What It's About

TRIBEWORK is about consuming the process of life, the journey, together.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To Love a Child – the Greatest Gift to Humanity

One of the real blessings in being a parent is the occasional interaction we get with our children’s teachers in the school environment.

At one such parent/teacher interview I recall being significantly impressed by the loving approach of one of my children’s teachers. It was clear he just loved doing his job, considering his students—in a very authentic and morally-grounded sort of way—part of his own family.

But, there is an equally insidious point to note on the opposite side of the ledger.

Preventing Harm by Giving the Greatest Gift

Many, many of the societal crimes-of-conscience surround how much abuse and neglect of children there is around. There are direct and indirect forms of both. Many of our problems are due the direct and indirect influence of the mistreatment and anti-love of kids as they were brought up, usually by adults who themselves—as children—were not loved as they deserved to be loved.

It is easy, then, to contend, one of the best and greatest gifts any of us can give back to humanity is to simply love the child—any child—in our midst.

This way we become Jesus-in-skin for this child and shine the light of peace, hope and joy into their malleable hearts, whilst boosting the confidence of their minds. They could only ever find this inspiring them to love life.

Simply, Love

This is nothing whatsoever about preconceived notions of discipline or guidance. It’s simply about openness, patience and an agapistic love—which sets itself for the moment inside this child’s skin, thinking and feeling as they would think and feel, being, as it were, the child.

This is perfect empathy—to every good thing—so far as this ‘child of God’ is concerned.

Tolerance is such a key.

Jesus taught tolerance as much as any other single attribute—and yet, we see so many ‘knowledgeable’ people, including Christians, who take delight in propagating intolerance, division and polarisation of many things, including—especially—within relationships.

Tolerance, so far as children are concerned, seems to be that perfect blend of love imbued truth—with grace abiding, always. This, most of the time, is about throwing out our preconceived ideas of child-rearing and interaction with children, for a better model.

This is the model of the person of Jesus.

What, Truly, Did Jesus Do?

It’s more about reading the gospels to pick out the nuances in Jesus’ gentle and kind interactions with kids that will help us.

I’ve often found simply closing my eyes over a passage read is helpful as God paints the ‘colour-by-number’ images in my mind, completing the gospel snapshot.

When we welcome a child, in God’s name, providing him or her safety and security, we welcome Jesus (Matthew 18:5). Remember, also, that the kingdom of heaven actually belongs to children (Matthew 19:14). And not only do we welcome Jesus when we welcome children in safety, but the Father is also welcomed (Mark 9:37).

Perhaps as it also attains to faith; we can learn a lot from observing and indeed ‘find faith’ from the gentle counsel of children—especially in their authenticity.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sinners Apologise

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

~Romans 7:15 (NIV).

Such imperfect words, from a Jesus-bequeathed apostle, in such a holy book... but Paul knew that holiness speaks of none other than God, and us sanctified, alone, through God’s grace.

God’s holy ‘book’ is full of accounts showing how ‘righteous’ people got it wrong. There is only one exception—Jesus.

We Get It Wrong

Every day I do wrong. One recent day in living reflection I recalled that I’d made, the previous day, an ambivalent response to someone seeking to appease me. Going back to this moment in my mind, I recalled that it made me feel uncomfortable, and yet I didn’t seek to resolve the discomfort in the moment; I lazily chose indifference—not exactly the ‘light of Jesus’ there.

The saddest thing for me is God’s Spirit inevitably waits patiently for me to see the issues of sin in my life, firsthand, before he prompts me—well, revelation shouldn’t be sad, but the thought that I can’t devise these morally-correcting schemes in the moment of my own plaguing sin is saddening. Yet, God is graceful in exercising his grace.

Owning Our ‘Me-ness’

And yet, this is me—the sinful me—a ‘me’ I own in the sight of God. This too is representative of all of us in the company of others. None of us can hide our sinful natures.

The Action of Apology

What do sinners do to mark themselves as ‘saved sinners’? They apologise; daily, routinely, cheerfully, humbly, sincerely, authentically, with integrity.

The rubber hits the road in the apology. We apologise for falling short in the estimations of others, ourselves, and of course, God. This, again, is an inevitable and repeatable event—that of falling short.

