Four Strategies to Motivate Your Team for Lasting Results – Part I

Four Strategies to Motivate Your Team for Lasting Results – Part I

by Dwight Bain, MA on October 3rd, 2022

What Does it Take to Win at Work?

People have asked me that question dozens of times after a keynote speech or radio talk show. Most likely, your team members have asked you the same or similar questions. They want to know what action is needed to build a successful life instead of being trapped in long-term failure. This is a great question. Unfortunately, since every person faces different challenges, there isn’t a 100-percent-specific answer that works for every person. A better approach is to guide your team in focusing on the real source of motivation by exploring their underlying motives. When you discover the motive behind why they want to win at work, you will be on track to help them shape a strategic approach to speed toward accomplishing goals and avoiding distractions that lead to failure.

Key Questions to Ask Your Team

  • Do you want to win at work to deepen your resume to advance your career?
  • Does success at work mean making more money to bring home to your family?
  • Does career success give you personal meaning and fulfillment?
  • Does winning bring you a sense of satisfaction by proving you are the best?

Greater professional success usually gives a person far greater options in their personal life because increased income brings the flexibility to solve problems and control schedules by delegation. Outsourcing to save time and money is a wise use of resources. Working harder to gain greater self-esteem, however, is a dangerous motivator because it takes major sacrifices of time and energy and can often become a black hole of busy activity leading to workaholism.

Career burnout comes from attempts to fill up deep emotional insecurities through aggressive professional activity. Burnout will not lead to professional success, and sadly, is incredibly common among people who have not seen the importance of mapping out a realistic career plan to win at work without losing at home.

Finding the Energy for Career Success

So how can your team stay motivated to achieve greater career success? Have them start by identifying their core values, which can be identified through mapping out their internal motives, since motives lead to motivation. Here are four key areas I use to inspire business professionals I have coached to stay focused to win at work while feeling greater energy and fulfillment in the process: Insight, Interests, Importance, and Identity.

  • Insight

There is a Scripture verse I was taught to pray every day: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5, NKJV). When you know you don’t have the answers, then asking for God’s direction is a wise use of time. Generate insight by asking God to reveal the gifts and natural abilities of each member of your team, regardless of how much they may feel like they are struggling. Everyone has talent and ability at something. It takes insight as a wise leader to see it, and then it takes courage to stay focused to light the fire of desire in their heart, especially when you or they may feel like giving up. Have your team members enlist people close to them, like a marriage partner, family member or trusted friend, to help identify their talents and abilities if they don’t already know them. Since these people already know so much about their loved ones personality, character, motivation, and inner-drives, they are more likely to speak truth when given the freedom to do so. Asking many questions to gain greater insight will protect against impulsive choices, and insure a greater likelihood of success. So don’t be afraid to ask too many questions, but do be afraid to stay silent on this important element.

  • Interests

Once your team know their gifts, talents, abilities, and skills, the next step is to see how those unique gifts could be transferred into something so incredibly interesting that they want to show up and learn more about it every day. There is an old saying that the curious are never bored, which is true. When your clients are inspired about pursuing something extremely interesting, they will lose all track of time because they are so engrossed by what is before them. Linking their interests with greater insight leads to the next part of the process to win at work.

  • Importance

Once teams are inspired to pursue the most interesting aspects of their jobs or career callings, the next element to stir up personal motivation is to help them discover what is most important. What is valuable to them? What has great meaning? What activities or organizations do they believe in strongly? Everyone believes in something, yet many of us have not taken time to explore and discover the core motives that fuel our desires to create positive change. Now that you have mapped out the key areas that motivate people you are ready for each member of your team to advance to the final stage.

  • Identity

When people figure out who they are and what they enjoy doing, they are on track to live out their purpose and have more fun in the process! Perhaps the huge success of many work-related reality TV shows (like American Idol) is because they reveal what many people secretly would like their daily work experience to be—a place that allows them to utilize their creative abilities in an environment that rewards big risk-taking to achieve greater results. It’s not hard to stay motivated when you know why you are going to work, and it’s not hard to stay in the race to win, either. In fact, it makes it easy to move from a fear of failure to moving forward with a new dedication to finish strong!

Dwight Bain, MA, is the Founder of the LifeWorks Group in Winter Park, Florida. He helps people rewrite their stories through strategic change and is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. Since 1984, Dwight has helped thousands of people across America as a Keynote Speaker, Certified Leadership Coach, Nationally Certified Counselor, and a Critical Incident Stress Management expert. He is a trusted media resource on managing major change and has been interviewed on hundreds of radio and television stations, has been quoted in over 100 publications, and is the author of Destination Success: A Map for Living Out Your Dreams. See more at: www.dwightbain.com

The Mighty Sequoia: A Mustard Seed of Faith

The Mighty Sequoia: A Mustard Seed of Faith

by Eric Scalise, PhD on September 26th, 2022

The Scriptures tell us that God reveals Himself in many ways, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…” (Rom. 1:20).

Some years back, my wife and I, along with our two sons, took one of those vacations that provide a lifetime of memories . . . after flying to Denver, we spent three weeks driving all over the western United States. We put enough miles on the rental car that I had to do an oil change before returning the vehicle. The itinerary included Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, the Colorado River, Pike’s Peak, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and Yosemite. We hiked, climbed, did some whitewater rafting, and filled our photo albums. However, for me, the highlight was our time together in Sequoia National Park. It was here, in the midst of God’s beautiful creation, that I finally understood the power of a seed.

The Sequoia is part of the redwood family and only found in the coastal forests of southwestern Oregon and northern California—growing at elevations above 5,000 feet on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. These giants of the forest are the largest living things (by mass) in the entire world—weighing in at an astonishing one to three million pounds when they reach maturity. They thrive in cold snowy winters and can drink thousands of gallons of water every day. Sequoias grow up to 300 feet in height and can be 20-40 feet in diameter. Many would grow taller if not for lightning strikes that strip off their tops. The bark alone is three feet thick!

Imagine for a moment standing at the base of one of these enormous trees and looking upward. The closest thing to it might be trying to see the top of the Statue of Liberty from the ground, which is also around 300 feet tall. It’s almost impossible to take a picture in one frame. I know; I have four rolls of film of bark and tree trunks. There are a few places in the park where you can drive a car through a tree if you so desire. Yes, it’s that amazing.

Sequoias are among the oldest living things in the world with several trees estimated to be approaching 3,500 years in age. My family and I stopped at a ranger station and saw a slice of a downed tree. There were map flag pins stuck on various tree rings with historical dates. I remember seeing the one for the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Then there were tree rings representing the Pilgrim’s landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620, Columbus’ arrival to America in 1492, the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, the first Crusade in 1096, the Council of Ephesus in 431, the destruction of Pompeii in 79, Caesar crossing the Rubicon in 49 BC the death of Alexander the great in 323 BC, the birth of Socrates in 490 BC . . . the events and the dates were mindboggling. I was literally seeing the history of the world being told in the rings of a tree trunk.

Walking away from the ranger station, I convinced myself that I simply had to have a cone from one of those trees. I wanted to put it on my fireplace mantle at home, just to reflect on how amazing God’s creation truly is. I looked everywhere for a Sequoia cone, but couldn’t find any. I figured the other tourists had beaten me to it and already picked the forest floor clean. There had to be a gift shop somewhere that sold them…the price didn’t matter. Then someone showed me what a cone actually looked like. Placing the treasure in my hand, I was stunned to see how tiny in comparison it was—only about three inches in length… fully grown. Sequoia cones don’t even appear until the twelfth year and then take another eight years before they begin to open. Every cone contains about 230+ seeds, each one about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. An adult tree can have as many as 11,000 cones and drop up to 400,000 seeds in a given year. In its lifetime of 3,500 or so years, one Sequoia will drop almost one and a half billion seeds.

