AM I STILL IN GOD’S WILL?

The will of God has been identified as purpose, God’s plan, His purpose or life fulfillment. Yet good hearted, sensitive and even, prayerful individuals are ever seeking for the “will of God.” The will of God is nearer than you think. For most the will of God is already brewing in your heart. Your passion is mostly the will of God burning in your soul. The thing you most like to do has been implanted in your heart and magnified throughout life to reveal God’s perfect will for your life.
Purpose cannot be defined in a day but it can be revealed to you in one day. You may not understand the where and the when and the how but once you know the why then God’s will be defined to you within one day.

YOUR INNER HEART ALREADY KNOWS THE WHY

BUT YOU MUST SEEK GOD TO RECOGNIZE IT.

There is the general will and the specific will of God. The general will of God can apply to a lot of somebodies but the specific will of God is for you and relatively few others. Let me illustrate by saying a lot of Americans own a car but the car you own has a title with a specific VIN # that uniquely makes it yours. While it is God’s general will to follow His command to “Go ye into all the world…” it is God’s specific will for an exact location for you.
YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THE WILL BECAUSE YOU FAILED. Failure in one area doesn’t mean you failed in all areas. Just because you struck out doesn’t mean you lost the ballgame. A fumble is embarrassing but doesn’t mean you can’t score a touchdown in the next quarter.
YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD BECAUSE IT IS HARD. Life is hard. Nobody promised it would be easy. Climbing is hard but the exhilarating view from the top of the mountain is worth it. The place God put you may be difficult at times but God wouldn’t have placed you there had He not had the confidence in you that you would endure, have the tenacity of a bulldog and win.
YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD BECAUSE IT IS INCONVENIENT Similar to begin hard yet different. Inconvenient means it is not a comfortable ride. You can drive to California in a bus and it may be more inconvenient than to fly in a plane but you arrive at the same destination.
YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD BECAUSE OTHERS DON’T AGREE WITH YOU Go to trusted counsel, express your feelings to a mentor or pour your heart out to your pastor but all friends may not feel about the “will of God” as you do. This is not an excuse for independence but after seeking the advice from experienced and caring counsel; get ready to watch minor reactions of negativity from others as you pursue your journey.
YOU ARE NOT OUT OF THE WILL OF GOD WHEN YOUR FEELINGS CHANGE. Just ask the thermometer if change is inevitable. Feelings come and go but the will of God doesn’t change with your feelings. Stay firm, be determined to follow through and put your seat belt on until your roller coaster emotions are more predictable.

NEVER MAKE A CHANGE IN THE DARK – SEEK TRANSITION ONLY IN THE LIGHT

Comment: How do you follow God’s plan and purpose for your life?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

The Small Church Pastor

It is interesting to note 60% of America’s churches run 60 or less but regardless of the size we can all do better to encourage, support, pray for and be a friend to the small church pastor.
This is a non-comprehensive list of items you may or may not find true of a small church pastor

1. He gets a late night call form a member who found a hymn book had been colored with a Crayola and he thinks he knows who did it.
2. Somebody was off-key Sunday during the song service and there was a call Monday morning, “Who is going to do something about it?” (Meaning the pastor is expected to do something about it).
3. The testimony service took a turn Sunday night when Sis Smith started “testifying” about her “old man’s” colonoscopy results.
4. The trash from last month’s social wasn’t taken out and a deacon meeting was called to see who is responsible.
5. Door to door visitation was poorly attended with one teenager, an older women and one child.
6. The Sunday School offering was larger than the tithe offering. Disgruntled members were the cause.
7. The sermon went over seven minutes according to the head deacon.
8. The same busy body who spread something about Sis Smith has now sided with Sis Smith against the Pastor’s wife.
9. A ninety-two year old faithful member fell asleep again during the Sunday morning message.
10. A wasp flew in the back door and caused more excitement than the song service.

Hopefully you had a good laugh at this exaggerated post but truthfully the small church pastor has a tremendous load and can be applauded for many services to the church and community. Here is a non-comprehensive list of items you may or may not find true of a small church pastor.

