What comes after Trust ?

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A few ago I wrote on trust – once you get to a place of trust what happens next ?

Trust is a secure and safe harbour, a place to rest until we are strong again.

The place where we simply are, with God, even when we don’t have answers.

But at some point we have to start looking again out to sea.

We have to turn around and face life again.

We have to dare to see the future again.

We have to start to dream again

We have to Hope.

Hope is the expectation that the future is good, because God is good.

Hope is the anchor for the roller coaster of emotions that hit in times of challenge and change.

Hope says this is not what I thought life would be – but that’s OK – it can be rich and wonderful and different.

My hope is not in what I see now. My Hope is in the One who sees the beginning from the end.

Hope allows me to believe that I can risk my heart again.

Hope looks out to sea and moves past Trust to a smile.

Its a tentative smile at first, that moves into a grin of expectation.

Hope starts to get excited at the possibilities ahead.

Trust is Silent and but Hope smiles.

And then giggles.

“She is clothed in dignity and grace, she can laugh at the days to come” Prov 31:25

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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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People are Surprising !

I have been surprised again by the incredible things that are within people.

This week  the third year C3 College students doing their Gallop Strength tests and had some coaching in this area. As they sent me their results – for a lot of them I was not surprised . Their strengths are obvious and clear cut.

For others I was totally shocked- I had not seen those strengths in them at all.

It reminded me that there is so much more to most people than we see. There are hidden strengths and talents that take some care and time to see fulfilled.

Most people are like the beautiful lilies the College staff gave me. When they arrived they were closed buds with some pretty green leaves.

But this week they have opened into the gorgeous pink blooms you see in the photo. (Next week they will be dead and messy but lets not go there !)

Sometimes we can be too quick to put people in a box or even right them off .

When really there is so much treasure within them  just waiting to be revealed.

I am convinced again – to look past what I see with my eyes. To see people how God sees them. To look for the treasure within.

I love working with dancers and artists – their eyes see beauty everywhere. They make incredible pastors and mentors.

I want to be like them-  I want to see the beauty in every person – and I want to help unlock the gifts and talents in people.

Last week was Mothers Day – and one of the most amazing Mothers ever was Mary . She saw what was within Jesus. She had the servants line up those water jars. She gently (ish ) pushed him into ministry. She launched the public ministry of the Messiah !

Who knows who we can launch if we can see what is within them.

I am so glad people looked past what they saw and gave this insecure, shy, pretty messed up girl a go.

I dont want to be shocked again by people’s strengths (or their weaknesses) – I want to have spent the time to see them. How about you ?

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Trust is Quiet

Lately I am watching a whole lot of people  go through various types of challenges and changes. At these times, it is those with the quiet trust in God who seem to be navigating these times with more ease.

“Faith is Loud, Trust is Quiet” – I love this thought from Mark Kelsey – and ponder it often and out of it I have some thoughts of my own on trust

So here are a few thoughts from me on trust

Trust kicks in when nothing makes sense.

Trust calms the storm inside our souls.

Trust is the quiet place inside us that says everything will be all right, even if its not all right, it will be all right.

Trust gives us security and then this security feels like a  safe harbour for the people around us.

Trust is the weight in our keel – that keeps us coming back upright, even after we capsize.

Trust knows Jesus is in the boat, maybe asleep, but still in the boat.

Trust knows God is good even when life screams that it he is not.

Trust allows our souls to reach out to God, in the middle of the night, when fear overwhelms.

Trust keeps walking through disappointment and grief.

Faith might breakthrough but trust holds on.

Trust holds onto God no matter what – it says ” Though you slay me I will trust you”.

Trust is two young men facing a firing squad singing Amazing Grace.

Trust is quiet and it is powerful – it will not be moved.

 

Those of us who lead people must be able to trust God in the good times and in the bad. We have to be able to access our trust in God to strengthen our souls and keep us moving onwards, to keep us building and not tearing down, to keep us running to God and not from him. Trust knows there are unanswered questions but they are not going stop us running the race set before us.

Every day I know I need to trust God more than I do – how about you ?

