10 Ideas for Simplifying Christmas

Jesus is God's Best Gift at Christmas and Ten Ways to Simplify Christmas

We’re now in the countdown days to Christmas and many of you might be in panic mode. I remember those days well. I even remember crying to my husband that I just couldn’t do it as our family continued to grow with our four children’s marriages and grandchildren. I needed his help, but he had a bewildered, “I don’t know what to do?” look in his eyes.

I wanted to enjoy Christmas. I was excited about having a large family and grandchildren. When Dave and I married, I went from having one child to four. That was manageable. When the four got married, we doubled. Still doable. Then the precious grandkids started coming and coming and coming, and I was still trying to do all the things I did when we were a small family!

Added to the mix was leading Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, my career, attending seminary for the first few years of our marriage, and writing deadlines!

I was trying too hard to make everything perfect. I was assuming all the responsibility and thinking I could do everything with a family of 21 that I did with a family of two!

As much as I tried to keep my focus on Jesus, the Reason for the Season, I was focusing on:

  • trying to keep the same number of gifts for all the grandkids,
  • getting everyone the perfect gifts,
  • decorating the entire house,
  • sending everyone I knew a Christmas card,
  • making amazing Christmas goodies,
  • hosting Christmas parties,
  • trying new recipes,
  • pulling out all the best dishes . . .

You get the picture because you’ve been there . . . maybe you’re there now.

We also had an annual birthday parties for Jesus, and one year 300 people attended in our 1800 square foot home! I tried parceling out some of the work, but you know how that goes when it’s at your house. I loved it. Everyone loved it and still talks about them. But every year I tried to add a new element to the party and come up with even better party favors and different food than I had the year before.

Looking back, I was competing with myself. Could I top the last party? Could we give the grandkids the best gifts? I worried that we weren’t giving them as many pricey gifts as the other grandparents?!

Then it all came to a screeching halt the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer and started radiation December 17, 2002, two days before our 10th wedding anniversary. Oh yes, did I forget to mention I also planned our wedding on December 19! It seemed like a great idea the first few years, but then adding in an anniversary getaway or celebration in the middle of Christmas preparations added another activity to my already overbooked schedule.

The unexpected breast cancer diagnosis coincided with a kitchen and living room remodel and all the family “coming home for Christmas.” No kitchen counters or sink because they cut the counter tops wrong. The dishwasher was still in its box in the middle of the kitchen! The new hardwood floors were in, but I had no energy to figure out how to protect them with our traditional live Christmas tree. That year changed everything and actually brought sanity to our Christmas.

Here are some changes I made that “radiation Christmas” that might help you too. Don’t think you have to do all of them, but maybe pick a few that give you more time with Jesus and reduces Christmas stress.

  1. We used decorative paper plates, plastic silverware, and paper cups. Everyone loved how easy cleanup was after a meal. (We put a tablecloth over the dishwasher box and the kids joked that I had always wanted an island in the kitchen.)
  2. We set up a small manger scene instead of putting up a Christmas tree. After that year, we switched to a beautiful artificial Christmas tree, but also added a manger scene to emphasize the real meaning of Christmas. The grandkids decorated the tree. To this day, I let the grandkids decorate the Christmas tree. They do a great job!
  3. First grandchildren usually get many presents. You’re so excited to have a grandchild. As more came, we decided on three presents each like the three Wisemen. But as we hit eleven . . . we had to scale down to one nice present each.
  4. Instead of doing the full birthday party for Jesus, which I wrote about last week and in a blog last year, I ordered online children’s costumes for the Christmas story and had the grandchildren play out the manger scene while I read it from a Children’s Bible. Here’s a YOUTube of a live enactment. Then we kept the Birthday Bag for Jesus under the tree and maintained the tradition of having guests fill out a card with a gift they would give Jesus. On Christmas we have a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus.
  5. 5. Scale down your Christmas card list or send by email. I love getting Christmas cards, but noticed we received so many with just a signature, nice but not personal. So I had been writing a poem every year for our Christmas card, but our list seemed to double every year.

  6. When we have a dinner party, it’s potluck. When we first moved to Idaho, we had a small dinner for our “neighbors” in the mountains. Then as we met more people, we started inviting neighbors and friends. Soon, I was back to having large groups that didn’t fit into our house! It’s hard to curtail a sanguine. So now we’re back to small, intimate groups.
  7. I mentioned in the blog post Love Your Body: How to Survive Holiday Eating, that I curtailed the baking frenzy. I make something when we’re invited to a party, but now that we’re empty nesters, we don’t need all the goodies sitting around to tempt us.
  8. I still love to decorate the house and have lights. But I don’t feel like I have to bring out every box, every Christmas, and have something in every crook and cranny of our house. Even still, I always get the comments that our house looks Christmassy, warm, and cozy.
  9. Since we now live an hour from town and shopping, we order many gifts online. I say “we” because I include hubby in the shopping. We also wrap presents together, after all, they are for “our” family, and he’s actually a better wrapper than I am. We put something on TV and sit in front of the fireplace by the Christmas tree. Two are definitely better than one!
  10. Start everyday reading a part of the Christmas story or a Christmas devotional. It helps you focus all the day’s activities around the ONLY reason we celebrate Christmas. It reminds us that Jesus doesn’t want us stressed or in a frenzy. He came into the world for one reason, to offer those who believe in Him eternal life, not to add a burden to our life but to lighten our load: “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I’d love to hear how you lighten your burdens and simplify Christmas. Please share with us.

I’ll close with a timeless poem I wrote in 2004. You may have read it in previous years, but sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and read it again.

Time To Sit With You”

CHRISTMAS POEM 2004

Lord, so many things to do,             

No time to sit with you.

There’s presents to buy,

And I must bake a pie!

 

 But isn’t it all about Me?

What’s closed your eyes to see.

The purpose of Christmas day,

Isn’t how much you pay?

 

Lord, each year we hear that said,

Yet, still it comes with dread.