1. Often the Pastor and his wife are the only ones who show up for the Monday night prayer meeting.
2. If the special speaker is to receive a decent offering for the Sunday Morning message the Pastor and his wife are usually the ones who gave sacrificially.
3. The small church pastor often has to put gas on his credit card so he can go to hospital to visit an ailing church member.
4. The small church pastor and his wife are not applauded enough and criticized too much.
5. The small church pastor is usually the one inviting new people to the church.
6. The small church pastor is tired, stays up late, works a job, visits the sick and organizes events and spends Saturdays mowing the church yard.
7. The small church pastor is underpaid but he is expected to drive a nice car that represents the church well.
8. The small church Pastor’s children are often expected to live exemplary lives – no mistakes allowed
9. The small church pastor’s education, books and seminars are usually at his own expense.
10. The small church pastor’s vision is waning because only a few catch the vision.

Merely knowing the problem but not doing something about the problem will only allow the problem to get worse. Here is a short list of ideas to encourage our small church pastors – start today

1. Slip the small church pastor some money for dinner at a nice restaurant
2. Give the pastor’s wife some money to go shopping with
3. Evaluate his salary and considering a substantial raise
4. Take notes of the pastor’s sermon
5. Offer to mow the yard while the pastor and his family are away at a conference or vacation
6. Offer to babysit the pastor’s children so he and his wife can go out on a date
7. Pray for them daily
8. Stomp out gossip
9. Be a volunteer
10. Encourage your pastor with complimentary words

There are many things we can add to the list – what do you think?

 

BECOME A PERSON OF INFLUENCE

manFirst in a series of a multi-blog post on Influence

In the world of influence there are dreamers, tinkers and winners. Dreamers are the people who wish, pray, hope and play the mental lottery hoping to get the winning ticket. Tinkers are the people who toy with the idea, experiment with numbers and sidetracked with “shiny objects.” The winners are those who want to jog, so they jog today, they buy the outfit, they read about “safe” jogging and they put “jogging” on the calendar. A winner does what they are dreaming and what they are tinkering with.

 

THE SECRET TO SUCCESS IS STILL HARD WORK AND THAT’S NOT A SECRET

 

EMPOWER YOUR STRENGTHS

List your strengths and weaknesses. What happens next happens every time we mention winners. We judge ourselves with too many weaknesses to become a winner. But let’s be honest—we all know our weaknesses, but we all know our strengths. Instead of concentrating on our weaknesses and gauging how we will fix, eliminate or diminish our weaknesses, let’s concentrate on our individual strengths God has given us and let’s empower it.

Empower your strength by finding avenues to exercise it. Buying into your strengths will yield a better harvest then trying to pull out every weed that grows in the field. Funding weaknesses and discovering a strength in the mix leads to trouble as placing the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If your strength is the gift of communication begin to research how to better communicate to your circle of friends, family and business associates by planting visual pictures of your strengths at work.

Send a card for their birthday

Text a “happy” note each day

Use Twitter as an encouragement tool

Contact someone you haven’t heard from in a while

Discern the needs of others and lift their spirit

 

When your strength is communication and you invest in people’s lives the weakness will become weaker and the strength will become stronger. Just as muscles grow stronger through exercise so personality strengths become stronger through use.

 

DON’T WASTE A LIFE—INVEST IT

 

EVALUATE THE PAST

Answer these questions cover a period of time – maybe a week. Your greatest influence may well be found in this process of self-evaluation.

Where did I find the most satisfaction?

Where did I influence people?

Where is my heart headed?

 

When do I get the most done?

When do I influence others the most? (Time of year and event)

When do I know I did my best?

Who are my friends who tell me the truth?

Who is my mentor?

Who most influences me?

 

What is my life’s major dream?

What do I love the most?

What am I doing daily to reach my dreams?

 

Why?–most important question of all.

Why do I do what I do?

Why am I not influencing others?

Why don’t I start today?

 

When we carefully and prayerfully examine and evaluate our life we might get discouraged but would you be willing to change if you knew you could actually close next year being encouraged because your field of influence grew?

Pray this prayer with me, Lord, increase my territory, enlarge my boundaries, fill me with more of you, through my humility and strength in you I can do all things. AMEN.

 

Coming next: Become a Person of Influence- Little or Much?

 

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counselling.

Five Qualities of an Effective Communicator

He walked into the room without shaking anyone’s hand, came quickly to the podium conveying to the crowd he was in a hurry. He spoke quick and terse with a know-it-all attitude. He went over his allotted time without apology making exaggerated claims of his success then briskly walked out the door.

