Category Archives: leadership

Making Changes in 2011

I’m excited about 2011!

This year I’m taking a risk, following my dream and stepping out to make things happen.

For a long time I’ve been seeking opportunities to live my passion, to do what I love and be able to make a living from it. I’ve decided that the time is now, if I’m going to be true to myself and true to my value of living an authentic life, then I need to challenge myself, confront my fear and step out and give this a red-hot go.

So, I give you Edwards Coaching!

Coaching, mentoring and facilitation have always been my passion and where a lot of my strengths are. I long to see people, businesses, churches and organisations living their lives to their fullest potential, excelling in what they do, and living with Purpose, Direction and Meaning.

Edwards Coaching is the result of over 12 years of experience helping people find purpose, direction and meaning and helping them to achieve their goals.

This is me, following my passion and seeking to make a difference in this world.

It’s exciting and its daunting, it’s a world full of unknowns but it’s one that I’m ready to embrace because I want to build the life I want to be living!

I’d really appreciate your support in this venture, please visit the website, pass on my details to your networks (twitter, Facebook, etc, I would REALLY appreciate this!) and let me know what you think! 

I’m more than happy to chat with anyone interested in reaching their goals or wanting facilitation or workshop services, the internet means nowhere in the world is out of reach and that’s exciting!

I’m especially interested in helping Churches and Not for Profits so please drop me a line so we can chat about how I can serve you. 

So this is my challenge for 2011, to work hard and follow my dream to establish my business helping others.

What are you going to achieve this year, what are your goals? Let’s share them and help each other to achieve them!

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Filed under About Me, church, Family, God Stuff, leadership, Life Coaching, Random

When things don’t go to plan…

Last weekend I attended the Global Leadership Summit here in Canberra. This was my fourth year attending this conference and as always it was a time to challenge myself, my thinking and be taught by some of the world’s top church and business leaders and innovators.

This year was no different, I was challenged in my thinking and behaviour, I learnt new things about leadership and met some great people. This was the first year I attended without being in a formal church leadership role, in fact the first time that I havent been in any formal leadership role and as such I was approaching this Summit with a fresh perspective and new eyes.

I had a list of things I wanted to “get out” of the Summit this year, particularly in relation to a new business venture I’ve started (more on that soon) and was eager to see things from this new perspective. What I discovered was something more powerful than I could have prepared myself for.

As it often happens, I had a set of goals and plans for the Summit and God also had a set of goals and plan for me too. They aligned in some places but in others I was taken completely by surprise by the things God was revealing in my life.

As many of you know, the last 2-3 years have been difficult for me in relation to my employment, service and attendance at a church. In short I left the church I was attending and havent been going anywhere regularly since. I thought I was fine with it, I’d moved on, but in reality I havent and it’s something God made really clear to me.

I had my plans for the Summit but God had his plans for my life. 

I’m grieving for a loss in my life – a loss for what might have been. I had to walk away from things that I had invested huge amounts of time and energy into, where there was promise for growth and empowerment of others and a chance to make a real difference – because the support systems that were promised never materialised. I was challenged to my core and found that I could no longer continue to pursue that path with integrity and needed to walk away. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I was naive to think that it would be easy to move on without a need for healing.

To be honest I was really surprised to find that I had these issues and so was Sam when I told her about them. I don’t think its going to be an easy process, in fact I’m not really sure where to start but I’m really grateful that God took the time to reveal these to me, because they are things that will only hold me back and I don’t want anything to get in the way of what God has for my future.

Often we complain when things don’t go to plan in our lives, but often, if we look under the surface we’ll see that it’s for the greater good, that there’s always something to learn from it and the opportunity to become a better, stronger person for it.

I’d appreciate your prayers as I walk this path to healing and would love to hear any advice you may have. Have you travelled a similar path, what helped you get through it?

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A Battle of Wills

As a parent I know there are times when I have to stick to my guns, hold the line and not back down because, in the end, it will be better for my child – but sometimes it’s really hard!

About two weeks ago my wife and I decided it was time to transition our daughter, who’s nearly two, from her cot to her “big girl” bed.

With our second child due in August and after doing some research we decided that we needed to make the transition now so our daughter had time to adjust before number two arrived. To our surprise she took to the bed immediately, she loved it and didn’t think twice about the cot – awesome we both thought!

Of course being in a bed means she has more freedom to get up and out of bed when she feels like it. During the day this isn’t really a problem but the last few nights have been interesting. The first few nights she slept right through until 6:30am which for us is a sleep in given she usually wakes about 5:30am.

However the last two nights she’s felt the need to wake and come visit us at 4am proudly stating that it is now time to “play”. As you can imagine this is not greatly appreciated!

