Gotta Get Away !

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I woke up really early this morning – I have done this since I was a little girl – waking up early the morning I go on holidays. I am excited, I love vacation. I have loved getting away even before I knew how important it was.

This year for me is the year of inexpensive local holidays – last year I had long service in America, and (cue music) I had the time of my life.

This year I need to be responsible but yet I know we all need to take break. I quite enjoy the staycation, and I will do some time doing those this year, to work on my thesis, but there is nothing like getting out of your own environment, away from the cupboards that need cleaning and the garden that needs weeding !

I believe for that for life and health and longevity in ministry, holidays are not a fun thing we try to schedule in – but an essential. Rick Warren says- Divert Daily, Withdraw Weekly and Abandon Annually (and if you are an Australian with 4 weeks holiday a year- abandon Bi-Annually if you can)

So I am off to abandon today – and I can’t wait.

Here are some things for how I am wired that are crucial for a great holiday

1. Family or Friends who are Family

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Today I am going away with two friends who are family- Annie and Leonie – we will laugh, talk, (Leonie will talk most) , be quiet, eat, drink good wine and it will be lovely. Don’t go on holidays with people you are pastoring- go on holidays with people who are fun for you.

Go on holidays with people who have similar budget, like to go at similar pace and enjoy similar things- it’s not rocket science is it? If I am on holidays exploring a foreign city – I love going with my friend Marg because we both like to see everything possible and collapse at the end of days happy and exhausted. If I need a rest like now – going with Annie and Leonie is perfect.

 

2. Creation to Behold

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This time it will be the mountains in the top of this blog- in January with my family it was the stunning beaches of Western Australia . Getting out in creation will restore your soul like nothing else . We allow our soul to be lead beside still waters, or still mountains, or still plains. On holiday there is time for long walks on beaches or in mountains, there is time to jut sit and watch the sun set. It is fabulous.

3) Art to Enjoy

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There is something about art that will inspire and rejuvenate you. Whether it is a good book, a brilliant movie, a gorgeous gallery ,beautiful buildings, a Broadway show or a jazz gig – people expressing their God-given creativity is fantastic – and for me essential on a holiday.

In a foreign city i will always visit a gallery or get half price tickets to a show. It just makes me happy. Today I am taking an artist with me- and another artist is coming to visit – I love it . I have stopped analysing why art makes me so happy and have just decided to go with it .

 

4. Disconnecting

I will disconnect from work emails and social media – I am sure the world can do without me for a week !! I will miss posting Happy Birthday on FaceBook for 6 days but I am hoping I will be forgiven. I don’t need to see what the students are up to or what great photos of Vivid Sydney have gone up today – I can shut out all the distractions and just be for a week.

I will do some study for my thesis as to not do so would be stressful for me -and a couple of hours a day reading theology looking at mountains is relaxing  (theology nerd I know)

So that’s my holiday essentials – what are yours ? I know for families it is different but I watch my brother and his family go camping and my sister and her crew go on beach holidays and I thing the principles are the same.

Next week I am starting to get some guest bloggers – friends around the world to give you their words of wisdom – which is really exciting !

Adios people – off on an adventure!

 

Women Leading Men



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Leading men as a woman in leadership can be a challenge, especially in the church – but sometimes in the workplace too. Surprising in the 21st century but part of life. It is inevitable that some men will find it unusual to be led by a woman and frequently not the men you think it will be . It is also true that some women find leading men more of an issue than they had anticipated.

I have made big mistakes, and had great mentoring. I learnt much of it in  the early days of being on staff on Long Island, NY under Mark Kelsey’s leadership. Mark Kelsey and Bill Clemens who was the Assistant Pastor – were so incredibly good at backing me up and pushing me to stand in the authority I had been given – it was a gift from God and I understand not every woman in ministry gets this support.

So a few things I have learnt along the way, and I am sure there will be more to say on this later

1. Treat All People with respect

Every person – male or female – needs respect. When you are leading people – just because you have a position –  it does not give you the right to disrespect any person. Guys especially don’t respond well to being shown a lack of respect..

