Humility, Pride, Servanthood.

Everybody gets to load the dish-washer.

At New wine Gareth Robinson said “In our family we have a rule that everyone gets to load the dish-washer” and then went on to explain that it was true for their Church family too.

Following on from yesterdays blog about the discipline of secrecy is our need to be people who serve.

No one knows who replaces the toilet-rolls, nips to the shop to buy milk so you can be welcomed with a nice coffee, cleans the floor after your kids have splashed paint everywhere and many more unseen jobs within the Church.

Often too, no-one notices the person that tirelessly visits our housebound members (some are delightful and some can be a real act of love!).

So much of what really matters about Kingdom Ministry is rarely the bits that show. -Ironically when Churches do job interviews they seem primarily concerned about the bits that show which actually I think are the bits that matter least, I’ve known poor preachers facilitate wonderful moves of God, and great preachers be utter rat-bags behind the scenes.

My friend David white once said “it is easier to find someone that will preach in the pulpit that it is to clean it” -to be fair he did spit a lot when he talked!

Yet the act of service is so vital for the health of any Church, but it is also vital for our own spiritual health.

when I was a teenager I got accused of “treating this place like a hotel!” but when you serve you are actually investing in the Community, not coming as a guest or a consumer. when you serve you feel part of the family.

Yet serving is so counter cultural now, and perhaps sometimes human beings are just a bit lazy, I was laughing in the leaders lounge at new wine about the people who will talk to you (and I’m sure they think what they are saying is important) and watch you working (moving tables, doing dishes, scrubbing floors) and they will talk and talk at you, but won’t lift a finger to help!

Yet serving reflects Jesus style of leadership, the God who took a towel and washed his disciples feet. The Servant King. The God who came “no to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many”.

I read a facebook statement that said: “If serving is beneath you, then leadership is above you”. -It is true, at the heart of leadership in the economy of God is service.

Interesting too, I have seen people talk about believing God has a call on their life, even in some cases frustrated that God hasn’t opened the door sooner, but they won’t roll up their sleeves and serve, perhaps the key to opening up their destiny is a lot simpler than they think, and yet this also might involve a change of heart which might be a tougher call than they think.

when I think of service I am drawn to the story of Naaman a leader in the Babylonian army, a leader covered in the dreaded skin disease lea that Elijah’s servant told to bath 7 times in the river Jordan, he refused thinking he was too grand and the river was too murky, yet it was in humbling himself and submitting that he gained his healing and transformation (and deeper than his physical healing he realised that the God of Israel was the only Lord to be worshipped).

Scripture tells us (repeatedly) that “God opposes the proud and yet exalts the humble”, it is the humble that serve, it is the humble that seek the glory of God rather than boosting their own ego. Servanthood is a revolutionary act and choice in defiance of our egocentric self glorifying world.

So, lets grasp the discipline of secrecy and learn to lead less like Alan Sugar in his board-room and more like Jesus washing the disciples feet.

The call of Christ in my experience is downwardly mobile, it is an upside down Kingdom where the first are last, and the last first and the meek inherit the earth.

And I’ll close with another facebook meme that says “we often miss God’s great opportunities because they turn up in overalls and look like work”.

Humility, Matthew 6. 6., relationship with God

The Discipline of Secrecy.

we live in a world where secrecy always is portrayed as sinster, but yet Jesus seems to think there is a lot to be said for it.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”.

But we live in a world where most of our lives -including our dinners- get plastered all over social media, and nothing is secret, nothing is discreet, and nothing is done anonymously.

I love the idea of living for the audience of one (God himself) but our human nature wants to be thanked and appreciated. I love the idea that sometimes people are blessed and no-one knows who the person is that is blessing them, seems to me to be a natural extension of “the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing”.

As I began to think more about this “secret history” of people in the quiet place receiving and encountering God and made me wonder whether the loudest and most flamboyant in our congregation that maybe waves their arms most in the worship time, or the one who dominates Bible studies with an answer for everything may not necessarily be the spiritual giants we might think they are, and the unassuming person in the corner is actually our greatest warrior leading the battle secretly from the hidden place of their prayer closet.

I watched a film once called “Shallow Hal” where a misogynist only saw peoples inward beauty not their external appearances, and his view of the world was transformed. I wonder if we could see one another’s own spiritual lives, the behind closed doors lives, whether we might be surprised, both at those we might have written off actually being great players in the advancement of God’s Kingdom winning those crucial battles on their knees? And perhaps the reverse is true, that people that “talk the talk” aren’t “praying the prayers”.

