Use What You Have

freeLet’s just face it – we don’t start out with much. And most of what we do is relatively small compared to what we would really like to do. We have big plans with little resources. We have big dreams with little results. we take baby steps instead of giant steps.

Most of the time when we decide towards a faith venture or some exploit we decide to begin calculations of what we don’t have. We add up our debt, our depreciation and our decrease. We subtract from hope, faith and patience. We substitute fear, bad dreams and the sweats. But what if we used what we have.

The simple instead of the complex, the small instead of the large or the minute compared to the exhaustive.

Let’s examine all the Bible characters that started small:

Abraham and his staff

Moses and his rod

David and his five stones

The difference is they started small with a big God.

There was not a selective power in the rod, the staff or the smooth stones but the power was found when these faithful followers gave to God what they had to do what God has asked them to do. Giving before receiving; believing before the answer and small happens before big happens. David’s faith was not in the five smooth stones but in a great, big God. Yet, he simply gathered from the brook what he knew to do.

Maybe God wants you to do something, something big but you don’t have what it takes to make it happen. Why not count, add up and put together what you do have and give it to God. David ran towards the giant and you can too with just the little you have. A little talent, a little writing, a little prayer, a little conversation, a little…well, you get the picture. Take what you have and let God in it.

The difference with you starting small is you have a big God.

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.

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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

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.

When Do You Need A Mentor?

Picture1Now – Is the correct answer. Life is better when another set of eyes views the project. Life is better when another heart feels concern. Life is better when another mind has assisted in thinking out the process. Life is better when two carry the load.

A young couple found another couple in their church; this couple had been married about ten years more and had served God since their teens. The young couple heard laughable and insightful stories to encourage them through the bumps in their own marriage.

A pastor was navigating his church through difficult waters, stressful and tired, he and his wife called an older pastor and his wife over for dinner. The evening went quickly and after the older couple left, the pastor’s wife smiled at her husband, “I feel totally refreshed.”

An aspiring writer wanted to put something together but kept hitting rough spots; she called an experienced author and asked if they could meet over coffee. They did and continue to meet – inspiring each other.

A mentor may meet once but most likely will meet several times and often. A mentor is not a counselor but a coach. Not “I have all the answers” but “let’s find the answers.” A mentor doesn’t push but coaxed. A mentor is concerned and you should be honest but a mentor is not a garbage can to put your trash in.

Mentors Coach You To Go To The Next Level. If you wish to grow in a more rapid pace you will need a coach. A true mentor will encourage you to take risks with careful consideration, to spend money frugally, and to make decisions prayerfully.  A wise mentor will not push you to the next level but will persuade you to take the next step.

Mentors Address The Vision. Mentors will dig until your true vision comes to the surface. Mentors will prod until your true feelings are exposed. Mentors ask questions about your vision, your dream and your purpose in life.

Mentors Discover The Path. A mentor will encourage you to take the first step in the right direction. A classroom, a conference, a phone call, a book, may be the right step but a mentor will help you find what the next step is.

Mentors Will Pray With You. A real mentor knows prayer unveils truth, discovers direction, and fills the heart. Compassion is the unique quality of an effective mentor. You may not see them every week but when you do you know it is a God moment. Praying together helps the heart to find its purpose.

Comment: What do you feel is a great characteristic of a mentor? Do you have a mentor?

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.

Do You Know How to End Well?

bookWhere to begin is not an important as where to end. When writing an article, speaking in front of a crowd or living life, the conclusion is best when done well. Most people will remember how you finished much more than how you began. As you prepare it is essential to picture your conclusion in your beginning. Just as life: we live our life so we will end well. In writing or speaking we must end well. The height of the message shouldn’t be buried somewhere during the discourse but reach for a highpoint during the introduction, during the plot and especially in the conclusion. To drift towards the end is to leave the matter undone.

