Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For #10

31 05 2011

This is the tenth in a series of what traits to look for in a life mate.  While the following sets a high standard, one that perhaps few will initially reach, each area identified is an important character trait to look for and inquire about as you consider a lifelong marriage partner.

10. From whom does this person seek wisdom and wise counsel?  The last two posts were about accountability.  This post is about the practice of that accountability through seeking wise counsel.  Is he/she willing to admit to not knowing all the answers and to seek others who may have wise counsel?  Before making important decision, does this person seek input from trusted mentors?  (James 1:5; Proverbs 12:15)  Proverbs 12:15 says that our “way” seems right to us, …”but a wise man listens to advice.”  According to this Proverb, one would first need to humble themselves and seek advice and then be a ready listener.

It is not politically correct today to give or to seek godly advice.  One is to discover “truth” on their own for themselves.  To me, this really feels like one of the highest forms of pride as it is so self-seeking rather than God-seeking.  Have you noticed in this person a willingness to humble themselves and seek advice from the right sources?  It is one thing to ask our friends who will tell us what we desire to hear, but it is another to allow iron to sharpen iron and listen to the wise counsel of an elder, a pastoral counselor or a parent.  Arrogance is not a godly trait.  James tells us to ask God when we lack wisdom and God will provide the answers through His word or His messenger.

I remember as a young man seeking the advice of an elder who gave me input that I did not like or necessarily agree with.  I acted upon his advice in spite of my youthful arrogance only to discover years later it was absolutely correct.  It is humbling at first, but when we discover someone who is not willing to be politically correct and speak the difficult things into our lives, we will discover a world of wisdom that opens new doors for us.  And, if we remain teachable throughout our life, we will be a far better and wiser spouse, parent, friend, employee…





Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For #9

23 05 2011

This is the ninth in a series of what traits to look for in a life mate.  While the following sets a high standard, one that perhaps few will initially reach, each area identified is an important character trait to look for and inquire about as you consider a lifelong marriage partner.

9.  Does this person walk in accountability (continued)?  Does this person have a mentoring relationship with a pastor or other spiritual leader, someone they have given authority to speak into his/her life, to provide challenge and correction?  Is he/she mentoring others?  Is he/she committed to a local church fellowship?  Can you speak into his/her life freely and can this person receive your input?  Is this person accountable with personal possessions, finances and their spiritual disciplines?  Do you feel any ongoing resistance when it comes to the discipline of accountability or submission to spiritual authority? (Hebrews 4:13)

Humility is a sign of maturity and it takes humility to realize ones need of personal accountability and mentoring.  None of us know it all.  At this stage of life, spiritual mentoring through spiritual parents is invaluable.   Many years ago I had a spiritual father who met with me monthly, read what I was writing, asked me targeted questions and held my feet to the fire in loving God, God’s family and the family God gave me.  I knew the value of this relationship from my days of living single and needing mentors in my life.  To date, this life coaching has never stopped and I refuse to live without accountability in all I do.  There is tremendous safety in it.  It is partly why Mary and I celebrate 36 years of marriage tomorrow!  Commitment to a local church, an overseer/spiritual parent and personal accountability (through someone who is willing to ask us the hard questions), as we walk through life, keeps a spirit of resistance (to challenge and change) at bay and reinforces our walk with humility.





Opinions Vs. Convictions

23 05 2011

To all my friends who are leaders entertaining the many requests and opinions of others…a little life experience to you.

Have you ever gotten tired of the opinions of others concerning worship,  your messages, small groups,  the elders,  the chair set up and your son’s latest tattoo?  How come everyone has given themselves the job of making sure you are aware of what it is they like and do not like at your local church?  Everyone has an opinion about their brother or sister and how they make decisions for themselves.  Everyone likes to have your ear when it comes to their personal thoughts and direction for you, the elders and the church.  How do we wade through it all?  Who is right and who is wrong?  Do we just close ourselves off and not listen or become numb to it all?

 Jesus was at a Feast one day as recorded in John chapter 7.  He sent  his disciples ahead and then traveled there in secret.  People were talking about Him at the Feast and He began to teach them.  He said something that really stood out to me the other day in my devotional time.  In verse 16 He revealed that His teaching was from the Father, it was not His own.  He then said if we choose to do God’s will, we will find out if His teaching is from God (conviction) or simply from Himself (opinion).  And then verse 18…”He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself (opinion), but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him (conviction).”  It hit me that He was addressing opinions versus convictions. 

 What do I mean?  An opinion according to this verse is to preserve one’s own thoughts and ideas, to gain honor for oneself.  It is made up of this worlds wisdom.  It is spoken at times to protect the one sharing the opinion.  A conviction, however, is spoken to protect the integrity of another; to honor what another has spoken as truth.  An opinion can be offered in true humility and be very helpful, but a conviction is spoken from the spirit because of a greater truth one feels compelled to uphold.  I would not die for my opinions, but I would for my convictions deeply rooted in my faith.

 May the Author of the Holy Scriptures reveal His truth to you today, as well as, His insight and discernment to determine the difference in the many opinions that come your way versus the spoken convictions of truth.





Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For #8

16 05 2011

This is the eight in a series of what traits to look for in a life mate.  While the following sets a high standard, one that perhaps few will initially reach, each area identified is an important character trait to look for and inquire about as you consider a lifelong marriage partner.

