5 times you should Drag the Chain

The team I work in often comes to me for the quick decisions. I have the ability to make a decision under pressure – in those situations where any decision is a good decision. (Are they always the best decisions – no of course not !).

I also see most things as just a problem to be solved and the sooner it is solved the sooner we can move on.

However in the last few  weeks I have literally forced myself NOT to make a decision, or have a response to a situation.

Here are the 5 times I think that dragging the chain, or slowing down action, is an appropriate plan of action .

1. When we are over tired.

Not just normal tired that most if us live with in the 21st Century. The “I have just been through a very busy season, have not been sleeping well, really need a holiday ” tiredness. None of us make good decisions when we are overtired.

2. When we are angry or hurt.

We should rarely make a decision out of an emotional response. I had to make a decision in the last week about something that had caused me to feel a little hurt. I forced myself to work through the hurt, to process it and then to make a decision that was rational and calm, and ultimately better for all concerned.

3. When we know you don’t have all the information.

I often have people come to my office with a story about some misdemeanour or other one of our students have committed. Experience, learned the hard way, now means I make sure I talk to the student involved and any other people involved to get as complete a picture as I can. I do this before I make any decisions or recommendations.

4. When we need to get people on board.

It is important to involve people who will be effected by a decision. They often can see things from an angle that you won’t and can help you make the right call. If you leave them out of the process they will resent the decision and have more trouble implementing it. I work with lots of contract lecturers who have diferent schedules. This  means it is difficult to meet to work through decisions. However it is always worth it to involve key stake holders.

5. When the decision has long reaching strategic implications – obviously.

These decisions need time, counsel of many, the wisdom of Solomon and lots of prayer. These are not really the sort of decisions I am addressing here.

Obviously there are may times when a quick decision is a good decision. However these are a few times when I have experienced the power of dragging the chain.

What about you ?

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Sometimes “Its All Good ” is not Good

I was talking to one of my students about a situation and he said to me “Don’t worry it’s all good”. Here was the problem – it was not good right then. I know he was trying to not be a problem and he has a heart of gold . In that moment I had to say to him “no this is not good but I can fix it for you and it will be good”

So then I started pondering – when is saying “It’s All Good” not good . Here is what I came up with

1. When “Its all good” stops you fighting for some-one.

In the case of my student, I needed to fight for something for him. It wasn’t anything major but it was significant right there and then. If I had have accepted his “Its all good” I would have been lazy in my care of his life. Leaders – don’t accept the “it’s all good” when you have the power to help some-one. We need to value our people and fight for them.

2. When “It’s all good” negates someone’s stress or challenge.

I have had some people tell me “its all good” at some times of extreme pressure . Really what I wish they would have done is given me a hug, or actually encouraged me or even offered help .” It’s all good” can minimise the very real pressure a person is under or the pain they are in.

The last thing we want to do is make people feel like their pain or stress is not important to us – we are people who mourn with those who mourn. “It’s all good ” glibly spoken can break people’s trust in our leadership.

3. When we use “Its all good” to block out people close to us

People are not stupid, if they care about you they can tell when you are not doing well.  “Its all good” can actually shut people down who want to be there for you. We all need a few people in our world that we don’t say “its all good” to.

Now before you start throwing Romans 8:28 at me, read it again , “And we know in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purposes”.

God will work it out for good. It WILL be “all good”.

However right now it may not be – and to say ” it’s all good” doesn’t acknowledge reality.

Today it may not be all good – and we can acknowledge that – and God will not fall off his throne. We can believe for a better tomorrow in the midst of a tough today.

Can you add to my list of times when “Its all Good” is not good. Lets see how long this list can go.

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Keeping it Real

Ever been to a restaurant or café that is the latest big thing?

All your friends have been to it already and have raved.

You finally get there, your food come out, and suddenly you have no idea what all the fuss is about.

Your expectations were high and you are now dealing with disappointment.

When we are leading people we have to try and avoid this situation, because there is so much more at stake than the cost of dinner.


Here is a few thoughts on Keeping it Real in no particular order

  • We have to explain the expectations – especially when they are volunteering – people need to know how much time they will be giving, what to wear, when they will eat, what they will be doing. These practicalities communicate to people that you value them and are looking after them.
  • We have to be real with the things that we have control over. I often tell the College students I cannot get our local bus lines to put a bus route to our Campus – I have no authority over them – and I have called and asked but to no avail. I want the bus to stop outside College but it won’t help anyone if I promise what I surely cannot deliver.
  • We have to be realistic about what we can give of our time to the people we are leading. If we set up an expectation that we cannot meet, it might make us feel good when we are making the promise – but we will lose people’s trust when we can’t  deliver.
  • Help people to be realistic about people in leadership – honouring is so important – but it cannot lead to a zone where perfection is expected. People are people- they have different roles- but this side of heaven none of them are without failings and flaws. To expect perfection of leaders is incredibly unfair to them.

