[I have revised and updated this post from a couple of years ago.]
Are your problems like other peoples’ problems?
Have you ever thought to yourself that you were the ONLY one concerned about . . . (name it).
Let’s take a few minutes and look at the 8 biggest problems people face (whether they know it or not). See where you fall out in comparison.
This is not a scientific study**. These are my personal reflections over three decades of serving people. As a busy, involved Life Coach I get lots of questions from clients, friends, and family. They all center around the following eight concerns:
1. Relational Issues. Human beings are relational. Those who aren’t are considered abnormal, and for good reason . . . they are. Men relate to women, women to men, children relate to parents, people to employers, teachers, and government. Everything in life revolves around relationship. Why are so many so bad at them? Relational equilibrium is what Life Coaches help to establish. People sometimes need a new or different perspective on their old habits of relating that aren’t working for them. Perhaps they need a new mental window to look through when they’re communicating with others.
If you want to see shallow, superficial relationships and attempts at “love,” just watch some of the contemporary reality TV programs. The problem with watching them of course is that they have nothing to teach you. Unless you learn from them that relationships need to be other-oriented rather than selfish and self-serving. Who would want a “friend” like some of the people you see on the “Bachelorette” or “Jersey Shore?” I’m hoping these aren’t the new “reality.” If they are, we should add a ninth problem to our list: Shallow Reality TV.
2. Fear of Running Out of Money. Will the money last? Will I have a job tomorrow? Most people are concerned about their income, especially the lack of income. They are concerned about expenses. He says, “She shops like there’s no tomorrow. She can’t possibly wear all the shoes she owns!” She says, “He thinks a boat is more important than renovating our bedroom or kitchen. If it were up to him, I wouldn’t have anything.”
Some have more than enough but worry that they’ll lose it. Others have just enough to squeak by today but are not sure about tomorrow. Some say they don’t care . . . and among those are the truly content and the obviously deluded. Life and death, sickness and health are tied up in these issues. FREE ADVICE: The best place to be in regard to finances is completely out of debt.
3. Health Issues. What happens if I get sick? How will we get by? OR I’m so tired of hospitals and doctors. I’m sick of sickness! How can I keep myself healthy? Many are deeply in debt through no fault of their own and see no way out. Many folks I talk with are ignorant of healthy nutrition. Others have begun to take seriously the way our food in America is raised and processed (for a real education watch the documentary Food, Inc.–you can stream it on Netflix). They are opting in on organic produce and fruits, grass-fed cattle, and free-range foul. Some worry about their health future. There are solutions that do not involve medical insurance. More and more believers I know are taking advantage of group sharing programs like Samaritan Ministries (for those who are disciples of Jesus).
4. Anxiety over Finding or Losing Loved ones. Am I lovable? Will someone care for me? Am I worth caring about? Am I perfect enough? Can I find mister/ms right? Will I ever find someone like . . . ? Love is at the center of most relationships. All but the most dysfunctional people care deeply about finding, keeping, and losing love. Yet no two people can agree upon what “true love” is. Some say there’s no such thing . . . and they have enough broken relationships to prove it. Relational issues in families, between families have escalated since the late sixties, early seventies. I’m not a sociologist, so I can’t give you the reasons for this. What I can say is that the majority of people I speak with or coach desire whole, functional relationships. Others don’t want to pay the price to change. They want the OTHER person to change. Our difficulties are always easier to blame on someone else when we’re too immature to take responsibility for the way we relate.
Abandonment, rejection, and loneliness have attacked every one of us through some relationship. Good reason exists for us all to be love-shy. Yet, people who can’t or won’t love will remain incomplete and dysfunctional. Love is after all what our Creator says we were created for. All the negative experiences are the result, not of love, but of SELF-love.
5. Religious Questions. Is there a God? Or is this life all there is? Are we alone in the Universe? What if there is a God and I’m wrong? Do I end up in Hell or Heaven? What are the requirements? Who’s right? Muslims? Jews? Buddhists? Hindus? What’s the big deal about Jesus? Why are Christians so insistent on Him for everybody? Do we really need religion? These are not problems for some, but for those who deeply examine their lives, they have to come to terms with whether they want to live a Tea Bag Philosophy of life or encounter and relate to the One who claims to be Creator, and lover of their soul. The reason Jesus is such a big deal, the reason that every known religion has had to come to terms with Him is because He claimed a relationship with God as Father. Then he rose from the dead and was seen by over 500 credible witnesses. His followers number in the 10’s of millions. Like Him, they claim that God has “revealed” Himself to them. They experience fellowship with their Father-God. Other religions make claims as well, but of a very different sort. None claims that their God is the God who is Love. No other God has demonstrated that love by reaching out to human beings to bring them into his Household. For this reason, and many others, I’m a Christian spiritual formation Life Coach.
