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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Remembering to ‘Re-Pack’ the Memory

Isn’t it both interesting and frustrating that certain knowledge – particularly pertaining to people and relationships – evaporates over time. What was once firmly established cannot always be assumed to remain so.

We’re funny creatures us human beings. Get a newsletter in from a contact in business or ministry, perhaps not having heard from them in months and months, and the mind makes all sorts of leaps of assumption. This is because the basis of fact has been rendered void—we’ve plain forget where we left off, including some critical knowledge about their ‘whereabouts’.

There is an opportunity presented here; to recall with consistency one idea. That is to re-pack the memory by actively searching where we left off, before we plunge into ‘re-acquainting’.

In this modern life we can afford this more, for many more of our relationships are managed from long distance via email, social networking and the like. We hence have time to re-acquaint ourselves with necessary information if we’ll only make that a priority. It’s just taking a moment longer in thought, that’s all.

And the Opposite Problem Exists Too

At times we remember too well! We have perhaps remained in that past context, not realising life for them has moved on, as well as it has for us. A classic example is returning to the place of our origin and seeing how much and what has changed. It almost seems unreal, and it catches us by surprise.

We’d do better to prepare our minds in advance that time never stands still and that we’re all moving forward, even those people and places we’ve had hardly a thought about in recent memory.

Accounting for Our Memories

These issues highlight something that we can’t get away from.

Whether we like it or not we’ll be held to account for our lack of or ‘over-efficient’ memories. That is why it would be better for us to keep ourselves to close account before either others feel forced to do it for us, or we get embarrassed via the assumptions we make.

But, regardless, we will inevitably be held to account by others and, in that, we ought to respond in humility no matter how people treat us.

Forgetting, Remembering and Forgiveness

Whether we find ourselves forgetting things or remembering too much, imbalances are forgivable. Some of us are ‘blessed’ with the penchant for one or the other, and most of us on occasion both.

The key plan of life is simply to adapt to the reality we find ourselves in... and this is ostensibly about accepting ourselves in that.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tender Love and Tough Love

Whether it’s walking in someone else’s moccasins or insisting on truth in relationships, we can know there is a time for both if the relationship is real.

Trust is a huge contingency in all successful relationships.

As we relate with people—loved ones, fellows, colleagues and peers—it is only a matter of time before the smoothed words and faked smiles bridge the chasm of authenticity... then, can the relationship survive the impending conflict? Trust, as has been mentioned, is the key.

We cannot enjoy the saliency of tender love without enduring, first, the agency of tough love.

In more plain terms, if the relationship cannot get past the awkward truths that threaten to stifle it, it cannot enjoy the flourishing trust and respect that necessarily profits from the fire of genuine rapport.

So, tough love comes first. Well... first inauthentic love – then trust-issued conflict veiled as tough love – then, conditional on humble reception, tender love as a result of tough love.

We can know the true sense of ‘brothers and sisters in arms’ type of love only after enduring the darkest days that awaken the dawn.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

This article was inspired by Bill Hybels’ book, Who You Are When No One’s Looking (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1987), pp. 57-79.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why Should It Bother Me?

There are many little moments in this life that take us by ransom. Before we’ve actually realised, we’re there; in out-of-control land. And suddenly we have more to deal with than we reckoned possible.

This is one thing we don’t ever count on when we decide to get upset, disappointed, angry, hurt... emotional for a cause. In that flash we surrender to the idea to become involved—whether for personal, interpersonal or values-based reasons—and at the very same time we surrender our emotional control and through the vortex of irrationality we go.

It needn’t bother us so. We can still stand up and be counted on these issues without throwing our emotional control out the window.

Some Things are Bound to Upset Us

There are things in life that we’re supposed to be upset by. These are the things we’ll grieve, including the loss of loved ones, important relationships, and some missed opportunities, for instance. It is innate, and appropriate, for us to feel these ways. If we didn’t grieve we’d be set for a path of inner destruction, for grieving is but a process or manner of adjusting to new life circumstances.

Notwithstanding circumstances of genuine grief—and these truly occur more than we realise, most often on smaller scales—getting upset by things can only diminish our capacity to live this life effectively.

