Tag Archives: ideas

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

An Open Question to the Church

First up, I’m not anti-church or anti-God. I LOVE God and His Church.

But why does it seem that we (as the Church, myself included) set up young pastors to fail?

This has been bugging me and I’d love to know what you think.

Here’s how it seems to go:

A young person shares the call of God on their life to become a vocational minister/pastor.

We rejoice with them and send them off to Bible college/seminary because they need to prepare for ministry. There’s nothing wrong with that but here’s where things start to go awry…

These potential world changers are challenged and taught all about what they need to believe and why in order to be a pastor. Not bad in and of itself but the concepts and study are rarely taught with real world application or consideration of how to actually teach these concepts in today’s world. So it becomes a purely intellectual exercise and seems to squash the passion and zeal that was once present in these young lives.

The ones who make it through college with even a flicker of the passion and zeal

they went in with are then put on as staff in church “institutions” who force them to conform to the “this is how its done” philosophy. They are not released to follow God’s leading, to try things, make mistakes and forge their own way.

Then almost by default, we give them the role of “youth pastors”

and give them the freedom to do whatever they need to because, somehow, we think that its ok for “crazy stuff” to happen “over there” in youth ministry. After all no one here understands young people, but we want to “keep them around”  and we expect them to “change” into “us” once they hit 18 anyway and join “real church”…

We also assume that youth ministry is simply a stepping stone to “real ministry” and so after (insert average life span of youth pastor here) years or so we ask the pastor to change roles and join “real church”. So we drag him or her into a role they probably don’t want and then we expect them to simply forget the entire way they’ve been doing ministry for the last however many years because that’s not “real ministry”. We don’t let them be creative, we force them to do it how it’s always been done because that’s the way the congregation expects it.

Then comes the dichotomy of expectations

The youth they used to hang out with are sad to see them go but excited to know that they’re part of “real church” now and that means that just maybe they might begin to feel welcomed into an environment that’s been so foreign to them all their lives. So they turn up with great expectations, hoping to see a change, hoping that they can finally begin to connect with what’s going on because after all they know him/her and can relate to them.

Over time they begin to see that he/she seems to be acting just like every one else and they’re totally wreaked. And so is the pastor! They love these young people, they’ve grown up with them and watched them grow. And now they too want to know where the guy/girl they trusted and confided in has gone? Why has he/she changed so much… is this how “real church” is supposed to be, am I not welcome unless I change and become what I perceive as being old?

Meanwhile

the pastor has little choice but to follow the path of those that went before them. If they want to keep their position they need to “tow the company line” and not “rock the boat”.

They try and try to open discussions and dialogue, to look at ways they can encompass everyone’s needs, pleading with leaders to be open to change for the sake of the greater good.

People listen at first, they seem to agree but when push comes to shove most of them will change their mind citing differences of “ministry philosophy” or simply telling them straight up that “this isn’t what we do here”. So what is he/she supposed to do with that?

All the while the church rolls on

people turn up, money is given, laughs are shared and no one notices all the young people leaving out the back door… “they’re just young” they say, “they’ll come back… well actually you know I’m not that fussed really, because they wanted to change everything, and I like it how it is…”

So that young world changer

has now either become a frustrated, passive status quo accepting pastor because he/she wants to keep their job and stay in ministry, or they’ve left the ministry and are struggling to deal with the feelings of guilt and remorse for not attending church and not being able to find a place that thinks church is more than just keeping people happy…

Only a few of them are able to find a place that is ready and willing to change the way it does things in order to continue to reach a world that changes every day…

Why?

But that’s just the way I see it…

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Children, Church & Craziness

I’d love your advice! 

If you have children, previously had young children, or simply have great ideas I want to hear from you! 

I’d love to know your tips for keeping children connected during a church service. 

Understandably our nearly two year old daughter is full of energy and loves to be part of what’s going on. She’s a good girl but doesn’t understand that sometimes it’s not ok to yell “YAY!!!” at the top of your lungs and clap her hands during a prayer for the sick or call out to her friend at the top of her voice when she spots her across the room. And you can forget about sitting still too, the world is just too big a place to sit still and not explore. 

