Uncertainty

From Complications to God-Confidence

November 3, 2020
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When our daughter, Caroline, was born and severe health complications quickly ensued, Carla and I were driven to our knees, crying out to God for healing. Amid fear and fright, we sought his peace. When we felt less than confident that the story we’d imagined for ourselves as new parents wasn’t going to play out the way we’d thought, we sought God’s confidence.

Here’s Carla’s story. For the squeamish, it does get detailed.

March 1, 1994, was an incredible day. My due date had come and gone, and now Preston and I were anxiously awaiting the arrival of our new baby girl, Caroline. Caroline arrived at 7:29 a.m. on Tuesday, March 1. We were overjoyed and felt so blessed to welcome a new, healthy baby girl into our family.

Later that afternoon, as is typical after most deliveries, the nurses came into my hospital room to check on me, take vital signs, etc. After removing my catheter, they noticed something wrong: there was urine leaking onto my bed. Several nurses came in to look, doctors were called in, and shortly after that, I was wheeled over to urology specialists’ offices. During the delivery process, we found out that my bladder and vaginal wall had been torn, therefore forming a hole through both, which had caused urine to flow directly from my bladder through my vaginal wall and leak onto the bed (or anything else).

At first, neither my doctor nor the specialists knew what to do. Once the specialists had discussed the matter, my OB-GYN (who had delivered Caroline) came in to explain these findings to us. He admitted that he didn’t know how this had happened, and, although he had delivered thousands of babies, he had never seen this before. He was concerned, and he offered to pray with us.  

The next day, we took Caroline home, but it wasn’t the homecoming I had envisioned beforehand. I went home with a catheter and wore adult continence garments for the next six weeks while we met with specialists to develop a plan that would hopefully lead to healing. During the weeks that led up to the surgery, my OB doctor would call to check on us and let us know that he and others he knew were praying for us. Many surgeons are egotistical and don’t acknowledge their humanness. This doctor was different. He was bold in his faith and humble in his approach, and, because of this, I was learning more about Christ.

There was a lot of uncertainty going into the surgery. Ahead of time, we had agreed to various approaches based on what they could find once I was on the surgical table. One method was somewhat invasive and another one much less so, but I wouldn’t know which method they would implement until I awoke from anesthesia. During the weeks leading up to surgery, our only option was to pray for a medical plan of action that would be successful, for skilled minds and skilled hands for the physicians, for encouragement, and for adequate care during this time for our new baby girl. We asked family, friends, neighbors, and everyone around us for prayer.

Finally, the morning of surgery came, and it was time for my family to leave my side and allow the staff to take me back. As I was being wheeled down to the pre-op room, I heard someone call my name. It was my physician; he had come to walk me into surgery. (He was not a part of the urology surgical team). He held my hand and prayed over me. 

I’m happy to say that the report was good when I came out of the anesthesia later that day. The team had been able to make the repairs in the least invasive way, and, thankfully, the outcome looked very hopeful!

I cared for a newborn baby for several months following the surgery while wearing multiple urinary medical devices. Needless to say, I stayed home quite a bit. It wasn’t an easy time, but it was a season when God was allowing me some time alone with him to talk things out. I did a lot of praying. 

At times, I remember wrestling with my feelings and thinking, Am I going to trust that God is good and that his plan for me is good, even if my body doesn’t function properly and I must wear these urinary devices for the rest of my life?  Am I going to trust him no matter the outcome?  

God was patient with me, and he allowed me to talk about these things out with him.  Ultimately, after spending much time in his Word, much time in prayer, and listening to godly counsel, I began to accept the fact that, no matter the outcome, God loves me and cares for me. He will always be there for me. He is my maker and my helper.

Several months went by before I could attempt going to the restroom on my own.  I’ll never forget the day I was allowed to try. Right away, I knew I was healed. God is good, not because he chose to heal me—he certainly didn’t have to do that—but because he is a good father. That’s his character. His plans are for good, even though we may not like them at the time. 

Looking back, I’m very thankful he took me on that little journey years ago. I learned to trust him, and he hasn’t failed me yet.

To add to Carla’s story, I remember sitting in the waiting room with her parents and my grandparents during surgery. We were hopeful that the procedure would be successful, but we were prepared for the worst. I’ll never forget the post-surgery debrief with the surgeon. It was as if he couldn’t believe how simple the surgery was and how well it had gone versus how he initially thought the situation would be resolved. It was a miracle. We were absolutely delighted and thankful. We all jumped for joy and thanked God for his incredible mercy. The surgery was successful, and Carla’s health was restored.

