Counting Your Contentment Cash

Counting Your Contentment Cash was the final sermon topic of our Pastor for Children and Families before she concluded her ministry at one2one Church of Christ.

I was taken by the profoundness yet simplicity of Kay’s presentation based on Philippians 4:11-13, I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Previously each of the children in  the children’s ministry were involved in constructing a duct tape wallet the making some contentment cash for their wallet. The cash was cards and the children were invited to write on the back of the cards the things they were thankful for.

Remember the words of Jesus when he explained that the kingdom of God belongs to little children and unless we receive the Kingdom of God like a little child we will never enter it.

Kay explained that the essence of discipleship is taking what we read in the Bible and translating it into real life. Using her granddaughter to test the construction of the duct tape wallet and contentment cards confirmed the possibilities when shortly after an argument with her mother Kay discovered her granddaughter  sitting alone quietly in the lounge room with wallet in hand.  When asked what she was doing the grandaughter replied she was counting her contentment cash.

We could well do the same. God has given us an abundance of contentment cash.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

Ephesians 1:3‭-‬10 NIV

Kay’s sermon can found at Counting Your Contentment Cash.

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Apprehension…

Some time ago I completed a daily reading series by Charles Swindoll, Come Before Winter…

While each reading was thought-provoking one reading in particular held my attention.

Apprehension…

One explanation of apprehension by Dictionary.com describes it this way, anticipation of adversity or misfortune; suspicion or fear of future trouble or evil.

Further reading of Dictionary.com includes the following synonyms, alarm, worry, uneasiness and suspicion, all implying an unsettled and uneasy state of mind, and again apprehension is an active state of fear, usually of some danger or misfortune.

This undefined uneasiness or feeling of uncertainty, misgiving or mistrust has the potential to cripple or immobilise, to hold us back.

“What frustration is to yesterday, apprehension is to tomorrow.”

…Swindoll

The admission by the Apostle Paul in Acts 20:22,
“And now compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.”,
has an air of apprehension against the backdrop of long term opposition faced by Paul across the course of his missionary journeys and the haze of an uncertain future.

image

It’s apprehension that tightens the heart muscles, tugs on the reins, even generating the temptation to turn and run.

While openly acknowledging its presence Paul stood firm, refusing to run, emphatically declaring in Acts 20:24,
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

The bonds of apprehension are strong until DETERMINATION breaks their hold and we refuse to run but instead break free and move forward.

Further evidence of the character of Paul’s determination can be found in Philippians 3:7-15 where he finishes with these resounding words,
” I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

In the face of apprehension resolve to…

Powerful Mentoring Tools

Mentoring Tool #2

This next illustration is a powerful tool to capture and convey the essence of the experience of a person under stress.

The illustration, which is based on a spiral, can be used in conjunction with Mentoring Tool #1 or on its own.



Step One:

After listening to the the person’s situation I ask if I can sketch out what I think they are experiencing.

The pictorial appearance of their experience generally generates further discussion and verification that the sketch is an accurate reflection…

Step Two:

I pause for a few moments then ask, ”What would it take for you to breakout of the spiral?” and insert the arrow breaking out of the spiral.

Again it is important to pause and not offer solutions rather allow time for the person to suggest their own ways of breaking the cycle…

The interesting aspect of this illustration is that while the downward spiral may have occurred over time once an action plan has been identified the person is on the way to breaking out. Their spirit is renewed and enthusiasm returns.

On asking the question, “How are you feeling or what are you thinking now?” the person will respond with something along the lines of, “I know my way forward now.”

Here’s to effective mentoring.

Powerful Mentoring Tools

MENTORING TOOL #1

I have found it helpful to build up a tool kit of illustrations in my consulting work with people in leadership and management.

My view is that management responsibility provides is an arena where the character of people is tested, revealed and shaped. Therefore the responsibility of the mentor extends to facilitating character and capacity building. Character and capacity are inter-related in terms of the management and leadership function.

The power of mentoring illustrations is in their simplicity. Their purpose is to capture and convey the essence of the manager’s or leader’s experience at the time. Once the experience is clarified and acknowledged then an action plan can be developed to help the person move forward in character and capacity.

Some of the illustrations I will mention in the coming weeks have been adapted from other sources and where possible I will acknowledge the source.

This first illustration is adapted from Kath Donovan’s book, Growing Through Stress. As the title of the book suggests the illustration is useful when a person is clearly stressed.

The illustration is based on the less than or greater than, depending on which way you read it, symbol used in mathematics. Maybe this is why I like the illustration, I was a mathematics teacher earlier in my career.

Step One:
After listening to the the person’s situation sketch the symbol on a sheet of paper and ask if they know what the symbol represents…

Step Two:
After some brief discussion of “six is less than seven” or “seven is greater than six” sketch in a stick figure and ask which direction are they headed…

On each occasion I have used this illustration the person responds with something similar to, “I’m headed to the left.” On admission of the direction discussion of stress-related symtoms can occur and be acknowledged. “I’m feeling overwhelmed.” “There’s a tightening in my chest.” “I don’t know what to to do.” “I haven’t got any options.” “I’m further to the left than that!”

Step Three:
The next question can be asked and illustrated at a timely point in the discussion, “What is it going to take for you to turn around?”

I generally pause before reinforcing the question with a second, “What are the options?” then at the “open” end of the sign, with discussion, begin to list the options in terms of the actions that are available to the person.


Kath Donovan in her illustration refers to Proverbs 4:18, The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day, explaining that ahead is an ever-expanding vision of God full of possibilities.

Here’s to effective mentoring.

Regards

Bruce.