5/08/2014

Moving to WordPress

I am behind in the times and moving my blog over to WordPress. Check it out!

5/07/2014

Count with me pastors

Ministry for the One, Not the Masses Found on manofdepravity.com

Two Things You Must Do with Your Sermons Found on christianity.com

3 Reasons Your Staff Should Be Physically Fit Found on churchjobs.tv

4 types of friends every pastor needs Found on blog.lifeway.com

5 Ways To Be Unsatisfied With Your Church Found on shaneblackshear.com

Six Reasons Pastors Should Not Quit Their Jobs on Monday Found on thomrainer.com

Seven of the Greatest Stressors on Pastors Found on thomrainer.com

Eight Ways to Spot Emotionally Healthy Pastors and Staff Found on thomrainer.com

9 Reasons Why Church Leaders Should Read the Daily News Found on thomrainer.com

10 THINGS PASTORS HATE TO ADMIT PUBLICLFound on pastormatt.tv

4/30/2014

Top 10 Top 10s

10 Ways To Make Change Less Scary and More Possible Found on dumblittleman.com

Top 10 Reasons to Exercise Regularly (Besides Losing Weight) Found on lifehacker.com

10 Remarkable Ways Meditation Helps Your Mind Found on spring.org.uk

10 wise choices to skyrocket your happiness Found on thechangeblog.com

10 Magical Effects Music Has On the Mind Found on spring.org.uk

10 tens you can do to become happier, scientifically proven Found on lifehacker.com

10 Ways to reduce stress at work  Found on dumblittleman.com

10 Ways To Be Happier at Work Found on spring.org.uk

Sleep Deprivation: The 10 Most Profound Psychological Effects Found on spring.org.uk

10 one-minute time hacks that will make you more productive Found on lifehack.org


Bonus:

10 Ways Journaling Can Improve Your Life Found on lifehack.org

Top 10 Ways to Trick Your Brain Into Doing What You Want  Found on lifehacker.com

10 Uncommon, Alternative Relaxation Techniques to Reduce Stress by Alex Dolin  Found on noomii.com

4/25/2014

Speaking at Demand Success

At Vocus Marketing #conference #Demand14 (Demand Success 2014) I will be presenting "Ten Scientifically-proven Ways to Manage Stress as a Business Owner" at the#Ignite portion of the conference.
The Conference is June 5th and 6th in Washington D.C. Learn more:
http://www.vocus.com/conference/whats-new/




4/23/2014

Wednesday Links: Count down with me


10 Ways To Be Happier at Work by Psyblog

9 Reasons Why Church Leaders Should Read the Daily News by Thom Rainer

8 Things to Remember When Everything Goes Wrong by Marc and Angel

Six Unconventional, Scientific Ways to Be Happier by Lifehacker


5 Ways To Cope With Workplace Stress by Dumb Little Man


4 Ways Mindfulness Meditation Benefits So Many Conditions by Psyblog

3 Ways to Reduce Anxiety and Depression by 

Melissa Satti


(In) 2 minutes a day, reduce stress, everyday by Harvest Review Blog

One Thing You Can Start Doing Now to Instantly Improve Your Marriage…… by Rhett Smith

4/18/2014

Ignite Speaker at Demand Success Conference

Demand Success 2014, a premier two-day marketing and public relations conference hosted by Capitol Communicator sponsor Vocus, will take place June 5 and 6 in the Washington, D.C. metro area. With only a handful of speakers announced, the conference already boasts a star-studded roster of keynotes including actor Adrian Grenier, best known for his starring role in the Emmy-nominated HBO series “Entourage,” and Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist at Google. Joining the speaker lineup are marketing experts Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. President and CEO Shonali Burke, renowned author and branding strategist Laura Ries, and The Javelin Group President and CEO Jeffrey Bliss.

The full Demand Success 2014 speaker roster will be announced in the months leading up to the June conference. Sessions will include discussions on marketing automation, lead nurturing, native advertising, public relations, digital journalism, content marketing, visual media, social video, mobility and measurement.



New to Demand Success will be a special Ignite: Business Revolution, which will feature 10 speakers, including me, discussing ideas to revolutionize or change business.  Presenters will share their personal passions using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes.

Demand Success 2014 will be held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, MD, and, stated Vocus, offer top tips from some of the best and brightest thought leaders in marketing on brand awareness and lead generation in the digital era. Current Vocus customers who register for this event can attend a pre-conference training on June 4.  For complete conference information on speakers and registration, visit the conference website.

4/11/2014

Questions to live by

I recently read One Question by Ken Coleman, New York Time Best-Selling Author and emcee of Catalyst conference. This book is a "best-of" all the interviews Coleman has done with some of the best Christian leaders in America. I have decided to list some of the most powerful questions these leaders have lived by and the questions they challenge others to ask themselves:

John Maxwell- What are you passionate about? What are you good at?

Marcus Buckingham - What is the best way you learn? How can you apply this principal to both your areas of strength and weakness?

Peter Guber- Are you truly connecting with people or just trying to sell something? Are you being your authentic self with your clients? Are you opening up to your customer's hearts before their wallets?

Randall Wallace- If you are telling a story, does the story move you? In life are you trying to find your message first or your audience first?

Seth Godin- Are you waiting for opportunities? Or are you ready for them?

T. D. Jakes- What is my vision? Where do I see things that others do not see?

Blake Mycoskie- How can I start small to follow my dream?


4/09/2014

Weekly links: Infographs

This week, I wanted to share some very interesting inforgraphs (mostly by Visual.ly)

Is your mobile phone killing you? 

How technology affects your sleep

How human beings learn

3 Ways to Reduce Anxiety and Depression

The Science of Happiness 

Facing Mental Illness

4/04/2014

Personailizing

Personalizing is taking something personally that may not be personal. When one takes everything personally, stressful events feel like consequences of something one personally did...they feel they somehow deserve the consequences. Although, someone who is blunt may express their opinion about something, as they may always do, but someone who takes things personally may be hurt by this person's words, even when the blunt person did not intend to hurt the other person.