All of a sudden the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13 and 17 was beginning to make sense. How much like God—in character and nature—is the mighty Sequoia. Yet, there is more. Sequoias are extremely fire resistant and scientists now know that fire is actually critical to the life of the tree—it facilitates the release of the seeds and helps them germinate. Fire brings life! These massive monuments also have one of the shallowest root systems of any tree known to man. There is no tap root and even though the root system may cover an entire acre, it only penetrates 12-14 feet deep. One must wonder how they manage to stand with nothing to anchor them in the ground. The key is that Sequoias are only found in groves… never alone… only in community. If you had the ability to peer below the surface of the ground, you would see that the roots of all the trees in the grove are intertwined, locked together and holding each other upright to support the incredible weight above.

You may ask: “What lessons can be learned here? What do trees have to do with relationships, the Church or one’s legacy?” The metaphors are numerous.

I see the Body of Christ as the soil God has provided (see Matt. 13:18-23) for every faith community that calls upon the name of the Lord—the seeds are like children, our talents, our time and our treasure—a legacy of God’s faithfulness across generations. As the passage unfolds, we see that those who hear the Word and understand it will bring forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. The fiery trials of life often do come, even in the household of faith, but as God promised Isaiah, “When [not if] you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you” (43:2). Finally, we are all connected as members of one body—the Body of Christ—intertwined and holding one another up before the throne of grace.

In closing, let me encourage you to take whatever seed God has given you and plant it in faith in whatever ground He has given you. May it yield a billion and a half times in return, for, “If you have faith as a mustard seed . . . nothing shall be impossible to you” (Matt. 17:20).

Eric Scalise, PhD, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the President of LIV Consulting, LLC, the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 42 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, marriage and family issues, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues.

Where in the World Are These Women? – Part II

Where in the World Are These Women? – Part II

by Alita Reynolds on September 19th, 2022

In Part I of this blog, I closed by asking the first of three questions.

  • What does a godly friend look like?

Now, let’s look at the other two questions.

How can I BE a godly friend myself?

I started by praying for God to transform me into the woman who would be the wonderful friend I was looking for in my life. I think the key word here is “transforming.” I cling to Romans 12:2 because it says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

We have the opportunity to be just a little bit better every day. The process of transforming does not happen overnight. We take one little step to become the woman God created us to be. We won’t ever arrive at perfection, but when allowing God to do the work in us, we become more and more like our Creator and become more and more like the friend we have in Jesus.

What does a godly friend NOT do?

I shared previously how I have had failed attempts to create godly friendships. Developing real, raw, authentic friendships requires vulnerability, and sometimes this vulnerability is taken advantage of. I probably did not have to tell you because you have most likely experienced this hurt for yourself. When I was betrayed by a woman who seemed to be “very godly,” the sting hurt worse. I said I would never be that vulnerable and open or real with anyone ever again. Well, that lasted a few months. Never is a pretty strong word. I was just so hurt I did not want to feel that pain again, but clearly, deciding I would not be vulnerable ever again was not the solution. I eventually healed from the pain of betrayal, and then I tried again.

Godly friends do not betray their friends. Godly friends do not stay distant from all meaningful relationships. Here’s the deal: I learned a lot from this betrayal. Was it right for her to betray me? Absolutely not. Was it good for me not to engage in any more deep, meaningful relationships? Absolutely not.

Godly friends dig in. They invest their time and energy to create authentic relationships. Does this mean that as godly friends, we are to have weak boundaries and allow others to hurt us negligently? Also, absolutely not. However, when we establish healthy boundaries, we have the opportunity to invest in our relationships, and yet, if necessary, withdraw from the close friendship to protect ourselves.

How we engage in relationships with our inner circle, those closest to us, is more vulnerable and intimate than how we engage in relationships with more distance. Remember, just because a friend was once in your inner circle does not mean they will always have that level of closeness or trust. Usually, your inner circle consists of three to five of your closest relationships.

We have an opportunity to love and care for friends while maintaining more distance between each other to protect ourselves when required. We also have the option to sever unhealthy relationships if needed. Sometimes it feels harsh or even selfish to end a friendship, but sometimes it is needed. Ecclesiastes 3 encourages us that there is a season for everything. However, we have the opportunity to pray for them from afar. Sometimes we have the opportunity to continue the friendship, but with a new role. Sometimes a friendship morphs into a chance to minister to the friend and truly guide them to a healthier way to engage in relationships. With this option, we withdraw our idea of receiving a lot from the friendship and decide to pour into the other person. When we turn a friendship into part of our ministry, we act as the hands and feet of Jesus without the expectation of receiving the benefits. We can simply be givers and not much of a taker in the relationship.

Establishing healthy boundaries with your godly friends can be difficult. However, through fervent prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit, I am confident you will make the best decisions about your those who are in your inner circle.

Alita Reynolds is the Foundational Voice for Women of Faith, a 25-year ministry that has impacted millions of women around the world to live victoriously in Christ. She and her husband, GJ, now oversee and steward the organization. Alita also hosts the Women of Faith Show, is an ICCI Master Life Coach Trainer, writer, and sought-after speaker. Together, she and GJ have a goal to inspire and grow an authentic and loving community, and to see sisters in Christ lock arms and support one another. For more, see www.womenoffaith.com

Where in the World Are These Women? – Part I

Where in the World Are These Women? – Part I

by Alita Reynolds on September 12th, 2022

A New God Goal: Will You Join Me?

I have a new God goal. Let me explain. Trust me. Everyone is reading who you are, whether you are talking or not. You are sending a message at all times, whether or not you realize it. People watch you, whether you like it or not. Let me start by asking two questions.

  • What is your message?
  • Is it evident to others that you are a disciple of Christ?

One of my mentors, Dr. Eric Scalise with the International Christian Coaching Institute (ICCI), recently shared a story. His story inspired me, and I know it will inspire you too! While Eric was in college, he worked part-time at a grocery store. After being employed there for over a year, a gentleman who regularly delivered and stocked various brands of cookies to local grocery stores, asked Eric a question. He asked, “Are you a Christian?”

Because they had never spoken together before, Eric was unsure where the delivery man was going with the question. He slowly replied, “Yes.” The delivery man followed up with, “One of those born-again kind?” Again, Eric responded, “Yes.” And then, the delivery man gave Eric the ultimate compliment when he said, “I thought so. I’ve been watching you.”

After hearing Eric’s story, I wrote this down: “NEW GOAL: I want others to know I am a disciple of Jesus just by them watching me.” In all reality, I think this is a pretty tall order. Is it because I want others to recognize me? No! I want others to recognize Jesus in me . . . all the glory goes to Him and Him alone.

I could give you a list of many ways I will fail at this goal. However, I still feel so compelled to aspire toward it. Will I reach perfection? Nope. Do His mercies begin afresh every morning? Yep! Lamentations 3:23 says, “Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Because of my failures, this promise and truth from God keep me wanting to draw closer and closer to Jesus every moment. He continues to forgive. He is gracious and merciful. When I mess up and don’t get it quite right, I get to start every single morning again.

Who we are in Christ will always speak much, much louder than who we say we are! So, when someone says to you, “There is just something different about you! And I want whatever it is that you have!” They are recognizing Christ in you. Will you join me in aspiring toward this new goal?!? Be the light so when people are watching you, THEY SEE JESUS!

Where in the World Are These Women?

I always wanted amazing, godly friends who would be there for me when life was complicated and when I needed to share my heartaches . . . friends who would lift my arms up when I needed it. I asked myself: Where in the world are these women?

