God Tracks

One of the things I enjoy about snow is what it reveals. While animal tracks on a hard-packed trail in the summer may not be readily visible, in the snow all is revealed.

I remember hiking not far from home just as the first light snowfall ended. Because the snow was so freshly fallen, I could tell which tracks were fresh. Not far from the trailhead, I picked up the tracks of a deer. A little farther along a couple of coyotes joined the trail.

I continued to follow the trail and take in the story it told. After a while the two coyotes veered off the trail into the woods. But imagine my surprise when a bit farther along I saw the unmistakable paw prints of a cougar stalking the deer. Believe me, I continued my hike with a lot more vigilance from that point on!

Before long, I came to a spot in the trail where the cougar had clearly caught up with the deer and had taken it down. A deer-sized swath was plowed through the snow into the woods where the cougar had dragged its kill away.

On another occasion, I followed some rabbit tracks in the fresh snow. Then suddenly, the tracks ended. At that spot, there were signs of a brief struggle and the imprints of an owl’s wingtips where it had swooped down to grab its supper. It is truly amazing the stories that soft, fresh snow reveals.

As I was hiking again in the snow the other day, I was amazed at all the different tracks I saw: deer, moose, rabbit, turkey, grouse, coyote, raccoon, squirrel, and badger. Most of which I’d never have seen without the aid of the soft, impressionable snow.

And then I began thinking about our hearts. It occurred to me that a hard heart, resistant to the impressions of God, may conclude that God has not been present. But a heart softened to him and pliable to his touch will have plenty to show and tell of God’s grace and presence in that life.

Consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:15, “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”

Any one of us is capable of developing a hard heart that repels rather than receives and displays the tracks of God in our lives. May we continually humble ourselves before him, worship him and thank him for his presence and work in our lives!

Dare Mighty Things!

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt 

There’s something about that quote that stirs me to the core of my being! Who wants to “rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat”?

The problem is that people get stuck. Behavioral patterns for a day, soon become those for a week, and then a month, and then a year, and so forth. Suddenly, a person wakes up one morning realizing they’re no further along than they were 10, 20, or 30 years before.

That’s tragic!

The definition of insanity: “doing what we’ve always done, yet expecting different results” has become merely a cliché. We glibly acknowledge its truth, but don’t act on it.

Stop! No, really! We cannot continue doing the same things we’ve always done and expect different results!

But we’re afraid. We’re cautious. We’re careful. We reason that our hesitations are prudent and wise, only to discover that perhaps we too “rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

As we embark on 2015, perhaps you find yourself living too much “in a gray twilight.” What characterizes your life, your relationships, and your pursuits? Do you find that you “neither enjoy nor suffer much?”

If so, coaching may be just the leverage and impetus you need to dare some mighty thing. This is one of the things I love about coaching; it leaves no one in that “gray twilight,” but challenges, empowers and equips to “dare mighty things.”

How about it? Give coaching a try in 2015. Call, text or email me to get started meeting with your personal coach.

Rob Fischer

 

Proud to Be a Vet!

Rob militaryFrom 1972 to 1975 I had the privilege of serving in the United States Army. I had not planned to serve in the military, but when I received my draft notice I had no regrets or hesitation. I counted it an honor to serve my country.

Since I was going into the Army anyway, I decided to enlist for a third year. The Army trained me as a German linguist and stationed me in Berlin for two years. Berlin was still an occupied city 200 km behind the Iron Curtain in East Germany at the time.

While in Berlin, on two separate occasions, German men saw me in uniform, approached me and warmly shook my hand thanking me for being there to help protect them from the threat of Russia. Those men, who had lived through WW2, were extremely grateful to the US and for our presence. Never have I been more proud to be an American!

As is often the case, my military training in German became very useful back in civilian life. And some years later, my wife and I headed to Austria to serve as missionaries. In Austria, time and time again, the WW2 generation expressed their gratitude to me as an American for what our country had done for them.

One Austrian man told me with tears in his eyes that he, his mom and brother would not be alive today had it not been for the Americans who fed and clothed them following the war. He said the first time he ever tasted chocolate was as a gift from a US soldier.

An Austrian woman reflected on the post-war days with fondness for the generous and respectable way that Americans treated her and her family. She added that other nations were raping and pillaging, while the American GIs protected, fed and cared for them. Again, my chest swelled with pride to be an American!

