Category Archives: Life Coaching

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

A Change in Direction

 

Lately I’ve been wondering about my decisions for the future. Sure there are the ones about buying a house and investing for our retirement but the one I’ve been struggling with most is about my job, vocation, what I think I should be doing with my life. 

I’ve mentioned before that I’m totally blessed to have my current job; the hours, flexibility and salary are perfect for our current stage in life, allowing me to spend time with our young family and for my wife to be a fulltime mum. My concern though is that I know in my heart that this isn’t the career path for me. Don’t get me wrong I could easily follow this career path, make a lot of money and live very comfortably but deep inside I know that I’d be missing out on what I’m meant to be. 

I know that I’m made to help people;  help them achieve, do better in life, be successful and live fulfilling lives.  That’s my passion, what makes me get up in the morning, what drives me and energises me. 

I’d always thought that I’d go back into ministry, to once again be a pastor, this is the last time I remember living my passion – but lately I’m not so sure. I’m not having a crisis of faith or anything like that, I’m just trying to make sense of some experiences I’ve had over the past month. 

My dilemma is that these experiences aren’t what I’m used to, they aren’t from the usual sources (the Bible, close Christian friends etc) they have all come from my non Christian colleagues and from work opportunities and I’m trying to work out how legitimate they are. 

Each experience (five over the last month) has suggested to me a shift in vocational direction, away from being a pastor towards something similar but not within a church setting. It’s something that’s been an option for me for a few years now but I need to work out if it’s God’s plan or mine. 

I’d love your advice. What do you do in these situations, how do you seek God to know if an opportunity is from Him?

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Filed under About Me, Family, God Stuff, Life Coaching

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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Filed under About Me, Family, Humour, leadership, Life Coaching, Parenting

Crisis, stress, lessons learnt

The last few weeks have been a real challenge for our family. Time has passed as we have been in a haze fuelled by worry, concern, stress and a lack of sleep. It’s uncanny how when the proverbial hits the fan our first instinct is to circle the wagons and take matters into our own hands… a far cry from the creed we profess that God is our provider, that we trust Him in all things and wait on Him to deliver us. Makes me feel guilty and ashamed that I’m all too ready to take matters that I have entrusted to God back into my own hands.

It’s been over a month since my last post – in that time we have come to the brink in our finances and suffered a week of, frankly worrying, health issues. Couple that with being first time parents, learning to manage on one income and preparing for the birth of our second child, it’s been a difficult road. The time has come to reassess our circumstance, to look at what we do, have and want to do, and make changes. 

We’re not adverse to this process; in fact it’s one I believe is necessary for a productive and purposeful life. My concern is that it’s all too easy for us to wait for a crisis to force us to change, rather than making evaluation and assessment an ongoing process in our lives. Sometimes circumstances are unavoidable; other times we have the opportunity to head them off if we’re prepared for them. Preparation is hard work, slipping into the comfort of routine is easy although often not beneficial. 

This last week we reached our breaking point, we could do nothing but surrender our lives and circumstances (again) to God. We realised (again) that we had slipped back into our old, comfortable way of life, following our own paths and intentions and neglecting to seek God for His. This last month has been a wake up call from God – retrospect is a great teacher, as I now look back I can see the subtle signs of a patient and loving God trying to set us back on course. As it often happens, it took a crisis for us to get back on track with God – oh how I wish we had of noticed sooner, yet I thank God for His grace towards us. 

God’s ways are higher than our ways, His love is wider and deeper and higher than we will ever know. Makes sense to follow Him. The Christian life is about dependence – trust and faith in a God who is the source of life, love, hope and provision. Jesus said:

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing John 15:5 

How can we expect to live life to its fullest if we choose to disconnect from the source of Life? How sad that we so often think we’re better off on our own. Independence can be good for us but not when it separates us from God. Sadly I keep learning this the hard way. 

It’s time for change in our life and family. It’s time to refocus our attention on the things that matter – on God and His will for our lives. It’s time to leave behind the false safety of our comforts, to stop relying on our own devices and to focus on God and His ultimate, unmeasurable wisdom. It’s time to once again seek God’s forgiveness and surrender our lives, our hopes, dreams and plans for the future to Him. 

God we choose again to surrender to Your will, to seek Your face and to follow Your ways. Whatever may come we will trust in You for You are faithful. 

How about you, when have you learnt to trust in God?

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Filed under About Me, Family, God Stuff, Life Coaching, Tithe Experiment, Worship

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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Busted! – More life lessons from my daughter

Our 20 month old daughter Anabelle loves to run around the house making lots of noise, babbling away to herself and anyone else that will listen, so when all is quiet odds are she’s up to something 🙂

Yesterday I snuck down the hall to see why all was quiet. I wandered into our bedroom to see Anabelle playing with my CD/clock radio. She had the CD player open and was spinning the disc inside. I stood and watched her for a few seconds before I let out a deep daddy sounding “mmmmhmmmm”.

Anabelle’s reaction was priceless! As she heard my voice her whole body shook in surprise and she hurriedly closed the CD player and rushed to find something else to play with that she knew she was allowed to touch. Not finding anything (this was our room not hers) she spun round and gave me a cheeky little smile, which turned into a huge grin, and with the little “I’m so cute” tilt of the head, she said “hi daddy” and grinned even more.

That moment made my heart melt and I tried to hide the smile and laugh that had come over me from watching the proceedings, after all I had some discipline to do, a lesson to teach.

I picked Anabelle up  to my lap and asked if she was playing with something she knew she shouldn’t. She replied “yes daddy” and we spoke about how its wrong to touch things she knew she wasnt allowed to and how she needed to be a good girl and obey mummy and daddy. Anabelle replied with a cute little “ok daddy” we hugged and she went on her way.

It’s a beautiful story, I love my little girl and I also love the life lessons she teaches me.

It made me think about how often we as adults try to hide our indiscretions. We all do things we know we’re not supposed to, things we’re not proud of and often these things cause pain to ourselves and to others.

While Anabelle’s “indiscretion” wasnt that big a deal, it still broke the bonds of trust between us. Anabelle needed to realise what she had done was wrong and we needed to restore that bond of trust.

And it’s the same for us as adults, no one likes to be wronged, taken advantage of or be untrustworthy, we have an obligation to forgive and to seek forgiveness. 

Honesty is the key to restoration.

So next time we get caught out doing something we know we’re not supposed to, rather than hurriedly look around for something to cover our tracks lets fess up, ask for forgiveness and begin the process of restoration.

What lessons have you learnt from children?

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Filed under Family, God Stuff, Humour, Life Coaching, Parenting