Empowering others by valuing others.
It’s a simple yet strong philosophy, a principle appreciated worldwide. And it’s at the heart of Tim Roehl’s life’s work.
Stepping back, hearing what others have to say, and in the process giving a voice to everyone involved. It has been central to his life as a ministry leader as he has coached numerous others and started ChristLife in Blaine, and it has been at the core of a series of books, the latest, “Lead by Listening,” released in September.
“I have noticed as a leader and working with leaders that there is a huge need for leaders to do a better job of listening to the people they work with,” Roehl said. “Leaders need to learn how to listen more effectively. When you listen to people, you are showing them value, and people long to be valued. It makes the leader more effective and it gives everyone they listen to value. It promotes healthy teamwork and healthy corporate culture.”
In 1990, Tim, his wife and their two daughters moved from Milwaukee, where they had led a church for 10 years, to Blaine to plant ChristLife Evangelical Church. They have remained ever since, now helping coach other ministry leaders nearby and across the world through their organization Fit & Flourish.
“Helping leaders and teams in ministry find where they fit and flourish is the heart of what we do,” Roehl said. “Each book has a dimension that will contribute to that.
“Mark Twain said the two most important days in your life are the day you’re born and the day you find out why. For Fit & Flourish, it’s the day I can say, ‘This is where I belong’ and ‘This is what I was made for.’ In one sense or another the books that I write help people understand themselves – a good read on your personal skills, a healthy sense of identity and self-awareness – so you can focus your life where you know you’ll make the biggest difference. My definition of coaching is being able to help anyone, anywhere, anytime about anything. That’s a design to help people empower others.”
One of the key influences in Roehl’s writing has been Peter Marshall, chaplain of the U.S. Senate in the 1940s.
“He had a way of recreating biblical stories,” Roehl said. “I began creating stories in a similar way to help people see Jesus and feel, ‘That’s the Jesus I want to know.’”
Roehl has written three books in a series on Jesus, with his others aimed toward helping provide hands-on help to leaders in ministry and business.
“If leadership is being able to influence people, then everybody in some sense is a leader,” Roehl said. “Some do it from up front in front of a group, some leading from alongside, one-to-one or small groups, but everybody has a way they influence others. From that perspective, I wrote the book as a general book for everybody.
“Laser-focused leaders who don’t have a predisposition to listen to other people, they really miss opportunities in their leadership when they only focus on their own stuff.”
“Lead by Listening” is the eighth book Roehl has written, with four through publishers and four self-published. After 40 years in ministry in one form or another, the message may be a little sharper at this point, yet it remains largely unchanged since the start.
“When people ask me about writing, I tell them ‘If it’s in your heart to write, then write, whether anybody will ever read what you write or not,’” Roehl said. “You have to get it on paper or the screen. Most every one of my books has come from a sense of, there’s something I’ve been given to pass along to others. There comes a point I need to put it on paper. In that sense it’s stayed the same. My writing as a skill has matured and has gotten better over time, but the motivation has pretty much always been the same.”
Roehl still has extensive plans in store, with a big dream of having his works further used to help missionary leaders all over the world, including in places where faith can cause people to be displaced or persecuted. Already having helped coach and train leaders from over 75 nations and organizations, he wants to have his works accessible for all to learn from.
“The only thing between my current dream and reality is just gathering the resources to make it happen,” Roehl said.
On top of everything, of course, more writing lies ahead – from continuing his ministry series on Jesus to collaborating on a friend’s project to even writing a book aimed toward children with his grandson. Anything that can help others through writing, listening and working together.
“There’s been a great delight in finding out that books I originally wrote for North American leaders I have found leaders from all over the world have found value in too,” Roehl said. “Every once in a while I have a Facebook message pop up from someone across the world. One leader started telling me about what he did; I asked him what materials he used and he named our ‘TransforMissional Coaching’ book – he had no idea I was the author of the book. The principles I write about strike a chord with people from many cultures.
“Great stories, especially stories about someone like Jesus, are universally interesting. Principles that help others are the same to everyone.”
All of Roehl’s books can be found on Amazon and resources from Fit & Flourish can be found at fitflourish.com.