5 Simple Keys to Protect and Prepare Yourself in Ministry Business

And Be Ready to Better Serve Others

All I wanted to do was make a difference. Help others live a better life. One filled with hope, encouragement, and inspiration. One of assurance: that they are, or at least can easily become, all they were meant to be. I want to help them find their greater purpose for living, but…

I got into a little trouble. I’ll tell more about that after sharing how I got to that fateful day.

At every event, no matter the topic I present, people repeatedly said–and still do to this day–that they have a desire to make a difference as well. Somewhere, in some capacity, and even with little knowledge or resources, they want to help others too. Which always fuels my desire for what I do.

I want to help them make their mark. And I want to help you make yours.

I expressed my passion by writing, first for friends, church members, then newsletters, and finally articles and books. I increased my involvement in training, teaching, and speaking for audiences that were growing in size.

Eventually, expenses started piling up and a little income trickled in. That’s when I stumbled into business with a greater intent and higher good. Although my educational degree is more in line with social and spiritual training, I grew up with a father who was an entrepreneurial small-businessman. Therefore, I knew something about business.

I did my best to honestly keep track of all transactions involving money. Even sought a C.P.A. to make sure I was doing it right. But then that fateful day came.

A huge packet from the I.R.S. arrived in my mailbox.

I freaked. That’s putting it mildly. I panicked. Couldn’t breathe. And had thoughts of asylum in South America. A fugitive in my native land. I felt so ashamed. Guilty for no apparent reason.

You see, I was being audited!

Me? The one who only wanted to do good, and help people.

And by the way had always kept immaculate records of everything I did, more on the overkill end than the slacker side of detailed records. I wasn’t trying to dupe anyone, not even the government. So, why me?

I’ll tell you why in a minute.

If you’re like me and want to help others and have expenses and income—no matter how big or small—you might need to know how to do a few things to protect yourself.

Don’t worry. I’ll help you and guide you through the steps I went through to make my life and service to others pain free—at least as it relates to the I.R.S., business stuff, and growing a ministry-business, or a business with purpose.

First of all, when that packet landed in my hands and I was able to catch a breath, I skedaddled my stunned self to the C.P.A.’s office. I needed advice and NOW!

Hence my smarter self began learning. The C.P.A. said, “Freelance speakers and/or writers are a group that is frequently audited.” Yes, that’s the reason I was picked on. I hadn’t done anything wrong and didn’t need to run hide in another country or anything. He also told me what to do to potentially call off this heat and ease my mind. And if you’ll do these same things it will not only keep you safeguarded, but will also help to build and grow your impact. At the least it will give you peace of mind. And that’s a huge asset for anyone!

5 Simple Keys to Protect and Prepare Your Ministry-Business and Yourself

  1. Keep Detailed Information

    I had to go back more than five years to the records, receipts, etc. Very important to keep details about each transaction so you’ll know what you did as well as prove to anyone else what you did.

  2. Understand Business Proof

    You know your intent in your ministry-business, but no one else does unless you tell them. The C.P.A. told me it was my job to prove my intent of conducting business. No matter what your greater good or purpose is, you must prove your business intent. Remember exchanges of money means business.

  3. Open a Dedicated Banking Account

    The business funds are kept separate from personal funds. Not only does this aid in keeping better records of transactions, but it also is more proof that my effort is a business.

  4. Create A Business Plan

    For further proof of your business intent–and quite possibly the best proof, you’ll need a business plan. It’s a simple document detailing your plan for your service and business. This same document when completed helps you share your business idea and intent with others who want to know more about what you are doing. People who’ll gain understanding from your plan are partners, volunteers, investors, bankers and obviously the I.R.S. among other possibilities. I also felt the plan deliver insight into my soul, and inspiration to my work.

    Just because I want to help, I’m giving you some business plan basics and outline for creation in the Business Plan Fun Sheet. Click the link to get your free Business Plan Fun Sheet
  5. Grow in Influence to Impact More Change

    A growing business increases its viability. It gains more influence, more impact, more proof of business, and sometimes more money to reinvest in helping others. It’s a simple equation: Do more in order to do more.

