Wisdom of the Wounded
Joy in the Midst
A Place Missionaries Call Home
Suffering for the Cause of Christ
Jimmy was born among the Montangard people in the mountains of Vietnam. Through a missionary, his family came to know the Lord as Savior.
Now, Jimmy is pouring his life into reaching his people with the Gospel. And, he counts it a privilege to suffer for the cause of Christ.
A Wonderful Free Gift
What is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give another person?
You don’t have to go to the mall to buy it. It’s free, and it is one of the most powerful ways to be God’s “light” to those who are suffering. What is this wonderful gift? It is listening, really listening to another person. Hearing his or her story and helping the person tell his or her story.
Bernie Siegel says, “When someone you love has difficulties, listen. When you don’t know what to offer the people you care about, listen…listen…listen. Don’t ever forget the power of listening and the strength it takes to just be there. Not curing, but caring.”
Is the mother in the following story really listening? Is she helping the daughter express her feelings and thoughts?
Mother: “Come on, honey, tell me how you feel. I know it’s hard, but I’ll try to understand.”
Daughter: “Oh, I don’t know, Mom. You’d think it was stupid.”
Mother: “Of course I wouldn’t! You can tell me. Honey, no one cares for you as much as I do. I’m only interested in your welfare. What’s making you so unhappy?”
Daughter: “Oh, I don’t know.”
Mother: “Come on, honey. What is it?”
Daughter: “Well, to tell you the truth, I just don’t like school anymore.”
Mother (responding incredulously): “WHAT? What do you mean you don’t like school? After all the sacrifices we’ve made for your education! Education is the foundation of your future. If you’d apply yourself like your older sister does, you’d do better and then you’d like school. Time and time again, we’ve told you to settle down. You’ve got the ability, but you just don’t apply yourself. Try harder. Get a positive attitude about it.”
Was this mother really listening?
In the book, The 7Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says, “Most people listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak. We have a tendency to rush in, try to fix things up with good advice.”
Again, Bernie Siegel (author, doctor, and lecturer) tells about helping his kids:
“My kids would tell me that they had a problem. I’d say, ‘Well, sit right down and tell me about it.’ Then I would proceed to share some of my problem-solving wisdom with them. After all, I had several degrees and was a doctor, lecturer and author. However, after a few minutes they would jump up and say, ‘Dad you’re no help. You don’t understand.’ Later in my life, my patients taught me the importance of listening to their pain. Now when one of my kids has a problem, I’m quiet, I listen and I ask a few questions to help them clarify. Again, after awhile they jump up, but this time they come give me a hug and thank me for helping them so much. All I did was be there. Listen. And ask a few questions so that they could clarify and tell their story.
When someone you love has difficulties, listen. When you don’t know what to offer the people you care about, listen…listen…listen. Don’t ever forget the power of listening and the strength it takes to just be there. Not curing, but caring.”
Today’s caregiving hint is:Listen to the person. Help the person tell his or her story. Resist giving advice. Put your “fix-it-mentality” on the shelf. We can’t fix another person’s struggles and suffering. What we can do is be there and listen.
This week, try giving someone the wonderful gift of just listening. Listen to his or her story and leave your advice on the shelf.
A Stranger Taken In
In Matthew 25, Jesus explains that the righteous will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God at the end of the age, because they fed the hungry, gave water to the thirsty, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and came to those in prison. Opportunities to do these very things are around us every single day.
Before service on Wednesday nights, my church has a three dollar meal for the community, and serves excellent food. It was during this meal a couple weeks ago that just such an opportunity arose in my own life when my sister showed up with a stranger. This stranger, was a middle-aged man who was wet, dirty, and sunburned. As my sister and he sat down and joined our conversation, an incredible story surfaced. Listen to this weeks broadcast to hear what happened.
Holding on Loosely
Any tennis players out there? Any golfers? These are two sports where, to be your very best, you have to learn how to hold on loosely.
I suspect this may also be true for other sports, but I know it’s definitely true for golf and tennis.
So what do you think I mean by “holding on loosely”? Is it how your grip the racket or the club? Well, yes – but, no.