A discipline of secrecy, living for the audience of one, building that deep relationship with God when no one sees and know one knows just you and God.

If we are to see this nation changed, then probably it wont be through loud events with smoke machines, but rather through ordinary men and women -like you and me- prioritising the unobserved, discreet time spent just with God that no one else knows about.

Humility, Listening, sin

Speaking for Me, Myself and I…

James the brother of Jesus urges us in his epistle: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak“, yet my experience is that sadly we are all to quick to speak and too slow to listen.

In Parliaments Politicians are so keen to talk but not so keen to listen that they have created a word “filibuster” where they “speak without pausing” to hijack a potential law they don’t want to see reach the statute book.

I was at a Churchy meeting recently and the phrases “I”, “me”, “we” and “us” were used a lot.

At New Wine one of the speakers said “when I hear these words spoken in Churches it cuts God out of the conversation entirely”.

Now I’m not saying it isn’t good to know what people think and feel, but primarily what we want actually doesn’t matter that much.

What actually matters is what Christ is saying to us and whether are being obedient to command?

Yet often we are so keen on sharing our opinion, rather than seeking God’s will on a situation.

We are so keen to have good ideas, but less keen sometimes to know if the idea is Gods idea. Although God’s ideas normally sound crazy, they also work better than ours!

A set of ladders would be a good idea for taking the city of Jericho, but Gods idea was marching around worshipping.

We often debate ideas in a way that assumes we have a silent God, yet scripture has never given us any reason to suppose that God does not speak, but human experiences shows us that we sadly are often less inclined to listen.

The Book of Hebrews says: “today if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts”, and John the book of Revelation says “let him who has ears listen to what the spirit says to the Church”.

Yet I believe too often too much of our Church hears the opinions of the most opinionated, rather than necessarily hearing the ‘still small voice’ of God’s direction, often missed and over-looked in hubbub that is so many of our Churches meetings, meeting where people want to be heard, but not always want to listen.

Interestingly are the people who have the jobs within the Church people who are known for their worldly wisdom, or their deep prayerfulness.

Stephen Cottrell talks about “hitting the ground kneeling”, if we want God to speak deeply through us, then we need to walk deeply with him, learn to hear his voice -not to show off and look all prophetic- but to be attuned to God’s heart-beat and his ways.

Often the heart of hearing from God is humility, is that often we have to turn down our own internal, personal volume -our own need to be heard, our own egos, our view on the person speaking, our experiences (both good and bad) and seek God himself, listen for his voice.

Yet rather than “having all the answers” and coming before God with empty hands is both a worshipful display of sacrifice and in vulnerability is a statement of faith and expectation in the generosity of God.

We don’t like not knowing stuff, and would rather tell God what to do, than get on our knees and seek him.

“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do” Anne Lamott.

-I’d suggest that if your faith causes you to hate anyone, then you’re not following the Christ who said “father forgive them” whilst hanging and dying on a cross- but the idea of God is thinking what we think on every issue is a dangerous one.

“If your god never disagrees with you, you might just be worshiping an idealized version of yourself” Timothy Keller.

One of my college lecturers John Kelly used to talk about the danger of sharing our opinions with a deep booming “thus sayeth the Lord” type voice.

Yet someone is bound to say about the Bible about this point, and God’s written word is a wonderful gift to us. Yet sadly scripture is too often used a little too selectively, to try and back up our point of view rather than seeking God’s heart. I remember David White, Vicar of St. Michael Le Belfrey in York, once said “Think of the Bible as a lamp post, do you use it for illumination, or like a drunk for support?” Recently I read Harper Lee’s New(ish) book “To Set A Watchman” and was scary how many “sound protestant Christians” were playing fast and loose with scripture to justify their horrific racist views so prevalent in the deep south in the 1950’s. We need people not just cherry picking scripture, but prayerfully seeking God, wisely with our hearts and minds open to what his Spirit wants to say to us, tested, weighed and shared honourably with integrity.

Hearing God’s voice is at the heart of discipleship.

The little boy Samuel heard God’s voice call him in the temple, which started a life of fruitful obedience (the beginning of the chain reaction which brought about the birth of Christ many centuries later)…

May we be a Samuel generation, that hears the voice of God, and echoes his famous prayer “speak Lord for your servant(s) are listening”.


