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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Perfection paralysis and taking action

by Nelson Roth
When I was in grade school, I stuttered.  There were certain words that got locked in my head and were hard to get out.  Stuttering was a real problem for me and was often humiliating.  When I was eight years old, having a conversation was a fearful, anxiety-filled experience.  I would think and re-think about how to say something so that my words would come out right; and often, I would avoid saying anything at all.

To speak clearly, I had to get over the fear of making mistakes and being made fun of.  I actually improved my speech by making mistakes, quickly recovering, and continuing the conversation; and eventually, I overcame my stuttering.  I came to see that being concerned about what others were thinking kept me from doing what I needed to do.

Because I stuttered, there was a time when I convinced myself that it was best not to speak unless I could correctly pronounce all the syllables of those words.  I became afraid of making a mistake and set a standard for myself of perfectionism.

Carried over into life now, I can challenge myself when it's time for action.  I ask myself, "Am I going to let my fear of a mistake keep me from taking action?"  I've got to be honest and ask, "Am I going to let a desire for everything to be perfect paralyze me?"

My childhood experience of stuttering makes me think of the potentially paralyzing behavior of inaction when it's time to implement an initiative.  Now, when you are not sure about 'when' or 'what' action steps to implement; staying put until you are certain is the best decision.  

However, when you have clarity about where you are going; and, if a good plan is in place to get's time for action!

How about you?  Is there something for you to be taking action on?  Is the fear of making a mistake holding you back?  Is perfection keeping you from achieving your goal?  Is trying to figure out all the details or making sure everything is perfectly in place keeping you from action?

What could you do now?
What do you want to do now?
What will you do now?

Feel free to leave a comment below.
For more information about coaching - Relevant Ministry Coaching

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A “Mary Heart”

by Pam Roth
Can you believe it? We’re just five days away from Christmas Day!  So, you know what that means?  You have limited time to complete all of your shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking and cooking.  That statement either stresses you out or brings a sense of relief. If you’re feeling relief, then I hope that’s a good thing and not just a feeling of, “Whew, this is almost over.”

Hopefully, you’re relieved because you have a plan, and you’re working that plan.  Hopefully, you’re not allowing the world’s view of Christmas to drive your decisions. Hopefully, you’re focused on what Christmas really means, and you’re accomplishing all that needs to be done to enjoy your time with family and friends.  Plus, let’s hope you’re not stressing over what you cannot do this year physically or financially; but that you’re resting in what you are able to do.

The other night, we had guests at our home, and the account of Christ’s birth was read aloud.  As I listened, I began thinking about the scene at the birth of Christ.  What was the weather like the night Jesus was born?  Was it mild and humid, or was it cold and damp?  What did the stable look like?  What were Joseph and Mary thoughts as they watched their newborn son lying in a manger?

And then, my mind went to one of my favorite verses in the Christmas story, Luke 2:19: “But Mary treasured up all of these things and pondered them in her heart.”  I cherish that verse.  Whenever I read it, it reminds me of all the things I love.  It brings back memories of the first time I saw each of our children and grandchildren - that overwhelming feeling that you’re looking at a miracle.    

Christmas truly is a reminder of God’s miracles: the miracle of birth (specifically God’s son) and the miracle of life (eternal life with the Lord).  It’s no wonder Mary felt such an awesome responsibility to be the mother of Jesus.  She had delivered our Savior and was looking into the face of God.

So, what do you treasure this time of year?  Is it spending time with family and friends?  Do you like listening to Christmas music, going to church services or the Messiah?  Is sitting by a fire with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book something you enjoy? Do you treasure the smells of Christmas: fresh evergreens, cookies baking, and a ham or turkey in the oven?

What are you pondering?  Are you like Mary?  You have so much to be rejoicing over; yet there are so many responsibilities to think about.  Are you concerned about your future?  Are you pondering the loss of a loved one or perhaps a broken relationship?

Like Mary, Christmas brings with it a time for us to reflect on all that we have – the things we treasure; it also provides for us a time to ponder the important decisions we need to make.  We may only have five days left until Christmas Day; but we have a lifetime to have a
“Mary heart.”

How to have a “Mary heart”

  • Treasure your relationship with the Lord
  • Treasure your family
  • Treasure time with those you love
  • Ponder the path you are on
  • Ponder your purpose
  • Ponder your future

Feel free to leave a comment below.
For more information about coaching - Relevant Ministry Coaching

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What is your strategy for taking action?

by Nelson Roth
For the last year or so, I have been running three or four miles on a regular basis to stay healthy and to keep in shape.  Each time I head out, I set my iPod for music to motivate me.  With a Nike+ chip in my shoe, my iPod also works like a coach giving me times and distances with the push of a button.  I haven’t run like I am now since high school and something I’ve really become aware of is the importance of having a strategy.  Webster tells us that the word strategy has a military origin and it “refers to the action designed to achieve a particular goal.”

