Sunday, May 12, 2019

'The Next Right Thing' * Session #3

Hey, my dear Book Club aficionados!

We're launching into the home stretch of our Sunday Evening Book Club with Emily Freeman's mighty fine offering, The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions.  In this session we're going to be looking at how specially chosen relationships can make all the difference when we're struggling to figure out our own very personal next step or two.

We were never designed to do life without the warm supportive embrace of community, yet we often burrow down into hermit mode at the exact time when we'd be far better using our energy to connect with those souls who could offer us significant encouragement and insight.

And chances are, there are co-travelers around you who are yearning for you to do the same for them ...

Chapter 15
Gather Co-Listeners
{the original podcast & transcript}

'When we weren't sure what to do next, we decided to intentionally gather a few people whom we loved in our house to listen to us say words and then see what they had to say back to us.  We weren't asking for advice, exactly, although we were open to it.  We knew better than to ask for answers, though we always hoped for them.  Instead, we simply didn't want to feel so alone.  We wanted people we loved and trusted to hear what we were saying, to see if there was something obvious we were missing, and to be with us in the midst of our uncertainty.'

'The longer I walk with our Father God, our friend Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who lives and dwells within us, the more I have a hunch that he isn't so concerned with the outcome of our decision, at least not in the same way we are.  But he would be delighted to know that the decision we are carrying is moving us toward community and not away from it, that it is leading us to depend on others more and not less, and that it is turning our face toward his in a posture of listening with the hopeful expectation of receiving an answer.'

Chapter 17
Find a No-Mentor

'Unlike your co-listening group, your No Mentor will be no-nonsense, straightforward, and unapologetic.  She will not be deterred by glitz or glamor.  She is not fooled by shiny objects or mirrored balls.  She is relentlessly on your side and has the health of your soul, your family, and your work in mind.  Sometimes, this person will convince you to say yes - but this is rare and not the norm.'

'A No Mentor is not there to keep you from doing things you want to do.  And finding one is not an excuse to say no to stuff you don't want to do.  We are kingdom people and, in a real way, our time doesn't belong to us; it all belongs to God.  The problem is we've misunderstood what that means.  Instead of being people who look within and discern where he is leading us, we look around and overcommit ourselves.  When the whispers of our calling try to speak to us, we don't have the time or the space to listen.'

'When a friend comes to you with a question, a problem, or a tough decision, take a step back.  Ask lots of questions and listen to her answers.  Listen to both what she says and what she fails to say.  Watch how her body rises or falls when she talks.  Listen to her tone and her excuses.  See if her eyes light up when she talks about the thing.  Will she look you in the eye?  Does she use the word "should" a lot?  Does she sound motivated by guilt, shame, or pressure?  Consider the underbelly.  Be on the side of her soul.  Stand up for her in ways she may not yet the courage to stand up for herself.'  

Co-listeners, No Mentors, Encouragers.  
What's your experience been?  Are you one?  Do you need one? 

Chapter  18
Don't Give Your Critic Words

Chapter 21
Wear Better Pants

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chatting with
Mary & Sue


  1. I've never had an official mentor, but I've definitely had women (and men) in my life that I could go to for advice and guidance. I really miss my mom; she was a mentor to me on being a wife and mother and Christian woman. I'm grateful for other women in my life (including my mother-in-law) who have served as godly examples.

    1. You're so right, Lisa ... those who are a few steps ahead of us have modeled something powerful by the way they lived their lives over time.

      I don't necessarily remember specific words as much as I recall the faithfulness of their walk, the depth of their love for Christ even in the toughest of times ...

  2. Just finished this book. Emily's words have come just at the right time and are settling in me. Three people in my life are co-listeners and mentors they are older than me by 5 to 25 years. They often reflect back to me who I am and who I am not - sometimes the reflection is difficult to steady my gaze upon but it has helped me through some very challenging experiences in which I needed to shift perceptions - about myself and the those I interact with. Sometimes mentors also appear for just a short time and then are longer connecting with me. These intersections are invaluable to me as well.

    1. Kate, hi! You make an interesting point how sometimes mentors are here for just a brief season.

      It's like they fulfilled the purpose God sent them for and then these 'angels' moved on to their next heaven-sent assignment.

      You're making me stop and recall who some of them might have been ...

      And give thanks for the way they touched me. I have a feeling we've all got a whole lot more influencers than we realized ...

  3. In this place of deadly wrath
    I find I am alone;
    and let this be my epitaph:
    "His heart was still as stone."
    I wander through a fatal land
    where the wild things cower,
    but I find that I can stand
    and above my fear I tower.
    I've come to an exalted state
    and I am lord and master
    of my grim predestined fate,
    the monarch of disaster.
    Ere the end I've learned to face
    a high and solitary grace.

    1. Ah, you and I know Who that high and solitary grace comes from.

      Christ alone.

      He knows what it's like to die a tortuous death and He is your strong tower.