5 Fold Ministry -Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers (Eph. 5), Humility, identity, Isaiah 6, Pioneer, Pride

Words, Language and Titles…

A week ago I was at a really thought provoking meeting at the Diocese thinking about pioneer ministry.

Yet the thing that struck me  is the language, words, names and labels we use actually acts can be really unhelpful.

Gideon was called by the angel as a “Mighty Warrior” and didn’t see himself as Israels military leader after-all “I am the least in my family and my family is the least in Manasah”… Yet Gideon was a Mighty Warrior as he step out in faith (after a fair bit of encouragement from God) he stepped into the Identity that God had called him to, the gifts, skills and talents that lay within him, unseen and unrecognised.

Some of us at times can be a little like Gideon struggle with self doubt, and doubting of our calling, or other times we have our own ideas and expectations of ourselves. A type of false humility can easily exist and we can mistakenly think as virtuous but actually keeps us from becoming all that God wants us to be.

I wonder how many pioneers -or perhaps apostles, evangelists, teachers and prophets exist within our Church but would rule themselves out, or not be confident in embracing who they are before God?

I wonder too how many pioneers, -or perhaps apostles, evangelists, teachers and prophets exist within our Churches  but the Church communities sadly often don’t realised, acknowledged and embrace these gifts… (I think those with a pastoral gift most churches are reasonable at recognising, but often sadly many are less good at recognising the other characteristics).

Intestestingly both Isaiah (Is.6) and Jeremiah (Jer.1), both prophets who really needed Gods help to find their voice, Isaiah even has a vision of a cereph touching his lips with a burning coal… I wonder how many of us need Gods help to find our voice, especially our prophetic voice? Often the prophetic feels scary, we say things that other people don’t alwyas “get” or “understand”, sometimes to give a prophetic word takes a lot of courage of bravery.

Yet sometimes labels aren’t always helpful, one of my friends who was  evangelist, was told he was a good evangelist and for a few weeks went tactlessly crashing into conversations bible bashing in the most to-curling way imaginable, a million miles away from the normal  conversations he had been having. Sometimes Gods call on our lives can get limited when our egoes get over-inflated “pride coming before a fall”.

I don’t think these gifts, calling and ministries were meant to be given so that we can strut around like peacocks, and I’ve blogged before at how uncomfortable I am when perhaps there is too little walking deeply with the spirit and too much ego and testosterone flying around. The Growing Leaders Course sas “Charisma and Competence without Character creates Catastraphy”. A verse that don’t quote often enough but occurs repeatedly in scripture is “God opposes the proud but lifts up the humble”.

Humility I believe can be best be described as “coming into agreement with God about ourselves”, Paul’s epistle to the Church in Rome urges us “not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought” in fact Paul urges “to think of the needs of others”, God doesn’t give gifts to massage our egos but rather to build up the body of Christ.

To move in the call that God has placed on us we need to come to a place of maturity, not just letting God work through us, but more painfully and more challenging is letting God work in us.

Often too, God gifts us but we have to get ourselves prepared to be used by God, we won’t be effective as a Bible teacher unless we delve deeply into Gods word, nor will we ever move in the prophetic unless we pray and become used to listening to Gods voice, and we never be trusted with leadership of Gods people unless we learn how to serve and follow faithfully.

Too often I fear too many Chritians stay too much in the shallow end of their faith, nor are prepared to invest in the walk with Christ to really know what the potential God has placed within them, like the tragic  tale that Jesus told of the foolish man  who buried his talent in the ground. Potentially great evangelists  who never really talk about their faith, teachers who haven onthing to pass on, prophets who haven’t attuned their ear to the voice of God, apostolic leaders who’ve never learned that the first come last and a biblical model for leadership involves a towel and a bucket washing crap of the foot of disciples who may dessert you, and may betray you.

So, let’s think about how we can be the culture in the soil of discipleship whereby people can be empowered, grow and thrive in their faith, where the people of God are built up and Gods Kingdom grows and flourishes… Counting ourselves in to Gods plan and purpose for his plan in our lives in his world.

Humility, John 21, obidience, Pride, surrender

Letting Down Your Nets On The Other Side Of The Boat.

I was reading the other day the Bible passage about the miraculous catch of fish at the end of John’s Gospel.

The passage starts with the words they had been fishing all night and they were tired and they hadn’t caught a thing.