The first tip for personalizers is to realize that not all set backs are the end of the world.
If you feel rejection, that is okay, even normal. Although, we need to keep in mind that this feeling of rejection does not mean that you are never going to be successful one day.
Remember that negative feedback can be useful to improve work, not to point out all of your mistakes. You are talented and skilled!



Second, be kinder to yourself. Give grace to your own mistakes and imperfections. If you can learn to be nicer to yourself about your imperfections, you won’t automatically jump to feeling attacked when other people make comments.


Next, it is important to accurately label emotions you are feeling. Emotions drive thoughts and behavior. Emotions often trigger personalizing. When you can label your emotions accurately you are able to better manage thinking and behavior. Then the next step is to practice. Imagine situations in which feelings of rejection are likely. Now put yourself in that situation. What should you do or think about in this situation? After having this imaginative practice, now it is time to learn through doing. Experimenting through real life situations.

The root cause of this personalization is often due to attachment anxiety. Personalizers often want to  please everyone. They want to be accepted and loved by everyone. The solution is to attempt to be warm to people but maintain better boundaries. It is not your job to please everyone.

I hope these tips help. Remember you can work towards healthy lifestyle change. If you or someone you know would like some life coaching in this area please contact me.

3/28/2014

Better Brain Health

I've been studying some stress management techniques. Here recently one of my favorite experts to glean knowledge from is Dr. Daniel Amen. Amen offers several tid bits of applicable knowledge that everyone can use to have a healthy brain and a lot of it we have heard before from our grandmothers, mothers!:

1. Do Regular Physical Exercise
2. Use a helmet when riding a motorcycle, bike or any other ATV
3. Limit toxins to the brain: alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, street drugs
4. Get more than 7 hours of sleep per night
5. Avoid chronic stress as much as possible
6. Learn new things
7. Dance
8. Take multi-vitamins, fish oil, Omega-3s, 5 htp, etc
9. Eat healthy-blueberries, beans, pumpkin squash, salmon, tuna, walnuts, yogurt, spinach, broccoli
10. Drink lots of water
Bonus tip- Imagine that your hands are warm. Yes this sounds different and weird but trust me, when you are in a stressful environment your hands will get cold. If you imagine that your hands are warmer than they really are, then this type of biofeedback actually helps your body! Try it!

3/24/2014

Monday Manifesto

I believe you! I believe you can manage your stress. I believe that you can be free from the heavy burdens that seem to be pulling you down. I believe that you can direct your thinking, learn to relax and take control of all areas of your life. I want you to live in a world where stress and anxiety are not ruining your life. I want you to live in a world where you are liberated from unhealthy habits and distress. Here is what I know for sure: life is a balancing act. We must take care of our self. This balance is a holistic view of self. Life needs examined and challenged for full potential and growth.
I want to help you live that way. This is my mission and my manifesto.


3/21/2014

Guided imagery

The past few weeks, I have been offering mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
Today is no different, this time, I want to offer a guided imagery. This type of activity helps us to slow down and learn to relax.  This is a little more challenging to attempt online in a blog but bear with me.
As with before, begin by getting as comfortable as possible...take a few deep breathes to get relaxed. After reading each statement, close your eyes and try to picture the situation in your mind and read this script slowly, as you follow in on each statement:

Imagine yourself on a tropical island. You can return home any time you wish, but you can stay and enjoy the serenity of the island as long as you care to.
You begin your journey by walking on a beautiful stretch of white sand beach. No one else is in sight. The beach is all yours. The sun is warm on your face...notice a gentle refreshing breeze coming off the water. Listen to the waves flow rhythmically onto the sand. You hear seagulls calling over the powerful ocean. Their voices sound distant compared to the roar of the surf.
You lie in the warm sand to enjoy the peacefulness of this place. The sand is warm and soothing to your body. You close your eyes to the pleasant sun overhead and relax for a while in the comfort of this warmth...as you inhale deeply, you enjoy the fresh smell of the ocean…
Once you feel rested, you notice a grove of palm trees you have never seen before. You start walking toward them...as you get close, you can hear the large palm leaves rustling in the breeze overhead...you find a path entering the grove and follow it...it is much cooler and very refreshing to be in the shade of these trees. As you continue, your path leads you into a tall, dense thicket of tropical plants...it is impossible to see where the path is leading, but you are curious about what lies ahead and also strangely hopeful about what you will find…
After a while, you hear rushing water and see daylight up ahead. You emerge from the thicket and step into a clearing. From a cliff high above, a silver ribbon of waterfall cascades into a pool of water at your feet. The sunlight reflecting off the pool dazzles your eyes...You climb up on a rock at the edge of the pool...and look down into the clear water. The water is the color of sapphires and so deep that you cannot see the bottom.
You look up at the waterfall and notice vividly colored flowers growing out of the rocks along the cliff—blue flowers, lavender ones, red and yellow—all offset by the lush green ferns and moss-covered rocks. As you begin walking toward the waterfall, you come upon a glade of trees covered in orchids. You have never seen so many of the beautiful flowers together. They hang from the trees, forming an enclosure with soft, fragrant walls...now you see things moving among the flowers—crimson and yellow butterflies flitting busily from place to place. You sit down in a sunny spot in the middle of the orchids and butterflies, amazed at the peace and beauty that you alone have discovered…
The sun is warm on your back, and you notice that the sunlight seems to energize the iridescent butterflies as they flutter in and out of it. You, too, begin to feel a sense of renewed energy...and a renewed sense that if you look hard enough, you can find peacefulness and beauty in the world...after today's journey, you also feel a little more adventurous, more willing to take a path you have not been on before...and less afraid of what lies ahead.

It is now time to return. You can bring the experience of peacefulness and beauty of this tropical paradise with you. Any time you desire, you can close your eyes, breathe deeply, and return to this place.

How was this moment? Was it peaceful and relaxing? Is your mind at ease? There are many similar guided imageries, like this one online. But I also recommend talking to a counselor or pastor, as these professionals are often trained in more specific types of guided imageries. There are Christian based ones and others focused on healing pain/traumatic experiences. It is also helpful to meet a professional, as they have experience at reading these scripts slowly and helping you process after the script is completed.
So now, take with you the most pleasant and peaceful thoughts. For some people it will be laying on the beach and listening to the waves for others it will be sitting on the rock and looking at the wonderful waterfall. Each of us are different and enjoy different hobbies and aesthetics. So when stress or negative things happen to you this week, think upon the imagery that gives you peace. If you have some free time and want to re-read this entire script, please do so or as suggested earlier, find other imageries that are pleasant to you.