I am always learning more about writing and speaking but here are a few tips on bringing your book, article or speaking engagement to a greater ending:

Stories Tie It All Together. Probably nothing can conclude your message like a well-rounded, thought-provoking, heartfelt story.

Unravel The Plot. “The resolution, also often called denouement, which is French for “to untie” or “unraveling”, is the conclusion of the story. Here, the conflicts are resolved, all loose ends are tied up, and the story concludes with either a happy or sad ending.” https://wikis.engrade.com/plottingashortstory

Create A Continuing Scene. This continuing scene leaves the listener or reader on the edge of his seat to bring him again for the much-anticipated conclusion or continuation.

Hand Out Something. During my speaking career I have handed out ropes, ribbons, a card, rocks, fishhooks and more. I went into a business office two years after speaking on “Not Letting Go!” and a business woman had taped the fish-hook to her office phone and said it was a continual reminder to never let anyone go.

Conclude With A Climax. By definition a climax is “the point of highest dramatic tension.” It is that moment when emotion feels, ears listen best and eyes visualize the most. Create a climax and your listeners or readers will come back for more.

Comment: Can you add another reason why the conclusion needs to end on a high note?

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.

When to Say NO

noThere is probably not a harder word to say with conviction than the word, “No!” For the motivated and vision driven leaders we have a tendency to lean on “more is better.” Busy is the key word in business – so we work harder, schedule tighter, press on more and push until exhausted. When we do say, “No,” it is usually with a bowed head and droopy eyes; as if we had just been informed someone had passed away. No is negative – is our perception but I would like to introduce you to the positive no; the positive way to say, “No” with conviction and tenacity. Should I be able to say, “No!” without guilt? We like to please people but by saying, “No” at the right time is to be able to live with a light in your eyes even though you have turned down a worthy request.

Here are several reasons why “NO” needs to be your next answer:

To Have The Freedom To Say “Yes” To The More Important. When you refuse the insignificant and choose the important, you have just made a mature and essential choice. You have freed up your time to dive headlong into your vision and to intensify your efforts towards your dream. Doing what someone else deems important keeps me from doing what I feel is important. Ask yourself this question, Does this lead me to my important goals I have set?

To Relieve Stress, Anxiety, Worry And Fear. More to do will bring on more stress – give yourself some breathing room. Over committed translates underachieved. Set your focus around the necessary instead of the weighty. Ask yourself this question, Does this contribute to my stress or my delight?

  • Schedule your day, week and month with opportunities not jobs.
  • Set goals with liberty and room to reset the goal when necessary
  • Scratch items that can be delegated or dropped without repercussions

To Have More Thinking Time The ability to think is having a vacation in the mind. Writers, authors, speakers, leaders and pastors need time to think – creativity flows into spontaneous delivery. A short trip to the coffee shop, a walk in the park, or time with the family can have an amazing flow of energy and excitement back into the heart of the artist. Sometimes simply changing location will broaden your horizon. Ask yourself this question, Does this add to my life or subtract from my time?

To Enjoy Life Schedule time off, relax and enjoy moments of inactivity. This is one of my greatest difficulties is doing nothing. I am not advocating laziness or slothfulness nor procrastination but rest, sleep, relaxation and a day off. While writing a particular chapter in my last book, Highpoints, I had come to a place where my mind just wasn’t as sharp. My words were scrambled more than my eggs were for breakfast. I put on my jogging outfit and went for a couple of miles, upon returning fresh words filled my mind and I finished the chapter with greater ease than before. Ask yourself this question, Does this bless me or mess with me?

To Follow My Dream When pursuing the ideas of others I forfeit the dreams in my heart. To accomplish what the vision within me I must say, “No!” to the distractions around me. Don’t feel guilty about saying, “No,” when you are fulfilling the dreams within you. Focus is the supreme key to productivity. Ask yourself this question, Does this take me into my dream?

Comment: When do you say, No”?

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.