These keys to prepare you and give you peace of mind will get you started on your journey to having a great impact of helping others. You’ll become more aligned with who you want to be and were meant to be. Don’t forget your Business Plan Fun Sheet

4 Steps to Clear More Space in Your Life and Regain Control of Your Time

Take Action and Budget Your Own Calendar Before Someone Else Does

If life was a trip we’d plan it accordingly. We’d decide how much time was allotted for the work of travel, for the spiritual renewal of sleep, for the fellowship of dining, for the play of sightseeing, and so on. But why don’t we do a better job at planning our life: the time spent for work, renewal, fellowship, and play?

Maybe we think we are an infinite resource of energy and that we have all the time in the world. But we aren’t, and we don’t.

Earlier, I listened to a few school teachers state they had so much work required of them that 50 hours a week plus all day Saturday was needed to teach a class of kids. Their stress level was extremely high. The tears and pain of not having time for their family, their spouse, or themselves was depressing. They felt their life was completely out of control.


And they’re not alone. Are they?

Everyone seems to want a piece of us. No one seems to understand we are only one person with limited resources. (And sometimes we don’t recognize that ourselves.) But if we aren’t proactive in planning our lives, everyone and everything else will plan our time for their own advancement.

We must take action and regain control of our calendars now, or we’ll fall off our rocker.

Let’s go back to the beginning of our why. Why we do what we are doing. Find clarity about what’s important and what our calendar should actually look like.

Wasted Areas

If you’re like me, you’re guilty of wasting time. I’m always falling for the trap of clearing the red dots on the top right of all those apps on my iPhone. My one minute to check for something important turns into a drain. Two or three hours later and I’m late to an appointment I had scheduled.

I need a budget for my time. It’s works for money, so why not for our most important resource: time. I’ll have to fight for it, it’s not just going to be given to me or just happen out of nothing. It will mean disciplining myself to schedule appointments and meet those appointments.

Scheduled Appointments

I hate to let others down by missing appointments or poor planning. I don’t want others to think less of me. With every appointment on my calendar I set no less than 2 alarms to remind me. I try to make my appointments a high priority. So why not schedule appointments for the things that are most important to me? An appointment is an appointment even if it is scheduled with myself.

Scheduling Priorities

We have different priorities and areas of life we want to be better at. I can’t tell what those are for you, but for me they are:

  • Spiritual pursuits
  • Family
  • Work and Business
  • Friends and Service to Others or Ministry

But when I get sick, the priorities on the bottom of the list fall off first. The sicker I am the more stuff drops off. And I’ve been sick enough to have the whole list mean absolutely nothing. At that time I had only one pursuit, beg God to help me feel better. I did everything I could think of to take care of myself. Therefore, I learned that in order to take care of my priorities, I must take care of myself first. I try to:

  • Eat right
  • Exercise
  • Engage in stress-relieving downtime: To take a mental vacation from stress, I read some fiction, take a walk outside, enjoy scenery, Laugh with family and friends, watch a movie (comedy, not stress-filled movie), play Nertz, Pigtail (a variation of Mexican Train), or other physical games.

Here’s the crux: if you’re always working, always stressed, always answering to what others think your life ought to look like, you’re going to end up sick. Stress causes strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, weight gain, depression, self-loathing, and more.

As women, we know our stress steals our best for our family. And as men, who think they must suck it up and deal with it to provide for their family, stress steals their health and ability to provide. No one can be of any real value by killing themselves with stress.

So let’s take action and get a handle on budgeting our calendar.

4 Steps to Budget Your Time

I’ve heard the parable of putting the big, most important stuff in my life first. Then moving down through the lesser things until I reach the bottom and add the smallest more insignificant things last. That’s my method of planning my time and scheduling my calendar. Below are the steps.