3/19/2014

Links to Children's Health

Five year-olds who watch TV for three or more hours a day more likely to be antisocial: But the risk of this behaviour is very small by Science Daily




3/14/2014

Deep breathing and muscle relaxation

Last week, I offered a simple exercise to help you begin thinking about being mindful. 
I challenged you to be fully present in the here-and-now both at work and at home. This exercise helps people to de-stress and be more productive and pleasant to be around bot hat work and at home. 
Today I want to offer some more mindfulness exercises. 
 The first is called deep breathing or belly breathing. 
 First get comfortable. Second take a lot deep breathe in, count to 5 or 6 in your head as the oxygen fills not just your lungs but your entire chest/stomach area should stick out. Next just as with the in, the out should take at least 5 or 6 seconds and your whole belly will again move in as the oxygen is released from your body. Do this 3 to 6 times consecutively. Scientifically this is proven to lower blood pressure, get more oxygen in the brain, improve thinking and fight anxiety. Try this!
With more oxygen flowing through your body, you may begin to feel a little sleepy! That is okay, once you get moving again, you will be energized and more productive and de-stressed.

If you like that, you will also really enjoy this next technique called progressive relaxation. Several clients comment on how useful this is!
First, while continuing the mindful belly breathing, get comfortable in your chair. You can do this in your bed or on a coach as well! Close your eyes and imagine that you are on a cloud, there is nothing else to think about or any worries. Focus on your feet. Tense up your feet and hold the tension for five seconds. Count with me: "1,2,3,4,5." Now release. Your feet are heavy and tired. Relax. Now focus all your thoughts on your legs. Tense up your leg muscles 1,2,3,4,5, now release! Your legs are heavy. You are on a cloud. There are no worries. You are feeling tired. Now focus on your thighs. (Do the same thing with thighs then again with chest, arms, shoulders, neck  and then head/face).  
Many clients use this technique just before going to bed. This helps them to stop and relax and fall asleep instead of worrying about everything and anything else. This is mindfulness for the body. 

Next week I will offer even another technique that is useful in mindfulness. 

3/12/2014

Church Leader Articles


Why Your Church Staff Should Be It’s Own Small Group by ChurchJobs.TV



How to Deal With Frustrated Church Employees by ChurchJobs.TV



9 Reasons Why Church Leaders Should Read the Daily News by Thom Rainer


The Pastoral Care Toolbox  by Presbytery Pastoral Care Network

3/07/2014

Where you are, you are

Often times we hold images in our minds from our harshest critic. 
We can be kind to others. We are shepherds and we are caretakers to others.
Although we are awfully hard on our own self. 

In reality both sides are battling it out inside of our heads. Imagine the old cartoons, where there is a devil (or a critic) on our left shoulder and an angel, (the caretaker) on our right shoulder. Both are whispering in our ears, what we need to hear. I challenge you to take five minutes to think through and write down what each voice has been telling you. If you are being honest with yourself, you will hear your own inner-critic first and then notice your strengths, second.

It is natural for our minds to be so focused on the negative first. Although, we can learn to control our thinking. The first step is practicing being mindful. Try being here-and-now. Do not focus on what you have to get done in two hours or later tonight. Be present with yourself, right here and right now. First this starts with breathing. 

Keep your eyes open but just focus on your senses rather than your thoughts. Notice the environment and what you are feeling, sensing, breathing, seeing around you ....
What are you seeing? Look only at one thing at a time. If you are thinking about what you are thinking and interpreting, you are no longer being mindful. Attempt to perceive without judgments, interpretations, evaluations or too much  input from the brain. You should have a running commentary of what you are experiencing right now.

 This exercise was meant to help us become more alert and aware of our surroundings. Mindfulness is "thinking about thinking." We do have some control over our thinking.  We call this being "mindful." Being mindful can help us de-stress and relax. Doing this meditation will help you be more present in the here and no, not distracted by thoughts and judgments. At work, be fully attentive and present at work. But then at home, be fully present with your family, instead of focusing on your thoughts and worries of work.

Next week, I will offer some more techniques to help you de-stress and be even more mindful.

3/05/2014

The ever changing forefront of mental health in America

This week's links:


Simple waiting room test can help diagnose depression, anxiety by Science Daily

Psychological side-effects of anti-depressants worse than thought by Science Daily

The Case Against Staying Calm : How to turn your anxiety into excitement  by PsychologyToday.com

Mental health problems mistaken for physical illness in children by Science Daily

3/03/2014

Two Important reasons for rest

I have mentioned several times the importance of resting for self-care and living to our full potential. CEOs, caretakers, pastors and workaholics are dead set in their work ethic. They want to be productive and successful. It is wonderful to be living with such high goals and expectations.  Although, this always-on-the-go lifestyle has it's downfalls too. We were not created to work this way. The Bible offers a lot of examples and principles for a healthy lifestyle.

The truth is that the Bible offers a picture of balance. Rest is important is a principle depicted by even God the Father, who rested on the seventh day after creating the universe. Jesus followed suit on many occasions He "went away" from everyone to be alone with God the Father to fast, rest and pray. While I could continue on in the theological evidence, I want to also mention that more and more studies are providing the same information that I am arguing from a Biblical perspective. On Wednesday, I posted my weekly links post. This theme for these links is napping. Napping helps people to be well-rested and in turn, more productive. Even Google is embracing the importance of well-rested employees, as they provide rest pods for their workers.

Through the Bible there is a theme centering around boundaries and balance. We can be the most productive and the most pleasant when we have proper boundaries in our lives. Work is definitely a high priority and an important one. At times, it can be difficult to put down the phone and spend time with kids. Important meetings and business deals need to get down, yes. But there are other priorities that need to be balanced as well. How are you doing socially? emotionally? physically? sexually? close relationships?

Your job will not satisfy all of your needs.

