Intentionally Investing in the Lives of People

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girl inspiration_97713707 Toward the Goal Ministries aims to love God by loving people, walking with them toward growth, health and discovering life purpose. We exist to meet the emotional, spiritual and relational needs of individuals through coaching, mentoring and servant leadership training.

Toward the Goal offers:

  • Coaching
  • Mentoring Relationships/Training
  • Human Trafficking Awareness
  • Servant Leadership Training Programs
  • Marketplace Ministry Opportunities
  • Character Development Initiatives
  • DISC Personality Assessments

Toward the Goal Ministries is governed by a Board of Directors and is supported by individuals who share the vision of helping people by intentionally investing in them. Toward the Goal Ministries is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. All contributions are tax deductible.

Toward the Goal Ministries to Offer Leadership Huddles

Whether you lead and serve people in business, the faith community, education or another area of life, we invite you and your team to experience “Leadership Huddles.” TTG Founder and Servant Leadership Coach, Bruce Hamsher, along with other guest presenters will share quarterly leadership lessons followed by smaller peer discussion groups, also known as “Huddles.”

Our aim is to bring high quality, field-tested leadership training closer to home and make it more accessible to local leaders. Come ready to learn, grow and be stretched within your own personal leadership opportunities.

Meetings will begin at 9:30 a.m. and conclude at noon at Keim Lumber in Charm (second floor conference room).

Thursday, February 15th– Bruce Hamsher and Dan Owolabi, Campus Pastor of New Pointe Community Church, Wooster

Thursday, May 17th– Bruce Hamsher and Kevin Mast, CEO of Mast Trucking 

Thursday, August 16th– Bruce Hamsher and Zach Coblentz, Leader at Hartville Hardware

Thursday, November 15th– Bruce Hamsher and Sam Yoder, President of Berlin Gardens

A donation of $125/per day of training is suggested. All tax-deductible donations will cover training expenses and will greatly help fund our rapidly growing ministry. Contributions may be collected the day of each event or sent in advance to Toward the Goal Ministries, Inc. at P.O. Box 681, Sugarcreek, Ohio 44681.  A box lunch will also be provided at the conclusion of the program.  

Contact Wes Miller at wes.miller5213@gmail.com or 330-763-3304 to reserve your spot as space is limited. 

                                

Mentoring Impacts Lives

We are so excited to be invited into the local public schools to walk alongside middle and high school students. There is nothing like community members who desire to invest in their kids- encouraging, offering perspective and a safe place to ask questions. As a parent, I know I’m needed but to have another caring adult(s) who will take time to speak life into my sons is incredible. Each student is valuable and possess unlimited God-given potential. We want to be another voice in their life to come alongside and point it out.

Mentor Training at the TTG Office

Mentor Training at the TTG office

The No Complaining Rule

One of the most interesting books I’ve read over the past several years is, “The No Complaining Rule” by Jon Gordon. It has really changed my perspective and continues to challenge me with turning my complaints into solutions. The rule is fairly simplistic…We can’t mindlessly complain about something without also providing a potential solution to the problem. Three things really jump out at the reader.

1. I call it the And Yet principle. This simple strategy helps us turn our complaints into positive thoughts, solutions and actions. Here’s how it works… When negativity is heard or felt, simply add the words And Yet, followed by a positive, uplifting statement or perspective. Example: I get tired of washing the dishes, and yet, I’m grateful to have food every day to make them dirty.

2. Focus on Get To instead of Have To. Many times we focus first on what we have to do. In doing so, it can become an annoying obligation we may choose to eventually resent. The truth is, we don’t Have To if we choose to Get To do whatever it is. In all we do, we can attempt to continually create and nurture this type of culture. We Get To earn a living…be a blessing to our co-workers…shine our light to customers…focus on what is going right and ultimately to be grateful in all we do. Example: Do I Have To pay taxes or do I Get To drive on smooth roads and/or help fund my child’s education by paying salaries of the educators?

3. Turn Complaints into Solutions. Mindless complaining is one of the easiest, yet most toxic things any of us could take part in. A justified complaint is fine to present, as long as, we give a mindful solution to the issue. A mindless complaint is negative and life-draining while a mindful solution is positive and life-giving. The point is to identify and address the problem only if we plan to progress toward a solution. Example: Instead of thinking, Why is everyone so stupid around here?!…Ask, How could I communicate my expectations with better clarity?