  1. Schedule important activities first These are the ones that move you toward your goals to make you a better person, better friend, family member and business person, put them on the calendar and don’t miss your appointments. (date night, spiritual pursuits, work, family activities, planning)
  2. Schedule the other needed activities Those that must get done but don’t improve your life goals. (shopping, laundry, cooking, etc)
  3. Schedule Play time The remaining time is for play. Fun with friends. Half-day trips. Special family projects.
  4. Share your schedule and new calendaring with family or friends. Ask them to help you maintain the new emphasis in your life.

Those are the steps I use to try to order my life, clear some space, schedule my calendar, and regain control of my time. I’m not great at it yet, but I am learning to be stress free.

Question: Are you good at making the best use of your time? Have any tips we can glean from you? How do you deal with stress? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

3 Steps to Make Better Decisions and Decide What’s Right for You

And Your Ministry Business Life

A million choices stare us in the face everyday, whether it’s to order a cheese burger with tots or a chicken & kale quinoa bowl, or deciding whether to make a bold move in our career or relationships. We all have many decisions to make.

Make Better Decisions

Too Many Choices to Decide

Big choices. Little choices. Lots of insignificant choices. All of which pile up to make a mountain range of decisions by the time we die and dirt is thrown over us with some nice words. And all those choices shape us somewhat into who we are and who we are becoming.

So how do you know you’re making the right decisions? How do you know what’s right for you? And help me out, what’s your decision making process?

Some really struggle with making clear decisions. Ever rode in a car with a group of hungry people none of which can decide where they would like to stop and eat? (Picture my family here. No kidding, like vultures saying to each other, “Whatcha want to do?” “I don’t know, whatcha want to do?”) Not being able to make decisions can be frustrating.

Now Don’t Start That Again

The Jungle Book vulture’s right. There are better ways to make decisions. I’m not a professional decision maker and my husband might would tell you I’m the worst. Why I can have that same car conversation with no one else in the car but me. But I’m trying to make better decisions and here’s a few tips that I tell myself:

  1. Stop Surveying Others. You don’t need social proof to make a decision. Simply put, you don’t have to have everybody sign off on what you should do, where you should live, what job you should take, what color to wear, which jeans to buy, or any other decision that’s yours to make. It’s yours. So don’t be a survey junkie. That’s just another way of procrastinating. And you’ll also have to realize that you can’t pass the buck or blame anyone else for your decisions. They’re yours. So take responsibility and move on.
  2. Decide Already. Here’s the kicker: you already make decisions. Everyday. You decide to wake up. You decide to eat. You decide to hang with friends. You decide to work. So stop putting your decisions off and make them already. Once you begin exercising your decision maker, you’ll gain more confidence in your decision making ability. Here’s a tip: examine all the decisions you already make. See. You’re a decision maker. So confidently make those decisions and you’ll become better at it.
  3. Check with The Helper. Don’t try to find all your counsel outside of yourself. In order to find what’s right for you, you have to check with the helper inside of you. Everyone has a conscience that knows intuitively how to guide in our choices. And additionally, since you are a believer in Jesus your conscience is redeemed which then works together with the Spirit of God to lead in knowing what you are to do and how to make wise choices. So pray. Seek for, and listen to, that still small voice of God in the inner self that is your helper. (If you don’t have a redeemed conscience and want one to make your life more meaningful, make that known in the comments and I promise to personally contact you.)

There you go. A few tips to help you make decisions faster and with more confidence. So when hunger wins in the car of life, you won’t have to devour the seat cushions due to lack of decision making. Not making decisions is often making bad decisions.

No matter what you’re working on at the moment, every decision, big or small, that you make on a daily basis really makes a difference. They matter. Any one of them can forever change your life.

Question: Are a strong decision maker or have learned to make good decisions? Any tips or strategy you use that you could share? Which statement will strengthen your decision making ability? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Why You’re Stuck, Discouraged, and Unsuccessful?

One Trick Anyone Can Use to Become a Winner

No matter whether you’re a leader, entrepreneur, parent or financier, worry isn’t productive or beneficial.

