If a particular drug is not listed on the formulary — and many are not — the patient is responsible for its full cost. Additionally, the cost won’t count against deductibles or out-of-pocket limits, $12,700 for a family, $6,350 for an individual.
Patients with diseases like cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune diseases are all vulnerable.
While technically these patients will have health insurance, using it may be cost prohibitive because some insurance plans have been structured to penalize the chronically ill, according to some healthcare advocates.
“The easiest way [for insurers] to identify a core group of people that is going to cost you a lot of money is to look at the medicines they need and the easiest way to make your plan less appealing is to put limitations on these products,” Marc Boutin, executive vice president of the National Health Council, told the Post.
But the insurance industry insists that the plans meet or exceed minimum requirements under Obamacare and in order to offer low premiums, carriers must restrict the cost of some expensive drugs. When there are no alternate drugs available, the Post reported that insurers believe “it’s reasonable to expect patients to pick up more of the cost.”
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for American’s Health Insurance Plans, told the Post that the plans being offered under Obamacare are designed “to try to give consumers better value for their healthcare dollars.”
Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, also told the Post that the plans under Obamacare will give many patients access to drugs they couldn’t get before and that exceptions can be made by insurers if more expensive medicines are needed. Insurers are required to respond to such requests within three days.
But insurers are also doing things like limiting quantities of certain drugs and requiring “fail first” protocols that force doctors to try certain drugs first before asking for others, regardless of whether the doctor’s knowledge and experience dictate otherwise. That’s a big concern to doctors who treat the chronically ill.
“2014 is going to be a very scary year,” Dr. Daniel Kantor, a Florida neurologist, told the Post. “People are going to have to stop taking medicines they are already stable on because of this.”
Kantor, who treats patients with multiple sclerosis, added that insurers “are hoping that if they make it inconvenient for people with MS to get treatment, they will leave their rolls.”
As pastors, we tend to like to focus on spiritual things. But God is the Creator of our physical bodies, and it’s in our physical bodies that we live our spiritual lives out before others.
We pastors have a tendency to let our physical health go unchecked, and we have plenty of excuses, such as our busy schedules, our calendar being heavy with meal-centered meetings, and our need to be behind a desk a lot to feed people spiritually.
For every excuse we can come up with to ignore our physical health, there are other pressing reasons to consider it:
Our longevity in ministry can be cut short by poor health.
Our sharpness of mind is affected by what we eat and our activity level.
We challenge others to live healthy lives, so we should set the example.
Our physical energy level rises to the demands of ministry if we’re in shape.
Our bodies are temples too, created by the Master Craftsman and placed under our stewardship.
The Bible is full of health rules and guidelines. I want to remind leaders of just six principles from God’s Word about building a healthy body. When you feel bad physically, it affects everything else. Shakespeare said it’s hard to be a philosopher with a toothache. I’d say it’s hard to be spiritually alert when you’re physically dull, when you’re tired, fatigued or out of shape.
1. Maintain your ideal weight. Scientists know that you have an ideal weight based on your bone structure and your height. First Thessalonians 4:4 says, “Each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” I realize there are many medical and glandular reasons for being overweight and for having weight problems, but the fact is that for many of us, we simply eat too much. You cannot eat everything you want to eat and still maintain your weight. Ecclesiastes 6:7 says, “All the labor of man is for the mouth and yet the appetite is never filled.”
2. Balance your eiet. You need to focus on controlling both the quality and the quantity of what you eat. Do you eat a balanced diet? A hamburger in both hands? I was on a seafood diet—if I see it, I get to eat it. First Corinthians 6:12-13 says, “Everything is permissible for me but I will not be mastered by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will eventually destroy them both.” The point that Paul’s making is that eating is not an end in itself. We eat to live; we don’t live to eat. It’s a means, not an end in itself. And if we get those reversed, food becomes our master.
3. Commit yourself to a regular exercise program. Most of us are convinced but not committed. You know that exercise would be good for you, but committing to it seems hard. First Timothy 4:8 says, “Physical exercise has some value.” In Paul’s day, people were very active. If Paul wrote that verse today, he’d probably change it to say that it has great value. In the New Testament times, people walked everywhere, engaged in a lot more manual labor and ate natural foods. Today, we drive everywhere, live sedentary lives and eat processed junk foods.
How do you know when you’re out of shape? You know you’re out of shape when you feel like the morning after and you didn’t go anywhere the night before. You know your body is in trouble when your knees buckle and your belt won’t. You know you’re in trouble when you see your friends running and you hope they twist an ankle. You know you’re in trouble when you breathe harder walking up a set of stairs than you do when you hold your sweetheart’s hand.
The key is training, not straining. If you want to get in shape fast, then exercise longer, not harder. Commit yourself to a regular exercise program. The fact is, your body was not designed for inactivity. You were made to be active. Even a daily walk will make a difference.
