The Job of Saviour of the World is Taken

At the moment there are some people in my extended world who I am watching making some pretty interesting decisions. As I have pastored for over 20 years (officially) I have spent a lot of my life watching people make decisions and then observing the consequences of these decisions . I am a professional people watcher !

I have celebrated with many people who have enjoyed success and joy from those decisions. I have also watched some pretty spectacular crashes, and sometimes been privileged to help people pick up the pieces and rebuild.

(I have also been in both those categories. I know I have often caused people to scratch their heads in bewilderment at some of the decisions I have made.)

Right now though, when I think about a few people I know in particular who are making decisions that I can see will not end well for them, I feel incredibly concerned for them.

I want to help them avoid mistakes I have made. I want to rush in and give them lots of wisdom and advice and I want them to change the direction they are going in. I have seen these patterns too many times, and lived these patterns, to know that they can be avoided. I want to fix these situations before any more damage is done.

However at Easter, more than any other time, I need to know there is only one Saviour. His name is Jesus, and he did not resign and give me the job.

My responsibility is to pray, to support and help where it is asked for, but it is not not to be their Saviour. I cannot take responsibility for another person’s life.

I cannot jump into that sacred place between a believer and their God.

I have to remember that each person’s life is a  journey of making decisions. It is part of the joy of being human, made in the image of God. It is what theologians call free will. For believers it is a journey of walking with the Holy Spirit to make those decisions.

As a pastors and leaders we can so easily get saviour complexes. Our care can become a burden we were never meant to carry.

We need to pray, believe and love people but ultimately we need to let Jesus be their Saviour.

He is the only one with shoulders broad enough to carry that load for all humanity.

At Easter I am so grateful that Jesus is Lord and Saviour of all!

The job of Saviour of the World, was and is, His to do. How magnificently he fulfils that purpose.

Happy Easter Everyone!

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Painting by Phil Pringle used with permission. http://philpringle.com/artstudio

Leading Yourself 2 – Your Money

As leaders I don’t think we necessarily have to have investment and property portfolios, I do believe however there are some areas of our finances that we need to lead.

1.Giving

We have to have the giving/tithing/ offering questions resolved in our minds and be regularly giving. We need to be giving to our local churches, and to our friends on mission fields, to building funds, to charities and disaster relief . We need to do it within our budgets but it has to be a regular part of our lives. We can’t ask people to give if we are not doing it.  It is part of being Christ like- he gave his everything and if we are like him we give.

2. Generosity 

We have to be generous people – yes with our time and property but also with money. We can’t be the people who are known for skimping out on our part of the dinner bill or never contributing to group gifts. God has been so generous to us, we need to have a generous heart.

3. Pay Bills 

Leaders are people who, except in dire, unforeseen circumstances,  pay bills on time. We are good stewards so we avoid late fees. We also avoid the stress of creditors chasing us down. Leaders who never have any credit on their phone because they haven’t paid the bill are hamstrung in the 21st century.

4. Live within a Budget 

Leaders live within what their current circumstances are. I once ran up a large credit card debt and I will never do it again. It took me way too long to get out of debt and that sucked the  joy out of those purchases. It also meant I paid ay too much in interest and I could have done something useful with that money. The only area I have large debt these days is my home – and unfortunately that is just part of life in Sydney.

I know this is all really basic – but unfortunately some of this took me too long to get. I also see grown people in their middle age thinking spirituality is praying and coming to lots of church meetings, and their finances are a mess. They wonder why people don’t respect them and God doesn’t use them. We don’t need to be wealthy – but we do need to be wise.

A real relationship with God brings a generous heart. I am off to have a glass of wine now- because I have a generous flat mate who buys and shares NZ Sav Blanc !!

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First Lead Yourself

I had a conversation with a young leader who was stepping down from a leadership role a few weeks ago. In a moment an incredible self-awareness she said “I can’t lead other people when right now I can’t lead myself”.

If you are any type of leadership culture you will resonate with this and have heard it before.

This time  I heard it, thus got  me thinking. We are all works in progress and will have areas where we are doing well, and areas where we are struggling, so we can’t always lead ourselves well.

However here are some areas where if we can’t lead ourselves we will undermine any leadership role we are in.

So for the next few weeks I am going to unpack some of them. Heres the first one.

Leading Your Emotional World

Leaders can’t be emotionless robots or people who are always up and peppy. However I do believe we need some control of our emotional world.

This doesn’t mean we can’t have a tough day, express grief, anger or sadness. It does mean though that we need to have enough self-control that we can shelve those emotions when the situation requires it.

Leaders need a level of emotional stability so people around you can trust and rely on you.

For me the last thing I want is my team on egg shells wondering what sort of mood I am going to be in today (I am really hoping after this blog I don’t find out this is the case !)