Grab a copy of the book or go here for more information www.nocomplainingrule.com

Bruce Hamsher                                                                                                                    CEO, Toward the Goal Ministries

Human Trafficking Awareness

We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Human Trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where people profit from the control and exploitation of others through force, fraud or coercion, as seen in both the labor and sex industries. The thirty-two billion dollar a year human trafficking industry is one of the fastest growing criminal activities, second only to drug trafficking (US Dept of Justice). Human trafficking happens worldwide, and Ohio now ranks 4th in the nation for human trafficking hotline calls (Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force Report, 2017). EVEN CLOSER TO HOME, VICTIMS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED IN TUSCARAWAS COUNTY. Toward the Goal Ministries is a partner of the Tuscarawas County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force. We provide human trafficking awareness/resources to our community, businesses and faith community.

Because we know that mentoring is critical to trafficking healing and recovery, we want to serve those at-risk by investing in their lives proactively, walk alongside sex trafficking survivors as they heal and recover, and equip and empower those who are struggling to find freedom from pornography, a contributing factor which can feed demand.

As a ministry, we are continuously raising funds to put toward anti-trafficking efforts and other arms of the ministry, including mentoring activities, mentor training, and resources for leadership, growth, and development. If you would like to partner with us or for more information, please send us a message on our Contact Us page or email Jocelyn at jocelyn@towardthegoal.net.

Partnering with the Tuscarawas County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force

Toward the Goal Ministries has been a partner of the Tuscarawas County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force since it’s formation in the summer of 2016. God has laid human trafficking on my heart for years and yet I never knew what to do with it– it all seemed so overwhelming. I began to explore Rahab Ministries in Akron, a ministry reaching out to the broken women of the city of Akron, and went through their volunteer training. I served a few times but began to wonder if there was human trafficking occurring closer to home, in our county. After much prayer and with confirmation from the Lord I made a phone call to the Domestic Violence Shelter in Tuscarawas County. Yes, our county had a need. Yes, they were seeing victims. It just so happened, the director from the Children’s Advocacy Center was trying to spearhead a task force at that time and so I was given her contact information. We connected and she invited me to a meeting–  there were five of us that gathered in March of 2016 and we began to meet monthly. Several more joined the group and by the summer we were officially a task force. 

Today, there are twenty of us sitting around the table…. law enforcement, federal agents, counselors, social service providers, medical professionals, and more. Our focus is to bring training to professionals and formulate a collaborative response plan as victims are identified. As things continue to roll out, the scope of awareness will broaden to our community.

We stand in awe of how God moves.We at TTG believe that He’s breaking ground in our community, bringing light to the darkness and revealing His truth and unconditional, steadfast love to all of us. We feel called to be a part of that.

Common Myths About Human Trafficking

Myth: Human trafficking does not occur in the United States. It only happens in other countries.
Fact: The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports at least 100,000 American children a year are victimized through child sexual exploitation. Since 2007, the National Human Trafficking hotline, operated by Polaris, received reports of more than 4,800 labor trafficking cases inside the United States.

Myth: Sex trafficking exists because victims choose to participate.
Fact: Trafficking exists because there is a demand for sexual services, vulnerable people, and it is profitable for sex traffickers. In terms of sex trafficking victims, some initially enter the sex industry voluntarily, however many are tricked, coerced, forced into, and/or held under debt bondage within the industry (International Labor Organization).

Myth: Victims of trafficking are always looking for a way to escape and will reach out to anyone for help.

Fact: Victims of trafficking are unlikely to self-identify or disclose details regarding their situation to anyone, including law enforcement, healthcare workers, service providers, neighbors or community members. They fear retaliation by their trafficker and do not build trust easily with others. Because of the trauma bond with the trafficker formed by fear and abuse, they remain loyal and do not perceive themselves as victims (Shared Hope Int’l).

 Did you know?

Parents and family members may sell their children to sustain their drug addiction. In Tuscarawas County, 2014- Sept. 2016 there have been 347 cases of drug overdose (Tuscarawas Co Sherriff’s Office).

Human trafficking is a hidden crime. Tuscarawas County agencies have identified 11 trafficking victims since 2012- fall of 2016 (Tuscarawas Co. CAC, Compass Rape Crisis Center, PFCS), indicating there are many more who haven’t been identified and even more who are at risk.

Data collected from AkronCanton.Backpage.com (December 15, 2014-March 23, 2015) indicates Northeast Ohio has an existing commercial sex industry. Data indicates sex trafficking is occurring within the inner city but is more commonly occurring in the suburbs and rural areas near major highway systems. Dover and New Philadelphia were identified as locations of 26 advertisements listed on Backpage and 19 more were identified along Highway 77 (Akron/Canton Backpage Report).