  4. I've definitely had people in my life who have spoken truth to me. Most of them have started out as mentors and then morphed into friends.
    Here's an interesting dilemma: The older I get the fewer people I find who are really willing to "go there" with me. There's an assumption, I think, that I "know what I'm doing," when really, I am open to people's input--possibly more now than ever! I have two friends right now who I know will hold my feet to the fire and give me the gritty truth when I need it, and I am very grateful for them.

    1. Yeah, sometimes we look like we've got it all pulled together because we are 'of a certain age' or are in leadership or have some kind of odd letters strung after our names.

      But as Twila Paris used to sing, 'the warrior is a child.'

      More than ever I find myself curious, an asker of questions, a learner. I kinda like being in this place of inquisitiveness.

      I know no one who's yet arrived, ya' know?

  5. Linda,
    Even though I'm not doing your study...something I regrettably had to say "No" to at the time, I do concur heartily with having a mentor and a "no-mentor" is especially good at helping me discern what is God's will and what is just something I feel I "should" do. Big difference. I've had several different mentors through my life and they have each been instrumental in guiding me and adding an objective opinion.
    Bev xx

    1. The older I get, the less I do 'should's.' I'm so done with all that. 2 Corinthians 5:9 has become my watchword - 'we make it our goal to please HIM.'

      Sounds like you and I are coming from the same place, Bev. It sure is a freeing thing, isn't it.

      I like what you said about mentors being objective. The best mentors have a vested interested in who we are becoming but they're not manipulative, they don't have an ax to grind, and they're not emotionally entangled in whatever decisions we may make.

      These fine folk are well worth the search, well worth the wait. God has someone for each of us ... to be mentored by and to mentor.

  6. Listening is such a valuable gift that mentors can give to those they mentor, isn't it. And the 'advise' given is not advise but rather pointing to scripture, or laying out the facts in such a way that clarity of mind arrives like fog lifting up over mountains. Once someone goes into 'fix' mode, they loose me. But a good mentor is like the last paragraph you shared and I'm blessed to have experienced that, and hope to be that observer for others!

    1. I'm with you, Lynn! When someone goes into that 'fix' mode, they lose me. I'm trying to remember that as I relate to others, too. It works both ways!

      I'm guessing it's our human nature to want to tidy everybody and everything up around us. It doesn't work that way, does it ...


  7. Oh how I LOVE this book *and podcast! So good! We have been in a long, hard in-between season and reading about her co-listener gathering has inspired us to gather a few of our own soon! And Amen to No Mentors and encouraging -others and ourselves!

    1. Don't you just love the idea of gathering co-listeners around you in the midst of uncertainty? That people would care enough about us to invest in that kind of focused presence is sheer gift.

      So rare.

      I love reconnecting with you, Karrilee ...

  8. I spent an hour listening to the podcasts and writing up my comment! Can't believe it. I clicked "publish" and it said something about being posted after approval. How annoying.

    * via email *

    1. I'm so sorry! I hate when that happens. I've looked around and it never arrived.

      Please feel free to email your thoughts anytime and I'll post them, ok?
      linda stoll @ juno . com

      Again, my apologies.


  9. What a wonderful idea - a No Mentor. I had a no-mentor when I first began teaching. She was a no-nonsense older teacher who took me under her wing. I was so grateful for her guidance. I was lucky she came into my life.

    1. Looking back, a No Mentor would have been a huge boost as I got started in counseling and ministry and and and back in the day.

      It takes someone smart and savvy, brave and wise to fill those shoes ... and to accept the guidance she offers without getting defensive and all up in arms.

  10. I have not had time to read the book but have listened to the podcasts for each session. What it has shown me is that I have to read the entire book, not just a few chosen sessions! She has so much wisdom, shared in a simple way! This week I appreciated her advice to gather people from different seasons of life and different perspectives. I have always grown more through people who have different experiences from me.

    1. You'll love the book now that you've heard Emily's voice and been a part of the discussions, Marilyn.

      First thing to be packed for your summer 'vacation.'

      {Notice the word 'vacation' is in quotes!!}


  11. Hi Linda. I especially love this wise advice to "Consider the underbelly. Be on the side of her soul. Stand up for her in ways she may not yet the courage to stand up for herself." Truly something we need to remember always. Love and blessings to you!

    1. Oh yes, Trudy. This is a tender bit of wise counsel ... it's so necessary to be keenly aware and gently empathetic in the presence of another soul's woundedness and often disguised vulnerabilities.

      To lend another courage, to offer her protection and permission to emerge from the hidden places is such a grace. Few are able to offer it well ... unless they've been severely wounded themselves and have found healing from above.


  12. When we were figuring out what was next after leaving Central Asia, we were at a dinner party where we ended up talking with friends about three choices before us for what was next. Even though it wasn't planned, our friends' thoughts were helpful as we looked at each choice. I was sitting next to a pastor friend who also reminded me that God could use us in any of those places and that even though we often think there is one right thing, God does often give us choices. Realizing that God was with us no matter which choice we made took a lot of the pressure off of us. I am also happy to say that I really feel like West Africa was a great choice for us even with all of its ups and downs.

    1. Your experience reminds us that opportunities to connect are all around us ... they often don't need to be well planned or thought through.

      We were never meant to do life on our own ... and your story reminds us why, friend.