I love these qualities in her but I also realise that they can be disruptive to our and other’s experience of church. I know she’s young but we’d love to help her connect with what’s going on and help her learn through the process. We’re new at this and pretty much clueless right now :-). 

What should we do, what’s worked for you in the past, how have you dealt with this situation? 

So hit me up, I’m ready for your awesome ideas on helping children to be part of church!

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Filed under About Me, church, Family, God Stuff, Parenting, Worship

Introducing my brother, Dan!

My brother Dan never ceases to amaze me! He is the most gentle and kind-hearted man I know, a fantastic brother and he is an AMAZING artist!

Right now he is having his final assessment for his honours year at the School of Art at the Australian National University. He specialises in textiles and has produced some fantastic pieces of work, been featured twice in newspaper articles and has won an international award with the American Tapestry Alliance (not bad for an Australian ;-)).

I wont attempt to explain his artistic process because I just can’t do it justice, but I know that he can take materials like fabric, paper and wool and turn them into incredible pieces of art –  just check out the photos for yourself.

All his artwork is for sale, if you’re interested leave a comment and I’ll get back to you with prices and availability. Did I mention that my brother is AMAZING!! 🙂

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Leadership Lessons from a One Year Old

Leadership lessons 02Saturday afternoon Samantha, Anabelle & I were out in the city doing some shopping and I was pushing Anabelle in the pram as we followed Mummy in and out of the shops. I was happily following Sam through the stores pulling faces at Anabelle and having a great time laughing with her.

Then it hit me, right there in the middle of the store my 14 month old daughter was teaching me how to be a better leader! Too often we think that if we’re going to be a great leader we need something elaborate and expansive, something really amazing. We forget that the simplest things in life are often the most powerful. Here’s what I learnt from Anabelle:

1. Smile at everyone

As we walked through the shops, Anabelle was giving huge smiles to everyone we passed. That one smile was enough to bring a smile to the face of the other person and it instantly brightened their day. Granted, a smile from a 30 year old man may not get the same reaction but its the principle of the gesture ;-). Anabelle’s smile is unconditional. She doesn’t care who you are, what you look like or where you’re from, when she sees you she’s going to welcome you with a smile.

As a leader how often are my “smiles” conditional, based upon my need to get “something” from you? 

Lesson one: smile unconditionally and treat everyone with the respect they deserve.

2. Don’t be afraid to say hello

I also noticed that Anabelle not only smiled but she said hello to almost everyone she smiled at. It didn’t matter if they were looking at her or not, she surprised at least three people by saying hello to their backs and then greeting them with a huge smile as they turned around to see who had said hello. Again it was completely unconditional, some people turned around and said hello, others didn’t even seem to notice. It didn’t bother Anabelle, she was going to keep saying hello no matter what.

As a leader how often do I treat people like that? How often do I say hello and really mean it, no strings attached? Its really easy to only talk to those we’re comfortable with, or worse, need something from isn’t it?

Lesson two: Say hello to everyone, no strings attached.

3. Say “Yay!” at the top of your lungs, a lot!

The third thing Anabelle did was to randomly yell out a long, loud “Yay!” and clap her hands excitedly. Some “Yays” were as we exited a store, some were as we went in, and others while we were browsing. Regardless of the timing every “Yay” was said with pure enjoyment and excitement. Anabelle was living the moment, glad to be there, enjoying the experience.

As a leader sometimes we don’t stop to live the moment and enjoy the experience. We’re so focused on what needs to be done and what’s coming up next that we miss the amazing things happening in the here and now. How will we ever learn if we don’t embrace the present?

Lesson three: “The past is history, the future a mystery and today is a gift. That is why it is called the present” Celebrate today and learn all you can from it before its gone.

4. Enjoy the ride

Anabelle didn’t decide to go shopping that day. She didn’t choose to ride in the pram, she had no say in the stores we visited nor the length of time spent in them. She could have been grumpy, she could have complained but she didn’t. Instead she totally enjoyed the ride and made the most of the opportunity. She was determined to smile, say hello and celebrate her way through the mall and in doing so she made a ton of other people smile along the way.