As we celebrate another Veteran’s Day, remember the values and Christian character that have guided us as a nation and as men and women in the Armed Services. We have a strong moral heritage to live up to as we represent our great country throughout the world. May we continually seek God and His favor. God, please bless America!

Rob Fischer

 

Clearing the Fog around Coaching

The term coaching is thrown around a lot these days, but with a wide variety of meanings. I’d like to generate a little wind to try to clear away the fog around coaching!

In order to look at coaching simply, let me suggest that there are three primary types of coaches: the skills coach, the mentor coach, and the professional coach. All three types of coaches are valid and helpful within the bounds of what they’re designed to do.

The Skills Coach

Sports coaches, personal trainers, voice coaches, and real estate coaches fall into this category. These coaches are generally trained in a specific skill in which an individual wishes to improve. The skills coach may or may not have had any training in coaching skills. Their singular expertise qualifies them as a coach. We can improve in any sport, or other highly skilled activity by engaging a skills coach.

Characteristics of skills coaching include:

  • Heavy instruction
  • Highly directive, coach-led
  • Narrow focus on a skill
  • The individual submits to the direction of their skills coach
  • Usually a formal arrangement

The skills coach says, “Do it like this…”

The Mentor Coach

Mentor coaches have generally built up years of experience and expertise in some field of work that qualifies them to coach. We find mentor coaches frequently in business in many different professions and disciplines. Mentor coaching is typically not a profession, but more of a service. Usually, a mentor coach is a veteran showing a junior person the ropes of their profession. A mentor coach may or may not have any training in coaching skills and requires no certification.

Characteristics of mentor coaching include:

  • Moderate instruction
  • Moderately to less directive, coach- and individual-led
  • Usually a targeted focus
  • The individual defers to the direction of their mentor coach
  • Can be either formal or informal arrangement

The mentor coach says, “Do what I have done…”

The Professional Coach

Professional coaches often refer to themselves as life coaches, executive coaches, leadership coaches and the like. These are professionals trained in the competencies of coaching and become certified when they demonstrate mastery of those competencies.[1] Professional coaches are unique among coaches in that their skills enable them to coach others proficiently in a wide variety of life and work issues.

Characteristics of professional coaching include:

  • Open-ended questioning
  • Non-directive, client-led
  • Focuses on the client’s agenda
  • The coach empowers the client to self-direct
  • Formal arrangement

The professional coach asks, “What would you like to achieve?”

The key difference between professional coaches and skills and mentor coaches, is that the professional coach prompts and empowers the individual to direct their coaching experience. This creates an entirely different experience for the individual.

With skills and mentor coaches, the individual is fairly dependent on them for direction and instruction. With a professional coach, the individual is challenged to delve into untapped personal resources.

Also, the skills and mentor coaches are usually interested only in what goes on in the individual’s life as it pertains to the skill or proficiency at hand. The professional coach is trained to uncover hidden obstacles to success in the client’s life.

For instance, a client may want to set and be held accountable for a lofty business goal. In the coaching process, the coach helps the client discover through questioning that there’s a rift in the client’s relationship with their spouse. The client realizes that this rift will undoubtedly impede the client’s progress toward their goal. So the coach assists the client in determining how to repair that relationship and meet their goal.

In this way, professional coaching is a holistic approach for empowering an individual to grow and develop in any area the individual desires.

I am excited to be among the ranks of certified coaches! I love coaching, because I enjoy helping people grow and excel at life.

My clients have included business owners, pastors, church planters, missionaries, entrepreneurs, and professionals in: real estate, engineering, finance, transportation, construction, property management, pharmaceuticals, sales, health care, information systems, telephony, and insurance.

How about you? What big goal would you like to set and hit? Where are you feeling stuck? What obstacles are you facing that are preventing you from reaching your goals? What transitions are you experiencing right now? What relationships would you like to significantly improve? Where are you in your walk with Jesus Christ? What’s tugging at your life that you’d like to change or improve?

Contact me. I offer a free, 30-minute, introductory coaching session with no strings attached. Try coaching out and see if it’s for you!

Rob Fischer



[1] The International Coach Federation has identified 11 core coaching competencies that a professional coach must be able to demonstrate in order to be certified. See: http://coachfederation.org/credential/landing.cfm?ItemNumber=2206&navItemNumber=576.

Reaching Out to the Post-Abortive

In his book, Making Abortion Rare, Dr. David C. Reardon argues that it is not the rights of the unborn that will finally put an end to abortion, but the rights of women.