4. Get enough sleep and rest. Psalm 127:2 says, “In vain you rise up early and stay up late.” The Living Bible says, “God wants His loved ones to get their rest.” Rest is so important that God put it in the Ten Commandments. He said every seventh day, you should rest. Jesus, in Mark 6:30-32, insisted that His disciples take a vacation. Make sure you’re budgeting your time wisely. Make sure you get enough rest and sleep.
5. Reduce or avoid drinking alcohol. Ephesians 5:18 says, “Don’t get drunk with wine, which will ruin you. Instead be filled with the Spirit.” Health-conscious consumers are sobering up America. There’s been a dramatic change in America’s drinking habits. A growing number of Americans are beginning to view alcohol as unhealthy or downright dangerous. It’s not surprising industry-wide sales are dropping. These are not religious people. These are just people who are concerned about their health. And for some surprising statistics about alcohol, see this infographic.
6. Live in harmony with God. Proverbs 14:30 says, “A heart at peace is life to the body.” Our emotions have a tremendous effect on our physical health, just like our physical health has a tremendous effect on our emotions. You cannot fill your life with guilt and worry and bitterness and anger and fear and expect to be in optimum health. A heart at peace gives life to the body. If you feel bad, it affects every area of your life. It’s a part of stewardship. Your body is a gift from God. What are you going to do with it?
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
Geri Scazzero, author of The Emotionally Healthy Woman: Eight Things You Have to Quit to Change Your Life, offers insight on her life and why she wrote the book.
Q. What inspired you to write The Emotionally Healthy Woman?
A. It wasn’t so much a “what” as a “who.” I would never have written the book without my husband, Pete. He’s the writer in our family, and, after I began to articulate the eight “I Quits” that are the basis of the book, he was the one who said I had a book in me. The Emotionally Healthy Woman reflects our effort as a team from beginning to end.
It reflects what we both discovered on this missing aspect of spiritual formation. In addition, I have been blessed with a wonderful extended family who has given me a tremendous legacy for which I am eternally grateful. Without that legacy, I never would have had what it takes to quit living a life that was damaging to my soul.
Q. Speaking of quitting, you actually walked into your husband’s office and announced that you were quitting the church that he pastored! That must have taken amazing strength and determination. How did you ever summon the courage to take such a bold and unconventional step?
A. It was certainly no small decision and it didn’t happen overnight. I had been making feeble attempts to get him to pay attention to what was going on with me for years. I wanted him to see how tired I was and how frustrated.
Eventually, I reached the bottom and arrived at that place where I was so miserable I didn’t care what anyone else thought of me. I just wanted out. There is an old saying that a person who has nothing left to lose becomes the most powerful person on earth. I had become that person.
Q. The subtitle of your book is Eight Things You Have to Quit to Change Your Life. Could you give us a brief glimpse of what those eight things are?
A. Certainly. Quit being afraid of what others think. Quit lying to yourself and others. Quit dying to the wrong things. Quit denying anger, sadness and fear. Quit blaming. Quit over functioning. Quit faulty thinking. And, lastly, quit living someone else’s life.
Virginia Satir once observed that most of us live inhuman lives because we try to live by unhuman rules. The purpose of these eight “Quits” is to allow us to drop those unhuman rules and start living by God’s real rules, not the ones we’ve mistakingly assumed He wants us to live, not by, but up to. By quitting these eight practices, we open the door to allow God in so that He can begin doing a mighty work in our lives.
Q. One of the quits you mention is the need to quit lying. Christians don’t normally think of themselves as liars. Could you elaborate a little on what you mean by that?
A. Of course we don’t think of ourselves as liars because lying is so deeply ingrained in our culture we rarely notice it. But we actually lie all of the time. We lie with our words. We lie with our bodies. We lie with our smiles and we lie with our silence. And we think nothing about any of it because everybody else does it, too.
Here’s an example of what I mean: A neighbor asks you to take care of their dog while they go on vacation. You hate the dog because it barks all the time and keeps you up at night and the last thing you want to do is tend to its needs. But helping your neighbor is the “Christian thing to do,” so you plant a fake smile on your face and say, “Of course. We’d love to.”
You’ve just lied and, in all likelihood, it never once registered in your mind that you were lying, or, if it did, you considered it a “little white lie” and thereby legitimized it. But the truth is that God’s beautiful plan has always been for us to live in truth. Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples, then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” The degree to which we become willing to live in truth becomes the degree to which we live in freedom.
It really is simple. And, for most of us, that first step means we have to stop lying to ourselves. I warn you, though, in the beginning, when you quit the lying, it will feel like death, but it’s the good kind of death because it leads to resurrection and life. When you quit lying, it will ignite your spirituality, remove false layers and reveal the true self God has planted within you. By God’s grace you will become one of the freest people on earth.