Perhaps this is one tangible way to ‘be’ Christian; to find the areas of our personal and interpersonal lives where saying sorry is a God-anointed action breaking down gradually all sorts of evil powers and principalities.

Apologies always work best, and correctly, where there is an equally humble and worthy recipient i.e. the apology targets someone we’ve genuinely hurt or is downcast because of us.

This discounts the apology to the person who—in their own vagrant pride—might lord the apology over us; with these, we can still apologise—we just need to be adept at being very focused and discerning in our target and delivery so they don’t jump to the wrong idea. Notwithstanding, if we wrong anyone, a simple and quick apology should be forthcoming.

When we can routinely and instinctually apologise—humbly, sincerely, authentically, and it feels to the other person we’ve actually done same—it’s a good sign we’re on the right track with God in our discipleship.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Writing Our Eulogies Now

The very thought of preparing and presenting a eulogy of a close family member or dear friend is chilling—a thought we don’t generally want to entertain—for it’s associated with their passing.

Instead of waiting until then, however, perhaps we should become adept at writing them on our hearts now, so we can give them our ‘good word’ for them whilst they live.

This, of course, is a ‘thanking’ tradition I’m talking about, but it comes—or is inspired from—wanting to alleviate their burden, never adding to their existing burdens.

Thinking in ‘eulogy-speak’ crowds out the otherwise dissonant voice within about our fellow contemporaries—about the perceptible fact that their presence is adding to our burden.

Which voice will we listen to?

There is only one voice that will inform us, edifying us, in building others up—it is the voice of reasonable thanks and appreciation, lightening the burden of others, which also lightens our own burden—God blessing us in our love action.

It is God’s true voice we should listen to as we consider others equal to ourselves. We all need a good work, and more than occasionally at that.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Present Discomfort – for a Purpose

“And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”

~2 Corinthians 1:7 (NIV).

The image set before us is of two soul-mates, fighting back to back as it were; well, it could be—out of context, certainly, with the predominant Corinthian struggle.

‘Strength to endure’ is quite plainly in view.

Paul’s ideal—shuffling back and forth through this letter, and the last, in the New Testament canon—is to proclaim the way of philo/agape-love; that love that lives for the other, inextricably attached, umbilical-cord-attachment, from the spiritual viewpoint.

One Sharp Divergence

The Corinthian context presents something of a sharp divergence. Some were faithful with Paul—good friends when the tests came to be—but, equally, others were not. Yet it’s not really the present focus; it just had to be said, that’s all.

In Love, We Share—No Matter What

When we have this form of love surging through us we’re by hook or by crook going into to battle—any battle—to the support of that person we love. Our present happiness is nothing in comparison.

Paul is deeply in love with the Corinthians, like all his beloved brothers and sisters, and the churches he founded and supported along his missionary journeys. His heart ached at the divergences he experienced due any dissonance on their part.

Some dissonance, of course, was brought about by Paul for the purpose of tough love to bring about their repentance—it still pained his heart to know of the occasional stubborn pride existent in some; here, at least, with some of the Corinthians.

Still, when we’re committed in fellowship under God we’re a cord of three strands—we’re not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

Reaching Down, Out and Through

We can’t help run after one another. Some of this might be unhealthy but it’s based in the right sort of basic love.

Our spirits are burned and charred as our critical relationships tear. Whilst this is true, so too is the opposite state—the mighty collusion of two or more souls bound together in an earth-ending grief, holding together in both discomfort and eventual comfort, together.

In this we quickly learn we must dip lower beneath the surface of things and get messy with it all—going to whatever lengths are necessary to support the other.

And this is, at once, heaven! Relieved of ourselves we find God in the midst of the others’ torment.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Science of Encouragement

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

~1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV).

We are all ‘gifted’ to encourage—it doesn’t simply fall to the relative few who have the gift of encouragement. This gift is also destined to grow with use. And it doesn’t simply bless others on the receiving end, but us as well. As such, the kindness of encouragement is always requited in the general sense.

Carrying and Passing the Baton

Some indeed have the role of encouraging people and certain efforts during a season—one that comes and then passes. The flow of life is such that we’re all moving on.

Some of the people who used to encourage me in what I do six months ago aren’t there now; some merely came for a season, and any encouragement, however fleeting, is always welcome. As they go on they go on to encourage others who are equally needy of the kindnesses forthcoming, to continue their efforts in an affirmed way.

