FOUR WAYS TO RESTORE YOUR STRENGTH DURING TOUGH TIMES :By Rick Warren

Honestly tell God what you’re feeling. 

Don’t start by telling God what you should be feeling. Start by telling him what you are feeling. Feeling discouraged or exhausted? Tell God exactly how you feel. Dump everything on him. He can handle it! 

The Bible says, “Unload all your burden on to him, since he is concerned about you” (1 Peter 5:7 NJT).Sometimes it’s tough to unburden ourselves on God because we really don’t understand who he is. But the truth is:

  • God already knows everything we feel.
  • God understands our feelings better than we do. 
  • God loves to listen to us.

Because we can believe these three truths, the Bible tells us: “Pour out your feelings to the Lord, as you would pour water out of a jug” (Lamentations 2:19 CEV). If you haven’t been doing that already, start here.

Humbly ask God for strength.

You’re emotionally exhausted because you’re out of strength. We tend to look for quick solutions or to other people to give us the strength we need to tackle today’s concerns. All the while, God is waiting to give real strength to us. According to 1 Chronicles 16:11, we must “pursue the Lord and his strength; seek his face always!” (CEB).

You need God’s strength every moment of your day. You need his strength when you’re preparing a sermon, counseling someone, or playing with your children. We need to ask him for this strength. The Bible tells us that we don’t have because we don’t ask. Twenty times in the New Testament, we’re commanded to ask God in prayer. 

Jesus tells us, “Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 CEB). When you feel emotionally exhausted, keep asking God for strength every single day.

Gratefully thank God for all that’s good despite the bad. 

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (NLT). We can show gratitude in all circumstances.

But that doesn’t mean we must be thankful for all circumstancesYou don’t need to be thankful for evil or sickness. There are many things you shouldn’t be thankful for. But you can develop an attitude of gratitude even in the middle of it all. 

One of the most helpful disciplines you can employ during emotionally exhausting periods is to develop a gratitude list. Sit down for five minutes a day and write down everything you’re thankful for. This simple exercise will strengthen your soul.

Constantly keep your focus on God. 

It’s easy to get distracted by less important matters—such as the news and gossip. Ministry doesn’t isolate us from those temptations. But in order to conserve the strength we’ll need to make it through exhausting periods of our lives, we must focus on what matters most—God. 

Jesus did this while he was on the cross. The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus modeled for us how to endure suffering by focusing on God and his future with him. 

The Bible tells us to “run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT).

What are you thinking about most often during these tough times? Do you have your mind on what the experts are saying or on what God is saying? Whatever you think about the most is your focus. Jesus endured the cross by focusing on the future glory beyond the cross. In the same way, we can’t survive the difficulties of life without an eternal perspective. 

Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever(NLT)

Those three verses are a powerful reminder of how we should face trouble in this world. They remind us to (1) refresh ourselves regularly in God’s Word, (2) remember that our problems are just temporary, and (3) recognize that God is using our pain to build our character.

So, pastor, you may feel like giving up, but you’re not alone. Tell God how you feel. Ask him for strength. Be grateful. Focus on Jesus. 

God has not forgotten you.

10 reasons why change is important for personal development

Internal Change Will Help you Focus

Change enables you to become the person you want to be. Practising and enacting change yourself is one of the most rewarding processes you will ever experience. It also displays a very valuable life skill. If you are able to pinpoint areas in your career that you are unhappy with, or need further development, being able to change your approach shows a commitment to progression and a confidence in your own ability. In order to avoid stagnation, it’s important for internal changes to be made almost continuously. No matter whether it’s changing the way your present yourself, developing your skills, takin a course or changing your routine – you are your own boss in life and a huge amount of change comes from within.

External Change Will Shape You

There is some change that we cannot control. External circumstances and changes will often have a dramatic effect on our career. These changes, no matter whether they seem good or bad at the time, will teach you something new. External change makes you more flexible, more understanding and prepares you for the future. Just as internal change will encourage you to progress, external change will give you the experience and drive to push forward. Something positive can be taken away from almost any external change, especially in project management roles where it imperative that managers are receptive to the changes around them. So, being able to grow from the challenges life throws at you is fundamental for healthy personal development.

Change Ensures Life Stays Exciting

No matter whether change is internal or external, it is undeniable that it keeps your career interesting. Change means that your experiences as a project manager will differ from day to day, vary month to month and transform from one year to the next. The world is in continuous motion – technologies, trends and politics will all evolve around you. Integrating yourself within the natural ebb and flow of change will ensure a fulfilling career experience. A career without change is likely to be one that lacks personal development as well as excitement, adventure and growth.