Unaccompanied children are especially vulnerable to exploitation. The Office of Refugee Resettlement, from the fall of 2014-August 2016, reports that 170 unaccompanied minors have been placed in Tuscarawas County. After placement with sponsors, there is little follow-up. Sponsor information is often incorrect and sponsors are not vetted very well (Latino Cultural Connections).

Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity, second only to drug trafficking, generating more than 32 billion dollars annually (U.S. Dept of Justice). Traffickers see human trafficking as “low risk, high reward,” as they can only sell drugs once but a human being over and over.

 

What advice would you give your younger self?

Not too long ago, my husband was asked, “What advice would you, as a 48 year old, give your 25 year old self?” I thought it was a great question- one that caused me to reflect on what I have been learning over the past 20 years and sharpens my focus once again of who I am becoming. So on a recent trip to our favorite hiking spot, I had a weekend of reflection with God on this question and this is what came to me.

To my 25 year old self,

1. Discover the joy of being you and be confident in it.  There are some that will not like you, or your strengths will make them uncomfortable. This doesn’t make you bad or wrong. Keep growing and walking in who God made you to be- humbly and confidently. Know your identity in Christ and your value as a woman made in His image. Do not let man or culture limit you.

2. Release anxiety to prayer- tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done (Phil 4:6-7). Make it a practice not to ruminate but to turn anxious thoughts (or overthinking) into prayers. There’s something comforting and reassuring about naming issues to the One who is far bigger than any of them. And as you thank Him for all He has done and what He will do, it reminds you of all the ways He’s carried you in the past, that He’s ever faithful and has it all under control. 

3. Slow down in life and exude Christ’s peace- people need it. When we are continually hurried in life, it shows. Chaos is contagious- people feel it and it spreads. Our hurrying is reflected in our thinking, our actions, and in the way we treat people. Our capacity to enjoy the moment falls to the wayside and the well of emotional reserve helping us to respond rather than react, gradually runs dry. But when we are self-aware and choose to rest in Christ’s peace rather than harried emotion, people feel the difference. Calm is contagious. 

4. The way you think determines the way you live, so dwell on truth. This truth is foundational. The way you think will be your growth and flourishing or your oppression. It’s your choice. You have to do the hard work of sorting through your “stuff”, the battling of retraining your thinking to reflect and focus on truth. And if you ever are battling with the lie of “not good enough” just remember that He is. It is finished (John 19:30). Be careful how you think, your life is shaped by your thoughts (Proverbs 4:23). Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent and praiseworthy. Think on these things (Phil. 4:8). 

5. Love, even if you don’t agree, and continue to pray. There will come a day when you realize you can’t control things or people. But you can pray and entrust them to your loving and “above and beyond” Father who can do the impossible…whether that be transform the uncontrollable or transform you. When you hand things over (and sometimes repeatedly) control can give way to surrender, trust, and dependence. Your job is to love like Christ and continue to pray (Luke 18:1-8).

6. Take time to discern. Don’t be so quick to rush into things. Whether meaning well in order to fix/help, making a decision or because you’re looking for a new challenge, take time to collect information, hear from all sides, get counsel. Take time to pray and “sit in” things before making the call. Walking in wisdom leads to far less repair and regret.

7. Everyone is broken – don’t “hate” or elevate. When you get to know people, you see we all have hurts, areas to grow in, and insecurities. Don’t put people on a pedestal, it’s not fair to them and they didn’t ask to be there. Don’t hurt with your “hate”, jealousy or fear. Instead of distancing, reach out. When we take the time to get to know people and see them as valuable, we can be surprised to learn how much we have in common and appreciate them in a whole new way. 

8. Cheer each other on and help others get ahead. Rather than be self-centered, territorial and insecure, take an interest in others by asking them questions and genuinely listening and caring to what they have to say. Be the first in line to celebrate with them. Give them opportunity if it’s in your power to do so. Connect them with others you know who may be a resource for them. Share with them what you know if it can help them. Invest. Pour into. You really will experience joy and fulfillment  in coming underneath others and helping them get ahead. 

9. The Faith Adventure is the road to take. In choosing to follow Jesus in faith, you will experience more than you could ever have imagined, you will grow to know, love, enjoy and trust in your faithful Father and you will develop more and more of Christ’s character along the way. If you follow Him on the faith adventure, you will have the ride of your life. The faith adventure isn’t always easy but it is the only road worth taking.