I saw women who would believe for great things for one another. I would hear stories of women praying for their friends, fervently praying with their friends for something they were believing for in their lives. And I asked myself: Where do I find these friends?

I longed for a friend who would simply send me a note of encouragement for no particular reason. Maybe she just sent it because the Holy Spirit whispered to her that I needed a special gift of encouragement that day. And I asked myself: Why don’t I have this friend?

I saw others with beautiful friendships, so close, authentic, and loving. And I kept asking myself: Why don’t I have her in my life?

So, what did I do? God showed me that if I was to have these godly women, who are genuine, true friends, I had to be the friend I prayed to have. It seems pretty basic, right? Yet, was I doing this? Was I being the friend I also prayed to have? I started by praying for God to transform me into the woman who would be the wonderful friend I was looking for in my own life.

I have said before, “Don’t just surround yourself with good friends. Surround yourself with godly friends!” Quotes like this always make it sound so easy, right? The author of this quote (who happens to be me!) MUST have it all figured out. Well, not exactly. If you asked me how to live out this quote in my life years ago, my response would be, “I’m not sure.” However, I have learned a little bit over the years, and so I thought I could walk you through some questions as a starting point. Let’s begin with this one.

  • What does a godly friend look like?

Life is all about relationships first. Unfortunately, we so easily get caught up in our own lives, agendas, and desires, that we often forget this simple truth. We are to love God first and then love people. “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37–39). When we look for godly friends, do we see this quality in them? Is God first in their lives? Do you see them loving others? Look for a friend who loves God first and then loves others with a 1 Corinthians 13 definition of love.

We will finish this conversation in Part II by addressing two more questions and discussing how one of our deepest desires is for genuine relationships. We must continue the venture of finding godly friends in our lives. We were created for these relationships. I can’t wait to share more with you next time.

Alita Reynolds is the Foundational Voice for Women of Faith, a 25-year ministry that has impacted millions of women around the world to live victoriously in Christ. She and her husband, GJ, now oversee and steward the organization. Alita also hosts the Women of Faith Show, is an ICCI Master Life Coach Trainer, writer, and sought-after speaker. Together, she and GJ have a goal to inspire and grow an authentic and loving community, and to see sisters in Christ lock arms and support one another. For more, see www.womenoffaith.com

From Mourning to Morning: Coaching through Grief and Loss

From Mourning to Morning: Coaching through Grief and Loss

by Eric Scalise, PhD on September 5th, 2022

The phone call on a Sunday morning between church services was a bit unusual, but I could hear the distress in my friend’s voice. “Can you please come to the funeral home right away? We need to talk with you.” I rushed out of the church and as I drove, my mind was racing as I tried to decipher his words, wondering what had happened. After pulling into the parking lot, I walked quickly into a small chapel and saw the couple sitting in the front pew. They were clutching each other, their eyes red with tears. My face begged the question and the reply was heart wrenching. Jenny, their precious newborn daughter had just died of SIDS. It was Mother’s Day.

A wife who loses a husband is called a widow. A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A child who loses his/her parents is called an orphan. However, there is no word for a parent who loses a child – in fact, there is usually a loss of words. I am comforted by the reality that God, the Father, knows what it feels like to lose a Son. Grief can only be experienced when there has been the loss of an intimate relationship with a person or some other object of concern and/or affection. It is an active, intentional, decision to face the pain of the loss. Grief is a normal response that often includes feelings of intense sorrow, anger, loneliness, depression, and possible physical symptoms. More often than not, it takes enormous courage and resolve to work “through” rather than merely attempting to work “out of” the process. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary who almost single-handedly opened up China to the gospel, lost his beloved wife to cholera a week after she gave birth to their son, who also died. In his, anguish, Taylor refused to eat or even leave the gravesite for days as he wrestled within himself and with his God.

Rarely are there easy answers to events that seem so inherently tragic and untimely. Rape, suicide, murder, abduction, children with cancer, sexual abuse, the death of a spouse, divorce, natural disasters, a mastectomy, sudden income loss . . . the list is endless, the pain is often crushing, sleep becomes fitful, and questions constantly intrude into our waking moments. The most human of all questions is simply, “Why?” Why me? Why us? Why this? Why now? Unfortunately, it is difficult to find answers to these questions, much less answers that offer a measure of satisfaction or relief. Perhaps there is some comfort in knowing that Jesus Himself cried out in great pain at Golgotha, pleading with His Father to answer a why question, only to be met with apparent silence. Scripture describes our suffering Messiah as a man of sorrows and One who is acquainted with grief (Is. 53:3).

A crisis leading to grief can be real (an unexpected death), anticipated (notification of a pending layoff at work), or imagined (a psychotic break), but under any of these conditions, the potential impact is essentially the same. While grief, loss, and suffering are universal, how a person approaches them is often individual and unique. C.S. Lewis in his book, The Problem with Pain, wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscious, but shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world” (p. 91). In times such as these, God has so ordained His body, the church, to provide a healing community for those whose burdens are too much to bear alone. The prevalence of grief and loss issues that are often associated with everyday life, represent a significant priority for most people helpers. As life coaches, these are wonderful opportunities to see the pieces of a broken world slowly knit back together again into a tapestry that proclaims God’s restorative compassion and care.

The dark night of the soul can be overwhelming at times and consume our will to survive the emotional storm. I have had clients who will describe their grief and pain as feeling chained within the confines of a dungeon and being engulfed by the darkness. It is in that lonely and isolated place that a spirit of fear can gain a strong foothold in a person’s life and do so with devastating effects. Whether it is a fear of what lays ahead, the fear of changes that may come as the result of the loss or the fear of the unknown, one common denominator seems to be oriented towards a secondary loss . . . the loss of control.

Here is my definition of fear: it is the darkroom that develops all our negatives. In other words, fear is usually a dark place where negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors give rise to destructive forces in a person’s life. There is only one thing I know of that can stop a developing photograph in its tracks . . . light! This is because light penetrates and darkness does not. As life coaches, it is critical that we carefully and genuinely bring the light of God’s Word into the lives of those we serve. Indeed, it is a, “lamp to our feet and a light to our path” (Ps. 119:105). When the Lord illuminates areas of the heart, it’s almost never to condemn the person or give them a greater burden of guilt or shame to carry around. It usually means He is getting ready to perform divine surgery and this is for a healing or restorative purpose. Everything becomes visible when exposed to the light (Eph. 5:13). Otherwise, the darkness causes fear to grow. It’s only a monster under the bed until the light is turned on. When the light of God’s Word or Spirit pierces the dark areas of the heart and mind, fears are often rooted out along with the negative thought patterns and behaviors that are associated with them.

We grieve because we love and oftentimes, love hurts. The words of the psalmist bring comfort to many who likewise have proclaimed that even though, “weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning” (30:5).  Likewise, we have an encouraging hope from the words of Jeremiah: “For I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow” (31:13).

Eric Scalise, PhD, LPC, LMFT, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart, an international Christian counseling ministry offering biblical hope and practical help. He is also the President of LIV Consulting, LLC, the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 42 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health, higher education, and organizational consulting fields, as well as having served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, marriage and family issues, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. He is a published author (Addictions and Recovery Counseling and Lay Counseling: Equipping Christians for a Helping Ministry), adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues. As the son of a diplomat, Dr. Scalise was born in Nicosia, Cyprus, and has also lived and traveled extensively around the world. He and his wife Donna have been married for 41 years, have twin sons who are combat veterans serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, and four grandchildren.

Eric Scalise, PhD, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the President of LIV Consulting, LLC, the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 42 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, marriage and family issues, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues.