This line of thinking may fly in the face of current pro-life strategy, but it makes perfect sense when you consider how horribly abortion hurts women. This is not to minimize in any way taking the lives of the unborn. But it’s the women who are suffering the aftermath of an abortion who we still have with us and can testify to the damage abortion has inflicted on them.

The pro-abortion camp says they are defending the rights and interests of women. Meanwhile, countless women are suffering unrelenting grief, remorse, shame, and a myriad of physical problems resulting from their abortion. Abortion hurts women and defies their rights.

Dr. Reardon writes, “Soon the abortion industry will find that it can no longer hide the fact that the only way to kill an unborn child is by maiming and traumatizing the child’s mother.”[1]

The author argues that the best way to end abortion is by extending compassion and healing to post-abortive women. By exposing the horrible damage of abortion on women, abortion will become unthinkable.

My heart goes out to these women. They’ve been deceived and forced into making a choice that will haunt them for the rest of their lives, often resulting in self-destructive behaviors of all kinds. Click here to hear one woman’s story.

We recognize that the healing, forgiveness and redemption these women long for can only be found in Jesus Christ. In response to this great need to demonstrate and communicate Christ’s love and forgiveness, and with a view to ending abortion, I’m excited to announce the launch of a new organization: Abortion Anonymous or AbAnon.

The mission of AbAnon is to offer free assistance in a safe environment to those in need of healing and recovery from the pain or emotional impact caused by abortion. Please click here to visit our website. I invite you to watch the video on our home page and to poke around. Navigate to the “Join Us” page and please consider donating.

My good friend and spiritual partner, Perry Underwood, is the founder of AbAnon. I serve as a charter board member of AbAnon. Our long-term prayer and goal is not only to provide post-abortive women (and men) healing and recovery from their abortions, but also to see the end of abortion in our country. Won’t you join us?

In Christ,

Rob Fischer

www.AbAnon.org

See also www.ChangetheShame.com



[1] David C. Reardon, Making Abortion Rare, (Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 1996), p. viii.

Are We Comfortable with Evil?

In Mark 5, we read the account of Jesus and His disciples crossing the Sea of Galilee and landing in the region of the Gerasenes. There, a wild man possessed by demons met Him. This man lived among the tombs, apparently wore no clothes, and would cry out loudly night and day and cut himself with stones.

In the past, those who lived in the area had tried to bind this demon-possessed man with chains to subdue him. But with demonic strength, he tore the chains and irons apart. Unable to restrain him, the people eventually gave up trying and simply resolved to live with their problem.

“When he [the demon-possessed man] saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!’” (Mark 5:6-7)

Perhaps for the benefit of His disciples and other witnesses, Jesus asked the speaker of that plea what his name was. The demon, not the man, replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” I think Jesus wanted His listeners to understand that it was the demons, not this man, who feared torment from Him.

Jesus cast these demons out of the man and permitted them to invade a herd of pigs that was grazing nearby. The pigs, crazed by the demons, rushed down a steep slope and into the lake where they drowned. “Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened.” (vs. 14)

But when the people arrived where Jesus was and saw the man who had been possessed by demons, “sitting there, dressed and in his right mind,” they were afraid and pled with Jesus to leave their region. These people had grown accustomed to the evil among them and when Jesus eliminated that evil, they became very uncomfortable with Him.

I wonder if there is evil in our lives or in our environment that we were initially repulsed by, but have grown accustomed to. So now we tolerate it. We’re content to let the evil haunt our neighborhoods and cities. Every once in a while we’re aware of its wild cries and intent to harm, but we largely ignore it and accept it. We’ve become comfortable with evil.

What about the pigs? The issue with the pigs bothers us. The loss of these pigs is tragic and unfortunate. But Jesus didn’t cause their demise, the demons did. Jesus stood up against evil and healed this man. Satan tried to diminish this victory and steal it away by his stunt with the pigs.

Whenever we stand up against evil, the evil one will seek to discredit us by slandering our character, or bringing about some ancillary, negative consequences in an attempt to blame, discourage, or distract. Jesus humbly and patiently bore that slander.

This story has a great ending. As Jesus was climbing back in the boat to leave, the man He had healed begged to go with Him. But Jesus said, “’Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.” (vs. 19-20)

©2013 Rob Fischer

Improving Self-Awareness

In the previous post we began investigating emotional intelligence in leaders. We noted that emotional intelligence seems to impact the performance of an organization more than any other characteristic of the leader. Therefore, leaders want to improve their emotional intelligence.

