A Wise Woman

I’ve grown up with wise spiritual women in my life. Both of my grandmothers were faithful believers and prayed faithfully for their family. My mother Susie is also a strong wise woman that faithfully prays, serves and leads in her church. She prays for me and my two brothers and our families every day.

My wife Vikki is such an inspiration with the way she faithfully serves others. I see her serving our neighbors, our friends, in our church at multiple campuses, and of course serving me. She is dependable, reliable and gets things done.

I also had a strong woman that came into my life and helped me in ministry.  Wilma learned quickly, grew spiritually and became a leader and wise woman to many people.  She helped build a large team of mentors at our church, that’s still going strong today.  Many of the women she poured into are now leading ministries and other people.

During my five plus years at NewPointe Millersburg, while I was Campus Pastor, I had several women that consistently prayed for me, encouraged me and listened to me.  Linda, Elaine and Beth have been such a blessing to me and many others.  There are many other women that I’ve served with, worked with and been around that are wise spiritual leaders.  I’m so grateful for how God has placed these women into my life at just the right times.

The Bible is filled with many amazing women that we read about, like Mary,Sarah, Ruth, Esther & Abigail.  But I want to share a story about an unnamed wise woman that saved a city.  We don’t know her name but she was an amazing woman.

The story is found in 2 Samuel 20.  Let me set up the story for you.  This is during the time of King David.  Davids own son Absalom, had rebelled against him and they go to battle and his son is killed in battle.  David is devastated and mourning the loss of his son.  Another man sees an opportunity to rebel against the King.  His name is Sheba, and he stirs up a group of people that want to over throw King David.  King David finds out about this plan and he send his military leader Joab after Sheba, they chase him and his followers to a city called Abel.  We pick up the story in verse 15:

Joab and his troops came and surrounded Abel, so that no one could go in or come out. They made a dirt ramp up to the town wall and then started to use a battering ram to knock the wall down.

A wise woman shouted from the top of the wall, “Listen to me! Listen to me! I have to talk to Joab! Tell him to come here!” 17 When he came, the woman said, “Are you Joab?”

“Yes, I am,” he answered.

She said, “Please, listen to what I have to say.”

“All right,” he said. “I’ll listen.”

18 She said, “Long ago people used to say, ‘If you want good advice, go to the town of Abel to get it.’ The answers they got here were all that was needed to settle any problem. 19 We are Israelites, and we want peace! You can trust us. Why are you trying to destroy a town that’s like a mother in Israel? Why do you want to wipe out the Lord’s people?”

20 Joab answered, “No, no! I’m not trying to wipe you out or destroy your town! 21 That’s not it at all. There’s a man in your town from the hill country of Ephraim. His name is Sheba, and he is the leader of a rebellion against King David. Turn him over to me, and we will leave your town alone.”

The woman told Joab, “We will throw his head over the wall.”

22 She went to the people of the town and talked them into doing it. They cut off Sheba’s head and threw it to Joab.

Joab blew a signal on his trumpet, and the soldiers returned to their homes. Joab went back to David in Jerusalem.”

Here are my takeaways from this amazing story:

  • God uses wise women leaders to bring peace and solve problems.  It can be very helpful to have a woman’s perspective when trying to solve problems and make peace.
  • This wise woman was more concerned about the people around her than herself.  Wise women are selfless and have a heart for the people they serve. They willingly sacrifice of themselves and put themselves in danger in order to help those around them.
    • I have seen countless women loving, leading and serving their families , friends, extended family and still running businesses, households and church ministries.
  • This women had influence and was able to lead the entire community to make a hard decision.  Wise women can mobilize people to get things done, and make a difference.
  • She was decisive and moved quickly once she knew what had to be done.  A wise women does not procrastinate, she has too many things to get done.
  • This wise women did what she said she would do.  She was confident and knew what steps were needed to solve the problem.  She was a woman of solid character.
  • She was direct and to the point.  She went straight to the leader found out what the problem was and then put a plan together and made it happen quickly.  I love that!

So to all the women, this is a message of encouragement to be bold and lead.  Seek God with all your heart, get healthy spiritually & emotionally and see how God will use you to make a difference.  Lead right where you are, in your family, your workplace, your community, your city and your church.

To all the men, appreciate the gifts God has given to the women around you.  If you don’t have some strong, wise women in your life ask God to bring them around you.  They will make your family, ministry, organization and community a better place.  If you have wise women in your life be sure to thank them and appreciate them.

Lead On!

5 Principles For Dealing With Change

Things around us are always changing.  Think about your job and the number of changes that have happened in the last 3 months.  How about the stores that you like to shop at or the restaurants that you enjoy eating at.  Even the roads that we drive on are changing.  I’ve hit a few huge potholes lately!  In all these areas, things are either changing for the better or the worse.  Things are either deteriorating or being improved.

