15 ways to curb your spending this Christmas

alisonward.me
alisonward.me

For us as Christians, Christmas remains about Christ.

It is a time to reflect and rejoice that Jesus Christ took on flesh and forever lives in Heaven having overcome hell, death and the grave for us.

He is the main character of the Christmas story. The gift of Christmas is Christ himself.

In our consumerist society, Christmas has become about many other things; peripheral stuff that matters very little in the greater scheme of things.

Christmas is now about parties, expensive gifts and outdoing friends and family with decorations and holidays.

Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with family, decorating the house for Christmas, giving gifts and going on holiday.

But, there is a shift in focus that needs to take place for us to truly see the meaning of Christmas.

One shift we can make is to curb Christmas spending, so we keep the focus on Christ and glorify him the right way.

Is it worth starting the New Year broke and in deep debt that takes us the first quarter of the next year to crawl our way out?

15 Ways to Curb Your Christmas Spending

  1. If you are a spend thrift, get a family member or friend to be your partner in helping you to control your spending. It’s all about creating a new perspective.
  2. Do not spend endless days at the shopping centre searching for the perfect gift. You spend more that way and get taken in by all that is on offer.
  3. Make a list of people you have to buy gifts for with a budget amount and stick to the budget. Dave Ramsey has a great resource for a Christmas budget: http://www.daveramsey.com
  4. Tell your family and friends that time spent together, including Christmas day is about them and the relationships, and ask everyone to bring and share. I guarantee no one will be offended, and all will be happy to participate.
  5. Look for deals, and online shopping discount days. You will save and still buy great gifts.
  6. Holidays don’t have to cost you your whole bonus. Eating in is cheaper than eating out, and a whole lot healthier. If you are sharing a holiday with another family, have a roster for meals and clean up. Make it fun by doing simple meals where kids can help cook. You will be teaching them while having fun and building quality time together.
  7. Remember, a bargain is not a bargain unless you really needed and wanted it before you saw it on the shelf. Walk away, think twice and then decide. Impulse buying will blow the budget more than you think.
  8. Come home from shopping and list all you spent on food, entertainment or gifts. If it was too much and above budget, decide to cut back on tomorrow’s expenses by having a stay home day or a picnic in the park.
  9. Stop feeling guilty about not spending money! Your family wants you, your time, your input, and your love, not your money. It’s a change of focus. You cannot buy their love with expensive gifts and goodies. They need you.
  10. Recognize when you are impulse shopping to fill a void or a need inside. Just like compulsive eating is trying to fill a need the wrong way, compulsive spending is doing the same thing. Stop doing it!
  11. A good way to curb spending is to ask yourself whether this spend is worth the investment of your money or whether you are prepared to make this trade– your hard earned money for this expenditure. This works well for restaurants and gifts!
  12. Be generous! Sow into someone’s life that could not repay you. You will be surprised at how blessed you feel. Give something away when you buy something new. This keeps the cycle going and prevents hoarding.
  13. Be grateful for all you have. Stop, look around you, look at your life, count your blessings and do this with your family too. This stops the furious desire to obtain more at this time of year.
  14. Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” “Does my child really need this?” “Will it enrich my life?”
  15. Ask yourself, “Is it still all about the Father and his gift of Christ to us?” or has it become about all the other things to the exclusion of glorifying Christ.

How do you need to simplify to change your focus this Christmas?

Preach the gospel to yourself

Preach the gospel to yourself
Preach the gospel to yourself

It was Jerry Bridges, who passed away recently, whose book taught me: preach the Gospel to yourself every day. [The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges].

You may be like I was as a young Christian; continually questioning whether I measured up to God’s standards for holiness, and whether I would make it into Heaven.

I did not realise that my Christian walk relied on Christ and his sacrifice, not on my performance as a Christian!

Yes, we must acknowledge our sin, but we relate to God through the blood and righteousness of Christ, not through our own merits.

Wow, what a change and relief when I found that out!

Bobbie Carlyle sculpted a statue of a man called ‘Self Made Man’. The vision of ‘Self Made Man’ is a man carving himself out of stone, carving his own character, carving his own future.

