Prepare to WIN in 2017

At the end of every year, I take some time to look back at the previous year and look forward to the next. It is an exercise that is not uncommon, and I use the time to evaluate and make a plan in several areas of my life. So, in the couple weeks after Christmas and to start the new year, I spent a significant amount of time reflecting and planning. When working with coaching clients, I find that many people are attracted to the thought of doing this, but lack a framework that allows them to safely evaluate. Hence, for many, such an exercise becomes one of comparison, shame and making a commitment to try harder. What I wanted to do in this first blog of the year is give you a simple framework that you can add to or subtract from as is appropriate for the context of your life. It is a great tool to examine yourself spiritually, relationally, physically, financially, professionally, as a parent, or in numerous other areas. The acronym is simple: W. I. N. Click here to get 33 clarifying questions to help you make a discipleship plan. W is a prompt to look at what you did well in the area you are examining. Too often our tendency is to start an examination with where we fell short. My own tendency is to want to press on before celebrating what has been done. Here are a few sample questions: What did I do well in the area being examined? How have I celebrated these milestones? How will what I did well impact...

Three Bits of Advice for My Daughter About Relationships

My daughter is finishing up her freshman year of high school. For her, the experience was  a virtually new beginning, as she was zoned for a school apart from her cohort of friends. Navigating this year has brought new friendships and observing friends enter into ‘romantic’ relationships. While she has not yet expressed interest in dating, we have had conversations about what love is and how it is expressed in both friendship and boyfriend/girlfriend context. Here are three foundational principles that I have tried to impress upon her, and I thought they would have benefit to all of us who long for friendship and intimacy. 1. Realize you are worth loving. Someone ought to love you not for what you provide or because of your performance. You are worth loving simply because of your humanity. God created you with care and loved you so much that Jesus humbled Himself to did on your behalf. Another person, friend or spouse, should love you for no less. 2. The person you are in relationship with should be willing to admit weakness and grow. Relationship that do more than scratch the surface will reveal your flaws and the imperfections of the other person. How both people respond to this brokenness reveals where their hearts lay. Blaming another or building walls of protection indicates an identity that is focused on self. Love always considers the other’s needs. 3. Never stop being centered in Christ. Do not fall for the cultural lie that a relationship, approval, or sex are needed for wholeness. In Christ – believing the truth about who you are in Him – you are complete. Anxiety, disappointments,...

Why Are You Changing?

Human being are dynamic creatures. Every one of us changes in response to situations and circumstances. It is part of how we were designed to adapt. Particularly in response to relationships. To some degree, all relationships challenge our perception of self as competent and worthy of approval. But marriage is unique in the depth of vulnerability and commitment. Marriage will make very clear to you all the things you are clinging to for a sense of wholeness. Your spouse is the one who sees you with  your guard down. It is your spouse who knows your struggles and weaknesses. Knowing your struggles and weaknesses and brokenness, it is your spouse that carries with them the potential to hurt you more than anyone else. Similarly, anything you do that disappoints or hurts as your brokenness interacts with your spouse’s gets reflected back to you by our their reactions. It is in that way that we get almost constant feedback about our adequacy. Because of that, the marital relationship is a reminder that you are not as perfect as you think you are. Hence the reason for God’s desire that those who are married to not separate (Mark 10:9). It is not a curse, but rather a blessing so that you do not miss potential for growth. There tends to be two typical responses: Change for self-protection. This can take many forms. Some people attempt to become exactly what their spouse wants in an effort to earn approval and love. For me, this was a way of life for a long time, until I burned out from trying so hard. Others develop coping strategies...

Make Yourself Available

  The ability to ask open-ended questions and listen with presence is a skill. Good questions have power, not just to garner information, but to change perspective and build influence. Everyone has relationships in which influence must be built and maintained: spouses, children, leaders, teams, students, etc. Questions are a necessary component to growth in all of these areas. All too often, attempts to build influence become prescription. Telling another person what they need or should do without giving them a chance to evaluate or explain. Another mistake is to continually tell people what you need from them. This sends the implicit message that the other person, whether it is spouse, child, employee, or volunteer, is there to serve you. Now you have stolen joy from the relationship and created obligation. Both of these are attempts to build influence that are centered in self and the need to maintain control. Recently, a client was having trouble finding a way to effectively maintain connection with a leader without seemingly like they were meddling. In this situation, the person being led reacted very negatively to feeling like they were being managed. One solution to this problem was to ask a simple question: What do you need from me? With these words you can demonstrate compassion and a desire to serve the other by putting their needs alongside your own. Asking this question communicates your availability without bruising the other’s ego. They may be more likely to ask for help if they know that it is not a sign of weakness to need help. Additionally, this question places ownership for the circumstance or task on the other person’s shoulders, where it...

Two Components of Faithfulness

Think for a minute how you define your faithfulness to your spouse or a person you are dating? I find an interesting tendency when people are asked about faithfulness: it tends to be defined or described by the things that they DON’T do. For instance, faithfulness means not having an affair, not looking at other men/women, not talking bad about my significant other, not staying at work late, not going out with friends every night, or not spending money secretly. That is the deprivation view of faithfulness. Deprivation says now that I’m in this relationship, I have to keep myself from other (better?) options. My partner knows that I am faithful because of what I am depriving myself. Indeed, not doing things is certainly part of faithfulness, but a larger component of being faithful seems to be what is DONE. Rather than thinking in terms of the things we don’t do that would tear another down, it is a beneficial lens to look to the ways that the other can be built up. Having an affair is clearly a case of unfaithfulness. But how would we categorize the spouse that refuses sexual intimacy? Or the partner that dedicates their best time and energy to the workplace? Or the person that continually uses unkind words to tear down another? Doing what is best for another, even when it is not best for you demonstrates faithfulness. Pursuing oneness by putting the marriage (or relational needs) above personal needs allows both to reap the benefit of security. God is described as faithful; staying true to his promises this attribute of being faithful is demonstrated throughout the Bible. The ultimate...

Gain Perspective. Live Well.

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