Why You Shouldn’t Quit Today

4581Michelangelo spent 4 years painting the now infamous Sistine Chapel The Creation of Adam masterpiece. The physical demands of standing on a scaffold painting above his head were torture. One night, exhausted by his work, alone with his doubts, discouraged by a project that was too great for him, he wrote in his journal a single sentence: “I am no painter.” Yet for 500 yrs now this picture has spoken of God’s great desire to be with the human beings He created in His own image! When you feel like saying “I am no _____________” … DON’T QUIT! (Quoted by Pastor Derwin Ward).

From start to finish the climb is not a rocket shot straight up. Nor does life continue to go up on a sharp incline but it is rather a spiral of events leading to the achievement. Dreams are fulfilled in a mass of events rather than a series of events. Your confusion is another progressive step upward. Your indecision is another stair step. Life is not always confined to easy stair steps – you are looking for a fast escalator but instead it is a maze. Insecurity will come one day, indecision the next, rejection another then WHAM! A simple step forward moves you closer to your dream, closer to your passion and guides you, ever so close, to achievement.

When you say, “I am not a writer!” or, “I am not a designer” or, “I am not________” You just moved closer to the place, position and more so, the person you have wanted to be. Defeat may be your biggest boost to victory. Trial and error is a lesson for those who will try again.

Never let success go to your head and never let failure go to your heart – Pastor Chris Farley

Pattern Yourself after the Best Not after the Worst

When you are re-evaluating your loss it will be simple to compare yourself to those around you who have failed. If you are at the bottom of the barrel it is easy to look at others at the bottom of the barrel. Joseph in the book of Genesis was put in a pit and a prison but he had a palace in his heart. When you are in a fit of despair pray until the dream becomes real to you again.

 

Rather Than Quit Why Not Reinvent?

  • Reinvent by putting pictures up of recent accomplishments.
  • Make of list of your wins.
  • Don’t despise the day of small things.
  • Go back to the basics.

Ask yourself “WHY” did that work? Instead of asking when and where and who and what – ask the biggest question first – WHY? Once you answer the WHY the dream will live again, the adrenaline will flow and hope will turn into courage.

 

Get Help

Gather positive friends around you to encourage you in your journey. Research your topic again. Be the best you can be by investing into yourself. Grow in the areas you want to be great in. Study and read often on your subject. Push until something happens.

 

Your Set Back is Your Get Back into the Game

While you sit and soak and sour it may be easy to throw in the towel but I am willing to throw the towel back at you and say, “Get back in the game.” Fight harder. Stay true to yourself. Laugh and enjoy the closest ones around you. Live again. Dream again.

 

Comment: What has been your experience? Have you tried, threatened to quit then tried again?

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.

Are You Ready to be a Mentor?

1548_1548_5Do you feel a shift in your life? Are you ready to embark on an amazing and prolific life shining with inward joy?  Why not become a mentor? Is my life best invested as a mentor? Is my life more fulfilling when I influence someone for the best – to make a difference in their life – to dramatically and intentionally invest in growing and developing leaders?

School teachers, educators, pastors teach in whole with corporate bodies of learning yet the most fulfilling and most productive is when the lecture becomes connection, when the sermon becomes discipleship and the lesson becomes a life well lived. Being a mentor will bring untold results. If each person has purpose and a God-given plan – where do we start and dramatically important, will we finish well?

 

Mentor Moments

An interesting benefit of working at Google is the 20 percent time program, allowing its employees to use up to 20 percent of their work week to create/invent/research special projects. Google claims several ideas turned into projects as a result of the 20 percent time program.

John Maxwell introduced the Pareto Principle in his book, Developing the Leader Within You. The Pareto Principle states, “20% of your priorities will give you 80% of your production If you spend your time, energy, money and personnel on the top 20% of your priorities.” Of course, the first element of this process is to gather your priorities on a list, evaluate each item till you discover the top 20% then begin to put your time, energy and money into the top 20%.  John Maxwell added, 20% of our time produces 80% of the results.