I’m Not Listening

I’m Not Listening

by Steve Siler on August 29th, 2022

Back when my wife and I were living in California, we used to attend a church in the Van Nuys area. It was a wonderful, diverse community with many extraordinarily talented people among the congregants. Because of its proximity to Hollywood, many well-known actors and singers attended there. Even among the “regular” folks, there was an abundance of talent; and the music, regardless of style, was always a highlight of the service.

There was a musician there named Bill Thomas. He was extremely talented, but what really set him apart was his incredibly positive attitude. He always had a smile for everyone. What stuck out most of all about Bill was that he was always interested. Every time I would approach him, he always wanted to know what was going on with me. Whenever I tried to compliment him on how he played a piece of music, in no time at all he would have me talking about myself. One time when he got an acting role in a major film, I was determined to make the conversation about him. Yet, true to form, Bill had me talking about myself again. Bill made people feel important by putting others above himself. He was good at being interested.

We can’t listen if we’re talking about ourselves. Do you remember Al Franken’s old Saturday Night Live routine? He would start out by talking about an issue that affected everybody. Then he would say, “I know you’re all wondering how this affects me . .. Al Franken.” That’s the way a lot of us conduct ourselves in our conversations. While the other person is talking, we’re busy planning in our head what we’re going to say as soon as they finish their next sentence. In our minds, essentially, we are thinking, “I hear what you’re saying, but here’s what I think about that,” or “I hear what happened to you, but just wait until you hear what happened to me!”

In so doing, we can easily dismiss someone when they are trying to share something that is really important to them. We can miss the signals, not even realizing the person is trying to open up their heart to us. We can make them feel like they don’t matter. How do I know this? Because I have done it. How recently? Oh, probably yesterday—and that’s only if it is still the morning today.

It’s bad enough I do this to other people, but it doesn’t end there. I do it to God too. I get on a roll in my prayers and I give Him an earful. I can just see God thinking, “Steve, Steve, don’t you remember Psalm 46:10? Be still and knowthatIam God.”Let’s face it. Being still is not something we do very well in our contemporary culture. We have allowed technology to take away the margins of our lives. Down time? In this age of the “I” devices (I-phone, I-pad, I-pod), we’re available all the time. This can make it easy to fall into a self-serving, narcissistic loop where it becomes all about “I.”

If, as Scripture commands, I am going to love my neighbor as myself, first of all must put down my phone and look my neighbor in the eye. If I want people to feel valued—the way I felt valued whenever I talked to Bill—then I need to say less and listen more. And if I’m going to be still and know that God is God, then I am going to have to occasionally quiet myself in prayer, let go of my agenda, and seek God’s voice and face. Because if I’m talking, I’m not listening.

Steve Siler is the founder and director of Music for the Soul, a multi-award-winning ministry using songs and stories to bring the healing and hope of Christ to people in deep pain. An accomplished songwriter and music producer, Steve has had over 550 of his songs recorded. He won the Dove Award for Inspirational Song of the Year with “I Will Follow Christ.” His nine number one and 45 top 10 songs include “Circle of Friends” and “Not Too Far from Here.” Steve has spoken at the National Right to Life Convention, the American Association of Christian Counselors, and The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Summit, among others. He is the author of two books: The Praise & Worship Devotional and Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart: Lessons from a Life in Song. You can learn more about Steve and Music for the Soul at www.musicforthesoul.org.

Branding Your Coaching Business or Ministry

Branding Your Coaching Business or Ministry

by Jill Monaco on August 22nd, 2022

When I started coaching, I knew I wanted to help people be who God created them to be. When someone asked me to describe my coaching approach, my mind went blank. I can help all kinds of people, I thought. If we try to help everyone, we will help no one. If we try to reach everyone, we will reach no one. You get the picture.

So, what is a new coach to do? How do you develop a “brand” that reflects you when you are still learning who you are as a coach? Maybe you haven’t chosen a niche yet, and life coaching seems incredibly general. Or perhaps you’re not the creative type to care about colors and fonts. It’s funny that I now help coaches create their brand and develop their marketing strategies. I spent years (and thousands of dollars) taking courses to figure it all out for myself. I love consulting coaches to discover the best practices and avoid common mistakes.

And now, I am excited to share those nuggets with you!

TELL YOUR STORY

Your brand should accomplish two main things:

  • Brand yourself
  • Brand your business or ministry

Your brand should be clear in these three ways:

  • It shows people who you are and what you do
  • It creates trust and confidence
  • It inspires people to take action

Your brand should tell your story and emotionally connect to your audience. This “secret sauce” will attract the right client, and you will enjoy coaching them too. You will be set apart from those who offer similar services if you accomplish these things. In addition, this will position you as an authority in the space/niche you have chosen and, over time, will build your reputation and gain referrals.

SERVING VS. SELLING

I like to think of branding and marketing as serving. We serve others; we don’t sell to others. It means knowing what kind of servant you are and whom you are called to serve. Selling has a hustle feeling that says, “Other vendors are selling the same exact thing, and I need to work harder to get the customer.” In contrast, serving has a blessing upon it because it models after Christ. And remember, Jesus did not have to brand Himself—His works did that for Him. So, as you serve, your brand will emerge.

BRAND YOURSELF

Consider that you are your business or ministry, so as you go about your day, you represent who you are and what you do, even when you’re not trying, for example, at every family function, riding on an elevator, and even when you are eating out. Naturally, people will ask you what you do, and you want to be ready with a brief, yet descriptive, reply, but do not discount what you show them just by being you. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you do best?
  • What do you value and stand for?
  • What makes you unique (e.g., skills, talents, passions, experiences, messages)?
  • What struggles have you overcome?
  • What words describe you?
  • How is God opening doors for you in this space?
  • What sets you apart from other coaches?
  • What makes you different?
  • What value do you bring to a client or the coaching process?
  • What do you offer that no one else does?

BRAND YOUR BUSINESS OR MINISTRY

Once you know who you are, you can start to look at whom you are uniquely positioned to serve. You will think about your ideal client and your unique offer. It’s tempting to look at other coaches and say, “That’s exactly what I want to do.” However, God has not made two people exactly alike, so you have something special to share. This is the fun part, where you meet with God and learn more about your purpose, your calling, and the impact He wants you to make. I like to say an authentic you is better than a copycat expert. More questions to ponder:

  • Whom do you want to serve and why?
  • What impact do you want to make?
  • What do they complain about?
  • What kind of life do they want?
  • How are they describing their need(s)?
  • What are their habits, goals, and fears?
  • What isn’t being addressed and how can you fill those gaps?
  • What is your niche?

BRANDING TO-DO LIST

Other things will reflect in your branding and the decisions you’ll need to make along the way. You will create a cohesive brand story that represents who you are and what your business or ministry stands for in every touchpoint of your business. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Your Mission and Vision statements
  • Your business/ministry name and tagline
  • Logo
  • Trademark
  • Colors and fonts
  • Website
  • Programs, resources, and freebies
  • Email list
  • Social media

Your brand will have elements that evolve and change over time as you grow. However, your brand needs to be consistent with where your clients interact with you. If you do the “heart” work, as well as the “hard” work, you’ll see it pay off and serve many people.

Steve Siler is the founder and director of Music for the Soul, a multi-award-winning ministry using songs and stories to bring the healing and hope of Christ to people in deep pain. An accomplished songwriter and music producer, Steve has had over 550 of his songs recorded. He won the Dove Award for Inspirational Song of the Year with “I Will Follow Christ.” His nine number one and 45 top 10 songs include “Circle of Friends” and “Not Too Far from Here.” Steve has spoken at the National Right to Life Convention, the American Association of Christian Counselors, and The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Summit, among others. He is the author of two books: The Praise & Worship Devotional and Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart: Lessons from a Life in Song. You can learn more about Steve and Music for the Soul at www.musicforthesoul.org.

