First Lead Yourself

I had a conversation with a young leader who was stepping down from a leadership role a few weeks ago. In a moment an incredible self-awareness she said “I can’t lead other people when right now I can’t lead myself”.

If you are any type of leadership culture you will resonate with this and have heard it before.

This time  I heard it, thus got  me thinking. We are all works in progress and will have areas where we are doing well, and areas where we are struggling, so we can’t always lead ourselves well.

However here are some areas where if we can’t lead ourselves we will undermine any leadership role we are in.

So for the next few weeks I am going to unpack some of them. Heres the first one.

Leading Your Emotional World

Leaders can’t be emotionless robots or people who are always up and peppy. However I do believe we need some control of our emotional world.

This doesn’t mean we can’t have a tough day, express grief, anger or sadness. It does mean though that we need to have enough self-control that we can shelve those emotions when the situation requires it.

Leaders need a level of emotional stability so people around you can trust and rely on you.

For me the last thing I want is my team on egg shells wondering what sort of mood I am going to be in today (I am really hoping after this blog I don’t find out this is the case !)

Leaders need to be people who can handle problems and issues without losing control of their emotional world. We also need to understand how what is going on in our physical body affects our mood and brain function. Sometimes the situation is not as bad as your response, you just need food or sleep.

Part of this is knowing what the release valves on your emotions are.

At work if I know I am starting to red line I will go the kitchen at work, make a cup of tea , while its brewing I  go to the bathroom and tell God that I am not coping. Some how admitting it and asking for help is the first step towards gaining control. Then I usually find that either my perspective changes, peace comes or I get a God idea and I can get back into it.    ( Some days I drink a lot of tea)

At peak times I make sure I am walking the dog and praying every morning. I stay committed to swimming laps three times a week – I make sure I have fun times with good friends.

The things you do to release your emotional pressure valve will be different to mine – but you need to know what they are.

The last thing we need is for people we lead to experience outbursts of negative emotions on a regular basis because we are not in control. (We will all still lose the plot occasionally – which requires an apology I wrote about it here Say Sorry ) .Emotional stability creates trust and security in teams.

How do you keep your emotions under control ? What are you release valves, do you know when to use them ?  How do you healthily express emotions ?

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What are You Believing ?

This is my first post for 2016 and it comes from a message I preached at C3 Service Manly yesterday. I preached on something I am passionate about – what we believe.

This message came out of a season in my life last year when a thought popped into my head one day while I was walking the dog. The thought began as a seed and it quickly took root and before I knew it I had a new belief system in my mind – I had a new doctrine.

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The sad thing about this doctrine was that it caused me to doubt God and despair that I wouldn’t see his goodness in an area of my life.

Good thing for me – this season didn’t last too long. Thanks to the Still Small Voice I came to my senses and dug out that faulty doctrine. However it reminded me how important it is to watch what we are believing.

Doctrine is not for Bible College students or academics – it is crucial for all of us. Paul speaking to Timothy says “Watch your life and doctrine closely”.

The reason it is crucial to watch your doctrine is because what you believe will determine how you live.

Here’s the key beliefs that will determine how we live and love.

1.  God is the Father

If I believe God is a Good Father it will change the way I live. People with Good Fathers are confident in who they are and happy to ask their Fathers for help

2. Jesus did it ALL on the Cross.

We have got to keep central in our minds that there is nothing we can do to earn God’s grace . This will keep works mentality from sneaking  into our thinking . We cannot earn God’s love- we have it 100% every day!

3. The Holy Spirit is NOT the Force (Sorry Star Wars fans)

He is the third person of the trinity, he is our guide, comforter and friend – he is God and He is the power that raised Jesus from the dead and lives on the inside of us. Incredible!

4. The Church is NOT a Meeting on a Sunday.

It is not a religious box we tick once a week. It is a dwelling place that God lives by his Spirit – it is the family of God- at points dysfunctional but still our family.

5. EVERY Person is valuable and made in the image of God!

That no matter the gender, age, status, ability – every person deserves respect and care. No person’s life is disposable for any cause. I hate to get political on a Monday morning but gosh I wish more people in our world understood this doctrine – life is sacred because it comes from God.

I know this is all pretty basic, but if I could forget God is Good for a season – I figured maybe you could too.

Believing for a great 2016 for you all – filled with great doctrine !

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A Challenge for Your Heart

 

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This week for me at C3 College it is graduation week. This week I will mark a mountain of work and some people will pass and some people will fail.