2. Treat All People Like Family

Treat people like family –  they are ! In 1Timothy – Paul says “Do not rebuke and older man harshly but exhort him as if her were your father . Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters. ” (1Tim 5:1,2) . Great advice that still works for us now. For me this speaks of leading with the kindness and honour you would afford people in your own family. It also speaks of how we carry ourselves in these relationships – loving the people we lead like our own family.

3. Lead!

If you have been given a role of leadership – lead. You rarely hear a man apologising for leading and you often hear a woman doing it. Don’t apologise for have to make the tough calls and give direction – it is part of your role. Men will not follow you if you don’t actually lead – actually no-one will want to follow you. If you don’t lead you may have the role but some-one else on the team will jump into that vacuum you have created and take the reins.

Lead with confidence  knowing that God has anointed you for the task. (Note : If you manipulated your way into a role, you won’t have this confidence, so get yourself out of there fast, repent  and allow God to elevate you !)

4. Don’t try to be a man

In fact don’t try to be any other woman either – be yourself. People respond to leaders who are true to themselves, working in their own strengths and talents expressed through their personality. You have been given leadership as YOU –  why do we then get into positions and try to be some-one else. If God wanted some-one else he would have put some-one else there. If he wanted a man to do that role I am sure he could arrange it- he is the Creator of the Universe. So relax and be yourself. Of course we  look to mentors and role models but ultimately we have to express who we were created to be- anything else is exhausting.

That’s enough for now – I know its the tip of the iceberg, but I wanted to start the discussion.

Girls- what can you add to my list?  Guys- give us some insight into being led by woman from your perspective.

(The weird photo is from a first year C3 College activity I run where I blind fold all the first years in the Oxford Falls courtyard – up to 90 people – and make them walk to drum beats – they have to be lead – it is so fun and it seemed appropriate! The other one is a grad photo. )

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Do you have Boundaries that Creep ?


This week my iPhone froze – it just wouldn’t do anything – after a few frustrating minutes I realised I had not turned it off for weeks and it probably needed a reset. So I turned it off, allowed it, some downtime and when I turned it back on it was back to normal.

I wonder if sometimes we need to do the same thing, stop, turn off and reset.

I have done that today – and with some help from staff sending me texts telling me to get off email when I was supposed to be having leave yesterday and today- I have realised that  I am suffering from boundary creep!

We have been through an unusually hectic time at work – and there are some very valid reasons why I needed to put in some extra time and effort . Some of the things I know are crucial to my life- like turning off work emails at night -have snuck back into my world while I wasn’t  looking! Unless I stop and reset this will becomes a lifestyle (again!!)

I work with some people who have brilliant boundaries that rarely move – and I envy them. However I am sure some of you are like me and you suffer from creeping boundaries too.

Maybe it’s time to switch yourself off and go back to the boundaries you know are healthy. If you need some motivation- a reminder of somethings you know.

4 Reasons to Keep Healthy Boundaries

1) Without healthy boundaries you will be tired all the time and will actually need to work longer to achieve the results you want. Studies have shown our productivity decreases when we start doing long hours – we think it is achieving our goals but it is counter productive.

2) Without healthy boundaries you will become resentful and angry about the things that you actually love to do. The martyr complex sneaks in – and it is not pleasant.

3) Without healthy boundaries you will spend time at work that you should be spending with people in your world and relationships will suffer. Also when you are with your family and friends you will be irritable and tired (and you could lose it at your brother over something stupid like I did last week )

4) Without healthy boundaries you will not look after your own body and burn out or get sick.

So I am resetting my boundaries again – I am fighting the creep and putting the lines back in the sand.  I know it will allow me to go the distance.  I want a life like that photo I took at sunrise on Narrabeen Lake  – full of colour, life and peace- can’t get it without having some things in order!

Are your boundaries creeping ?? What helps you to reset ?

 

 

 

 

 

A Week out of the Sweet Spot

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Life works so much better when we are living in our sweet spots. When our skills, knowledge, personality and giftings work together in whatever we are doing. It is the place we all want to get to.

