Author Archives: timsieges

How to Un Friend and Not Influence People

winning friends

Dale Carnegie’s communication classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, published in 1936, is still a relevant plea for respect and humility in interpersonal relationships.  At the top of his list entitled “Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking” is the admonition to steer clear of arguing as a method of persuasion.  For Carnegie, arguing simply doesn’t help anyone achieve their communication goals.  With each impassioned exchange, people only entrench more deeply in their opinions until even the most compelling and rational evidence will not change anyone’s mind.  A recent Cornell University (2016) study on social media influence patterns seems to support Carnegie’s point.  The researchers found that if the arguers’ minds are not changed after the fourth exchange, further attempts at persuasion are futile.  Beyond the fourth exchange, it’s less about the either person’s edification and more about the arguer’s need to be and feel right.  I’m sure you can think of exceptions to the rule but for the most part the fourth exchange guideline is intuitively and now empirically pretty accurate.


In counseling, I tend to use a more subjective measure for encouraging people to know when to “just let it go” and when to press forward in a discussion.  The following are some thoughts for knowing when to stop the debate and start talking about something else.  I’ll use the four exchange concept as a structure for my version.


·         Before the First Exchange:  Don’t even start your discourse if you are in anyway trying to teach another adult a lesson.  This is especially important when engaging your spouse, grown children, colleagues, pastor, professor or boss.  Teaching other adults a lesson patently does not work.  It is annoying and condescending.  If you have a point to make, just make the point.  People don’t learn lessons by being humiliated, manipulated or tricked.  Really.  Let the “I was just trying to teach you a lesson” concept go.  It only creates alienation and hard feelings.


·         After the Second or Third Exchange:  Let’s say you are a few point-counter-points into a conflict.  The give and take should continue if you can honestly look at the other person and imagine hearing him/her exclaim, “You’re right!  No one has ever explained this like that before.  Thank you so much for this insight.”  Truly, if you can’t imagine any version of that response coming from the other person, stop.  This is especially important in sequels to former arguments on the same topic.  If those words of gratitude and enlightenment are never gonna happen, it’s time to let it go and walk away.


·         After the Fourth Exchange: Aside from ego gratification, why would anyone want to continue after the fourth unsuccessful exchange?  I believe either of two conditions could hold you in the debate.  First, if you legitimately wonder if the other person is confused about your position then stay on board.  Generally, people who know you, know what you stand for on most topics will not miss your point.  If you’re like me, you have never been coy or ambiguous about topics near and dear to your heart.  People just don’t have to read between the lines with me.  But, if there is a remote chance the other person misunderstands your position, then by all means, persevere in the debate.  This isn’t so much about being right as it is about being understood.  But after you’re assured the other person gets it and agreement is not forthcoming, you can move on with a clear conscience.


The second condition to keep you in fray after the fourth exchange is the realization that you’re actually wrong and the other person is right.  Gulp.  It happens.  During those times your best response might be the one I mention in my After the Second or Third Exchange heading.  Just admit,  “You’re right!  No one has ever explained it like that before.  Thank you so much for this insight.”  That really hurts coming out but will definitely win that person as a friend.  And really, isn’t that the point?


I think we all agree that fortnight is just straight up awesome.  Certainly no argument there.  Enjoy it with someone who still loves you beyond the fourth exchange.

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June 2017 Official Sieges Newsletter: Gotta Love Millennials

Generation Gap

Are any of you old enough to remember when the term Generation Gap was first used?  I am. The designation was coined in the 1960’s to describe the unprecedented social, religious, and political differences between the Baby Boomer generation and their parents.   Now it is broadly applied to disparate values between parents, grandparents and children of any generation.   The following are few thoughts on Boomers, Millennials and global missions.  Emoji up, kids.

To read the Official Sieges Newsletter, just click on the image below.  Then in the lower right corner, you’ll click on View Full Size.  And finally click on the image again and it will get real big.  Three steps and it will be so big that even an aging Baby Boomer can read it.  You may have to back track a bit to view page two, but it is sooooo worth it.

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Awkward Love and Respect!


Happy Valentines Day!!  You have probably heard of Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ 2004 award winning marriage book:  Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs.  The book is built on a simple premise.  Marital success increases when women receive love and men, respect.  Eggerich’s ideas resonated with enough people that he sold 1.6 million copies along with workbooks, a sequel, and a gift book version.  The purpose of this blog post isn’t to endorse or critique Eggerichs’ work.  Simply view this as a tribute to people who fall through the cracks of the love and respect paradigm.