Some people will fail because of dumb decisions, others because of life circumstances and still others because of learning or medical problems.

As I have these tough conversations with people (I have written about why and how to do tough conversations) I will get a glimpse into where their security lies.

When we are faced with a challenge or even a failure it reveals our hearts.

I think about this regularly, and I know it is so easy to slip into having our security in things that come and go, things that are transient and things that are so dangerous to put your security in.

So often it is not like we decide to put our security in something. Things just creep into our psyche and begin to define us.

Suddenly

Our achievements are so crucial we tell everyone about them

Our looks and clothes are way too important

Our roles or jobs become our identity

Our friendship group defines how we see ourselves

Our houses, cars, possessions tell us who we are … and the list goes on.

The problem with all these things is that they can be taken away in a moment, sometimes just through life circumstances, and we found ourselves adrift. We don’t know who we are anymore.

The other problem is that these things become cages, we have to work hard to maintain, because otherwise all of who I am comes crashing down.

We need to constantly be going back to having our security firmly in the One who never changes, the One who always loves us no matter what, the only real security in this life. The One who is for me when it seems like the world (or just the grades and the Assistant Principal ) are against me.

This week I will watch people who have their security in Christ make it through. They may not graduate now, but their foundations will mean they will hold their heads high, they will often re-do work or complete later. Those without their security in Christ will disappear and hide which is such a shame.

I think particularly of three young men who are part of the Class of 2016, who have repeated, changed streams, to find out where their talents and giftings lie. They have done an incredible journey, they have at points humbled themselves and allowed us to guide them. They have gained so much and their foundations are in who Jesus is, Christ in them the hope of Glory !

Enjoy the photos of the students – it’s a sentimental time of year !

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Love is not all we need !

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Lately I have noticed that yes we need to love one another- but we will not survive in life without the ability to forgive one another.

To live lives that are effective and fruitful, we have to be able to release people who have offended or hurt us, we have to be able to forgive.

Is forgiveness always easy ? No of course not. At least three times in my life I have been on forgiveness journeys that have taken years to work themselves out.

In one case every day in my prayer time I proclaimed – “I forgive her” .  At the end of a year it wasn’t only words it was finally something that I experienced. I had actually forgiven and I am so glad I did. The person I needed to forgive is still a good friend to this day and I could have missed out on 30 years of friendship if I didn’t forgive.

Forgiveness doesn’t say what the person did was OK. It does say I will no longer hold it against them.

As my friend Emma wisely said to me said this week – to forgive is to be free – free to go anywhere without having to avoid anyone, free to do life with lots of people without being concerned about factions and divisions. Free from hanging on to a hurt or offence and letting it continue to hurt or offend.

Forgiveness knows we all have feet of clay and make mistakes and so can extend grace to other people.

Forgiveness doesn’t take on other people’s offences, and let other people’s issues keep us in chains, long after they have moved on.

Forgiveness understands I have been forgiven much and so I need to forgive.

We do need to love each other but its not all we need, we also need to forgive each other. It is hard work, it takes commitment and a big heart. It is so worth it in the end.

If none of that inspires you to forgive – maybe the scariest verse in the Bible will – I know puts the fear of God in me “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matt 6:14

Just my thoughts on forgiveness on a raining Thursday evening in Sydney.

Painting by Phil Pringle – go to PhilPringle.com 

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Three things I Know about Transitions

In the survey I took of you, I was asked to write about dealing with transitions . Coincidentally I have recently had some changes in my own world and watched some people very close to me walk through some major transitions.

We would like to think that transitions are like the photo above took of  Narabeen Lake at dawn. Just darkness receding and the sky moving through beautiful colours to bring a new a new day.

The reality is quite different here is what I have learned as I have stumbled through many  transitions

  1. Transitions are awkward

They are in between phases and so by nature they are awkward. You are not yet gone from one place, and not yet in the next. Instead of a beautiful sunrise – it is more  like having one foot on a slow moving train, one foot still on the platform – it involves lots of awkward hopping around, and hoping you won’t fall into the gap!

There are awkward situations and awkward conversations in transitions.

2. Transitions need lots of communication

In order for transitions to be smooth they require lots of communication to make sure everyone is on the same page and to give everyone a road map to navigate the transition. So much better to over communicate in this process. This is the most obvious time where in an absence of communication people assume the worst. Expectations in these phase can be so difficult to manage and the only way is through open and honest communication.

