.
6. We must be flexible in our ability to take criticism (real or perceived). Maybe criticism is coming from someone in the church or from someone in your home. We’ve got to stretch in our ability to not be so easily offended. After all, “It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11).
7. We must be flexible in our desires. We want too many things. Some of our desires are good, but some are bad. Many times these desires conflict (I really want to finish writing this blog post, but I also really want to exercise this morning). Everything becomes hard when we don’t bridle our desires, and we allow them to sneak in and compare our lives with those around us. We can’t have it all, so we’ve got to learn to "be content with what is in our hand" (I Tim. 6:6).
8. We must be flexible in our moral commitments. (Just kidding … just checking to see if anyone is still reading this.) We know there are things we can’t be flexible about. Knowing the difference is key!
Our husband’s job (and therefore our lives as pastors' wives) can be so unpredictable. This is not something we can control. The only thing we can control is how we respond to it. There is great freedom in this. But, we have to get our workout clothes on and do the hard work of training in righteousness.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Prov. 19:21).
Let’s trust our God, and put all our confidence in Him instead of our perfectly constructed plans.
This blog, written by by Annie B Garman, was posted in by Flourish on October 3, 2017.
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.”
This article was written by AINE CAIN and published on Independent.com in December 2017.
Ten Things to Drop
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.
The Power of Habits
Our small daily habits add up to our success or failure in areas of life. Understanding and mastering our habits (the big ones and the small ones) is a key secret of success.
There are truths I’ve come to realize about habits, whether they are considered good or bad habits, and whether people are trying to start new habits or shed undesirable ones.
If you’re looking to make change in your life, these six truths are sure to help.
1. BABY STEPS ADD UP When trying to change a habit, the cold turkey approach is most often a recipe for frustration. I find that little itty-bitty incremental shifts in behaviors is usually a far better way to ensure long-term change.
For example, if you want to incorporate more exercise into your life, you don’t need to say, “I’m going to join a gym and go for an hour every morning before work.” Instead start easily, such as resolving to walk around the block every evening and doing 5 sit-ups. Baby steps!
2. BUILDING ON ACHIEVEMENTS CREATES MOMENTUM Once you start changing a habit with baby steps, you can build on that success. That walk around the block becomes too short, so you extend it to the next block. You find you don’t stop at 5 sit-ups, you keep going and add a couple more.
It’s all about momentum; an object in motion tends to stay in motion, both literally and figuratively. Once change is kicked into gear, more change happens!
3. AVOIDING TRIGGERS IS CRITICAL
Actions often happen as reactions to an event, situation, or other stimuli; habits are often prompted by an outside trigger. Recognizing what these triggers are can go a long way towards changing your behavior.
For example, want to stop gossiping? Maybe skip that coffee date that seems to revolve around who’s doing what in the neighborhood.
Want to stop snacking at night while you watch TV? Maybe read a book in a different room instead of turning on that sitcom. (I know, I know, easier said than done!)
4. BE MINDFUL AND AWARE Do you reach for the sugar packets every time you have a latte, without even considering going without? Be aware of your actions and realize that you do have the choice to skip the sugar.
As you go through your day cognizant of what you are doing and the choices you have, you’ll likely be surprised at how much you do on a daily basis goes unnoticed because it’s second nature.
5. BELIEVE IN YOUR CALLING Know that as you are living out your calling, through the power of Jesus, you are capable of achieving whatever it is you are called to do. You can conquer those bad habits, and you can adopt those good ones. But the entire house of cards can fall down if you don’t start with a solid foundation of confidence in your God-given ability to do so.
6. EMBRACE (LITTLE) FAILURES What? Failure? Include it? Yes. If you aren’t failing now and again, then you aren’t challenging yourself. The person who never risks anything obviously isn’t going to fail, because they are playing it safe. Failure is just a stepping stone on the way to success!
Real change can’t happen if you don’t push yourself, and pushing yourself means potential failure on occasion. Fight the urge to be a perfectionist and allow the road to be a little bumpy on the way to your destination.
Alli Worthington is the author of Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy, speaker, blogger, and the Executive Director of Propel Women. Alli has helped individuals, small business owners and Fortune 500 companies be more successful. She lives outside Nashville with her husband, Mark, and their five sons. You can connect with Alli at AlliWorthington.com. This blog was posted on Propel Women in June, 2017.
I didn't know how tired until I face planted in my lunch the next day. I dragged myself to the car, having to concentrate lifting my foot as high as the curb. I kept my eyes open long enough to crawl in my car, and I slept for two hours in a crowded parking lot. I realized jet lag was more than tired. This was beyond my control!
Burnout is much the same. I think of burnout this way…there's a dark recess of your mind that is the end of you. The bottom of the rope, the last step before the cliff, that moment just before you fall asleep...the end. That place is a different spot for different people. Some people have a deeper reserve and can take much more of what life can throw at them. Others have a shorter fuse and reach their spot of depletion sooner. Either way, burnout takes you to a tired that sleep doesn't fix.