Then what is it?
Welcome to The Coaches Corner: A place to grow for Christian Leaders.
One of the ways I choose topics for Coach’s Corner shows is to reflect on what has been coming up lately in my executive coaching sessions. This concept of holding on loosely has come up several times over the past few months.
About six months ago I read a very interesting book called “Holding on Loosely: Finding Life in the Beautiful Tension”. It is written by Pablo Giacopelli (Gee-ah-cho-pelli ??)
This book tells of Pablo’s personal story as a Christ follower, tennis player and coach to several touring pros. He describes in his earlier journey how badly he wanted to win, not just in tennis but also in life.
All the way through life he had learned to hold on TIGHTLY to the things that mattered most. This holding on with white knuckles would cause him to be tense and to have a short fuse when things didn’t go just right. And we all know there will be many times when things don’t go just right.
As a Christ follower he would get very disappointed in himself for failing to live into the fruits of the spirit. He failed to exhibit outwardly – and experience inwardly – things like love, joy, peace, kindness, and self control. If you’re a devoted Christian you know the list… and you might even know the feeling of this kind of disappointment.
Pablo tells how his propensity for holding on tightly – for trying to force an outcome – was being passed on those he was coaching and this led to them also becoming tight.
Then a good friend helped Pablo understand that he didn’t need to hold on so tight. He reminded Pablo who God is and that there is nothing Pablo could do to make God love him more. AND there was also nothing Pablo could do that would make God love him less.
Pablo discovered the real freedom that Christ is offering to each of us. He describes this as “finding life in the beautiful tension”, which is the sub-title of his book.
I don’t know about in your world, but in mine the word “tension” is seldom called beautiful. And the term “holding on”, when you’re trying to accomplish something very important, is seldom followed by the term “loosely”.
Holding on loosely.
Pablo has named something I’ve been aware of and have wrestled with for a long time.
I too am a tennis player and I very clearly remember a match from about 30 years ago where this lesson was revealed to me. In this match I was playing someone that I was convinced I should beat… there was no doubt in my mind.
Now if you’re not a tennis fan, I apologize because I’m about to use that scoring system that seems so crazy. Hang in there with me for a bit.
Even though I knew I should be winning, I was getting waxed. I lost the first set 1-6 and was down 1-4, love forty in the second set. I was so upset and frustrated that I finally just gave up… well sort of gave up. I decided as long as I was going to lose to this guy that I knew I should beat, I was going to at least stop trying to beat him and just start trying to play good tennis… error free tennis. This seemed to calm down my spirit. I stopped trying so hard to beat him. I stopped making silly mistakes. I started to experience the wonderful game of tennis again. I was starting to hold on loosely… maybe even too loosely as my attitude wasn’t exactly in the right place quite yet..
Even in my “I don’t care anymore” attitude, I came back to tie the second set at 5-5 and then had a clear decision to make. Do I keep holding on loosely, which felt very dangerous because now I had something to lose as I was becoming convinced again that I could beat this guy – or should I start to force the issue again and take control of the outcome?
Well, as it turned out I did a little of both… but mostly I tried to let go of the result and just stay in the moment of each shot. It was hard to let go as completely as I had several games earlier when I surely felt I was going to lose – and therefore had nothing to lose. Momentum had swung my way and I was playing much better. I wanted to take control again, but I also couldn’t turn my back on how much better I played when I wasn’t trying to force my will on the outcome. I went on to win the second set 7-5 and then the third set 6-0.
This was a huge lesson for me. This was the first time I remember experiencing this dance of giving it my best but also being willing to let go at the same time. This experience has stayed with me for 30 years… and Pablo captured it well in his book. This concept which started for me 30 years back has changed the way I approach the important things in life.
Whether it’s winning a big tennis match, or making that presentation that could greatly impact your career – or even dealing with a teenage daughter, that despite your best efforts, seems to be going in the wrong direction – I think it’s all the same. You need to give it your absolute best and also be at peace with the fact that the outcome is in God’s hands, not yours.