Don't Worry

Actually, fretting is quite detrimental to our efficiency and health. It’s a trap that stalls us and keeps us from fulfilling our potential and divine calling. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as negativity dominates and impedes success: closing of deals, mentoring, goal setting, or gaining financial stability.

What Does Anxiety Do For You Anyway?

  1. Worry Accomplishes Nothing. Worry, anxiety, and constant fretting doesn’t produce the great effect we desire. Instead, they actually reduce our effectiveness. Our time, energy and focus on worrisome possibilities rob us of using those same personal resources toward accomplishing our purpose and calling.
  2. Worry Destroys Health. A constant state of anxiety causes stress that is told by the lines on our face, the tone in our voice, our negative attitude, and our lack of joy. Living with stress, which I define as the lack of control in inevitable circumstances, is killing us physically and emotionally.
  3. Worry Removes Potential. Fretting, questioning everything, and mistrusting everyone is a sign of weakness. It makes us unfit for action and removes our ability to make wise decisions. Our struggles cause us to spiral in ineffectiveness.

So, how can we beat worry and become a winning warrior?

Don’t Worry. Be a Warrior.

A warrior fights. He uses strategy, smarts, and obedience to complete his master’s mission. He gives all his strength and effort in order to succeed. In complete faith of the master’s plan, he obeys and leaves the battle results to his master. Worry has no place in a warrior.

People of faith also have a mission and a plan with no place for worry’s trap. We are forbidden from being restless, filled with anxiety and confusion. Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?'” (Matt. 6:31). We simply must not worry about these things because he has plans for us (Jer. 29:11).

To beat worry, it’s critical to know the secret of living in peace in the midst of hectic work and life demands. And that secret is to keep obeying and fighting toward the good we know and trust God to work out the rest. The results aren’t really in our control anyway. We must trust God and have faith in his plan.

To equip the warrior in you for the battles to come, I’ve curated some peace-giving, faith-instilling, and courage-infused words.

  • Trust God, not yourself (Prov 3:5-6)
  • Don’t be anxious, instead pray (Phil 4:6-7)
  • Don’t be afraid (Pr. 3:25)
  • Anxiety weighs you down, a good word makes you glad (Pr. !2:25)
  • Pain can’t compare to the joy that is coming (Rm 8:18)
  • Don’t fear, God is with you and will help you (Is. 41:10)
  • Cast cares on God because he cares for you (1 Pet 5:7)
  • Be strong and courageous for God is with you and will not leave you (Deut. 31:6)
  • When afraid, trust in God (Ps. 56:3)
  • Rejoice in hope, be patient, and pray always (Rom. 12:12)

Question: What keeps you from being anxious? How do you conquer worrying? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

A Guaranteed Strategy for Your Best Year Ever

You do want to guarantee some success during this year, right? What if you found a sure-fire method to do so? Would you give it a go?

Time

God tells Abram in a Biblical example of how to have the best year ever.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3 (Emphasis mine)

The key to success isn’t

  • in your culture,
  • or in who you marry or how your kids turn out,
  • or all the stuff you can accumulate.

God told Abraham to leave everything familiar and comfortable then focus on on him instead. Success boils down to putting aside your will and picking up God’s purposes.

When God becomes first, we’ll always guarantee our success.

The guaranteed strategy for your best year yet:

  • Put aside your will and seek out his will
  • Turn loose of your desires and take up his desires
  • Drop your plans and join his plan
  • Leave your map and journey on his map

Question: Ready for a great year? What else could you relinquish to let God lead? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Incredibly Fast and Easy Step-by-Step Set Up of a Self-Hosted WordPress Site

This practical and easy tutorial has helped many to set up a self-hosted WordPress site. And now HostGator, the service I use, is having a special for $3.96 a month! Honestly that’s a great price. Get in on it while you can.

Many of you asked how to set up a blog and learn to write your thoughts, experiences and ideas. I’ve even had some ask about turning their story into a book for the benefit of others. Obviously you have some expertise to share, a service to help, or a product worth talking about. Either way writing a blog and hosting a website will help you get the word out. Some blog writers have even jumped from online writing to publishing a book. Sometimes the posts themselves can be massaged and rewritten into a book. My aim is to tell how I began this journey and to show you how you can get started as well with just a few simple steps.