For these, they carry the baton of encouragement for a while before passing it to others—unknowingly I guess—in their moving on. Yet, they’ll always be a source of encouragement.

It’s these that carry a burden for a person or a situation for a time; a time often that’s difficult to define, God’s Spirit, of course, leading and directing.

Longer Term Encouragers

There are those too who feel called to encourage one single thing or particular things for the longer term, perhaps even indefinitely.

There are those who find innovative ways to encourage—there are at least a few faces of people buzzing about in my mind now that have literally surprised me how they encouraged, and how they continue to encourage.

We all love to be blown away by kindnesses like this.

Note to would-be encouragers: add a unique very-you twist to the manifestation of your encouragements.

Encouragement – With and Without

Those who do not seek to encourage are probably rarely encouraged themselves, and who knows, they mightn’t even need it.

Still, being encouraged—and this takes many forms—is something I think we all need.

Some will be a little more self-reliant or perhaps even stronger of faith, but still, we should never assume that someone doesn’t need to be encouraged. We just never know when our kinds words, offer of help, a lovely gift or some time, or a hug might make a tremendous difference.

We just never know, so indeed, we should just sow.

Thanking our Encouragers

Where would any of us truly be without these angels of God, coming to us in our darker hours plagued with doubt, to simply and gently affirm? Life would certainly be tougher without them.

Perhaps it bodes us well, this minute even, to commend a prayer and a note of thanks and praise for our encouragers—those who’ve seen us through the harder times, and those also who’ve buoyed our abiding spirits when all was well and safe.

Perhaps the best way to thank our encouragers is simply to pass it on; encourage them back and follow their lead, blessing others’ lives, per the movie, Pay It Forward.

Be creative. Be transformational. Inspire and relate.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Love Like Crazy!

“Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does.”

~1 Corinthians 14:1 (Msg).

A quote on a new friend’s Facebook status slapped my face like a wet ten pound fish. Check this out:

“Go to work, tell the truth, overuse the words ‘I love you,’ and never let your praying knees get lazy and... LOVE LIKE CRAZY.”

This is something I don’t do, or don’t nearly do often enough, especially in the workplace—but equally it’s something I should do; we should all do it.

These words, at least for me, effused the sense of joy in our loving that’s uncharacteristic; a joy that has ‘Jesus’ stamped all over it. This is a joy that consistently stands out, bad moods countered for in honesty, the good mood taken further into love for others.

It should be the same in our family situations; everywhere really. But, we can only get to this place when we have other ‘necessary’s’ stowed emotionally and spiritually.

To be prepared to love—and this informs us to pray unceasingly (1 Thessalonians 5:17)—is the golden embroidered cushion, the status of ‘grace in advance.’

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Never the Twain Shall Meet – at Times

“Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat.”

~Rudyard Kipling.

Ignorance and arrogance are funny things really. They polarise protagonists and to a confusing number of vagaries. We all end up in a place like this when tunnel vision has taken over. Over a few hours on a stray Thursday morning we suddenly wonder how we got ‘here,’ the place of division and discord.

Two Locations – Two Destinations

Until we give in we’ll probably find we’ve painted ourselves into a corner.

The moment our stunting pride gives way to the freeing breeze of humility, life is known again, suddenly, and then the relationship has the chance for survival into another day. It really does depend on us. This is the location of truth to the destiny of life.

The other is a place we stay—the darkened, salty creek that meanders again to nowhere. This is the location of the lie—of self-sufficiency toward relational death.


We need to remember that there are people who’ll choose the latter of these locations and destinations no matter what we do, depending on their very whim and situation.

The best we can offer these people, and certainly ourselves, is the contrite acceptance of the person who cannot control much—apart from making the choice to accept all that is beyond the person.

At times in life East is East and West is West and no crossing over that great chasm is possible.

Unity in this way is vastly overrated, for it only takes one party—even one part of that singular party—to not want to come to the party and we have, all of a sudden, the makings of deriding anarchy.

The smallest of sources becomes paradoxically the largest source of concern and, bizarrely, the controlling centre of power. Log aheads don’t shift for want of them who see themselves as the catalyst for inaction and the confounding of any good plan despite the best of intentions from the vast majority party to the dispute.

And at this too, we can only accept the status quo—at least as the necessary jumping off point to aid wherever we want to get to.