Bobbie Carlyle: Self Made Man

[http://www.bobbiecarlylesculpture.com/SelfMadeMan.php]

This is often reminiscent of us as Christians.

We want to carve out our own lives. We take what we think are the tools of spiritual transformation into our own hands and try to sculpt ourselves into Christian specimens.

 However, spiritual transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit.

He is the Master Sculptor.

 It means you believe He forgave you all your sins (Col 2:13) and now “[presents] you holy and blameless and above reproach before him”, (Col 1:22 ESV).

But, note: the discipline of being a disciple of Christ requires continuous, robust effort on our part. We must not be lazy, apathetic or halfheartedly committed. We must have no indifferent attitude towards sin!

Consider two different days in your life:

  • Day One- Good one spiritually: You have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone
  • Day Two- Bad one spiritually: You have the opportunity to share the gospel with someone

Would you feel more confident on day one than on day two?

If you choose day one, this reveals your reliance on works for your salvation rather than on God’s grace in Christ.

God’s blessing does not depend on our performance, but on His grace in our lives.

“Any time we bask in God’s mercy and grace is our highest moment, higher than when we feel good about our great performance and cannot think of anything we need to confess” (Jerry Bridges).

Remember Gal 6:14: But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

 Are we willing to rely on God’s grace alone, instead of our performance, to boast in nothing except the Cross? If so, we can stop living in our good day/bad day scenarios and bask every day in the grace of God!

You see, preaching the gospel to myself, as a believer, means I remind myself daily to rely on Christ’s sacrifice, not on anything I can do.

Remember this as you preach the gospel to yourself every day:

  1. My salvation is through Christ’s sacrifice for my sin
  2. I live in the grace of God
  3. My performance does not change the grace of God
  4. God has forgiven my sin
  5. I am able to look forward to my walk with God every day because of Christ.

Let’s remember the sculpture of Self Made Man, and make sure we not engaging in a self-help, self making of our Christian lives!

What else engages us in preaching the gospel to ourselves? Please comment below.

Quote:

Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace (1994), Navpress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do we forgive when we don’t want to?

Do you find it difficult to forgive? You are not alone, most of us do.

woman, rock, water-1082056_1920
Alisonward.me

It’s easy to forgive the person who steps on your toe in the elevator.  What about the person who shaped your life by their abuse when you were a child. What of the husband who cheated on you, thus ruining your dreams of a happy marriage?

One balmy summer evening recently hubby and I were walking in our neighborhood with the dogs. Rather the dogs were walking us, I caught the heady scent of pine from the huge trees down our street.

The fragrance released by the warm temperature hung thickly in the air. As we passed underneath the trees I breathed in deeply, my senses alive with enjoyment from this delightful aroma.

I thought of how the heat in our lives brings out the fragrance that is within. Is it a wonderful scent or the stench of years of bitterness resulting from unforgiveness?

The pleasant fragrance from our lives is that of good works, like forgiveness.

Forgiveness seems to be so hard for us, and yet it is the requirement for God forgiving us.

Forgiveness is a grace that sets us free.

 In a research survey, 80% of people interviewed said they had learned from their parents how and when it is appropriate to forgive. Natalie responded in one of these interviews that her mom never apologised or asked for forgiveness and she was the same way.

Muner, Maisy; My Research Paper- Forgiveness. (http://forgivenn.weebly.com/my-research-paper.html)

 We are obligated to learn the grace of forgiveness for the sake of our children and grandchildren, as well as for our own salvation.

How Can we Forgive?

 C.S. Lewis said: “Only, I think, by remembering where we stand, by meaning our words when we say in our prayers each night ‘forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.’ We are offered forgiveness on no other terms. To refuse it is to refuse God’s mercy for ourselves. There is no hint of exceptions and God means what He says.”

S. Lewis,The Weight of Glory(New York: Harper Collins, 2001; Originally published 1949), 181-183.

God wants to save us from ourselves, from the weight that unforgiveness adds to our souls.