Carla and I will always look back at this milestone and be thankful for God’s answer to our prayers. We didn’t have anywhere else to turn but to God, to place our hope and confidence in him for a positive outcome. Despite daunting circumstances and an undesired prognosis, we prayed to God because we trusted him. When I saw God move and do what seemed impossible, it both reaffirmed and further established my confidence in God.

What does God-confidence look like? It’s when you move from elevating God over self. The Bible says, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (1 Corinthians 10:12 – The Message). 

How does one cultivate God-confidence?

  • Seek his empowerment. 
  • Request God’s wisdom to navigate unchartered territory, make decisions, and solve problems. 
  • Seek his strength and protection to face opposition or challenging circumstances. 
  • Trust he’ll provide and ensure an outcome that works for the good. 
  • When success comes, give credit to God and be thankful.
  • If success doesn’t come, don’t let your God-confidence be shaken but let it grow through adversity. 

How different would your life look if you moved from self-confidence to God-confidence? How would your home life change? How would your organization, community, or school grow? How would your world transform?

If you sincerely trust him, God will do wonderful things in you and through you. As you make a positive difference in the world, you will be in marvelous fellowship with the One who made you. You will be engaged in his enterprises, risking your life for him and his kingdom. Focusing on God and not self will make your confidence soar, and you’ll be energized to do and achieve more than you imagined possible.

If you found this article helpful, please subscribe to my blog https://prestonpoore.com/blog/ where I explore faith, leadership, communication and human relations skills that will help you become the best version of yourself.

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

Pres

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THE DREAM LIVES: 3 Powerful Lessons I Learned on the Road to Publishing

August 6, 2019

“Hi Preston, I’m interested in taking on your project and representing you.”

Those are the exhilarating words I’d longed to hear. But the journey to that shining moment was trying. You see, a few months ago, my former agent stepped away from the literary agency and publishing world. He dropped me like a hot potato.  

Seeking new representation, I sent out several agency inquiries with no response. I began thinking I was running out of options to publish my book traditionally. I felt broken, rejected, and disheartened. I’d worked onThe Discipled Leader(TDL) for ten years and began to question God. Here’s what I wrote in my journal last month:

I’m depressed. I feel it in my bones. So much to do but little enthusiasm. I’m experiencing the “Black Dog,” as Winston Churchill called it. Why? I’m struggling with TDL. Should I keep on or move on? Am wasting my time? I keep telling myself that God gave me the message, the calling to write. Not so sure. Maybe it’s all in my head.

So, what does life look like if I stop pursuing TDL? Why did I start in the first place? I feel alone on this journey. God’s been quiet and seems absent. I lashed out at God a couple of days ago and told him how frustrated I am. First honest comments in a while. Not sure how he takes me.

I don’t want to shrink back, but I feel like I’m losing my vision, my vigor. I don’t want to retire and live a secluded life. I want to answer God’s call to make disciples. Somehow, someway. I want to be found faithful with the time, talents, and resources he’s given me. I must be in the “messy middle,” the “now and not yet.”

Just stop? No more blogging, no more speaking, no more platform building? Oh Lord, this will require your intervention for it to succeed. But what does success look like? Helping someone grow in Christ and become a positive influence in his or her world. It’s not about a creed or a cause. It’s about Christ. It’s all about him. It’s not about me.

If I self-publish the book, then what? Sell a few copies, then what? I can say I’m a published author. Big deal. Is it about my resume? Or is it about discipling people? What’s my vision? Is it bigger than just publishing a book? Is it about helping people reach their potential in Christ? TDL’s content provides a framework for Christians to make the connection between their spiritual and secular lives. Christ working in them and through them, changing them and changing the world around them. 

I believe Jesus transforms our lives and transformed lives transform cultures. No specific cause. It’s about stemming the tide of evil in today’s society. Healing relationships, families, being a positive force in our businesses, schools, communities, and churches.

I get all of this, but I feel like a fish swimming up-stream — only one man. Lord, I can’t do this on my own. I’m fearful of success. I have many self-limiting beliefs. I propose, but you dispose. You engineer all circumstances. You work all things for the good of those who love you. May you receive the credit, the glory, the praise. I crave affirmation, but I pray my affirmation comes from you, not the world.