Sometimes however you have to live in your “not so sweet spot” for a myriad of reasons and it makes you remember how sweet the sweet spot is- and it is actually a really good reminder.

This week I spent 5 days straight working on accreditation of training. Now I know a bit about accreditation from sheer necessity. C3 College where I work in runs accredited training- we are a Registered Training Organization . God also gave me a decent brain so I can learn and read fairly quickly. We had an accreditation deadline and that became a problem to solve for us – and I love solving problems.  I also have an  active sense of responsibility so hence I was deep in a land of details and government mumbo jumbo all week. Totally not my sweet spot.

However every role in life has some areas that are not our sweet spots and we would be deluded to think we would always be in perfect flow in our work places . Although flow is the optimal place to be – according to Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi. ( Never heard of flow- let me help – it’s a theory of your ideal work and creativity conditions- here is a simple graph to help. )

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However sometimes you can’t be in flow- and work is just that – work !

However this week I  learned again what happens when I am out of my sweet spot , or not in flow.

1. Tiredness – I think 8 hours of intense details for me feels like about 12 hours of any other work.

2. Irritability – I get very grumpy when I am working for long periods of time on things that are not in my sweet spot. I think it stems from basic insecurity- I know I am not the expert in this field, I am second guessing myself all the time and so I am on edge.

3.  In order to get it done I become very tunnelled visioned and can’t deal with much else. Not a good way to live life at all. Only advisable for very short periods of time.

4. When you have a sense of purpose you can do anything – this was a very short season. However one of the team I work with is frequently  out of his sweet spot, and he does it because he sees the bigger picture and can see the pathway into his sweet spot .

The biggest key I learnt again was that when you are not in your sweet spot you had better be there with some good people who have lots of grace. This week I worked with an incredible team who pulled of a mountain of work – and it made it all possible. The fact that we were in this sour spot together helped me so much. I did annoy them by walking around singing “everything is awesome, everything is cool when you are part of a team ” from the Leggo movie – but honestly I felt it .

I feel a great sense of achievement about what our team achieved this week – and personally I pushed through and got my part of the  job done, which is a great feeling.

However I am excited to get back into  the sweet spot next week – where life works, the sun shines and work is energising.

I am grateful my role is frequently right in the middle of my sweet spot. Is yours ? Or do you feel like I did this week all the time ? Might be time for a change. Don’t live your whole life not using your incredible gifts and talents.

Back to feeling relaxed again !

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Questioning Easter

02Do you ever try to put yourself into the Bible  narrative and wonder what it was really like? I do. Today in class , I was teaching on the realities of what Jesus attained for us on the cross. I love teaching theology! However when it comes to Easter I often find myself pondering and reflecting on not the theological implications but what would it have been like to be there – I want to ask  some questions

1.What was it really like in the garden when the Roman guard came to arrest Jesus- what were the disciples thinking- did they feel like this was the end for them too -how scared were they ?

2. What did it feel like to be Mary , standing watching your son and Saviour suffer?

3. What happened to the Centurian who declared “Surely this was the Son of God ” – did he feel guilt and sadness at being part of Jesus’s death?

4. Was there a priest in the temple when the curtain, that was around a foot thick, ripped from top to bottom- how did he process that ? Did he know that he could now enter God’s presence or did he run out screaming in fear?

5. What was it like for your average Jew when the sky went dark at 3pm in the afternoon- what did they think had just happened?

6. How was it for the women who went to the tomb to find it empty?

7. What was the human reaction to the pivotal point in human history , the moment Jesus died on a cross with the sin of the world on him, and then rose from the grave when death could not hold him down?

8 . Did they have any idea what it really meant ?

My questions allow me to enter into the story and remind myself again that there were human reactions to a God encounter .

In the end the story is a love story, in the end a simple love story – it is about God who loved humanity so much that he would let his Son die for them.

Did they understand that at the time – do I understand the depths of it today? Do I just listen to the Easter story, as something very familiar,  and not take time to appreciate what it really means?

Happy Easter – hope you ask yourself some questions this Easter as you reflect, remember and celebrate Jesus !