Daniel Goleman describes emotional intelligence in terms of four major competencies: Self-awareness, Self-management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. In this post we’ll look at some ways we can improve our self-awareness.

Self-awareness describes our capacity to honestly assess our own abilities; read our emotions; and recognize how we are impacting others around us. In terms of increasing our capacity for self-awareness, there are perhaps two primary hurdles. We all struggle with one or both of these hurdles.

We can depict the first hurdle as a brazen attitude that frankly does not care what others think or how they react to us. This attitude may be necessary under severe circumstances enabling a leader to make unpopular decisions when something monumental is at stake. In such cases, people forgive the brazen attitude of the leader because of a transcendent cause under extenuating circumstances.

Another way to look at the effects of the brazen attitude is that people are not necessarily objecting to our message, but to our method of delivery. Under normal circumstances, leading with a brazen attitude is destructive and counterproductive. The leader who generally operates with a brazen attitude, but wants to improve their emotional intelligence, must admit the need for and desire change.

Often when a leader operates routinely with a brazen attitude, uncaring how he or she impacts others, they’ve resigned themselves, “That’s just the way I am.” Such a response is a cop-out and abdicates responsibility, which are not qualities of good leadership. The brazen attitude is a proud attitude and will eventually take a leader down.

Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

The second hurdle is far more common among leaders. We are simply unaware of the impact of our words and actions on others. But our naivety can get us in trouble. It’s one thing to be unaware that we are ignorant. But if we knowingly continue in our ignorance, we become fools.

The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives. (Proverbs 18:7)

The path for improvement in self-awareness for both the brazen and the unaware begins with humility. We admit that we need to change and want to change. And because the nature of the change that we want to bring about is relational, we must use relational means for improving. These relational means include: good role models, coaching, practice, and feedback.

We observe other leaders modeling strong interpersonal skills. And with the help of a coach we design strategies, goals and measures for improving those skills. Then we practice, both with a coach and in life with others and we collect feedback on how we’re doing. The process can be quite simple, but it’s not easy!

Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves. (Proverbs 11:17)

©2013 Rob Fischer

A Key to Personal and Professional Growth

Andy Stanley, author of Next Generation Leader and national leadership guru explains the importance of coaching to take you where you want to be. He says, “You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching. It is impossible. You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be.” 

That may seem like a bold statement, but consider this, if we could make the changes that we all need to make and do so without the input of others, wouldn’t we have done so already? What’s holding us back?

Whether we’re in business or ministry, ultimately our work is all about relationships with people. So it makes sense that the best way to increase our relational influence with others is by relational means. That’s where a coach comes in.

Leaders must take initiative, own responsibility, problem solve, make decisions, and influence others to get things done. One of the reasons that coaching is such a powerful tool for developing leaders is that coaching naturally calls upon the leader to exercise and stretch his/her ability in those areas.

A core tenet of the adult learning process is that “people don’t argue with their own data.” In other words, people are far more likely to follow through with and succeed at goals that they generate as opposed to taking someone else’s advice. Coaching strives to help the leader design their own goals, solutions, action steps, and accountabilities. Coaching works.

Unleash your potential with the help of a coach!

Click here for more information.

Thanks,

Rob Fischer, Leadership Coach

 

Are You Coasting?

Have you ever felt like you’re coasting in life? I have. I describe coasting in life as: a phase in which we find ourselves complacent and unmotivated. We’re content merely to rely on our past efforts. And the worst part is that we’re comfortable with that.

Coasting requires no effort. We’re simply “going with the flow,” following the path of least resistance. In the coasting metaphor that path is always downhill. We’re on a descent usually to something undesirable and often to something not honorable.

I’m not talking about a brief rest from our labors to recharge. The coasting I’m talking about is deceptively tempting because it’s so easy. Coasting is momentary pleasure at the expense of past effort and future advancement.

Coasting deceives us into thinking that we’re simply maintaining. But coasting has a way of using up very quickly any summit we had gained. The heights we may have struggled to achieve, we so rapidly lose when coasting.

When we are coasting, we are not in control. Gravity is. We are yielding to other forces that pull us downward. And we willingly allow it. Coasting may feel fun and rewarding at first. This is part of its deceptive lure.