The Balance in Mature Perspective

We will probably already know that we are so uniquely ‘wired’ in this life that even our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers are poles different in response to many life things than we are. And if family members are different like this, what makes us think other people will think, react or respond like we will?

Flip this thinking on its head. Try enjoying the thought that you are the respondent, and to something totally beyond your values or belief-set—even something abhorrent to you. In a moment you’re all in a tizz... and the person or issue you’re upset with often doesn’t even know!

They and we are different people. That’s all. They might even feel abhorrent about something we’d decide is a good thing. Morality and reason, for people, are not defined absolutes.

Agreeing to Disagree

We’re not called to agree with everyone in this life, but one thing we’re called toward is the maturity of attitude in the context of living with other people.

This is the state of agreeing to disagree. This is not about disagreeing so much verbally with people or issues, it’s more having the stance of holding divergent ideas in mind and heart and these often at great tension with each other. Still, we can value them as human beings loved by God.

What we’re really talking about is acceptance.

A Salient Example from Childhood

To leave off on this is perhaps our best way. I recall giving my kids permission—and even encouraged them to this end—to cry when they were genuinely hurt, physically or emotionally. But children often cry and develop tantrums from not getting their own way.

This latter thing is my point. What truly do we get upset over?

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Surrendering the Seasons

“For everything there is a season... a time to break down, and a time to build up... a time to keep silence, a time to speak... a time to seek, a time to lose.”

~Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 3b, 7b, 6a (NRSV).

Sometimes we resist change and sometimes we don’t.

We fear enforced change, not understanding that change—almost any personal change—is inherently blessed, and blessed we are to be gentling with it (the best way we can).

Life is seasonal in nature. We have patterns of activity and relative inactivity that fix themselves in us for a time—perhaps a couple of months—and then we just as easily do some things different or differently. Yet, we can very easily be fooled in that mini-season that this is ‘us’—the be all and end all. We then begin to fret at the mere notion of change—often only thought-about change—as if change is going to require us to come to it with our arms crossed behind our backs and yelping for mercy.

One Wisdom – That of Surrender

It is obviously a key wisdom to know when and when not to surrender; but that knowing surrender is the ultimate, eventually.

There are perhaps changes in your workplace. It’s been decided and you’re part of it. It’s the end of one season for you and the beginning of another. Taken as a conscriptee or a prisoner-of-war? The former has surrendered not to the enemy but to the circumstance, deciding to run with the flow that is beyond itself. The latter kicks against the pricks, and does so for little or no benefit. It fights something that cannot be fought with. There is no sense to it. This latter person cannot deal with their newfound truth.

As we age and grow gracefully through our years we will have grand opportunities at the letting go of many precious things.

Our ever-growing wisdom—the tempering of the years to the assuaging of the heart—commends us for heeding what our lives are surely telling us. Many things might be becoming strictly beyond us.

How well are we surrendering those very dear things that are swiftly becoming no longer ours?

Finding Peace in Release

It is true that whatever holds us captive in this life—and there are so many things, good and not-so-good—keeps us captive.

The less kept we are to even the most minute thing, the better off we are to not only ourselves, but our families, our employers and our communities.

Seen that way it’s almost a moral responsibility to find peace in release.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

The Purpose-Vested Life

“I feel that you are justified in looking into the future with true assurance, because you have a mode of living in which we find the joy of life and the joy of work harmoniously combined.”

~Albert Einstein.

There really is an enticingly inspirational wisdom to this quote above of Einstein’s.

In the following poem I’m trying to capture in words the alluring sense of innate satisfaction that is beyond the self, when the self is sown wonderfully deep into his or her purpose—and lost (in the biblical sense of Mark 8:35) to that love.


Swung home to purpose,

And scarcely made aware,

Meaning about it lurks us,

Bounds us now to stare.

Joy’s beset our golden spot,

Until now confused,

Why is this so good our lot,

Why not battered and bruised?

Something so wonderful,

Yet hard to understand,

Protects does this from a fall,

Feet grounded to the land.

So that now we’ve become,

Bigger to our cause,

No longer are we partially numb,

It’s like we’ve changed the laws.