I empathised here, sometimes it does feel as though we have been fishing all night, we feel tired and discouraged and it feels as though we either haven’t caught anything, or the catch is so much smaller than we had hoped.

it’s not just ‘bad luck’ these guys are experienced fishermen, they knew all about fishing, they were “Fishing Shaped Fishers”, experts and yet they had caught nothing.

Often this too is how we can feel, we know we have read the books, been to the conferences, even had times when we have been part of the time when great catches of fish had been caught in the past… but now all night trying and nothing to show for it,

Then this non fisherman from the beach suggests letting the nets down on the other-side of the boat.

what does he know?

He’s not a fisherman?

why should we listen to him?

It made me ask myself, have I got a bit stubbon?

Am I a bit set in my ways?

Do I think I know best?

Am I teachable?

Does perhaps my pride get in the way of seeing God work?

Yet these fishermen, swollowed their pride and they let down their nets on the other-side of the boat and caught the greatest haul of fish in their career?

It reminded me of the story of Naaman, a commander in the Syrian  army with leaperousy for whom healing was available if he’d wind his neck in and wash in the murky river Jordan.

I wondered with mission whether I am reaching out in my way, or whether I am heeding his voice and reaching out his way?

Am I still attentive to the voice of Jesus calling out from across the water? Am I expectant to be guided? 

Am I putting my trust in my teaching or my teacher?

The thing I admire about the disciples is they are still trying to catch fish even though they have had no joy all night, how often have we heard someone say “we tried and it didn’t work so we gave up went home, put the kettle on,  and never went out again”… Yet they were at least still trying to fish.

How often do we feel like this, like we are tired, frustrated, disillusioned, run-down, broken and just wondering if all our work and effort was in vain? I know at times I do. Yet there is hope in this passage, that in the morning Christ calls out to us who are waiting and prepared and in the right place, a picture of faithfulness (ironically as they are here because they were faithless and deserted Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane) and we see the harvest reached and brought it, not by our power, might, expert knowledge but by heeding the words of our master.

when we hear new ideas do we think we know better, or do we ask ‘could God be teaching me something here?’

Do we need to be reminded afresh of our dependance of Christ?

Are we in the right place, waiting and prepared for the voice of Christ and the step of faith that ushers in the harvest.
Humility, Pride, Samson, Temptation


Samson is one of those stories we often over-look, it is a bit of an uncomfortable read to the 21st Century audience (actually the whole of the book of judges has some challenging bit in it (Judges 13.1 – 16:30).

Samson, is a guy whose birth is foretold (like Samuel, John the Baptist and Jesus)

He is a man of great gifting and anointing, filled with the holy Spirit from birth, a person of charisma and with clear leadership skill.

He is successful as a warrior leader, scaring off the enemies of the people of Israel (at least for the first part of the story at least).

I think Samson probably set out like most of us with good intentions of being a good judge, but we seem him drift through out the story.

Interestingly when I did my discertation into ‘backsliding’ for my degree, very few made a conscious choice to make a ‘reversal in Christian Commitment’ but just drifted away from God inch by inch, degree by degree until they realized just how far they had got.

Often it was these small sin holds that didn’t seem too bad, after all everyone struggles with stuff right? The flaws in our character, often end up being our Achilles heel, that let us down and shipwreck us, yet we can gloss over these with our gifting.

Yet Samson shows us that gifting and character are two different things.

Samson takes his anointing from God for granted, and is reckless with the gifts God has entrusted too him.

A while ago people used to wear those WWJD bracelets –what would Jesus do? (Or We Want Jam Donuts!) Yet later their became a bracelet with the words “FROG” on them, which stood for Fully Reliant On God, you see actually Samson fell for the lie that he was an independent individual, where as actually all of us are totally dependent on God, in fact every breath we take is actually a gift from him.

Samson’s problem is that his ego, Edged God Out, he didn’t realize the depth of his reliance on God, and we see no evidence of Samson being grateful to God for his gracious provision bailing him out time and time again.

In fact we see him flirting with danger, getting closer and closer to revealing his secret to his wife Delilah, until eventually the inevitable happens (Judges 16.17).

I think one of the big dangers the Church has is we flirt too often with secularism, we try and be just like the world, and then wonder why we fall in and end up loosing the power of our Christian distinctiveness.