Ambassadors of Reconciliation

Ambassadors of Reconciliation

by Eric Scalise, PhD on June 27th, 2022

Not long ago, I was sorting through a drawer full of odds and ends—items long forgotten—and a small, clasped envelope drew my attention. When I opened it up, a flood of memories swept over me. The envelope contained all of my father’s passports. He was a diplomat with the U.S. State Department, and as his son, I was given the opportunity to have a front row seat to the intriguing world of international diplomacy, living abroad, and interacting with other cultures.

My father’s first embassy was in Tehran—not long after the CIA helped put the Shah into power in 1953. He met and married my mother there, and six kids later our family finally returned to the United States where he finished his distinguished career in the nation’s capital. I was born in Nicosia, Cyprus (I think that’s why I like the Apostle Barnabas so much – he was a Cypriot). Having also lived in Singapore, Bolivia, Germany, and Iceland, I find myself deeply grateful for some amazing life experiences . . . not to mention always doing well in world geography (smile).

During a high school government class, I wrote a paper on what it means to be an ambassador, and I interviewed my father for the assignment. Years later, after I had come to Christ, I found the paper in a box of old schoolwork my mother had saved—moms do this sort of thing. What amazed me were the biblical parallels that came through the interview with my Dad, concepts I had never really seen (or understood) before.

The title of ambassador is actually derived from a Celtic word that means “servant” and was first applied in this manner by Charles V in the middle of the 16th century. Another word used years ago defined the person as a “plenipotentiary,” or one who is “a diplomatic agent vested with full power to transact business.” You and I are no different. All authority in Heaven and on the earth was given to Jesus (Matt. 28:18) and He vested it with us so we may transact His business.

In a world where there is so much brokenness and pain, we see marriages struggling, families in pain, and lives and relationships being torn apart. I believe the concept of ministry falls under the umbrella of reconciliation—though there are many facets and variations. This is a view Paul reinforces to the Corinthians: “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19). Paul then lays out God’s design to accomplish this purpose when he says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God, were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God”(vs. 20).

What about you and me? Do we see ourselves as God’s ambassadors . . . to our family members and loved ones, to our spouses and children, our coworkers, friends, and neighbors . . . those who need to experience reconciliation? Some people we know may need to be reconciled with God, some may need to be reconciled with others, and frankly, some may need to be reconciled with themselves. If the Church desires to move closer toward a more just and compassionate society, it must take place one life at a time through people who are willing to stand up and be counted. Christians are uniquely positioned to demonstrate the affirmation of life, the upholding of human dignity, the cultivation of love for others, and the sacrifice and service of self-denial. The truth is we have been given a wonderful opportunity to represent Christ as His ambassadors, so let’s take a closer look at some of the qualities and character traits that define this important role.

  • Ambassadors are Chosen. The Scriptures affirm this truth, “. . . you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). It is the prerogative of any president, ruler, prime minister, or king to handpick ambassadors. It is a high and prestigious honor, and an ambassador is often referred to as the “Chief of Mission” in another country’s capital for the purpose of establishing diplomatic ties. The “choosing” comes as an outgrowth of the relationship between the ambassador and the one whom he or she serves. Similarly, as Christian ambassadors, we have our commission from the Lord because it flows from being in relationship with Him. We have been given definite instructions, a definite task, and a definite assurance of His unfailing and continuing presence. We did not choose God; He chose us (Jn. 15:16). We have been handpicked and He made us a kingdom of priests and rulers, so we should likewise, “be all the more diligent to make certain His calling and choosing” (2 Pet. 1:10).
  • Ambassadors are Faithful. When it comes to showing honor toward a sovereign leader, ambassadors are known for their loyalty, a quality usually demonstrated over a period of time. Faithfulness also matters to God, and He knows someone, “who is faithful in that which is least, will also be faithful in that which is much” (Lk. 16:10). God encourages His ambassadors to take steps of faith so they can be given greater responsibility in kingdom work. Solomon understood this principle when he wrote, “a faithful envoy [another word for ambassador] brings healing” (Prov. 13:17). The privilege of bringing a spirit of reconciliation to others in the name of Christ is often given to those who have first been faithful in the little things.
  • Ambassadors are Trustworthy. Another way of phrasing this trait is to say an ambassador is worthy of trust. Trust, like faithfulness, is an earned commodity, and for ambassadors who primarily do their work apart from the one who appointed them, they must have the implicit trust of their president, prime minister, king, etc. First Corinthians 4:2 says, “It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.”
  •    Ambassadors are Entrusted. Ambassadors are given a mission and have a clear understanding that they are not supposed to represent their own worldviews, ideas or philosophies, but those of their king, ruler, or president. The same holds true for us: “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts” (1 Thes. 2:4). In a ministry of reconciliation, we have been entrusted, not with our own initiatives and plans, but with the Gospel of Christ, to faithfully represent the kingdom and principles of a sovereign God. Equipped with both grace and truth, we must therefore endeavor to represent Him well at all times. Our words and actions at home, the workplace, in school or church, and where we live, all matter greatly.
  • Ambassadors are Dignified. Ambassadors are typically viewed as dignified individuals of high character. This implies they have the willingness, ability, and humility to “rise and walk above the fray” by not allowing the self-serving desires or the ambitions of others deter them from their sense of mission. Merriam-Webster defines character as a “mark or distinctive quality; ethical traits individualizing or distinguishing a person or group; moral excellence; or a device placed on an object as an indication of ownership, origin or relationship.” Paul indicates that the believer, “belongs to Christ” (1 Cor. 3:23), and if you think about it, because we belong to Him, we are the “object” of His love. He has placed Himself within us through the agency of the Holy Spirit to indicate both ownership and relationship. Therefore, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach” (Tit. 2:7-8a).
  • Ambassadors are Wise. Have you ever noticed that ambassadors are usually careful and deliberate in their choice of words and in their demeanor? They understand how and when they speak is just as important as the content of the message. If we want to tell others about balanced living, healthy relationships, biblical principles, or introduce them to the King of Kings, we must possess the necessary wisdom in how to share it, for, “the tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable” (Prov. 15:2), and “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel” (Prov. 1:5).
  • Ambassadors are Sent Out. Finally, ambassadors are commissioned to go somewhere and represent their country and its leaders. Jesus modeled this reality when, “. . . He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and to perform healing” (Lk. 9:1-2). The truth is, ultimately, this present earth is not our home. Heaven is our home and God is our King. Just as He was sent into the world, so He now sends us. Some to their families… some to their schools or places of work… some to their local neighborhoods and communities… some to positions in government… and some, like ships that set sail, to foreign lands with different cultures and peoples. Harbors are safe places, yet they are not what ships were built for.

Everywhere ambassadors go in the world, every place they step foot, is considered to be the sovereign territory of their home country. This is why the killing of an ambassador is often viewed as an act of war. As Christians, everywhere we set foot—as salt and light—becomes the sovereign territory of God Himself. He grants authority to us as believers and this authority is always greater and more effective than the exploitation of power. Otherwise, our diplomatic immunity (the authority to overcome evil with good) becomes diplomatic impunity (spiritual pride and arrogance).

Francois de Callieres, ambassador at large for France in the late 1600s, and heralded for refining the art of diplomacy, articulates an almost biblical view of a person’s calling as an ambassador:

He must therefore divest himself, in some measure, of all his own sentiments, and put himself in the place of a Prince with whom he treats; he must as it were transform himself into this person, take up his opinion of things, and his inclinations, and then, after he has known the Prince to be what he is, let him say thus within himself: If I were in the place of this Prince, with the same power, the same passions, and the same prejudices, what effect would those things produce in me which I have to lay before him? (de Callieres, 1708).