Here are 8 signs that show we need to forgive:

  • When we can’t think about the person without strong negative emotion
  • When we lie awake at night thinking of revenge or self-defense
  • When we rehearse the incidents relating to this person over in our head
  • When we know the feelings are so deep down we stop ourselves from going there
  • When we treat others badly
  • When we won’t get close to anyone and we won’t let them close to us
  • When we have more negative emotions in a day than positive
  • When we are depressed about the past

The secret to freedom is to forgive.

It is the grace of God, working in our life that empowers us to truly forgive.

We may also need a friend, a counselor, or a pastor to help us see perspective and to pray with us as we let go.

How Do We Forgive?

  1. Recall the goodness of God and how He has forgiven us
  2. Pray a prayer: “Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive (and insert the person/s name here) ___________ who has trespassed against me (Matt 6:12).
  3. Write a letter to the person who has offended you pouring out all your emotions and keep writing till the emotion is spent. Then write across the letter, “DEBT PAID IN FULL”, and tear it up
  4. In your thoughts, refuse to dwell on the person’s deed towards you, and keep bringing your thoughts back to these 3 previous actions you have taken
  5. Finally, refuse to speak badly of the person, to gossip or to say caustic remarks about them.

All these points will aid in pressing the reset button in your heart towards God and towards your hurt.

You may have heard of the story of the little girl examining at her grandmother’s quilt she is stitching. She asks why the threads are all hanging loose, making the quilt look ugly and unfinished.

Granny turns the quilt over, to show her the finished side and tenderly replies that the little girl is looking at the quilt from the wrong side, as the other side is quite beautiful!

God is looking at the finished side of the quilt of our lives, already seeing the beauty of a life lived fully by the finished work of the cross applied to our lives as Christians, and forgiving others as we are forgiven is a massive part of that!

Question: What else has helped you to forgive?

How you can show compassion for the hurting

How you can show compassion for the hurting
www.alisonward.me

The gift of compassion is a wondrous thing.

God wants us to be compassionate towards people. He wants us to help those who are hurting.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph 4:32).

Have you ever tried to share a hurt with someone only to have it minimized by their dispassionate, flippant, thoughtless reply?

It doesn’t feel good, does it? So, don’t do it to others.

However, we do not have to be strong in a mercy gift to show compassion for someone. Just think how you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed, and act accordingly.

This is the golden rule:

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you (Matt 7:12a, NIV).

We can all learn compassion.

Having been a pastor for many years, I have noticed that church people struggle with showing compassion. It does not come naturally to all.

In times of difficulty, we all need compassion, even when we are to blame for our situation or have made a mistake costing us dearly.

How difficult it seems to be for people to show compassion to others without including their own suffering. Someone shares a hurt with you and you are already off telling them how you suffered before their sentence is even finished.

No, that is not compassion!

To listen patiently is compassion.

To feel deeply for another person is compassion.

To express this deep feeling as empathy means you would say something like:

“I don’t know what to say, but I am here for you”.

“I can’t imagine how this feels, and I am hearing you”.

My definition of compassion would be: to truly see someone in their suffering.

How do we comfort others?

How do we show compassion or mercy to those who are hurting?

Here are 10 ways to express comfort:

  1. Be present
  2. Do not think you have to know what to say
  3. Do not use trite phrases
  4. Put yourself in their place
  5. Show your heart
  6. Say caring words
  7. Sometimes say nothing at all
  8. Keep showing up
  9. Think of practical, kind things to do
  10. Do not ignore the person or the situation

When my daughter was experiencing infertility and mourning over lost pregnancies, she often commented on the crazy things people said to her.

Be aware of unthinking, uncaring and judgmental statements.

Weigh your words well.

You can even practice on a friend or a spouse before you go to make that compassionate visit to a cancer sufferer. Rehearse what you can say that will be profitable and caring.

People who are in need of comfort do not want to hear your ‘good advice’

or empty words of platitudes such as ‘God only takes the good ones’

or ‘you must be very special for God to allow you to suffer’, etc.

Face it; you really don’t know what the hurting person is experiencing inside.

You may even have been through the same kind of suffering, such as losing a loved one, but you don’t know how that person is feeling inside.

You only know how you felt inside at the time.

For you to show compassion and for it to be felt and experienced by the other party, you have to be fully present in the conversation.

