Tear streamed down Thompson’s cheeks as his eyes exploded with gratitude. At 6-1, 240 lbs, he was hard to miss as he approached my location. Amidst the roar of lunch time banter he slowly leaned in close and whispered something that I would never forget. He said “Mr. Hose I just wanted you to know how lucky your wife and kids are to have a man like you in their lives”. In that moment I stood paralyzed, stunned by the weight of his honest meekness, and humility. For a few seconds that felt more like an eternity, I wrestled to maintain my rigid and straight faced façade. However, internally I was choking back the emotional frog that had grown large in my throat.
The Power of Choice
This day was a special day. Not only had Thompson summited one of the greatest mountains of his adult life, but he did it in a place few could. For on this day, the voices punctuating from the lunch time crowd weren’t coming from a sporting event, college campus, or shopping center but from a prison dining hall full of convicted felons. And “Inmate” Thompson, one of my students, had just earned his GED.
While I stood there reflecting upon the ups and downs of his 12 month journey, I used every ounce of strength to wrestle back tears of joy and the overwhelming urge to embrace Thompson with a congratulatory hug that would show him I how I really felt; that I was proud of him for not making the easy choice to give up on his academic dream.
The Gift of Choice
If you ask me, choice is one of the greatest gifts of responsibility that God has ever given mankind. From the very beginning of time there has been choice through the process of decision making. For example, God allowed Adam to name the animals and gave him the choice to obey His command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In fact, Adam’s choice to disobey God’s command still has an eternal consequence for all of us today.
Genesis2: 19, “ Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”
There are many examples of people making choices in the Bible which resulted in different consequences. One example can be found in the book of Exodus. We read about the Egyptian Pharaoh and his choice not to let the Israelites leave with Moses as God had instructed. Frogs, locust, rivers of blood, and the deaths of first born sons came from his decisions. In the book of Jonah we see one of the best known stories of consequence unfold. God asks Jonah to deliver a message to the people of Nineveh. Instead of obeying God he chooses to hop on a boat to Joppa, and we all remember what happened next. After 3 days in the belly of a giant fish he is highly motivated to rethink his choice to obey God’s commands.
Jonah 1: 1, “ Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
On the other end of the consequence spectrum we have the story of Joseph; one of my personal favorites. As a boy, Joseph was given several amazing dreams from God. Those dreams predicted a great future for him and angered his brothers as a result. In their bitterness and jealousy they saw fit to sell their brother into slavery. As Joseph navigated this new life away from his home and family, he eventually found himself in prison because of his personal convictions to do what was right. Through much turmoil, Joseph stayed faithful to God and because of this, the Lord helped Joseph excel in prison, contributing to his pardon and his promotion to Governor. His choice to obey in all circumstances brought God’s plans to fruition and enabled him to rescue his family from famine. Brought face to face with his brothers after years of suffering, he was able to see God’s plan come to life through his ability to forgive their wrong-doing. This is an amazing story of patience, blessing, and prosperity based upon a series of righteous choices made by Joseph.
Genesis 39: 10, “ And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.”
There are unlimited stories about good choices and bad in the Bible. I would say too many to mention them all. From Daniel’s commitment to God by not worshiping King Darius (Daniel 6:6-9), to the lying lips of Ananias and his wife Sapphira (Act 5: 1-10), God’s Word makes it clear that we each have choices to make and there are short and long term outcomes we will be accountable for.
Hebrews 4:13, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
How are you doing with choices in your life right now? Do you feel that your actions are in alignment with godly convictions and values? Are you using your talents and gifts in a way that builds up the kingdom? Are you on cruise control or feeling stuck?
What do your answers reveal about you? If they show room for growth and an opportunity for change then I encourage you to make a radical shift in your obedience to God’s word as well as your priorities!
The good news is…you have a choice!
