Community, freedom, government, Leadership, Love, peace, Social problems, Uncategorized

“Uprising”

Photo: Freepik.com

Parenting a little one fooled me into thinking I could control other people. Putting a cranky toddler in his cot and closing the door felt good. A “prison” of sorts where I could stand guard outside, rostering mealtimes and rationing information. I was powerful. Strong. Loud from my soap box of grown up answers.

I was a master at eliciting compliance, “making him behave.” Commands like “use your manners” and “sit up straight” or “look them in the eyes” came naturally. Phrases like, “This is a dictatorship, not a democracy” flew out of my mouth on the heels of back-talk. Corporal punishment, (used sparingly and this was the early 2000’s so don’t judge me), meant using physical force to get the behaviour I expected.

It worked for the most part: threaten, demand, restrain.

Whatever means necessary to get the desired outcome.

By the age of about 12 or 13, my eldest started showing signs of disagreement, his own opinions, at times even daring to point out my own hypocrisy and flaws. The earth began to move under my feet. I felt the skin on my hands rip open as the tight leash I clung to was torn away by a teenager on a mission. He was on a hot pursuit to assert himself, to be heard, to try out his own voice, apart from the soundtracks I’d been playing. What I felt was firmly in tact one day began to fray around the edges, influenced by puberty and pimples. Muscles and height. An outward strength coupled with an even greater inner resolve to buck against my kingdom.

He had his own will and determination to use it. In many ways, he had escaped my grasp. If he wanted to deceive me or disobey, he could. I almost crumbled with this newfound information. It splattered across my life each and every day like a late night re-run and I couldn’t change the channel. I couldn’t fit either of us back in our boxes – me in my narrow-minded ‘think tank’ and him in his ‘bedroom with a toddler bed and too high door knobs.’

A different approach was needed.

I came across a great resource identifying what I already knew but didn’t have words to explain. What I desired most as a mother was a heart to heart connection with my son. The freedom I experience as an adult with my own free will is a gift; and, rather than controlling this soon-to-be-man, I realised I had to model and direct him to control himself in a manner worthy of respect. Ultimately, it was on him.

As I watch what’s happening in my home country with the Black Lives Matter movement, protests and riots across every major city, and the subsequent responses of the President, other politicians and pundits, movie stars, academics… (everyone seems to have something to say), I see parallels with my parenting journey.

Threatening people with rubber bullets, tear gas, military intervention and handcuffs reminds me of the ’18-years-ago-new-parent-me’ who had a lot to learn. Power players who shout “law and order will prevail” erect walls between the two sides. One is subservient to the ruler but only for a matter of time.

What does anyone gain if neither side captures each other’s hearts?

In the words of Stephen Covey, “we must first seek to understand before being understood if we want to be a highly effective person.” A great leader always seeks to understand.
A heart to heart connection with those we lead is priceless. Kinship before compliance. Two open ears will always trump one open mouth.

If the aim is obedience at the expense of relationship, then a dictatorship is a great way to run a family. Elect power hungry tyrants to lead a country. A fool believes that “good behaviour” equals progress. I would much rather have a loving relationship with my son than strict obedience to my laws if I had to choose between them. Submission with seething anger below the surface is like a ticking time bomb.

“So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you. For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.”

John 13:34-35 (TPT)
Contentment, Fasting, Inspiration, Leadership, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 14: “Leaders”

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

Romans 13:1-2 (NIV)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been criticised for the way he has handled the national bushfire crisis in Australia. The American President Donald Trump is consistently called a racist for his stance on illegal immigration. Your boss is gossiped about in the workroom or at after hour drinks for her recent decisions around the office. Mums are criticising teachers and administration on the playground for how they handled the recent bullying complaints at school.

If you’re in a position of authority, chances are, someone is out to slander you too. They might not be overtly blogging about you on the Internet but somewhere, they are talking about the “poor decision you made,” how you don’t know what you’re doing, and how they would do things differently if they were in charge. This is the price of leadership.

No one in a position of leadership is perfect. Managers, Presidents, Directors, Captains. Whatever the title, each one makes decisions he feels are best at the time with the current resources and capacity of the organisation. (Yes, authority figures can get on power trips. Sometimes selfish and self-seeking, you’ve seen and heard about abuses of power. Leaders can embezzle money, hurt their parishioners and royally mess up. This is true.) More often, people in high positions are doing their very best and have no intention of hurting people.