Be really there, focused in body and mind on what they are saying.

This is the greatest gift you can give another human being. Your attention, your time, your focus on that person and their suffering brings relief to their aloneness.

It expands my world to know someone has heard me. I am not alone. You may not be able to relieve my suffering, but I am not alone.

How have you felt compassion shown or not shown to you when you have been in need and how has it made you feel?

Leave a comment and join the conversation.

 

 

Workaholism: A Life out of Balance

 

Workaholism: A Life out of Balance
Workaholism: A Life out of Balance

Workaholism: is it a life out of balance or a prerequisite of success in modern society?

workaholic is a person who works compulsively. While the term generally implies that the person enjoys their work, it can also imply that they simply feel compelled to do it.

I find it difficult to switch off to work, any kind of work. Just one more task, one more project, one more thing…

How about you?

Workaholism seems to be a trend on the increase among women today. And by the way, you do not have to be out at work to be a workaholic. Women in the home can hide behind work too.

Barbara Killinger, PhD says: “I defined a workaholic as a work-obsessed individual who gradually becomes emotionally crippled and addicted to power and control in a compulsive drive to gain approval and public recognition of success. These driven men and women live a Gerbil-wheel, adrenalin-pumping existence rushing from plan A to B, narrowly-fixated on some ambitious goal or accomplishment. Eventually, nothing or no one else really matters.”

 [https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-workaholics/201112/understanding-the-dynamics-workaholism].

Workaholism May be a Symptom of a Deeper Problem.

It is a fact that workaholics are not more productive than non-workaholics, but they do burn out faster!

Loren Stein, M.A. says, “Here’s a rule of thumb: Can you enjoy life and feel energetic and purposeful when you’re not at work? If the answer is no, you may be in the danger zone. Since workaholics get high from the fix of deadlines, long hours, and single-minded focus on work, other parts of their lives tend to fall by the wayside.”

[http://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/work-and-health-41/occupational-health-news-507/workaholism-646679.html]

Perfectionism in the workplace or business is a need for control.

It is also a cover up.

Cover make up works for a while to cover blemishes and scars, but the advertising is hollow. When you remove it you see the imperfection highlighted all the more by the harsh light of reality.

Many women in the workplace are finding themselves prone to workaholism to prove themselves in a competitive marketplace or to be seen to be ‘good enough’ to break through the glass ceiling.

Ask yourself: What basic needs am I covering up with my workaholism and desire for perfection?

Workaholism will affect, and may even destroy your health, your family and your life!

The point is, we are called to many vocations (callings), the calling to family, the calling to workplace or business, the calling to church, the calling to community, etc.

To raise one calling above another and pour all one’s affections, attention and energies into only one calling is sinful. It is the sin of omission, which neglects the other callings God has given you in favor of the one that meets your needs or covers up your deep longings.

Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
    hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
   If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
    and will he not repay man according to his work? (Prov 24:11-12, ESV).

 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.(James 4:17, ESV).

According to these scriptures, if we know to do something good and do not do it, it is still sin.

I am sure you have heard the old saying that no one on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at the office.

 They always wish that they spent more time building family relationships.

Our capitalistic society and workplace is a black hole! It will suck you in if you allow it. It may even be the Burmuda triangle, just waiting to pull you in and not let go. We are greedy for more, and so the workplace is greedy for more of your time, your effort and expenditure.

God’s mission for us is to fulfil all of our callings, without feeling the pull of one over the other.

The emotional cover up versus the emotional exposure of relationship building that is needed in the home may be the reason why workaholics will spend their time willingly at the office at the expense of family time.

It is easy to hide one’s true self and mask one’s emotions under a pile of work!

Family will let you know they are unhappy with your workaholism through subtle whispers or perhaps loud shouts of discontent.

Do not lose your family due to this ungodly practice!