10. Be courageous in what Jesus is calling you to do. It’s going to be okay because He’s going first. Jesus will never call you where He isn’t leading the way (Matthew 16:13-19). Keep your heart and eyes on Him.

11. One step at a time. When you don’t know what you’re doing because you’ve never done it before, Jesus will guide you through one step at a time. You don’t have to be overwhelmed. Pray, ask questions, explore, take a step of courage and learn from it. Keep the vision as you move forward. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:14

Every day, receive His grace. Be available for the Holy Spirit and the people He entrusts to you. Don’t worry so much about your calling, just follow Jesus one day at a time and you will be smack dab in the center of His will. 

Love,

Your 45 year old self

 

 

Being a Torch-Passer

Blog post from Titus 2 Mentoring Women 

Today’s guest post is from John Ortberg, author of If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat,  Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know ThemThe Me I Want to Be.  John is a pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California.

When it comes to spiritual formation, it’s hard to find anything that rivals the impact of a mentor…a ‘torch-bearer’ who becomes a ‘torch-passer’.  We’re all being nudged toward the life of “torch-passer” in the unique way you will express it.  It’s as if God gives this torch of life, this light of life with Him and anytime somebody receives it He says, “Now, I want you to be a keeper of the flame.  I want you to be a passer of the torch.  I want you to use this life I’ve given you to build into the lives of other people.”  This is absolutely a fundamental need for every human being whether or not they’re a parent, whether or not they’re young or old.

Paul writes to Timothy when Timothy is quite young and Paul is aging and he says, “You, my son be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus that is in this life with God.  The things you heard me say, this Good News about Jesus and the life, the forgiveness, the direction He offers, the Good News that you have heard me say and trust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others”.  In other words, Timothy is young, but he is to be a torch passer as well.  Paul gives the torch to Timothy and he says, “This is not just about you.  You give it to reliable people.  But don’t let them keep it.  They’re to give it to reliable people as well.”  This is one person to another to another to another.  Everybody who knows Jesus had somebody, some people, pass the torch to them.

The question is who are you building into?  Who are you passing the torch to?  Who are you investing in?  When you get to the end of your life, who is going to say, “I’m a better person.  I walk a little taller.  I stand a little straighter.  My faith is a little stronger because I was loved by a torch-passer?”

The kind of community we all want to be a part of is one where mantles are being distributed and torches are being passed.  That sends ripples for generations!

The choice is in your hands.  You can do this.  This is not a program.  It’s not a service.  It happens one mentor at a time.  It happens when someone says “Alright God, I want to be a part of this deal.”

The greatest torch in the history of the human race was passed to those 12 and then beyond and then beyond and then beyond and then beyond until right now.  It’s the only torch that matters.  Who are you passing it to?  It doesn’t really matter how well you think you carry the torch if you’re not giving it to somebody else.

When the time comes for your life to end, don’t you want a group of people saying “I’m a better human being because of her?”

Ask God.
Pass the torch.

 

Beautifully Vulnerable

“As long as you run from where you are and distract yourself, you cannot fully let yourself be healed. A seed only flourishes by staying in the ground in which it is sown.”            Henri Nouwen

One of the most common issues I discuss with young women is how disconnected they feel from themselves. In the midst of work, school, relationships with family and friends and a variety of everyday stresses and pressures, there is a part of them that can close off to survive. And while this may go unnoticed at first, the gap created will eventually make itself known through feelings of emptiness, chronic stress and even depression.
It has been an honor to walk with these women as they begin the process of rediscovering who they are as God’s beloved daughters. So much rests on the shifting of perspective and focus, no matter how small: from daily burdens to daily victories, from disabilities to abilities, from frustration with others to seeking understanding, from hiding away to speaking personal truth. It is a slow process, and brings them face-to-face with the wounds that closed them off in the first place. But as they recognize their strength and capacity to persevere in difficult situations, new joy emerges. They relax a little more and shake off one fear at a time. They acknowledge their imperfections and struggles with a sense of forward movement and an embrace of Grace. They are willing to try new things and allow themselves to be beautifully vulnerable, staying open even when it’s painful in order to receive the healing He wants to give. It is a privilege to witness these transformations in process, and to give God the glory for His Power in our lives!

Annie Slabach, Mentor and Certified Biblical Counselor

Managing Our Emotions

Emotions are God-given and are a blessing in that we can experience life- the joys and the sorrows. They can keep us in-tune with what’s going on around us and empathetic toward others. Righteous anger can propel us on a mission to bring justice to a cause. However, I think we have all experienced at one time or another (some of us more than once :-) that out of control emotions can get the best of us. Out of control emotions can blind us to truth, cloud our thinking or do some damage in our relationships.