Leaders need to be people who can handle problems and issues without losing control of their emotional world. We also need to understand how what is going on in our physical body affects our mood and brain function. Sometimes the situation is not as bad as your response, you just need food or sleep.

Part of this is knowing what the release valves on your emotions are.

At work if I know I am starting to red line I will go the kitchen at work, make a cup of tea , while its brewing I  go to the bathroom and tell God that I am not coping. Some how admitting it and asking for help is the first step towards gaining control. Then I usually find that either my perspective changes, peace comes or I get a God idea and I can get back into it.    ( Some days I drink a lot of tea)

At peak times I make sure I am walking the dog and praying every morning. I stay committed to swimming laps three times a week – I make sure I have fun times with good friends.

The things you do to release your emotional pressure valve will be different to mine – but you need to know what they are.

The last thing we need is for people we lead to experience outbursts of negative emotions on a regular basis because we are not in control. (We will all still lose the plot occasionally – which requires an apology I wrote about it here Say Sorry ) .Emotional stability creates trust and security in teams.

How do you keep your emotions under control ? What are you release valves, do you know when to use them ?  How do you healthily express emotions ?

(If you would like to get content like this  in your email regularly and never have to look for it on social media again – just put your email address in  the subscribe section . My goal is to help you avoid some of the mistakes I have made and to encourage you on your journey! )

 

Love is not all we need !

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Lately I have noticed that yes we need to love one another- but we will not survive in life without the ability to forgive one another.

To live lives that are effective and fruitful, we have to be able to release people who have offended or hurt us, we have to be able to forgive.

Is forgiveness always easy ? No of course not. At least three times in my life I have been on forgiveness journeys that have taken years to work themselves out.

In one case every day in my prayer time I proclaimed – “I forgive her” .  At the end of a year it wasn’t only words it was finally something that I experienced. I had actually forgiven and I am so glad I did. The person I needed to forgive is still a good friend to this day and I could have missed out on 30 years of friendship if I didn’t forgive.

Forgiveness doesn’t say what the person did was OK. It does say I will no longer hold it against them.

As my friend Emma wisely said to me said this week – to forgive is to be free – free to go anywhere without having to avoid anyone, free to do life with lots of people without being concerned about factions and divisions. Free from hanging on to a hurt or offence and letting it continue to hurt or offend.

Forgiveness knows we all have feet of clay and make mistakes and so can extend grace to other people.

Forgiveness doesn’t take on other people’s offences, and let other people’s issues keep us in chains, long after they have moved on.

Forgiveness understands I have been forgiven much and so I need to forgive.

We do need to love each other but its not all we need, we also need to forgive each other. It is hard work, it takes commitment and a big heart. It is so worth it in the end.

If none of that inspires you to forgive – maybe the scariest verse in the Bible will – I know puts the fear of God in me “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matt 6:14

Just my thoughts on forgiveness on a raining Thursday evening in Sydney.

Painting by Phil Pringle – go to PhilPringle.com 

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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

(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)

Learnt 4 Things from 1 Conversation with a Leader

Some leaders have the power to shock you . I had a leader shock me a few weeks ago and I keep thinking about it

A very Senior Leader in our church called me to tell me she wouldn’t be attending an event I had invited her to. She told me she had no excuse, she just wouldn’t be coming.

Here is why this shocked me

1. She called

She took time  to call and actually speak to me. She didn’t send a text, write an email or just ignore the invitation. She called – and in so doing she took a risk. She had to deal with my reaction to her call. We actually had to have a conversation about this.

2. She was honest and told me she had no excuse

She said normally she really liked the type of event I had invited her to but this night she just wanted to go home. She did not give me the whole” I am so busy and so important that I need a night off ” line . I happened to know she had  a big week but I brought that up she did not.  She just said I really don’t have any excuse I just want to go home. I love that !

3. She chose to build our relationship with transparency.

By being transparent she allowed me to see her for who she really is. She is a leader who values relationships and makes the call. She is a leader who is honest and real. She is a leader who can take care of herself in the middle of a big life.

4. She showed again how to lead without people pleasing.

She was confident in her decision, not afraid to tell me she was not coming. It was a real, clean conversation and there wasn’t any need for her to people please by coming up with any excuse or reasons.

We laughed, I thanked her. I already loved her leadership style – now I am even more of a fan. I bet she has no idea how much I learned that night.

I want to learn from every person in my world and I learnt something wonderful from that conversation. I learnt leadership that is real, honest and clean can be shocking and it is so wonderful.

 

(P.S Thanks to this of you who filled in the questionnaire asking you what you wanted to see in my blog. I am having a week off next week – and will be going through them all to find them and start answering your questions )

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.

(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)