Change Leads to Opportunity and Experiences

Each change in your career is an invitation to try a new experience or take advantage of a new opportunity. Of course, these invitations can be declined, but it is important to consider the benefits a new experience or opportunity will bring you or your project. It can be all too easy to dismiss these chances as risky. This is potentially detrimental to your personal development as taking risks and managing failure is all part of the process we call life. However, knowing how to manage risk effectively is a process that can be learnt, with a little training and guidance. Accepting an opportunity, employing a new team member, or even trying an entirely new project role all count as constructive changes that should be embraced.

Change Ensures That Bad Situations End

Whether it is incited by you or whether it occurs organically, change is your ticket out of any situation or any place where you are unhappy or unfulfilled. So long as you embrace change, you will find that your situation does not have to last forever and you will progress on to something bigger and better. If you reject change, experiences and opportunities in your career are likely to pass you by. By taking a course to improve your skills or managing a new project, you will be presented with the chance to enhance and develop. Use change to push you forward and if you don’t like something – change it.

Change Helps You Move On

Sometimes the past can hold us back, but moving on is a slow and steady process that should be nurtured rather than rushed. Those little changes that occur every day stimulate your progress and put you one step further away from the bad situation you have left behind. It is common for individuals to let their past be the be-all and end-all of their personal development. This can lead to stunted personal growth and means full potential is never met. Your personal development should be continual and is a crucial part of moving on. Implementing change in your life and kick starting your personal development by investing in training will help your past to seem like a distant memory and help you to step into the career role you always dreamed of.

Change Means Progress

When you feel as though your development is slow going and you are still miles away from your career goals, take a look back at how far you have come. In past year alone you are likely to have progressed, even if the changes are only small. Looking back on the last five years you are sure to have progressed in many more ways than you have realised. If you don’t like the road ahead then making a change could lead to a promotion, a happier lifestyle or even a sense of fulfilment. Your goal should always be to progress and enacting changes such as training and learning is the best way to do it.

Change Documents Your Journey

The seasons will change, new technologies will emerge, the years will fly by and people will grow along with you. Your career will be counted and measured by the changes you’ve been through, not by the awards you have won or the money you have earned. You will never forget the opportunities you embraced, the chances you took or the times you failed and picked yourself up again. Those milestones are all part of your journey, each significant in their own way to your own personal story and contributing individually to your CV. Your personal development relies on the changes that have happened in the past which have led you to where you are now. And the training and learning you do today will help to carve your future path.

Change Will Happen Anyway

It’s undeniable, change is integral to your personal development and one cannot exist without the other. You may have yourself down as someone who doesn’t like change, but it’s important to always remember that change is inevitable anyway. Many huge career changes will not stop and ask your permission first. They will happen with or without your consent. However, there are still some changes that you can take control of. So, it’s better to embrace the course of change and make it your own along the way.


10 POWERFUL WAYS TO STAND UP FOR YOURSELF IN ANY SITUATION!

1. Practice being transparent and authentic.

It might be difficult at times, but if you learn to express yourself openly and honestly, it will feel like a weight has been lifted from your shoulders. So often, we hide behind a halfhearted smile and nod instead of saying what we think. It takes practice, but learning to be authentic and open about what you are feeling or thinking is the first step. Once you get in the habit of making yourself heard without being overly accommodating or defensive, people will be more open to hearing you.

2. Take small but powerful steps.

If you are struggling with being assertive, start taking small steps to stand up for yourself. Even just learning to walk more confidently—head held high, shoulders back—will help you appear and feel more confident. Channel that confidence when dealing with others. This attitude can apply to all areas of your life. Feeling annoyed at the person who cut in front of you at Starbucks? Politely ask them to move to the back. See an unfair charge on a bill from one of your service providers? Call and dispute it.

3. When someone attacks, wait them out.

As you grow more confident in expressing yourself, you’re also going to have to learn to face those who want to override you. There will always be people whose personalities are set to attack mode. It’s important that you remain calm but assertive if you feel like someone is trying to bully you. Don’t allow yourself to get frazzled or react with low blows. Don’t cater to them or allow them to browbeat you either. Walk the high road but stand your ground.

4. Figure out what’s really bothering you.

Going with the flow for the purposes of not making waves actually creates more stress and anxiety for yourself. Of course, mustering the courage to face something or someone that is bothering you can feel scary. But facing the issue will empower you to make it better and diminishes the control it has over you. Remember, people can’t read your mind; if you don’t vocalize what is bothering you, no one will know.