Source: CHARISMA NEWS.
Geri Scazzerois a popular conference speaker for church leaders, married couples and women’s groups. A master teacher and trainer, she also serves on the staff of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York City, a position she has held for 25 years. Her newest book is The Emotionally Healthy Woman.
Spaeth notes that both higher temperatures (from hot soups, for example) or more acidic foods can encourage melamine to contaminate food, especially in older or low-quality kitchenware.
The new Taiwanese study included 12 healthy men and women who ate hot noodle soup from either a melamine or ceramic bowl. Urine samples were collected from the participants for 12 hours after they ate the soup.
Three weeks later, the participants consumed the same kind of soup, but the type of bowl they used was reversed. Urine samples were collected again.
Total melamine levels in urine for 12 hours after eating the soup was 8.35 micrograms when the participants ate out of the melamine bowls versus about 1.3 micrograms when they ate out of ceramic bowls.
“Melamine tableware may release large amounts of melamine when used to serve high-temperature foods. The amount of melamine released into food and beverages from melamine tableware varies by brand, so the results of this study of one brand may not be generalized to other brands,” a team led by Chia-Fang Wu, of Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan, wrote in the study.
They added that it’s not yet clear what effect all of this might have on human health. However, prior studies have linked chronic, low-dose melamine exposures to an increased risk for kidney stones in both children and adults, the researchers said.
The study was published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Would melamine absorbed into the body via food cause harm? According to Spaeth, “There is little human health data to adequately characterize the risk such exposure poses.”
However, he says, “Studies of melamine toxicity in animals indicate that ingestion can cause kidney stones, kidney damage, and may induce cancer.”
Spaeth says that since scientists really have no clear idea as to the level of the danger, if any, it is “not unreasonable to try and reduce one’s exposure [to melamine]” by avoiding using melamine-containing kitchenware.
He adds that the same advice would apply to other plastics chemicals suspected of causing harm to humans, such as phthalates and bisphenol-A.
“Avoid storing food in these products, and avoid putting these in the microwave to heat food,” Spaeth advises.
The most notorious episode involving melamine occurred in 2008, when the chemical was found to be widespread and at high levels in milk and baby formula fed to babies in China.
Over the last week, there has been much in the news that Plan B and similar products that use the drug levonorgestrel do not work in women who weigh more than 176 pounds and have a decreased effect in women who weigh more than 165 pounds.
“The reported average weight of women over 20 years old in the United States is 164 pounds. The average weight of women in college is 155 pounds. Taller girls have ideal weights that pass the 165-pound threshold where Plan B stops working effectively,” says Jim Sedlak, vice president of American Life League (ALL). “So, does Plan B actually reduce unintended pregnancies?”
Sedlak points to a UPI story from Nov. 30. In it, a senior medical director of the Planned ParenthoodFederation of America, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, said, ”We’ve all been disappointed that on the population level, it just hasn’t had the effect we hoped. … The unintended pregnancy rate hasn’t changed at all.”
According to Sedlak, this means that older teens and college students have ingested these massive doses of hormones with adverse side effects for more than 15 years—hormones that do not work for average college girls and most high school students.
The most common immediate Plan B side effects include menstrual changes (26 percent), nausea (23 percent), abdominal pain (18 percent), fatigue (17 percent), headache (17 percent), dizziness (11 percent) and breast tenderness (11 percent). All this for a pill that is known to be generally ineffective for its intended use and that may have undiscovered risks in long-term use, Sedlak says.
“Will Planned Parenthood put women’s health before profits?” Sedlak asks. “No. Remember, with Obamacare, the girls will not have to pay anything to get this ‘contraceptive product.’ Even though morning-after pills do not work most of the time, Planned Parenthood will happily collect millions of dollars from taxpayers and employers to distribute them.
“ALL has always been opposed to Plan B because, when it works, it causes living human beings in their embryonic stage to die. This new information is just another reason such drugs should be taken off the market completely.”
Every husband and wife fight, but that is okay. In fact, healthyconflict in marriage can strengthen a marital bond. Unhealthy conflict, on the other hand, can hurt a marriage.
When couples use sarcastic humor, criticize each other, and fail to resolve arguments in a mature and calm manner, they begin to build up a wall in between the two of them. They each hide on their respective sides of “the wall” so that the other person can no longer hurt them. This kind of conflict will destroy a marriage.
On the other hand, healthy conflict seeks to understand your spouse and resolve issues in a way that respects each other. Understand that healthy conflict does not mean perfect conflict. There will be days where you and your spouse fire the opening canons in World War III, but that does not mean you have failed.