The chatter around the room after his presentation was a mix of relief and anger. Relief that he was finished and gone – anger that he was brazen and narcissistic.

Communication is one of the most important qualities within the element of being an author, pastor, business person or speaker. Yes, as illustrated above, there is a lot of difference between a speaker and a communicator.

A communicator doesn’t become prolific in well versed words, flaunting his education and attitude to gather or collect an audience but rather takes an interest in people while dissecting hard truths and offering small pieces as a dainty delicatessen. A communicator builds a friend list, tells stories and cares for people while probing their emotions and thoughts.

 

Here are my suggestion for Five Qualities of an Effective Communicator

 

LEANING

Our body language speaks louder than our words.

Multitudes of studies have been done on body language and slumping, twiddling, texting and a far off look are adverse body styles to communication. Leaning into the person, hanging onto their words with a soft smile and a gentle nod brings attention to an all new level. Social media has reversed communication into words and videos but real communication “leans into” the conversation.

Keeping in mind that personal space is necessary, so look away briefly, don’t stare and don’t make them feel uncomfortable by leaning too much. As Leonardo Da Vinci said, “An arch consists of two weaknesses, which, leaning on each other, become a strength.”

 

LEARNING

There is never a person so bright that there can’t be another light bulb in the room.

Teaching and learning should go hand in hand. Asking questions during a conversation is needful for receptacle learning. Agreeing, debating (not arguing) and questioning develop a well-rounded conversation. “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t,” states Bill Nye.

Becoming emotionally and uniformly attached to the conversation (not the personal exactly) brings learning to the forefront and helps us retain the details of the conversation.

 

LISTENING

God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason someone once quipped.

Painful but true. We are dedicated talkers and many love listening to their own self talk. Listening is a skill – an important skill. Listening bonds friends, brings relationships to the table and develops on going communication. Andy Stanley teaches, “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”

Listening without charging into our answer but remunerating the answer quietly and purposefully after we have fully listened demonstrates great respect for the speaker.

 

LOOKING

Eye contact may be the most important communication ability we possess.

Looking away does more damage to the attention span than most any other distraction in the communication process. To look intently and interestingly is an art and must be perfected by communicators.

Someone once said, “Looking into someone’s eyes changes the entire conversation.”  A long stare is uncomfortable so look away occasionally but not long enough to lose the train of thought or the line of thought.

 

 LIKING

To communicate is the first step of friendship.

We won’t personally like everyone we speak to but if we communicate with them long enough there should and most likely will be a thin thread of truth to where we might find common ground. You might not personally like them but like something they say. Like has variables and levels and definitions but they all involve people.

 

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

One Step

They expect that God is going to make the way plain and open before them, miles and miles ahead; whereas He has promised to do it only step by step as they may need. – J.R.M.

You have taken the first right step there may be another then another but keep your hand in the hand of the Savior, follow the Shepherd closely that you may hear him whisper. Lean upon His breast and listen to his heartbeat. Step cautiously as you walk among vipers yet faithfully as you walk with Christ.

The Damascus Road is your experience of enlightenment. Listen, look, and believe is the simple process of faith. Don’t jump quickly, don’t make a quick decision, don’t run to a rash judgement. No, quietly and purposely walk with the Lord of your life and he will gently and purposely show you where to put your foot down.

God will shine a light for the next step, his word will guide, his spirit will guide, his presence will guide. Isaiah broadens our understanding when he writes, you will hear a voice in behind you saying, this is the way, walk in it. My sheep know my voice – He speaks clearly- listen and prepare to obey.

You may not have the future revealed to you but you will have your next step before you. Don’t let fear paralyze your steps, take one step of faith and walk in His s everyday presence.

What I Know About Problems

Your problem may not be a problem

Your problem may seem bigger than it is

Your problem may not be your problem

Your problem may not take as long as you think it will

Your problem may add something to your life rather than subtract

Your problem may be a miracle in disguise

Everyone has problems

God cares about your problems

The Ephesians Six Husband

prayerSome friends of ours celebrated their Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary recently. Friends, family and acquaintances gathered to celebrate their lifelong commitment to each other. If you were to ask her how the blushing bride did it, she would gladly reply, “I prayed for my husband every day.”