Listen out for the telltale signs in conversation with others close to you. At first the little signs will be there, but once they stop talking, you are in deeper trouble, leading to relationship breakdown:

  • Behavioral problems with your kids-acting out, etc
  • Inability to connect at an intimate level with your spouse
  • Your spouse has stopped talking to you
  • Breakdown of meaningful conversations with those close to you
  • A constant nagging inside that this is not all there is
  • A lack of desire to go home, as things there are ‘not good’

What is the difference between a hard worker and a work addict? The difference lies in the feeling of fulfillment. A hard worker will relish work and feel good about achieving goals and projects. A workaholic will do the work, but resent others who do not work as hard or as many hours. They feel that no one else works as hard as they do, and have an air of superiority that no one else can match up.

And therein lies the biggest problem.

No one can match up to this perfectionism in the form of workaholism!

Thus over time, the workaholic becomes isolated inside and outside. They feel a sense of alienation from the rest of the world. They isolate themselves from others even in the workplace, and are not the best people to have on your team.

Anger and fear are two really strong operative emotions in the life of the workaholic.

Fear in the workaholic of work being taken away, and anger in the family at the lack or loss of time and affection and attentiveness towards the family.

Researchers came up with the Bergen Work Addiction Scale (BWAS) taken from tests for addictions. ‘If you have to admit that at least four of these statements sounds like you “often” or “always,” the researchers suggest you might want to stop laughing about your overwork and consider intervention.

  • You think of how you can free up more time to work.
  • You spend much more time working than initially intended.
  • You work in order to reduce feelings of guilt, anxiety, helplessness, or depression.
  • You have been told by others to cut down on work but you don’t listen.
  • You become stressed if you are prohibited from working.
  • You de-prioritize hobbies, leisure activities, or exercise because of your work.
  • You work so much that it has negatively affected your health.’

[http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-7-signs-of-workaholism.html]

There is nice quiz for you to take at 20-signs-you-might-be-a-workaholic-and-what-to-do-about-it.

The Results in Health Damage and Loss of Family Closeness

“A workaholic will die faster than an alcoholic any day,” says Diane Fassel, PhD, an organizational consultant in Boulder, Colorado, and author of Working Ourselves to Death.

[http://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/work-and-health-41/occupational-health-news-507/workaholism-646679.html]

Burnout, depression and serious health breakdowns are the price to pay for working ourselves ‘to death’.

What Should Family Members do?

Respectfully and non confrontationally approach your workaholic loved one. Tell them how what they are doing affects you. Use “I” not “you” language, and let them know how much you love them and want them to be close to you; how you understand they may find it difficult not to work all the time, but that you as a family need them too. They may not respond with favorable changes, but they have at least understood this to be behavior that needs attention.

What Should the Workaholic do?

You must confront this addiction head on. You are going to need to ask for help from someone else to see your life as you can’t see it, as work addiction and work dependency is a blind spot. See a counselor, pastor, therapist or coach, but deal with it you must, before it destroys your health, family and every other calling in your life.

Many people have said they needed to admit they are addicted to work, and seek help from an outside source to gain clarity on the way forward, as habits are difficult to change and default is close to the reset button.

I would love to hear your thoughts on today’s blog on workaholism.

Do you think workaholism is becoming a bigger problem amongst women leaders today? Why or why not?

Leave a comment on the blog or hit ‘reply’ to connect with me.

 

 

 

Let the Called Women Preach!

Let Women Preach!
Let Women Preach!

I believe women should preach.

I believe women should preach and teach provided they teach truth, just as a man should teach biblical truth.

I believe that if you do not expose your people to women in the pulpit they will not be rounded in their exposure to biblical truth as women have a different perspective or way of putting across truth.

I am neither a complementarian nor a feminist.

I believe in biblical, New Testament ministry.

I believe that it can be dangerous for a congregation to only be exposed to a man preaching and teaching if that man has a deep rooted problem with half of his congregation, that is, the women.

If he is a chauvinist or a mysogynist his congregation is catching measles while he is preaching mumps, if he has the measles. He will communicate his heart in the pulpit whether he wants to or not.

His jokes, his teasing in the pulpit will be subtly aimed at putting down women and this will anger the strong women, even cause them to leave the church. There must be a healthy balance that checks the pastors’ motives too.

Women are excelling in the workplace and the marketplace today. If they enter a church that puts women down, and I am not talking about unhealthy ambition, but calling, they will not stay.