A truism of all coasting is that we eventually come to a standstill. We run out of “hill” as it were and find ourselves immobile at the bottom. This is not a good place to be if we want to go somewhere and achieve something worthwhile.

Solomon, incredibly rich and powerful, could have easily succumbed to coasting. Instead, he challenges us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:23-27 NIV)

Paul, as an old man and chained in a Roman prison, could have easily given up and coasted. After all he had accomplished so much for God’s Kingdom. Yet he urges, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NIV)

  • What challenges are you currently facing?
  • Where is your life out of balance?
  • In what areas would you like to experience greater fulfillment in life?
  • What dream for your life would you like to see realized?
  • What significant goals would you like to pursue?
  • What is God calling you to?

Never give up! You’re not alone. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

 

© 2013 Rob Fischer

Comrades in Arms

Comrades_in_Arms_Cover_for_Kindle

I’m excited to announce the publication of my new book, Comrades in Arms—The Power of Pursuing Christ in the Company of Other Men.

A comrades-in-arms or spiritual partnership is one of the most powerful, yet most neglected means for deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ. Proverbs 27:17 instructs us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (NIV)

All through Scripture, we see the examples of spiritual partnerships between men like David and Jonathan, Jesus and His disciples, Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas, and Paul and Timothy. Especially from the pattern of Jesus and the apostles we recognize that God did not intend for us to follow Christ alone. We not only experience huge gains in pursuing Christ and His character with others of His followers, we also recognize that apart from such spiritual partnerships we cannot grow into all that Christ desires for us.

Perhaps some are skeptical of the claim that spiritual partnerships are necessary for growth in Christ. But don’t take my word for it! The Scriptures explain that an ever deepening relationship with Christ is God’s design and will for us as His followers. God’s Word also reveals that this growth in Christ resulting in a transformed life is a “team sport”, not achievable on our own and with great gains for all engaged.

Paul explains that by ourselves we are in danger of remaining like “infants” in our walk with Christ. “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15-16 NIV)

Maybe you’re thinking, “Great, here’s one more thing I’m supposed to do!” On the contrary, when we recognize the huge gains that God gives us in spiritual partnerships to grow more quickly and fully in Him, we gladly seek out such relationships. We do this both for our benefit and for that of others. “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT)

Over the past eleven years, spiritual partnerships have impacted my life in Christ significantly. When we combine God’s Word and prayer with spiritual partnerships, God’s Spirit leverages His Word and prayer in profound ways in our lives! “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.” (Colossians 3:16 ESV) And, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16 NIV) Why wouldn’t we want to team up with another follower of Christ for this kind of impact?!

The book, Comrades in Arms, focuses specifically on spiritual partnerships for men. In the book you will discover:

  • Five reasons why spiritual partnerships are vital for our spiritual transformation!
  • The causes of our neglect of spiritual partnerships and how to beat them!
  • Five winning characteristics of spiritual partnerships!
  • How to boldly challenge each other from God’s Word!
  • Numerous practical examples for conducting spiritual partnerships!
  • Four simple steps to launch your own spiritual partnership!

Additionally, each chapter concludes with questions that promote thoughtful discussion to stimulate growth in a spiritual partnership or a small group setting.

Also, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be launching my book at the Iron Sharpens Iron Men’s Conference here in Spokane on Saturday, April 20th. Then on Saturday, May 4th, I will be presenting a Comrades in Arms workshop at the same conference in Boise, ID. Please pray for these men’s conferences and for the men who will attend. May the Lord perform His life-changing work in their lives!

A Bold Request!

I believe that God will use this book in a powerful way in the lives of countless men and the families they represent and influence. But I’ve got to get the book into the hands of men. Would you please help me in the following ways:

  1. Purchase a copy of Comrades in Arms and read it yourself. You can either follow this link to purchase or go to Amazon.com.
  2. After reading the book, please go to Amazon.com and write a review of the book.
  3. Buy one or more copies as gifts to give to other men (Father’s Day is coming).
  4. Invite me to your church or men’s group to provide a free, interactive workshop on spiritual partnership.
  5. Host a book signing at your church or special event.
  6. Recommend Comrades in Arms as a study guide for men’s small groups at your church.
  7. Most importantly, please pray that God will impact men’s lives through the book as they launch their own comrades-in-arms relationships.

Thank you!

Your brother in Christ,

Rob Fischer

 

©2013 Rob Fischer