6. Concerns about Death. What happens when I die? Of course, the obvious answer is “You’re dead. It won’t matter to you.” Don’t we just die, go into the ground, and float around as a spirit looking to hang out in a place that was special to us? Most of the cultural views regarding death are based upon a misinformed Epistemology–Most people are clueless about immortality, death, the grave, and what happens after (including, and sometimes most especially, religious people). You can change that. You can know what happens when you die. That’s why beyond the grave books are such hot sellers. That’s why Life Coaches, who also deal with spiritual formation, can bring clarity to many of these issues.
7. Global War. Aren’t we headed toward destruction of the world? Why can’t we just all live together? Why can’t we live at peace? For the same reason that people struggle with so many of these life questions. Most people look only on the surface and refuse to see the invisible, underlying realities that shape our existence. I guess they feel that they can’t impact those unseen things. So now combine misplaced Epistomology with a misplaced Anthropology. War is the result of men who are unsatisfied with what they have (greed) OR of men who think that they have to institute their religious laws on everyone else (religious legalistic totalitarianism). By the way, Christians to not believe they must institute religious laws on everyone. Quite the opposite. They fulfill and satisfied the law in their relationship to Jesus Christ. What do Imean? Take a week and read, then reread The New Testament in the Bible. Then you’ll understand.
Think long and hard over these two causes (greed and religious law) before you’re tempted to move on. The lust of man, the pride of life, and the desires that he can’t control all drive him to take what is not his or want what is someone else’s. He wants to control, to enforce his will upon others. No god offered by other religions encourages freedom or liberty. They can’t. They want to control. The One True God–Yahweh–is the God of freedom and love. A person adopted as His child, is truly free and beloved.
8. Concerns about the Future. What should I do with my life? Where are things headed? Scores of questions abound regarding the future–what it holds, how people are to face it, perhaps leverage it. The future is big business too. So naturally people wonder if it’s OK to seek out fortune tellers, palm readers, psychics, and other practitioners of divination. As a Christian spiritual formation Life Coach, I share God’s view regarding those practices. They open people to demonization by seeking future information from supernatural sources–which God has expressly forbidden (not because He’s a Blue Meanie–but for our safety). I explain that two sources are available for believers to KNOW their intended future, including preparing for unforeseen events. But that’s another post.
The eight biggest problems people voice to me seem to cover most things human. The specifics change, but the concerns seem to group together under one of the eight–relational issues, fear of running out of money, health issues, anxiety over finding or losing loved ones, religious questions, concerns about death, global war, and concerns about the future.
QUESTION: Can you think of any BIG problems I’ve overlooked?
©2011, David C Alves
**MY RESEARCH: Just to give you some context to why I know something about this topic: I’m speaking from tens of thousands of conversations for over twenty-six years as a Life Coach. The questions and concerns people bring to me tend to be repetitive. I also speak as someone who has weathered bankruptcy and am now completely out of dept. I have been divorced and have been happily married now for 32 years in my second marriage. I was lost and have been found. I was rejected and am accepted. I have defeated panic attack disorder and quit smoking and drinking decades ago. All this just to say, I’m not someone who can’t empathize with the people I coach. Character and wisdom come from weathering life’s storms, caring for others, being teachable, and taking sound counsel.
- Life Coaching Tips (womanby1design.wordpress.com)
- Why I Despise “Religion” (davidcalves.com)
- One2One Life and Parenting Coaching, LLC offers Free Parent and Life Coaching Consultations for Palm Beach County Residents (prweb.com)
- Lust, Love, or TRUE Love? (davidcalves.com)
Confession time: I’m 61, a pastor, and I hate intentional exercise! I love exercise that I do not know about. The kind when you just wake up sore the next day and scratch your head thinking—gee, I wonder why I’m so sore? The idea of planning time to go drive somewhere, get into a smelly locker room, get into shorts and sneakers, walk, lift, run, sweat, drink water, back into a smelly locker room, hot, sweating, take a shower and get dressed (a second time now, because I was showered and dressed before I got to my place of exercise) just does not ring my chime. But that’s not all. At the same time, eating habits have to change.