Sign up if you want a free e-book/pdf of this Incredibly Fast and Easy Step-by-Step Set-Up of a Self-Hosted WordPress Site, plus more insight on blogging, business, ministry and life.

But before I share the tutorial, my story will give context and help answer some of your questions.

The Way I Started a Website

I first began writing spiritual thoughts for friends and fellow church members. I’d email these devotions once a week. I received encouraging stories about how my words, experiences, and thoughts helped others. So I kept writing. Eventually, from someone’s suggestion, I started a blog and my readers multiplied.  (Side note: If my experiences helped others, then yours can too.)

The Part I Don’t Suggest You Follow

When I started, I didn’t know any better than to hire a web designer. Thankfully, I enlisted one at a fraction of the cost of most web designers. But just figuring out the design became a chore. Eventually I learned a simpler, easier—and cheaper—way to set up a website and begin writing for my readers.

Following my step-by-step instructions will save you an arm and a leg in designer fees and you’ll find them simple and easy even for a non-techy person like me. Unlike the hours and days of talking to the designer to settle on the design and months to get the site up and running, my total set up time to get you up and writing will take only a few minutes. You could do this during lunchtime. Just think about it. You can be reaching your audience in under an hour.

This information outlines setting up a self-hosted WordPress website. Self-hosted is the best option to keep your blog safely yours. At a fraction of the designer costs, you can have your own blog for less than one drink a week. It’s actually less than $7 a month for 12 months. (Keep reading and I’ll show you how to save even more money!)

Yes, there are free options such as Blogger and WordPress.com, but these free hosts can take down their hosting and urls for any reason and your blog will be gone forever. And yes, they allow free rent but they can close shop leaving you with nothing.

If you pay the price of one lunch a month, you own it and have paid the rent to park it in the cloud (on host servers). That’s called self-hosted. And if you put a little money into your endeavor, you’ll tend to be more committed to it. So let’s take on your fear of setting up a website. Bring your lunch.

A Better Marriage with One Simple Change: The Art of Viewpoint

Guest post by minister’s wife, Lori Bradeen. She breathes hope and courage into marriages by speaking to groups of women. For interest in her ministry contact her at City Life Spokane. Have a message? Check out the guest post guidelines.

Abstract Marriage

I always thought that abstract art was an excuse for untalented, wanna-be artists, but I have been converted. As I twisted my head and closed one eye, a black funnel emptying into a mess of fiery reds became a beautiful mountain that touched the colorful sunset sky.

viewpoint

Viewing abstract art is a lot like viewing marriage. (Tweetable)

What normally looks like underwear left on the floor, dishes by the couch, and toilet paper that never makes it into its proper holder is really beauty in action. Even my husband’s lack of appreciation for inspired cuisine void of red meat and carbohydrates as well as his inability to distinguish a face cloth from a dish rag is wonderment.

I’ll admit these things alone leave me wanting. Yet, I have learned that their beauty can only be seen when they come together on the canvas of love, respect and acceptance.

The beauty of marriage comes together on the canvas of love, respect and acceptance. (Tweetable)

Marriage Masterpiece

I have grown to love abstract art so much that I now have a masterpiece in my home.

Marriage Masterpiece

  • The man whose underwear and dishes I’ve been picking up for twenty-four years is the same man who has worked three jobs at times so that I could stay home with our kids.
  • The man who hates shopping is the same man who endures a chick flick and patiently waits on a bench in the mall if I insist he be my shopping buddy.
  • He’s the same man who has what it took to raise my boys into men even when I had to bite my mama-bear tongue in the face of his toughness.
  • The man who rarely cleans a toilet bowl is the same man who prays and seeks heaven’s direction in leading this family.
  • He is the man who bought me small pajamas (from a sporting goods store) because he hadn’t noticed that I don’t wear the same size as I did the day we wed.
  • He’s the one who will skip the raspberry vinaigrette but will drive back to the drive through to get my favorite special sauce that didn’t make it in the sack.
  • He’s the one who still can’t read my mind, but has mastered the art of an agreeable nod when tensions rise.