There are lesson here about wisdom, about good and wise council, but mainly about wisdom… but primarily I think this story teaches us not to put ourselves in the way of temptation.

A guy I know well was struggling with keeping his mind pure, especially on his own in his flat on an evening with the internet beckoning him towards the gutter… So, he and disconnected his internet.

Pride comes before a fall, yet wisdom puts in safeguards.

We need to acknowledge before God our weakness and ask his help.

Believing we are invulnerable and invincible is foolish, but we can fool for it easily when we forget our dependence on our God.

There are many in the Bible who ‘come to their senses’; Jonah sees sense from the Whales belly and the prodigal son ‘has a light bulb moment in the pigs field’  and Samson when he is a blind slave and a prisoner of his enemies, realizes his need of God and the call on his life which he seems to have largely ignored.

And in his last moments, with his hair somewhat re-grown, he pushes down the pillars of the temple and destroys the enemies of the Lord and his people.

When he is at his lowest, he is used most. His death achieved more than his life.

I don’t think it is heresy to think Samson as a life largely of squandered potential, somebody who had gifts, talents, anointing and talents but (like the story Jesus told) didn’t use them.

What of us? God has equipped us, given us by his spirit unlimited potential for transformation, we have the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead active in our lives, yet so many in our Churches are spirit filled, yet squander their God-given potential and their gifting is never fully utilized for the purpose God intended, God is calling but they are (like Samson) pursuing other agendas, dreams and visions.

Where are we in this story?

Are we the young idealist that needs to sort our baggage out? Bringing things into the gracious and loving light of Christ.

Perhaps we got confused gifting with character?

Do we realize the gifts and anointing God has given us? Are we grateful to him? Are we using them for his glory, or our own?

Do we realize his potential in us?

If so are we using our potential, or squandering it?

How seriously do we take our obedience to God?

Do we think it is all about us? Or do we realize it is all about God?

Do we think we are invincible and immune to the devil getting a foothold in our life

Do we flee sin (as Paul urges Timothy to do) or do we flirt with it

Do we think of ourselves as self made and independent? Or do we realize we are Fully Reliant On God?

And what happens when it all comes crashing down, do we roll over and give up, or do we like (Samson) seize the moment, even in the 11th hour, and seek to bring glory to God.

Amazingly despite a life of messing it up and getting it wrong, Samson’s name is proudly listen amongst the other heroes of faith in Hebews 11.

He stumbled and fell along the race, but he finished well.

What of us, how will we finish the race?

Humility, incarnation, Phillippians 2

The Attitude of Christ…

I never cease to find Phillippians 2 an incredibly challenging passage… it starts with the phrase, “your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” -that’s a big challenge, as I know how often my attitude falls short of Christ’s.

The whole passage is full of counter cultural words such as “humbled himself” -“became nothing”, “emptied himself”, “taking on the form of a servant” -in fact slave us a more accurate translation- “he was obidient to death -even death in the cross”.

I realise my attitude is far far from this most of the time, and yet I do want to have a Christ like attitude, and although it us is painful, costly and will be sacrificial it is still something I want.

Yet I also know I can’t have a Christ like attitude unless Christ himself helps me, unless I am part if a body of Christ-like people challenging, encouraging and sharpening me…

It also makes me realise how missional this whole attitude is, because it is not self seeking, nice demanding its own way but is seeking first the Kingdom of God, and is putting other people’s needs before our own wants, desires and preferences.

This passage is the complete antidote of what I was writing yesterday about the dangers of a consumer Church… It is s Spirituality that gives good stuff away rather than hording it for ones self.

On Saturday Si told the story of people wanting Church to be how they liked it, a consumer attitude, and yet Church and the Christian life is not about us, it’s about Jesus.

To pick up our cross and follow Christ is the ultimate act of surrender to God.

When we say “I didn’t get anything out of the Ŵorship today” -we need to remember that Ŵorship isn’t for us, it’s for God, and even if we didn’t get blessed did other people encounter God through it…

Sometimes in serving others and putting their needs before our own we find a blessing that is more greater and more beautiful than simply having things within Church done as we would like it, we discover the joy of the Father saying to us “well done good and faithful servant”.

I’ll close with a verse that always challenges me when I think of surrender and following Christ.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, the life I live in this body I live by faith in the on of God who loved me and died for me”.
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Humility, identity, Pride, Servanthood., Worth

The unworthy servant of the most worthy God

got a letter through the post from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York (as you do!) and I was struck by the writing around the crest of the Archbishop of York, which read “The unworthy servant of the most worthy God”…

This made me think.

