Celebrate – go ahead it is Festive

Graduation

 

At this time of year I feel like I am constantly at an event celebrating something – the photo is from the Graduation Dinner at C3 College – the traditional lift photo you take on the way up to the venue with the students, in this case the gorgeous Charlotte – it was Monday night and it was very festive.  We had a Last day of College event and we have a Graduation service on Saturday night followed by a staff College party on Sunday Night. We have definitely celebrated the end of College.

And so we should. Whenever some-one achieves something – we should not rush by it. But we should stop and enjoy the moment. We should celebrate with them – Ecclesiastes encourages us to rejoice with those who rejoice .

The size of the achievement should determine the proportion of the celebration. For this reason at the end of a College year we do multiple celebrations people have had a significant transforming experience and so we need to mark the event properly. If we rush past it we also devalue the work God has done in their life at College.

We need to find out what is the best way to celebrate.  The party, the dinner, opening a bottle of champagne is fantastic but some-times it requires more thought.

Sometimes the best way to celebrate with our team is to give them a day off when they have worked really hard. After every conference or big event we take time in lieu. A day to recoup and recover, a different kind of celebration that values the sacrifice of time that has been made. It rarely covers all the time – it does allow for a pause and reflection on a job well done. It also allows for rest and recovery – essential for running this race.

Too often in church life , especially in churches with big vision , we launch for pulling off one huge event to the next without stopping to effectively debrief and then celebrate. What happens then is that people feel devalued and they burn out.

The debrief is also crucial – what did we do well, what could we do better, what did we learn – all questions that need to be answered. People need to be heard as well – their viewpoint is invaluable. (will write a whole blog on this I think)

Running onto the next event may seem like the overwhelmingly urgent thing to do. However if you want to have  team that is happy and healthy for the long-term – pause, celebrate and debrief.

As some-one who was celebrated this year on two continents just for reaching a significant age, I know how incredible it felt to have people communicate that they value who you are what you have done.

Life in ministry can be so intense and full – but I see Jesus going to weddings, eating with people and celebrating the holidays ! When he was born it was celebrated with a star, angels and three wise men with expensive gifts.

Go out of your way to find things to celebrate and life will be festive and the people you love will know you value them !!

What do you celebrate that you would like to share with everyone?

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Understand Yourself – It’s Your Responsibility

Painting

 

One of the things I have learnt in life and ministry is that it is so important to understand stand myself and how I function. For a long time I thought it was self-absorbed to spend time figuring myself out . However I now see it is part of loving the people around me.

If I don’t understand how I work- I will emotionally vomit all over people, I will not function properly when people are depending on me and as a leader I will create an environment that is insecure and unstable.

So don’t think of it as naval gazing and for Heavens sake don’t get lost in working yourself out for years before you do anything – however along the way learn about how you function and how you are gifted so you can be most effective. I consider it an outworking of the parable of the talents- we need to work our talents and gifts – but how can we work them if we don’t know what they are.

Our  gifts and talents function within our physical frame , our personality and our unique wiring. To best steward who God has created you to be – you need to understand what are your optimal conditions !

Here are a few things you need to know about yourself (some are very simple)

  • How much sleep you need . I know I am an 8 hours a night girl. In peak times , or highly festive seasons I can do 6 hours for about 3 nights, any more and I can schedule the migraine.
  • Are you an introvert or an extrovert. I know I am an extrovert – so a week’s holiday on my own sounds great in theory but in practise will send me into a downward spiral.  However I know I am really happy exploring cities, seeing shows and going to art galleries on my own – in fact I LOVE it. Doesn’t make any sense with the rest of my personality but there it is. (the photo above is from the Met in NY one day in June)
  • Know your personality weaknesses. I know I am a sanguine personality and so my greatest fear is rejection. Understanding this means I stay off Instigram when I know there is an event I am not invited to. Seeing the photos will hurt – I know I should be bigger than this by now but I am not. So better to guard my heart.
  • What are your strengths . I did the strength finder test a few years ago and found that I am an achiever. I like to get things done. So even on a holiday week or rest day I will feel better if I achieve something. So I have learnt to turn finishing a book, cooking a great meal, watching a movie or hanging with friends into an achievement for the day.
  • What is your love language. Mine is quality time. Knowing this helps me to talk myself through some tricky situations – even in my family. Just because they are not spending time with me does not mean they don’t love me! That is my love language not theirs.
  • How do you handle stress – under pressure I turn into a choleric personality it’s not really pretty. I apologise to my staff in advance of big events. Knowing this makes me stop and deliberately soften my approach. One day I hope to be able to stop apologising and be kind under pressure – I am a work in progress.

(Wow just read that back- hope I haven’t  scared you all away from my blog by my glaring flaws!)

Those are a few areas I think are important.