Christian servant leaders also derive their power and ministerial authority from a “Prince,” the Prince of Peace. By God’s grace, may we hold that honor in high esteem at all times.

Eric Scalise, PhD, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the President of LIV Consulting, LLC, the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 42 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, marriage and family issues, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues.

My Plans vs. God’s Purpose

My Plans vs. God’s Purpose

by Dan Chrystal, MBA on June 13th, 2022

Have you ever had one of those moments when your plans were suddenly interrupted? My wife and I recently joined a city softball league. Our purpose for doing so was to place ourselves in the position where we needed to be an influence for Christ, get to know others in the community, and network.

Picture it . . . June 2014 . . . while playing shortstop, the bases were loaded. There were two outs. A 240-pound right-handed batter steps up to the plate. The next 30 seconds after he walked up to the plate and planted his feet ready to hit the softball, my mind was racing. I was planning my move if the ball came to me. All I needed to do, depending on where the ball was hit in my vicinity, was stop the ball and toss it to second or third base for the last out. I would be the hero of this half of the inning! I was ready.

First ball over the plate was too high. Ball. Second ball over the plate was just right. The 240-pound slugger swung and missed. Strike. The third ball was thrown. Every muscle on this batter tensed as he poised himself. He swung hard, connecting with the ball. The distinct sound of aluminum hitting cork, yarn, and leather echoed. The ball was headed straight for me bouncing along the dirt. My adrenaline started pumping. I was already feeling the elation of getting that last out. I stepped up to meet the ball, placing my glove in the scooping position. Then it happened. At the last split second before my glove made contact with the ball, the ball hit the ground and bounced straight up making direct contact with my face. The force was so hard it knocked me back. I grabbed my face and fell to the dirt. Later that evening, others would tell me the sound was eerie as leather connected to skin and bone.

My thoughts instantly changed from “hero of the inning” to “How will this affect my future?” I started anxiously churning my mind. My thoughts rapidly fired, “I don’t have insurance. Potential for high medical bills. We cannot pay for this. Did I break a bone and need to have surgery? Will I lose sight in that eye? I’m going to have one MAJOR headache tomorrow. Will my face be deformed? Will I still be handsome for my wife (as if I already was to begin with)? Will I be able to play softball next week? Or any sports ever again?”

One thing happened for sure. I was not playing the rest of that game. This injury knocked me out of the game. My plans were superseded by the reality of a softball to the face. Over the next few days while resting after the injury, I started to question WHY this happened to me. Although I do not really know the “reason” for it, I have attained some clarity regarding our calling as ministers.

  1. As ministers, we are all on the same team. We may live in different parts of town, cities or even states, but we are still on the same team. We may be credentialed through different denominations or organizations, but we are still on the same team. The unfortunate reality is we act as if the Bible-believing, teaching church just down the street is our market competition. In the Sacramento region, there is a growing movement of unity (not uniformity) where several hundred pastors are coming together every quarter. Their purpose is to discuss topics that transcend denominational boundaries. Also, twice a year, pastors from all over the region gather in order to unite “Christians, churches and their pastors throughout the Sacramento valley to partner in using their unique gifts and God-given passions in order to see a regional move of God.” (http://leadinginthesetimes.com/about/ ). We may have differences in ministry, but we cannot allow those differences to segregate us from each other. We will accomplish more when we understand the barriers and work together to overcome those barriers.  The world will know God loves them when we exemplify the love we have for each other.
  • In our current positions, we play a vital role, and we should train and try to plan for the future so we can be the best in that role. There is a fundamental flaw in the phrase, “There is no ‘I’ in team.” A team is any group of two or more individuals working toward a common goal. Notice the word “individuals.” We come to the team individually with different backgrounds, unique in our own way, with our own set of strengths. It is extremely important to add value to the team. In order to be a valuable part of any team, we need to be healthy spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. The place where God has you is strategic. Study, work, prepare, and show up every day with the expectation that you will give it your all.
  • Sometimes we may start to think we are the “star player” on the team. It could be the church you serve has had some wins recently. Maybe your local church has been growing and you are experiencing a season of abundance. Each service gets better and better. People are excited about the progress. New visitors are coming every week. People are getting saved and baptized every month. The trend over the years has been to elevate this scenario, interview the pastor about what he or she has been doing, and encourage others to emulate the steps this church has taken, hoping for a similar outcome. This is equivalent to thinking this church or pastor has become a “star player.” There are principles that can be taken from their positive results. However, the danger is thinking this church or pastor is being favored more highly because of the results of the ministry they oversee. Getting back to softball, the role of a shortstop is very different than a first base player, the pitcher or any other position. The shortstop may seemingly be in the limelight because of how many balls have been stopped, caught or thrown to first for the out. The reality is there are more right-handed batters than left. More than likely, the shortstop will see more balls hit their way than other positions. It doesn’t mean the shortstop is a better player or the star player. The key question is, are we all individually preparing for the role we will play, no matter what the size of our church or ministry?
  • Things happen in life that can knock us out of the game. Local church ministry is difficult. Let’s face it. Pastors are expected to be engaging every week, available 24/7, and the local expert on theology, relationships, and church management. This can take its toll on anyone. Sickness could enter the picture. A life-threatening illness may present itself. A sudden accident could happen. Any one of these items could knock us out of the game. What will we do when one of our teammates gets knocked out of the game? Have we developed a relationship with the one who has been affected? It is our responsibility as part of the body of Christ to care for those who have been knocked out of the game. How will we respond when a church in our community (other than the one we attend) is going through difficulty?
  • We can be so focused on our next move, we forget about the importance of what is currently in front of us. When I was reaching for the ball, I wasn’t thinking about stopping the ball. I was already thinking about throwing it. If I had been focused on the ball instead of where it would go next, I may have avoided the injury. In local church ministry, it is quite easy to get focused on the next event, the next series or the next service. The pitfall here is we can completely miss the opportunity right in front of us. Just like the grounder that took a nasty turn toward my face, any situation in our lives can take a turn for the worse. It can take us by surprise and potentially knock us down. It is okay to think about our next steps, but not at the expense of our current step. What is happening right now in ministry that requires our attention? Has something happened that has taken you by surprise and changed your plans? This could be God ensuring His purpose will prevail.
  • When something as shocking as “a softball to the face” happens, it quickly brings you back to reality. The only response I could have had to the injury was to rest, recover, and reset according to the purpose God had in mind. I had forgotten God’s purpose for my involvement in the softball team. It was not to be the star player. It was to be an example of Christ, His love and mercy. Has something happened to you that has snapped you back into reality? Have you been focused on your own plans for local church ministry that the WHY of what you are doing is lost? What is God’s purpose for your church in your community? Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Sometimes in the ministry our plans are superseded by reality, but God’s purpose will still prevail. What is that reality? We have limitations. We will make mistakes. We will lose sight of WHY we are in the ministry in the first place. When I started in the ministry over twenty years ago, I had grand plans.  I was going to take the city for Jesus, this community, every youth in junior and senior high. Then life happened—deaths, sicknesses, hospital visitations, relational issues between church members, business decisions, bills, theological debates. I became discouraged. Oh sure, I was still striving, but my plans were superseded by reality.

Through the softball injury, God opened a door for me to be an influence to more people as they came up to me in the weeks following and asking how I was doing. God’s purpose prevailed. A conversation began with one of the guys on my team that I pray opens the door for him to accept Christ. We have had several discussions regarding how God has spared his life and is calling him to a relationship. I do not believe I would have had this opportunity if I had not been knocked down.