As you continue to pursue God through prayer and fasting, think about the leaders in your own life. Think about yourself as a parent, a boss, a volunteer leader. God has allowed them/you to be in those positions. Until you have walked in their shoes, you don’t know all the problems they face. They need your prayers and support just like you need the support of others to shore up your own burden of leadership.

You might be battling a health issue others don’t know about. Your leader’s marriage could be suffering or he may be dealing with difficult children. This private pain isn’t talked about; yet, he gets up each day, carrying the weight of what he leads, using the cards he has been dealt, endeavouring to play his team for the “win.”

Having a Godly perspective of your leaders means admitting God has allowed them to be in their positions; therefore, you trust the Lord to intervene where necessary. Interjecting criticism and disdain, gossip or abandonment doesn’t help leaders lead. It only holds them back and causes them more stress.

*Today, lift up the leaders in your life. Ask God to help you see them through his eyes. Try and find something positive to say if you’re not happy with them. Pray for their families and ask God to show you how you can be a better follower and support. If you’re in a position of leadership, ask God to surround you with the right team who will shore up your weaknesses and help you achieve all that he has in store.

Contentment, Courage, family, Finance, Inspiration, Leadership, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Lady Wisdom

Happy New Year! 2020… a new decade! Time to pull out the diaries and start goal setting, resolution-ing, and asking good questions:

“Do I have time for this?”

“What should I say “yes” to?”

“What items in my cupboard need to go?”

“Can I afford this?”

These are questions I’ve heard my friends, my family, the teams I lead, all asking. I bet you are too. Andy Stanley wrote a great book many years ago called “The Best Question Ever” and it changed my thinking. Andy says, “In light of my past experiences, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?” (Emphasis mine.)

Before Greg and I ask if we can afford something, what we should cull from the calendar, we query, “What’s the wise choice?” When someone begs me to take on another volunteer role, it’s not “Do I have time?” Rather, “In light of my current and future priorities, dare I say ‘yes?’

Does this expenditure align with my value to put God first in my finances? To stay out of debt? To live minimally so I create margin to do the things I love like supporting my kids’ endeavours, traveling, etc?

If I take out the buzz of emotion that’s shouting in my ears, do I hear the whisper of prudence and sanity speaking to me?

This method takes off so much pressure and fuels my priorities! Wisdom tells me I need space in my days to feel alive, to hear the voice of God, to rest. Savvy says my budget is stretched and one more activity will only add to my stress. Wisdom reminds me that my kids are going to be just fine if they skip a year of XYZ sport or music or art. Chances are, they aren’t the next Beethoven or Steph Curry so giving them space to play outside, eat a proper dinner with the family most nights, and giving them my undivided attention as their mother (not just their Uber service), matter more. Good judgement calls out to me from the early mornings reminding me how much I need exercise for my sanity so my day must include TIME for that as a priority. Experience has taught me that I can make time for another activity but I won’t because these other priorities rank higher.”

In your gut, your heart of hearts, your intelligence and discernment, you hear Lady Wisdom speaking her truth to you too!

Listen to her!

She teaches you how to establish your values as a person and family. Then, you must find the courage to not let other people dictate how you outwork those values. What other families do or don’t do, how big their cars and houses are, how smart and amazing their kids might seem, what their social media account looks like with regards to their travel and experiences shouldn’t be factored into your goal setting or planning for the year ahead. This year, be brave and chart your own wise course.

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

Colossians 1:9-12 (MSG)
Contentment, Faith, Friendship, Inspiration, Leadership, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Visual Impairment

I recently found out I needed a mild prescription for reading glasses and was completely baffled and overwhelmed at all the offerings of frames there were to choose from. It reminded me of my first days of motherhood when I realised this whole world existed long before I joined the ranks. When I walked into the glasses shop and tried on a hundred pairs of frames, I thought, “Everyone who wears glasses has done this. I have never appreciated the pain of what they have gone through.” So, to all you glasses-wearing people out there, cheers to a job well done, making it happen for so many years.

My lenses brought the slightly blurry print into focus and I realised that for a few months, I had been straining to see what was clearly there all along. I had been looking through squinty dissatisfaction that what I knew was there just wouldn’t pop off the page clearly enough to be read.

My husband has needed glasses for several years now and he absolutely CANNOT see anything without them. His misplaced specs must be located before he can read homework, look at my Instagram, or check his sports scores. Without his lenses bringing into focus the world around him he is an outsider. Frustrated at what he can’t find. Trapped in his own head for what is out of reach without help.

When he slips on his Clarke Kent frames, his brow loses its furrow and he can once more connect with the world around him. He participates in the conversation; he contributes and is able to see what was always there.