Anticipating all to do,

No time to sit with You!

 

This is MY day.

Don’t I have a say

In how you spend your time?

Remember, you are chosen…Mine!

 

But Lord, relatives will soon be here,

And the lawn Santa still needs reindeer!

There is so much to do,

Still no time to sit with You.

 

Relax and enjoy Me this season,

Let your activities have a reason.

This is My Birthday celebration,

And all I want is your attention.

 

Oh, Lord, we’ll make it all about You.

Do You think we should have fondue?

We’ll read the Christmas Story,

And give You all the glory.

 

Sit down and read My Word.

Your craziness is absurd.

Come spend some time with me,

Forget the Christmas tree.

 

Oh, Lord the cookies are all baked,

I have such a headache.

I know I need to pray,

But I’ve had such a day!

 

Lives are waiting to be saved.

Did you hear Me when you prayed?

It is certainly no wonder

Your world is all asunder.

 

No, God, I didn’t hear a word,

I was busy stuffing the bird.

I want to just slow down,

But I feel I’m losing ground.

 

You’ve made it all about you,

And all your parties too.

My message to the lost,

Overshadowed by homemade cranberry sauce.

 

Lord, that’s not true,

You know I do love You.

It’s just I feel a call,

To make this the best Christmas of all!

 

You’re wasting your time.

Do you think you could top Mine?

I had a virgin birth,

As my entrance to earth.

 

Oh, Lord, I’m beginning to see,

How You want to use me.

Telling Your story to all who will listen,

Is the true Christmas mission.

 

Spending time with Me,

Is the only way to flee

The world’s strangling control

On your time and very soul.

 

Oh, Lord, Your music softly plays,

As the candle glow displays,

The beauty of time spent

With our Gift heaven sent.

 

You’ll go against the flow

Taking time to help a lost soul.

But when the day has come to end,

You’ll have the joy of a new friend.

 

Oh, Lord, forgive me please.

Help me put down my car keys.

It really is so true,

There’s ALWAYS time to sit with You.

Our prayer for our friends and family is that you focus your life on only those things that will have Kingdom value. It’s the only legacy worth leaving. Merry Christmas, Janet & Dave

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Happy Birthday Mentoring for All Seasons!

Happy Birthday is celebrating the release of a new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God's Faithfulness

Last week was a super exciting week here at About His Work Ministries! We had a Big Birthday and Release Day celebration for the birth of my “baby” Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. In honor of this long awaited day, my hubby grilled salmon: my favorite food!!

Many have followed me on this year-long journey from writing the book last year in a very short four months, then the physical setbacks I had earlier this year with a concussion and then kidney surgery during the final edits. Praise God, nothing could stop His plans for Mentoring for All Season’s release day September 12!

Happy Book Borthday to Mentoring for All Seasons that released Sept. 12!

It’s been an amazing week of sharing this release on social media and guest posting every day, sometimes twice a day, on friends’ blog posts. This book is the culmination of what God has taught me over the past twenty years, when He took a woman who had no experience in women’s ministry or had never written a book or done any public speaking to start a ministry that has now blessed innumerable women and churches!

I was just an ordinary woman who said “Yes” to the Lord, and as they say, the rest has been HIStory. Some have heard or read my testimony, others may wonder how did Woman to Woman Mentoring come about? Who am I to write a book to help women mentoring each other in all seasons of life? Honestly, I’m surprised too: that God would choose me for such an honor to serve Him in this way.

So I thought today, I would share with you a little of the origins of my story.

I never planned to become a writer, speaker, or for sure not go into ministry! But isn’t that just like the Lord to direct us onto the paths He wants us to go, and we have a choice whether to follow Him or go our own direction. In my thirties, I chose my own path, but the Lord guided me back. I rededicated my life and His prodigal daughter returned with all my heart. Little did I know the plans He had for me.

Soon I was attending Fuller Theological Seminary getting a Masters of Arts in Christian Leadership, while managing an insurance agency and being a new bride with a blended family. I prayerfully attended a Women in Ministry Leadership Conference, hoping the Lord would reveal where He wanted to use me when I completed seminary, as long as it wasn’t in women’s ministry. Since I also had an MBA, surely it would be in business. Trying to create my own path again.

The Lord did speak to me, but not how I expected. I was enjoying a cup of coffee, waiting for the evening’s worship and teaching to begin with Jill Briscoe, when I heard a voice . . . “Go, and feed My sheep.” I looked around, but no one was speaking to me. I thought, “What sheep? Where? And what would I feed them if I found them?” Again, “Feed My sheep.” I muttered, “OK,” and spent the rest of the evening wondering what I had just agreed to do. Feed my sheep is my testimony in my new book Mntoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God's Faithfulness

I couldn’t wait to call my husband and excitedly share what I heard from the Lord. My godly husband suggested we pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal the meaning of “Feed My sheep.”

The next morning, the workshop instructor taught from John 21:15-17 where Jesus tells Peter, feed My sheep. Her topic was “Shepherding Women in Your Church.” The Holy Spirit was answering our prayer. But women Lord?!

Returning home, I asked everyone to pray for me to find my sheep and for direction as to what to feed them when I found them. The first sheep bleat came from a business associate asking me to mentor her. I didn’t have a clue what “mentoring” meant, so I read the late Lucibel Van Atta’s Women Encouraging Women [out of print] and learned it was simply sharing my life experiences—the good and the bad—and God’s faithfulness through it all. I wondered if perhaps feed My sheep might mean mentoring women?

Soon I was also mentoring a young woman from my stepdaughter’s small group, where I had become a mentor to the group. Seemed like enough “sheep.” But then a life-altering encounter. The Lord divinely placed the Pastor to Young Adults at our church, Saddleback, and me simultaneously at the gym. I worked out daily, but this was the only time I ever saw Pastor Brad there. As we chatted, he mentioned that many women in his young adults group were asking where they could find a mentor.