Transitions require conversations that can be tough.It will help to try to keep even serious things light and not too intense if you can do it. I would say I have a 50/50 success rate on this – I am hoping to get better at it.

3. Transitions are an emotional roller coaster

For the people making the change there is a mix of excitement for the new thing, doubts about the decision, fear and sadness of what is being left behind etc, etc, etc For the people effected there can be there can be a whole range of emotions from peace to anger and everything in between.

It is an emotionally charged time, lots of grace is required, and some good self care. Many times in the last few weeks I have told myself “you are not that upset/angry/ worried about this – you are just emotional stretched because of  the changes in your world”.

Knowing you are on a roller coaster doesn’t make it any less freaky, but it does mean you can prepare and be aware of what is happening.

( Really hoping this helps tomorrow night as I watch my little nephews walk through immigration to go to the African Mercy for a year- must remember the tissues)

These are the things that I know about transitions – they are tricky – but a normal part of our lives. Hopefully understanding them a bit better can help us hop through them with as much grace and dignity as possible.

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Turns Out Dying to Yourself is about Sleep and Coffee !

I spent last year writing a thesis on, among other things, dying to yourself.

This year I am learning to live it again in a new way.

I am on the team for a  new extension service in a suburb about 25 mins drive from my house. I chose to be part of it because I wanted a new challenge. I wanted to see if I could still connect people to God and his house – without them being fee paying students !

I also wanted to make sure I was not one of those people who taught without doing.

I love working under the Service Pastor Julie Maconachie, she is brilliant.

However I am learning about laying down my life from this new experience and by watching people around me.

It is so easy to stand on an altar call, in a moment of sacred worship and say “Lord have my life” but it is in the little little things that this is tested.

It is tested

  • When it costs $40 to park for church (which it did the first morning before I got smarter)
  • When it involves lugging equipment up two flights of stairs
  • When it means doing a job I am totally unskilled at, feeling totally out of my depth, making a million mistakes, until the right person comes along.
  • When I really just want to go home, because I am tired and cranky but I go to a team lunch because I am part of the team (and end up having a blast)

It is so easy to lay down your life for Jesus until it means you don’t have time to get a good coffee, or you have to loose another hour of sleep on a Sunday morning. When it now means you have to make an effort to see friend instead of the convenience of seeing them at your normal service. When you push through when you have a headache or a heartache because you want to see His Kingdom come.

Its funny – the grand gestures and big decisions are somehow easier. It is in the little things that our levels of commitment and submission to His agenda and not our own, is  revealed.

I am working on mine afresh !!

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5 Tips to Juggling

One of the things I was asked in my recent survey is how I do the juggle. The juggle that many of us do – balancing family, friends, work, second jobs, church commitments  and looking after ourselves.

To be honest this week I have failed badly at it. I almost missed a dear friends engagement, I messed up some dates that I booked people for and I tried to pray for new students for 2014 !! I blame it on a migraine, a move and inhaling too many cleaning products last week.

Normally I do manage to juggle quite a few things and enjoy it – so here is a few things I have learned about doing the juggle

  1. It takes planning – I spend time at the beginning of each week figuring out where all the pieces are going to fit in. I use my outlook calendar to put everything into – find a calendar tool you like and use it.
  2. I pretty much do what I have planned to do – no matter how I feel. Too much rescheduling causes lots of stress.
  3. You have to be in the moment – if you have a full life you have to enjoy right where you are at that time. I try to be totally present and enjoy right where I am. (The photo above is from the College Ministry Trip. Had a week with these crazy kids and loved being with them – enjoying too many great moments)
  4. I make sure that there are certain things that I don’t juggle – they are fixed and don’t move e.g. I walk and pray in the mornings, no matter what else is going on in a day. I always have one day off work a week no matter what. (If you have read my blog before you know I am passionate about the Sabbath -I wrote about it here 7 Tips to keeping a Sabbath)
  5. I allow margin where ever I can. Deliberate gaps in the schedule which allow for unforeseen interruptions. These interruptions are always people and people are always more important than any tasks, and worth the interruption.

I am not perfect at the juggle by any means and I don’t juggle as many things as many of you do – but I do have a full life and these are some tips that have helped me. Please comment if you have any great tips that could help us all

(If you would like to get my blog in your email and never have to look for it on social media again – just subscribe on the side. I can’t guarantee it will always be brilliant, I can promise it will always be real – my aim is that it would always be helpful)