A Challenge for Your Heart


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.


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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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

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Made a Big Mistake, Should have Known Better !


Recently when I was travelling I made an insensitive cross cultural remark at a dinner. I made a dig at another nationality without thinking that there was some-one at the table of that nationality. Such a rookie mistake.

To be honest I don’t remember what I said, but I remember the hurt I caused. I also remember that my little remark opened the door, for four other people who respect me, to add to my remark causing even more hurt.

After I  found out that I had been offensive , I apologised profusely. I just wish it had never happened.

Here is what I learned

1. You never know the backgrounds of people listening to a conversation so any snide remark about any people group is seriously unhelpful. (Most of you already knew this- I did too – I just forgot)

2. As a person in a leadership role – you make take an inch. The people who look up to you will then take a mile. What we do is modelled good and bad. This is mostly sub-conscious . People don’t think “Pam made a negative comment, hey now I have permission to make one too” – they just do it, because I opened the door for it.

3. Apologising is good. However I cannot undo the damage done to the  relationships of the other people in the room who joined in my negativity. I can pray and believe for them but I cannot apologise for them. I am responsible for the repercussions.

4. Pride comes before a fall. Honestly I thought I was pretty good cross-culturally. Apparently not ! I need to go back to being more aware.

5. The cheap laugh is never cheap. It costs a lot. It breaks trust.

It wasn’t a total disaster. This is mostly because the person I offended was incredibly gracious. But it has crossed my mind numerous times in the last few weeks.

I want to be a better person than I was that night. I don’t ever want to cause pain in relationships because of insensitivity.

I want to be a leader that opens the door for positive faith filled words to flow. Words that build people. Words that encourage and uplift. Words that are filled with grace and truth.

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5 Surprising Benefits of Travel for Leaders

This week I am in the US and Canada for work. Most years I get to do some work travel which is amazing. I have also personally done a decent amount of travel on holidays -not as much as many people, but travel is definitely high on my list of the joys in life. To be honest I have probably spent more money on travel than I have on shoes – and I love shoes !

We al know about the normal benefits of travel ; expanding your understanding of the people’s lives, experiencing other cultures and enriching your soul with the beauty of the planet.

However for leaders there are some surprising benefits.

1. Loss of Control

When you are travelling you are frequently at the mercy of many other people. Whether it is an airplane pilot or some-one picking you up from an airport, you have to rely on people. For people who are use to calling the shots this can be un-nerving. It is good to feel this again and realise we are never really in control. We need to stay in a place of dependence on God, good to be reminded of this as we travel so we are prepared for life’s challenges

2. Keeps us Flexible.

No matter how you travel, even if you can do first class five star all the way (and that is certainly not me -yet !!) you have to stay flexible when you travel. Planes are delayed, baggage gets lost, host families eat dinner at 9pm, instead of 7pm. In your normal life you can get quite stuck in your ways – flexibility means we can flow with these experiences. This ability to be flexible makes us better leaders and ministers because we can learn to flow with the Spirit

3. Teaches us Patience

If you live on the bottom of the world like I do, most places I travel to require a LONG flight. Even short flights require early check-ins and long lines to go through security checks. These places give us a good gauge of how the fruit of the Spirit is operating in our lives.

4. Creates a Strength in our Walk with God

Of course we all prefer to sit or walk in our special place to meet with God. Routines are good for us. However I have had some amazing revelations at 12,000 feet up. We need to have strength in our walk with God that allows us to connect with him wherever we are.

5. Creates a Character Check

Yes we all can behave well in our spheres of influence where our roles are defined. How do we behave in a city where no-one knows us. How do we treat people when we are tired and lost. Will we rip off local people when travelling alone ?

If you can possibly do it, build some travel into your life. It doesn’t have to be expensive, get on a train and go to the next state, stay in a backpackers for a night. Have an adventure – it will do you a surprising amount of good !

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What Do You Believe ?

A few months ago a thought took root in my mind. It started as a seed and was soon on its way to becoming a fully grown tree. It was a tree that was covered in thorns and was choking many other trees and my joy.The thought said that my value was linked to a negative in my life circumstances. It took me going on holiday and climbing a mountain to meet with God to get rid of that noxious weed.

It reminded me how important it is to know what we believe – the thought that had taken hold was based on a lie, and I should never have let it take root.

Here are a few areas where we need to know what exactly we believe. (I am sure you can think of so many more)

1. Who God is

I am reminded of the parable of the talents – if we believe, as one of the men did , that God is a hard task mater, it will influence everything about how we live life. It will cause us to bury our talents and live in fear. If we believe God is a goof Father, we will live in confidence and rest in the knowledge that we are loved.

2. The Value of Human Life

If we honestly believe every person is made in the image of God – it will mean that we will value every person we encounter. It means that prejudices and favouritism should not be part of our world. It means that the life of a homeless person is valuable, the life of a disabled person is valuable, the life of a person who has nothing at all to give us is valuable.

3. We can make a difference 

In this media soaked world it is easy to get compassion fatigue, feel overwhelmed and do nothing. Alternatively we can believe that every act of kindness brings a change, that every word can shift an atmosphere – that we can be the light of the world to our family, friends and neighbours.

It is so important to know what we really believe and to keep digging up the seeds of wrong beliefs that we all have . That’s why I love studying theology – it keeps me in a place of seeking to understand the faith I profess. Its why reading the Bible is key to life. We start to see the areas that our beliefs are going to paralyse us or cause us to treat people or ourselves badly. Then we can dig out those noxious trees and live the fulfilling life we were meant to!

(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)