Take the above Valentines Day couple for example.  There’s a lot of passion behind those quizzical expressions.  If you can’t have love and respect you may have to settle for shocked and confused.  Could be as good as it’s gonna get.

A shout out to Awkward Family Photos for such great pictorial examples.  The photos themselves are funny even without my commentary.


Love and respect wasn’t working for these nice people so they went all in with hate and contempt.   She is ready to stab the photographer in the face with the pointy corners of her glasses. The photo’s upward shot angle is because the photographer is cowering.  The broad shouldered couple made it real clear, “You can get off the floor after we leave.  Not before.”


Voyeurism is wrong.  Straight up.  The one exception may be watching yourselves make out in the backyard.  That might be okay.  Billy chose his retro short shorts and Star Wars tee shirt for both kissing and watching.  Ain’t no love and respect here.  Only a strong dose of creepy and creepier.


Ahmad clearly loves a smoke in front of his honeymoon duplex after a workout.  Ginny absolutely respects Ahmad’s dedication to fitness and his hairy tummy.   Both are looking forward to having tan, beige, and grey kids together.  And watching them play on their cement lawn.


Darryl just escaped from a maximum security prison.  He sure appreciates the way Shirley hid a hack saw, dynamite and a getaway car in her hair.  And the kids are ecstatic to have their daddy home.  Plus they are hoping there’s a pony in mommy’s hair.


Oh my.  This couple uses big kitties for clothing.  Little kitties really wouldn’t have done the job.  Love and respect pales compared to this shared cat fashion.  Just hope someone remembered to get the kitties declawed.  For real.


Grammy and Grammpa have been married over 50 years.  Grammpa is excited that Grammy is wearing his favorite bacon scented perfume. Bacon happy Grammpy is feeling frisky.  Run Grammy.  “My little Baconator” is not a normal pet name.


Creative Valentines Day fun keeps the passion alive in any marriage.  Jeb and Tina don’t exchange cards and chocolates.  They just have a few drinks at the kitchen table and rip hair off Jeb’s pits.  Both Jeb and Tina  enjoy this stay-in date night activity.  They tried it once at a Panera but it just wasn’t the same.


Uh oh. Look who’s jealous that his wife looks more pregnant than he does. Come on, George…after Rachel gives birth, you’ll be ahead again.  Really.  You will.  So chill.


Sometimes you just gotta push reset to reboot the love and respect in a marriage.  Mitzy is so amused by Omer’s cute gesture, she’s going to head butt him right between the eyes.  That should give Omer a much needed reset of his own.


And finally…Jake and Mavis just got home from date night at the Golden Corral.  Jake:  “Dadgummit, Mavis.  I et too much fried okra again.  I done got the vapors.”  Mavis:  “I know baby.  I know.”  Sometimes love and respect means that one of you gladly sleeps out on the porch that night.  Either one.  Doesn’t matter.

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Celebrating 30 Years in Wycliffe

Seems like only yesterday Denise and I were sitting in our home in Bozeman, Montana praying, “Lord, is this missions vision really from You?”  His answer was, “Trust Me.”  And that’s what we did.  Over and over and over for the next 30 years.  Here is our latest newsletter celebrating this milestone in the Lord’s faithfulness to us and Bible-less people of the world.

Since the image is too dinky to read, just click on it.  Then in the lower right corner, you’ll click on View Full Size.  And finally click on the image again and it will get real big.  Three steps and it will be so big you can read it from across the room.  Trust me.

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One Thing to Never Forget


My memory isn’t so good anymore.  I am not exactly ready for a nursing home but sometimes I am clearly not as good as I once was.  For many years I rode a fairly reliable memory to a few advanced degrees and modest acclaim at trivia board games.  Not so much anymore.  I manage my old guy memory with notes to self and knowing the difference between important do-not-forget-this-stuff and less important nice-to-remember-but-no-dire-consequences-if-I-don’t-stuff.  Besides, names and numbers can always be googled.  Sadly, you can’t just ask Siri for wisdom and insight to bring your life into focus.