There are women with gifts and callings to serve the church in upfront ministry.

The unfortunate thing is that these women are not encouraged to develop as men are and thus kept suppressed and immature in their gift, thus when they do get to preach or are exposed to public scrutiny they have not been mentored and developed as the men are, and they easily fail or fall prey to emotionalism or prophetic indulgences.

Yes, women are the equals of men in the church according to Galatians 3:28. They can and should operate in their gifts and callings, just as the men should.

Yes, they can be pushy, but then, men can be too.

Yes, they can operate in the flesh and draw people to themselves, but so can men.

Yes, they can rebel or be prideful, but so do men, all the time.

I say, take the strong, gifted, called women and train them, mentor and coach them, take them under your wing, Pastor and guide them.

 They will be forever grateful, for being tutored, for being seen as worthy, for being honored as worthy of your time and effort.

They are a mighty workforce in the church. They are loyal and committed. You will have an army of loyal soldiers, willing to go to battle with you and willing to give their lives.

But don’t put them down with sly jokes against women and subtle innuendos about their weakness, nagging or emotions. You have just lost half your congregation, man of God!

If a woman is called to preach, she is called to ministry to the body of Christ. Women’s ministry is only one part of the body. The whole body is all the members, functioning together. Let them hear the word of God expounded by well trained, well equipped, women with sound bible knowledge and understanding.

That is your job, Pastor to recognise, acknowledge, and equip such women. Believe me, they will take it seriously!

Comment on this blog post and join the conversation!

 

10 Life Lessons I Want my Daughters to Remember

10 Life Lessons I Want my Daughters to Remember
10 Life Lessons I want My Daughters to Remember

Now they are all grown up and are wives and mothers themselves, I want my daughters to remember some life lessons I have learned:

1. You will make mistakes– I made mistakes as a mother and so will you. Learn to live with a life that is not perfect, but do the very best you can, repeatedly, every day.

2. Remember whose you are– Never let any one of your roles as wife, mother or woman-at-work define you. You are greater than any of those roles you play, you are a woman of God firstly and will always be, long after your children are grown and even after your spouse dies, and your work changes.

3. Always build for the long term– Don’t throw away all you have built into your character for a current, flash-in-the-pan, instant gratification episode, no matter what it is or how tempting it may seem. Keep eternity in mind in your daily actions.

4. Develop resilience– Life will throw you curve balls- learn to be resilient enough to play them. Resilience is the stuff of the strong women of the Bible. Bounce back from hurt, bounce back from defeat, bounce back from pain; you are worth it.

5. Keep reinventing yourself– you can do lots of things – you are creative, multitalented and ever able to keep growing in skills. Never put self-limiting thoughts between yourself and the future. You are up to the challenge. See your life as an unfinished painting, a masterpiece in the making.

6. Regrets may be unavoidable– but hold them with an open hand and allow them to blow away like leaves in the wind. Regrets may be the greatest teaching tools in our lives, and the best guides to staying on the narrow path, having to trust in God’s grace rather than our own achievements.

7. Never say ‘if only’– God holds your life in his hand and he determines your times and seasons. There are no other roads you may have taken that may have been better than this one. You are on God’s journey and he holds your hand, he lights up your way and makes straight your path.

8. Hold on to LIFE with a capital L– it’s God’s gift to you. It may be messy at times, chaotic and crazy, but life is what you have and it’s the most beautiful present you will ever receive. So, plunge in and appreciate what you have and what you do, and the people around you, because they are all part of this gift. God has put each one in your life on purpose.

9. Fight like a girl warrior– fight for your family, fight for your mission, fight for what’s right! God has put fight in you, you are strong willed for His purposes, not for control, not for stubbornness, but so you may fight the good fight of faith! You will have to act in the presence of fear, not wait for it to go away.

  1. Keep dreaming– but with your feet firmly on the ground. Does that sound like a contradiction? Possibly, but dreams are meant to come to fruition, so put shape and plans to your dreams and never give up on them.

I pray that God’s love will overtake you, joy will flow from you, mercy will be your watchword and his grace will make you a truly gracious, remarkable woman.