We understand how two people can literally look at small print and see different things depending on the level of myopia involved. However, near-sightedness affects more than how we read the newspaper. Shortsightedness alters our very life experiences.

Wrongdoings of others cause crooked vision and if left untreated, may lead to blindness.

Prideful judgements introduce dyslexia as we swap our expectations of self for other people's intentions.

Miscommunication and an unwillingness to handle conflict breed cataracts among friends, a live lived askew.

Negativity dulls the world around us. Our vision is clouded, like driving through fog; we slow down and even stop for fear of the road ahead.

Clarity comes when we align our optics, not with physical glasses but with the One who is truly perfect. God, our almighty Creator, is the only perfect lens. Life is never perfect, but God promises that we can trust him because he overcame the world. Living a life of faith means we can’t actually see everything in front of us with clarity as we weave our own imperfect perceptions into our world. We must pause and clean off the debris blocking us from seeing Jesus in our midst. Rose coloured glasses are at our disposal if we will just put them on. It doesn’t mean we deny the pain around us, but the onus is on us to be willing to shift our perspective and view life through the 20/20 Biblical lens God has freely given us to look through each and everyday.

That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. 

2 Corinthians 5:6-7 (MSG)
Devotion, government, Leadership, Prayer, Social problems, Uncategorized

Day 17: “Pray for Governments around the World.”

He’s got the whole world in his hands. He’s got the itty bitty babies in his hands. You may have sung this song as a child – a reminder and promise that whatever comes your way, you can trust a BIG God to take care of it and you.

It’s hard to imagine your personal, intimate God who loves you and cares about everything you’ve brought to him during this time of prayer and fasting is the same One who set the stars in place. Named them too. The Earth orbits the sun by his hand, the same gentle hands that tell the children to come to him.

Poverty, world hunger, climate change, wars, economic failure, corrupt officials, Dictatorships, Communism. The world needs people like YOU, calling up to heaven, petitioning for heaven to come down.

Today, pray for those who are elected to serve our democracy. Elections in both state and federal governments will occur this year. Pray for the right leaders to fulfil the offices required to move our country forward. From local to national, their burdens are heavy and they need wisdom and strength to serve with integrity.

Pray for world leaders and nations divided. Ask for God’s protection and hand upon children less fortunate than yours who live in tumultuous places. You may never visit those lands but from your lips to God’s ears, you can affect them.

Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.”

Romans 13:1-3 (MSG)
church, Leadership, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 13: “Pray for Your Pastor”

bold

Who comes to mind when you think, “bold” or “courageous?” An Army ranger going into battle or an astronaut into space?  Maybe a single mum or someone battling cancer?

What about your Pastor?

Today, pray for your spiritual leaders. All of hell wants to come against the work they do. They live in a glass house with everyone watching how they act, what they say, what they buy, and how their kids are turning out.

They often balance administrating finances and budgets with seeking God for a word for the next sermon. They juggle a desire to meet everyone’s needs with the pressing obligations of their own families.

Pastors and leaders in churches all over the world have given their lives up in service to others. They love what they do and are passionate about the Kingdom. They pray for you constantly and love until their hearts break. They seek God continually and desire to reflect and represent him well.

Knowing you’re behind them with your own dispatch to heaven will shore them up. Your encouragement and belief in them will continue to make them brave as they go into battle. When you pray for them, you’re praying for your own spiritual covering and blessing as you reap the fruit of their labour in your church and ministry alongside them.

“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to appreciate those who diligently work among you [recognise, acknowledge, and respect your leaders], who are in charge over you in the Lord and who give you instruction, and [we ask that you appreciate them and] hold them in the highest esteem in love because of their work [on your behalf]. Live in peace with one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 AMP).

Devotion, Fasting, government, Leadership, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 14: “Pray for Government Leaders.”

pray-for-rulersIf you’ve been watching any world news, you know we are living in interesting times. Instability in various nations around the world, changes in leadership, and uncertainty seems to be the overriding noise in our ears. Romans 13 reminds us that all authority which exists has been established by God. The Apostle Paul admonishes us to be “good citizens” under that authority.

Part of our civic duty as Christians is to pray for our local, state, national and international leaders. The problems they seek to solve are not black and white. They are complex and varying and we must lift them up and ask God to intervene with his sovereignty and love in every situation. Pray for safety and wisdom. Ask God to help leaders to lead with humility and grace.

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.” (1 Timothy 2:1-3)