I found that dark recess in my mind I didn't know existed until now. Burnout. I feel stupid and weak admitting I was there. The lack of admission was part of the reason I got there. Because I feel stupid and weak admitting I have this breaking point, and I let my actions and the actions of others break me.
Being in ministry means being about people.
Honestly, I like helping people. I don't say that to make myself seem all humble and servant-like. If you know me, you know servanthood does not come naturally to me. Being bossy on the other hand does come naturally to me. I like helping people realize stuff. I am addicted to that moment when a girl sitting in front of me has the realization she can walk in total freedom from the past bad choices she has made. Or that moment when my husband and I are working through marriage problems with another couple, and they realize sticking it out is far more rewarding than being a quitter. There's no drug or alcoholic beverage that tops the exhilaration of seeing someone turn around and change their behavior for the better. I'm addicted. I admit it. I love seeing people be happy and work out their problems and I LOVE that I get to lead people to God's Word and watch their lives unfold.
There is this turning point, though, when you are in the business of helping people, that often times you start taking in information only to pass it back out. You hear a great sermon, a wonderful song, a cool quote, and you think "I could use that in a blog post. I need to tell my pastor wife friend about this podcast. I need to share this book with my friend who needs to hear this. I need to livestream the sermon so this other person can hear it who is at home with a sick child." And before you know it, everything you take in is getting passed right through you to other people. Even your morning devotions become note-taking sessions for others. Nothing is sticking, nothing is getting snagged for YOU!
...before you know it, everything you take in is getting passed right through you to other people.
During this season of burnout and comeback, we took a sabbatical for three weeks. My husband Jack and I went to a different church one weekend. We wanted to go some place we could just go in and sit down and go to church. We haven't done that in something like 14 years. It was an amazing feeling. I had forgotten how much I love God's Church and His people. Now keep in mind, I was reading the book, "Leadership Pain" by Sam Chand while I was on sabbatical. Guess what the whole sermon was about that morning? You guessed it. Leadership pain.
God definitely had something for me that morning, but instantly I started the pass through. I thought of my friend who needed to hear a certain quote. I thought of all the people I knew who I wanted to hear this sermon. It was an incredible message. But I was in the middle of the pass-through, thinking of all the people I could minister to from this sermon when God so sweetly showed me...maybe it's just you who needs the ministry right now. He showed me how it was alright to let these words from Bishop Walker at Mt. Zion resonate with me, and only me, for that moment. Tears filled my eyes and I allowed myself for the next hour to just sit and soak it all in. I did not want to miss one moment God had for me. I stopped the pass-through and I snagged every morsel taking notes as quickly as my thumbs could type.
It truly was a wonderful feeling. So many of us in ministry want to see our church family succeed. We deeply want the best for them, so we get in this state of pass-through, not retaining any of the wisdom and knowledge we hear from others to teach us, lead us, and help us grow. We eventually become empty; nothing more than a slot machine. Put in a quarter, pull the lever, out comes the advice.
It's okay to keep the pass-throughs going. But take time to snag some for yourself. Or better yet, snag the whole thing for yourself; let it steep for a while; then continue the pass-through. I challenge all my pastor friends, counselor friends, pastor's wife friends to notice how often you go into pass-through mode. The next time you realize it, stop and think about what you're hearing or reading and how it can apply to YOUR life first, and you will take a step in guarding yourself against burnout.
This blog by Sheila Harper was posted on Dec 11, 2017 at Sanctuaryministrywives.com. Sheila and her husband, Jack, have been in full-time ministry at SaveOne since 2000. The couple planted a church in 2007, so Sheila has been a pastor’s wife for 10 years. Sheila and Jack have two sons, ages 27 & 29. "Neither are married, but I am looking for wives for them so I will be one step closer to having grandchildren," quips Sheila. When asked what shaped her ministry philosophy, Sheila answered, "Pain. Plain and simple. I started SaveOne from a place of wanting to make sure others didn’t experience the same pain I did after an abortion. I wanted everyone to know the truth of what abortion really does to you." As far as the church, "what shaped my ministry philosophy was realizing, if I’m not healthy I could derail my husband’s ministry. As a pastor’s wife I am possibly the most vulnerable in the whole church. I have to take time for soul care, and the whole church remains healthier because of it." Sheila enjoys "hiking, drinking coffee, hiking, reading, hiking, hanging in my hammock in the woods, and hiking" when she comes across some free time. Sheila's greatest passion in ministry comes from seeing people be transformed from the inside out. "When a person walks in and doesn’t know Jesus, gives his/her heart to Him, lets themselves be discipled, and their life start to come together….I don’t know of a greater joy than that."
I Am Doing a New Thing (Part 3)
It is not necessary to include every word written in my journal—it would take months of weekly posts to do so. What IS important, is for me to convey to you how big, how loving, how faithful, and how amazing our God is. If He can do this new thing in me, He can and will (if you let Him) do it for you. That is my prayer! If you would like to catch up with last week’s blog, click here.
