Its Getting Crazy, Gotta Stay Sane

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At C3 College we have entered into our crazy season. Term 4 is nuts. We put on a Christmas Production, finish a term and 8 days later after a marking marathon we graduate all our students.

On top of that my Master thesis is requiring serious attention and it is Borrow Birthday season – we have 5 birthdays in about 6 weeks ! You know these seasons- we all have them.

Until a few years ago here is how I would have navigated this

Work lots of long hours

Come home exhausted every day and flop on the couch

Keep doing work emails on my phone all night

Eat toast for dinner too many nights

Go to bed late and too often sleeping through my prayer time.

Abandon any exercise because I had too much to do

Show up at family birthdays in body only

Study on Saturdays and Sundays

Have migraines

Make everyone happy by getting a mountain of work done but end up sick and worn out.

I know – all bad – but maybe some of you can relate ? Anyone else just go into lock down in a busy work season and just work crazy hard to the detriment of all else ?

So now this is how I am approaching the busy seasons these days

Walk the dog twice a day instead of once (Molly is slightly confused but happy)

Pray more (related to the walking – I walk and pray)

Go to bed on time

Making sure I eat all the veggies in my veggie box

Leave work at a reasonable hour – except for one night a week where I allow a work late night !

Turn off my emails on my phone when I leave work.

Keep my Sabbath in place.

 

Strangely enough I still get all the work done- or find smarter ways to do it- or people to help. I will be tired and needing a holiday at the end of the silly season but I will be sane and not have put on 5 kilos (12 pounds !)

Often we can’t control our workloads or our crazy seasons but we can control how we walk them out. I find the more I can keep normality in place the better I will navigate silly seasons.

I also have to ask myself- who am I pleasing if I work crazy hours?

OK -shutting down my computer and going to sit around a fire, eat great food and have a glass of wine with some of my favourite people. Too busy not to !

Thoughts, comments, agree, disagree – love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repairing Bridges – Humbling and Necessary

 

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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 !

 

 

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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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For Heaven’s Sake!

I am passionate about looking after yourself, having good boundaries and getting rest. Mostly because I have spent a lot of my life being really bad at all the above – and I don’t enjoy the consequences. I have written a lot about these subjects here (See Boundaries 1 Boundaries 2 Rest and Know Yourself  )

However as I continue to do my Master ‘s Thesis and read more (and I mean a lot more – who knows how people do PhD’S and work full time!)  I am continually challenged by my motives and by what I believe is the core of the problems we have – self focus.

In a western world where the selfie is common and  my dreams, my goals and my happiness are what we are pursuing it is so easy to take the message of self-care and make it all part of the cult of self.

The problem with the looking after yourself if you are the only focus is that it can just become another channel of self-absorption – and it can lead to a life that is tight and shrinking.

We have got to have the reasons we look after ourselves firmly anchored in a bigger picture.

We have to be looking after ourselves for the sake of the kingdom of God – for Heaven’s sake !

We have to know that :

We can’t be of use to Jesus if we are tired and burnt out.

We help our family and friends if we spend all our life at work

If we  are not healthy we will spend  our money on doctors bills and have nothing to be generous with

We have to look after ourselves for the sake of others.

It’s what Jesus talked about in the parable of the Good Samaritan – there was only one guy with the time, the money and the emotionally energy to stop . This story is not just about compassion – it is about staying healthy in every way – for the sake of others.

This week there are people who will need to support people who are caught in tragedy and loss in a world gone crazy – where children are being killed on rooftops and militants are shooting down planes full of people. Today if that was you – would you have the physical, emotional or spiritual strength to walk beside a friend in need?

I am so glad Jesus was emotionally, physically and spiritually strong enough to take the walk to the Cross.

Lets not allow self-care to become another reason we don’t reach out – let’s be so good at self-care SO that we are always ready to help .

Agree ? Disagree? Have more to add to help us all out- comment below !

(On a lighter note anyone know where the photo above is? Ticksy! I love cities- they are full of people !)

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5 Tips for the Tough Conversations

 

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So I have done some tough conversations really well at times and really badly at others. I have at times cause damage and at times caused positive change. I have learned some things the hard way.

So for this post  I am going to assume you have decided to have the conversation because you know it needs to be done . (See Tough Conversations -Why Have Them ) Here are some tips I have picked up – feel free to add your own in the comments

 

1. One size does not fit all.

You have to take into account people’s wiring before having these confrontations. Some people are really teachable and will hear everything you say. Some people you will hit really hard and they still won’t get it. Some people are so gentle and sensitive you barely need to say anything. Some people need data- they need times and dates of what has gone wrong. Spend some time thinking about the person and how would be best to approach the conversation – when, where and how is going to be best for this person. They are worth it.

2. Use the smallest stick possible.

What does that mean – use the person with the lowest authority in a team or organisation – that is appropriate. You will find some leaders always want the department head, or Senior Pastor to deal with conflict. Resist this – for a few reasons. First and foremost- the more authority some-one holds the more the tough conversation will sting. You goal is not to hurt a person but to help them overcome an issue or skill deficit in their world. Secondly if it goes straight to the Senior Leader you have no-where else to go if it does not change. We want to give people every opportunity to change . A meeting with the Senior Pastor because they left a window open when they locked up the building is going to feel very heavy handed and possibly be more embarrassing than it needs to be.

