In Pursuit of Spiritual Gifts!

We are all born with innate talents such as athletic ability or intelligence; however, God has also placed within each of us His spiritual gifts that we are able to leverage for Kingdom purposes.  Examples of spiritual gifts include administration, artistic (music and art), evangelism, Parcel wrapped in mottled brown paper with coarse rope and buff tagencouragement, leadership, hospitality, and serving to name only a few.   When we choose to move strongly into our gifting, these talents grow, multiply, and become towering strengths, especially when used for God’s ministry.

Have you identified your top three spiritual gifts?  My top three gifts are writing, leadership, and administration.  Although I was not a Christian as a young adult and did not take the Spiritual Gifts Inventory until I was in my late 40’s, these gifts were available to me to some extent.  Since I have chosen to use them for Kingdom purpose, I have seen them grow and have specific impact.  I believe if you are not living out your top three spiritual gifts on a daily basis, you are not only cheating God but also yourself.  You were made for a purpose, and your spiritual gifts are your tools to move deeply into that fulfilling life calling.

If you have never heard of or taken a Spiritual Gifts Inventory, reach out so that I can email you a survey and definitions of the gifts.  I want everyone to have this resource.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  Email: sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com

Life Purpose: A Tale of Three Trees

Have you ever bawled like a baby when reading a children’s fable?  I have!  Several years ago, as I was browsing the small bookstore at The Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas, I picked up The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale.  I guarantee you this is no ordinary children’s story.   The tale tells of the dreams of three trees in the forest, who all long to grow into something that the world would value.  One wanted to be the most beautiful, the other the strongest, and the third the tallest.   After many years the woodcutters came to harvest these trees on the mountain.

Christ with CrossWhat these three trees wished themselves to be instead became how they were used to serve.   The purpose of each tree brought me to tears.  Can you guess how the tallest tree was used?  The third tree wanted to be the tallest tree in the land, and by some accounts this tree got what it wished for as it stood tall at Calvary with Jesus nailed to it.   This tree had one idea of its future, but God had another purpose and plan.  Despite the ugliness it endured as it co-labored with Jesus, the third tree had the opportunity to help bring Salvation to the world.  Now that’s worth first living and then dying for!

For those of you who identify with the Christian faith, I would ask you to think about  whether you are pursuing your own dream or seeking to know God’s dream for your life?  Sometimes God’s dream for your life will take you through ugliness, harshness, and cruelty such as what Jesus experienced on the cross?  Much of the time you will never be aware of the impact you are making and must maintain faith that God is using each faithful word and action for Kingdom impact.  On those rare occasions when I do get feedback, I find those are the fuel that keep me seeking the Lord’s will for my life.  My prayer for you is that God will clearly speak truth and purpose into your life!


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and premarital/marriage.  

How to Create a Passionate and Purposeful Marriage?

Marriage on MissionWhen I ask couples why they are getting married or why they chose their partner, they typically reply with phrases such as “because I love her,” “he’s my best friend,” “she’ll make a great wife and mother,” and “he has a great sense of humor.”  These personal attributes and feelings are all wonderful ingredients for a happy marriage.  When I ask the next question, “What is the purpose of your marriage?” the answer comes in a quizzical look.  Many couples have not answered this second question for themselves, having been captivated by their “in love” feelings for each other.  Helmenstine (2017) claims that oxytocin and endorphins fuel feelings of love for 18 months to 4 years.  When the love chemicals dissipate, what will excite and sustain your marriage?

Keeping the marriage alive!

Those who enter marriage blindly typically do not fare as well as couples who seek premarital coaching.  Parrott and Parrott (2016) share that ~ 40% of divorced couples claim that lack of pre-marriage preparation contributed to their divorce.  The unfortunate statistics are that 20% of first marriages end in divorce within 5 years and 32% by 10 years (Avvo, 2010).  The statistics are even higher for couples who marry more than once.  For the average couple the love chemicals are replaced with feelings of attachment and comfort.  Couples who thrive typically do so by adopting behaviors that love their spouse and reflect their marriage purpose.  Chapman (2015) asserts that love is not a feeling but a verb in which spouses should intentionally love their partners in ways that speak to them.  I propose that intentional love can be taken to a higher level by co-creating a marriage mission statement.