Not only is healthy conflict achievable in every marriage, it is crucial for a lifetime of love with your spouse. These five tips teach you how to fight fair.
Don’t underestimate the power of self-control.
Think of the way you feel when you start to become angry, whether it is because someone cut you off in traffic or your spouse left dirty underwear on the floor for the fifth time this week. Your blood pressure rises, you feel your muscles start to tense, and your voice amplifies. Everything in your body prepares to defend itself, and you inform your spouse of their disgusting habits with the use of choice words.
And why shouldn’t you? Since the days of Freud we have been told that repressing your emotions is harmful. Therefore, if you feel angry, you should not let it build up inside, right?
At the peak of your anger, you should take a step back and breathe. Remove yourself from the situation, physically or mentally. In the heat of the moment, you can say words or behave in ways that you will later regret. Take some time to cool down. A few hours later, assess the situation and consider the most mature way to handle the situation.
Second, Watch Your Words
Words are the most harmful of all weapons.
As mentioned in the first tip, in the heat of the moment most people speak words that they later regret. In marriages, one spouse may even threaten divorce in the middle of a fight! Once you say something, you cannot take it back. Furthermore, your spouse may always remember the hurtful words you said which may lead to damaged trust and intimacy in your relationship. A moment of fleeting satisfaction is not worth the years of pain that may follow.
Third, Repair the Damage
If both couples are in the middle of a never-ending, downward spiral fight, it will only worsen if they continue. A repair attempt needs to occur. Repair attempts are when one spouse notices damaging conflict and strives to move towards healthy conflict. Apologizing is one of the most commonly recognized repair attempts. However, creative attempts exist such as the delicate use of humor, yielding to the other’s wishes or wants, or taking a time-out from the disagreement and setting a time to come back and finish the discussion when both parties are calm.
When couples fight, they rarely argue about what really upsets them. Buried under the mask of conflict lies a core issue. A spouse may feel extremely disrespected in many ways, such as when financial decisions occur without their knowledge or when the majority of household chores are left to one spouse. The issue is not the money or the chores; it’s respect. During Marriage Helper’s workshop for marriages in crisis, one method we teach couples to find the core issue is to ask, “What really hurts?”
After identifying core issues, take time to compromise. One solution could be placing a hamper right next to the bed for dirty underwear, having monthly budget meetings, or assigning household chores. Preventing the sources of conflict before a fight can occur leads to a healthier and happier marriage. Be creative and compose a plan that works for you, your spouse, and your specific conflict.
Fights can be mentally and emotionally draining. You may be sensitive in the hours or even days following intense conflict. It is important to take time to recover from the fight. Things will not automatically go back to normal, and a short readjustment period follows. Engage in calming activities. Go for a run, take a bubble bath, or do something that will clear your mind and regulate your emotions. Make sure your spouse understands that you are no longer angry, but just need some time for yourself.
Fights with your spouse are no fun, but remembering these five tips will teach both of you how to fight fair and perhaps fight less.
Many professionals can help you if your marriage is in trouble. We will help. Please click herefor more information, call us toll free at 866-903-0990 or email us at info@JoeBeam.com.
For instance, at the young age of 53, Paul Terkeltaub learned he had Alzheimer’s. Now he’s beginning his long good-bye.
“Because that’s what this is like,” he said, holding back tears. “Is, just having to deal with this, where you see yourself slipping every day. And that’s the hardest thing to deal with.”
Forgetting: ‘Absolutely Terrorizing’
He sees Alzheimer’s as much more than just losing your keys or missing an exit. It’s visiting someone’s home for the hundredth time and not recognizing a thing.
“And it may only take you five seconds to get back on track to figure out where you are and begin to straighten things out in your mind,” Paul said, speaking from experience. “But that five seconds is absolutely terrorizing.”
Paul retired early to enjoy his remaining years with wife Marcy, his high school sweetheart.
“I’ve always been the one to take care of her,” Paul said. “And it’s going to be tough to face the fact that I won’t be able to do that at some point in time.”
Marcy said she and Paul are facing life with as much courage as they can muster.
“We’re just living our lives day by day and I kind of don’t think about the future,” she said.
A Disease with No Survivors
Paul and Marcy hope a cure will be discovered before it’s too late for them. But they’re discouraged because so little is spent on Alzheimer’s research: only $500 million a year.
Compare that to $6 billion for cancer research, $4 billion for heart disease research, and $3 billion for AIDS research.
Dr. Dave Morgan, who heads up a leading Alzheimer’s research facility, called the reason Congress allows so little for Alzheimer’s flat-out age discrimination.
“They say, ‘Oh, that’s old-timers disease. Who really cares about these old folks?’” he said.
Plus, celebrities with other diseases bring attention and support for what they’re going through.
You don’t really see that with Alzheimer’s.