Getting to acceptance is the only real chance at leaping successfully this great chasm that’s become.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Delay to Pray

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

~James 1:5 (NIV).

One of my inherent weaknesses—a bane at times really if I’m honest—is that I tend to be very instinctual and don’t often (enough) commit action to prayer beforehand. Call this either a trust of God’s will as divined by the self or, at times, foolishness; certainly it’s both accordant to the time.

This does, however, home into the issue of delaying some action for the benefit of prayer; which is something I also do, just not all the time.

A ‘Judgment’ Call

Only recently I contacted a person regarding some interaction and gave them my view, which I believed was the truth, but I probably didn’t need to—I could have just let it go, a.k.a. grace.

The wiser ‘me’ would have, and certainly with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight I now would have.

Nonetheless, I kicked this ball into play and as a result it saw some conflict evolve—across the oceans, so to speak. Nothing major, but dissonant spirits we were. I’m such a pacifist in many ways and the slightest conflict most times grieves my spirit. So, I was left to lament the action. I can only surmise that the other person was grieving about this issue—and my handling of it—too.

All judgment calls—and we all make them, just some more than others—cannot always be free of error.

Sometimes Delay is Good

This merely reminds me of the value of delaying some things to pray; and those certainly that will involve potential conflict and even contribution to hurt.

Of course, we won’t get everything right.

Sometimes we’ll delay something we need to get onto, for need of ‘prayer,’ and we’ll miss the boat, or our lack of immediate action will actually cause conflicts to swell for lack of what’s termed ‘damage control.’ Alternatively, there’ll be times when we should’ve delayed but we hopped in and it turned pear-shaped because of our boldness for action.

Wisdom is What We Should Pray for

James says we only need to ask it of God—i.e. for wisdom—and he gives it to us freely, abundantly, generously (James 1:5).

Perhaps in the above situations we’re reminded by God’s Spirit that we need to become more adept at praying, “Lord, give me the wisdom to deal with this situation, according to your will.”

This too is a reminder to ensure we do actually pray, for without prayer we’ll often have no idea—and certainly no confirmation of—what the real will of God is.

At these times we might sense the gently wandering Holy Spirit cautioning us to simply wait on the better word; perhaps we’re reminded to be patient as we wait.

When we see relational disasters averted by humble obedience in prayer, and certainly in our patient waiting, we are truly encouraged and indeed overwhelmed by the wisdom and grace of God.

We want more of this, surely.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Action Maps and Courage

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires... courage.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson.

On a recent day I read this and I was backwashed instantly with its encouraging truth.

When we think about it, all of us have God-placed admonishing influences in our lives, and yet, we, by our instinct, will often either listen too much to them and stop doing what we need to do or disregard them in a resenting fashion thinking, “How dare they...!”

Having fallen for both recently enough, I know both of these methods are fraught with their own dangers.

Thorns for our Benefit

People are funny. We bring all kinds of encumbrances upon others due to our very own sought-after or unmet needs. When we interfere with the process, or others interfere with us and our plans, we or they become thorns—but not always bad thorns.

Paul discusses the fact of a ‘messenger of Satan’ that was part of his life; not simply to bring him unending persecution and harm, but for his benefit—that through it he’d be conformed to God’s grace, which is forever sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

God makes good of absolutely everything, in our effective response, eventually.

We Must Always (Attempt) to Come Back to the Truth

I say “attempt” because we’ll often fail, but notwithstanding, the truth should always be our key driver.

The truth is, our responses to negative and critical people are a clue from God—based in self-reflection, if we’re so inclined—as to how closely we’re clinging to truth, or how far we’re drifting from it.

And this truth has nothing whatsoever to do with the other person. It’s about our response and our attitudes at heart as far as God’s concerned.

Forging Ahead

There are times when we know that what we’re doing is right and that it’s for the best; these times, despite thought to the contrary from others—unless they have good guidance or watch-points for us to be wary of—we ought to press on courageously, and certainly with our awareness now piqued. It’s our lives after all.

Despite the thorns—that are there for our necessary benefit to test and mature us—we can go on courageously with our plans, committing them to action, and best provided we align with the truth by taking any interpersonal offense out of it in the process.

Conflict: would life still be as interesting—though nonetheless more peaceful—without it?