This why we need rest and we need balance.
I challenge you to rest this week. Even if it is only marked out for one hour every day this week or blocked out for a Friday or Saturday evening. During this time, enjoy God and enjoy other people. Do not entertain thoughts about your job. Also take care of yourself. Exercise or enjoy a hobby. Get ready for the next storm. Life does not stop, but as a human you should stop and rest.

2/28/2014

Don't do it alone

This is part two  on the topic of social self-care as a pastor. Here are some ideas for connecting with other pastors in the community:        

1. Make use of and promote Board of Pensions and denominational resources for clergy wellness.
2. Make available clergy and educator support groups and clergy spouse support groups.
3. Contract with local resources to provide confidential therapy services for clergy, educators, and their families.
4. Encourage ―Facebook or other online support/interest groups.
5. Write boundary expectations into calls and covenants for clergy and educators whereby the congregation agrees that their spending time with spouse and family is expected, days off are protected, and participation in the activities and leadership within the local community is encouraged.
6. Either in the church‘s call or the presbytery‘s budget have funds available for clergy/educators recreational activities or hobbies.
7. Form a pastoral care team and/or have a designated pastor-to-pastors and chaplain for spouse of clergy or educator.
8. Be creative in sponsoring clergy and educator retreats and outings (cruises, fishing contests, golf matches, tickets to concerts and civic events, tours or trips).
9. Arrange for corporate contract membership fees for the YMCA, YWCA, or a health club within the bounds of presbytery.
10. Sponsor health fairs and wellness contests for clergy/educators and their families.
11. Form a mentor-colleague program with means for accountability to make sure  contacts are being made. (Don‘t forget retired pastors and ministers serving in a setting other than the local congregation.)
12. Develop a ―First Call‖ program for new clergy retention and wellness.
13. Sponsor annual clergy, clergy/spouse, and educators retreats.
14. Consider sponsoring quarterly district luncheons.
15. Acknowledge clergy/educators‘ anniversaries, birthdays, ordination dates, etc.
16. Sponsor continuing educational workshops and courses for clergy/educators that have nothing to do with congregational ministry (beginner‘s golf or tennis lessons, foreign language series, ―how to‖ water ski, fish, snow ski, bowl, sail, or bird watch – use your imagination!)
17. Make sure spiritual resources are available and their use encouraged by clergy/educators and their spouses.
18. Sponsor movie/theater/concert groups.




Most pastors understand their call to ministry as extending beyond just the activities of their local congregation. In a parallel fashion to having responded to an inner-sense that moved them to enter the ministry, so they develop an interest in some particular aspect of their call that extends beyond their particular congregation. It may be an ecumenical or even inter-faith ministry in the community, a national issue about which they feel passionate, or an activity in their denomination‘s work.
In support of the vocation of pastors, what if the presbytery occasionally lifted up and celebrated these many trans-congregational ministries of their pastors? A first step in support would be simply to have conversations with the pastors about a particular area of ministry in which they feel most passionate. Even the opportunity to name that for someone else and share what they are doing in that area would feel good.
A second step would be to provide a venue by which that area of ministry might be celebrated. That might begin by collectively celebrating the many areas of ministry in which people are engaged. You might say at a public gathering, ―In our conversations we have learned that the clergy of our denomination, in addition to their work in their congregations, are engaged in the following areas of ministry. And then have the body participate in a litany that named and thanked God for having called pastors to participate in these areas of ministry. If the numbers were not too great, it would be good to name the pastors even as you identified the areas. For example, ―John Smith, Ellen Jones, etc have devoted their gifts in a ministry to feed the hungry.‖ To which the body would respond, ―We thank God for their efforts on behalf of the least of these, our brothers and sisters.‖ Then proceed to the next area of ministry to be identified. If it was a large presbytery, you might want to break the recognition down into geographical areas and celebrate one area at each meeting (See the adaption of Psalm 111 Litany of Celebration).

A third step would be to invite a group of clergy with a similar focus to develop a short presentation to the body about their work. Simply drawing them together to talk about their similar efforts would have its own value. The public presentation might stimulate others who might be interested in that area as well. All of this would be a presbytery‘s way of nurturing the larger sense of call among their clergy.

2/26/2014

Napping on the Job

This week's link encourage the use of naps in your life:


5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Nap Every Day by Michael Hyatt


'Nap rooms' encourage sleeping on the job to boost productivity by Today.com

2/24/2014

Think even smaller small group

I have been reading a book by Michael Mack entitled The Pocket Guide to Burnout-Free Small Group Leadership. In this book Mack offers a lot of great insight on how to do ministry in small groups. He sympathizes for the small group lay leader who has 13-20 people in his group yet he alone is responsible for planning the group, calling and praying for his members, preparing the materials and food, hosting at his house, teaching and facilitating the group and all of the other administration tasks associated with this ministry. Not only does Michael suggest to expand the the leadership team to help delegate tasks and share responsibility for each small group, Mack goes further and suggests that each leader should really focus in on only two to four others.

Mack is not the first or only ministry leader to think of this idea. Robert Coleman in his books The Master Plan for Evangelism and The Master Plan for Discipleship, noticed that Jesus "made disciples" of only twelve disciples. Sure there were hundreds of causal followers but Jesus spent the majority of his time with  twelve. Looking even deeper in the Scriptures, Coleman shows that Jesus even focused more on three in particular. Mack agrees. Imagine if in each small group of 15-20 people, there was a leader (or shepherd) for every three or four people?

Imagine sharing life with a respected elder or someone even slightly further along the journey then you...Imagine having weekly time with a few other close friends who also love Jesus. Not only would you be able to dig deeper into the Word together, get personal attention to life's struggles and questions, intimate prayer, but also serve God together and evangelize together! That is an amazing picture of ministry and small groups!

It reminds me of my days in Campus Crusade for Christ (or Cru) at Ohio University. This ministry is built on Coleman's ideas. There is a weekly large group meeting for worship and teaching but the majority of the ministry is in smaller group ministry teams and Bible Studies through-out campus. Even more, as a Bible Study leader and leader on some other teams, I had the opportunity to do some one-on-one training/mentoring, we called it "discipleship." I loved it. I meet with an older student who was discipling me. Then I also meet two younger students individually and discipled them. It is interesting now to think about it, but part of what I was doing as I discipled these young men was spiritual formation life coaching, which is something I still do today. In fact, I've made a career out of counseling and coaching.  