It’s been my task to take her back to bed as the tears begin to fall and she protests about going back to sleep. After about an hour or so of repeated trips to our room followed by immediate trips back to her bed with tears and cries in between, so far, she’s gone back to sleep.

We’re firm believers that repetition is the key to instilling learned behaviours in our daughter which is why we promptly take her back to her bed until she gets the message to stay there. We’ve even put a clock in her room and are teaching her that until it displays a six in the hour column it’s not time to get up (she already knows her numbers so she does understand what we mean). 

I wouldn’t say our daughter is particularly strong willed, she’s more than open to reasoning (even at this young age) but of course we need to remember how young she is and that we cant expect too much from her.

Nevertheless it’s a difficult battle of wills and as a parent it’s even more difficult to remember patience at 4am in the morning! We’re hoping that it doesn’t take too long for her to learn that night time is for sleeping not playing.

How about you, do you have an experience to share or any tips for teaching your child to stay in bed and sleep until a suitable time to wake up? I’d love to hear them!

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Building Young Leaders…part 2

This is a continuation of Building Young Leaders which you can read here.

I spent nearly ten years serving in youth ministry

both within the church and with para-church organisations in my city. In that time I’ve had the privilege to work alongside and mentor some amazing young people on leadership and ministry.

Due to the circumstances, each opportunity was an apprenticeship. Very few of them were formal arrangements, simply an agreement between them and I to spend time intentionally focusing on leadership and ministry development. We simply lived life together and focused on the tasks at hand. In some cases it was a limited activity (such as a camp) and others it was for a year or more as we led a ministry (such as a youth ministry or school based program).

As I reflect, I find that

these were some of the most influential times in my life.

I’ll admit that it was great to have extra pairs of hands around to help with the work, people to bounce ideas off and glean insights into the minds and attitudes of young people. However it was also a very revealing time about who I am as a person. I was sharing my life with these young people, they got to see me in the good times and the bad (like 3am fourth day in of a five day camp where everyone got a stomach flu!). Overall though, this was a positive experience as they got to see that a pastor is human just like everyone else and we all leant valuable life lessons about self-control, self-sacrifice and service.

I also learnt how to manage people and to work efficiently and effectively.

We’ve all heard the phrase “if you want something done right you better do it yourself” and in most cases it’s fairly true. However this attitude is completely useless when working with ministry apprentices because how are they going to learn if they never get to try? Just like my pastor let me try my ideas and helped me if/when they failed, I too had to learn how to do the same. It wasn’t easy at first but after time I learnt how to watch from a distance while still making sure they (and the project/program) was still ok.

The results spoke for themselves.

The programs and ministries blossomed under the extra attention and input they received. The young people grew quickly in ability, leadership, belief in themselves and their knowledge and relationship with God. I too learnt and grew immeasurably. Apart from the practicalities of leadership, management and mentoring, my relationship with God grew as I was ministered to by these young lives.

Ten years down the track I look back at those times with fond memories. Some of those young people have gone on to become pastors, others are involved in leading ministries in their local churches and some are even leading others in far off countries.

If I had my time over I wouldn’t change a thing.

Mentoring young leaders, taking them through an apprentice’s journey has been a highlight of my life that I will not soon forget.

In a nutshell here’s a list of things I have learnt from apprenticing young leaders:

It kept me humble. There’s nothing like having another person living life with you to help you realise that you simply don’t have it all together as much as you think.

It kept me accountable. I made a commitment to mentor these young leaders and I had a responsibility to see that through. There was no way I wanted to give them the impression that I only wanted them around to help me with my work, I was there to build into their lives because they are important, regardless of how much they might have helped me out!

It made me think about the important. Time and opportunities to build into their lives was limited. I needed to know what the “must haves” were and make sure they were passed on.

It fired me up! There was no way I couldn’t be excited by being around all the enthusiasm young people have. Their optimistic outlook on life is infectious and it fueled my passion and drive daily.

I learnt to trust others, to delegate and to keep people accountable. These were three vital keys I learnt. I had to trust others with programs, people and tasks. I learnt how to delegate and then how to help them learn accountability. These are key skills every leader must have and ones that need to be passed on.

It freed me to focus on other tasks. Put simply, with tasks delegated we got more things done. Sure I needed to keep an eye on what was going on but by establishing trust and accountability, I knew that things were getting done. I was able to focus on things that only I could do.

I learnt how to relate to people on a deeper level. There’s something amazing about sharing life with others this way that brings you to a deeper level of relationship. Trust is stronger, shared vision is deep and sense of ownership is shared. It’s synergy – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – and it’s amazing!