Good memory or bad, we all need to remind ourselves daily of certain truths that give our lives a rallying point.  These truths create a context for daily priority setting and decision making.  Whether we are conscious of them or not, everybody touches base with personal reality based self-talk.  So, what if you could choose only one value or principle to never leave home without?   What would that be?  Now I realize there is more than one supremely important rule for godly living.  But I’m assuming your memory is as bad as mine.  Six or eight truth statements might be more than your neuro-hard drive can store.  So, assuming I am allowed only one wisdom prompt to structure my life around each day, I think it would be this one:

Remember, Tim: Nobody gets out of this alive.  That’s all.  Short and sweet.  Sounds pretty obvious, huh?  Well, that’s because it is.  We all know only two things are certain in this life, right?  Death and taxes.  Sorry but that’s only half true.  Tax exemptions abound, but nobody is death exempt.  There are no loopholes for death.  The Scripture is indisputably accurate and without exception on the topic:  “…it is appointed unto to men once to die, and after that, the judgement.”  Hebrews 9:27  Death is an appointment that we will all keep.  No cancellations.  No reschedules.  We bury loved ones and they will bury us.  Everybody does it.  If you haven’t yet, you will.

In light of that inevitability, so what?  Is the answer as simple as Tim McGraw’s formula to live like we are dying?  I don’t think so.  This truth’s application is bigger than a self-gratifying grab for all the gusto while you can life/death ethos.    I’m talking about living like you know you cannot hang on to this life and ultimately you are required to give an account to the One who gave it to you.  Don’t forget the last phrase of the above Hebrews passage.  Death is guaranteed but the subsequent reckoning is equally sure.  The Apostle Paul offers this perspective to the tension between the temporal yet eternal nature of our existence:

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on the unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  We live by faith, not by sight.  So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:7, 9, 10.  Even I can remember this:  By faith, daily prioritize the One who is unseen.   Seek to please Christ every day.

Jim Elliot was twenty-two years old when he wrote these famous words in his journal:   October 28, 1949  “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”    I imagine that was one of his primary orienting truths; maybe even the single wisdom that he would have chosen to remember if he was only allowed one.  A little over six years after he penned that sentence he was killed on a river bank in Ecuador.  The elegance of his life statement was in stark contrast to the violent horror of its fulfillment.  He knew that nobody gets out of this alive and eternity is a long long time.  We should all live each day accordingly.

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Living the Story


The 1990 sci-fi thriller Total Recall (starring a young Arnold Schwarzenegger) is about a futuristic world in which people can buy a memory implant of a vacation they never took.  The concept is simple:  Since every vacation ends with only a memory of the event, why not buy the most fun filled, action packed memory possible without the potential misadventures of a real vacation?  Great premise for a movie.  Sadly, we aren’t allowed to compose an amazing life storyline then install it.  True life stories happen to real people moving through unpredictable scenarios with limited control over the outcomes.  As much as we want to steer the story of our lives, we are constantly reminded that the story has a mind of its own.

In many ways, counseling is all about examining genuine but raw life stories.  Every day, all day I listen intently to narratives that shape and describe people’s existence.  The stories contain the essence of each person’s values, priorities, character, motivation, and logic.  Everything I need to know is imbedded in the story.  People can give elaborate rationales and spin for their behavior but ultimately the details of the story will disclose the truth.  Even mistruth is detectable in the story.  You have to listen closely and hang on every word.  But without a doubt, the story reveals all.

Often people come to counseling hoping I can offer an insight or strategy that will steer their story away from danger, loss, and sorrow toward safety and fulfillment.  They see their story careening toward disaster and are desperate to change the course.  Sometimes a few basic attitude and behavioral adjustments can turn the story to a better outcome.  But more times than not, the significant factors of the story are beyond the person’s control.  Illness, other people’s misbehavior, and nature will not cooperate with our best efforts to turn the Titanic from its collision course.  As much as I want to help people implement solutions to control negative outcomes, the story’s countless moving parts defy regulation. How many times have we made literally hundreds of wise, mature and well thought out decisions in a day, but the story abruptly exploded in a single instance of someone else’s ill-advised maneuver?  Our seemingly bullet proof plans for a success story are much more brittle and fragile than we ever imagined.

The story, as unmanageable and uncontrollable as it  seems, is still the record of our legacies.  When we are gone, our stories will remain.  Never take the story for granted.  Cherish it.   Protect it.  It is the enduring statement of your character, integrity, and soul.  Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as your legacy unfolds:

  • As I mentioned earlier, and especially as I get older,  I am increasingly aware of how little I control the story.  When I was young, I thought I was the author of my own life script.  After hearing thousands of people’s stories and examining my own, I am aware of how little impact I have on the narrative.  My sovereignty is a joke.  God’s sovereignty is dead serious.  Obviously, I am responsible for how I conduct myself in the story but honestly, the story is profoundly beyond my control.  That knowledge would scare me if I didn’t know the One who shapes the story according to His good and perfect will.
  • The acceptance of my impotence goes hand in hand with my understanding of the story’s true focus.   This older version of me recognizes that  the story isn’t even about me.  Sorry, but you and I don’t have our own autobiographies.  We only have a part in a bigger one.  Our story is imbedded in God’s story.   He is the lead character in every story since eternity past.  The story…all stories…are His.  We are fortunate to occupy a small corner of it.  Think about how honored you would feel if a famous person mentioned your name in his or her memoirs.  Well, you are recorded in His.  Live each day with that reality in mind.
  • If you have little to say about the plot of the story, at least you can choose how you will be in the story.  The trials, injustices, losses, and pain of life invade even the most virtuous storyline.  In a fallen world, expect trouble that you didn’t cause.  Expect to pay debts you didn’t make.  In the end, you can only control how you were in the story.  Did you choose to engage the story with faith and grace and courage or was your piece of the story tarnished by bitterness, self-pity and blame?  Your legacy is less what you do and more about who you are.  Choose a loving, faithful, generous Christlikeness.  Those qualities fit perfectly into the nature of the story’s main attraction.

Remember what I said about the story revealing the person?  That’s true about Him too.  The Bible is the authorized and published version of His story.  He reveals Himself in the stories of His Word.  Look for Him.  Focusing on the human biblical characters and contexts is important but if that’s all you do, you’ll miss the point.  There is a massive, dynamic, personal God at the center of every biblical narrative.   His Word reflects His glory.  Apart from it, we can only guess at who and how He is in our corner of His story.  Look closely at your piece of His story and you’ll see Him.  Really.  Look.  He’s all over it.

Sorry about the long wait between fortnights.  Nobody should wait months for fortnight.  May the story of your fortnight reflect the glory of the One who wrote it.

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July 2016 Official Sieges Newsletter: Nostalgia for Those Great Missionary Slide Shows

Hey sports fans.  Here is our Summer 2016 Newsletter.  Sorry about the tiny images below.  Just click on the link and you can view a real big PDF version of the newsletter.  Sorry for the techno ineptitude.  I’m better at counseling than I am as a website engineer.

Tim and Denise’s July 2016 Newsletter

July 2016 Newsletter

July 2016 Newsletter 2

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April 2016 Official Sieges Newsletter: Really…It’s Complicated

Hey…got your spring Sieges ministry update.  Enjoy the complications…

April 2016 Newsletter 5

April 2016 Newsletter 4



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Dead But Tidy

tidy and dead

I’m a real tidy person.  My wife would tell you that’s true.  I don’t like messes.  I clean up after myself.  I am even willing to clean up after others.  I sincerely don’t mind.  Actually, any mess at home is so much easier to clean up than the relational messes I clean up at work.  But frankly, that’s what counselors do.  Typically, people bring a relational mess into my office and I work with them to clean it up.  The cleanup is only the beginning.  We also have to figure out better strategies for preventing similar messes in the future.   Please understand, my clients aren’t uniquely messy.  All humans are patently messy…especially when it comes to relationships.  Instant mess:  Just add humans.

Relational messes occur when people want different things or see things in different ways.  I work hard at helping people figure out mutually acceptable solutions to their messy conflicts.  Most times I can facilitate a win-win plan and both parties are able to move forward.  Unfortunately, sometimes the dialogue locks up and nobody budges.  The mess putrefies as no perspective or solution is acceptable to one or both parties.  The untidy conversation sits and spins like a puppy in a puddle as the contestants hash and rehash their points.  In the worst case scenarios, in spite of their counselor’s ingenious homework assignments, they will show up for next week’s appointment complaining about the same mess.

So, how do you break the deadlock of the messy and seemingly unresolvable conflicts of life?  Here are a couple of ideas to begin the clean-up.  These few thoughts will test your claim to loving tidiness.  Are you really as mess intolerant as Tim?  Will you really do whatever it takes to straighten up the messes of life?  Let’s see:

  • Demand your rights.  Just to be fair I thought I would start with the one that never works.   This method is so ineffective you may wonder why it is so popular.  Throughout our lives we have heard that standing up for our rights is always a good idea.  Don’t let anybody walk on you.  Vigilantly defend your boundaries at all costs.   If you want to live a lonely life, tenaciously follow that principle.  Really.  Your only companionship will be the loving presence of your assumed rights.  On the upside, you will have fewer relational messes to manage.  But if you want relationships, messy as they are, keep reading.
  • Radically die to self.  On the other hand, this one actually works and I didn’t learn it in grad school.  Sometimes I’m surprised that real life, bona fide Christians find this clean-up approach so unacceptable.  I usually get puzzled and terrified looks when I say to a couple in counseling, “Okay folks, somebody’s gotta die.  Who’s it gonna be?”  In this life, most foolish squabbles and indignations can usually be cleaned up by a willing and deliberate death to self.  And I didn’t originate the concept.  Jesus did.   “Then, calling the crowd to join his disciples, He [Jesus] said, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Mark 8:34-37).  Most dumb interpersonal messes can be set right by an intentional death to my puny rights and sensitivities.  Try it.  The more you do it the easier it gets.  It’s like apologizing.  The first time feels like your voice box is gonna explode.  After that…it’s not so bad.