As if God was sitting on my shoulder, I suddenly poured out my “feed My sheep” story. Pastor Brad said he thought I should start a mentoring ministry at Saddleback Church, not just mentor two mentees. What!? I wasn’t equipped to start a mentoring ministry. I had to read a book to figure out how to mentor. I did meet with the Pastor to New Ministries, who agreed with Pastor Brad and he handed me a “12-Step Planning Guide to Developing a Ministry at Saddleback.” With both pastors’ encouragement, I began going through the process of starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry.

The Lord blessed our mentoring ministry and other churches started calling asking how they could start one. I couldn’t tell them everything over the phone, so I resigned from my insurance career, and wrote a Kit for churches to start a mentoring ministry. Today, God has taken the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry into churches around the world through the DVD Leader’s Kit, Woman to Woman Mentoring How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry. I continue to have the opportunity to share Woman to Woman Mentoring through my speaking and writing ministry, About His Work Ministries. I had no idea “feeding sheep” would go beyond Saddleback Church—even to international sheep.

Woman to Woman Mentoring is the Lord’s ministry following His mandate in Titus 2:1-8: one generation of Christian men and women must teach and train the next generations. When I let God guide, He allowed me to participate in something much bigger than I ever imagined. He changed my heart. He gave me a passion for the issues women deal with and wisdom in helping them turn to the Lord and to each other to navigate life’s seasons. Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, is a book for both mentors and mentees in every season of life from tweens to twilight years.

It’s been twenty-two years since I heard “Feed My sheep,” and I’m still feeding and mentoring them as the Lord leads.

Thank you for all your support and prayer, and for those who shared your stories, both as mentors and mentees, in this book. For those who have participated in church mentoring ministries or enjoyed mentoring in your personal lives, bless you for living out God’s direction for women in Titus 2:3-5.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Since the book released, there are so many stories already of women knowing other women who share their story in the book, and I encountered many while writing it. For example, I mentioned Lucibell Van Atta’s book was influential in helping me learn about mentoring only to discover that she was my friend Poppy Smith’s mentor! Poppy shares their story in the book along with 65 other mentors and mentees.

So it’s time to ask . . .

Who are you mentoring and who is mentoring you through a new life season?

PS: If you lead a women’s ministry, mentoring ministry, and/or would like to share with your church, a special discount offer for Mentoring for All Seasons from the publisher, please contact me.

*Some parts of Feed My Sheep are excerpts from Mentoring for All Seasons, shared with permission of Leafwood Publishers. Pages 22-29 has more of that story and the birthing of the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry.

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness is now available at all online bookstores, Amazon, Christian bookstores, and signed by me at my website store.

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. She is also the author of Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries

Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning Blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com

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Mentoring in a Season of Tragedy and Uncertainty

Mentoring during a time of tragedy and chaos is exactly what will help women incurring loss and fear in today's undertain times.

Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, riots, death tolls, North Korea, ISIS, our country divided . . . . Not to mention illness, dreaded diagnosis, family unrest, divorce, prodigals . . . . Protests against our President, Christian values, and God. Tragedy and uncertainty assails us when we turn on the news or browse through social media or listen to talk shows. No wonder many are living in fear and dread of the next crisis because there seems to be a new one every day. If there isn’t a crisis, the media creates one.

You may be wondering why I would write on this topic the day before Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness officially releases tomorrow, September 12! Because mentoring is invaluable in all seasons of life; so yes, I include a Tragedy Season. It’s not if tragedy happens, it’s when! At sometime in our life, we’re all going to need mentoring or we can mentor from our experiences.

What a blessing to see so many using social media to mentor from their experience with a crisis. As hurricane IRMA headed toward Florida, many who had just experienced hurricane Harvey in Houston were helping Floridians prepare by posting lists of what to stock up on and how to prepare their homes, cars, families. Those who lived in safe areas were offering shelter to strangers. The news couldn’t help but report on how everyone was pitching in to help each other through the many tragedies and losses that occurred from these hurricanes.

Many focused on thanking God that they were still alive even though they lost all their earthly possessions and would have to start all over again. In at least nine states, including Idaho where I live, fires are raging out of control and air quality is unhealthy from the smoke. Christians experience tragedy and loss just like everyone else; it’s painful and hurts. In the Season of Tragedy in Mentoring for All Seasons, I point out that “We desperately need assurance from someone who survived a crisis with her faith not only still intact, but stronger than before.”

There are also Mentor Tips on what not to say or do with a mentee. The main one: don’t minimize her feelings or make her seem like a bad Christian because her faith is tested and she questions what God is doing. The Mentee Tips point out that the mentor can’t make everything right in the mentee’s life; but she can offer encouragement, a source of Christian love, hope, support, prayer, and understanding.

Several Scriptures I suggest to study together during a tragedy or crisis are:

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Math. 28:20b

“Remember your promise to me;
it is my only hope. Your promise revives me;
it comforts me in all my troubles.” Psalm 119:49-50 NLT

“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
12 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11-12

There are so many others, especially in the Psalms. Journaling or writing down feelings helps to get them out too. A reminder that what feels overwhelming and horrendous will reflect God’s love for us and be our testimony somehow, someway, someday.

Like many of you, I have family in Florida and it’s hard not to obsess over every report of hurricane IRMA. But I’m in Idaho so instead of feeling hopeless and helpless, my husband and I pray continuously (1 Thess. 5:17). Just like the Scriptures tell us to do. We didn’t just pray for our family; we prayed for everyone suffering—maybe that meant we were praying for some of you and your loved ones.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to turn hearts back to God. Whatever you think of our President, or whether or not you voted for him, he declared Sunday September 3 a National Day of Prayer. He couldn’t stop the hurricanes, the flooding, the winds, the next hurricane, the loss of homes, the heartache, but he could try to turn hearts back to God through prayer.

That gesture got very little coverage by the media or his critics, but it’s exactly what will start the healing process in everyone’s lives. We need revival in our country, and God’s people need to lead the way back to a country founded on “In God We Trust.”