2/21/2014

Don't be a lone ranger

As a pastor, it is easy to go it alone. It is not uncommon for pastors to feel lonely and not have any true friends. This pattern needs to end. God created you to be social creature. Yes you have a calling to be a pastor. Yes, you are called to high things, but you are also called to do this life together with friends. You are not made to be alone in this journey.

 Pulpit & Pew's 2001 national clergy survey asked pastors how often in the past year they had felt "lonely and isolated in their work." About 17 percent said "very often" or "fairly often" and another 51 percent said "once in a while." Only 32 percent said they had never felt lonely or isolated.

Loneliness and isolation were the single greatest predictor of overall job dissatisfaction. Generally, those who had the highest levels of loneliness were the most likely to be dissatisfied in their ministry, while those who reported little or no loneliness had the highest levels of job satisfaction.
Another Pulpit & Pew study also found a strong link between loneliness and clergy dropout. In that study, researchers interviewed ex-Catholic priests who had left the priesthood within five years of ordination. They found that isolation and a lack of close friendships were one of the most important reasons the former priests cited for quitting the ministry, second only to celibacy.

 Here are some ideas to get you started in finding some social care in your life:
1. Don‘t burn your former bridges. Keep close phone and/or Internet contact with best friends or close family members.
2. Seek new friendships in social and community settings that fall outside of the boundaries of your local congregation. You will not develop outside of church friendships without actively placing yourself in social situations where friendships may develop.
3. Form cordial and friendly relationships with church members but be judicious about divulging too much personal information. Other church members get jealous of the clergy and spouse‘s ―in church relationships. Also, many a clergy family has felt betrayed by a close friend when church conflicts surface.
4. Seek other clergy (along with clergy spouses) for support and fellowship.
5. Make it a priority to have some personal, outside of church interests, hobbies, sports, or goals. Pursue your passions!
6. Therapy is good for the soul. Don‘t neglect your emotional self, especially if you are in pain.
7. Become part of a clergy (or clergy spouse) support group, lectionary study group, spiritual formation group, book club, etc.
8. If single, date outside of your church‘s membership.
9. If married or in a relationship with a significant other, have a set weekly ―date night.
10. Take all of your vacation time and study leave and make sure it‘s away from your local community.
11. Your calendar is your friend. Schedule your recreation as you would your church committees. Take your weekly days off. On those days,―Thou shalt do no church work! (Eleventh Commandment)
12. If married, make a list of future goals and activities that you would like to experience together (e.g. hiking in the Andes, skydiving, kayaking the Amazon, picnicking in a secluded meadow, bird watching, gardening, etc.).
13. Seek out someone to be your pastor and/or spiritual director. What other creative suggestions can you add? Share these strategies with other pastors and spouses. Be willing to contact your presbytery committee on ministry if problems arise. 


 This is part one, I will post part two next week.
                 

2/19/2014

Mental Health Links

This week's links:

How People Pleasers Can Learn to Say "No" More Often by LifeHacker

6 Powerful Affirmations to Give Your Inner-Scrooge the Boot by Shake Off the Grind

Ready to Stress Less? How to Use Deep Relaxation to Achieve Peace of Mind By Shake Off the Grind

New depression treatments reported By Current Psychiatry





2/17/2014

Testimonial Monday

I was struggling with time management, stress and achieving major life goals. Alex helped me by teaching me tools and applications on how to deal with stress, now as a result I have been able to focus on priorities, what's really important and how to deal with stress!
As an extremely busy person I especially love the fact That we don't have to talk or hang out everyday but when we do get together we can pick up right where we left off.

-Nate T., Central Ohio

2/14/2014

Family, make it a priority

Whether you are a family of two adults, have children, or even if you are single and relate to a family from a distance, it is important that you evaluate the enjoyment level  in your relationships. While spontaneous fun is a wonderful experience of grace, most of us need to be intentional about making space for experiences of fun. Having fun with others socially  is a healthy medicine!
A healthy exercise for any family configuration would be to set aside some time to brainstorm together a variety of fun experiences in which you might participate together as a family in the near future. Be creative even in this brainstorming experience. Depending on your family, you might want to order a pizza, pop some popcorn, or go to an ice cream parlor and order some sundaes as the setting for this family idea generating experience.

Setting up your family calendar is the next step. It is easy for the creativity and excitement of the brainstorming to fall into the background if you don‘t identify at least a couple of dates that you can set aside to begin to experience those fun ideas you just shared. If you have mature enough children, it might be helpful to give them to an important role or responsibility in pulling off the experience. Even if it is not a significant task, in your eyes, it will make them feel even more a part of the process! For example, if you are planning a game night with the family, maybe allow the children to be the ones that got to organize the games and plan the evening. If you are going to a movie, allow the children to choose the movie. Set the date in stone. Stepping outside the seriousness of our lives and  sharing in laughter and pleasure can be a good glue for family bonds.
Often times hard working individuals, because their work, draw out their "other-directed" and serious-side and they forget how to play. Remembering how to play is an important trait to develop and it is a good witness to your spouse and family. Couples, whether they have children or not, need to be intentional about finding couple time when they can play together.When your life is very demanding and the children need a lot of attention, it is easy to neglect the time for other priorities, like work. Sometimes we can even hide behind our busyness and avoid dealing with issue that if faced immediately can be easily resolved. In addition, even if everything is going along well, couples need to have some fun and some private time together on a regular basis.I recommend that couples have a regularly scheduled date night.

You might get season tickets to a theater, sports event, or concert series. If you know it is on your calendar and you have paid for it, there is a better chance that you will set aside the time. Sharing a meal away from family and obligations can be an important time to focus on each other. Of course nice restaurants can be special but picnics or grabbing a Subway sandwich can be an less expensive and often just as fun. You could add to the spice of the event by deciding that at different times one of you would plan the evening for the other and make it a surprise.
We talked a lot about the importance of family time today, but now it is time to execute a plan. In today's exercises, you formulated some ideas for family fun time, now within two weeks, you should not only commit to an action, but actually DO it. Make your family important, spend quality time with them and let them know how you love them. Make it a priority. (Accountability to the established goals).