In my running, for example, I’m realizing that the challenge is as much mental as it is physical.  So, I’ve begun to implement a mental strategy.  I’ve learned that the first half mile is when I need to have a mental strategy the most – telling myself, “I can do this and I will be glad I pushed through forty minutes from now.”

What action steps are on your agenda for today?   Do you have a strategy to insure that you will finish?

In these blog articles, my wife and I have been sharing a tool that we use in our coaching called The Nehemiah Response Model.  It is a biblical transition process for revitalization and moving forward.  The model captures the ten responses of Nehemiah and will help you, your church, or your organization to get from where you are to where you want to go.  Action is the fifth response and actions brings us to the Implementation Stage of the NRM.

If you were following along with the book of Nehemiah, we would be looking at chapter three.  The response processes of the Incubation Stage have already taken place and the plan has come together.  Nehemiah and the workers are finally ready to implement the plan; they take action.  Like the runner in a race, we learn that Nehemiah had a strategy for all of the action and work to be going on for the rebuilding of the wall in Jerusalem.

Nehemiah puts the plan into action using three strategies.

  1. Teamwork.  The people worked together in specific groups.  In chapter three, twenty-eight times, we see the phrase, “next to them/him.”  There are forty-four groups of people mentioned and they are positioned strategically in a total of forty-two places to do the work and carry out the plan.
  2. Prioritizing.  There were a number of gates around the wall that were in need of repair and systematically, each are mentioned in a counter clockwise order beginning and ending at the Sheep Gate.  The Sheep Gate speaks not only of what’s first, but who’s first.  The Sheep Gate provided access for the sheep pasturing in the northern hills outside of Jerusalem to come into the city.  From this gate it was a short distance to the Temple where they were offered as sacrifices.  Interestingly, it was through this same gate that Jesus Christ entered during Passion Week which ended with the Cross and His sacrifice.
  3. Inside-Out.  They began the work where they were.  Reading the chapter reveals that they took action beginning at their own house.  There was a lot to do.  Instead of being overwhelmed they began where they were and proceeded out from there.
Which of these three action strategies would be a helpful for you today?  What challenges stand in the way of such action being possible?  What can you do to overcome the obstacles that are blocking you from moving forward?

I'd be interested in action strategies that you have found helpful. Feel free to leave a comment.

For more information about coaching - Relevant Ministry Coaching

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The tenacious fire ant and teamwork

by Pam Roth
If you live in the South, you are familiar with fire ants.  If you don’t, you may know very little about these small creatures that do a lot of damage to a yard and bring a “world of hurt” to the unsuspecting person who steps on their ant mound.

It’s interesting that this insect is called an ant since the fire ant is actually from the same family as a wasp.  Getting the picture, now?  Here’s an interesting fact about fire ants…one female fire ant can produce 2,000 eggs in one day.  Now, that’s a lot of ants.  So as you can imagine, a fire ant mound could be quite large with a half million ants living in one colony.

Another important thing to know about fire ants…they are ferocious.  Let’s say someone is walking along and without noticing their ant mound ends up standing on it for even a few seconds.  Once the nest is messed with, it stirs up the ants and they begin crawling on the person’s foot and up their leg.  As soon as the person realizes that something is on them and they begin to move or should I say, “jump, run, and scream,” the fire ants send out a signal to “attack.”  And attack they do.  They will sting repeatedly until the person has gotten the last ant off of their body.  Do you feel ants crawling on you?  Eek!

Well, this is exactly what happened to my husband when he was out working in the yard one day.  Little did he know that he was standing on a red fire ant mound until it was too late.  The next thing I know, the back door swings open and he’s calling out, “Honey, do you have any meat tenderizer?”   Crossing the room to the door, I said, “What? Meat tenderizer? Why do you need meat tenderizer?”  And then he told me, “I’ve been stung by red fire ants and I just heard someone say the other day, ‘If you ever get stung by fire ants, use meat tenderizer to put out the sting,’ so do you have any in the pantry?”

If we were all more like fire ants – not vicious of course, what action steps would we need to take to accomplish our plan?  Can you imagine how much teamwork goes into that single, malicious attack from fire ants?

  • What would happen if you, like one of those fire ants, understood the purpose of a goal you and your team were attacking; and you took action to move in the same direction as the rest of your team – at work, church, or in your family?
  • What might be some benefits to working as a team?
  • How much could you and your team accomplish, if everyone stayed with the plan until the mission was finished?

Let me encourage you to take action and be as tenacious as a fire ant
and hang on until you have accomplished your goal.  It’s easy to become weary as you work hard to move forward…but don’t give up.  Get focused, find someone to encourage you along the way, and “hang out” with other people who are positive and moving in the same direction.  Go ahead...get fired up and take ACTION!

Feel free to leave a comment below.
For more information about coaching - Relevant Ministry Coaching