Some Christians live on the 20% rule of giving; the tithe (10%) to church and pay yourself, by placing 10% into a savings account and living off the 80%.

 

What would happen if I invested 20% of my time into another

individual’s ministry, talents, abilities or gifts?

 

Life is better when we invest into another person’s life with time, energy and finances – to reenergize their spirit to become a writer, a speaker, an educator or a leader. A field sown in mentorship will yield an abundant and bountiful harvest. To be an influencer in the lives of others is the law of replication. We do more becuase we have more leverage.

 

Mentor Matters

A mentor must be wise in choosing the aspiring and growing student. Age, success or position is not a prerequisite but a passion for heights, a love for learning and a mind for more must be mandatory. Simply picking a once a week spot isn’t enough – we must be educational, spiritual and intentional. Every mentor must gauge his involvement, evaluate his progress and live for a reason. Sometimes mentoring is more of a volleyball game of communication – each of the participants adding to the volley of ideas. Not a brainstorming session as much as a heart to heart resource of new visions and dreams.

Discipleship and mentoring must include life lessons, heartfelt communication, insights and wisdom, people matters and leadership principles but this is not a conclusive list. To mentor one must first know the person being mentored and the subject of the mentoring. The WHO and the WHY must be answered immediately. A cookie cutter mentor cannot serve each individual correctly. We must carefully sow the correct seed in the right field.

 

Mentor Motives

Steadfastness  A mentor, above all, will be an example to steadiness. No awkward or quirky turns but consistent and concrete decisions. Mentors don’t bring their battles into the growth process. This is not an emotional relationship but a life lesson. There will be time for tears, time for transparency and time for “aha” moments but a life of character and Christ likeness becomes the best teacher.   

Significance  A mentor must be willing to impart his life, this is not a list of do’s and don’ts but a life well lived, bringing significance to the table, teaching and living brought together. For mentorship to move from one level to the next both mentor and student must grow. Selfishness is left behind; there is no room for it. The mentor pushes the learner out of comfort zones and into accomplishments.

Spirituality  Encouragement into a close relationship with God is the quest of both the mentor and the learner. Both must grow in God if they intend to grow in any other area. The mentor doesn’t push religion but exemplifies that “he walks with God.” Pride and subjection are not allowed in the process and counseling is not the purpose. Mentor both teaches and learns both ways. Honor is given and is reciprocal.  

Comment: There are a lot of things to be added to this list but what would you add to this list of being a mentor?

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.

 

Investing in Our Marriage

Picture1People sometimes marry for all the wrong reasons. When a couple marries, it develops into a frenzy of emotion – sadly, for some; it only lasts for a few years before love fades, collapsing into separation and misunderstanding.

Love must be, should be, something more than physical. Regardless how the movies portray marriage – love develops over time. Two people grow in love with each other until more is invested in the marriage than one is willing to withdraw from.

 

Investing into your marriage becomes the diamond of beauty

 

Investing in the love, the husband and wife share, is called commitment. It isn’t give and take – it is give and give. Investment usually involves putting someone of value into something we trust. Marriage defined is putting something we value into the one we trust.

For many – to be able to trust the one you love with your soul, your thoughts, your life, your being, your secrets and your dreams is the peak of love. Moving from emotion to trust is a major step in marriage. After the struggle to survive often a couple will find a deeper love and a deeper trust in one another.

Making deposits into your checkbook guarantees’ you will be able to make withdraws up to the balance of your deposits. Making deposits into your marriage guarantees you will be able to make withdraws up to the balance of your deposits. Life has a way of making one withdrawal after the other – depleting the account. We must add deposits intentionally and on a regular basis.

 

The more you put into your marriage the more you are able to take out of your marriage.