5. Clarify first, without attacking.

It’s tempting to take a self-righteous stand, especially if you are sure you are in the right. From your viewpoint, you are justifiably defending yourself against someone who seems to be entirely in the wrong. But it’s important to resist the urge to react with emotion. Instead, take a breath and calmly explain your perspective to them. Avoid combative tones or accusatory words. Clarify exactly what you mean and listen to their response. Only then can a real discussion begin to take place.

6. Practice makes perfect.

Once you start getting the hang of what it means to stand up for yourself, it’s time to practice asking for what you want as often as possible. When someone says something you openly disagree with, or you feel pushed into doing something you don’t want to do, say something. Research shows that it takes 66 days to form a new habit, so stick with the new assertiveness for two months and you might be surprised by the results.

7. Be deliberate.

Here’s a situation that many of us have found ourselves in: sharing space with a messy co-worker or a roommate who is a slob. You might have remained silent while growing more aggravated at the situation. It might be tempting to slip into passive-aggressive behavior, such as angrily cleaning up the mess or making snide comments. Try being deliberate instead. Tell the person how you are feeling without being accusatory. Be straightforward with your concerns. Follow up with a simple suggestion that can correct the situation, such as: “If you can take a minute to tidy up your space at night, it would be a big help.”

8. Stand up for your time.

Time is a precious and limited commodity, and yet we often feel pressured to give it away when we have the ability to say no. There are times when you might not have a choice, such as when your boss says a project has high priority. But don’t let obligations dictate how you spend the hours of your day. You are in control of your own time. Push back when it’s appropriate, or tactfully disengage from those people or situations that submerge your schedule.

9. Recognize that no one can invalidate you.

You are in complete ownership of your feelings and actions. Your beliefs, emotions, thoughts and ideas belong to you, and no one else can tell you what you feel or invalidate your opinions. Likewise, if you seek to invalidate other people’s points of view, you are also sabotaging any chance for problem-solving or having an open discussion.

10. Fake it till you make it.

Learning to stand up for yourself won’t happen overnight. It takes time to grow comfortable with being assertive. While you are in the learning stage, it might help to imagine that you are an actor learning to play a new role.

Imagine that you are the most assertive person you know. How would they handle themselves in a difficult situation? There might be times when you swing from being overly zealous to being too indecisive. Learning to stand up for yourself is like riding a bike: Eventually, you will find the right balance.

CAN I BE AN EFFECTIVE PASTOR IF I DON’T LIKE MANAGEMENT?

Pastors are not managers, at least in a corporate-business-world-publicly-traded-company-sort-of-way. But pastors are shepherds. And shepherds manage sheep.

Leading a church involves management. A church hierarchy assumes management. And most churches—even smaller congregations—are not completely flat in structure. Even at the most basic level, churches require management. Who pays the bills? When does the meeting start? Who is responsible for snow removal? Who fills the baptistery? What is our policy? Those are basic managerial questions. Most churches are more complex.

Some senior leaders in the church gravitate towards being more like a senior writer or senior analyst. These leaders are recognized for their intellectual contributions but do not have managerial oversight. Many teaching pastors have this type of role in the church. Other senior leaders prefer to manage the minutia and deal with people issues. Many executive pastors have this type of role. Most pastors, however, must both teach and execute.

The vast majority of pastoral roles include management. So, can church leaders be effective if they don’t like management? Yes, but they must compensate in these ways.

Be self-aware. One of the core problems of bad management is poor managers often do not recognize their weak managerial skills. When you’re self-aware about your weaknesses (and willing to admit them), then you’re more likely to receive help from others. No pastor can (nor should) do it all. And all pastors should be self-aware of what they can and cannot do.

Discern what to delegate. Just because you’re naturally good at doing something does not mean you are able to manage others doing the same thing. Some pastors delegate their responsibilities too quickly. Others delegate the wrong responsibilities. And some tasks should never be delegated. Delegation with discernment makes up for a lot of managerial weaknesses.

Don’t fear being the doer. Some people prefer doing tasks. Others prefer managing people who do the tasks. If you cherish a few tasks, then don’t give them up. Keep doing them. For instance, a pastor might enjoy locking the church after the evening service as an opportunity to prayer walk.  Or, if you’re an artistic type, there may be certain creative tasks that are difficult to manage. Good church leaders know what select tasks they enjoy most and keep doing them, sparing their followers the inevitable and overbearing micro-management that would accompany overseeing others doing them.

You don’t have to like management to be an effective pastor. But shepherding a congregation does involve managing others. All pastors should both teach and execute. Few master both. If you’re weaker at managing, then you can compensate through self-awareness, discernment, and doing the tasks you enjoy most.