The Missing Ingredient to Healthy Discipleship?

The way we are discipled will correlate into how we disciple others… Who’s discipling you?

That is one of the most pertinent things that has ever been said to me. It was at a time when I had hit a roadblock in my ministry and was struggling personally. I had been working so hard taking others on their faith journey that I had not taken the time to invest in my own journey. The fact is, if you and I want to make an eternal impact on our own family and the people God has called us to disciple, it is imperative that each of us has someone who can invest in our faith journey. Or to put it another way:

Everyone needs a Paul in their lives as they look to invest in the Timothy’s in our lives. 

Helping Hand

It does not matter how old or experienced we are, we all need to look up to a ‘Paul’ in our lives who has the time to invest in us. I already have a few great guys who have invested in me, but if I am honest, my life and schedule has taken over recently. It’s time to create space and time in my schedule to make more time to be discipled.

As you look for people to disciple you, what should this look like? Here’s what I am looking for: 

1. They are available and have the TIME: We live in a fast paced world. Some of the most Godly men and women are ineffective because of one foundational deficiency: They are simply too busy. For you and I, I would seek out those people who are good time managers or have more time on their hands. Some of the best people to disciple you are in their retirement years because they have more time and will MAKE time for you. I know it might be awkward asking an older guy or gal to meet with you at first, but you will be blessed if you do so… Who at your church or in your community is strong in their faith and has TIME?

2. They help me dig into God’s Word and prayer: Years ago when I lived in the UK,  I met regularly with a guy called Chris who studied the Bible with me. I will never forget his passion, his knowledge, and the basic bible study skills he gave me. The way I personally study the bible and the way in which I help others study is because of Chris. What are you learning and what are you passing on? Who can you dive into God’s Word with? Who is praying for your each week?

3. They can speak into my family life: In a previous church, I sought out a guy who taught a number of the family and marriage classes. After a few coffees with him, I asked him to look out for me and gave him permission to check in with me about my family. To this day, even though we have both moved, ‘Bob’ has sought me out and checked in to see how we are all doing. We have had dinner with him and his wife many times and they have been a huge support to our family. We are learning from them in so many ways and are incredibly thankful for the Godly wisdom they provide. Despite the distance, Bob is someone who I trust to know what is best for my family.

4. Ask them to look for areas of weakness: I have always made it a point to seek out Godly leaders around me as a way to grow and glean from them. On the odd occasion, leaders like this will offer to help in some way where they see a need in my life. Years ago, a guy named Dan could see I was struggling as a young leader and offered to meet with me regularly so he could help me become more assertive and confident as a leader. I’ll be honest, at first it stung to hear that he could see I was lacking in a tender area of my life. Yet, after I gathered myself up off the floor from my crying, I agreed to meet with him. Dan was right about what he saw and I needed his advice… Who are are you letting in to speak truth into your life?

Sometimes the hardest thing to do as a leader is ask someone to look for areas of weakness and allow them in to help you…

Remember this key: The way I am being discipled with impact the way I am discipling others. It does not matter how old or wise I think I am, I am always going to need to have a ‘Paul’ in my life to disciple me, as I look to disciple the ‘Timothy’s’ in my life.

Who in your life is the ‘Paul’ for you? Who is helping you to grow as you invest in others? 

Phil <><

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Hanging in for the Long Haul of Ministry

Ministry can feel like climbing a huge mountain at times can’t it? When I first started out things seemed so simple… If you are like me, while ministry is exciting and fulfilling, you have also come to realize that ministry can be challenging and overwhelming at times.

What began as clear-cut becomes confusing…

What began as a blessing can feel like a curse at times…

Just like a stranded rock climber, it’s easy to get worn out, we feel confused and disoriented, and we have lost sight of all the beauty around us…

Rock Climber

So, how can we avoid getting to this point? How can we refocus and rediscover the passion if we already feel this way? Here are 4 essential keys I live by.  These keys in essence have become my personal ‘home base’ to come back to… Read more

Living with a Healthy View of Fear with C.S Lewis

Facing Fear

The settled happiness and security which we all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the world: but joy, pleasure, and merriment, He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not that hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and oppose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home. C.S Lewis. 

I love this quote by C.S Lewis from The Problem with Pain. So often we go through life making it our goal to make our path easy and our burdens light. However, that’s not real life. If you have been around for a while you will already know that “there always seems to be something to worry about,” or “life seems to have a way of throwing curveballs our way.” This is a reality of living in a fallen world. This is the reality we must face. Instead of trying to eradicate fear, it’s essential we hold onto our faith and trust in a God who is mighty and powerful and knows us by name.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

As you go through your day, consider how God is looking to draw you close to Him in the midst of fear. Today you can face your fears knowing that God will strengthen you and help you through it.

What are you afraid of? Face it with God today! 

Phil <><

 

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Is it Time to Change Things for the Sake of Your Kids?

This week I read an astonishing article about a prominent businessman, (Mohamed El-Erian, pictured below), who quit his career after his 10 year old daughter gave him a list of 22 milestones that he had missed as a result of his demanding investment career.

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As I read the article I was sad to hear that it took a little girl to spell out to her dad just how much he had missed. On the other hand, I was impressed that this man had put his daughter first and made some crucial decisions.

As I read further, I started to compare myself to this man and wonder how my list would line up against his list. While I had not yet missed some of the milestones he had, I started to consider that there are many times when my kids miss me because I am not fully present even when I am at home…

Our kids miss us when we are not fully present at home… 

In a world where we can be connected to technology every minute of the day, it’s easy to interrupt crucial family times, dinners, and milestones. While it’s easy to compare myself to a businessman who has missed so many milestones, it’s important to examine my own habits and hang ups as a parent. I have to admit, switching off when I am home is something I am working on every day.