In Mentoring for All Seasons, you can read more helps and tips on being a mentor and a mentee during tragedy, uncertainty, and crisis on pages 216-217. In the Mentor and Mentee Shares section, author Heather Gillis tells her tragic story of losing her young son. A mentor helped her take the healing step of writing, which led to Heather mentoring many suffering women. Exactly what mentoring is all about! Chapter Thirteen: A Difficult Season, covers numerous difficult seasons women encounter, including Illness and Health Issues—Yours or a Loved Ones, and many more.

Here’s how you can help me spread the word about Mentoring for All Seasons!

If you’ve followed my blog and the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, you know my heart is not about book sales. My passion is to bring the generations together and help them live out God’s direction for all Christian women in Titus 2:3-5. I give all the glory to God for allowing me to be About His Work, by blessing me with the incredible privilege of starting this ministry, and then, blessing me again with the unexpected ability to write!

If you feel lead to help share the mentoring message of this new book, here are some ways:

You can also tweet from all the tweets in this blog.

Thank you! It’s a privilege and honor to connect with you each week. Please let us know by leaving a comment how we can pray if you or a loved one has been in the path of Harvey or Irma.

Mentoring Helps in Seasons of Tragedy and Uncertainty. A mentor can share from her experience and comfort and pray with a troubled mentee.

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness is available now on Amazon, Kindle, and Signed by the Author at her website.

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. She is also the author of Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning Blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com

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Why Do We Care What Everyone Thinks?

Everyone thinks this about you.”

They’re all talking about you.”

“You make everyone feel” __________________.

“Everyone thinks you should”_____________.

These types of phrases can be negative or positive.

We love it when the context is everyone thinks you’re wonderful! They’re all talking about how you make everyone feel so good and everyone thinks you should do more to let people know about the great things you’re doing!

But what about a negative context when everyone thinks you’re not wonderful. They’re all talking about you because you make everyone so uncomfortable and everyone thinks you should change your ways and keep to yourself!

When I was starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, and then when other churches wanted to know how to start one and God chained me to the computer to write the Woman to Woman Mentoring resources, I heard both negative and positive comments. That was twenty years ago. If I had listened to the negative, there would be no Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry today; but likewise if I had let the positive puff me up instead of just encourage and motivate me, I don’t believe God would have blessed this ministry. Yet even as I sit here writing to you, I see a confirming email come in from a church telling me they started the ministry last year and they’re so thankful for the resources. To God be the glory. Only God starts an international life-changing ministry and keeps it going! We can’t do anything without Him, but with Him all things are possible.

Positive or negative comments; let’s look objectively.

Receiving Negative Comments

 

No one can speak for everyone. More than likely there’s a group with a perception about you, which could actually only be two or three people.

We hear sweeping comments in the news today, and it’s easy to transfer similar all-inclusive conversation to our private lives. Especially, when someone wants to convey something negative. Everyone sounds more impressive, meaningful, and authoritative.

Words are easy to release, but impossible to retrieve!

Hurtful words and connotations are like an arrow to the heart. They penetrate our identity, our purpose, our character. As our curiosity fuels thoughts of who is “everyone,”  our anger and defenses go into high gear. We want to know why people are thinking or saying these things about us. We’re hurt. People are gossiping about us, which never comes to any good!

A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. Prov. 16:28

A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid anyone who talks too much. Prov. 20:19

Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down. Prov. 26:22

Remember Paul is talking to the church at Corinth here:

For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 2 Cor. 12:20

It takes two to gossip—the gossiper and the listener—so beware of becoming an accomplice to sin by listening to gossip. Our role as Titus 2 women is “to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good train the younger women.” (Titus 2:3)

So consider the following when you hear an “everybody” negative comment about you. Believe me when I say, I haven’t always done this on the spot, and sometimes need to give myself time to pray and put everything into perspective.

  1. Rather than trying to defend yourself or lashing outSay a quick mind prayer, stay calm, and ask God for wisdom. Ask yourself before responding: Why do I care what these people think?
  2. Question: “Really, everyone thinks this?”
  3. Ask: Why are they telling you this? Steer the conversation away from everyone to one-on-one.

My point:

We worry too much about what other people think about us and not enough about what God thinks about us. He’s the only One we’re concerned about. Consider if there’s something you should search your heart about and act on and if not, let this go. If there is something, then take it to the Lord. And be watchful of not doing an “everyone” comment yourself.

Don’t replay the encounter or comments over in your head, so Satan gets a foothold in your mind. It’s best to forgive, pray, and carry on. Easier said than done? I offer many helps and tips in my Bible study Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community.

Receiving Positive Comments

But what if all those “everyone” statements are positive building us up and making us feel good about ourselves? Well there’s certainly nothing wrong with encouragement, but again, we have to remember a couple of truths:

No one knows what everyone is speaking and they can’t speak for them. Hopefully, there are many who agree with them, but “everyone” is still an encompassing sweeping generalization.

If we think that we’re just fine because everyone likes us, then we might miss some areas we do need to change and improve, because after all . . . everyone thinks we’re great.

And we know what that leads to—pride—taking credit ourselves, instead of praising God giving Him the glory and honor He deserves. Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16:18)

There will always be areas in our life we need to improve, change, sanctify, ask God for wisdom. We can be grateful for approval of how we’re living and serving the Lord, but I guarantee that if you’re living out loud for God, everyone is not going to like you. If everyone does, do an internal check and see if there are areas in your life you’ve compromised to be liked by everyone.

When Paul was accused by the Jewish high priest Ananias, some of the elders, and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against him before the governor, Felix for doing nothing more than sharing the Gospel, Paul told them in his defense: “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man” (Acts 24:16). That should be the goal of every Christian, don’t you agree?

Sadie Robertson of the Duck Dynasty Family, who I’ve written about before, recently gave an amazing “sermon” to a college group and challenged those millennials who might be leaving their values and faith behind because they want to fit in: “Worry more about your relationship with Jesus than your reputation with people you don’t even know.” Here’s the link and I recommend you listen to it with your kids or college age youth groups. It’s excellent!

