30 November 2013
27 November 2013
One of the younger members of the office suggested that we should set up our own Fantasy Football League. Each of us could make up a team, form an office league and see how our squads perform. And, impressively, everyone else agreed. A bit of fun to brighten up the winter months...
So, how should I go about picking my team? As intimated earlier, my knowledge of The Beautiful Game is sketchy to say the least. Would I hastily try to digest pages and pages of info about the number of goals each player had scored? Pour over match stats? Pick a team totally at random?
Nope. In a moment of inspiration I picked a whole team of players whose surnames began with 'B'.
And with a mighty fanfare, The 'Banana Splits' made their Fantasy Football debut on Saturday 17th August.
Would my method of team selection be a viable one? We're just starting Week 13 and, out of a league of 10 my team is currently... er... 10th. Oh well...
However, this process has made me think deeper about the tricky task of allocating leadership positions within a small church. Unlike premier league teams with practically unlimited budgets, small fellowships like these attempt to build a great volunteer workforce from a restricted pool of people (namely, Christians who attend that church!). Similarly, in my footballing example, I restricted my choice only to players starting with one particular letter. Does that make my task of winning the league totally impossible? I like to think it wasn't.
In soccer, you need a good goalkeeper; reliable defenders; a versatile midfield line; assertive strikers to score goals. Each have their part to play. Without the right people in key positions in church, Sunday School classes are not taught, planning committees don't function, opportunities are missed. So how can small churches strive to get the right people in the right place?
The ideal candidates in either team should be purpose-driven, not reward-driven. They should not be trying to promote themselves but striving for something higher. This has to be something they are called to do. One writer I read recently said that such people "do not quit, and could not quit if they wanted to." I like that.
Team members should have integrity, not just an image to uphold. That's usually something that you only find out after months or even years of getting to know someone. More than just a good reputation; these people possess a character that speaks volumes about them. They should be committed, not just 'along for the ride'. Can they 'walk the walk'? Are they the genuine article?
Team members should also be compatible. There's no point in selecting a team of high-fliers if they can't work together. They need to fit. By way of example, let me tell you about Vince Lombardi, who was coach to the American Football team, the Green Bay Packers. A different kind of sport from soccer, but one requiring teamwork nonetheless. He once told his team, "In terms of skill and ability, every one of you is easily replaceable; there are plenty of players around with athletic talent to equal yours." He went on to explain that his team had something much more precious; an ability to complement each other. That's the way to turn diversity into unity. Can the team work together? Each team member helping each other to achieve their best so that they can reach their common goal.
Team members also need to be coachable. Just because you aren't doing exactly what you need to, doesn't mean you can't learn how. A good leader will choose individuals who might lack experience but will possess the other attributes - provided that they are willing and able to be trained, nurtured.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (CEV)
We should keep on encouraging each other to be thoughtful and to do helpful things. Some people have gotten out of the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer.
However, on reading the information myself this morning I discovered there was a piece of good news in the very same email. This pretty much negated the previous bad news. Overlooked.
How rubbish are we sometimes at seeing the good in any situation? It's awful. We seem to leap on bad reports with a particular fervour; criticise others with glee. If a particular situation is going well we seem to want to jinx it by saying "it's all going too well... bound to go wrong soon!"
The press fill our newspaper headlines with gloom and disaster. "Good news doesn't sell newspapers", they claim.
I want to do something about this. And I suppose,therefore, it needs to start with me.
Perhaps I need to open my eyes to see the good in any particular situation. Although I appreciate that in some cases I will need to look pretty hard...
Psalm 34:8 (The Message)
"Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see - how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him."
25 November 2013
I've been encouraged to stretch my own boundaries - to spend longer and longer outside my comfort zone. I think I have done very well. In the last seven days I have:
- talked calmly to people even though they had been extremely rude and offensive about me (is that justified?);
- tried to socialise with other people that I personally find it 'hard to love';
- spent time working out how to do the impossible in no time at all;
- continued to work through pain and tiredness (because I didn't want to let down others who were just as tired and pained as me!);
- gone the 'extra mile' when so many others said that I shouldn't;
- taken the tube when it was exactly where I didn't want to be (crowded, cramped, noisy!) ;
- been calm and pleasant in a hostile and threatening environment.
It's the end of a busy day now and, quite frankly, I've reached the end of my patience. I've had just about all I can take.
And I have to get up again tomorrow morning and probably do it all again.
Lord, help me.
19 November 2013
Jason Nesmith: What? What was that?
Alexander Dane: Uh, nothing.
Jason Nesmith: I heard some squealing or something.
Gwen DeMarco: Oh, no. Everything's fine.
Teb: But the animal is inside out.
Jason Nesmith: I heard that! It turned inside out?
[the creature explodes]
Teb: And it exploded.
(dialogue from 'Galaxy Quest')
Ever had one of those weeks where things just seem to go from bad to worse ... and then, somehow, even worse...?
Yep. Been there. And I know a few people close to me that know that experience, too. It's tough when it happens. Just one darn thing after another, after another. And then, just to cap it all, there's that one final event. The 'straw that breaks the camel's back'. Or, if you tend to look at things through the lens of science fiction, suddenly things just start to explode.
How can you carry on after that? It all seems hopeless. To all intents and purposes, all is lost.
Not so. That's a lie. Because you are now standing right in the middle of God's territory. In the midst of the impossible situation. God can still do something. Indeed, He loves to do something in such circumstances.
Trust Him; draw deeply from your resources of faith. Even if it looks hopeless. Even if the situation just 'exploded' right in front of you. Trust God and keep on fighting; never lose hope.
Luke 1:37 (CEV)
"Nothing is impossible for God!"
16 November 2013
"How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.." – Psalm 133:1-3 (NIV)
These particular verses were shared with me at a Salvation Army training course that I was fortunate enough to go to last month. The words keep reoccurring; cropping up pretty much every week ever since, so I guess I am meant to share it out to a wider audience.
As God's people we are called to work together to a common aim; not to fight, bicker or quarrel. As you might imagine this can be difficult, given the different personalities that make up a church fellowship... However, I am assured that it is possible, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit. And, best of all - if we can actually pull this off... work together in harmony, in unity - it's like a special anointing on all of us.
Aaron, Moses’ brother, was the first high priest and was anointed with olive oil on his head (usually this was just a drop or two). Such anointing is symbolic of receiving a blessing from God, a consecration for a specific task. However, the reading assures us that unity in the fellowship will be rewarded by a special and particularly generous blessing. Look at the symbolism - it's like the anointing oil is freely running down, cascading down the leader's face, onto his beard and even his clothes.
The 'dew of Hermon' mentioned in verse 3 is another symbolic description of an abundant, refreshing sprinking. Showers of blessing, indeed.
Isn't that something to be worked for?
12 November 2013
9 November 2013
More to follow...
4 November 2013
2 November 2013
That's why I was excited to hear about NOW.
National Others Week runs from Sunday 3rd November to Saturday 9th November. Participants aim to give a helping hand to someone in need; or to surprise someone with a random act of kindness. Perhaps it's a way to start refocussing your life...
Why not get involved?