2/12/2014

Heart Links


This weeks' Heart worthy Links:

1. Too Much Sitting May Raise Heart Failure Risk for Men by Health Daily

2/10/2014

Christian Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

I am a counselor-in-training. I find myself using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in almost every session with my clients. CBT is a great theory for counseling. It has been proven to be very effective and it is straight-forward and simple enough to explain what we are doing in therapy with my clients. In fact this educational aspect is an important part of CBT.
I am also a Christian interning at a private practice site with other Christians. We integrate faith in sessions if the client is comfortable and desiring to also integrate the Christian faith in their sessions.
I have been studying how faith-based CBT is often more effective than just regular/secular CBT where faith is not involved. I have searched hard to find a handbook or manual of "how-to" do a faith-based CBT different from a regular or secular CBT. I have not found an actual workbook or guidebook with examples and interventions for a Christian or Bible based CBT.
I have some ideas of my own and I will share those but I am very curious to know if such a resource exists. In my mind there has to be. There continues to be a steady flow of research comparing faith-based CBT with non-faith based CBT, so I imagine that the researchers put together a manual or book of interventions based on each group they were studying.
While these researchers may not have been able to sale those plans and books for ethical reasons, I would think that someone else would have thought about making money by creating a "Christian Cognitive Behavioral Manual" by now. Since I am not finding this resource, I am contemplating making my own!
So the point of today's post is to help me think through what some of the keys to such a resource would be:
-use of Scripture to dispute irrational thoughts
- use of Scripture to replace irrational thoughts with Biblical insight
-use of prayer through-out the process, in-session and out of session as homework
-the advantage of positive, healthy Christian fellowship to help against depression
- the insight of Scripture on topics such as stress, anxiety, depression, emotions, behaviors, and the list goes on
-the advantage of having Biblical morals to stand on
-the opportunity for Christian accountability between partners, friends and/or pastors

Let me know if I am on the right track and if you have some more ideas. Thanks.

2/07/2014

Focus on God, not on being a pastor

 Pastors and Christian leaders commonly think, "I have to act like a clergy at all times?" Wherever a pastor or Christian leader is at the store, church, home, with family or in town, they feel that they have to act as a clergy/pastor persona. Part of this is absolutely true. Once you decide to go into ministry, you put yourself and family under fire and your house is a glass house. All that is true.

This is what I like to call the Pedestal Syndrome. It is frustrating, we (as ministers) tend to put on unreal expectations on our own self!  In reality we are human too. We are not perfect people. Worse, we feel guilty for not meeting those unhealthy expectations. Next this can provoke, a "fake" you....you never really feel free to relax and be yourself, because we feel you "have to be pastor."

Do you remember the call to ministry in your life? Think about your sense of God's call in your life. What passages in the Bible  describe that call? What was your experience life when you knew that you were called? Which biblical figures/characters do you relate with?  Where were you? Put yourself in that place for a moment. What Biblical passages come to mind in regards to your calling?  Recall those Scriptures that really encourage you, even today in your ministry. Write about this experience. It is important to not censor your writing in the process. You are not trying to compose and essay on the call. You are simply writing without stopping for 10 minutes or so. Then go back and read what you have written and see what that evokes in you. if you need to look something up quickly in your Bible that is fine also. Meditatively and prayfully just write, free-flowingly...Don‘t throw away what seems irrelevant. Save it and see what God does with it later.  

Here are some ideas to boost your spiritual thought this week:

Option 1- One practice that can strengthen your own spiritual life is the silent meal. This is frequently practiced in monasteries. There is a freedom in not being expected to speak and interact with others. It offers you an opportunity to draw within yourself.This can be practiced even at a fast food restaurant. Order an inexpensive meal, choose a table, and enter into a time of silence in the midst of the cacophony of the world around you. As you sit down at the table, before you unwrap your meal, begin your prayer time. Begin with prayers for all those who had some part in preparing the meal before you, taking that as far back in the food process as possible. There was someone who has raised the animal or planted and cared for the vegetables that you are about to eat, who prepared the paper, designed the package, etc.
After about ten minutes of prayer, begin to slowly unwrap your simple meal and occasionally take a bite or sip of my drink as you continue your prayers. As much as possible, pray with your eyes closed and your mind totally focused. You might pray for people or situations in your ministry, or pray for colleagues that you know are having a difficult time. Prayer for at least one-half hour from the time that you sit down at the table.

Option 2- Take short periods of time in the beginning. Determine to take a half-hour break in which you will explore how Scripture can speak to you about the attributes of God. Use a concordance to identify some adjectives that praise God. Gather up several of them and then spend some time exploring the nature of God through these adjectives. That might come in the form of a word study or it might be in the form of contemplation around one or two of these adjectives. Whatever your approach,, the purpose is to focus your attention on the wonder of God.

The time limit of one-half hour might even serve the advantage of intriguing you so that you want to set aside another half-hour at another time to continue the experience. Discipline yourself to avoid thinking of how useful your work might be for a sermon, a class, etc. This is time to place yourself purely in the presence of God in a loving way. However you go about it, keep some notes on how it makes you feel. If one aspect of the Sabbath is to step outside of the normal pace of life to nurture relationships, this is a way to begin with a short Sabbath experience of loving God.

2/05/2014

Ministry Burnout Links

This week's links:

1. Five Reasons Your Pastor Should Take a Sabbatical by Thom Rainer


2. 12 Coaching Strategies to avoid Ministry Burnout by ICCA


3. 5 Ways to brings yourself back from burnout by Oprah


4. The Amazing Way This Hospital Is Fighting Physician Burnout by Huffington Post


5. 5 STRATEGIES TO HELP COPE WITH COMPASSION FATIGUE by Diversity Nursing Blog

2/03/2014

Jesus, even in high demand, rested

Imagine a situation with me. If you felt called by God to walk into a cancer ward and to pray for an individual and image that God healed that person. Immediately. The newly healed person felt healed and there was absolutely no sign of the cancer in this person anymore. You and this person would be ecstatic and jumping up and down on the bed. The nurses and doctors would not know what to do. Then as you walked out of the room, you felt God call you to another room to pray for someone else. Then imagine a similar situation occurring, where God heals the person you pray for. If this continued to happen time and time again, at the very least another sick person with cancer would be calling you, more likely the doctors would want to know what you were doing and even more likely the news would be putting you on the spotlight.