And, everything I used to like to eat had too much fat in it. No matter what I named, Marcy told me it had way too much fat in it. Or too many calories. Of course, those things that I could eat plenty of, rabbits and woodchucks ate.
But about two years ago now, the Lord pointed it out in vivid, unmistakable terms that I was not “fit” for ministry. If revival broke out I would not withstand the rigors of long hours, intense discipleship sessions, leadership coaching, or protracted meetings.
As a pastor, I spent many hours daily sitting–at my desk, in my cars, in waiting rooms, and in homes and businesses. I became convinced that I needed to get hold of my lifestyle and habits or I would continue to be unfit for ministry. Have you ever thought that the revival you’re praying for might not be poured out because you’re unfit and would not survive it? (Just kidding! Don’t go on a guilt-trip here.)
Granted the Apostle Paul said that godliness is the ultimate fitness, nonetheless, he DID say that physical fitness had some benefits. So . . . how did I get started exercising.
First, I confessed my failure to maintain the temple. We all know that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit? My lethargy and physical laxity was sin. Of course, my wife reminded me regularly. I remember thinking: exercise, health-food, that’s just Marcy’s thing. I therefore simply acknowledged it and turned, right? NO! I tried every way I could to get out from under the need to turn, to change. One day, I was praying and the Lord presented this topic to my mind again. I thought Well Lord, when You tell me to, I’ll exercise.
What I did not expect was the answer I heard in my mind: I already did tell you.
There was a long pause. Then I heard Marcy’s voice again in my mind. “You know honey, you need to get some exercise today. You’ve really been sitting a while. I want you around for a few years.”
David, I speak through your wife more than you care to acknowledge.
Second, I asked God to give me the will and motivation to change BOTH my eating and exercise patterns. This didn’t really happen right away. No, instead we got a diagnosis on Marcy. She had breast-cancer. We began to research and pray. The Lord led us to drastically change our eating choices. We needed to strengthen her immune system (the only system God created to heal the body). I wish I could say that I simply CHOSE to eat better. But what really happened was the God had to give me the grace to eat the things that would make us more healthy. I truly could not have given up my ice cream or steak or meats without his grace. And now, we meet people all the time who given the choice between bad health controlled by medications or health supported by healthy choices in food, they choose medicine, doctors, and hospitals (in the form of high-fat, low nutrient foods). I almost couldn’t believe my ears when a mother wanted prayer for her son who suffered from many conditions that could have disappeared completely by going off dairy and meats, but she said she could never do that. WOW!!! Amazing!
Marcy and I have adopted what we see as a biblical menu. We eat vegetables, fruits, and grains. We both include wild fish and I include some lamb (on occasion). By the way, this doesn’t mean that if you aren’t eating as we are that you are on an un-biblical menu. What it means for us is that we have adopted a biblical precedent and example to follow for us (Gen.1:29; Dan. 1:8-16). As far as God is concerned, He gives freedom in the area of eating, however I believe that he had an ORIGINAL intent (Gen.1:29–though I concede that he permits exception following banishment from Eden). So Marcy and I thought, what if eating the way God originally intended could improve our health and well-being. We decided that we at least needed to try if we were going to strengthen her immune system and restore health to us both.
Third, I joined a fitness club. [If you can’t afford it, ask the church to invest in your health in that way (if you’re too timid to ask, email me and I’ll ask for you)]. Make sure the club offers FREE coaching. My trainer taught me a couple of GREAT things: 1. Get started on a walker and on simple routines that build the bigger leg muscles first. 2. DO NOT DO EXCERCISES THAT YOU HATE!! I hate sit-ups? I don’t do them. I enjoy walking and hiking. So that is what I do, either on a treadmill or outside where you can focus on the beauty instead of the pain. Do those exercises and use those machines that you enjoy–did I say “enjoy?” Sorry. 3. Be consistent. I’m still working on this. Honestly, I still work on getting started at all. But I do more now than before. I’m asking for God’s grace. The same grace he gave me to eliminate dairy, meats, and unhealthy foods from my menu. We need people praying for and with us about this. 4. Exercise with someone. It’s always easier to keep up a regime if you know someone else is doing it with you. You can’t find anyone in your circle of pastors or friends? Then join with me in your imagination. Let’s work together to get “fit for ministry.”