Tuesday, November 28, 2017

How to Evaluate a partner

I am asked to give advice regularly about decisions that need to be made concerning partnerships. This covers a broad range of relationships from marriage partners to business partners. It is a tricky subject because often time the person who comes to me has already made up their mind emotionally. So how does a person make the correct decision?

Over my years of working with people, I have found great truth and wisdom by seeking and exploring three areas of life that expose a person's character and integrity. These are not fool proof nor are they an exhaustive list. I have found by watching people that most of the time these tools can prove to be rather telling and help make that critical decision.

Here are three ways you can evaluate the character and integrity of a potential partner.

Their past decisions

Decisions tell a lot about an individual. How they make them and why they make them often is repetitive. There are many factors to look at when evaluating someone's past decisions.  One of the first places I look is motive. Why did that individual walk away from a past relationship? Are they most concerned about self preservation and agenda or do they look out for the good of others. 

More than one time, I have observed someone leave a situation because things got tough for them. So how does a person discern another person's motives? It is quite simple..... listen. They will tell you what motivates them. Often, we do not listen to what we do not want to hear. When a person uses the word "I", "financially" or "fit" these can be subtle cues. It isn't a wrong thing to simply ask, "what are your motives?"

Another thing to consider when looking at past decisions is do they have a track record of effective decisions that were productive and fruitful. The best partners make good decisions consistently. This does not mean that people do not make mistakes. Usually, those who make poor decisions and are good partners rebound by making the next good decision.

Their present routine

Look at how a person operates. What do they do on a regular basis. What does the day to day look like. Are they a plodder or do they live in crisis mode? I have found that the best partners have a method and pattern to their work and relationships. Some people live in theory. They have great ideas and plans but somehow it never comes into reality. I would say it this way, "they look good on paper." What you are looking for is someone who follows through and finishes what they start. Again, this is not to say that circumstances and situations that life delivers can derail us all at some point but the key is consistency.

Look at what they do in their spare time. Do they live a balanced life or is their focus all in one direction? If you have a potential partner who is always running ahead to the next big thing, you can bet this will be how they operate with you. If they drag their feet and are always lagging behind, you will feel those effects as well.

Their closes allies - inputs

Who does that person align with? It is important to know the people in your potential partners life. You are who you hang with. Some people like to hang with people who they want to be like. This gives others the allusion that they have arrived. Others hang out with people they believe they are better than. This gives them the edge they are looking for. The people that you want to align with are those who humbly relate to everyone well. They believe in their core that "we" are always better than "me". A person who is seen in many circles usually is a better choice to partner with.

These three important keys can help thwart a disaster. Let me advise you to take some time to evaluate. Any partnership worth joining deserves a thorough evaluation. Asking questions to others about a person can prove to be very helpful.

Can you think of a partnership that should have never happened? More than likely, if they would have looked into these simple aspects, it would have saved them a mountain of grief.

Choose your partnerships well!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Move the Stand

You will learn from your mistakes or you will repeat them. This sums up how I harvested a nice Illinois nine pointer this year. The 2016 bow season was filled with errors and mistakes for this hunter. I had not put in the proper preparation and I paid for it dearly.  Close does not apply in our sport. It is all or nothing to celebrate success.

I was determined not to repeat last year so I made a physical list and began step by step to improve my program. The first thing I did when April rolled around was move a stand. I had seen many deer fifty yards to the south from the stand I was hunting. Few came into range. With some good conversation and scouting, my friend Doug Althide and I found a mature tree near the local watering hole. We made short work putting up the stand and cutting out the shooting lanes.

The second thing was to re-work my bow. I had it re-strung. I purchased new arrows, and switched over to a mechanical broad head. Lastly, I decided to purchase Luminox nocks. Having the ability to more effectively track deer, was critical moving forward. I dialed in my bow in the off season with more practice than usual. I was ready to hunt.

 On the first Thursday in November, I set up shop in my new spot. With some rattling and buck grunts, I called in a button buck and a six pointer. After fifteen minutes of watching them under my stand, I decided to take the button buck. This provided deer for the freezer and I was excited about what was next.

I decided to go out again on the next Monday evening. It was a great hunt where I had 6 doe under the stand  at  four o' clock for about twenty minutes with no hint that I was sitting on top of them. No shots were taken.  I was looking for a mature buck and seeing all the doe, I was ready to come back, knowing a big buck would be in the neighborhood.