Firstly I liked the humility of this, but then I began to feel a little uncomfortable.

When we see the worth and worthiness of Christ, we know that by comparison, “we are not worthy even to eat the crumbs from under his table”.

I think that too often we as Christians, and we as Church leaders, put up a veneer of being ‘sorted’, ‘holy’ and ‘righteous’, yet the truth is we all suffer and struggle with sin, all that happens -sometimes- as Christians is we get better at covering it up!

Our struggle with sin, is an on going an daily battle, not something we used to struggle with before becoming a Christian. Although this is never the message we actually say, sometimes it is the message we inadvertently give off.

We ALL sin, if in any doubt check out Paul’s struggles in Romans 7… We are all conflicted with the person we know we should be -and want to be- and who we actually are.

Ironically living up to peoples expectations of being sinless is more likely to push you into sin!

One thing I learned whilst working with drug addicts and alcoholics was that of leadership from a point of both brokenness and recovery, the councillors -former addicts themselves- were both messengers of hope and of struggle, beauty and brokenness. I love Henri Nowen’s description of Christian leadership as that of being a wounded healer.

I grew up in a Church that was very much focused on the cross, on sin, on the need for repentance and faith. Yet the problem with this form of Christianity was sometimes it didn’t feel like ‘good news’, it felt condemning, and the default setting placed the emphasis on my sin rather than on my Saviour.

Guilt, shame and unworthiness were part of my mind-set, which I thought was what God wanted me to feel, but verses like “there is now no condemnation in Christ” I struggled to personalise and allow to alter my own perception on myself.

Yet it was through the charismatic renewal movement that I really discovered that no only had the price been paid for my sin,  but that I -me-  was loved.

God saw me through the lenses of the cross and of his wonderful grace… God saw me as his beloved child, precious and valuable, my worth was extreme -that God himself would die for me.

This answered those real and deep questions of identity. A movement which talks a lot about our identity, about being anointed and empowered, about knowing the Father and his heart for us.

I stopped using words like unworthy, as although I know I am, I also don’t think it is helpful, I need more often to be reminded of grace, forgiveness and faithfulness, rather than living in a place of condemnation and almost self flagellation.

I think when we beat ourselves up, we say to ourselves that we are useless, we are failures and God can’t use us, the truth is that (although this is still true) grace speakers a louder and truer word that we can still be used despite our faults and failings, that no one is useless to a God who delights to work with his children.

Even at our worst and our most rebellious God’s love for us remains faithful and constant.

If I were redesigning the archbishops crest I would write “I maybe an unworthy servant, made worthy by the love omost worthy Lord Jesus Christ”.

Humility, Leadership, Servanthood., teachability


In the world of business people often say “there are leaders and followers”, but I’m not sure that it is true.

Many people think ‘leadership’ is something you are born with, like blue eyes or freckles, but again I’m not sure this is true either.

When we obsess about leadership, we are only thinking of one side of the coin, for leaders to exist people need to be followers.

Actually I believe everyone actually is following something or someone, -I think we often ask the wrong question in our culture, for example I believe everyone worships it’s a human instinct, so the question isn’t will you worship but WHO/WHAT will you worship?

The same question is not, will you follow anyone/anything but WHAT/WHO will we follow?

However, I think what differs for Christians is the issue of self awareness, when we end up worshipping the wrong things, do we realise we are worshipping?

Or when we follow the wrong thing, do we realise that we are following it?

I believe that often we don’t realise what we worship, nor truly see who we follow? -We don’t always know or realise our what our drivers are? -what pulls our strings? -what pushes our buttons?

Certainly us as Christians we know we are supposed to worship and follow Christ.

Yet, do we actually really know what this really looks like in our normal every day lives?

I would suggest that if you are following Christ you will notice three things:

The question maybe we need to ask ourselves, how do I know if I am following Christ, or am I doing my own thing with a bit of a Christian veneer?

1) There will be movement, if you are following anything you wont be staying in the same place, you’ll noticing changes, challenges, growth (although sometimes we don’t always realise we are moving because we are always with ourselves so we can’t see the changes. Also, sometimes when we are on a stationary train and another zooms past it gives the illusion of movement, don’t think because people are moving around you that you are necessarily moving yourself!)