We have to keep it real – and still have faith in the mix. It’s a tricky balance and  depending on our personality we will tip over into either hyper faith or negativity.

When people’s expectations are not met they deal with a whole range of emotions from mild disappointment  to a total break of trust.

Lets be realistic with people- and treat them with the respect they deserve. Lets be  filled with faith but real. I love the verse that says Abraham considered his body as good as dead but still believed God. He was real and in faith!

One day I’ll get the balance right- what about you ?

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I thought I was OK at the Mentoring/ Pastoring side of my life until..





I started my MTh Thesis in March 2014.  If  you had have asked me in Feb 2014- I would have said that  mentoring/ pastoring was a strength. Until I had a year with a supervisor who was excellent at it . Going back to being a mentee under Dr David Parker was a great experience from me – and here is what he did that was so empowering



1. He believed in me

He believed I could do it more than I believed I could. He told me repeatedly I was going to get this done – and for some-one who was rusty and much more a practitioner than an academic this was a priceless gift.

2. He challenged me

He sent me emails where I had to google what the words meant before I could follow his directions.  He  returned sections I had written with extensive notes about where my holes were and sent me back to the library to keep researching – he refused to let me stay where I was and kept pushing me to learn more. It was so good for me.

3. He was so generous with his knowledge

If I had a question, he had an answer. In the end if I had forgotten to get one reference (which I did) and needed to go back to the library he saved me time and found it from his library . I always felt like I could ask anything .

4. He was available to me

As he lives a few hours away and his teaching schedule and mine often clashed we did most of our meetings over email and an occasional face to face or Skype. But I he was always present I would get emails back within hours at the pointy end of the project, when he went away he told me – I could rely on his on-going dialogue – it created so much security.

5. He was understanding of my world

When I told him he would not hear from me for a while as I was going to a US conference, coming back and going to a College Missions trip – he got it. He didn’t make me feel guilty – he gave me space and made me want to get back to studying ASAP.

It made me reflect on my mentoring roles- I am no-where near as good as Dave was – although my mentoring roles are different to a Thesis Supervisor – this experience made me want to be better at all areas of mentoring and pastoring. I saw the impact this had on my life- and how it allowed me to achieve more than I thought was possible -in the academic world that so intimidates and intrigues me.

As I travel into 2015 – as much as I learned about the topic of my thesis – one of the gems I carry from the experience is an inspiration to be a better mentor.

Anyone else had a mentor who inspired them ? Why ? Comment away.

( P.S For those of you who don’t know – my blogging has been scarce in the past few months as I have been finishing an MTh Thesis at Alphacrusis College as well as working full time- I did it to challenge myself, to keep learning and to set up my future. It was stretching, exhausting and truly wonderful. My blogs will be more regular again now – it is so nice to go back to  writing a page without a single footnote !!!)

I know I have used that photo of my little nephews  before but I couldn’t resist – its one of my favourites !

Repairing Bridges – Humbling and Necessary




In one week I did  damage to two relational bridges and have had to go back and do some repairs – and in both cases I could have left the bridges broken because I was technically “in the right” . However that would have made me so “in the wrong” .

It was humbling for these reasons

1. I had to own my part in the damage

2. I had to work hard to fix the damage

3. In one case the other person blamed me entirely for the damage and could not see their part – and I am pretty sure that is not going to change.

However despite the humbling process and how hard it is at points we have to be able to go back and repair bridges.

One bridge was a parent at a student at a recent student  performance. She objected to me taking photos and blocking her view and soundly rebuked me for it during the show. I certainly did less photo taking but I stewed during the show – my thoughts centring along – doesn’t she know who I am, I have a right to take photos. (Any sentence that begins with “don’t they know who I am ” should be a serious red flag- it lacks the heart of the gospel) .

At intermission I went to the bathroom – where I find the Holy Spirit is very present as I have fewer distractions – weird I know – and felt convicted about my attitude and decided I needed to go back to me seat- turn around and repair that bridge.

I have met that parent before , she had forgotten, and I did not want to do anything that would damage the relationship between her and the church or the College. Leaving the unpleasantness in the air would have done just that.

So I humbled myself, went in there and instead of avoiding eye contact – as I really wanted to do- sat down turned around and chatted. We had a great conversation, talked about the photo taking, worked it through and she came again the next night a deliberately said hello. I repaired the bridge – and now it is strengthened as is her view of the College and the church.

I wish I could say all bridge repairs are that straight forward – some take a lot more effort and time. However as ministers we need to have the skills to do it. Rather than avoid the situation we need to humble ourselves, roll up our sleeves and do some dirty work. I am learning the need to do it over and over again, how about you ? Comment below and add to the discussion.

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Making the Tough Pastoral Calls !




No-one likes making the tough calls – we often avoid them like the plague, until we are forced into making them. Lately I have had to make a few tough decisions to make  and have learnt some new things – which is always good . So I thought I would share them!