The very next night I got in about three o' clock. The wind had shifted to the north. It was quiet and no movement at all. As four p.m. approached I noticed a buck approaching me from the fence line to the north. He was a big bodied deer with an adequately sized nine point rack. He was not trolling but rather just meandering toward me. As he came right in front of me and stopped, I drew back and delivered the perfect heart shot. He jumped and ran down into the woods to the east of the stand and dropped.

It was as easy as it gets. I wrote the story last year as I began to plan for this year. It happened just like I planned. I had learned a ton from a very unsuccessful year last year. If you will learn from your mistakes, you will not repeat them. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sweet Tater Pie

One of  Forty Two
I learned one of the lessons of success a long time ago. Showing up when it is cold, hot, rainy, early or late often produces the best results. A key to success in hunting and fishing is simply showing up. I can't even begin to count the times when I almost talked myself out of going. Yet, the vast amount of times that I decided to go, has produced tremendous payoffs. This was once again that same ole scenario.

We were experiencing an intense heat wave in Illinois in the middle of July. The heat index had been over one hundred for a solid week. I had just gotten off the road from traveling for the past ten days. My good friend Mike Roux invited me to go fishing at one of our favorite fishing holes. He told me that we would be off the water by eight a.m. because of the extreme heat. I took him up on his offer and we met at five a.m. the next morning.

When we arrived it was about 80 degrees air temperature. The lake that we fish is about 30 acres and next to a major highway. There is practically no shade around the edge but it does have many small willow trees surrounding the banks which provides shade for the fish. The edges have good cover and plays right into the hands of a bass fisherman.

It did not take long before I caught my first bass. I started the morning using a deep running chartreuse crankbait . My friend used his usual top water moto-lure. The fish were biting and we had not reached daylight yet. This particular lake had nearly shut out my buddy Mike just six hours earlier. He comes to town on business so usually he fishes this lake later in the evening and early mornings.

We both caught a handful of fish before day light. As soon as the sun began to peak, Mike switched his program to a Strike King Shim-e-stick. The color the bass like the most is Sweet Tater Pie. He switched simply to try something  different. As Mike began to cast, the fish were blowing his line up. Fish after fish I netted for him. It got me thinking real quick so I made the move to join his party.

It was at that time when I switched over to the Strike King lure. We caught forty two fish in that short three hours. I had never been fishing where every spot was a good spot. We fished the entire perimeter of the thirty acre lake and never stopped catching fish. The length and weight varied. Mike caught a 3 pound 11 ounce bass. The one pictured about was 3 pounds 6 ounces.

As we started to load up, Mike repeated something he has said to me a thousand times. "Ninety percent is showing up." If you desire to catch the big one or hook the big haul, remember that it will never talk place while you are sleeping.

Sweet Tater Pie

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Silver Bullet

I have been fortunate to harvest several gobblers over the past ten years. Being at the right farm with the right people has helped tremendously. Skills have been developed and experience has paid off in a big way to become a successful turkey hunter. This year the story writes differently.

I selected the third season to hunt in Hancock county Illinois this year. There was a variety of reasons but probably the most significant was the availability of my favorite hunting spot. The farm that I hunt is owned by a dear friend who is very gracious in our selection of places we can hunt.

"Kill hill" as I call it, has harvested countless mature Tom's over the years. I was quite certain that this year would be no different. In week one, I filmed for outdoor writer, Mike Roux. He killed a Jake at the same place we always have success. There was no reason for me to believe that I was not going to have the same fortune.

My first morning was on a Friday. I was pumped to begin the weekend on a turkey hunt. Everything went as planned that morning. I identified birds on the roost early and they were everywhere more than any place else. The gobbling stopped as the Tom pitched off the roost but that was not surprising. It has happened many times and did not effect the final outcome. The short story is that I did not see a turkey in the field all morning. It was not time to be discouraged, for I had five more days to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes.

Day two began and ended much like day one. Early gobbling... once off the roost.... silence. I was committed to staying put in my honey hole. Taking so many birds in one spot at the very highest point of the farm is a formula a guy does not want to mess with. Day three and four were similar to the first two days. The birds would just not come to the field like the last several years. It was time to change it up on day five. I spoke with Mike Roux on the phone. I shared my dilemma and he gave me a few tips. The advice was no silver bullet but at least it gave me a plan.

