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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No short-cuts in a good plan

by Pam Roth 
A couple of years ago, we went on a walk with some friends.  They had been walking three miles for the longest time, but they wanted to break out of their routine and see if they could reach four miles.  My husband, Nelson, had a four-mile route that he walked under an hour, so they asked if he would be willing to share his walking routine with them.

When our friends arrived, they were greeted not only by Nelson and me, but also by our coonhound “granddog” – Adamena.  Well, just let me tell you this…people are not going on a walk without Ada.  She loves her walks and if you mention the word, you are committed because she is at the front door waiting on you.  Just before we took off, I suggested that the three of them get out ahead of us, so Ada and I could move at our own pace.  That ended up being a huge mistake because Ada really didn’t want a leisurely walk; she wanted to keep up with the rest of the “pack.” 

So, you can only imagine…my husband and our friends out ahead of us moving at quite a clip and me being dragged down the street by this 80 pound dog - barking and moving at a break-neck pace.  If we had only known how comical it was going to be, we could have videoed the whole thing and entered it into some contest or at least put it on YouTube. 

In an effort to distract Adamena, I decided that we would take a different route and eventually we would be ahead of the rest of the crew.  Unfortunately, as Robert Burns said in his poem, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” and so it was with my plan.  Instead of getting ahead of the three other walkers, we ended up catching up with them.  Of course, Ada was so excited to see Nelson.  She couldn’t wait to be invited to walk along with him for part of the final stretch towards home. 

Since the team was on a mission to complete the four miles under an hour, it wasn’t long before Nelson handed Adamena off to me, so as not to break their pace.  That’s when I had this thought… “I’m going to take this cut-through that takes you back out to the main street and try to get ahead of them.”  With the goal in mind, I quietly took a turn while the rest of them continued on a straight path.  At first, they did not notice that we had fallen out of rank and taken a short-cut; however, when they saw us out ahead of them, I heard one of them say, “So, that’s how it works…you take a short-cut to get out ahead.” 

Well, the whole incident quickly became the joke about taking “short-cuts” in our lives to get ahead.  But, I’m here to tell you that there are no real short cuts in the Christian life.  God has a plan already marked out for us and when we divert from that plan, things do not go as well as intended.  
  • Have you ever noticed how difficult something is when you try to “make it happen?”  Or perhaps, you have gotten off the path that God had designed for you and you are now living with the consequences of that decision.  So, if you are considering a short-cut right now, you may want to reconsider.  
  • What is God’s plan is for your life?  Perhaps the best route is to go forward and tunnel your way through instead of looking for a short-cut.

A good word… 
I Corinthians 10:12 & 13, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation (testing) has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted (tested) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (tested), he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

Coaching Tip…
            How to avoid the temptation to take a short-cut

  • Know that God has a plan for your life
  • Recognize that you are “human” and things are going to happen
  • Understand that trying to avoid a situation, won’t change it
  • Realize that skirting (taking a short-cut) an issue only means that it will take longer to resolve it
  • Believe that God has already provided the way
  • Decide to meet the challenge “head on” and tunnel your way through

Feel free to leave a comment below.
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Planning, sharing the vision

by Nelson Roth
When the vision for the future is clear and when you have begun to think plans through for how to get there; it’s time for action, right?  Well, almost.  Remember we are still in the incubation stage of the Nehemiah Response Model TM.  Taking action begins in the implementation stage that follows.  Before moving out with action, it is critical to share the vision and plans with others.  Like an unhatched chick’s embryonic development during incubation, every day of the process is essential.  Sharing the vision lines up in the chick analogy when the beak is formed and is used for the purpose of escaping  from the shell.

Planning follows vision and both are part of the incubation stage.  Two weeks ago, I wrote about - planning, thinking it through.  In this article, we'll discover from Nehemiah some great insights about how to share the vision - a vital part of the planning process.

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell writes, “The truth is that nearly anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course…they see the whole trip in their minds before they leave the dock. They have a vision for their destination…”  Getting to that future destination requires others on the ship.  If a vision is to be attained, it must be shared by everyone whether it’s one person - like your spouse, if it is a marriage or family matter; or whether it is a larger group in an organization.

Nehemiah’s, vision from God was to rebuild the broken walls of Jerusalem.  What is it for you?  Are you in a transition to something new?  Is something broken in a relationship, in your career, or ministry?   

Nehemiah has arrived in Jerusalem in chapter 2 verse 11.  From his activity we get insight on how to share the vision we have with others.  

  1. First, he rested.  Nehemiah had just concluded the 800 mile trip to Jerusalem which probably took four months; and then, he rested for three days.  What can we learn from this?  Are you like me?  I can be so driven, especially when I see before me all that needs to be done.  I say to myself, “Let’s get going.”  We are so driven.  We are so bent on getting results.  We gauge the success of our day based on how busy we are.  To work is okay, but we also must understand the necessity of rest and self care.  God set the example, resting on the seventh day.  Jesus modeled it by often withdrawing to rest with His disciples.  I like this verse in Ecclesiastes 10:10 - “If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength”.
  2. Nehemiah reflected on the job to be done.  Before the official start, he assessed needs, gathered facts, and surveyed the situation first hand.  In verses 12 to 16, he personally scouted out the damage on the walls.
  3. Then in verses 17-18 in chapter 2, Nehemiah rallied help.  He did so by asking everyone, “Do you see what I see?”  After the problem was addressed, he challenged the people with the solution, “Let us rebuild!”  After Nehemiah shared the vision, he made it clear that all of this was God’s idea and everyone responded saying, “Let us rebuild.”  They then joined him and “set their hands to this good work.”
A rally in a sports event is a comeback!  It’s recovery and moving forward to victory.  Now that the vision and plan is shared, it’s time to move from the incubation stage to implementation and action!