What life lessons do you want your daughter or other women to remember?

Please leave a comment on this blog post, and let’s start the conversation!

Coaching as a Means of Growth

Coaching as a Means of Growth
Coaching as a Means of Growth

Coaching stimulates growth!

Think about your most valuable learning moments.

How did they happen?

Through a book, or a speaker when you were searching for an answer? At a time we are seeking change in our personal or professional lives coaching is a powerful tool to aid us in reaching our goal.

Coaching is a way of working with a leader that leaves her more competent and fulfilled, so she can contribute more to her calling.

Adults learn from solving their own problems, and applying this learning to their lives, which is why coaching with a person who desires growth is effective.

Leaders want growth, but they struggle with how to achieve it amidst the hurly burly of normal, busy life.

Christian leaders want to do God’s will in their lives and so fulfill their calling as Peter entreats: “therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10 ESV).

A Christian coach can help a client to reach goals and keep growing with biblical understanding.

Transformation (The Purpose of Coaching)

 Transformation often takes place through significant events that happen in our lives. Christian coaching uses these events, which may be anything from discomfort to pure frustration in the workplace or our relationships.

To face the need for change the client must have freed up energy, and must pay attention to habits and practices needing transformation.

Mary Beth O’Neill says, “Coaches are colleagues to leaders at exactly those times when they may flinch-or fight back, or dig in, or any number of responses.

Coaches bring their unique relationship to the leader as a tool of growth.

The client is the subject and the object of the coaching conversation.

The coach brings skills including the courage to enter into powerful conversations. The coach endures the discomfort of the anxiety the client may feel at the topic in hand, while at the same time empathizing with the client, staying connected to her for the purpose of hearing her fully.

Coaches enable clients to move forward in their performance as a result of the transformation of their hearts.

A new heart generates a new behavior.

As the scriptures say, “the good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good ” (Luke 6:45 ESV).

The power of coaching lies in the heart posture of the Christian coach that is genuinely for the client.

Coaches should also ensure they have the necessary skills to help the client bring about new learning, reflection, realization and insight. Therein lies the power of coaching.

Seeing Gold Mines (The Possibilities in Coaching)

When we do not know what to make of circumstances beyond our control… “many of us are sitting on personal gold mines that a coach can enable us to reclaim for the fulfillment of our calling and destiny”(Joseph Umidi).

Transformation takes place through adversity. The boss we are clashing with, the person we cannot get through to, the colleague who brings out the worst in us- these are relationships that can serve to open our eyes to better ways of relating.

A Christian coach will know how this scripture applies:

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV).

The skilled coach, using listening skills, can create moments of connection for the client. The coach uses powerful questions to create conversations where epiphanies may occur.

Coaches ask questions such as:

  • If you had to state a purpose for your life, what would that be?
  • What options do you have for changing things?
  • What bothers you?
  • And what else? Tell me more.

This causes reflection the client might not normally pause to do, and may lead to the awakening of a hunger or a dream long forgotten and then the epiphany moment.

Transformation is something the client must do.

The coach does not rescue the client by taking on the client’s burden; rather the coach strengthens the leadership of the client by encouraging the leader to develop new skills and behaviors.

The Apostle Paul said: “But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load” (Gal 6:4-5 ESV).

Christian coaching follows the biblical pattern of leadership of each one taking full responsibility for his life and leadership.

As a coach can help you get to a goal quicker, so a coach can also draw out of you what is in your heart.

There is great benefit in Christian leaders receiving coaching for continued personal transformation.

Join the conversation on the power of coaching by sharing this with your friends and leaving a comment on the blog.

 

 

5 Ways to be Brave When You’re Really Scared

Woman Alone 23787061672_717200f8b4_o

It is true that sometimes I have chosen courage and sometimes my courage has deserted me. No one wants to be faint-hearted in the face of an obstacle, or pain. Everyone wants to be brave.

I wrote the following in a hospital coffee shop as I waited for my husband to have minor surgery several months ago.

My heart says it’ll be okay, but there is always that other voice, fear.

The framed art on the wall says, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’ ” (Author unknown).