This is just one fictional example of what it might be like to experience what Jesus might have experienced. Can you picture it? Jesus must have been in high demand! There must have been word out of his miraculous healings and wonders. I am sure that people were well aware of what he was doing and I imagine that people wanted his time and his healing touch.

Jesus models something else for us that we really need to take into consideration. Jesus took breaks. He rested. He went away to be alone with God, even in his busiest season. Even when people were still hurting and in need. Even when Jesus was demanded and reached a celebrity status of his time....He went away to be with God alone:

Mark 1 : 35 (NIV): Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 6:46- Jesus, after a busy day of healing people, sent people away so that He could be alone in prayer. If you continue reading the chapter there are still people lined up looking for Jesus (v. 55). Again in Matt. 14: 22-23, Jesus dismissed the crowds, so He could go to the mountainside by Himself to pray. Jesus' priorities were very clear.  Luke 5:16 says that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. This was a habit for Jesus. Jesus quietly slipped away again and again, as it is mentioned in Luke 9:10 also.

Jesus rested on the Sabbath and went to the synagogue (Lk. 4:16), the equivalent of going to church on Sunday. The morning before choosing His twelve disciples, Lk. 6 reports that Jesus spent the night in prayer. Throughout His time on earth as a human, Jesus modeled the importance of taking time off to recharge. This involved a lot of prayer. His source truly was God the Father. We too can follow this example and knell before the Lord God, our Father for strength and refreshment as well. 

1/31/2014

Check your emotional pulse and remember to take a break

Have you ever felt isolated and alone at your work or home? Are you missing a passion and zeal for your job or life that you once felt? Have become preoccupied with those you are helping that you think about them while you are away from work? Are you currently satisfied with your life's work? Have you experienced a loss of energy lately? Do you find it difficult to separate your own feelings from the problems at work? Do you feel like you do not have many friends outside your family and work?

Those are a lot of vital questions. If you answered "yes" to more than one of those questions, you may be feeling like life is an emotional roller coaster. There are highs, lows, boredom, and continual demands in life. Is it any wonder that you feel emotionally drained at the end of a week? When you engage in this (highly stressful or emotional behavior) week-after-week, it takes its' toll. Likely, the better you are at your job, the heavier the emotional burden. You are not alone. Others are struggling with this same balance. It is normal to feel this way. The question is, what are some practices that can provide you relief from emotional strain? You may need to give yourself permission to read a good book or take a walk in your break time. Sometimes knowing that you have a regularly scheduled break may get you through the day. Think about two or three things you can to do every week for their own personal downtime and emotional well-being.

Life is an unpredictable ride. A lot of emotional stress can be draining. Try a simple experiment this week. If you have either a watch or an electronic calendar on phone or computer that has an alarm built in, set it for 10:30 and 3:30 every day for a week. When the alarm goes off, take a quick Sabbatical. Even if it is only for a minute or two to take a few deep breathes of air and zone out from your work, give this strategy a try for one week.




1/29/2014

Self-control links

This weeks links, on self-control:

1. Electrical Brain Stimulation Can Instantly Improve Self-Control by PsyBlog

2. Self-control isn't in short supply (despite what it looks like) by Science Daily

3. Do You Really Need Self-discipline?  by Dumb Little Man

4. How Stress Is Sabotaging Your Emotional Control by Huffington Post

5. How to Motivate Yourself by Pick the Brain


1/27/2014

What I learned selling books door to door

Alright, so during the summer of 2006 I sold books door-to-door in Columbia, Missouri in an attempt to pay for college tuition and rent. As it turns out, I was not much of a salesman. That summer was one of the most challenging summers of my life. I learned a lot about myself, how to sell and ho to work hard no matter what.

While I did not walk away from the experience as a rich man, as others actually did, I did grow as a person in four major areas: time management, positive self talk, self-care and a having a business mentality or mindset.

Let me explain: In time management, I learned to break days into manageable sections. Selling books door-to-door, my team woke up everyday at 5AM. We showered, ate breakfast and drove to our locations. We had to knock on our first door at 7AM. Then we were not allowed to come back home until 10AM where we ate diner and went to bed. This routine started over again Monday -Saturday. Sundays were hardly a day off, since we had to travel three hours to get to an all-day business meeting with other link-minded book salesman in the same larger geographical region.

The thing about time management, first was focusing in. Focus on the first 3 hours. Map out a game plan and work hard for 3 hours. Do not think about lunch or tomorrow, push hard and focus in on the next potential customer.
The second time management tip is the more obvious stuff. There is no time for emails, going to movies, museums, football games, etc....This is not tourism nor a vacation. This is earning wages and working hard.

During the week-long training in Nashville, before heading out to Columbia, we were given a lot of training on selling, thinking like a business person and  we did a lot of practice role-play to get ourselves ready for the actual summer. After the role-plays, mentors and business experts gave us a lot of tips and feedback. They taught us to think positively. They showed us how to do positive self-talk. In between doors, on our drive from home to our locations and even during potty-breaks we were suppose to sing or shout, "It's going to be a great day!" and "I am a selling machine!" I was pretty unfamiliar with this idea of positive self-talk up until this point in my life. Especially after a complete rejection from a potential customer who is threatening to call the cops, it really is encouraging to look at the positives instead of getting our psyche thrown off by a ragging homeowner. Even if the positive self-talk was just lies, it was still encouraging.