So I close with a modification of Sadie’s advice:
Worry more about your relationship with Jesus than your reputation with everyone!

Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world. 2 Peter 2:12

If you received this post by email, please leave a comment here.

If you would like to know more about the Prayer and Launch Team for Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releasing September 12, please contact me soon.

8 Reasons to Make 2017 the Year of New Connections

christmas-accident

Happy New Year! I know I promised I would be back with my Monday Morning Blog this morning, but you know how we make our plans but the Lord directs our steps. Well I’m not sure He directed my steps on Christmas Day around 4:00 PM when I stood up to go charge my cell phone and play a game with the grandkids, and the next think I remember was the sound of my head hitting the edge of a wooden chest across the room. To hear the story from my shocked hubby and daughter, I stumbled and literally flew across the room and my head took the full brunt of the fall.

Well with a nice gash in my head, off to ER we went and came home with 5 staples in my head. I’m smiling in the picture above because they put about 10 shots of Novocaine in my head, which always effects my whole bod,y so I was literally feeling no pain until the middle of the night, as my daughter and hubby had to wake me up all night.

Anyway, it seems now I have a concussion and constant high pitched ringing in my ears, so later today I’m having a brain MRI just to be sure I didn’t do any major damage. I could use your prayers for that. But God is so good that I had in my files this wonderful guest blog from Shirley Brosius, who just happens to be talking about the Joy of Connecting and even mentions mentoring as a  New Year’s goal. Shirley and her mentees Kim and Janine tell their story in my book Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, releasing with Leafwood Press later this year. So enjoy this wonderful post from Shirley and I hope to be back with you next Monday.

The Joy of Connecting

By

By Shirley Brosius

Women who say they don’t need to connect with other Christian women don’t realize what they’re missing. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)

I currently enjoy two mentoring relationships. I meet weekly to discuss Christian books with Kim and Janine, two women young enough to be my daughters.

2016-shirley-with-kim-and-janine

I chat weekly about writing and spirituality with Michelle, a young mother who lives a few hours from my home.

shirley-with-michelle

Here is how these women and I sharpen each other.

  1. We inspire one another. For instance, Kim set a New Year’s goal to control her thought life, and that inspired me to set a goal to not say anything this year that puts someone else in a bad light. Lofty goals, we know, but at least we’re trying.
  1. We pray for one another. If I’ve asked for prayer for something coming up during the week, I’m sure to get a text from Janine at that specific time, telling me she’s praying. I value her prayers.
  1. We accomplish more together than we could individually. When we decided we wanted not just to study together but to serve together, Kim, Janine and I dubbed ourselves Friends of the Heart and developed a website. We have now spoken to more than 10,000 women over the last ten years. Neither one of us could have developed such a ministry on her own.
  1. We know we’re not alone on the journey. We relate to each others challenges and walk each other through tough times holding hands.
  1. We rejoice with each other. I might feel like I’m bragging if I tell a friend that an article was accepted for publication, but Michelle and I know the struggles of writing, so we can genuinely rejoice together when one of our articles finds a home.
  1. We hold each other accountable. At times we set weekly goals and check on each other the following week: Did you make that call? Did you read your Bible today?
  1. We enjoy each other. With Kim and Janine, it’s fun to meet over a cup of tea or coffee, and in between meetings, we keep in touch by phone, e-mail or Facebook. Not a week goes by that we don’t laugh about something—often funny stories about Kim’s classroom antics or a corny joke that Janine can hardly share for laughing. I visited Michelle this past summer, and we plan to get together again this fall. She has become a special friend.
  1. We alert each other to life. I’m way ahead of them journeying down that road, and they watch me relate to adult children and keep in touch with grandchildren. Not that I’m a perfect model; sometimes I serve as a model of what not to do. And I learn about today’s world through their eyes.

Now I realize mentoring relationships may not appeal to everyone. But everyone can plug into some sort of group. I attend a Bible study at my church, and I’ve watched our group knit and share more deeply as the years go by. I also appreciate discussing spiritual direction in Sunday school classes.

If there’s no group that appeals to you, start one—a book discussion group, a young moms group, a teen moms group. You might ask someone to partner with you to pray. It’s always a blessing to hear someone else pray for your needs. Or like the women I’ve mentioned, ask an older woman to mentor you; if you’re an older woman, offer to support a young woman who might benefit from your expertise.

So get connected. You’ll be challenged and blessed. Don’t be afraid of deepening relationships within the body of Christ. After all, God made ministry a group project.

Read more about Friends of the Heart in Janet’s new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness releasing later this year.

Please comment to let us know other ways you’ve made valuable connections with other Christian women.

If you received this blog by email, please comment here.

www.friendsoftheheart.us

Support National Mentoring Month

Januray Naitonal Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month logo, designed by Milton Glaser

As I prepared to write this week’s blog post, I opened up my new 2016 calendar and there was my reminder that January is National Mentoring Month! I only became aware of this designation recently, even though it has been a nationally endorsed month since President George W. Bush proclaimed it in 2002. While the focus is on mentoring youth, as Christians we know we’re also to mentor those spiritually younger than us. The verses best known to motivate us to pour into someone else are Titus 2: 1-6:

Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives. The Message

In my new book releasing February 9, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I quote the above passage from The Message as a reminder that it is our job as Christians to reach out to the next generation and help them set a moral compass that leads straight to the throne of Christ. I often wonder how many Christians actually take this command from the Lord to heart. How many realize that the fate of our nation depends on the spiritual maturity of the next generation in our families, our churches, our neighborhoods, our communities, our schools . . . ? If we’re not mentoring, who will do the job? Answer: the secular world!

As much as we complain about the current administration, and I agree there is much to be concerned about, President Obama has continued to endorse National Mentoring month, as has both chambers of the United States Congress. The campaign’s media partners have included ABC, CBS, Fox News, and NBC; Comcast; the National Association of Broadcasters; Time Warner; and Viacom.