I believe Pablo is right. We need to hold on loosely. I also believe this aligns very closely with a deep truth that Jesus taught us. If we want to live the abundant life that God designed for us, we need to do something that relates to holding on loosely.
Do you remember what Jesus said we had to do first to experience life, and life in abundance? “WHAT FOR IT” Yes, that’s right. We FIRST have to die to ourselves. Matthew 16:25 says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
It’s a bit of a silly example, but early in that match I couldn’t let go of my deep need to win, but once I got to my wits-end I did let go of that need out of pure and total frustration. Then I just started playing tennis again and I experienced the way I am supposed to play tennis, which led to me winning.
It’s a weird irony. The thing I want the most, I’m likely to lose if I’m not able or willing to let go of it. Yet if I’m willing to let go of it, I’m likely to gain it. Wow. This is the wonderful and mysterious nature of the Gospel.
I have a lot more to share with you about how this concept of holding on loosely relates to Christian leadership so I’m going to speak about it again next week.
In the meantime, think about experiences you’ve had when maybe you had to let go to gain the very thing you were holding on to. Ask yourself if there is a situation right now that would benefit from going after it with all you have and then allowing the outcome to be God’s.
I’d love to hear from you if you have some good examples. My email is email@example.com.
Next week I’ll talk about how to do this ‘letting go’ and why it’s important for Christian leadership. I hope you’ll join me.
Until then I pray that you experience God’s amazing grace AND rich blessings.
There are more people in slavery today than any other time in history. Estimates are that as many as 27 million people are enslaved. 27 million!
On the fourth of July, we celebrate our freedom, but I sadly can’t stop thinking about all those individuals who are not free today. I especially mourn for the children and women who are victims of sex-trafficking. Can you imagine what it would be like if you, your daughter or your granddaughter lived the following story?
I was only nine years old when I was playing outside with my cousins. I thought it was the best day ever. The feel of the warm sun browning my skin was amazing. The sound of splashing water filled my ears as my triplet brother and sister cooled down in the inflatable pool we bought only the day before. Everything was fine until that black van came around the corner. I was counting for our amusing game of hide and seek. I was almost done, “97…98…99…100…ready or not, here I come,” were the last words I freely said before my ability to speak was taken from me.
The large hands that pulled me by my ponytail were the last things I felt before my body went numb and all emotions were taken from me. I was shoved into a prison like cell that became my home for the next six years.
They held me captive and used me as a slave for all kinds of things that have scared my memory and body forever.
I finally escaped on the 9th of July, 2013, my 16th birthday. With the help of my only friend, I got out of their captivity and ran for four whole days before they finally stopped chasing me. I can only hope my friend got out too. My debt to him is unpayable as he was the boy that saved my life. I can never forget the many living nightmares that were engraved into my memory, nor can I go back to my family. I shall build myself a new life here in this deserted town and hope my voice and personality may return one day.
I am free. I am safe. I am me.
Can you imagine what that would be like?
You can change life for children, women and men around the world. The justice movement needs your time, talents and passion. There’s something for everyone to do—choose how you’ll get involved.
A first step might be to understand the problem. Go to www.ijm.org/the-problem to read stories. These are real people. They could be your child, your grandchild, your daughter.
Then, the next step is to TAKE ACTION. There’s something for everyone—choose how you’ll get involved. Here are some suggestions on how you can get involved: www.ijm.org/get-involved
Yes, we can change life for children, women and men around the world. The justice movement needs your time, talents and passion. There’s something for everyone—choose how you’ll get involved. Will you?
Sharing the Gospel in Ecuador
Lewis Beeler, Jr, is a second generation missionary. His passion is to share the love of Christ with anyone he comes in contact with. His ministry, along side his parents, Lew & Jan Beeler, includes starting a Bible Institute, church planting, a Christian book store and more.
For more information on the Beeler’s ministry, go to www.beelersinecuador.org or you can e-mail Lew, Jr at Lhbeeler@gmail.com
Faith and Leadership
It’s 2:00 AM… and you can’t sleep.
You have a huge decision to make which needs to be communicated to your team at 7:30 the next morning. This decision will affect hundreds of people. If you mess this up it could cost you everything – or at least it feels that way.