Lord, if you’re listening this morning, at 5:56 am, would you please fill me, lift my spirits, allow me to walk with you, to hear from you, to be in your presence. I seek you. I need you. Please.

That day, encouragement began coming out of the blue. I received affirming emails and texts from friends that didn’t know I was struggling. 

Then, Jay called. 

Jay’s a business associate who’d read some of my blogs. He asked me about the content, why I wrote them and then shared that he was a believer as well. He told me that he struggled with being a Christian in the workplace and that he found value in what I wrote. He felt encouraged by the messages.

I thanked him for his comments and then told him about my recent setback. I shared with him that God seemed very quiet and had abandoned me. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue pursuing my dream.

Jay said, “God is often quiet when he’s already told us what to do. Be obedient to his calling. It will happen in his timing. And know that God hasn’t abandoned you. He will finish what he started. I think the world needs to hear what you have to say.”

Wow.

I hung up the phone and cried in my office. I got on my knees and thanked God for his encouragement through others. I was inspired, determined not to give up.

About a week later, I was sitting at my desk, working away when the phone rang. The caller ID said “Lancaster, CA.” I figured it was another robocall and I shouldn’t answer. But, for some reason, I picked up the phone and on the other end was Steve, a literary agent.

He said, “Hi Preston, I’m interested in taking on your project and representing you.”

Wow.

Steve and I talked about TDL’s platform and my vision for the book. After our conversation, he said he’d call in a few days.

Well, a few days passed, and I got anxious. I figured “what the heck” and so I called him. Steve answered the phone and said he’d like to represent me. I thanked him, and as we hung up the phone, I began jumping for joy.

The dream is alive, and I can’t be more grateful.

The journey to find another agent was wearisome. I doubted God and was honest with him. He heard my cry, and when I was just about to give up, he responded beyond my imagination. I am so thankful for the opportunity and the journey to date.

Speaking of the journey, here are three powerful lessons I’ve learned during my recent circumstances:

#1 The Power of Prayer– Prayer is powerful because of the one to whom we pray. I continue relearning this and that I need to constantly bring my worries, doubts, and fears to God. When I express my concerns, share what’s on my heart, and am honest with God, he hears me and fills me with peace. The Bible says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians 4:6–7 MSG). 

#2 The Power of Patience– Waiting is hard. It takes patience. There is an old maxim, “patience is a virtue, which all admire, but few attain.”[1]But the Bible says, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted, but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:29–31 ESV) I learned that if I wait on God and am patient, he’ll strengthen me in trying times.

#3 The Power of Encouragement– Congressman George M. Adams once said encouragement is “oxygen to the soul.” So true! Encouragement provides energy and enthusiasm. It builds others up and helps them overcome adversity. Mark Twain wrote, “I can live two months on a good compliment.” The Bible says, “Gracious speech is like clover honey— good taste to the soul, quick energy for the body.“ (Proverbs 16.24 MSG). Positive, uplifting words matter and make a difference. God encouraged me through others. I found hope and was inspired to keep on working toward my dream.

If you’re struggling to realize your dream and feel like giving up, I charge you to seek God and tap into the power of prayer, patience, and encouragement. If you do, you’ll find peace, strength, and hope to keep going.


[1]Carpenter, E. E., & Comfort, P. W. (2000). In Holman treasury of key Bible words: 200 Greek and 200 Hebrew words defined and explained(p. 357). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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Becoming a God-Confident Leader

January 26, 2019

 

A couple of years ago, I enrolled in a Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park, CO. Since the conference was held in May, I decided to commute back and forth to the YMCA from my parent’s home in Fort Collins. My typical route to Estes Park was closed due to flooding and road construction. The detour to Estes Park was through Hwy 36, a winding and scenic 90-minute drive.  

May is a beautiful time of year in Colorado. But sometimes the weather can be very unpredictable. That’s when I met Valarie – Winter Storm Valarie that is…On May 18, 2017, Estes Park and the surrounding area received over 30 inches of snow. To get a feel for the road conditions, view the following videl: https://youtu.be/28L1CAQqZ8M?t=5

The snowstorm limited my attendance at the writer’s conference. I was very frustrated by the circumstances I’d encountered and here’s what I recorded in my journal:

Bummed…I came to Colorado to attend a Christian Writers Conference with the goal of connecting with publishers and agents and learning how to market my book, “The Discipled Leader.”  I attended the first day but missed the rest of the confrence.  You see, I made some bad decisions and circumstances beyond my control prevented me from going.  I planned to commute back and forth to Mom and Dad’s house during the conference. The weather forecast predicted heavy snowfall in Estes Park beginning Wednesday night.  I thought that I could commute on Wednesday and then travel back up to Estes Park on Thursday morning, stay at the YMCA through Friday night and come back on Saturday.