Shouldn’t we, the united body of Christ, also support National Mentoring Month?

Here is an excerpt from this year’s presidential proclamation recognizing January as National Mentoring Month:

At the heart of America’s promise is the belief that we all do better when everyone has a fair shot at reaching for their dreams. Throughout our Nation’s history, Americans of every background have worked to uphold this ideal, joining together in common purpose to serve as mentors and lift up our country’s youth. During National Mentoring Month, we honor all those who continuously strive to provide young people with the resources and support they need and deserve, and we recommit to building a society in which all mentors and mentees can thrive in mutual learning relationships.

By sharing their own stories and offering guidance and advice, mentors can instill a sense of infinite possibility in the hearts and minds of their mentees, demonstrating that with hard work and passion, nothing is beyond their potential. Whether simply offering a compassionate ear or actively teaching and inspiring curiosity, mentors can play pivotal roles in young peoples’ lives. When given a chance to use their talents and abilities to engage in their communities and contribute to our world, our Nation’s youth rise to the challenge. They make significant impacts in their communities and shape a brighter future for coming generations.

I smiled when I read this proclamation, both for the championing of mentoring and that the President of the United States used the word “mentee.” When I started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry and wrote Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry, many people told me mentee was not a word. I think Woman to Woman Mentoring put mentee in the dictionary!

Thank Your Mentor Day

Thank you mentor women

As part of National Mentoring Month, a day is set aside to celebrate Thank Your Mentor Day. This year, it’s January 21, 2016. A day to thank and honor mentors who have encouraged and guided you, and had a lasting, positive impact on your life.

In Forsaken God?, I encourage readers to remember spiritual mentors and the way God used these men and women to shape their lives and then to imitate those mentors by mentoring whoever God puts in their path:

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7

Here are some ways the National Mentoring Month Campaign suggests for honoring your mentors:

  1. Contact your mentor directly to express your appreciation;
  2. Express your gratitude on social media.
  3. Pass on what you received by becoming a mentor to a young person in your community;
  4. Make a financial contribution to a local mentoring program in your mentor’s honor; and,
  5. Write a tribute to your mentor for posting on the Who Mentored You? website.

To add a spiritual component to National Mentoring Month, consider:

  1. Start a Mentoring Ministry in your church.
  2. Become a spiritual mentor to someone spiritually younger, not necessarily chronologically younger.
  3. If your church has a mentoring ministry, serve in the ministry.
  4. My next book is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Honor your mentor or mentee by sending me a story about your mentoring relationship to include in the book. info@womantowomanmentoring.com.
  5. Pray for God to send you a mentor.
  6. Every month in About His Work Ministries’ Newsletter, we feature a Church Mentoring Ministry. Send me something you would like to share about your mentoring ministry to help other churches. info@womantowomanmentoring.com
  7. Start 2016 being a spiritual mentor, or finding a mentor.
  8. Remember that mentoring is part of parenting.

I’m looking forward to what God will have me share with you and perhaps mentor you in 2016. My “job” in About His Work Ministries isn’t to have a following, but to point others to Jesus.

Happy, Healthy, Blessed New Year

Another post you might enjoy reading is How to Mentor in a World Forsaking God.

Mentoring month men

The “Call” That Changed My Life

Feed-My-Sheep-390x250Site of Peter’s Primacy Church at Tabgha, near Capernum – the area of Seven Springs

When you saw the title of this blog, you probably thought I received a life-changing phone call, but I’m not talking about that kind of a call. I’m talking about “The Call” from the Lord. Yes, that “Call.”

Twenty years ago, April 25, 1995, I was at a Women in Ministry Conference in Portland, OR trying to figure out how God was going to use me when I finished seminary. I had told Him I would work anywhere except in women’s ministry. Why? Because when I was a divorced, single, working mom, I felt unwelcome in women’s church activities. There were definite clicks and I wasn’t part of the “in group.” As the manager of an insurance team, I had watched some women’s ruthless ways in business, cattiness, nonprofessional, and whining and I didn’t want any part of it. Surely, the Lord knew that and would use me in the business world.

The second night of the conference, I was sitting at a round table, sipping coffee and listening to piano music while awaiting the evening’s speaker, Jill Briscoe. Suddenly, without warning, I heard the words “Feed my sheep.” I looked around the table to see who was talking about sheep, but everyone was engaged in their own conversations. So I said, “What sheep? Where? And what would I feed them if I found them?” Again, I heard, “Feed my sheep.”

I Agreed to Feed His Sheep! Now What?

As I realized it was the Lord talking, I said, “Ok.”

That night, I called my husband and excitedly told him about my encounter with the Lord. Dave calmly said, “Well honey, let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what this means.” So we prayed.

God answered the next morning when the speaker told us she was going to teach from John 21:15-17 where Jesus is telling Peter if you love me, “Feed my sheep.” I looked at the handout to see what her topic was and she was going to talk on “Shepherding Women in Your Church.” I let out an audible, “Oh, no!” This can’t be possible; surely God has the wrong woman.

When I arrived home, God began to reveal that the sheep were women and the feeding was mentoring, and I’ve been feeding His sheep now for twenty years. First, I started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, which continues blessing women in churches around the world. Then God asked me, a non-writer at the time, to write a resource to help churches start their own mentoring ministries. Next, He sent me on the road to share the Titus 2:3-5 message and glued me to my computer writing books about “Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.”

Celebrating 20 Years in Ministry

Speaking @ Circle Drive Baptist churchCircle Drive Baptist Church, Colorado Springs, CO April 25, 2015

On April 25, 2015, in commemoration of my 20-year anniversary of feeding His sheep, God had me speak at Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs on the topic they chose, “Reigniting the Titus 2 Woman.” The next day, I trained in Parachute, CO at Grace Bible Churches Woman to Woman Mentoring ministry first Kickoff Night. I hadn’t taught at a Kickoff Night training in many years, but it was such a sweet way to reminisce and be back in the heart of where it all began—watching women walk side-by-side with Christ at the center of their relationship.