What is a marriage mission statement?

God has designed you for a purpose, and He has also called our marriages into a purpose?  If you are married, are you living out your mission?  Companies, ministries, and even individuals have mission statements, so why should your marriage be any different? The purpose of a marriage mission statement is to get clarity on what is important to you, help set a direction for your marriage, and provide grounding and guiding boundaries by which to live.

Now if you are saying, “It’s too late for us, because we’ve been married over 20 years,” I would respond that it is never too late to invest in your marriage.  Why?  Because a marriage mission is not about the past or present but entirely on a future vision.  What do you want your marriage to become?  Creating a marriage mission statement together is fun!  Plan for a series of dates where the two of you spend quality time asking each other questions and sharing your deepest desires.

How do we write a marriage mission statement?

Your mission statement is as uniquely created as you are with the freedom to design its content, length, and style.  The only criteria are it should excite you, align you as a couple, and give you sufficient clarity to know that you are living it.  A recommended approach to build the content is to answer and discuss a series of questions intended to help you define a vision and explore values.  If your marriage mission does not reflect your core values, the statement will likely be empty words on a piece of paper.  Common elements in a mission statement may include a vision, values, dreams, goals, and actions that support its purpose.  When you discuss your marriage vision and values, your mission and goals will tend to fill in the gaps to bring your statement to life.

Below is a sampling of questions to stimulate your thinking and conversation.  Do not let this list inhibit you from exploring other questions.  Your answers should reflect your passions and feelings involving God, family, community, and others.

Vision

  • Describe your ideal marriage. What elements, conditions, activities, and behaviors would describe it?
  • What do you dream of accomplishing? How would a marriage union help achieve that?
  • How has God spoken into the future for your life and marriage?
  • If your children were asked to describe your marriage, how would you want them to be able to answer?

Values

  • What causes are you willing to fight for?
  • What are some of your core values?
  • What are your non-negotiable behaviors?
  • Where do you invest the best of your time, energy, and money?

Mission

  • What Scriptures speak to your heart? How does God fit into your marriage mission?
  • What are you excited and passionate to share alongside your spouse?
  • What activities and accomplishments would describe your ideal marriage?
  • What do you want to teach your children through your marriage relationship?

Living out your marriage mission!

Once you have a mission statement that reflects and excites you as a couple, think of short- and long-term goals that reflect that mission.  What actionable steps can you take to move into your mission?  Take time to pray to God to ask Him what he would like you to do.  Ideally, you may want to select a Scripture that speaks to your marriage!

How will you share your marriage mission?

Dillon Marriage MissionI pray that you have fun creating a marriage mission statement, but I would suggest you do not stop there.  Your statement is a living and breathing manifestation of your future dreams.  Could you use an accountability partner?  I suggest you share your mission statement with other couples.  Find those who are equally passionate about their marriage to join you, or perhaps be a mentor to a couple who wants to take the same journey.  Get together twice a year, review your mission statements, and share how you are or are not realizing your goals.  Make it a double or triple date, share your successes and challenges, and be sure to ask for support.

When should we refresh our marriage mission statement?

Life and marriage are a journey of unexplored roads.  Your marriage mission statement may need to be tweaked when you reach major life milestones such as having a child, changes in career paths, and empty-nesting.  With many couples spending more on their wedding ceremony than they do investing in their marriage, I pray you will take the time to plan for the glorious purpose of your marriage.  What do you want to accomplish with your soulmate?  What do you want your marriage to reflect back into the world?  Your choices will decide!