I saw the fruit. Right there and then in each young person I saw God grow fruit in their lives. I saw them learn and grow, stretch themselves and rely totally on God to provide for them. I saw both their knowledge of God and their skills develop, and the blessing that was to the ministries and to the people they served.

I would do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t know what’s in my future, whether I’ll be in a formal ministry position anytime soon but I know that what God has already taught me is applicable to every area of my life. I pray that God will allow me to continue to build others up to be the men and women He has called them to be regardless of where I am or what I’m doing.

So how about you? Do you think its worth rethinking how we build young leaders in today’s church?

I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions/comments 🙂

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Building Young Leaders…part 1

The other day I asked the Church (myself included) if we think we set up young pastors to fail. You can read it here.

I want to build on this question by sharing how I think we can support young leaders to develop into great leaders and pastors. My comments and thoughts come from my own experience both as a young leader and as a leader of young leaders. I admit that I haven’t done a great deal of research and study into this of late but I have lived it.  Today I’d like to share how I was encouraged as a young leader.

My path into church leadership was somewhat unconventional. 

At the age of sixteen I was regularly working with young people on camps and was part of various groups working with young people in high schools in my city. At the age of eighteen my pastor asked if I’d be part of the youth ministry he wanted to start at our church. I said yes and this began some of the best and most challenging years of my life. 

My pastor took a punt on me. 

He saw something in me that gave him the confidence to let me, a young person, lead a ministry. I had no formal training, hadn’t been to Bible College, all I had was a desire to share Jesus and some knowledge of what young people were into. 

I’m so grateful for what happened next.

My pastor allowed me to fail.

He allowed me to try what I thought was right, to let it play out, to assess how it went and think about how I’d do it differently in the future. He didn’t leave me alone to my own devices, he made sure we met regularly and he asked me a ton of questions. He showed up from time to time at events to show his support (or check on me, still not sure to this day ;-)) and he always encouraged me. 

And I learnt a lot! Through my successes and failures. I learnt what it meant to be a leader, to work in a church and how to live every day with people who think differently to you. I learnt to relate to all age groups, to communicate effectively, to know what I believe and why, and how to share that with others.

In essence I did a ministry apprenticeship.

I think when it comes to ministry; apprenticeships are something we often overlook. Ministry is a “hands on” role; it involves being with people, working with people and living life with people. All these things you can’t learn from a book, principles sure, but they are no good unless you can apply them, you can only do that through experience, by actually doing it. 

Don’t get me wrong, a theology degree is important; in fact I think it’s vital for long term ministry, but we need to think long and hard about the benefits of allowing people to do it while working in ministry. 

Let me explain 

The opportunity I had to serve in ministry and study at the same time was invaluable. It helped me put complex thoughts and ideas into context. I was able to test and apply theories right away and it turned information into action, which in turn made me remember it. It was obvious talking to other students that this was a genuine advantage. 

Secondly, I simply don’t understand the purpose behind uprooting someone from a ministry and sending them away to study subjects that are supposed to help them be better in ministry. Isn’t that a little backwards? Shouldn’t we be supplementing their ministry efforts by educating them while they are doing ministry? Most of these uprooted students don’t have a ministry to go back to because in their absence, and the need for the ministry to continue, someone else has taken it over. 

It begs the question;

do we need to rethink how we train leaders and pastors?

If an apprenticeship is the way to go then we need places for apprentices to learn. This in itself is tricky because most churches simply aren’t set up to do this. For whatever reason there seems to be a reluctance to take a chance on young leaders, probably because its time consuming and can be messy. It’s hard work to mentor someone, it’s messy cleaning up mistakes and let’s be honest, correcting and teaching through discipline is not something many like to do. 

It’s also very personal. An apprentice gets to see behind the curtain of your life, the good times and the bad times. If we‘re honest not many of us are comfortable in being this authentic with ourselves let alone someone else. 

I think Jesus gave us a great example of an apprenticeship model.

He took twelve no-bodies and trained them to become twelve of the most influential people in history!

Jesus taught them as they lived life together. He instructed them, corrected them and never missed an opportunity to teach. He didn’t send them to the local synagogue to get a degree, He taught them through life itself. As I mentioned earlier I believe theological study is a requirement for long term ministry so don’t jump on me for using this example –

But isn’t this something that we need to think about?

Shouldn’t we be taking the time to assess what the most effective ways are to develop and build young leaders?

Dont we owe them, God and the church that much? 

So tell me, what do you think? Have you been or had a ministry apprentice? How did it work out?

In my next post I’d like to share my thoughts from the other side, as a leader responsible for leading young leaders.

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