He is my masterpiece of abstract art.

Second Look Beauty

Some couples wish they had picked differently in their marriage. They’ve become dissatisfied. The bumps and scratches along the years left them disillusioned. The sweet smell of new love has long gone. Left instead is the lingering smell of sour milk.

These moments are the perfect time to head to the art gallery of marriage to tilt our head a little. Tilt it more. Squint. Heck, we can toss our glasses if it helps us find the beauty in our marriage.

There’s beauty in our abstract marriages: a beautiful sunset hidden inside that mess of color.

I will admit however, that some days I squint at the man who is standing on his head, glasses removed, looking back at me.

Notice: No judgement here on messy marriages! WE ALL have them. (Tweetable)

Question: How is your marriage like a disorderly mess of color?  And how can you focus on the masterpiece in your mate?

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Want to write a guest post, check out the guidelines.

Tips and Motivation on How to Get Back into Work After a Break

Vacation

I went on vacation.

Vacation from work. Vacation from writing. From business. From routine life. I intentionally didn’t think about anything work related.

It was a blast!

Doesn’t this look like a great place to lose yourself?

Hilton Head

Yes, we went to Hilton Head Island. My first time to visit this grand place.

While in a rented condo, I found a book by Jimmy Buffett called A Salty Piece of Land. The cover invited me to sit on the beach with my feet in the water. I had to go there, so I started reading. I didn’t get far with all the bike-riding, zip-lining, and paddle-boarding type activities we had planned. Before I knew it we were back in the car headed home without my ever getting to chapter 3.

Grinding out the Return

The direction of Frankie’s headlights (that is our appropriately named old ’97 Avalon: “Frankie Avalon”) made me regret getting back to work, routine, and regular life.

I just wanted to read, to prolong the fun stuff, and keep away from the drive to perform. I just wanted to be. To be me. Do what I wanted, when I wanted. Have no worries. No troubles. No … nothing required.

After I got home, I kept trying to live that way, but found myself drifting, listless and purposeless. After all, A Salty Piece of Land was left behind and what could I do?

I was almost depressed.

A Salty Piece of Land

Am I the only one who has trouble getting back into the swing of things after a vacation?

Search for Motivation and Starting Again

During my listless days, I read one woman’s idea. The day before her vacation, she made a to do list for the day she would return. That way she didn’t have to remember where she was in her work or what needed to be done next.

(Tweetable) The day before your break, make a to-do list for the day you get back.

For me, starting always seems the hardest part–or is that finishing? Either way, I didn’t have her foresight and consequently I flopped.

Eventually, I reinstated my regular habit of reading God’s word and prayer journaling. Yes, regretfully, I even went on vacation from some spiritual disciplines. (Please don’t throw stones or rotten fruit. I’m just a girl doing her best–most of the time.)

And as soon as I got back to spiritual endeavors, I found part of my cure: the fix for my losing of heart, the listlessness of not wanting to work, the purposeless of life. Once again I found the freedom in being me that I wanted was in giving my everything to God. (Not just giving lip comments or commitments, or adhering to the precepts of men or traditions of religion, but wholly submitting self to God, a life totally given to God’s plan.) I am his and I do his work.

(Tweetable) Freedom in being yourself is in giving your all to God.

I gained purpose for my work and life again.

That’s all the help I’ve got for getting back into the swing of things.
1. Make a post-vacation to do list before you leave.
2. Gain respect for spiritual disciplines. They give direction.
3. …What have you got?

Surely I’m not alone in post-vacation blahs. I’m certain there are other ways of getting motivated that you’ve used successfully. Maybe some absolute failures too. Please share in comments.

Question: So how do you do it? What actions, plans, attitudes, or motivations help you get back to work?

 

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