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eye Contact

Negotiating the roundabout on a main road near my home, when I’m on my bicycle, is tricky, especially in peak hour traffic. Not only do I need to pick the right lane, and be assertive in my use of arm signals, I have to be careful gauging the intent of the cars and trucks coming toward me.

Eye contact is everything. If I can’t establish eye contact it means they haven’t seen me; I need to then be prepared to take evasive action to protect myself—response and recovery then fill my thoughts of immediacy.

Eye Contact, Socially

It is no different socially. Eye contact is still everything, not so much for our physical safety, but for our relational safety—the cohesiveness of our fellowship and the credibility of our rapport.

A lack of eye contact in conversation is often linked with a few things, perhaps low self esteem, guilt or shame, or for cultural reasons, to name just a few. It is generally considered a negative thing, however, possibly bringing trust into review, and perhaps doubt.

It’s So Easy to Do

Like anything, once we’re aware of the need to change or modify behaviour it becomes easier; we then only need the confidence and courage to act—then to focus a moment at a time to continue on our better way.

The great thing about lots of eye contact is it communicates sincerity, warmth and engagement; relationship outcomes become much better as a result.

And there are many more personal benefits.

Focus today on giving lots of eye contact and you might be surprised at what extra you might also hear and therefore, understand.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Hiding - Impossible in the Game of Life

Do you know, it happens quite regularlyseemingly daily—with me at least. It’s reason to apologise for faux pas’ of pride or a lack, otherwise, of socially situational awareness.

We could inflict a self-condemnatory chastening upon ourselves—and often we do!­—but it’s best to simply accept, we cannot hide the frailties of the heart around here; wherever our ‘around here’s’ are.

They Know Us Only Too Well

Our friends, family, peers, managers, pastors and colleagues know us seemingly back-to-front; and still they love and accept us for who we are... amazing. And in this, they’re mirroring—albeit less perfectly—the love of God.

This reminds us of something very important; something to be inherently aware of:

If we cannot hide from others or God, why do we hide from ourselves?

~And, positively~

Is this an invocation to freedom? Do we, by this fact, simply and humbly accept that we will from time to time, in doing the wrong thing, fall short and embarrass ourselves?

It has happened. It does happen. It will happen... again.

A Solemn, Divine Promise

The golden promise of God, despite this chiding reality, is he will resurrect us each and every time—each moment—we give way to the bout of embarrassment; swapping it for surrender, falling into line with the will and flow of the God of eternity.

This heavenly escape clause involves a ‘cooling off period,’ where we have time to reconcile the losses of pride, to recover our name—but only via humility; to admit we were wrong.

Ironically, the way to purity is going through our now fleeting sin, i.e. our dealing appropriately with it—this with all abandon. A more pure soul is not perfect; they’re just easily and instantaneously conformed to God’s will via good ole fashioned repentance.

They’ve pleasantly developed the habit of obedience.

Declare and Do Not (Self) Delude

Without being fools in the way we do it, we ought to more fully declare our faults and indiscretions, by doing it forthrightly in the moment, and then moving quickly on.

This never seems to detract from our credibility; it only seems to enhance it.

If reparation is full, sincere and accepted we don’t wallow in it one micro-second longer than necessary, either interpersonally or within our inner heart or mind. When we don’t deal with our issues of fault—by denial—we drag out something that is best just simply dealt with.

Smashing our pride, over the coals of humility, through the authenticity of transparency is only momentarily painful—it requires a modicum of courage. Yet, it’s a superior pain to the lingering shame of being forever wrong—which is not our destiny... to remain self condemned.

This is something we’re all abundantly capable of.

Hiding is a hellish way of living life. It has more of death about it than life.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

It’s Not Really About Me (or You)!

“If anything he should be apologising to me, not the other way around!”

~Common Sentiment.

We’ve all been there. They think they’re being victimised and so do we, and never the twain shall meet; not at least with such divergently polar views.

But, life is not really about me getting my own way, nor you.

Life is about mutual success and inclusivity. It’s about joining forces with others to achieve collective objectives. It’s about becoming one with others as God is One.

Next time we have the above ‘common sentiment’ ringing through our minds—the complaint of the heart—we’d do well to remember our rampant pride of self pity is robbing everyone else (including ourselves) of what we all deserve: the good life.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.