You’ve listened to dozens of people about the facts, their perspectives and even their opinions. You’ve studied articles that relate to your decision. You’ve spoken with other leaders to gain their perspective. You’ve done everything you can to determine which is the best choice – and yet, here you are very unsure as to what to do.
As a Christian leader you care deeply for the people that are depending on you and the last thing you want is to do something that will hurt them. However, you’re also charged with doing what best for the organization.
For the last week, and now specifically at 2:00 AM it seems that these two values are at odds with each other.
So what do you do?
Welcome to The Coaches Corner: A place to grow for Christian Leaders.
Have you been in this situation before? I suspect all of us have to one degree or another.
Many leadership decisions are just inherently uncertain. A friend of mine who led at a very high level in a multi billion dollar multi-national company used to say every one of the decisions he had to make was impossible.
All of the decisions that had a possible answer where already made at lower levels. Once a decision got to him it meant that nobody else was able to figure it out.
So what do good leaders do in these situations? What do good Christian leaders do in these situations?
Turn to faith.
If you believe that you aren’t making this decision alone, but that God will guide you – and is guiding you – you will find the wisdom and confidence needed to lead – not only through the decision itself, but also through the ensuing journey of defending it and leading people through the chosen path.
Today, I’m talking about faith and the importance of real faith for a Christian leader.
Before I go further, let me give my simple definition of Christian Faith. It consists of two components:
First it means believing that the God who created ALL THINGS really does exist!
This seems so obvious, but I’ve experienced many times when my actions suggest that I don’t believe God is really there. I’ve seen this in others many other Christians too.
I may profess that God is real, but then my actions suggest that I’m feeling the pressure of carrying the weight of the world on my own shoulders. I’ve heard this described as practical atheism where my words confess one thing but my actions show another.
So the first component of my definition of faith is that I really believe that God exists. The second component is that I believe God’s promises.
God makes dozens if not hundreds of promises in the old and new testament. Through our human eyes and very limited perspective it may look like God doesn’t always keep them.
For instance, our prayers aren’t always answered the way we believe they should be. But then God only promised that he would answer our prayers. NOT that he would answer them the way we’d like them to be.
But we also confess that God is always faithful… always trust worthy. Do you believe this? If so, then all I have to do it do my best.
Pursue God. Seek God’s wisdom and guidance. Make tough or impossible decisions and then lead them the best way I know how. AND trust that God will be with me. AND trust that God will be with everyone else too, every step on their journey. As the leader I don’t’ have to carry all of the weight. Ultimately, that’s God’s job. All I have to do is be faithful to what I believe God wants me to do.. and make the decision I believe God would have me make.
So Faith comes down to two simple things:
Do I believe in God? (Is he really there?)
And do I believe God? (Can he be trusted?)
This kind of faith is a powerful attribute of great leaders. It allows them to make the impossible decisions and still sleep at two AM. It allows leaders to lead their people with confidence and humility.
What does a leader with this kind of faith look like?
A leader with deep faith exudes a confidence in the future. He has this confidence because he trusts in God.
He also exudes a humility because he knows its not him that will make all things work, but it’s God that will.
She has humility knowing that all of her decisions won’t be the right ones, but she also has confidence that God uses all things, even poor decisions, for the good of those that love him (scripture here?)
She has confidence that even if she makes a significant mistake, God is still with her and with each person that this mistake will affect.
Does this mean that leaders can make flippant decisions and NOT do their homework? No, there are still consequences to NOT doing your work well. There are still consequences to making a poor decision.
But, God is still there – still loving everyone – still using all things, even a poor decision, for the good of those that love him. God will be faithful to his promises.
This kind of faith helps leaders to gain greater clarity and wisdom. Brain science has shown us that a brain that is less anxious functions better than one that is more anxious.
This kind of faith gives leaders greater peace knowing it DOESN’T all depend on them. Not only will God be with them going forward, but God will be with each of the people their decisions will affect.
With this kind of real faith, a leader can do his or her best to make the best decision possible at the time it needs to be made and then lead his or her people on the chosen journey.