2) Fruit, if you are following Christ, you will be becoming more like him!

3) Opposition, if you are following Christ you are going to feel some friction, because you aren’t going the same way as everyone else.

Yet the problem with following Christ is that there seem to be too many middle men called leaders, and how do we follow Christ, moving forward with others, together in an area without any human leadership.

Without leaders and followers, we will never do anything together, and certainly won’t move forward… somehow, what ever we think of it, leadership and followership is part of the human DNA, and I would suggest that we both operate in both areas at different times and at different occasions.

We are all followers, and yet there is a calling for us to lead, but this is more of a case of “follow me whilst I follow Christ”, it is about a journey with Christ in the company of others.

And, then when we start thinking about leadership we realise we can’t be a leader of Christ’s people unless we are a follower of Christ himself, you can lead people where you haven’t been, or aren’t prepared to go yourself.

The leaders of the Bible -with possible exception of Samson, who is a bit of a muppet anyway- are largely not Oxford Educated, chino wearing Alpha males, but rather limping nobodies from backwaters.

I think we sometimes get confused between gifting and anointing, character and calling.

Do you think God is saying something, then share it, if other people rally around the vision and you seek to make it happen you are a leader.

Sometimes you will be the one who hears something and calls people to step out so you step out and lead, sometimes you are the one who hears something from someone else and the spirit quickens within you and you feel called to step out and follow.

If we truly believe that we have a God who is our strength in weakness why in so much of the Christian life is everyone fighting to be top dog?

And why is it all the time

Too often we talk of growing leaders, which is great, but actually in our self sufficient, egocentric, consumerist culture, learning how to be a follower is sometimes a bigger and a tougher lesson than being a leader.

We live in a world which says “you can’t tell me what to do”, but instead we are choosing to sacrifice something of our own independence for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and his value of interdependence.

Following is tough because it means humbly not getting our own way all the time, and we all like that, everyone wants to be agreed with!

Following is sacrificial, Simon and Andrew, John and James left their livelihood to come and follow Christ, Matthew/Levi walked out of his paid employment to follow Jesus. Jesus talked of his followers “picking up their crosses” -being a follower is a challenging call.

Leaders too can sometimes be frustrating, I know I am at times, and probably people could say with justification say “I could do better than that” but for whatever reason I’m called to a certain role at a certain time, and maybe God is teaching me stuff? Or maybe teaching you stuff? Which ever it is, we need to lay our frustrations at the foot of the cross, we as Church are called to be a community of grace, where our worth is not in our performance. Sometimes it is in leading and sometimes in following, we discover the grace of God that is unearned and given simply for being us, God’s beloved.

The challenge of grace is how easily do we slip into competitiveness, and not doing it?

The challenge of grace is how easily we slip into comparisons, and not doing it?

The challenge of grace is how easily we slip into complaining, and not doing it -the car park after a meeting or over Sunday lunch are often places where some leader or others ears probably burn!

How can we be a community of grace?

How can we lead and follow together well?

Graham Kendrick talks of “each others needs to prefer”

The world often talks about one person, normally a man, telling everyone else what to do, yet the Christian model of leadership is more about seeking God’s will prayerfully in community, it’s about shared conversations together. Often it is others in the community who refine and shape the vision, honing it to make it more in-line with the voice, will and heart of God, the body ministry each playing its part.

Interestingly here we often see two types of people, the ‘controller’ and the ‘submissive’, the person who fights for their corner and the person who caves in, and interestingly we all need to learn from both of these.

Are their times when Christ is calling us to contend for what he has said?

Are their times when we need to bow and submit to someone else’s judgement call?

Working out which is which can be hard and challenging too, my suggestion is it is often the one we find tougher to do, which often is where God is calling us.

Christian Leadership is about bravely following Christ together as community, the call is often -if not always- on the narrow and rocky pathway, it’s not an easy route, some will bail out because it is too hard and costly, some will bail out because a nice and more comfortable vision comes into view, some will bail out because they don’t see the vision, some will bail about because of our failures of leadership -which is really hard for us.

A wise Elder once said to me “the only thing we are called to be is faithful”.

The God we serve loves us and sees our heart, and all that is within them.

Ultimately it is him we are doing all this for, we lead because we are following his call to “come and follow him”… As we follow we know he sees our hearts.