“The problem is, we have cancer survivors who are going out and talking to people, and they’re telling people how the research is so important to them,” Morgan said. “In Alzheimer’s, we don’t have survivors.”
A Drain for Medicare?
Even though Alzheimer’s hits its victims and their caregivers the hardest, the cost hits us all, and it’s going to get worse.
This year more than $200 billion will be spent treating our 5 million Alzheimer’s patients. And as Americans age, the number of Alzheimer’s patients is expected to hit 16 million by 2050, along with $1 trillion a year in medical costs.
“We need to spend more money at the federal and the state level on Alzheimer’s research,” Morgan said. “That’s the only way we’re ever going to avoid having this disease completely decimate Medicare. I mean it won’t even survive until 2030.”
Hope Through Diet
Although there’s no cure or effective treatment for Alzheimer’s, scientists say our everyday lifestyle choices can make a big difference.
Studies show diets high in sugar raise your risk of Alzheimer’s.
Also, seniors who ate lots of trans fats had smaller brains, one of the hallmarks of the disease, according to Dr. Gene Bowman, the lead investigator of a study conducted at Oregon Health and Science University.
“We know that in Alzheimer’s disease that the brain shrinks at an accelerated pace as the disease and pathology spreads to certain parts of the brain,” he explained.
“But if you have a larger brain and more brain tissue you might have a reserve to handle that pathology better,” he added.
That same study found that seniors with the largest brains ate diets high in vitamins B, C, D, E and Omega-3 fats.
Coconut oil may also help prevent Alzheimer’s. It reportedly reversed the symptoms in hundreds of patients, to the degree that the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute is now conducting the first-ever study on the effects of coconut oil on Alzheimer’s patients.
“At least up until this time all we can say is there’s anecdotal information that it may be beneficial,” Morgan said. “There hasn’t been any kind of research study that’s been done and so we really can’t know for certain.”
Finding Real Hope
So while nourishing your brain may help, challenging it can, too.
For instance, people who speak more than one language have lower rates of Alzheimer’s. Doctors also recommend doing crossword puzzles and other brain-teasing games.
They also advise staying mentally engaged in life, like working.
In fact, a recent study found that those who delay retirement decrease their risk by four percent each year they stay on the job.
Physical exercise helps, too. Mounting evidence suggests that raising your heart rate for at least 30 minutes several times a week can make a huge difference.
Even with all this knowledge, the real hope for beating Alzheimer’s is to find a cure or effective treatment.
Belief can make the difference for a life in transition. During difficult times when an individual must prioritize their health, a spiritual or religious faith can ease tensions, boost attitude and support overall improved health. Research strongly suggests that individuals with religious and spiritual beliefs cope better during their battle with cancer.
Prayer also leads to optimism, reduces stress and can bolster the immune system, studies say. According to a Women’s Heath Initiative study conducted by the U.SNational Institute of Health, those who regularly attend religious services reduce their risk of death by 20 percent. In the book God Changes Your Brain, Dr. Andrew Newburg found that those who pray and meditate have a highly developed parietal lobe, which improves memory and improves wellbeing. An article in Critical Care Clinics states that prayer is the second most common form of pain management, next to oral medicine.
Because of these and other findings, increasingly, the medical community seeks to boost health by understanding and encouraging practices of belief. Tapping into strong spiritual practices and beliefs during a health care threat are the “X factor” in many cases of survival. Therefore, one cannot and must not ignore the profound opportunities that spiritual beliefs bring to the table of hope.
Part of my work with Our Journey of Hope (OJOH) is to encourage the use of faith or religious or spiritual practices to promote wellness and facilitate an infrastructure of clergy and others with strong spiritual beliefs to provide a network to help patients and their families to restore health.
OJOH is a seven-hour training session for pastors and lay members to equip them with the tools and ideology to empower them to address and respond to the needs of individuals who are dealing with cancer. We teach caretakers as well. They are empowered by the belief that they, too, have access to a source greater than themselves to call upon for strength and help.
Our program was created by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) largely because of a suggestion from a patient and her husband. They asked if I would be willing to meet with local clergy persons that they knew for an informal discussion on cancer care and support from a faith perspective.
The importance of OJOH to the treatment centers continues to position the organization as one of the leaders in the health care arena. We truly value and encourage the faith community to marshal the strength of its value system to fight back against cancer.
I have seen the power of faith and communities to change the lives of patients struggling with cancer. Thirteen years ago, Gloria fell into a coma. Family members asked if I would pray for her to regain consciousness. Soon after I prayed over her, Gloria opened her eyes and indeed regained consciousness. She is still living 13 years later.
A faith or spiritual belief assures cancer patients that it is possible to live through challenging health threats, regardless of the odds of long-term survival, and overcome the challenge. We don’t disavow science. However, those who rely on science alone often wrestle with the limitations of humanity’s knowledge. God has no limits. Faith and a spiritual belief are not rooted in limitation.
