Tag Archives: planning

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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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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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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Tithe Journal #5 & 6

This post is part of the Tithe Experiment series

The last month’s been a little crazy hence this combined journal entry; I just didn’t get around to posting one two weeks ago. 

28/02/10 Car died today, we think it’s the distributor; I need to source another one. So grateful to have a mechanic in the family who could tow me home and work on the car. 

01/03/10 Finding it challenging to trust God with providing for us. As the husband and father, and the sole bread-winner I feel responsible for providing for my family. I’m ok if I seem to go without but I don’t want my wife and daughter to have to… it’s a daily struggle to hand that over to God and wait for Him to provide. It’s a real lesson in humility and one that I need to learn – even if it’s the hard way I guess. There’s something deep with a man that drives him to provide for his family and he doesn’t want to fail that task.

04/03/10 Pay day. $250 to tithe account

08/03/10 Car was finally fixed today, it’s been an interesting week. Turns out it was the computer not the distributor but it took a lot of trial and error to work that out. Again SO grateful that my uncle fixed it for the cost of parts, it would have cost a lot to have it done at the shop. 

Been doing some savvy shopping this last month. It seems that God has been providing exactly what we need, right on time. For instance we were talking about how we might afford a chest freezer so we could buy in bulk and freeze extra meals in order to save money and the next day one came up for sale on the bulletin board at work which we were able to buy really cheap. Anyone have any tips on where to get discount/bulk food items in Canberra?

Money has been tight as we’ve had some unforseen expenses and haven’t been able to add to the savings this past month. We’re going to have to revisit the budget to see where else we can make some savings. No idea where that will be though… 

In all honesty I’ve been feeling pretty down the last month. The worry over how we’re going to get by has been a concern for me lately (actually reading back it seems to be a recurring theme). A single income, one child under two and another on the way, medical bills, rent, food, fuel, study costs are all mounting up and getting me down. Not to mention the need to buy our house sooner rather than later… it’s a lot of pressure on my shoulders and I’m finding it hard to deal with right now. I like the security having savings brings and we’re quickly going through ours and that worries me. The biggest thing is that we’re not making extravagant purchases, it’s all every day living… would appreciate your prayers… 

17/03/10 Our health insurance premiums are going up again… we have to keep our current one until after the baby is born, then we’ll need to shop around for a better deal, if there is one… Anyone have any tips on good Aussie family hospital cover? 

18/03/10 Pay day $100 to tithe account. I know this is less than usual but even this is more than we can afford right now – I’m trusting that God will honour it as it’s given sacrificially. 

Thank you to all of you who are journeying with us, praying for us and supporting us, we deeply appreciate it. We’d value you prayers, especially in regard to sticking to our commitment for the year and trusting that God will provide. As always we’d love to hear from you so please keep in touch.

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Tithe Journal #4

This post is part of the Tithe Experiment series

Giving (18/02/10)

$250 to tithe account

Needs

16/2/10 Learning the difference between need and necessity. Already know the difference between a want and a need but there is also a difference between a need and a necessity. There are a lot of things we need or need to do but we must focus on what is a necessity, do those things first and then reassess our situation. It’s hard not to do something you feel you need to do, makes decision-making all the more important.

22/2/10 Balancing the budget is becoming difficult. We have extra expenses and a minimal contingency fund to cover it. We need to work out how to spend less and make our money go further. Would really appreciate your prayers for provision.

I’ve decided to drop back to one subject this semester which is a good move. It simply means it’ll take me longer to finish and I need to be patient (so hard for me at the best of times ;-))

We have some specific prayer needs and would appreciate your prayers:

  • Wisdom to know how/when to take over the house mortgage
  • Where to attend Church, we need a regular church home
  • Study begins for me beginning of March – wisdom to balance everything

God’s Provision

19/2/10 Sam and I were able to go out tonight to a concert. My parents are amazing and have taken Anabelle for the night so we can have some couple time. It’s a provision for us that we have such Godly and generous parents who love to do this for us.

 20/2/10 Went shopping with Sam today because we needed some specific items. Not only did we find what we needed but we also bought some extras as well because everything we needed was on sale. And not just on sale but most things were 70%-90% off the normal price!! God really provided for us because these kinds of sales are rare where we live and its even rarer to actually find exactly what you need in these sales, amazing! We’re totally blown away by God’s provision!

The novelty of our experiment is starting to wear off as the realities of every day life take over. Its hard to keep trusting that God will provide – we know He will – It’s in these times that we need to submit ourselves to Him even more

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight – Proverbs 3:5-6 The Bible

We really appreciate all the encouragement, feedback and prayers, so thank you all! As always we’d love to hear from you so please feel free to say hi 🙂

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