One area that is in constant change is the people around us and relationships we have.  People are constantly changing, lets face it we are emotional beings and so there are lots of ups and downs for all of us.  People are complicated and difficult, and yet we need people and relationships in our lives in order to thrive.

So when it comes to all this change around us how do you not get totally stressed out and just give up.

I’d like to give you five simple principles that can help you navigate the changes going on in your life or to help create positive changes in your life.

  1. Control the Controllable – Most of things around us, and all of the people around us are out of our control.  If we do try to control the things or people around us we add additional stress to everyone’s lives.  This principle brings the focus back to us and what we need to do, and what we can control.  We can control what we say; what we do; what we focus on; who we listen to; what we study; what we learn; what boundaries we set; what we spend and where we spend it.  We control what and when we eat, how much sleep we get and the amount of exercise we get.  The choices and decisions we make are within our control.  What other people say or do is out of our control, but we are in control of how we respond.
  2. Monitor the Conversations in Your Head – We talk to ourselves more than anyone else.  Those conversations are what I like to call narratives or stories that get replayed over and over again.  Our internal conversations come from past experiences, things we have learned or picked up along the the way.  For many people those conversations or stories are not as positive as they should be.  Those conversations with ourselves lead to decisions, choices, words spoken and outward behavior whether good or bad.  So start being more aware of what you are telling yourself.  Start to question if it’s really true, maybe you are believing a lie or deceiving yourself.  Maybe you need to start a new story.
  3. Ask Questions & Ask for Help – If you don’t understand something or someone it’s always a good practice to ask questions with the intent of wanting to understand.  What goes right along with this is to listen well.  When you ask good questions and then listen intently you can avoid a lot of misunderstandings and mistakes.  A great practice is to repeat back to the person what you heard them say.  Ask clarifying questions if you need to.  Fear keeps us from asking questions or asking for help.  When you are struggling in any area of life it is wise to ask for help.  There are other people that have gone through what you are going through or have helped others with similar things.  So ask honest, sincere questions to help you fully understand what the other person is saying or asking you to do.  Also ask for help if you don’t know how to do something or you are stuck in an area of your life.
  4. Keep Growing – The books you read and the people you meet will determine the kind of life you will have.  The people that are constantly growing, learning and interacting with other people have the most influence in this world.  Put a plan together of what books you want to read and the people you want to meet or reconnect with.  Make sure you are growing intellectually, relationally, emotionally, and spiritually.
  5. Make Your Faith a Priority – The one thing that I believes helps us the most when it comes to handling change is faith.  The Christian faith has been what has guided me for most of my life.  Learning from Jesus Christ has been the biggest help in making good decisions, handling stress and change, and dealing with all the relationships in my life.  Make growing in your faith a high priority and many of these other things will fall into place.

Doing these five things will bring your stress level down, improve your work and relationships and bring more contentment and joy to your life.  Life will never be perfect, but it can be better.

How Bold Are You?

“Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them.”  Winston Churchill

I recently watched the movie Darkest Hour the story about Winston Churchill.  It tells the story of the beginning of World War 2 and how Churchill rose to leadership and how he provided leadership at that critical time in history.

I also have recently read the story of Patrick Henry and his part in moving our country to become independent and free.

Both of those men had a character quality that helped them to lead in critical, difficult times.  It was boldness.  The definition of boldness is “Confidence and courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances or others’ opinions.”

Winston Churchill was willing to take great risks and even fail because he believed he was doing what was right and best for his country.  Many people around him criticized and questioned most of his decisions, yet he continued to stay the course and boldly stand firm.  There were moments of questioning himself and dealing with fear directly.  However, he did not allow the fear to paralyze him, he talked to different people to get new perspectives when his inner circle began to crumble.

Patrick Henry also showed great boldness as one of the first people to openly speak out against England and the oppression they were imposing on the colonies.  His steadfast boldness encouraged many others to also stand firm in the face of fear.

Here are some key lessons we can learn from Winston Churchill and Patrick Henry about boldness:

  1. Boldness helps you communicate your message more effectively – Appropriate boldness brings power to your message.  Sharing your message with confidence and passion gets peoples attention.  Bold people speak up when asked to give their opinion, because they have thought deeply about the issue at hand and are clear about what is right and best for the organization or country.  Even if they are not completely clear on how to gt there, they are willing to take risks to make progress and get the right things done.
  2. Boldness will improve your relationships – People that are not afraid to have the hard conversations in life have some of the healthiest relationships.  They keep short accounts and resolve issues.  Other people like being around people that are confident and value living and influencing over simply existing and staying in their comfort zones.  Appropriate boldness requires having composure and intentionally working on relationships before they get worse.
  3. Bold people are often criticized – If you are bold and passionate about something you will most likely get criticized and even ridiculed.  True boldness gets you through those low times of rejection and failure.  You are not a great leader if you have never been criticized, questioned and ridiculed.  Boldness keeps you pressing forward.
  4. Boldness takes a positive outlook on life – Bold people think positive and believe the best.  Nothing kills boldness faster than a pessimistic outlook or negative thinking.  If you focus on what could go wrong your boldness dwindles but when you focus on what can go right your boldness grows.
  5. God raises up and uses bold people – When you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ you have access to incredible power.  God’s spirit lives in you and empowers you to be bold for Him.  The stronger your faith in God grows the bolder you become.  2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, and of love and of sound judgement.”