Any thoughts ? What did I miss ?? What else is important to understand about yourself ?

50 is the new 30. Really ?

50

 

So today I am 50 – there I said it !

As I post this – thanks to the wonders of technology I will be having dinner with my family- enjoying a view of the harbour bridge and a great bottle of red wine (thanks Jordan and Lisa !) . All my siblings will be together;  my sister is here from Perth, my brother from Singapore as well as the Sydney family! It will be a sacred time (unless we get into an argument which could happen in our family but probably not on a birthday – and either way there will be much love in the midst of it all !)

In the last few weeks to encourage me about my advancing age – some people have said – don’t worry 50 is the new 30. I know they mean well and are being kind. However I think I am just going to embrace the season ! I am 50 – I am not 30 – I loved being 30 but it is long over- and so I am going to love being 50 !

I wonder why we are all trying so hard to hang onto our youth – and why we can’t just go with getting older . One of my favourite scriptures is  Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to be in plenty, I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” . I guess the key to this scripture is that it is a secret – not many people find contentment in the season they are in. I want to be a person who is content in this season of my 50’s.

I wont lie to you and tell you that my life is perfect. I have cried some tears over dreams I thought should have come true by now – turns out God and Walt Disney have different views on life !

I may also have been slightly offended when I heard some of my students thought I didn’t understand their fashion choices because I am “older”. On reflection I realised I have never really understood fashion , it has nothing to do with my age. (It also has to do with the wisdom you get as you get older on when and where to show off the great legs God gave you ! )

 

However my life is rich and wonderful. I have an incredible family, amazing friends, a job I love, a church with a vision I am passionate about and the list goes on.  Right now I am sitting on my front deck looking out at Long Reef on Sydney’s Northern Beaches while my little nephews play on my iPad .

I am a blessed woman.

If I slip out of contentment I just need to look at the world around me – there are people in the Philippines now who are struggling to survive, who have been made orphans and homeless by a typhoon. My issues are light and momentary.

Getting old on this earth is a privilege. I am going to do my best to enjoy every moment !

50 is not the new 30 – it is 50 and it is fabulous !

How do you find contentment ?

(The photo is from my surprise birthday in NY in May,  who was expecting a birthday party 6 months early?  It was wonderful and humbling – and so incredibly kind – dont’ believe the stories NYers are some of the best people on the planet )

 

 

You Gotta Have Friends

Friends

Recently one of my students was describing the situation her parents were in as Lay  Pastors- she said they don’t have friends because they are Pastors and can’t really be honest with anyone. This made me really sad.The lie that Pastors and leaders can’t have friends is one that was prevalent when I was a young In ministry. We have all heard the maxim  “it is lonely at the top” .  Yes there are areas of our  work that we cannot talk about due to confidentiality . But really when we think about it – doctors, psychologists, social workers, politicians and many other professions are in the same position.We all need friends. We need friends we can laugh with and cry with. Friends who understand our sometimes crazy lives and are willing to make the effort. Friends who are not people we pastor or lead and who are not expecting us to always have all the answers.

In a recent situation in my own life I was struggling emotionally with a few areas of my life. To be honest I was really upset about two situations and felt like I should be handling them better. My girl firends helped me understand why I was feeling the way I was, listened, prayed for me and my emotional outpouring did not change our relationship – except to make us closer.  They did not run off to a Pastor and tell them Pam is falling apart,  you need to pull her from all leadership- they loved me and shared my burden thus fulfilling the law of Christ. (Gal 6:2)

Letting people into my struggle did not change it , it just made me feel less alone. Knowing that other people understood made me feel more connected.They told me I wasn’t crazy. They allowed me space to process .

 I did not tell everyone – just a couple of people.  It just made me so grateful for long term friendships- people that love me no matter how much of a mess I am.

Recently we had Ps Mike Connell in our church and he talked about Jesus in his hour of greatest emotional and spiritual distress in the Garden of Gesthemene wanting his three closest friends to be with him. Was there anything they could do for him? No. Would anything they said or did change his situation ? No, Jesus just wanted  friends to be there with him.In tough times and good times we all need friends . It is a lie that leadership has to be lonely. Yes there are times to be alone with God, or alone to process, or alone in making some tough calls, but we were created social beings with a need for community.

We need soul friends who can hear our deepest pain. We need friends who we have fun with and laugh with. We need travel buddies and movie buddies and people who like to eat the same food we eat. We need old friends and new friends. We need friends who are older than us and friends who are younger. We need take risks and connect with people and let them into our hearts. Will every person become a best friend – no – but our lives will be richer for having made space for another person.

When God said ” it is not good for an to be alone ” I don’t think he was just talking about marriage -I think he was talking about life!

How do you nurture friendships ?

(The photo above is one of my favourites from my Long Service leave- high tea with three of my NY girls – friends for over 20 years – precious)