1) Gather the information you need.

In Proverbs 18:17 it says “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him”. Especially in church life we don’t like to involve too many people – we like to maintain confidentiality . This is a good thing – however when it comes to making decisions, especially about people’s lives, you need a 360 degree view of a situation to make a good call.

2) Don’t be rushed into a decision

I often find people trying to rush me into a decision because they are stressed and want an answer.Don’t be pushed into a hasty decision by some-one else’s timetable. You may regret it later . By the same token don’t drag it out unnecessarily – that will cause all concerned stress.

In a recent decision concerning a student’s future with us at  C3 College  – we made the decision on a Thursday and deliberately sat on it till the Tuesday so we could allow it to settle and make sure it was the right call. On Tuesday we decided it needed modifying and took more time – the final decision was better for the process.

3) Don’t feel like you have to make a decision alone

There is no shame in getting input from people who are more experienced or have a different view-point. Again Proverbs has wisdom in Chapter 15:22 “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Just because you have been given responsibility doesn’t mean you have to be a lone ranger – humble yourself and ask a few people for wisdom.

4) Remember there is  people on the other side of a tough call

Especially in ministry, there are always people on the other side of tough calls – you need to constantly bear that in mind. People are not expendable – they are precious and valued in God’s sight – even if they are messing up right now. Don’t make calls that are cavalier and thoughtless and treat people like chess pieces. Make decisions that keep in mind people’s best long-term interests. Communicate that when you speak to them . Love them through your tough decision.

5) Pray – a lot

You will get supernatural peace, supernatural wisdom and see it from heaven’s view-point. God will also prepare and repair hearts including your own !

Hope that helped – it follows on from having the tough conversations – feel free to add any suggestions in the comment box below- I need all the help I can get !

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Guest Blog from Jenn Carlino- Excellent Thoughts on Delegation


Recently I was reminded of the power of delegation. In a couple weeks, my husband’s family, 15 of us, are renting a beach house on Eastern Long Island. This year I am responsible for one meal. This is Big.

Allow me to explain. Almost 7 years ago I married into a Sicilian family. Not just Italian, but Sicilian. My mother-in-law is an amazing cook- you haven’t had lasagna until you’ve had Connie’s lasagna. His family shows their love through food so at Christmas, birthdays and every family gathering it’s all about the food.

On Thursday night, I volunteered to make a meal when we are at the beach house. Traditionally, my mother-in-law does the cooking and politely turns me down when I offer to help.This year she said yes! She has delegated finally.

I drove home from Matt’s parent’s house thinking, What have I done? I’m only 25% Italian. What would I make? After a couple deep breaths, I started getting excited, looking through my cookbooks, thinking of salads and desserts. I can’t wait.

Delegation isn’t about getting people to help me. It’s about releasing people and getting them excited about their calling.

I read a great statement by John Mark Comer in Leadership Magazine, “Are we getting people to do OUR thing, or figuring out how to equip and empower people to live THEIR calling.” My passion as a mom, wife, friend and in my professional and church life is to have the people around me walk in the calling of his/her life.

A couple thoughts on delegation:

  • Allow others to take ownership of the vision. A couple months ago I was leading a prayer meeting and asked one of our youth to lead the group in prayer for salvations. She was so nervous that she had written her entire prayer on a notepad. After the meeting, she told me how expectant she was for salvation in our House.
  • You can’t do everything. In Exodus 18 Moses’ father in law, Jethro advised him to delegate authority regarding the government of the people of Israel. If you’re wanting to serve in the Kingdom of God for the long haul (which is what we’re called to do) you need people around.
  • Just because it’s not your style doesn’t mean it’s bad. There’s a church in our area that years ago had a split choosing the color of carpet. The person who you delegated to make a sign, chose the menu for the women’s event or pick a new worship song probably spent as much time seeking God as you would have.
  • Let people make mistakes. Ask me about the time I gave all the kids soda at night church. I thought it was such a great idea. I’ve made tons of mistakes along the way and I’m thankful for the people who helped me learn and grow through the experiences.Thanks Pam.
  • Delegation isn’t abdication. Walk alongside people as they are doing things for the first time. You need to be the teacher and cheerleader.
  • Don’t hold on to the things you love. Just because you’re good at doing something doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be delegated. Allow other people the space to grow– and they might have even more vision than you do.

I’m not using any of Connie’s recipes. I’m making what I’m good at.

And it’s just a meal. Things aren’t nearly as big as we think they are. Let the people around you try something. You never know what great things are in store for them. The Kingdom of God will grow as we equip people into the amazing life that God has for them.

Jennifer Carlino is a Dean at the School of Journalism, at Stony Brook University and is on the leadership team at C3 Long Island, as one of the preachers and she also does some Event Co-ordination. She was also shared a house with me for over 5 years on Long Island which she deserves a medal for !