Kickoff NIght @ Grace Baptist Church, Parachute, CO

Kickoff Night @ Grace Baptist Church, Parachute, CO

 

Do I think God planned for me to have those mentoring speaking engagements on the exact 20-year anniversary of hearing “Feed my sheep”? Absolutely! That was all God. No coincidence, no serendipity—100% God celebrating with me the amazing ministry that can take place when we simply say “Ok” to His call.

How is God Calling You?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.—Romans 8:28

God calls all of us. Every Christian has a purpose and a call. But the key to knowing your call is to listen…have ears that hear God when He speaks whether it’s through reading your Bible, hearing a sermon, listening to worship music…. He’s talking all the time, but we have to listen.

When we hear His Call, we have a choice, “Yes Lord I hear ou and I will do what ou ask, and go where ou lead.” Or “Not now Lord, I’m too busy … too tired … too unsure of myself … just not ready to make such a commitment.”

Where has God been calling you? What has He asked you to do? We’re living in times where every committed Christian needs to know God’s purpose for our life and follow the “Call” that will not only change our life, but the lives of others, the culture, the world.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.—Proverbs 19:21

If you receive this blog by email leave a comment here.

I would love to hear your mentoring story to share in my next book. If you’ve been a mentor or mentee, please contact me.

What’s Your Story?

Little girl praying

As many of you know, I’ve been writing the past three months on a new book which will be out March, 2016, How Good is God? I Can’t Remember … Creating a Culture of Memories.  I hope you’ve enjoyed all the guests who have enriched this blog with posts on many varied topics. I’m blessed to have so many talented and gifted author friends and I know you enjoy hearing from them.

I was surprised when several people asked me if I thought this would be my last book? I wasn’t sure why they would ask that except for the fact that we were under great spiritual attack and duress while I wrote on a topic that the enemy hates–remembering God in a culture that is quickly forgetting God.

But that would never stop me from writing and speaking for the Lord, until the day He decides to take me home. My ministry is About His Work Ministries and I plan on being about His work until my last breath. So it might not surprise you that I’m gearing up for the next book. I gave you a glimpse into it several months ago when I asked for stories, but I switched plans when the How Good is God? book had such a short deadline. So now I’m back to the mentoring book and I need your stories.

Do You Have a Mentoring Story?

If you follow me, you know that my passion is mentoring—Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s faithfulness. Since I wrote Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry in 1997, God has been starting mentoring ministries in churches all over the world, and mentors and mentees (M&M’s) have been experiencing the blessings of mentoring.

Over the years, many ministry leaders have sent me stories about starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, and many M&M’s have sent me their stories too; but I also know there are many untold stories that would bless my readers. Will you help me write this book?

I Need Your Help

The working title is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Here’s what I could use:

  1. What would you want to read about in a mentoring book about the seasons of a woman’s life?
  2. What would encourage you to be a mentor or mentee?
  3. If you’ve been in a mentoring relationship—either as a mentor or mentee or both—would you tell me your story? Even if it didn’t go like you planned.

If you would like to share your story, please leave a comment and how to contact you. Or go to the contact page on this website and leave me a message with your email address and I’ll give you more details.

Generation to Generation

FullSizeRender-2My 9-year-old granddaughter Katelyn asked if she could have one of my books for Easter, which made my heart swell with joy. I decided she was not too young for us to do a Bible study together, so I gave her Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ.

An important aspect of remembering God, is helping the next generation know God. It’s our job description as Christian men and women!

Together we can reach, encourage, and teach what we’ve been taught to the next generation.

 Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.

Titus 2:1-6. The Message

 

Effective Mentors Ask Questions

two women mentoring

Kathy Collard Miller and her husband Larry Miller are the authors of a book I recently endorsed, Never Be The Same. I asked the Millers if they would share with you how some of the principles they discuss in their book could be applied to mentoring. I was delighted when I saw that they chose the topic of asking questions because that is the same advice and training I give to mentors. Instead of lecturing or trying to get the mentee to see things our way, questions can help the mentee arrive at her own conclusions. In my Bible study, Face-to-Face with Naomi and Ruth: Together for the Journey, Session Three, Day Four is on “Asking Questions.” This method works well for parents too.

Effective Mentors Ask Questions

by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller

One of the many goals of mentoring is helping our mentee identify her motive for the choices she makes. All of us react, respond, and choose based on our desires and wants, or what we think will prevent emotional or physical pain. Helping our mentee to recognize motives is a challenge.

We are lay-counselors, and as we help people make wise and godly choices, we’ve noticed that long-range change occurs with a heart transformation, not just mental assent. We have also been counseled and mentored, and appreciated the counselor or mentor who asked questions that helped us identify our motives and what we hoped to gain.

Why We Wrote Never Ever Be the Same

We wrote Never Ever Be the Same, to help people discover why they make the choices they do. Rather than encourage them to grit their teeth and vow to be better, we want them to have a deep spiritual change where they trust in God—not self-effort.

Asking Questions More than Giving Advice

Asking questions rather than giving advice helps your mentee to get in touch with her motivations. If you only give advice, your mentee could depend upon you for her power rather than having a heart for God. It can be difficult to think of the questions to ask.

Although we don’t provide a list of questions in our book, we do give examples of how we use questions with those we mentor.

Questions to Use While Mentoring

Here are some questions we ask. These aren’t in any order, but use according to what the mentee is telling you. Then ask more questions based upon the mentee’s answers or response:

  1. What did the other person’s reaction seem to say about you?
  2. What if you didn’t keep doing that? What do you fear would happen?
  3. What is God inviting you into through allowing these circumstances?
  4. What would you like to say to that person who hurt you?
  5. Why do you believe that’s true when other people have told you it’s not?
  6. What were you hoping or longing for?
  7. What do you feel is lacking in your life?
  8. What does that choice provide for you?
  9. What were you saying about yourself during the time that hurtful thing happened?
  10. How does your behavior leave out God in your life?
  11. How does that behavior protect you from some kind of harm or pain?
  12. Everything is a choice. Why are you choosing that destructive behavior: to gain something or protect yourself from something?
  13. What does your choice say about who God is?
  14. What does your behavior or choice indicate is your belief about God, life, or other people?

