It has been a while between blog posts.
After 28 years of ministry at Inglewood Community Church, 25 of which were as Senior Pastor, my season at the church is rapidly coming at a close. My wife and I sense quite strongly that our season here is complete. Not in the sense of being perfect, but in the sense that we are finished.
During a time of Long Service Leave earlier on in the year we both prayed and sought God and it become obvious that the disentanglement needed to begin. I can truly say it has been wonderful. You forget all the strain and broken relationships. The conflict. People ghosting you. You try to forget your own mistakes and missteps in leadership.
I can say that I have always loved the church and given myself to it. I have not given up. Even when problems of my own doing occurred, I apologised, brushed myself off and moved on. There have been some very troublesome people in church. For whatever reason the power of influence in a church is attractive to some. There have been others who have died, moved state, and moved on for good reason. I think if everyone who had been a part of the church during my ministry was still there, we would need a much bigger building and multiple services! I am a highly relational person. My strength and my weakness.
My prayer life and general resiliance has kept me going. As has the unwavering support, love and skill of my wife. Along with some amazing staff and volunteers.
Where to next? In Genesis 12 God asked Abraham to leave, and go to a place He would show him. In my life the leaving has always come before the showing. God has never seemed to take my comfort as seriously as I wish. Right now there is some anxiety we are dealing with. A wonder if we have what it takes, and if God thinks we have what it takes.
It is the in-between season. Appreciate your prayers.
Alistair Clarkson is perhaps the most successful modern AFL coach. Multiple premierships but more than that, so many of his associate coaches have gone on to success at other clubs.
Today he was featured in a press conference at his new club, North Melbourne. He talked about how he would be surrounding himself with other leaders who would push him but more than that, they would protect him from himself. It reminded me of the proverb, “Without wise leadership, a nation falls; there is safety in having many advisers” (Proverbs 11:14 NLT)
Alistair recognises a really important aspect of leadership. While he is the senior leader and presumably will have the final decision making power, he consults often with those whom he has surrounding him. And these are not people who will just say what he wants to hear. They will be ones that will respectfully push and challenge him, particularly if he is making a decision which they take issue with.
I see two major challenges with leadership. Firstly leading out of your own insecurity. I have done this. It is when you make a decision based on your own reaction to something that triggers insecurity within you. A false or real fear that something you are insecure about will be revealed. Others around you will see this reaction and help you navigate through your own anxiety.
Secondly in not being aware of things about yourself that others can see. You don’t know what you don’t know….about yourself. These can be painful lessons. As you mature in life you can get very upset, humbled and frustrated by your own failings. I know I have. But having people who believe in you, are able to see your strengths, and encourage you to keep going are invaluable if you are to grow as a leader. But you also need them to speak truth into your life.
People who speak the truth in love. These are the type of leaders a good leader will surround themselves with. It does not mean you won’t lead and make the hard decisions. It does not mean that sometimes you won’t feel alone or misunderstood. I do want to say, you still need to lead. But wisdom is to do it in community.
One of my biggest battles of the mind has been when people leave. I am preaching from Luke 10 this week where Jesus says that if someone does not receive the message, wipe the dust off your coat and move on.
Seems to me that is easy to say and hard to do. If you love people, and in particular the one you have just shared your life and faith with, it is hard to just shake it off and move on. I am not convinced Jesus had that type of callous heart either. Not when I see Him weep over Jerusalem and long to gather them up in his arms like a mother would a child.
I am reminded of the thought that my role may be seasonal. I may just be a part of their story. Like the 72 in Luke 10 were.
Hoping, believing, trusting and being patient.
Reading through an old commentary I came across the word ‘dissembling’ and the writer used it often. It means to hide or mask ones own feelings. In the commentary the author used it as a negative when someone is hypocritical about Jesus. They hide their true feelings towards Him. It is described as a sin to hide what you truly think.
I often ponder than I am too candid. That it is considered wrong to express what you are actually thinking with such directness. And I take that seriously, questioning myself often. Should I say that, should I share that. And that is a valid concern for me. I really need to be careful.
It is a compelling thought that hiding our true feelings is also an issue. Not revealing what is going on in our hearts and minds can lead to a less than honest relationship.
Once again I find myself striving for the radical middle.