Of all the qualities of my wife, I am most appreciative of my wife’s one most important task, she prays for me.  She daily prays for me. Not only have I felt her prayers but I have seen the answer to her prayers frequently. My wife has a unique prayer pattern, she prays for me to become an Ephesians Six Man. She takes each verse and prays every aspect into my life. It is interesting to note the Armor of God follows the discourse on marriage; it isn’t difficult to believe it is intentional.

Ephesians 6:13-18  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

She visualizes placing the armor of God upon me each day. She prays the following according to Ephesians 6:

Armor “God will strengthen my husband to be able to stand against adversity and stand firm in the face of opposition.”

Loins Girded “God will always reveal truth to my husband’s heart and expose fads, false prophets, and foolish tales.”

Breastplate “God will cloth my husband in righteousness and he will live a pure and holy life.”

Feet “His light will shine and my husband will influence many for Jesus Christ.”

Shield “God will enable my husband to resist temptation. Pornography, seducers and illicit women will not appeal to him in any manner.”

Helmet “My husband’s mind will be open to the voice of God and he will be protected from wrong.”

Sword of the Spirit “The Word of God will grow in His life, be evident in his steps and be the love of his life.”

Prayer “Prayer will be my husband’s foremost desire and he will find sweet and precious fellowship in the presence of the Lord.”

Comment: How do you pray for your husband each day? What do you think is the most effective way to pray for your husband?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Raising Our Children to Be Spiritual Champions

Picture1Holding a newborn has always been a challenge, they are so fragile, but holding my newborn shook me to the very core. Even though that sacred moment occurred several years ago the imagery still captures my hearts, A father holding his own baby for the first time and thinking, “Now what?”

My children are grown and raising their own family but I remembering asking, “Now what?” on their first day of school, their teenage years, the moment they brought home someone they “had their eye on.” Contemplating my role as a father has been questioned, oh, not by others, but over and over in my own mind. I read books, I watched how other father’s did it and I even prayed about it, “Dear God, make me a good father.”

Raising children has never been easy and pointing fingers at other’s mistakes in our own self-righteous stance only sets us up for possible failure.

Several things are for sure about parenting:

  • Being a parent is not easy
  • You will make mistakes
  • When your children grow up, they will make their own mistakes.
  • We need God’s help

However, culture in its demoralized state unfortunately has been a chokepoint in the arena of child rearing. Building spiritually aware children and youth takes initiative, action and consistency. Perfectionism isn’t required but daily character reinforcement is required. What we do must be done intentionally and habitually.

Here are Six Habits in Raising Our Children as Spiritual Champions:

Pray Daily With Your Children – nothing, I repeat nothing, has the power to make your child a spiritual champion as prayer does. Praying in the morning with your children, before they leave for school, helps place the right spirit around them. Close the day with prayer and prayer requests, praying one for another.

Ask Questions – have moments of conversation and interaction with your children each day. Inquisitive and investigation are miles apart. Find out what is important to them. Talk about the hard things – friends, sex, dirty words, sexting, and pornography, coupled with God’s biblical design for a holy body, mind, spirit and life.

Involve Yourself In Their Life – What do they like to do? Can their friends come over your house for a pizza party? Take them, don’t just send them, to church camps, outings, and sport events, including hunting, camping and fishing.

Go On Word Adventures Together – Study a subject, theme or passage of scripture together. Make the Word of God exciting to your children. Welcome missionaries and other godly figures into your home. Share God’s Word with your children regularly when you camp together, go on a trip and regularly at night before bedtime.

Cleanse Your Home – Letting something get in their minds through illicit TV programs, vulgar music or movies may take months to root out. Make sure the internet is guarded and your children are warned of predators. Teach your children modesty and self-respect.

Love Them Unconditionally – tell them you love them, frequently and meaningfully. Go throughout the day with a positive word and a hug. Praise them for making a wise choice and doing the right thing.

 

Comment: What advice do you give to parents wanting to raise spiritual champions in their home.

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Questions I Ask Before Making A Change

noGrowth and maturity are based on change. So change in a life growth plan is inevitable. To change is to step into tomorrow while holding on to foundational truths of yesteryear but letting go of bygone preferences. Since growth is incremental the decision to change must be the first step. Most of us agree to this point but how do we make personal changes, life changes and organizational changes for the best? The idea of change clashes with the change process. We know we should but how do we bring change to the table in an acceptable manner?