Okay, well with self-care, I learned how to control my energy level. These were long days, even longer weeks. And as I mentioned earlier, I was not very good at selling. So often times, I came away empty handed. The first few weeks I was adjusting to the ridiculous schedule I was not able to focus in on one three hour time block at a time. I was worried about the entire day and that was draining my energy level. Once I figured out how to focus in on the three hour time block, I was able to get my mind off of the worries of the day and just focus on the next street. Each street was a treasure hunt to find a customer. My positive self-talk told me, "someone on this street was going to purchase books today!" I am blessed to have learned this crazy skill of energy preservation. I used this skill again just this past week at a youth-group lock-in. All of the teenagers were napping by 4AM, I stayed away the entire night and didn't nap until after the lock-in was complete and I was in my bed at home. Mental self-care was all about focusing in on the successes, that was the only way to survive mentally.

Another part of self-care is that I learned that I do not want to be a salesman. I do not want to be a workaholic that does not have time for anything other than making money. I found my true self and many things that I am not passionate about during this summer. But by going through with the experience I can now relate to people who are feeling burn-out of long work days and of the burn-out of sales.

Finally the main thing I learned is about the business mindset. The company, I sold books with, who will continue to go unnamed, had excellent training materials. I still look back at the sales manual today. The training was a great experience. I am thankful for that. I am thankful for not waking up to the dreaded day of selling books in the summer heat of the Midwest.
So I am blessed to have learned a great deal from my time there that summer. Now I can put these things and other things into practice even today. I encourage others to learn also from my experience instead of through the hard way!

1/24/2014

Tips for completing your physical goals

If you work in a stressful profession, neglecting your  body makes you very vulnerable to that stress. The most obvious areas of care for one‘s body are diet and physical exercise. A first step towards improvement is becoming conscious of your reality. Take a piece of paper and describe how you are currently paying attention to your diet and getting your exercise. Are you pleased with the result? Also in this journal, describe a first step in improving your behavior for the next week. Reflect on the past, but look forward to the goal, make one simple action plan.

There is always a temptation for small indulgences. You may tell yourself, "I've been working hard, doing so much good" or "I deserve that candy bar or extra order of French fries."  Another may be, "I've been so busy meeting the demands of my job that I have just been too busy or too tired to go exercise." Not all indulgences are bad but they can easily get out of hand. Becoming conscious of them is a first step to keeping a balance in your life. On your paper, list a couple of small indulgences that you have given in to during the past month. I know for me, I enjoy fast food from Wendy'. This is both unhealthy and expensive. If I can cut this one bad habit out for a month, I will save money and realize that I can eat healthier.

If you do make a plan to do exercise, try to make a connection with other people. Some people play sports together, attend exercise classes with others, find a partner to walk with or run with, etc. When someone else expects you to participate, this builds accountability and support for changing your habits. Also making the event social makes it more fun and offers more of a motivation than just the pure physical exercise (which you may actually be dreading). 

These three simple exercises can be useful in helping you accomplish your physical goals this next year. First journal about your plan and then take one step to execute that plan. Second, consider any "indulgences" that are slowly taxing your health. Third, make the exercise (and even the diets too) social, adding a social element offer an alternative motivation to meet your goals. 

1/22/2014

Mindfulness Links

There are a ton of resources out there regarding mindfulness, here are a few:

Mindfulness - What is it? Does it really work? - Lifehacker

Mindfulness Helps Undergraduates Stay On Track - Science Daily

Mindfulness Stops Negativity From Sticking To You Like Glue - Huffington Post

Mindfulness: 6 Steps to Better Memory, Verbal Reasoning and Improved Concentration - PsyBlog
Mindfulness:living in the moment- Visual.ly

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for bipolar disorder: a feasibility trial  - PsyDir





1/20/2014

Reach New Heights in 2014


Hello
As 2013 ends and 2014 begins, it is normal to contemplate resolutions, visions or goals for the next year or years to come. I want to help you reach your goals as a life coach. Contact me today.

1/17/2014

Letting go of what you can't control

Last week, I looked at the Serenity prayer and focused with an example on some things we can control when stressors come. Today, I want to help by giving tips for the flipside, what about the things we cannot control?

Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.



In this prayer, there is an element of faith, of a God . There is an element of change and an element of acceptance. Some things we cannot change, while other things we can. So regarding the things that we cannot change, what are we left to do?

Being able to accept things that we cannot change does involve faith. In faith circles, the term is to "let go" of things, of stress and worry for example. But this idea of "letting go" is a difficult thing to define. Especially for people who do not believe in God, letting go is still not an easy task. The definition means to "giving permission or opportunity." In the sense of how it is used to "let go" of worry, is really like "letting go" if a girlfriend after a break-up. It is giving permission to be free. So when we talk about accepting things that we cannot change, we are able to let them go from our worrying minds. Our minds can be free of these worries!

One last thing  that is really helpful when those fleeting thoughts do come back to us is the use of relaxation techniques. Many of my clients find this simple muscle relaxation technique to be
extremely effective, especially before going to bed:


Begin by finding a comfortable position sitting, standing, or lying down. First focus on breathing. Breathe in forcefully and deeply, and hold this breath. You should be able to count to 5 or even 6 (in your head) as the oxygen enters and and then again as it exits. Let all the air go out slowly, with
it release all the tension. You should see your chest expand and feel it collapse. After about five deep, long breathes we focus on each individual muscle groups but we want to continue this breathing pattern through-out the exercise.

Start with the muscles on your two feet. Tighten all the muscles of your feet. Count to five while holding this tension. Do a final squeeze! Then relax. Let all the tension go. Feel the muscles in your feet go limp, loose, and relaxed. Your feet are not heavy. Notice how relaxed the muscles feel now. Feel the difference between tension and relaxation. Enjoy the pleasant feeling of relaxation in your feet.

I have my clients do their feet first then move up the body, all the way to their head/face. We follow the same basic instructions just instead of "feet," I say "legs" or "arms." Throughout the exercise, I stop and remind the client to continue to focus again on their breathing. They need to have slow, even, regular breaths.

This is a simple trick but it really does work and focusing on breathing is scientifically proven to lower heart-rate. sometimes I add things to this technique if the client or I am feeling tired of this same technique. A simple addition is to add another relaxed meditation to it. I like to tell the
clients that they are on a cloud and explain how everything is soft, peaceful, solace and comfortable. There are many similar setting and scenarios that can enable relaxation.