8.  Does this person walk in accountability?  Does this person have a mentoring relationship with a pastor or other spiritual leader, someone they have given authority to speak into his/her life, to provide challenge and correction?   Can you speak into his/her life freely and can this person receive your input?  Is this person accountable with personal possessions, finances and their spiritual disciplines?  Do you feel any ongoing resistance when it comes to the discipline of accountability or submission to spiritual authority? (Hebrews 4:13)

Accountability says a lot about character and maturity.  It says that this person is not wanting to hide anything before God and man.  They are open to input and correction.  No one is perfect and each one of us need spiritual mothers and fathers to speak into our lives.  While receiving accountability,  is this person actively mentoring others?  Are they sowing into others what they themselves are receiving?  If we appreciate spiritual authority in our lives as a single person, we will appreciate it even more as a married person.  Who is loving you enough to speak the truth into your life, providing accountability and correction?





Finding a Life Mate: The Character Traits Worth Looking For #7

10 05 2011

This is the seventh in a series of what traits to look for in a life mate.  While the following sets a high standard, one that perhaps few will initially reach, each area identified is an important character trait to look for and inquire about as you consider a lifelong marriage partner.

7.  Is this person free to remain single?  To truly be free to marry one day, one must possess the true peace, contentment and freedom to remain single.  (I Timothy 6:6)  This does not mean that you have the gift of singleness, but that you embrace, enjoy and walk in contentment with your status as a single person until the day arrives when you say, “I do.”  Is this person pursuing marriage or pursuing maturity?  Mature persons, when married, tend to remain married and are better able to work through difficult issues.  Immature persons pursue marriage because they believe it will meet certain needs they have.  It is the mature person who can recognize the needs of others and it is the immature person who gets stuck on requiring, sometimes demanding, others to meet their needs.  Finally, is this person idolizing the concept of marriage, or is he/she willing to wait for God’s clear direction and choice of a life mate? (I Corinthians 7:1, 2, 25-27, 36, 37)

A fisherman friend of mine asked me one day, “How come Jesus says we are to be fishers of men when fishing is all about the deception and trickery of baiting an unsuspecting fish?”  I told him that fishing with bait was not deceptive, but attractive and luring.  The fish are drawn to your lure because they see it as meeting a need for food.  As believers we are to be attractive, a fragrance of the living God, so we draw in and engage those who are in need of spiritual food.  If you remain satisfied as a single in your relationship with Jesus, i.e., fulfilled, you will be attractive.





Haiti 2011

6 05 2011

I am going to digress from my usual finding a life mate blog this week to let you in on the sights and sounds of my recent Haiti trip.  I hope you enjoy it.

The stupid rooster starts crowing long before daylight.  We awake, we talk, we pray, we shower, enjoy a quick breakfast and experience a genuine Haitian water baptism service and it’s only 6:45 AM once all this is completed.

Haiti begins to move about, starting fires with charcoal for breakfast or hot water; people shuffling around here and there with some place to go, but most have no employment.  Where are they going; what are they doing?  Some are headed to Prayer Mountain while others are foraging for some form of food.  The fortunate children, those with sponsors, are headed to that much coveted place called school.

Overcrowded buses and “tap taps” with bodies and bananas hanging all over the sides are headed down the highway at speeds too scary to guess at.  Most are headed to a market or to Port Au Prince.  The market hucksters are selling rice, beans, bananas, vegetables, dresses and jeans, sunglasses and cell phone paraphernalia.  Car horns are constantly blowing.  It doesn’t take long to discover that it’s the most important part of the car. 

It’s hot.  It’s dusty and in most buildings in the village, it’s dark due to no electricity.  It takes an effort to push through a day sweating in discomfort.  There is no A/C and no fans to push the air around.  Still leaders gather from numerous churches.  They long to hear, to be taught God’s word and leadership principles.  These leaders are very auditory and visual.  If they hear and if they see demonstration, they will usually connect to your point.

We teach our hearts out.  It’s similar to the material we taught the year before and the year before that.  We are asking God for “community transformation” through the value of work and entrepreneurial thinking.  Is it connecting?  Are they catching the words about honesty, high moral character and integrity?  They have not seen these things modeled in their country.  How do we know if the training is effective or the translation correct?  How much information do they actually understand?  Why do only a few young people take notes?  Can they read and write?

This latest trip to Montrouis, Haiti, an hour north of Port Au Prince, convinced me that some are beginning to catch a few things we have been teaching.  This trip encouraged me when they expressed gratefulness that we came to Haiti to see them when they cannot pay us or reimburse payment for our flights.  I was encouraged by the crudely made “Certificate of Recognition” handed to us the night before we left.  That certificate reads in part, “This certifies that this pastor Steve Prokopchak has done a lot of effort to bring…godly life…value…that these children can live in unity…for services rendered during the years that we had benefited from these trips.”  It was all the recognition one needs along with their beautiful smiles across that always youthful looking ebony skin.

Haiti is a difficult place for a North American…well, this North American.  But, just before departing, one of the Haitian DOVE pastors came to us and said, “I am starting to get this…either we change our community or our community will change us.”  I was now convinced that they were, in fact “getting it.”  I look forward to returning to see the change.








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