What is the reality that supersedes our plans? It is the Lord’s purpose. His purpose and desire are for us to love Him and love each other. He is also patient: “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT). Our plans may include building a large church or ministry. God may even grant this for some of us. However, what is the Lord’s purpose for this large church or ministry? His desire, no matter what size church or ministry—and I am cautious here because I do not pretend to speak directly for God—is to be an enduring example of His love, His grace, His mercy, His justice, and His Word.

We are not alone. We have each other. We have the companionship available to us in the lives of those whose call to serve in the ministry is clear. We can learn and grow together. We can embrace our vulnerabilities because they are what make us dependent on God’s grace. “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT). When we lead by our strengths, we leave ourselves susceptible to losing sight of God’s purpose. Over time, we can lose the WHY of what we do. We can become so entrenched in HOW we do ministry (methodology). We can become bogged down in the WHAT of ministry (programs, service order, etc.). We can become distracted by WHO’S WHO in the ministry. This takes our eye away from the WHY of ministry. The WHY is this: Love God above all others. Love your neighbor as yourself. In order to fulfill His purpose, we need a steady, persistent perseverance. We need to build and model healthy relationships. Develop relationships with other pastors, churches, and ministries in the area. They are on the same team.

Play our position to the best of our ability, embracing our vulnerabilities and weaknesses, because His power works best in our weakness. Play for the greater purpose of the entire team, to extend God’s love and to show the world God loves them by personifying His love with each other. When our plans take precedence, they can become blinders keeping us from fulfilling God’s purpose. We are the avenues God has chosen to carry out His purpose. When we become a blockade to His purpose, there could be a softball headed our way.

My prayer is that our churches, pastors, ministers, and their leadership will not need to experience “a softball to the face” moment that knocks them down and potentially out of the game. My prayer is that we can get to the point of relationship with each other where pride and ego do not get in the way of our effectiveness together. My prayer is also for us to develop relationships with each other that bring mutual healing and health and to fall in line with the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s prayer is that, “We will experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me” (John 17:23 NLT).

Dan Chrystal, MBA, is a husband, father, author, speaker, and life coach. He has over 28 years in executive leadership and relational coaching, including six years as an administrative officer of a large faith-based nonprofit organization and also served as the Director of Sponsorship and National Church Relations for Bayside Church in Roseville, CA. Dan is passionate about helping others love their neighbors as themselves, and is a dedicated life, career, and couples’ coach. He holds an MBA in Executive Leadership from Purdue Global University and is currently studying Law at Purdue Global University Law School. Dan’s ministry experience spans almost all pastoral positions. He is a committed student of “Relationship” and believes deep, meaningful relationships are God’s design for us. He is the author of Lost Art of Relationship and Discussions for Better Relationships. For more, see Dan Chrystal – Book Author – Discussions for Better Relationships | LinkedIn

I’m Right – You’re Wrong

I’m Right – You’re Wrong

by Dwight Bain, MA on May 30th, 2022

Understanding how to manage power struggles effectively helps move away from needing to put winning an argument ahead of saving a relationship. “Right fighting” is the term psychologists use to describe the process of arguing to prove “who” is right in a heated debate. These hostile conflicts have been growing in frequency and intensity in many homes for the past several years. Families have been in bitter disputes to attack their relative’s beliefs about political, cultural, and pandemic related issues, often shattering the relationship in the process.

As reported to Reuters News Service: “My son specifically told me, ‘You are no longer my mother, because you voted for that guy’.” Our last conversation was so bitter I am not sure we could ever reconcile… the damage is done. It is sad. There are people not talking to me anymore, and I’m not sure that will change.”

The fight to prove what someone believes to be best for millions of people in the country has rippled over into private homes—separating mothers from daughters, brothers from sisters, and fathers from sons—making people so angry they are willing to permanently end a relationship to prove the point. What can a life coach do to turn the conversation away from attacking and toward connection?

Many have never seen such high levels of open hostility in their family, and it appears to be getting worse. What is causing these continual arguments? COVID fears appear to have magnified normal family conversations over cultural, religious, and political topics. Many Americans were already feeling overloaded from the pandemic, and the continual stress of debating cultural issues makes them feel like they are drowning in bad news. When this happens, it leaves a person feeling very alone while facing an uncertain future to make major decisions. This “decision fatigue” leads to an overload of emotion.

Here are some common emotional reactions to conflict.

  1. Anger

This can lead to violence or impulsive decisions. People who feel violated in a debate may turn to dumping volcanic levels of anger at someone or something to find relief for the pressure inside. Verbal explosions will be common. This can lead to devastating decisions, impulsive rage, or using the wrong words in front of the wrong people and losing credibility or worse, losing a family member. This can happen in men or women, young or old, but it is usually seen in more extroverted personalities who tend to blow up. The most dangerous situation is when an angry group of people get together to express their anger because all that rage does not lead to constructive actions. Venting rage in a relationship is like pouring gasoline on a fire. It explodes and makes things worse.

  • Anxiety or Apathy

This is a more serious reaction since it can lead to everything from distress to the early stages of depression or panic. Stuffing emotions inside is like burying them alive, so they just keep building up; yet, instead of blowing up and out, they blow in. This leads individuals to feel emotionally numb and often can cause them to commit a series of very quiet, but very harmful self-destructive acts—eating for comfort, drinking to numb the pain, gambling, watching porn, hooking up with the wrong partner to try and forget about their fears of the future, or just refusing to answer the phone and closing the mini-blinds and checking out on life like a hermit hiding in a dark cave. Darkness will not make the fear go away, but it may lead to feeling like an emotional prisoner with no hope of escape.

  • Acceptance

The healthiest choice to manage conflict triggered by cultural debate is acceptance. Learning to take responsibility for what is happening at your house, instead of debating about the White House, is how to solve conflict. You cannot change an entire country, but you can manage the pressures of your own life. This is where coaches can shine. Guiding a person away from the conflict toward relationship connection is the goal. My mom always taught me to pray instead of panic, and the same is true in high-conflict situations. Find comfort and strength in the spiritual values of peace and connection by listening to other people with compassion, instead of ignoring what they are saying to win a point. You can make your relationships more important than winning an argument. It takes confidence in our faith to live out what the writer of Hebrews challenged: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:23–24). By shifting our priority from winning an argument to making and preserving the connection with another person, we model our faith in ways that may lead to greater conversation about why we are choosing the path of a peacemaker. This shift could spark a discussion about faith in Christ, which is transformational.

Dwight Bain, MA, is the Founder of the LifeWorks Group in Winter Park, Florida. He helps people rewrite their stories through strategic change and is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. Since 1984, Dwight has helped thousands of people across America as a Keynote Speaker, Certified Leadership Coach, Nationally Certified Counselor, and a Critical Incident Stress Management expert. He is a trusted media resource on managing major change and has been interviewed on hundreds of radio and television stations, has been quoted in over 100 publications, and is the author of Destination Success: A Map for Living Out Your Dreams. See more at: www.dwightbain.com

Now What? Colleges, Careers, and Life Choices

Now What? Colleges, Careers, and Life Choices

by Eric Scalise, PhD on May 16th, 2022

My wife and I remember the day quite well. Our identical twin sons came home from school one afternoon—only a couple of months before their high school graduation—and announced they had decided to enter the United States Marine Corps. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were still fresh in our nation’s psyche and military operations were already underway in both Afghanistan and Iraq. As parents, we had visions of college and “safe” jobs with a future. When I sat down with our sons, I wanted to make sure they clearly understood all the inherent risks associated with the decision (i.e., a parental lecture), including the reality that Marines, in particular, are usually the first to go into any combat environment. One of my sons looked at me and calmly said, “Dad, how do you know God might not be asking me to die for my country?” End of conversation; now, we dialogue with God on our knees.