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Flick the Fake

Recently at the annual Presence Conference that my church holds I heard a message from Steven Furtick that really resonated with me. It was a message on Jacob and how until Jacob was real with who he was, stopped pretending to be his brother to get the blessing and stopped running from conflict, that God would not bless him.

He used this great analogy that has been paying around in my mind and made me think and challenged me again.

Here is how Furtick put it

We have our Frustrating Self – the self who is in the present, the one with flaws and failings that we see, but have not yet worked through.

We have our Future Self – the one who is more like Jesus, the one we are going to be when we lose 20 pounds, figure out how to always stay calm under pressure and have memorised all our favourite verses from Proverbs.

Then we have the self that spans the gap –  all too aware of the frustrating self , wanting to be the future self and so pretends to be where we are not yet – the Fake Self.

The problem is the Fake Self cannot have a real connection with God or with People – because it is a FAKE !

I have always been challenged to be real – to not try to pretend to be anything I am not. The people pleaser in me loves to be my Fake Self to impress. The sanguine in me fears rejection wonders if anyone will still like me if I am real.

In the last 10 years especially I have learned some phrases that have helped me to be real – here they are

1. I don’t know

Whether in a class lecturing, in a meeting I am leading, at home looking after my nephews – I can express a total lack of knowledge and be OK.

2. I am sorry

I need to be able to actually admit I messed up and be OK – and then I need to go back to the person I messed up with and apologise. If I ignore it I am being my Fake Self, assuming everything I do is right – what bondage that is !

3. I am responsible

If I am being real I can take responsibility for my own decisions and actions and live with it.

 

In an era where we all image mange – making sure the photos on social media show us in the best light having the best time with the best people – there is huge pressure to be fake. (To fight this – the photo in this post is me  in my new reading glasses, getting old, at the end of a day where the hair straightener died and the make-up has long since disappeared !)

Even this week I have been challenged to be real, to admit my struggles (to people who have the grace to deal with them), to know that Future Pam is coming but right now I am stuck with Frustrating Pam – but she is the one God can use .

Fake Pam is no use to anyone !

Lets all Flick the Fake this week – and be real with where we are at. Its the only way to move towards our future selves.

Love to hear your tips on being real.

(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)

 

Easter Reflection

Today I had the honour of preaching on Good Friday at a stunning Indonesian Church – called Ecclesia Church . Two of the College graduates Andrew and Beth are on leadership there – I love them – I would do anything they asked me to – so today with not a little fear and trembling – I delivered my first ever Good Friday message.

As I prepared I read all four gospel accounts of the Crucifixion of Jesus and two little verses stood out to me- and I realised that they summed up all that happened on Good Friday . That before Paul could write Romans and unpack the theology of the Cross- that God had shown us what it all means in two incidents it is easy to overlook.

1. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. (Matt 27:51 )

Why is this so significant ? We all know that sin deserves punishment- when some-one does something wrong, our society will prosecute them and punish them, it is a value deep in our culture. So as humanity we know  we are all fallen and that most days we also individually sin and do something that separates us from a Holy God.

Because of  this only the priest could enter the Holy of Holies and only after having performed the proper sacrifices to pay for the sins of the nation. This curtain it is estimated was 60 feet high, 30 feet wide and 4 inches thick – a man could not have torn it – God tore it to show that Jesus had made the sacrifice once and for all .

The curtain was ripped and anyone could approach God! I wish I could tell you how excited this makes me !!

2. “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43)

I love this little conversation between Jesus and one of the thieves  hanging on another cross that same day.

Here is why I love it – because that thief could do nothing to please God at that point. He was hanging on a cross dying. All he did was acknowledge that Jesus was king (you have to be a king to have a kingdom) – he put his faith in Jesus . Jesus said that Today he would be with him in paradise.

Why does this move me- because the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross is enough – nothing we can do can add to it. I can stop trying to please God – Jesus has done it on my behalf once and for all.

This week I remembered that the curtain that separated me from God was torn – Jesus had paid the price – and there is nothing I can do to add to it.

This my friends is Good News !! Maybe we all need to remember it today. Happy Easter !

The beautiful cross is from Phil Pringle Art http://philpringle.worldsecuresystems.com/artgallery

(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)