Search me and know me O God and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

So, lets embrace grace, lets be faithful, let him see our heart, and let us move forward with him together with one another, a rickety caravan of a community, but as we edge forward every step toward Christ is a team effort which receives a cheer from the one who says “well done good and faithful servant”.

Falibility, Guidance, Humanity, Humility, Nurture


An advert read “Complete Encyclopaedia Brittania for sale, teenage daughter knows everything!”

We live in a world where don’t like to be taught things.

We don’t like to admit we don’t know stuff.

We don’t like to be wrong.

We don’t like to feel ill informed, or worse misinformed.

We are a world of experts (because after all we all have a Google app on our phones). –

We don’t like the power dynamic of being told what to do. In fact one of the phrases often used in arguements is “you can’t tell me what to do!”

Perhaps this is why many of us blokes won’t even ask directions when we are lost “maybe we’ll find a short cut!” we say in a way that convinces no one, probably not even ourselves.

Yet teachability is a wonderfully underrated gift, it shows a beautiful humility, a world view that seeks to grow, go deeper and learn.

There is an old saying that “everyone we meet has something to teach us” -I think this is true, and in the Christian tradition we believe God himself can speak to us through often the most unusual of ways.

The question has never been, can God speak, but rather are we ready and willing to listen to him? And if we do hear him, will we harden our hearts? The (slightly crazy) prophet Ezekial speaks of God giving us a heart of flesh -tender meat- rather than that of stone, so that our hearts can hear his voice speaking to us, saying our name, calling out to encounter him in all we encounter.

Will we allow him in to these situation? Jesus stands at the door of our lives, knocking, waiting to be invited in to each and every situation, but does not force himself in, it’s the wise and teachable thing to hear and heed his knocking on the door.

Stephen Fry described himself once as endlessly curious, I love this image of a great intellect being caused by not giving up, thinking we have life, the world and the universe sorted… Seizing the moment and seeing what we can learn from it, what God can teach us from it, are our hearts open, are our ears unblocked.

Learning, especially in our journey of faith, is a destination we never reach, there is always more of God and more of his wonderful creation that we can discover if our eyes and hearts are soft enought to keep looking, seeking and discovering. -let’s be endlessly hungry for more? The biggest problem is with discipleship is we think we are there, or at least nearly there, and we fosilize, get satisfied and cease to be hungry.

Jesus used an example of discipleship of a little child, children are hungry for knowledge and full of awe and wonder I think to “grow up” and loose this is a tragedy.

Do we have this childlike faith?

Are we prepared to admit we don’t know stuff, or we could do things a better way? I have had to swallow my pride on occasions and admit that I’ve been wrong, and although not easy at the time can also be wonderfully liberating (maybe an example of “the truth setting you free?”)

Are we better at telling people what to do, rather that asking the insightful question and making the better choice? Are we inviting Jesus to speak into our lives and situation, expectant of him shaping and moulding us. Is the image of God as the potter one which is an actual reality in our lives or an empty theological image?

Another proverb says “in life we have a choice we either get better or bitter” -bitter is so much easier, but to learn lessons from the harder knocks life gives us will shape us, and form us.

In fact as everything we face we face it with our Heavenly Father, and every experience we encounter we can take to him, and ask what we can learn together through our experiences, using all we face to learn more of us, more of hIm, and to use our experiences to help shape us to be the people that God wants us to be. Allowing him, by his Spirit, to use all we face to fashion us into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. When the pain and struggle strike, we need to invite God in, and take the negative and see God redeem, restore and reshape it and us for his glory. When life throws stuff at us, are we teachable? Can we use the bad and redeem it for good?

This idea of being people seeking to be transformed by God ought to mean that CHristians are the most self aware of people, yet sadly we all know that this often sadly isn’t the case…

Self awareness however is key for our discipleship, knowing ourselves, seeing ourselves as we really, but in the security of being loved and held by our Heavenly Father, who helps us to become the us we can, should and ought to be in and through him.

As I blogged yesterday about mission/evangelism and wondered too whether the call to greater self awareness would transform our the outreach we do, and our self awareness would transform our Church Communities too. Self awareness stems from a teachable spirit.

So, in our lives, in the situations we face and the people that we meet are we able to learn the lessons we need to learn, not missing the opportunity to be shaped more like Christ, becoming the people we were originally created to be.

So, let’s take the challenge to ask God to help us become more teachable, humbling ourselves as we open our ears, hearts, minds to him in surrender.
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