When parents observe their teenage sons and daughters wrestling with important choices pertaining to the future, it can be tempting to step in and “do the work” for them. Perhaps this is because of the tendency many parents have to vicariously derive at least part of their own identities and worth through the lives of their children. Mothers and fathers must allow their children to establish a measure of ownership and accountability. A fundamental axiom of human nature to keep in mind is that people usually take better care of what they think belongs to them, including their decisions. For some, it means finding the right career path with job security and for others, the desire to simply live out their dreams. However, it is equally important for parents not to take for granted that young people are automatically informed consumers. The critical key is to find a healthy orientation between providing useful information and guidance and then balancing that with personal responsibility.

The years between 18 and 24 are often characterized by a heightened awareness of identity development. Typical questions might be: Who am I? What do I really want to do in life? What am I good at? What and who is important to me? This process establishes the foundation for one’s unique individuality, which is then more fully expressed during later adulthood. From a developmental perspective, several important tasks must be addressed by young people. These include achieving an adaptive autonomy from one’s parents; formulating a healthy gender identity; internalizing an appropriate set of values, beliefs, and morals; and making primary career choices. Although the process is often seen as influenced by familial, social, and school-based factors, the concept of spirituality as it relates to career development is becoming increasingly relevant because of the complex, transitional dynamics and interconnectedness normally associated with this period in a person’s life.

In addition to understanding normal developmental stages, there is a need to acknowledge that the 21st century is increasingly characterized by globalization, the management of information, rapid technological advances, and sociocultural change. It is a fast-paced, push-button, instant everything world. While many young adults are still motivated by potential paychecks, altruistic needs remain high on the list, especially for the millennial generation. The implication is that young people entering the workforce have a significant desire to seek meaning, purpose, and fulfillment from their roles. Indeed, the word vocation is derived from the Latin “vocare” which means “to call.” For many, their career paths are not merely something they do, but also incorporate a deep and passionate sense of calling.

For young adults to effectively navigate these sometimes-turbulent waters, research continues to focus on the importance of self-efficacy as a good predictor of proactive career decision-making. Self-efficacy typically refers to an individual’s ability to successfully approach tasks associated with making choices and to engage them with a high degree of confidence and commitment. Positive family and social support are often difference makers. Young adults need to have the freedom to explore their options, to ask their questions, to develop their self-identities, and to do so in an atmosphere of support and respect.

As John Trent and Gary Smalley point out in their timeless book, The Gift of the Blessing, not very much has been written about how young adults or their parents should approach the reality of leaving home. The authors, drawing on the Old Testament concept of “blessing” among Jewish families, describe the process as incorporating the elements of meaningful touch, a spoken message, expressing high value, something that pictures a special future, and an active commitment to see the blessing come to pass. They further identify certain home environments where the blessing can become distorted. Reasons include an inequitable distribution in how love and affirmation are expressed, when the blessing is placed out of reach, where the blessing is exchanged for a burden, when the home is more like an emotional minefield, where unfair family roles are in operation, and where only part of the blessing is received. The good news for parents is that there are often ongoing opportunities to affirm and bless children, at least in terms of self-concept and in giving permission to rewrite their life scripts.

God Himself recognized the need and value of affirming His Son. As John the Baptist was lifting Jesus out of the Jordan, God’s own voice lovingly expressed His approval and said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17, BSB) When our two sons headed off to boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, 17 summers ago—knowing that for a time, they would be outranked even by the mosquitoes there—we simply said, “We love you. We believe in you. We bless you. We are so proud of you.” The letting go process is crucial to the cycle of life, and while harbors, much like homes, are usually places of safety and comfort, they are not what ships were built for. May we always keep the next generation in mind and pass the baton with grace, wisdom, and a joyful blessing.

Eric Scalise, PhD, currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) with Hope for the Heart. He is also the President of LIV Consulting, LLC, the former Senior Vice President for the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC) and former Department Chair for Counseling Programs at Regent University. Dr. Scalise is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with over 42 years of clinical and professional experience in the mental health field, and he served six years on the Virginia Board of Counseling under two governors. Specialty areas include professional/pastoral stress and burnout, combat trauma and PTSD, marriage and family issues, grief and loss, addictions and recovery, leadership development, and lay counselor training. He is a published author, adjunct professor at several Christian universities, conference speaker, and frequently works with organizations, clinicians, ministry leaders, and churches on a variety of issues.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now?

by Rita Murray, PhD on May 4th, 2022

Communicating Across Generations 

Generational gaps between us in the workplace are growing both in number and in size. The ability to spot and bridge them has become a critical competency for leaders, life coaches, and more. Our current obsession with digital connectivity has certainly changed the nature of communication and given all of us far more options to reach out to others. It has also spurred conflict in the workplace, as many millennials feel held back by inflexible or outdated working and communication styles. What are the roots of this conflict? Different generations tend to favor and rely on their preferred communication tool. Check out these differentiating insights.

Traditionalists – Born between 1920 – 1946

In the 40’s and 50’s, there was a model of fixed working time and place suited to the industrial age. Communicating face-to-face had a known human element to it—no anonymity. Families gathered around the radio for news and entertainment. Farm and assembly machinery represented the type of work equipment this generation encountered and used most frequently.

Baby Boomers – Born between 1947 – 1964

In the 60’s and 70’s, computers were too big and expensive for home use. Businesses used mainframe/minicomputers to process data for decision-making. Younger “Boomers” discovered “dumb terminals” in college and high school where they keypunched code and solved certain kinds of problems.

Generation X – Born Between 1965 – 1980

This generation was shaped by a culture of gadgets and tools in the 80’s and 90’s, foremost among them was the personal computer (PC) introduced in the early 80’s. This innovation helped foster a sense of personal and private initiatives among “Gen Xers.” Portable for use in homes and schools, the PC became a way to gain a competitive edge in an expanding global economy.

Millennials – Born between 1981 – 2000

First wave Millennials (born 1981-1990) entered a workplace of browsers, email, the World Wide Web (WWW), Windows, cable television, Google, and WiFi . . . learning together how to connect and communicate. Second wave Millennials (born 1991-2000) gained greater autonomy over where, when, and how they worked through various “smart” devices. Thus, the line between work and home has become increasingly blurred, and most prefer to communicate electronically rather than face-to-face or over the telephone.

Cloud Generation – Born since 2001

Smart personal devices and social media tools have always been available anytime/anywhere to members of the Cloud generation and their “the sky’s the limit” orientation. Expect accelerated and intense clashes over communication as more than eight in ten of this generation say they sleep with a cell phone by their bed. A generational lens provides a powerful and easy-to-use “set of handles” to actively engage in asking, discovering, observing, exposing, and communicating vital information and ideas relevant to maximized engagement across the generations. Healthy relationships require deep and meaningful personal connections. Our Generation Translation Workbooks and Interaction Guides help you learn more about these generations and how best to use that information to improve relationships and increase your own effectiveness. Everyone benefits. It’s never too late to get started on refining your generational intelligence (GQ). Can you hear me now?

Rita Murray, PhD, is the Founder and Principal of Performance Consulting, LLC, an organizational development firm, previous CEO and Chairman of a national energy services company, cognitive psychologist, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), executive coach, and sought-after leadership consultant. She has held leadership roles at GE and Lockheed Martin, and is also a private pilot. Rita frequently speaks at leadership events and conferences and is highly regarded for her ability to connect personal and interpersonal development with the needs of business and with mobile and virtual technology. She has a particular gift for explaining the different perspectives of each generation and personality types to create a bridge of understanding toward healthier business relationships and ultimately a stronger bottom line. Rita resides in Moore, Oklahoma, with her husband, Ron. See more at: www.performanceok.com

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