We all end up in places and situations we don’t want to be in. Sometimes it’s of our own making and other times it’s totally out of our control. As a leader what I do in those times, how I react, shapes my character. Will I grumble, complain or throw a tantrum because I didn’t get my way? Or will I enjoy the ride and make the most of every opportunity I’m given, good or bad?

Lesson four: “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” Enjoy the ride, learn what you can, trials build character and character makes you a better leader.  

So there it is, I learnt something new this week, and I learnt it from my 14 month old daughter. How amazing is that!

When have you learnt an unexpected leadership or life lesson?

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

How to Survive a New Job

wink cupI just started in a new job, same place of employment just a new area of work, completely different to my previous position. As with most new jobs, the learning curve is huge and my mind feels all squishy as I try to cram more and more information into it. It’s occupying the majority of my mental capacity at the moment but my sense of humour seems to be functioning fine.

 So here are my top tips for surving your new job:

  •  Ignore the first five people who say “good morning” to you
  • To signal the end of a conversation, clamp your hands over your ears and grimace
  • While going in the elevator, gasp dramatically each time the doors open
  • When in the elevator with one other person, tap them on the shoulder and pretend it wasnt you
  • Say to your boss, “I like your style”, wink and shoot him/her with double-barreled fingers
  • Everytime you get an email shout “email!”
  • During a meeting slowly edge your chair towards the door
  • After every sentence, say “Mon” in a really bad Jamaican accent. As in: “The report’s on your desk, Mon”. Keep this up for at least an hour

You might not keep your job very long, but look on the bright side… you’ll have the opportunity to do it all again some place new 😉

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The Church of Tomorrow

HomelessThe church of the 1990’s and early 2000’s made its name through the style of ‘worship’ it offered.  It learnt that people connect in ways other than just singing and listening. Interactive sermons, dramas, video, multimedia is what it presented.

The churches that did this well were the ones that forged the way and set the standard that others have followed. These churches were the ones that connected with the non-christian in a way they could understand. Their fresh approach brought people back to church and reintroduced the church as a real option for the 21 century.

The thing is that after nearly 20 years its old news, most churches have caught on and are doing this well… so what is going to set the church apart tomorrow? What will make people stand up and take notice of God and the church?

“The Church of tomorrow will not be known because of its worship style but by the way it helps the poor, marginalised, outcast, orphans and widows”

I’m not sure where I heard the above quote but it stopped me in my tracks… That is a powerful statement and if it’s true it will revolutionise the way we ‘do’ church and the impact we have on the world. 

I believe that the church of tomorrow will be defined by the way it ministers to the poor, the outcast, the orphan, widow and downtrodden. Social Justice is almost a dirty word in today’s churches. We know that we’re supposed to help those less fortunate than ourselves but somehow we think its ok to leave that job to other welfare agencies, I mean most of them are christian based right? We continue to build our own comfortable worlds where everything is ok because “God is in control” and we neglect the very people Jesus came to save. We forget that but for the grace of God our lives would be garbage, a mess, a wreck.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost, hurting and broken… that’s our mission isn’t it? To share the Gospel of hope with a hurting world? As technology increases and the world becomes smaller and smaller, the more we are all aware of the atrocities of our planet. Social Justice is at the forefront of people’s minds… forget those in far away lands for a minute, what about those next door? The single mum who works three jobs to feed her children, the homeless, the unemployed, those with addictions and health issues… aren’t we called to minister to them?

Jesus said “whatever you do for the least of these, you do it for me”

I believe that the church of tomorrow will be defined by what it does to make a differnce in the community around it. If we want to continue to impact this world for Christ we need to get outside the comfy walls of our church, to seek those who are lost and to minister to their needs. We need to practice what we preach, we serve a God who is all about justice and restoration. We must display the love of Christ by our actions, its time to show that love by getting out there and making a difference…

I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this subject, do you agree/disagree? Have I completely lost it? Let’s discuss!

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