Maybe we should ask five heart searching questions, I ask myself:

Is The Change Necessary? Change for change sake is ridiculous. Change for revenge sake is evil. Change for the sake of finding something new is irrational. So I must ask myself  three intrinsic questions: Am I attempting to become obedient to the Word of God? Is it my desire to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit? Or, is the change a personal preference?

Is The Change Minor Or Major To Me? Before we ask the question on how it affects others I must ask myself how does this change me? What sacrifices will I need to make? Will it have long-term or short-term effects? How does it affect my family?

How Many People Will The Change Personally Effect? Change has a ripple effect. Will it affect just those around me, my congregation or my community – for the better or for the worse?

What Is The First Step I Must Take To Bring About This Change? Must I make some personal changes first? Is there something I need to begin personally before I make this change public? Am I willing to suffer the consequences?

Have I Prayed About It? No, I mean really prayed about? Haws God-given His stamp of approval? Do you feel the peace of God or do you wrestle with it? Have you asked for the counsel of godly men around you?

If bringing myself to the place of confidence is the first step then bringing others to the place of confidence must be the second step;  I ask others:

Who Is Affected By This Change? I may discover some resistance that I may not have anticipated had I just asked this simple question among my peers or those who circle around me. Not all change will attract all people but all change must attract God’s blessing. A circle around you is imperative to creating change around you.

Do You Understand What Must Die And What Must Live? Have those around you create a checklist of the essentials and the nonessential, list the positives and the negatives, list what lives and what dies? This exercise will cut off unmet expectations and hidden turns in the future.

Do You Understand Why We Are Making This Change? The big why Is more important than the what must change, who must change or when will we change? If the why is not clear then step back and wait.

Have We Prayed About It? Prayer together is the solidifier. Melting together means staying together. Prayer creates an atmosphere for change. If we haven’t prayed then plans, purpose and projects are skeletons of vision resulting in disappointments.

 

Comment: How do you prepare for change?

Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.

Creating Unbelievable Respect for the Pastor’s Wife

prayerThe greatest advice my wife has given to Pastor’s wives is to keep your mouth shut during times of conflict and be an encourager to your husband but a Pastor often neglects, ignores or sometimes just doesn’t include his wife into his ministry role.

I remember when I was dating my wife it was important for me to know are you called into the ministry? I knew my ministry and her ministry had to mesh but in my first few years of ministry I had forgotten about her being called into the ministry and pursued my ministry.

Pastor’s wives were never intended to be a shadow but to be the First Lady of the church. She may not desire a position, she may not crave attention, she may not wish to be in front of people but she is created to be respected. You can create respect for the Pastor’s wife by a few simple steps:

Be Her Greatest Fan – Speak frequently of your wife in endearing terms from the pulpit and in public settings. Don’t degrade her but promote her. She doesn’t just raise your kids she is half of your ministry.

  • Applaud her – admire her ambition, her words and her lifestyle and compliment her frequently privately and publicly
  •  Listen to her cautions and advice. She may not know the whole story but her intuition might save you from making a quick and careless decision.

Take Out Point: Respect and honor for your wife is God’s idea

 

Tell Stories or Embarrassing Events ONLY With Her Permission. This is one of the biggest pastoral “no-nos” there is. She doesn’t need the dirty laundry hanging on the line for the whole church to snicker at. She deserves privacy. Transparency behind the pulpit is your transparency not her transparency.

Take Out Point: Respect from the church for the Pastor’s wife begins with the Pastor.

 

Bring Her Along Side of You Build a ministry consciousness around you that includes her in your schedule of activities, ministry functions and counseling avenues. This may not be possible at all times but doing ministry together is fair, functional and fun.

Take Out Point: The church security rests on the relationship of the Pastor and his wife.

 

Answer Her Phone Calls Secretarial calls are to not screen family. Put them through. When she calls – tell the other party it is my wife – answer the phone – tell her you are with someone – listen to her response – finish the conversation with “I love you.” This is a powerful testimony of respect but gives your wife the security she desires when you are with someone else.

Take Out Point: Let those who surround you know your wife comes first.

 

Bring Her Into Your Personal Life Share prayer requests together. You may not be able to tell her the details of a closed-door board meeting but let her know you have to make some stressful decisions and pray about it together. Allow her to be your soul mate.

Take Out Point: The couple that prays together stays together.

 

Comment: How do you let others know you honor your wife?
Copyright by Jim Laudell. Materials may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the written permission from the author. You may share on Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media while giving credit to the author. This post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.