Next week I’ll talk about another topic that will challenge all of us to be better Christian leaders.
I hope you’ll join me.
Until then I pray that you experience God’s amazing grace AND rich blessings.
The God of Connections
In this weeks episode, I share first-hand experience of God being the God of connections. The verse that stands out to me for this is in Matthew chapter 6 where Jesus says to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be added to you.On the road of life we must have God as our guide. If we do no, we will be unfruitful, unsuccessful, and in a dangerous position. Why is this? Because only God knows the future!Imagine walking down a dangerous path in the middle of the night with no light whatsoever! The first bit of danger you come to will cause you to stumble. Well the path of life that we take in this fallen world is full of danger, but if you are seeking after God, then He will guides you around each of these obstacles, and guide you to the most fruitful end result! While seeking God, you still may not see where the best place to land your foot is on life’s path, but God does, and if you turn where He turns, your footing will be sure!
In this weeks episode, I share just a few stories of God’s orchestration of major connections on my path of life.
Chile for Christ
Missionaries Chad and Ruthanne have been working in Chile for the past seven years. They have learned that being a missionary is more that evangelization, it is also discipleship. “It is more than just teaching, it is listening to the questions, and then answering them according to God’s Word.” They have been teaching the people to dig into the scripture and find out three things… “What did you find interesting? How did you see God? How did you see man?” And then they are taught how to apply it to their own daily lives.
Their story is very interesting… from eating horse at a funeral, to learning to fix your husband’s dinner without complaint. You will be blessed as you listen.
For more information about Chad and Ruthanne, you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Caring for Military Families
One of our neighbors is in the Army Reserves and will be leaving for a 9 month tour of duty in Afghanistan. As neighbors we want to be supportive of him and his wife and 3 young children. What can we do for their family while he is away serving our country?
Some of the followers of Wisdom of the Wounded offer the following ideas to those individuals whose spouse/father is in the military and away from home:
Suggestions from Karen: The girl that grew up next door to us has been going through this. I usually talk to her once a week, and some of her friends do really nice things for her: They have helped her with carpooling her kids, and have invited her kids to dinner, but not her, so she had some time off. Two of her friends took her on a special weekend outing for her wedding anniversary and her mom took care of her kids. One of their guy friends takes their two sons out about every other week to do “guy stuff”. When Tim has a Skype phone call, one of her friends comes over to entertain the kids so Heather has some time to talk to Tim alone after the kids have talked to him.
Suggestions from Jeri Mulder: I saw once a “prayer chain” was made. A family made a link for every day the dad/husband was going to be gone. They hung it all around the house and took off one link each day until he came home. It gave them something to do and was a visual reminder of how many more days before dad would be home.
Below are ways to help a parent handle the long list of daily jobs they are handling on their own while their spouse is away:
Laundry duty: Offer to do the laundry. If you have time, offer a “pick-up and delivery” perk.
Grocery shopping: Offer to do the grocery shopping. Slip a surprise in one of the grocery bags like a gallon of ice cream with 3 toppings or chips and salsa or a pizza.
Meal Planning: If a group from her church or neighborhood is interested, check out the website: http://takethemameal.com/. This is a great website packed with ideals for scheduling, menus, recipes and other ways to show you care.
Pack school lunches for kids: When one parent is in charge of everything, packing school lunches for a week or more is such a blessing. Check with the mom on what items the children like and dislike. Again, if you can spread out this responsibility among many individuals, it will not be a burden for anyone.
Be a “Handy Man”: Get someone handy to come over every 2 weeks to do a running “honey do” list of stuff that breaks or needs replacing. What a wonderful gift this would be!
Send children fun care packages with snacks and a small toy or activity or book.
Offer to help carpool once a week or more.
Help them keep a photo journal of everyday activities for the spouse who is away. When he or she returns, they will have a review of all they missed and can get caught up.
For the one serving: Send him or her care packages, updates from home (local newspaper, church bulletin), beef jerky, chewing gum, dice or cards, photos of their family at home, pictures of local happenings (buildings going up, new restaurants, road construction, simple things like local parks, ice cream joints etc.), things to bring “home” to them – a photo of their house, notes about what’s being done to support their spouse and kids.