(The art work is by Ps Phil Pringle – not only my Senior Pastor but professional artist – one of the most moving Easter experiences I have had was watching him paint Jesus on the cross live ! http://philpringle.com/artgallery )

 

A Time to Question

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So on Wednesday Night we had Christmas D Group (which half way through turned into a little surprise wedding shower – but that’s another story – suffice to say that as it was D group we snookered the guys into a shower, games and all – too funny) and as usual there was the over and above abundance of yummy food and wine that you see above.

Instead of a message we did some reflective questions – and it made me realise again how good it is to stop – even in this crazy Christmas frenzy and reflect. Somehow when I lived in NY this was easier – the cold weather makes for more time inside, watching the Christmas tree lights twinkle , seeing It’s a Wonderful Life one more time, wrapping presents and reflecting. In the Southern Hemisphere it is not so conducive to pondering – we are rushing round shopping in the heat, going to drinks on decks and coming home and jumping in the pool!

No matter where you live – it is good to look back on the year that has been and ask yourselves some questions . Here’s the questions we used.

1. What was the highlight of your year ?

2. What was your greatest challenge ?

We have had a monumental year in my group- a 30th, a 40th, a 50th and a 60th, one long service leave, one 3 month Europe trip, one first child to school, one change of school, one Masters almost complete, one Presence Kids Event Managed, one major change of work direction, one finalist in a short film competition  in LA – and an engagement and a wedding next Monday. It was so wonderful to reflect on these things that we have journeyed through together.

(Funnily enough the highlight was often the greatest challenge as well . To make something a highlight in our lives frequently means it involves a mountain to overcome. )

So as this year come to a close, in among all the Christmas parties and family fun -why not stop and reflect on the year that has been. See the hand of God – see your personal triumphs – see the areas you need to work on.

If you are really brave ask some extra questions

Is my pace sustainable ?

Where do I need to make adjustments to achieve my goals ?

Anyone have any other good questions you would like to throw in to help us reflect ??

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I’m Starting a Blog!

After much deliberation I am starting a blog. It is aimed primarily at girls who are in ministry or leadership or some sort.

It comes out of my desire to help young women avoid some of the rookie mistakes I made .

I know I don’t have all the answers so my hope is that it will become a discussion where we share wisdom gained.

I hope to post every week- but we will see how it goes- I will also get friends from all over the world to write in areas that I know I have no clue in.

The first few blogs are not about the most flashy area- but they are foundational to everything else – so I am putting them up front.

Here’s my first blog

It’s About Serving Jesus –Not a Man or a Church. Part 1

In church life we hear so much about serving; and well we should. The heart of the ministry of Jesus was to serve- “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve”.  We frequently hear about it as serving our local church or serving leadership. Understanding that the church is the body of Christ on the earth and the Apostles, Pastors, Teachers, Prophets and Evangelists are His gifts to the earth serving them is obviously an extension then of serving Jesus. Or is it ?

We have to have it clearly delineated in our hearts that we are serving Jesus first and through our service to Jesus we are serving the leadership he places above us. It may appear like semantics and hair splitting to make a distinction but I believe it is the way for health and longevity in ministry.

The way to best explain the importance of this concept is to show what happens when this is not in place in our hearts.

When we loose sight of serving Jesus and focus on our current role or place there is a tendency within all people and particularly women to hold onto it very tight. We have to maintain our position to maintain our area of service. When we are serving Jesus, where we are and what we are doing matter less.

This was aptly described to me in a recent conversation with a long term worship leader who has been the main singer on numerous C3 worship albums, been front and center of worship teams at large international conferences, toured with the C3 band and is currently singing BVs way out to the side of her church stage. On commenting on her incredible dedication and passion on the side of the stage she said to me “I am worshipping Jesus and it doesn’t matter where they put me (or don’t put me) on stage I will worship him with all I have”. What a woman!

It takes maturity and a clear understanding that we are serving Jesus to live this, my guess is that is has also taken tears and soul searching to get there.

Parts 2 to follow next week- but in the mean time – How do you keep Jesus central ?