The best part of my work is providing a platform for genuine discussion for a topic that typically is ignored. The church and faith community in general lacks health care-related ministries organized in a meaningful way to address the very relevant issues surrounding this community of people. OJOH has equipped thousands to broach the subject of cancer with confidence and fearlessness. We have the opportunity to provide a meaningful relationship with pastors and their members concerning health care.
Ultimately, faith and spiritual beliefs equip individuals with the mental and emotional fortitude to withstand the travails and challenges of treatment and forge ahead in the effort to keep cancer at bay by tapping into a “power source” greater than themselves.
With engaged spirituality and informed clergy, caretakers and family, we can support all patients as they brace themselves to live their lives, overcome obstacles and seek hope in their darkest hours.
Written by Percy McCray
Rev. Percy McCray is a national faith and wellness leader, ordained minister and the director of pastoral care at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Ill. He leads a dynamic program called Our Journey of Hope, which trains lay minsters and church members nationwide on how to implement faith and spirituality into care for cancer patients and their families to battle the debilitating effects of the disease.
When it comes to ministry leadership, I don’t focus on trying to motivate other people. I worry about motivating me, and if I’m motivated, it will be contagious.
This is true in any area of ministry. Your duty is not necessarily to motivate others. But if you stay motivated, people will catch your enthusiasm. They will catch your vision.
1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (NIV). I spend most of the weeks of the year preparing to preach multiple services on the weekend, plus writing and all of the other speaking opportunities that come along. I have to continually come up with material that is fresh and powerful and practical and witty and useful in people’s lives—and that’s a burden, but I manage to stay motivated.
This list isn’t deeply theological—it’s just practical, usable advice.
1. Put your plans on paper (or on screen).Dawson Trotman said, ”Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and the fingertips.” If I can say it and I can write it down, then it’s clear. If I haven’t written it down, then it’s vague. A lot of us go around with anxiety that is this free-floating, vague fear that I’m not getting it all accomplished. Just the very fact of putting it down, a lot of times, gives credence and relief to your mind and you’re able to focus on it.
2. Break big tasks into smaller tasks to remove excuses for not starting. Some tasks are way too big to be chewed on all at once, but you can tackle them like you would eat an elephant—one bite at a time. When you have a big goal, a big event or some big project going, break it down into smaller tasks, and take them one at a time.
3. Decide how you want to start. Ask yourself what needs to be done first. If your goal is to make more phone calls and personally invite more people to your church, you probably need to start by writing down the names of people you will contact. Decide what your first simple step will be.
4. Establish checkpoints in your progress. Tasks are best accomplished when they have a date attached to them. And today, there are plenty of mobile apps for making lists with reminders built in.
5. Know the difference between “I can’t” and “I don’t want to.” Be honest with yourself. Sometimes that means you’ve got to get tough. It was Ben Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac who first said, “There is no gain without pain.” Most of what’s done in the world is done by people who don’t feel like doing what they’re doing, but they do it anyway. Successful people have developed the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t feel like doing.
6. Remind yourself of the benefits of completing the job. Often in ministry, things become routine and repetitious. In a given week, you may be doing 20 significant tasks that you repeat every week, only to start over again. How do you prevent the feeling of mundane from setting in? You remind yourself of how it’s going to feel when you’re done.
7. Do a small part of it right now. When I have a big topic or task I need to accomplish, I just say, “I don’t want to do this, but I’ll give it five minutes.” I sit down, and after I get going in it, it’s not as intimidating. Once you’ve gotten the rocket off the launch pad, it gets so much easier. I’ve written some books. Books are overwhelming, but I give it five minutes. Every book that I’ve ever written, I sat down and wrote, “My next Book, by Rick Warren.” Sometimes you just have to start.
8. Be optimistic. I have found this to be so important in accomplishing large amounts of activities and projects and programs. Optimism creates energy. The person who says “I can” and the person who says “I can’t” are both right.
9. Establish an action environment. When you prepare messages, you need an environment where you can focus on the task at hand. I have my own study area both at home and church. Kay has her own study area too, so we don’t fight over them any more. We have two desks in one room. I clear everything off the desk when I’m going to study because I don’t want to focus on anything else. Success comes from focusing on one thing at a time.
10. Avoid places where distractions occur. I don’t do any of my sermon study at the office. The walls are thin there, and I can hear everybody having a good time outside, and I’m a party animal. I want to have fun! I don’t want to be sitting studying. I want to be out there with people. So I have to study at home to keep myself from having a great time with all these people I love at the office. And they appreciate it too! Then they get their work done.