I should also share that I received a number of “reassuring” pep talks from well-meaning people when they’d ask about my son. Instead of just listening and saying, “That must be scary or difficult or hard,” they would say things like, “He’s in God’s hands,” or “God will take care of him,” or “Don’t worry it will be okay, most kids come back.” None of those things were helpful.
I do believe that we are ALL in God’s hands…however, that provides no assurance that we will be safe from disaster or harm. I did believe God would take care of him. I did not believe God would take care of him the way “I” wanted him taken care of. I was sure God had his eternal soul, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t come back without a leg, arm or with brain injuries. That didn’t mean that he wouldn’t watch friends be killed and have to kill someone else or just wrestle with the pain, extreme anxiety and fear of his own demise in a bad and painful way, or watch others experience that terror (which IS the trauma that my son experienced even though never deployed). There are many casualties in any kind of war. God doesn’t promise those who are engaged in war that God will have a magic bubble around them to protect them from the horrors of war.
No, I did not believe there was a promise that God would protect my son. If there was, then why were so many others prayers not answered? This statement was no comfort. I needed someone to listen to my fear, experience my pain with me and just pray with me.
If you have additional ideas or comments on this topic, please share them below. Do you have a caregiving question? Ask Karen!
Wrap it Up
Today’s post in the fourth and final part of my series on Fear. In the first post I wrote about the most prevalent fear I see in people: uncertainty or the unknown. In the second post I wrote about the antidote to that poisonous fear: faith. In my last post I wrote about courage and how that helps us when we lack faith. However, if we have faith, we need no courage.
So what is faith? For me, it’s these two questions:
Do I believe in God?
Do I believe God?
Do I believe in God? Do I believe he’s the creator of all things? Do I believe that God really has the ability to do anything he desires?
Do I believe God? God has promised me some amazing things:
God will give me eternal life.
God will not give me more than I can handle (even though it may feel like it at times…at times of weak faith in particular).
God will protect me and never forsake me.
But what about Stephen? Stephen was stoned to death, the first Christian martyr. Did God protect him? I think he did. What about our friends and family who have been taken from us by illness or tragic accidents? Did God protect them and not forsake them? I think God did.
Maybe God’s promises are more about our eternal souls than our earthly lives. Colossians 3:2 instructs us to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. So if I believe, and I mean really believe, in God and God’s promises, I have nothing to fear, so why would I need courage?
If God is for me, who can be against me?
That would be an awesome thing. Sadly, the reality for me is that I lack faith in God and his promises at times. That’s the reality for most of us. In those times when we lack faith, we must muster up the courage to do what we know God would want us to do, which will build our faith over time.
How can we muster up the courage to do what God is calling us to do in times of fear?
Spend time with God
Read God’s Word
Spend time with people you know of great faith
Let go of your agenda and get on board with God’s.
God has promised to give us anything we ask for if it is in line with his will. How awesome is that?
I have a friend whose very young son was very sick. It looked like he might die. This was a terrible thought for my friend to face. He had recently lost another family member and was very fearful of losing his son. Despite this, he found the strength to put his son in God’s care. He found peace in the midst of his son’s illness. He found God in this deep and dark place. He didn’t know if God would save his son’s earthly life or not, but he knew some things for certain:
God is God Almighty and can do anything.
God is good even when we don’t understand the bigger picture.
God is faithful…always.
This friend knew that he would be okay with God by his side, no matter what happened. He hoped and prayed that his son would survive, and he knew that either way, God would be with him.
This moment of deep faith impacted the rest of my friend’s life. He now lives a life of very deep faith, in part because he had this moment of great fear and found great faith within himself.
I know most of you are wondering if his son lived. Before I share that with you I want to make a point: The bigger question is did he find faith, and would my friend have been okay—and his son okay—either way. He did find faith, and praise God that his son did live and is now a fine young man.
I pray that each of you has a moment like this—a moment when you need deep faith and are able to find it. I suggest that you ask the Creator and giver of all things that you receive the gift of real faith.
Build your faith this week and starve your fears to death.