I really didn’t want to go. I had some serious anxiety toward marriage counseling and complained the whole drive over with my wife. I thought it would be a waste of time. Boy, was I wrong.
- Ganged Up. I was expecting the female counselor to gang up on me and take my wife’s side every time. She didn’t. She was remarkably fair and equally called us both on some of the unhealthy ways we were interacting.
- Warm Fuzzies. I was expecting a lot of talk about our feelings and very little action. Instead, we had homework after ever session and very specific practical things to work on.
- Taboo. I thought I would feel embarrassed for going to counseling but instead I found a tremendous amount of pride in manning up and taking responsibility. I shared about my experience with my friends often and encouraged them to try it out.
- Broken. I assumed counseling was only for broken couples but as I gained more and more tools from our counselor I realized counseling is what healthy couples do. I started getting a vision for not just a good marriage but something more. What would a truly satisfying, inspiring, and great marriage look like?
Healthy couples go to counseling.
I’m convinced of it. In any marriage, it is inevitable you will come to a conflict one or both of you do not have the tools to navigate through. For Laura and I, this was the birth of our first son, Lincoln. He was a terrible sleeper, so we were up every hour. You place sleep deprivation alongside a flood of newly realized selfishness and this is a recipe for disaster. We made it through, but after numerous 3:00am fights, we found ourselves standing in the rubble of a lot of hurt feelings. We knew we needed help.
We’ve now made it a habit of going in for a check up every 5 years whether we need to or not. If we ever approach a conflict again that we don’t know how to get through, we view counseling as a viable resource. We share our story with our friends all the time as a way of explaining marriage takes work.
Men, your marriage can be great. Don’t settle for good. Man up. We all need a lil help. Make the call.(1) You’ll be pleasantly surprised. It will be worth it.
1. If you need a counselor reference in the Seattle-metro area, let me know and I can provide a few options.
What is God’s purpose in the set backs, mistakes, and conflict of our life?
I’ve been doing a lot of guest speaking lately. (Five different churches in a couple months) Also, over the past 13 years I’ve spoken at two public High schools, countless camps, and retreats. Currently, I’m on staff at a large church that occasionally offers opportunities. The following are a few lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1. Dance To The Music Being Played. A couple weeks back I used a illustration of playing poker and got about half way in when I realized it was falling flat. Grandmas were folding their arms and wearing blank stares. I should have done my homework. Ahead of time, try your best to understand the type of crowd you’ll be speaking to. Are they up tight and traditional? Are they young and have a good sense of humor? Are they predominately young families or singles? Put their faces and needs in your mind as you prepare. Make sure to include illustrations and applications that make sense for who you’re speaking to.
2. Present What’s Been Proven. I’m sure I’ll have some disagree with me on this but in guest speaking, I only use material I’ve used before. The reason is, I think it’s an incredible opportunity I’ve been given and therefore they deserve my very best. I typically tweak and polish the proven message in order to improve it and make it fresh for me. (There’s nothing worse than being bored of your own message) I keep the untested messages for my own congregation. They love me enough to be the ginny pig.
3. Keep It Encouraging. I’ll include challenging elements in my messages but overall I concentrate on encouraging the congregation. This doesn’t mean it sounds like an excerpt from Chicken Noodle Soup For The Soul but it does mean I know my place. They don’t know me and therefore won’t be as likely to accept correction. Also, I don’t ever want to give the Pastor who gave me the opportunity to share a bunch of fires to put out when he returns.
4. Stick To Your Time. The tendency in a guest opportunity is to try to do too much. Also, the most common mistake of communicators is they don’t end when they should. Keeping to the time you’ve been given shows you’re well prepared. It also shows you are respectful of the people listening as well as the other things planned for the service. This builds credibility with the leader that invited you and you’re much more likely to get asked back. I always practice out loud and time myself at least a couple times before hand. Less is more in guest speaking.
5. Don’t Believe The Hype. In a guest opportunity I’m most likely filling in for someone that speaks every week. That means they only have a week to prepare (1) while I had several weeks or even months. When I receive compliments and even comparisons after the service I try to keep this in mind. Frankly, my message should be better than their Pastor’s because I’ve had a whole lot longer to prepare. This reality check keeps me from pride and arrogance.
Here’s a few more quick tips:
- Bring your media with you on a data stick in addition to sending it ahead of time.
- Show up early, wave to the pastor letting him know you’re there and check in with the tech booth. Then join their prayer time if they have one.
- Fit into a message series if possible.
- Include the current vision or emphasis of the church into your message.
- Learn names quickly (especially the guy handling your sound)
1. Don’t forget all the other responsibilities a pastor has beyond merely speaking.