11. Know your energy patterns and take advantage of peak times. Some of you are morning people. Some of you are night people. Have you learned that at some points in the day, you are brighter than at other times? There are times when you’re habitually at your best. The only people who are at their best all the time are mediocre people. You need to know when your body clock is geared toward maximum performance so you don’t waste maximum performance on secondary tasks. If your peak time is 10 to 12 in the morning, don’t read your mail from 10 to 12. Save those kinds of tasks for other times, like at the end of the day. Or if you’re not good in the morning, read it then. When you are good, make that your time for your ministry time and your preparation.
12. Use the stimulation of good news to do extra work. Somebody will tell me something great that happened, and it’s like God shoots another shot of adrenaline in me. All of a sudden, I’ve got a little extra bounce in my step, and I try to channel that into ministry.
13. Recognize when indecision is causing inertia. A lot of procrastination is not really procrastination; it’s indecision. For a lot of pastors, their weekly struggle is, “What am I going to preach on this next week?” which is one of the reasons I preach in series. I only have to make that decision six or seven times a year. “For the next six weeks, we’re going to talk about culture.” Try to lengthen those decision-making periods out. Identify your choices, and choose one. Don’t let it sit around.
14. Use visible reminders. Use Post-it notes or the lock screen on your phone to remind you of the big things.
15. Give yourself room to make mistakes. I give myself the right to make mistakes on any project that I’m doing. Perfectionism produces procrastination. Perfectionism paralyzes us. If it’s worth doing, do it—whether you do it perfectly or not. There are very few things in this world that are perfect.
16. Don’t set goals you don’t expect to reach. That’s because there’s no motivation in them.
17. Enlist a partner. If you’ve got a big task to do, always get a partner. Get somebody else to help you out in your ministry. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes, “Two are better than one, and a threefold cord is not easily broken.” If you’ve got a big task and it’s up to you, you’ll probably procrastinate. But if you’ve got somebody else and can say, “We’re going to meet and get this thing going,” you’re more likely to get it done.
18. Keep reading to increase your skill. If I find myself having a hard time being motivated in some area of ministry that I’m called to do, I get a book or magazine that covers that area. If you have a hard time recruiting people to your ministry, go get a book on recruitment and read it. If you’re having a hard time delegating responsibility, get a book. Remember that leaders are readers and leaders are learners. There are no great leaders who refuse to learn. And learning sharpens and motivate you to accomplish your next goals.
Written by Rick Warren
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
On that sunny afternoon, as my husband and I took a fitness walk along a row of car dealerships, I never dreamed we would be cruising home in a brand-new red Saab convertible. The car just seemed to fit the day. After all, this was Southern California, where sunshine and fancy cars abound.
It is also a place where many judge you by what you drive. Of course, we already owned a prestigious foreign convertible, but it had become a real headache with its never-ending expensive repair bills.
As we negotiated with the Saab salesman to purchase the car, we abandoned the idea of a trade-in because of the tremendous loss we would have had to take on the market value. Besides, we had driven my husband’s car that day, and the problem car was at home. We would just have to sell it on our own.
After several hours of waiting while the salesman repeatedly checked “with the manager in the back,” we drove off into the sunset basking in the exhilaration of having purchased a new toy.
It took only a few days for us to face the sobering reality that we now had three cars to insure and maintain. Plus, the monthly note was so huge that it rivaled the note on a rental property investment!
It took us much longer to sell the headache car than we had anticipated. We finally admitted that we had made an emotional purchase. We had bought the Saab out of frustration with the old car plus a desire to maintain a certain image.
I take no pleasure in sharing this story. In fact, I experienced a great deal of guilt over the transaction because I am a certified public accountant and am assumed by most people to be frugal with myfunds.
My husband is also an astute financial manager. Even though we have never made a purchase we could not afford, emotional transactions simply do not reflect good stewardship of the moneyGod entrusts to us.
After a year, we sold the car and invested in a single-family home, which ultimately yielded a handsome return. God graciously redeemed our mistake.
Unfortunately, the Saab was not the last of our emotional spending.
The problem with an emotional purchase is that it doesn’t eliminate the emotion that motivated it, nor will it bring any lasting satisfaction. Isaiah the prophet asked, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (Is. 55:2, NIV).
Spending to pacify an emotion is like being given an anesthesia but never getting the required surgery; you get temporary relief, but the problem remains.
I did some honest soul-searching about the car acquisition and concluded that many of my purchases emanated from my basic personality temperament. As a hard-driving, goal-oriented person, I found that my acquisitions were a way of saying, “I’ve made it.”
I wanted to be recognized as a success without having to say a word. After all, I abhorred braggarts, egotists and others who openly exhibited pride because of their possessions.