References

Avvo. (2010). Marriage and divorce statistics. Retrieved from https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/marriage-divorce-statistics

Chapman, G. (2015). The five love languages: The secret to love that lasts. Chicago, IL; Northfield Publishing.

Helmenstine, A. (2017). The chemicals of love: Love chemicals and chemistry of love. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-chemistry-of-love-609354

Parrott, L. & Parrott, L. (2016). Saving your marriage before it starts assessment: Facilitator training manual.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement.  She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose and plans, business, finances, and pre-marital/marriage.  Contact: sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com

What Can You Expect From Your Life Coach?

coaching arrow down pathWhen people think of coaching, they typically think of sports, where the coach provides correction, gives encouragement, and then follows up with feedback as team members practice to improve their performance. Although these types of activities may be led by acting and sports coaches, life coaching assumes that you are the expert of your life, not the coach. The coach’s role is to partner with you to help you assess what is going well in your life and what you want to change.

Step changes in financial well-being, relationships, work, parenting, spirituality, and marriage health are a sampling of areas on which you may consider being coached. Some people come to life coaching clear on what goal(s) they want to pursue such as wanting to change jobs, but they are unsure on how best to move forward. Others come to life coaching with general discontent and question whether there should be more to their lives. Many young adults embark on a journey that aligns with what the earthly world defines as success, yet many years later they question whether they are living out their purpose. The coach has tools to help any client where he or she stands on the continuum of life satisfaction. A few common issues that bring people to life coaching include:

  • My spouse and I are not getting along as well as we have in the past. We’re in a rut and need help getting back on track.
  • I’m a married wife and mother who is getting a divorce and need help transitioning to my role as a single working mother.
  • I’ve been unhappy in my job for years and need a change but am unsure whether my unhappiness is with my specific job, my career, or my company.
  • I’m stressed about not having a work-life balance.
  • I’m a recent empty-nester and do not know what to do next with my life now that my children don’t need me on a daily basis.
  • I’m a freshman in college with an undecided major and need to make a decision on my major and career direction.
  • I’ve been dating a woman for two years and getting pressured for a proposal. I don’t know whether she is the right one or if I want to get married.
  • How can I be a better leader for my family and the people I supervise at work?

What do these situations all have in common? Each person is struggling with a difficult situation or decision. A life coach can help them navigate through the decision-making and goal-setting process which will propel them in a direction of greater empowerment and success.

Although each client and his or her situation are unique, this life coach typically takes a client through all or a portion of the following activities:

  • Assess on a scale of 1-10 your satisfaction in several life dimensions
  • Discuss past and current background content related to possible focus areas
  • Define a vision for your life and specific areas of growth
  • Identify and define future goals that will move towards that vision
  • Brainstorm ways to achieve goals
  • Narrow solutions
  • Develop SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Aspirational and Agreed, Realistic/Relevant and Time-bound)
  • Monitor and overcome obstacles in achieving goals
  • Provide accountability
  • Celebrate successes

If not now whenYou may believe you can take yourself through these steps, but the reality is that in this fast-paced life, we rarely carve out the time and space from daily distractions to invest in this type of personal work. Additionally, we view our issues through our personal lens and can easily get stuck, not seeing all possibilities. Everyone can benefit from a life coach who can provide the needed structure, space, and time to be successful as well as challenge preconceived assumptions and help the client around roadblocks. As Dunbar (2010) states a coach can make a difference in a person’s thinking, beliefs, decisions, actions and ultimately their whole life.

Reference

Dunbar, A. (2010). Essential Life Coaching Skills. New York, NY: Routledge.


144-2 - CopyAbout the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach, consultant, and mentor with an extensive background in business development, leadership, and ministry which provides her with the experience, relational skills, and proven processes to move individuals, couples, and leaders to higher levels of personal awareness, effectiveness, and goal achievement. She coaches in a variety of areas including life purpose/plans, leadership, business, finances, and pre-marital/marriage.