When a person is not bold they often miss opportunities to influence and make a difference.  Of course you can be bold for wrong reasons and sometimes people will be more of a bully than a bold person.  Character matters when it comes to being bold.  Sometimes the most bold thing you can do is not fight back but forgive and love.  Stand up for what is right and good and protect the weak and oppressed.  Be bold about things that make the world a better place and serve other people, that’s appropriate boldness.

Next Step:

Boldness is one of 48 principles that Lodestar Guidance teaches.  Each principle has a short video and a bulletin that walks you through the keys to improving that quality in your life.  It’s a great way to build a culture that is healthy and thriving.  If you would like more information about Lodestar or leadership development email me at castutzman@gmail.com

 

 

Why Most People Don’t Have What They Want

 

Cardiovascular problems cause thousands of deaths every day.  The main problem is neglect.  Every day there are thousands of divorces, often because of neglecting problems, and each other.  The relationships and things we neglect are damaged and deteriorate faster than the relationships and things we care for and pay attention to.

Think about your car.  If you never wash it and never get it serviced it won’t last very long.  It will start to break down and soon will quit running.  Or think about a garden that is neglected.  All kinds of weeds start to take over and they can choke out everything you planted.  Our bodies and our relationships are the same way.  If we neglect them they will stop working or weeds start to take over.

So what or who are you neglecting in your life?

The longer you neglect your health, your teeth, your weight, your finances, your marriage, your spouse, your character or your faith the worse it will get.

Why do we neglect things that are important in our lives?  That’s a big question, because most people want to be healthy, most people want a great marriage, most people want financial freedom, most people want a good reputation, most people want a closer relationship with God.  The problem is most people are not willing to do the basic principles that lead to health, growth and success in those areas of their lives.

It takes discipline to lose weight and get healthy, it takes discipline to work on your marriage and become a better person, it takes discipline to get out of debt and be generous, it takes discipline to grow in your faith and trust in God.

Our natural tendency is to do what’s comfortable and easy.  We avoid conflict, we avoid the scales and going to the doctor.  We eat our favorite foods and only think about exercising.  We avoid having that conversation or going to a trusted advisor for counsel.  In other words we neglect some of the things that are most important in our lives and stay busy with things that don’t improve those parts of our lives.  Many people simply hope it will get better or that the problem will just magically go away.

So what should a person do if they have areas of their lives that have been neglected and damaged?  Here are a few simple steps that can help get you back on track:

  1. Set some goals – We all have two choices, making a living or designing a life.  When you write down goals and review them often you are paying attention to parts of your life that you want to improve.  The first step in improving an area of your life is to pay attention to it.  The ultimate reason for setting goals is to keep us focused on the things that will bring out the person God created you to be.  To be a better man or woman, husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter.  Setting goals is the first step toward being a better person.
  2. Ask for help – Trying to accomplish major changes in your life is very difficult without the help of others.  Whether it’s losing weight, reconciling a marriage, improving a relationship, transforming your financial condition or deepening your faith, find trustworthy people that can walk with you.  Find people that want something for you not something from you.  Look for people of integrity, honesty and character.  Remember that God created you and has a purpose for your life.  Talking to God and reading His words in Scripture can be a huge help in making changes in your life.
  3. Think long-term – Short-term fixes don’t work.  Cutting out carbs might help you lose some weight but long-term weight loss only happens if you change the way you eat and exercise for life.  The same in relationships, you can learn to do some nice things for each other but if you don’t address your core issues your right back in the same place a year later.  Address why you eat too much, address why you get so angry, address why you spend so much money.  That is the hard part of change, not just putting a bandage on the wound but cleaning it out and stitching it up.
  4. Don’t give up – The hard work is always worth it.  When you exercise on a regular basis you get sore and hurt for a while, but as your muscles and lungs and heart get stronger you feel so much better.  When you learn what your hot buttons are and how you defend yourself, then you can start working on changing your responses, which will improve your relationships.  Put in the hard work, face your fears, keep pushing to get better and don’t give up.

So if you’ve been neglecting areas of your life start making plans to change that today.  A year from now you will be glad you did.