Having counseled singles, seniors and soulmates—and having observed their spending habits—I have concluded that everyone must come to grips with their emotional view of finances before they attempt to master the mechanics of money management. I can lecture until I’m blue in the face about the importance of having an emergency cash reserve or contributing the maximum amount to the company’s matching retirement plan or getting out of debt. But despite my admonitions, a single overriding emotion can cause anybody to abandon sound financial judgment.
Here are seven emotions that may cause you to spend in an unwise manner and some ways to deal with them:
1. Stress. ”You deserve a break today,” declares the popular McDonald’s fast-food slogan. If you are constantly confronted with stressful situations, you do need to find relief—but not through spending.
My husband and I purchased a 32-foot cruiser boat with the hope of finding relief from our stressful schedules. The boat show was held at the marina, so we experienced on the spot what it would be like to chill out on our own boat. Just the thought of leisurely weekends cruising around Southern California’s harbors was enough to seal the deal.
It wasn’t long before the boat itself became a source of stress. Whoever said, “The two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day he purchases it and the day he sells it” was right!
In my book 30 Days to Taming Your Stress, I list 30 ways to address stress, including controlling your finances, setting boundaries, exercising, releasing unrealistic expectations, delegating, saying no and a host of other actions. There are numerous choices available to you to reduce stress—other than spending money!
2. Anger. Shopping may help you work off a little steam; however, if you peel your anger onion, at the core of it you may find you are angry with yourself. Perhaps you tolerated someone’s bad behavior, failed to speak up, put yourself at risk, disappointed God or indulged in a number of other regretful acts.
Before you run to the mall, get in touch with why you are feeling the way you do and deal with the root of the issue. Repent, if necessary, or confront the people involved.
If face-to-face is not possible, then write a letter expressing how you really feel about what has happened and what changes you desire. Ask God to give you His words and His wisdom so that you can be direct, honest and godly in your approach.
3. Boredom. Television and Internet shopping companies thrive off the boredom that drives buyers to indulge their fantasies. The best way to combat boredom is to invest time in meaningful diversions that move you toward your goals or make life better for others. Here are a few suggestions:
Take a crafts class or other class of interest at your local community college. They are usually low-cost and short in duration and are a great way to meet new people with common interests.
Host or teach a class at home on a subject of interest to those in your circle of interaction.
Volunteer with a church or other charity to visit nursing homes, hospitals, orphanages or shelters. I used to get great satisfaction from just combing the hair of elderly people who never received any visitors. The staff will welcome your support, and the patrons will never forget your act of kindness.
Keep a supply of blank notecards. Send a word of encouragement to someone who needs it (for example, your minister, a college student, a mom with small children or someone who is ill). Helping others is personally rewarding and usually requires little more than your time.
Even if your expenditures seem to be minor, beware. Those frequent discounted purchases can really add up.
Anne, a receptionist, visits the 99 Cents Store when she is bored. She rationalizes that her spending is relatively harmless since the items cost so little. She doesn’t want to face the fact that her regular $5 to $10 purchases exceed a few hundred dollars during the course of a month.
Remember that boredom spending is just a temporary cure. The thrill of the purchase will fade in record time, and then you’ll need another fix. This vicious cycle is sure to keep you in a financial pit.
4. Depression. Recall the last thing you purchased with the hope that it would cheer you up? Did it? If so, for how long?
I know I’m treading on sensitive ground here, but if you are depressed, it may be because you have become the center of your world; you have focused all your attention on how things are affecting you. If you dare to step out of the spotlight and shine it on someone else, you’ll find amazing results.
See the list above for possible activities that may refocus your attention. Also, consider getting a psychological evaluation by a medical professional.
5. Insecurity. When you are unsure of your inherent worth as an individual, you may buy things you think will impress others. One of my counselees, Lucy (not her real name), drives a pricey BMW but cannot afford to go out for Sunday dinner even at an inexpensive restaurant.
“I want a car that’s a good investment,” she lies to me and to herself. The truth is that her entire self-worth is wrapped up in sporting the car around and being admired for owning it. It is her only asset besides her clothes.
If you are like Lucy, ask the Holy Spirit to give you the courage to stop living a lie and to begin spending at your affordability level. Value the intangible assets that you bring to the table such as a sense of humor, integrity, dependability, perseverance and so forth. Don’t be like Haman, the insecure Persian official who needed the king’s horse, the king’s robe and association with a noble prince to feel honored (Esth. 6:7-9).
Rather, adopt the mindset of the Proverbs 31 woman: “She perceives that her merchandise is good” (v. 18, NKJV). This woman was not dependent on outside validation; she knew inwardly that her merchandise (what she brought to the table) was good.
6. Frustration. Thwarted plans, unmet expectations or other unfulfilled desires can send you running for mall therapy—unless you have totally embraced the truth of Isaiah 14:27: “For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart Him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” (NIV).