Learning to use these questions may take time. Asking them may not bring instant change to your mentee. But the Holy Spirit can use the mentee’s new sense of self-awareness to reveal wrongly motivated thinking and choices. That kind of heart transformation will have long-range benefits.

Share a question that you have found useful in mentoring that the Holy Spirit used to bring a heart change in your mentee.

Leaving any comment here will include you in the drawing for a free copy of Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today by Kathy Collard Miller and Larry Miller.

 9780891124504-1

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of 50 books and an international speaker. Kathy and her husband, Larry, have been married 44 years and he is a retired police lieutenant who speaks and writes. Larry and Kathy often speak together. They live in Southern California, and have two grown children and one grandson. Visit them at www.LarryAndKathy.com and www.KathyCollardMiller.com.

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Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today (Leafwood Publishers) offers Christians hope that they can change their destructive patterns of behavior through identifying their sinful self-protective strategies and then being empowered to trust God instead. Their book includes biblical principles, insightful stories, and helpful instruction. It also provides discussion questions for individuals or groups.

Never Ever Be the Same is available at your local Christian bookstore and in both print and digital versions. Even though you may find Never Ever Be the Same can only be pre-ordered on some online bookstores, if you pre-order, your cost may be less when they mail it to you.

Amazon

Christianbook.com

Barnes and Noble

The Call That Changed My Life by Judith Couchman

I’m delighted to introduce to you a fellow author, Judith Couchman, who shares her experience in mentoring other authors. Mentoring takes place in every area of our lives when one person who is a little ahead of the other in some life experience is willing to share and encourage someone else going through something similar: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.

Judith’s Story

Coaching by Camille-Pissarro

Coaching by Camille-Pissarro

If ever I felt stupid initiating a phone call, this was it. As I listened to my cell phone ringing into cyberspace, each pulse mocked me with a repeated warning: You can’t do this. You can’t do this. You can’t do this. I readily agreed with each ring’s caution: it mimicked the fear pounding in my chest. But before I could hang up, Erica answered.

If ever a woman contrasted with me, Erica was the one. Married with two young grade schoolers, she managed her husband’s left-brain medical practice and helped lead the women’s ministry at a church. A lifetime single and ardent writer, I joked that God created me so right-brained, I probably perpetually leaned to the right without recognizing it. I lived as a precarious Pisa Tower in bodily form. I also back pedaled from group attachments and their draining effect on my time and energy. But more and more, I thought about Erica. So much so, I wondered if God was calling.

After some questioning and procrastination, I couldn’t deny the Spirit’s persistent nudging. I finally originated the fatal phone call, the ringing that changed my life.

I’d met Erica at a small writer’s retreat, so we chatted with a vague familiarity. Then I posed the persistent question in my head: “Do you need a writing mentor?”

Without hesitation, she answered yes before I could apologize for asking and hang up.

And that was that. I instantly morphed into a writing coach.

From Dread to Delight

If ever a resistant mentor existed, it was me. Consumed by my own publishing and speaking life, I didn’t gravitate toward guiding writers in close-up relationships. I eschewed the recurring time commitment, the detailed assessments, and the embedded fears accompanying new writers. At the same time, I’d taught at many writers’ events—from expansive conferences to intimate retreats—and doubted the results. How many participants actually returned home and wrote? In my experience, not many.

As the Holy Spirit pressed me about Erica, I wondered if personal mentoring would yield more effective outcomes. In other words, would one-to-one mentoring produce people who actually wrote? Would they actively pursue God’s call to write and publish?

            Answering these questions meant following the gentle compulsion to call Erica.

Not much time passed before my dread transformed into delight. Through the recommendations of people I trust, I began coaching a handful of writers. Like Erica, new clients fascinated, taught, befriended, and stretched me beyond expectation. And yes, the chance someone will write and publish dramatically increases when a seasoned writer draws in close. This cheers me. This feels like making a difference for God’s kingdom. Like preparing the next generation to impact the world, too.

The Deeper Questions

As I’ve coached writers, mostly those getting started and some changing direction, it’s grown into satisfying, sacred work. However, the scope doesn’t encompass just my clients. It’s also included God challenging and changing me. Usually, He asks me poignant questions. For example:

  • I grew so busy pursuing my own call, I ignored the necessity of bringing along those behind me. This proved a serious oversight because Scripture called me to mentor, both expressly and by example. Instead, I acted selfish and protective. I didn’t give to others. Would I stop this self-centeredness? Early in the coaching process, I confessed this sin to the Lord and repented.

 

  • With so many changes in the Christian publishing industry, I’m unsure about my future as a published author and speaker. Despite my uncertainties, God challenges me to feed into the writing and speaking ministries of others. Is it possible my outreach could extinguish while theirs flames? Am I willing to still invest in them?
  • Can I not feel competitive or jealous of writers twenty or more years younger than me? Can I coach them with an open, encouraging spirit? Can I applaud if they exceed my accomplishments?
  • Can I mentor through difficult personal times in my life? Can I focus on clients and not myself, not expecting anything from them during these troubles?

Answering these questions constitutes an ongoing journey. But as I gradually say yes to each one, shedding self-concerns, I gain freedom, joy, and wonder. I celebrate my clients and their progress. I feel closer to God’s heart. Honestly, sometimes I hardly recognize my coaching self. Except I still don’t like making phone calls.

 

Judith Couchman is an author, speaker, and writing coach with more than forty traditionally published books, Bible studies, and compilations. She’s also contributed to Bible projects. Learn more about Judith and her work at www.judithcouchman.com. Or contact her at judithcouchman@comcast.net.

 Judith Couchman