In order to manage our emotions we can incorporate an action plan. We can train our brains to do things differently. The key is slowing down. Whatever it may be: anger, shame, embarrassment, anxiety, etc., each of us can think about applying the following actions to better manage runaway emotions:

1. See it and know yourself. In other words, learn to name the emotion you are experiencing, why it surfaced and know your normal “default” or response pattern with this emotion. Do you normally react by lashing out, feeling guilty, stuffing your feelings, demeaning yourself or others, blaming, etc?

2. Delay it. Apply the brakes to your emotion by keeping the prefrontal cortex which is the “CEO or thinking” part of our brain joined with the limbic system or emotional part of the brain. When we are experiencing an emotional charge, our emotions can take over and override executive functions like rational thinking and decision making (discerning between good and bad, better and best). So the trick here is to do something that keeps the thinking brain engaged with the emotional brain. Research has shown that if we take a six second delay we can reroute our reaction for a more positive response because we are keeping the two parts of the brain connected. In other words, we can choose to respond rather than react. For example, if we can distract our brains by taking six deep breaths, counting to six in a foreign language (not our primary language as that is too natural for our brains), speak Scripture to ourselves or pray for six seconds, “Lord help me to love well. Come Holy Spirit,” we are slowing down the normal reaction process. We are applying Proverbs 16:32, “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”

3. Control it. Now that the thinking part of the brain is still engaged, we can imagine the results and employ some good decision making in our response. Evaluate the choices you have in responding, asking yourself some questions…. “In knowing who I want to be, what response would enable me to keep my vision? Is my response going to enable me to love well? What is my anger doing to those around me? How is my emotion making others feel right now? Do I/we need to create a healthy and safe distance right now and plan a time to come back and process it together? Do I need to surrender my rights to be right in this conversation for this time?” As we ask and answer these questions to ourselves, we can respond in a more controlled way.

4. Own it. In other words, apologize and take responsibility for owning what’s yours, learn from it and implement new patterns displaying growth and development. Practice empathy, come alongside another and put on their “lenses” – how they are seeing the situation and why they would feel the way they do. Many people, including you and me, can honestly say they don’t wake up and decide they are going to act like jerks that day. Just like there is more to our perspective and why we feel the way we do, there is more to theirs as well. Let’s meet people where they are and seek to understand them. Along with practicing empathy, manage your thoughts and think on truth (Phil. 4:8), forgive, love and move forward.

God continues to teach us and grow us to be like Him. So in this process, not overnight fix :-) , of managing runaway emotions we have to have empathy with ourselves also when we don’t handle them well. We’re not after perfection, we’re after progress. And the way to truly and beautifully be transformed is through the power and grace of the Holy Spirit. He is faithful and will continue to work in us. Be blessed as you continue to learn and grow!

 

 

 

It’s more the WHO than the DO

“It’s more the WHO than the DO.” Young athletes must understand it’s much more important who they are, than what they do. If they get this order wrong it’s very dangerous because they will be building an identity around something that can easily be taken away. (One injury will do it.)

Their “doing” is based on performance and we know that, like Bruce Springsteen, one day their “Glory Days” of high school athletics will come to an end. However, “who” they are speaks of them as a person and we know that they will take this person with them wherever they go in life. If they never form a healthy identity of “who” they are, they will never reach full maturity. (Think Stability and Security over Statistics.)

Speaker Tim Elmore explains how a healthy identity looks a lot like a fully-grown tree.

Roots – The roots below represent one’s identity. Roots are unseen but are most important to the strength of the tree. They must be deep and intertwined with others.

Trunk – The trunk is visible and represents one’s core strength and vitality. Strong roots result in a strong trunk which can withstand adverse storms and high winds.

Fruit – The branches and ultimately the fruit represent the life-giving attributes of the athlete. Only with genuinely strong roots and a strong core do we get good fruit worth sharing with others.

Over time, the most healthy, resilient athletes are the result of coaches and mentors who enable them to build their identity around solid, life-giving elements beyond their sport(s) of choice.

Athletes need coaches who model for them the elements of a healthy identity…  

*It revolves around the “life-giving” characteristics inside of us.

*It’s based on internal and eternal elements which cannot be taken away.

*It’s built upon self-worth and core beliefs that will last a lifetime.

*It involves solving problems together and serving people.

*It furnishes a platform to leave a legacy.

As a coach, prepare the athlete for the path, not the path for the athlete.