The harvested bird is on the right.
Steve Wollbrink, a fellow hunter and leader in the church where I pastor, texted me around nine on Monday evening. He asked if anyone was filming my hunt. I responded with a "no" and he said I will be at your house at five a.m. The next morning Steve and I were talking on the way to the farm about the plan for the morning. He thought it would be best to go right to the creek at the bottom of the property from the very beginning. I could not argue the point, being that his father owns the adjacent farm and he had hunted the bottoms for years himself.

We arrived and made quick work of getting set up. It was no time before we heard a Tom gobbling on the roost about fifty yards away. I thought to myself "this is gonna happen and happen as soon as he pitches off the roost." I hit my Mountain Screamer box call. It wasn't but a couple reps before he cut me off. I decided then to just sit still and wait for that moment. He gobbled for the better part of a half an hour before we heard both him and two hens pitch off the roost.

The story repeats itself again. Once the birds got to the ground they became silent. I attempted a few purrs and clucks but to no avail. Steve whispered, "I would move but I don't know where to go." I had heard another gobbler up the hill early just after we set up but it was on Steve's dads farm. I asked Steve if we could cross the property boundary and hunt on his dads farm. He said yes!

We quickly snuck our way up the hill and to the edge of a unplowed corn field. As soon as we arrived I heard a gobble. It sounded like the bird was at the top of the hill and in the middle of the field. I set up my three decoys. I use two hens and a jake. Steve and I made our way to a super large tree with great cover and got ready. I hit my box call, followed with a quick round on my slate call. A minute or so later a big ole Tom began to strut in the middle of the field.

It was an amazing display for the next five minutes to watch this guy come down the hill, pirouetting, strutting, spitting and drumming! I let him come towards me at ten yards before taking him.

Some times you need something extra - favor, blessing, or a silver bullet....the filming guys dad's farm!!!

The Silver Bullet

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Thanks to a Great Church that Knew How to Love a Pastor's Children

It is time to write this article. In just a couple of days our twins will turn eighteen years old. My girls will have spent their entire schooling in the same church as pastor's kids. Their experience is rare. I do know of a few families who have had this kind of experience but I could count them on my fingers. Our four adult children love their church and continue to grow in their relationship with God. I am so grateful to God for our church. The people have come along Lisa and I to support us in the raising of children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Me taking a picture of Lisa taking a picture

I am so very proud of the church I have had the joy of pastoring for the last 13 years. I have watched these people love and support our family in some amazing ways. This blog is intended to be read by lay leaders and parishioners who have an interest in creating a healthy environment for pastors and their families. A faith community can be a wonderful place to gain support and encouragement in raising your children.

I have identified four ways that our church has really come through for our kids.

1. Love them like your own kids or grand kids. This requires the same kind of time and attention that it does in your own family. The people of Columbus Road adopted my children as grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and cousins. My children address Glenn and Joyce Koch as Grandpa Glenn and Grandma Joyce. They are not our my children's natural grandparents but they sure have been treated as such. The point is this... when you treat pastors kids as family, they will be shown a lot of love and grace. When my son comes back to visit, he always includes a trip over to Bob and Jeanette Speckhart's house for a game of Scrabble. They are family.

2. Have the same expectations that you have for yourself and your children. This is a biggy. I have never heard expectations given to my children that were not a standard for all to follow. My children have been to church more than any other person or family over the last thirteen years. Most people would do themselves a great service by holding themselves to the standard that they hold everyone else to.

3. Give them room to be regular kids. Our church family has not added pressure by adding expectations. The exact opposite has been true. They have allowed our kids to be kids. My children have participated in travel sports. This has meant time away on weekends over the years. It has also provided opportunity for my children through collegiate athletics. The folks have graciously embraced my kids interruptions in meetings, falling asleep during a prayer meeting, balls and bikes in the backyard, animals, loud music,and crazy hair styles just to name a few things.

4. Support their gifts and abilities. It has been a common occurrence to have people support our children's athletic, academic, ministry and career paths. Regularly, our church family has supported our kids interests and activities. They have supported by attending events, financial support, complements, and conversations. All of their efforts toward our children showed that they cared. Recently, Liz Yochum ( she is 82) asked me all about Madison's travels. She wanted to support her in an upcoming mission trip and wanted to know the details. This is one example of hundreds, where our children felt the love from our church family.

Columbus Road will always be home to our children. I love the relationships that have been developed over the years. My children will always foster those friendship because you fostered them first! God is going to use these children to reach their world for Him. Columbus Road, You played a big part in that!

P. Bob