3. Have the tough conversation as soon as is possible

Dealing with an issue in a timely manner is so important. The person gets a chance to rectify a situation quickly, you don’t brood over it and let it become bigger in your head than it should , and it relieves stress all around. I have sometimes let things get way too big in my head over time – then the tough conversation becomes way too tough – and counter productive. (I am thinking of some of these right now with shame – knowing there will be people reading this saying Amen and  praying I am changing !) Plus you spare the person repeating a mistake over and over, causing more damage than is necessary.

4. Make sure the person knows what is wrong

Seems obvious- but make sure the person understands at the end of the conversation what is wrong, what action steps they can take – or conversely if they have been able to explain the situation – that you understand them better. I have been on the receiving end of some tough conversations where it was too vague and I just was left feeling like the problem was with my personality- they just didn’t like me or value me and therefore there was nothing I could really do to make this situation better. It wasn’t the case but without some clear outcomes that is how I felt.

5. Pray 

Only God knows where you are at and where the person is at. So you need God’s peace all over the meeting even if it is tough. You needs God’s grace so that you can love each other and continue to serve God together. You needs God’s wisdom to do it well.

Hopefully we can have tough conversations that feel like a big brother or sister showing the way !

Any tips to add ? I would love to learn from you. 

 

 

Tough Conversations – Why have them ?

 

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Tough Conversations  – Why Have Them ?

If you have been in any sort of leadership or management longer than 10 minutes you know you will need to have tough conversations with people at some point.

No-one wants to have them because they are tough.

They are tough on the people delivering them and tougher on the people receiving them.

I have been on the receiving end of some very tough conversations- some of them I am eternally grateful for – others took a while to work through. Sometimes when I have been on the receiving end I have been a total brat to the poor person delivering the bad news !

I have lately been on the giving end of some tough conversations Sometimes I handle them well – sometimes I don’t. Sometimes people receive them well –sometimes they don’t.

I have thought through the reasons why I would  have the tough conversations- because really we would all rather avoid them. Some are crucial some are not.

Three Good Reasons to have the Tough Conversation

1. I care too much about the person to not say something about a blind spot or a mistake they are repeatedly making which is putting a ceiling over their life or causing them to damage their own reputation unnecessarily.

2. I care too much about the people around the situation – the person is doing damage to the people on their team because I don’t have the courage to work through an issue in their world.

3. I care too much about our church/ department/ organisation because without the tough conversation our organisation will be damaged or compromised because a person will continue to cause the same problems.

Even after this process  – we need to tread carefully and prayfully into the tough conversations – so that they become something a person is eternally grateful for (if not immediately at least in the long run) .

Next week – some tips on the tough conversations .

So glad so many of you enjoyed hearing from Kelly Taylor last week- she is one incredible woman of God. If you are in London- go visit C3 London (http://www.c3london.com) and you will see her and her husband Mike in action- you will also hear some of the finest preaching around as Ps Simon and Valerie McIntyre (http://simonmcintyredotnet.wordpress.com)  lead that great church.

More guest bloggers coming up – any suggestions are welcome.

 

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Taking Risks- Guest Blog from my friend Kelly Taylor in the UK

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I have asked my friend Kelly Taylor to write a Guest Blog- Kelly and her husband Mike did three years at C3 College and then went to the UK to help out with music at C3 London. They are now the ordained Worship Pastors, they now have one daughter ,the gorgeous Pae and they travel in Europe training worship teams. They are also the real deal – great people, who love God with their whole hearts, love people well -and are totally down to earth and lots of fun. To hear Kelly sing is a treat, to laugh with her is joy , to hear her wisdom on life is wonderful and I still miss her excellent hair cuts – hope you enjoy hearing from Kelly ……

So Pam has asked to write a blog, on one key to life in Ministry

Well there are many things that I could write about, but I think that one massive key has been to take risks

Sometimes the more we know about something, the harder it can be to take a risk, and for me I think that had I of known what was in store, I probably would have only looked at the cons and not what the pro’s were, making a decision based on a emotion and possible negatives, rather than on risk, experience, challenge and excitement.

So Risk, would be one of the things I would say has been a massive key in our ministry and still is. I’m so glad that Mike and I took the risk to move to another country where we only knew a handful of people, where we would be living on the opposite side of the world to friends and family, The risk that what if this didn’t work, the risk of unknown finances, I’m not trying to frighten anyone off, but going into ministry is loaded with massive risk’s and personal sacrifice, but what I would say, is that had we of not taken up the challenge, I would not be the person I am today.

You see what risk does is it forces us to challenge things about ourselves in an environment that is unfamiliar, I had to figure out who I am all over again on God, what makes me tick, what makes me happy and what makes me sad. Some may say well that’s just because your getting older hahah well maybe, but I don’t believe so for me, making the decision to step out has pushed me into areas I always thought I could never cope in, realizing with God on my side and me out of the way I can do so much more than what “I” had seen for my life.

So the key is….. Risk is good, so don’t be afraid of it. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose. God has never left my side (our sides) and though everything he has repeatedly shown his love and blessings over and over again our lives and ministry