It was snowing hard when I woke up Thursday morning.  The night before, I dreamed about my journey up Hwy 36 into Estes Park and the snow storm.  I stressed out during my dream and felt like I heard “don’t go.”  But I did.  I felt confident that I was going to make it up the pass because the road would be plowed and sanded.  Heck, I grew up in Colorado and knew I could handle the conditions. Or so I thought. . .

Things began to deteriorate as I drove up the canyon. Rounding a bend, I saw a line of cars and police lights on top of the mountain in front of me.  It was snowing hard, and the road was becoming more treacherous.  I stopped a van that’d turned around and was coming back down the mountain.  The driver told me that the police closed the road and weren’t letting anyone through. After experiencing the conditions and hearing what the driver said, I had no choice, I had to turn around and go back home before the storm worsened.

Timing – one other circumstance…When I drove home Wednesday night, the low-pressure tire sensor came on.  Dad and I took it to a local dealership to have them check it first thing Thursday morning. The mechanic filled the tire with air but wouldn’t fix the leak because we didn’t have an appointment.  So, I went to another tire place. The good news is that they took me right away. The helpful mechanic found a nail in the tire, plugged the hole and finished in 15 minutes.  And, I guess because of the troubled look on my face, they didn’t charge me.  But my tire escapade delayed my morning departure.

So, I left later than I planned.  Had I left 30 to 45 minutes earlier, I may have made it to Estes Park, but I didn’t. Because of the Winter Storm Valarie, I wrote the conference lead to tell her that I wasn’t going to be able to make the rest of the conference and requested a refund.  The whole thing was a missed opportunity.

I don’t know why this happened.  I don’t understand.  Maybe I never will.  I’m very frustrated with God…I’m trying to “love him and develop people,” to disciple others.  But I seem to be thwarted, resisted at every turn.  It seems that all paths are going nowhere and all of the opportunities are drying up.  Staying with Dad through Sunday morning and heading home.

Maybe you hear the frustration in my voice. At the time, I couldn’t understand why the circumstances turned out the way they appeared. But here’s the rest of the story…

Because of the snow storm and my returning to my parent’s house, I was able to invest the rest of the weekend with my Dad. My Mom was traveling, and Dad was at home alone for a few weeks. We hung out together and talked about life. Toward the end of the weekend, I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with Dad. He later gave his life to the Lord, but that’s a whole different story.

Lastly, my enrollment in the writer’s conference afforded me the opportunity for paid agent or publisher 1:1s and was the main reason I enrolled in the conference. The goal of meeting with the agents and publishers was to pitch my book and receive feedback hoping all along that an agent would sign me. You can imagine the disappointment of not getting the chance to network with agents and publishers when you’ve been working on a manuscript for seven years. 

But God was good. After the conference, I contacted some of the agents and told them my circumstances. Several of them agreed to meet with me over the phone. One of the agents I spoke with encouraged me to keep writing with the help of an editor. A year and lots of hard work later, I signed a contract with Credo Communications literary agency to represent my book to publishers.

I didn’t see it, but God was working out my circumstances even though I couldn’t see it at the time. If I’d attended all of the conference, I’d missed the opportunity to invest time with my Dad and share the Gospel with him. And, God made a way to sign with an agent even though it appeared my efforts were fruitless.

Three verses come to mind:

#1 – “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NIV) – God governs our world and engineers all circumstances. I had a plan, and in the midst of what seemed like a fruitless of string events, God worked things out. 

#2 – “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:28 MSG) – For the Christian, the events in our lives are worked into good. We may not see it right away or ever. In the midst of my circumstances, I couldn’t see what good could come from striking out. But what I saw as striking out turned into an opportunity for something more significant.

#3 – “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track” (Proverbs 3:5-6) – Trusting God and that’s he’s got your back will make a big difference in how you see events in your life unfold.

What about you? What happens when you encounter circumstances that don’t work out the way you planned? Do you trust that God engineers all circumstances and works every detail into something good? Friend, I encourage you to trust God with all of your plans, and if you do, you’ll become a God-confident leader. 

 

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Preston Poore

I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.

As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.

Let me help you reach your potential.

I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.

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