Several days after my trip to the ER, my husband felt it necessary for the two of us to get away to a place of quiet and solitude for healing to begin. Restlessness and anxiety were something I could not shake. I thought I was losing my mind.
January 16, 2011, 9:11 P.M.
"I stood in a place I have never stood before, challenged to let God work through the process of healing my mind and restoring rest to my body. God led [a pastor] to send us a text sharing that while praying for us he felt led to have us read Psalm 27. Not knowing the specifics of [our] needs, he truly heard from the Lord. Verse 1 reads, ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?' That chapter was meant for us!"
On the last morning of our get-away, we attended service at the church where this man pastored. Before his message, I went forward for prayer, claiming God's healing in my life. The message he preached penetrated my soul. The following morning I journaled:
January 17, 2011, 2:00 A.M.
“'The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.' Proverbs 18:21. In Jesus’ name, I take hold of the word you shared with Don and me…I am healed, in Jesus’ name. The things spoken to me through your Word are for me and I accept them, claim them, and stand upon them for they are life to me."
“The tongue has the power of life and death and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21.
However, the next night I again woke with anxiety, fear gripping my mind.
"I cast it (anxiety) on Jesus and I repent for allowing fear to take its grip on me. Lord, I give you every thought that would attempt to ‘exalt itself against the knowledge of Christ’ ['and take every thought captive to obey Christ,' 2 Corinthians 10:5.] For I know that You are able to keep [that] which I have committed unto You. I speak health over my mind, body and soul. I am healed and I walk in total VICTORY!"
"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ," 2 Corinthians 10:5
Here me out—I didn’t feel victorious at that point! I didn't feel healed. But, I knew the truth of God’s Word and by faith I began to declare my wholeness.
January 21, 2011, 12:40 A.M.
"Oh, Lord, you have spoken to my heart many times in many ways. I’m tired and weary and ready for rest. Yet, there must be something you need me to learn during these times in the night. I’m reminded of the scripture I read last night in Psalm 30, '…weeping lasts for the night…joy comes in the morning [my version]. I’m ready for 'the morning.' [Scriptures continue to come to my mind. Applying the principles of God's Word, I declare truth over specific areas of my life.]
"'Psalm 27:1, 'The Lord is my Light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?'
"'God’s Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.' Hebrews 4:12 ESV'"
God's Word is powerful! If you aren’t using this weapon of offense, you are missing out on the life that God designed for you.
January 22, 2011
"Lord, you have blessed me with Your Word. You have spoken TRUTH to my heart. I am encouraged as Your Holy Spirit has so beautifully led me to scripture to speak to [me]. I’m in a place I have never been before. I crave God’s presence; time with You. I need You more than ever before!"
What I hope I have conveyed to you through these few journal entries, is the importance God’s Word was (and is) to me. I had to read it, hold on to it, meditate on it, and live it. When the rubber hit the road, it was God’s Word that proved to be my lifeline. Godly counsel was certainly needed and helpful; a christian doctor to recognize a chemical imbalance was a benefit; but it was God through His Word, and by His Holy Spirit that I can say I am victorious.
I had to read it, hold on to it, meditate on it,
and live it.
For the next several months, I found myself gaining strength, struggling less with anxious thoughts. Daily, and eventually less frequently, I journaled what God was revealing to me. As I did, the heaviness began to lift. His Word was literally life to my entire being!
Would I ask to again walk the path God allowed me to walk? Probably not. Did I grow closer to Him through this time of desperation? Most certainly! And I wouldn't trade it for any earthly treasure. I'm truly grateful for His Word revealed in my life and the "new thing" that I hope always remains fresh within me.
For the past two weeks I have shared excerpts from my journal, thinking I would continue through January before ending. After reconsidering, I am closing with this last post. Next week, you will read a post from a blogger on the subject of burnout. Be sure to check it out.
Vicki Miller and her husband, Don, have been in full-time ministry, together, for more than 33 years. They have four daughters, three sons-in-law, and three grandsons who keep their lives full of joy and laughter. Having been a pastor's wife to the same congregation for more than 25 years, Vicki now enjoys ministering alongside her husband as they serve their district's ministers and their spouses. Traveling is a shared interest between them. Encouraging ministry wives in their unique role and their walk with Jesus is a passion of Vicki's. After serving Jesus most of her life, she says, "I am still amazed at the grace and goodness of God and I pray that I never get over it." For fun, she likes to read and work on DIY projects, but especially loves spending time with family and friends.
Would you like to attend Refresh Breakaway 2018 for FREE?
Comment on this blog post. That's it! You're now entered to win a Refresh Breakaway 2018 package valued at $99 (includes registration, lodging and three meals).
Each time you comment on a weekly blog post, your name will be entered into the drawing. Please give your full name when commenting. Drawing ends January 31, 2018. A winner will be announced February 1, 2018 and notified by email by February 5, 2018.
So, come on! We'd love to hear from you and see you at Refresh Breakaway 2018!
This is a safe place for ministry wives and women ministers to be renewed, resourced, and build relationships with others just like you.
Sign-up in December for your January Connect Group.