Jim Hohnberger, a distinguished author and the co-founder of Empowered Living Ministries, was born in 1948 in Appleton, Wisconsin, a town 25 miles south of Green Bay. Hohnberger earned a degree in Conservation, Forestry and Land Planning from Michigan Technological University before marrying his high school sweet-heart, Sally, in 1972.
Originally Jim had little to no interest in religious matters as he felt as though there was a great deal of hypocrisy present. But Jim’s life began to change for the better and after a friend got him interested in studying the Bible, he and Sally sold everything and moved to Glacier National Park in Montana. They bought a little cabin in the wilderness for their growing family, that now included two young boys aged 4 and 6 at the time. After moving 50 miles from pavement and electricity, they found what they had been missing – that God was in fact real, and was ever present, full of wisdom, and goodness.
God had many changes in mind for Hohnberger. First, by asking him to be the priest of his own home. Hohnberger credits God for improving his marriage and teaching his family how to be Christ-centered. Out of this experience, a ministry grew. It was never the Hohnberger’s intent to form a ministry, but it was certainly in God’s plan.
Over the years, Jim and Sally Hohnberger have travelled all over the United States, and to more than 20 countries around the world to share what God has taught them about marriage, raising children, and life.
What do you love most about the work you do, particularly with Empowered Living Ministries?
The fact that it actually changes lives for the better and makes the world better. When you change a man’s life, he goes home and he changes his marriage. When a marriage changes, it changes a family. When a family changes, it changes the community.
The work I’m involved in is helping to change lives, which then reverberates throughout the community.
What keeps you motivated?
When people come back and we see a changed life, that’s a reward for us. When they come back and they say “Jim Hohnberger, if it wasn’t for the council you gave us, we would be divorced.” It’s touching people’s lives and empowers me to help others.
Who has been a personal role model to you and why?
Really my mentor is Jesus Christ, which is intangible for most people because you can’t see him, you can’t touch him. You can read about him in the Bible and you can sense His presence if you learn to recognize His still small voice to your conscience. But the truth of the matter is that it’s always been His life working in and through me that has drawn me to Him.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
I’m very efficient, I like practical solutions and I’m not afraid to challenge the status quo. Because of the practical approach that God has gifted me with, I’m able to teach people in a short period of time what would have taken them a long period of time to learn on their own. People sense that I truly care for them and when their needs are practically met they are won to my God.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten and who did it come from?
A professors at Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin said, “Jim, stay proactive – do not get into the problems of life. Stay looking for solutions. Never be reactive.” I’ve never forgotten that. He said, “you’ll be much happier”, and I am.
When a couple comes in for marriage counseling, I allow them each 10 minutes to explain their problem and then no one can speak unless they have a solution. It sure gets quiet in that second phase! But it is very important to get off the problem and to get into practical solutions that work.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
I was being treated at a clinic, had met many people in the 6 months, when a new nurse came in to do some blood work for me. I said to her, “I don’t think I have ever met you before”. Her response was “I know who you are. Everyone in the clinic says you really care about them.” This has happened a number of times. God has given me a gift to honestly and sincerely care for the needs of other people. That is what others say defines me.
Where do you see you and your Empowered Living Ministries in 5 years?
Caring for people that are different than us, think different than us, and live different than us, and meeting their needs.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
When both my boys asked me to be the one that would conduct their marriage ceremonies. What an absolute honor, privilege, and heart throb that was in my career. Both as a minister of Christ and the father to these two fine young men of mine.