What needs to change for the sake of your kids? If you are married, what does your spouse need more of from you? How is your career impacting your family? What boundaries need to be created in your home to ensure that your kids get the best of you?

Phil <><

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Perspective Provides Purpose

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14

fall pond

Recently I went back to my hometown in the UK to see my mother.

Just over a year ago she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She has deteriorated quite quickly since. While she still knows who I am, there will come a day when she no longer can grasp simple realities.

As I spent time with her, I cherished simple conversations and made the most of asking questions that her longterm memory still allows her to recall. There were questions I had never thought to ask before, and things I knew I needed to say while we still had precious time together.

Spending time with a parent who is slowly deteriorating certainly has a way to bring things into perspective.

So, here is a question I leave you to consider: 

If you knew your time on earth was limited, what would you do differently? Why not start today? 

Phil <><

 

 

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5 Priorities for Families in the New Year

Family PrioritiesI’m not one to make new years resolutions. Most of my previous new years resolutions have been made new years eve, or on new years day!

If you are like me, I have not been good at keeping resolutions since there is no plan or follow through.

So, rather than create a resolution that I am likely not to keep, I would rather create some evolving priorities that are easy to remember and return to throughout the year.

Here are 5 easy to remember (and crucial) priorities that we can plan and implement this new year:

1) FAITH: The foundation for a healthy family is for everyone to be building a foundation of faith based on God’s priorities. While this is easily said, so often the busyness of life takes over and a healthy devotional life and God centered priorities get edged out. The new year is a great time to start a new bible reading plan, or a devotional study. For me personally, it’s more about creating a new place and space in my life for my quiet times. Having moved houses in the last month, it’s imperative that I establish a new habit and find a new place (and time), where I can ‘hide’ away.

When is your best time to focus on your faith walk? Where can you hide away? What will you read / study this year?

2) FAMILY TIME: If your family schedule is anything like ours, it can often feel like we are barely treading water at times. So often family time, date nights, and meals together get added in AFTER everything else. I am convinced that every family will benefit by quality AND quantity time together. So often I hear people try to convince me that quality time is enough. I am still not convinced.

Healthy families need QUALITY AND QUANTITY time together.

3) FITNESS: Personally, this has been an area of struggle for me that I have had to work on over the past few years. However, it seems like every year for the past three years, I have added in some new habits and lost some bad habits. Staying in shape is challenging, but the mental and physical rewards are worth it. As a husband, father, and pastor, I have seen a positive correlation in my leadership when I am staying in shape. My energy levels are higher, my awareness is greater, and I am able to get up earlier in the morning to focus on my quiet times.

All it takes is one step at a time to make fitness a priority. Start with some small steps and work your way towards a healthier you.

4) FINANCES: A healthy financial focus is a significant key to families being content. It’s not even so much about having more money, it’s about doing better with what God has given us. When we can see that God is the provider of all our needs, (and our resources are not our own), we can take a huge step to financial contentment. When we develop God’s heart for for finances we can be sure He will bless us as we give generously and spend wisely. What is God calling you to do with your finances this year?

5) FUN: While this priority might not seem to deserve to make this list, let me explain why it should. In our increasingly busy world that is incensed with success and notoriety, I am seeing many husbands and wives losing the joy of marriage and parenthood. Busyness is creating a society of stressed out parents and kids who have lost the wonder and awe that life is waiting to provide. This year, as a family, I encourage you to create some experiences that allow you to regularly laugh and play together. What could your family look like if you were to laugh and play together more?

Well, there’s 5 priorities I am taking seriously this year. What stands out to you? What has worked for you in the past?

Phil <><

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New Year and a New Blog from Phil Bell

New Year 2104Do you ever feel like it’s time to start over?

Have you ever sensed a change in direction and felt compelled to follow a new plan?

This new blog is a reflection of some significant changes that have taken place in my life over the past year…

For my regular readers to youthworktalk.com, you know that back in September I started a position in a new church as Pastor of Family Ministry. Given all the changes in my ministry, moving house, and the Christmas season, I felt like it was right to pause writing until I could focus effectively.

Over the past few years God has been calling me to ministry to the family in greater ways and has opened many doors locally and nationally in the family ministry arena. While youth ministry is still a natural and normal focus for me, there are so many other things I want to talk about and discuss with my readers. Given the specific youth ministry focus of youthworktalk.com, I felt the need to ‘start again’ with a new blog that would allow me to focus on three broader areas:

This blog is committed to discussing Faith, Family, and Leadership, (and yes, I will still be covering youth ministry topics).

FAITH: As someone who is a pastor in the local church, it’s my hope to address issues in our culture and provide a biblical faith based answers to some issues everyday people are facing. From addressing issues in our society, to talking about personal growth and transformation, I hope to inspire people to deepen their faith while also looking at the world through a biblical worldview.

FAMILY: I am passionate about the family and I live and breathe to see families find a solid faith foundation that is reflected in everyday living. My hope is that I can share ideas and insights that will help families succeed in greater ways. From personal reflection and ministry experience, I hope to share simple and effective ways to help build solid families.

LEADERSHIP: What our world needs desperately is strong and authentic Christian leaders who are able to provide hope and direction to the people they lead. Sadly, we are surrounded by many poor leaders in our society today and in particular, our young leaders are growing up not knowing how to effective lead others. It’s my vision to discuss ways in which we can lead with greater effectiveness.

Well, that’s a start. Happy New Year to you and I look forward to discussing some great issues in the coming year!

Phil <><

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