I think about the value of courage – the ability to do something that frightens me, and I realize it’s a choice I must make every day for the rest of my life.

So what is it that creates courage?

Our faith in God’s attributes and His sovereignty create in us the courage to act in the face of fear.

To be courageous we must act in five ways:

  1. Stand up for righteousness. One biblical example we have of a courageous woman is Abigail. When Abigail’s husband refused David and his men food, she displayed inordinate courage in sending gifts of food to David. Then she faced her harsh, badly behaved husband, Nabal, to tell him what she had done to save his bacon. He dropped down dead, and she was delivered from his evil hand and became the beautiful bride of David. What amazing courage when she could have allowed fear to stop her actions!
  1. Be strong in action even when you are shaking inside. As God said to Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous”. The Pareto principle, or the law of the vital few, infers that 80% of people will go along with the crowd; only 20% will lead the pack. What will you do when faced with the need to act righteously, to stand out from the crowd? Will you be one of the 20%? It does not require a special person . . . just you!
  1. Follow the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. Tune out the background noise of fear and learn to listen. His voice comes from outside in; it is the voice of faith, the voice of courage. The book of Romans teaches that although we do not know what to pray for as we ought, the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
  1. Look to examples of courage in action, like Paul the Apostle who said, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).
  1. Realize the Holy Spirit gives to each of us the courage we need in overcoming the sin that will weigh us down on our journey through to the overcoming life in Christ. This world needs women of courage, women of God who will act boldly in our crooked world.

Question: What stimulates you to act courageously in trying times?

 

 

 

 

Coaching For Transformation

www.alisonward.me
www.alisonward.me

My daughter returned from a trip to a country store with a loaf of artisanal Italian bread baked with thyme and sundried tomatoes. Spread thickly with yellow farm butter it was a feast all on its own.

A well-known coach calls questions the bread and butter tools of a coach, so a coach asking questions is like baking artisanal bread and spreading it thick with farm butter to present to the client in an appetizing manner.

Coaching Christian Women

Stressed, overcommitted, over responsible, and out of control of their time and resources, women in the church are in great need of discipleship coaching.

I see these women regularly trying to balance the finances, balance their lifestyle, balance their work-life, balance their home and family and still have some ‘me’ time all with some discipleship or spiritual transformation thrown in there somewhere too.

A woman benefits from coaching for spiritual transformation, and if she will take the time to enter this accountability relationship, she will discover growth.

I only have to look at Proverbs 31 to see a woman who has balanced her time, her strength and her abilities and is successfully growing from the inside out. King Lemuel says of her, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov 31:30, ESV).

In coaching women in the church we need to ask powerful questions, questions that provoke enquiry, make them think deeply about their lives, their motives, their desires, their future, and their spirituality.

Questions in the Scriptures

What is the most powerful question you have ever been asked?

Did it make you stop in your tracks and think more deeply?

What if you had never been asked that question?

God asks deep, penetrating questions because he wants us to think. God’s first question in the Bible to Adam, is, “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9, ESV), which made it impossible for Adam to ignore his sin or continue to hide it.

He had to expose his condition and thus make the move to restoration of relationship with God.

Job begs God for answers and God asks him questions, in fact, the longest list of questions in the Bible is in Job 38 and 39, provoking enquiry about what Job’s belief system is and bringing Job back to the responsibility for his own life.

Wise Coaches

As coaches we believe our clients have the answers to their own lives. These answers may be buried so deep inside; it takes more than a spade to dig down through the layers of soil to find the treasure.

Powerful questions can be like drilling for oil.

As you go down, you will eventually hit the precious stuff!

“You can tell a man is clever by his answers. You can tell a man is wise by his questions” (Naguib Mahfouz).

Wisdom for a coach is refraining from advice giving and moving to powerful, probing questions that provoke enquiry on the part of the client and curiosity on the part of the coach.

I spoke about artisanal bread, because this is baked on a small scale and needs an artisan, a craftsperson to lovingly hand form and bake each loaf. Just so, there is an art to forming questions that make people think, make them stop in their tracks and think deeply.

This is what coaching is all about.

Contact me at hello@alisonward.me for a free half hour session.