 

Simply investing more into your marriage than you are taking out isn’t just good business sense but it is simply good sense. Let’s look at some common sense ways we can’t invest into our marriage:

Expressions Of Love Holding her hand as you walk together, rubbing her shoulders, or a gentle hug when she comes in from work is adding value in your marriage. It is said a wife needs seven nonsexual touches a day for emotional well being. Don’t be like one guy who patted his wife on the back seven times and felt he had accomplished his expression of love.

Spend Prime Time Together Taking a walk together, grabbing a cup of coffee, taking her lunch to her at work, watching a movie together after the kids have gone to bed, can be prime time events investing into your love relationship.

Write a Note Slipping a note into her lunch bag, having a note posted to the bathroom mirror or having a card waiting for her on the dinner table can fill the emotional love tank up to full. Write meaningful, heartfelt words that you noted her beauty, her strength, her character or her recent decisions.

Pray Together Discover each other’s needs. Pray for each other and confess your own weaknesses. Praying together over your marriage, over your home and over your children will multiply your deposits.

You might think of something that creates a better atmosphere of love in your home but whatever you do you must do regularly, continually making deposits into your marriage.

Comment: What would you add to this list of deposits?

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.

 

 

When is Change Worth Fighting For?

Picture2It is inevitable that changes will come. For some change comes slow and for some change comes quickly without premonition. One thing is for certain, most change will come whether you are ready or not. Change is the one thing that can change our future and give us resolve from the past. Though we shouldn’t change for changes sake a rut is simply a grave with the ends kicked out. While pursuing life and the dynamics of it we must institute change as a systematic growth pattern. Without change there will seldom be growth.

Changes come from a long list of correctives:

Age

Circumstances

Prayer

Health Concerns

Events

People

Pain

Knowledge

Error in Judgment

 Change comes – some is good and some is bad. Change may be perceived to be good and turn out bad and at other times change may be perceived good and turn out bad. It is easy to decide what changes to make when the doctor spells out a “heart healthy diet” or exercise regimen. You know what you must do to stay alive and you are willing to change even if it is abrupt. But many major changes in life are much more difficult to ascertain.

“… people change only when they hurt enough that they have to, learn enough that they want to, or receive enough that they are able to.” – John Maxwell

How do I decide when a change is necessary?

When Something Or Someone Is Damaging Your Mental, Physical Or Spiritual Well Being, You Need To Change. Incompatibility is loosely interpreted but when you feel threatened, abused or in danger you may need to make an immediate change in your personal life or your job.

When Your Wise Counsel Knows You Need To Change. Your best friends and relatives know how to look out for you but sometimes can be a little misleading. Go to “wise counsel” and ask for direction or leadership. An extra set of eyes can open up a different dimension into your life.

When God Speaks You Need To Change. If we listen to God’s voice or hear a message that confronts an issue in our life – we need to change. Many times changing jobs, houses or cars complicates the problems rather than solves the problem. Quick sudden changes are often the incorrect change. Change must be carefully thought out. Prayer can open the eyes of the blind and most of the time; it is my eyes that need opening up.

When You Have Carefully Weighed All The Options You May Need To Change. Remember – there may be an option you may not have thought of. Take your time – look in all directions. It is more difficult to reverse your decision after a wrong decision has been made.

Secondly and maybe more importantly, when NOT to change:

Don’t Change When You Are Depressed. Depression clouds the thinking and often fogs the decision making process. Never make a decision in the dark – wait till the light shines on it.

Don’t Change When It Can Detrimentally Affect Everyone Around You. Correct change should benefit most parties – a win-win situation. Let me weigh in – some change will not benefit everyone around you but when a great number of people suffer because you made a wrong decision; maybe a “more thought out” change would have been more beneficial to you and those around you. Remember, we are not an island. Abrupt change can dissever relationships for life – think before a major change.

Don’t Change When You Are Still Undecided. Making a change is never so aggravating as making an unclear change and finding you are more dissatisfied in the end.

Comment: What would you add to this list of “change” benefits?

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. Advice on this post should not be construed as medical, legal or counseling advice.