You probably already know this but I’ll say it anyway:  I’m not talking about abusive or illegal or immoral or heretical situations.  Really, I get it.  You need to take a stand on certain things.   I’m talking about the typical garden variety relational tensions and standoffs that happen in everyday life.   If these messes are left untended, they will turn into a big smelly cesspool that eventually destroys your peace and costs you relationships with loved ones.  Try the radical death solution.  Get good at it.  Turns out the walking dead enjoy life more than you thought.

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Heartwarming Christmas Album Covers

Ready for a little trip down memory lane?  Christmas is all about looking back with a sense of nostalgic wonder.  Music certainly plays a part in taking us to the awesomeness of Christmas past.  Here are my top ten most amazing Christmas albums from yesteryear.  If these don’t take you back to better times, at least they can make you thankful that those days are behind us.  Enjoy….

afroman's christmas

Afroman’s musical career was strangely longer than you might think.  His warm and tender Christmas album was popular for obvious reasons. But his biggest hit was Because I Got High released in 2001.  You may remember it with the tagline: Afrolicious Edit.  Afroman was the personification of Afrolicious.

fish guy

For decades, Tavin Pumarejo’s singing tuna or piranha has helped many people get in the Christmas spirit.   Tavin’s nickname in Puerto Rico is “El Hígado de Ganso” or “The Goose’s Liver”.   I learned that on Wikipedia so you know it’s true.  Goodness, one look at Tavin and you know it’s true.  Viva El Higado de Ganso!!

yellow christmas

Yellowman?  Yep.  That smug critical look belongs to the one and only King Yellowman of Jamaican reggae fame. His yellow Christmas classics left us all dreaming of a yellow Christmas just like the ones we used to know.  BTW:  Yellowman’s best work was his Zungguzungguguzungguzeng album.  I can’t make this stuff up.

death row christmas

Christmas on Death Row is a soul searching collection of Holiday favorites released in 1996.  The album featured a young Snoop Dog performing the timeless seasonal hit, Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto.  Wikipedia confirms that is exactly what Santa did in 1996.  Some say he never left.

heino christmas

Sure, Heino looks like he’s just some German guy wearing a blonde hair helmet.  But Heino has enjoyed a long Deutschland music career which has included such hits as Blau Blüht Der Enzian (How Blue Blooms the Gentian) and Das Polenmädchen (The Poland Girls).  His 1968 tribute to the TV series Bonanza, Zu der Ponderosa Reiten Wir (At the Ponderosa We Ride) makes me miss Hoss, Little Joe and Pa. 

mom and dads christmas

As if we needed more evidence that polygamy is a bad idea.  Looks like Mom is presenting Dad #3 with Dad #2’s blue leisure suit coat.  Dad #1’s awesome flattop tells you why he’s #1.  This Canadian group’s biggest hit was Mom & Dad’s Schottische.  Got my toe tapping just remembering that epic tune.

student nurse christmas

Oh my.  If you got admitted to Whidden Memorial Hospital in 1950 you had to guard your jello closely.  That dead girl in the middle row (second from the right) would suck it right off your tray.  Tater tots didn’t stand a chance against this lineup.

done got funky christmas

People…you have to listen to Jimmy Jules and his shirtless Nuclear Soul System sing the lead track on this album.   Funky, yes.  Funkilicous, oh my goodness YES!  See if you can pick out that random white guy’s contribution to this classic.  Even though he has mastered the bent elbow pose, he still seems a wee bit out of place.

cow pie christmas

Um…I’m not totally sure why British children would be so happy about a cow pie for Christmas.  My brother and I were always grateful when we found one under the Sieges family tree.  But that’s cuz Mom and Dad told us it was a Frisbee.  This one looks a little too fresh for the beach.

denise's disco christmas

And finally, Denise’s favorite Christmas album back in 1970’s.  She’s still a legend in Iowa City for her Yuletide version of the hustle and the bus stop.   Really.  Just ask her.  She’ll show you her moves.  She has still got ’em.


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