Just like inmate Thompson who made the decision to not give up on his academic dream we too have a decision to make. Will we settle for our current state or seek to move toward our greater life calling? So, what will you choose to do? It is my prayer that God will put the right resources and people in your life so that you will be able to achieve the vision He has created for you.
The process of Life Design Coaching can help. It will allow you to learn more about yourself and the unique qualities and talents that God has given you. It is a personal journey of action that leads to self-discovery. It is not fast or easy. It requires a lot of deep water exploration and commitment to yourself and the process. But the return on investment won’t be short of amazing!
The Life Design journey begins by building awareness. This is done through different coaching activities such as a needs and values assessments. These assignments help you uncover your hidden talents by assessing your past experiences and future expectations. Coupled with action planning and personal accountability the process helps you maximize your potential and life achievements.
To help you begin this transformational process on your own I would like to give you a FREE Life Wheel Assessment activity. You can find this activity with detailed instructions at http://www.intolifedesign.com/life-coaching . While you are there, take a few minutes to learn more about the self-pace Life Design: From the Inside Out workshop series and my LIFE DESIGN MONTHLY online journal, a digital monthly newsletter that provides Health, Wellness and Inspirational information to Disciples around the world.
Joseph is a Board Certified Coach specializing in personal operating systems planning using leadership, life and career coaching methods and structures.
Shawn Sommerkamp, speaking to the Charleston Church of Christ at the New Year's Eve church service Dec 31, 2017.
Targeted goal-setting is powerful and effective. It helps us keep clarity of outcome. Breaking big desires down into smaller, achievable goals makes success achievable. The biggest challenges are overcome as we make a series of small goals that, collectively, lead to big outcomes.
And yet, just setting a bunch of goals can often be discouraging when we don’t reach them. Ever wonder why we often fall short? It’s because the goals weren’t smart! I’m not talking about whether the goals are stupid or intelligent either. I’m talking about a simple way of thinking about an activity designed to help us achieve results. It’s called S.M.A.R.T. and it stands for the following:
It’s early January.
The Holidays are over.
It can feel like we go from the ‘The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year’ to the most challenging time of the year.
A more appropriate lyric, now that it is time to make resolutions & get back to work, could be one of the following…
‘It’s The Most:
- Crazy busy
- Cash poor
- Weight Gaining
…Time Of The Year.’`
It’s not that you are
You want to enjoy it, but
it can feel more like “I just want to get through it.”
Although your MIND knows that God’s will for you (according to 1 Th 5:16-18) is to:
“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances…”
...your HEART can lag behind & this simple command can seem overwhelming.
Sometimes you can put your finger on what’s dragging you down & other times it’s more elusive ~ not really sure what’s keeping things from being ‘Wonderful’.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
Give thanks, no matter what is happening in your life. This is easy…right?
A national polling firm named Penn, Schoen, & Berland conducted a survey, mid-2012, evaluating American attitude toward thankfulness. They conducted more than 2,000 interviews across the US general population. I’m only going to share a few pieces of the overall report:
Where is the one place people are least likely to express gratitude? WORK
Based on this survey, that hardest circumstance to give thanks exists in and around the workplace. Isn’t that amazing? The place we spend the most waking hours (about 2,200 hours per year, about 110,000 hours in working lifespan) we aren’t thankful for. Wow!
The truth is our career is not just a way to make a living - it’s a way to transform the world. It’s the place God placed us so that we could make the biggest difference in our service to him.
Do you remember when these 3D-Hidden Object posters
came out? They were quite the RAVE…
They were not what they appeared to be at first glance… If you wanted to understand what the poster was really about, you had to stop what you were doing, get real close to it – focus on it, and back away very slowly… and then – like magic – 3D images would appear / seemingly emerge right off of the paper (3D effect). The embedded 3D images were disguised and hidden to the untrained/unfocused eyes.
Some people (me included sometimes) would get frustrated if we could not see the 3D images fast enough – some were easier than others… and missed the ‘magic’ of the poster.