Feel free to leave a comment below.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Remaining flexible

by Pam Roth
Do you remember the flexible little toy called Gumby?  Well, we have a similar toy around our house, only it is a long, wiry rabbit.  Today, I pulled him out to remind me that I need to remain flexible - flexible not only to change, but also to interruptions.

Does this ever happen to you?  You have a plan.  You know exactly what you want to accomplish, but then it doesn’t work out the way you hoped it would.  You know the saying: “The best laid plans of men and mice often go askew.”  That’s exactly how I felt today. From the moment my feet hit the ground, it seemed to be one interruption or distraction after another.  None of which were bad things, just a detour in the day I had planned.

What do you do when things don’t go the way you planned?  Do you feel out of control? Do you become frustrated with the situation and angry with the people who seem to be keeping you from the task at hand?  Or do you become complacent and just give up?  Both of these reactions are extremes, so how do you find middle ground to stay flexible?  What is the secret to being open to changes in your life and not frustrated with daily interruptions? 

Let’s use the wiry rabbit as an illustration.  If I take the rabbit and twist his arms and legs and get him to look frustrated, he will appear to be closed to new ideas or relationships.  He also looks uncomfortable with himself and those around him.  Think about it: When we let some insignificant thing get us all up tight, we shut down any possibility of accepting a new or different way to approach something.  It is much harder to change our course if we get hung up on what “should be” instead of the way it “could be.” 

Now, let’s go to the opposite side of this scenario.  What would happen if the rabbit’s lanky arms and legs were pulled straight out and he was placed in a lying-down position?  Wouldn’t that suggest that he has just given up?  Is that what you do when you feel overwhelmed?  Do you say, “I can’t get this done, it’s too big of a project, or there are too many obstacles.  I’m just going to quit.”?  Maybe you become quiet and withdrawn from those who are dear to you.  The message is, “Change isn’t going to happen any time soon.”

We are all aware that life is filled with both changes and interruptions.  The question is, “How good are you at accepting it?”  What are the steps that all of us need to take to be able to overcome an interruption or face a challenge?  What can you do when you feel knocked off of dead center?  How do you find that balance in your life? 

I encourage you to check out the coaching tips and then practice remaining flexible this week.

Coaching tips:
           ….steps to remaining flexible
  • Start with a plan, knowing that interruptions or the need for change can happen.
  • Find the opportunity in a challenging situation.
  • Be open to thinking outside the box.
  • Exercise self-control by finding your center (what gives you a sense of peace?).
  • Accept responsibility for your actions, and don’t blame others for the interruptions in your life.
  • Realize that complaining will keep you fixated on the problem, not help you find a solution.
  • Remember that you have a choice in the matter.
A good word for the day…
I Corinthians 15:51: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”

Feel free to leave a comment below. For more information about coaching email: or

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Planning, thinking it through

by Nelson Roth
When I was in high school, I really got into mechanical drawing which was one of the required industrial arts classes at the time.  I enjoyed drawing architectural plans to scale.  So much so, that I thought about pursuing architecture as my life’s career.

Well, a long story short, God’s call for my life was ministry, not architecture.  I’m glad about that;  and, I am also glad I learned the importance of good planning back in the 60’s.  Architecture is the preparation of plans.  The process of planning helps us to think things through and makes outcomes possible.  Buildings exits and don’t fall down because of advanced planning.  In much the same way planning is an important part of life and ministry. 

Last month, Pam and I wrote about vision.  This month, our writing theme is planning.  Vision is about where you are going. Plans are how we are going to get where we are going!

Planning is an important part and one of the responses in what we are calling an incubation stage in the Nehemiah Response Model TM.  Before we take action, we must plan and set goals.  Planning comes after getting God’s vision and before moving forward.  Planning is an important step.  We may become anxious.  We may get the itch to move, but waiting for the plans to come together is necessary.

God sets the example for us in planning.  Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 1 Corinthians 14:33, 40 “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” 

How do you put a plan together?  The vision that we have will be just a dream until we make plans.  Those plans make the way to the vision tangible.

Here are some interesting components of planning from verses in Nehemiah chapter 2:

  • (:1) Continue to be faithful in your current work while making future plans.  Nehemiah was loyal to his current responsibilities while he was praying and planning for the future.
  • (:2) Wait patiently for the right time to share what is on your heart.  God opened the door for Nehemiah when the King initiated by asking the question, "Why does your face look so sad?"  Hebrews 6:12, “...imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what was promised.”
  • (:3) When asked, share your heart with confidence.  Planning during the incubation stage gave confidence to Nehemiah.
  • (:4) When the door of opportunity opens, rely on God.  Nehemiah’s quick prayer was not to ask God what to say, but to ask for help, in the moment, to say all that was already in his heart.  Nehemiah had something to say because he had been seeking God and thinking things through.  
  • (:5) Wins happen when opportunity and preparation meet.  For more than a hundred days Nehemiah had been praying and planning, the two are good go-togethers that help facilitate the intersection of opportunity and preparation.

From Nehemiah’s continued conversation with the King we learn three important questions to answer while in the planning process:

  • (:6) How long will it take?  What is the timeline for your plan and goals?
  • (:7) How can you prepare for and overcome possible difficulty, danger, or misunderstanding?  What obstacles stand between you and your vision?  (:9-10)
  • (:8) What are your needs and will you ask for what you need to fulfill the vision?  Nehemiah knew what he needed both for the project and for himself because he had thought things through.

Are you in a time of planning?  Like an architect makes plans for a home, your plans will serve as the tool to help you reach your goals.

Feel free to leave a comment below.
For more information about coaching email: or