This is how we feel when we’ve come home to our cherished purpose. Everything else pales into insignificance for at last we have context for meaning. It really does feel that we’ve actually changed the laws to suit our needs. The fact is we’re only now starting to live by the laws of wisdom that have always existed. Alignment to these is now more or less ours.

Sometimes, as we look back, we can find we’ve arrived at this place rather serendipitously. We didn’t intend on getting so much out of this. It just evolved.

The Inherent Value of Loved Work

One of the key themes of Ecclesiastes is work: enjoying it; finding fulfilment in it; the meaning of it (see Ecclesiastes 2:24; 3:22; 5:19 and 8:15). There is hardly a better combination than finding purpose in work and, in that, resting—in the spoil of the resultant thoughts. Work feeds our senses of satisfaction.

Work is rather a suitable distraction from an oft-confusing life that will have us belching in despair without it and the meaning it provides.

The greatest challenge, then, is to find work or a passion that we can absolutely fall in love with. Then we are gifted from God with something that nobody else could ever give us. God has this thing (or things) for each one of us.

That is joy for the future for what is invested now is sure to bring us handsome dividends—both tangible for us to enjoy and intangible for others to enjoy, and if a legacy, even the better.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Love Begins Again – Via Acts of Intimacy

Being ‘in love’ is not the same as that ‘act’ of love, which is something that bears itself positively over the moment. This is the toughest challenge for any couple; each day and moment a fresh beginning of love via acts of intimacy.

Occurring predictably as a selfless act, joining to itself with other selfless acts, it is faithful, is love—the action. We’re reminded serially; this love bite never infects us sufficiently that are summarily won to it. We so often fail love—to act in love.

Love, the act, is simple and plain,

Controlling it however makes us staid,

Beyond us it seems our life’s gain,

Love does elude at times to raid.

Love comes and goes and then it returns,

Why it does this only God knows,

Whilst it’s here with passion the heart burns,

Somehow in it our love grows.

Love begins again as if but to start,

It travels in kindness and gathers in pace,

Reminding us now we’re not apart,

Each other together again running life’s race.

Love is intimacy, parallel and true,

The gate of which is in good state,

Trustworthy, reliant beyond the blue,

However we are good is our mate.


The act of love is brilliance, securing devotees left, right and centre. We glimpse this as we get it right, for often we’re failing, which is but a reminder from the Spirit which owns this thing that we’re not ‘there’ yet. It’s a safe, productive reminder.

A Charter of Intent

The growth of relational love occurs necessarily slowly. Like organisational culture changes, changes-at-love occur at a rate hardly visible. We scarcely fall for the trick, then, to place inordinate pressure on ourselves or our partners. Patience ushers and nurtures love.

Intent: it’s all about intent.

The Cradle of Intimacy

Does anything build or characterise intimacy better than the simple well-meant act of love? And it’s intimacy that finds its home most of all in love... intimacy of trust, of comfort, of faithfulness and unity. Of the triangle of love (passion, intimacy and commitment) it is perhaps intimacy that buoys love most reliably, gentling its presence warmly.

The cradle of intimacy is the proactive way of assuring relationships beyond the strains that assert themselves over the haggard seasons many couples and partnerships endure generally.

This one quality of love is best at ensuring that our ‘re-beginnings of love’ are not so sharply felt; that there’s a smooth flow of love resplendent through all the relationship’s days.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

God’s Social Justice Stream – Being a Signee

“God is personal but never private. God knows everything about us and wants a relationship anyway. Why? To sign us up for his purposes in the world. I didn’t hear that as a kid. I heard about me and the Lord, not about God’s purpose for the world.”

~Jim Wallis.

Is it the church’s role to get involved in healing the world’s ills? Is that what Christ came for? The Christian-mission-minded person would say, “Yes,” undeniably. We cannot be here and not feel drawn toward the idea of responding to how our hearts feel led... and surely this extends—in radically loving ways—to involvement at the level of the church.

The stream of thought—a program really—is radical for some but it’s the way the church should be. Church should not just be about singing worship songs, listening to sermons and swilling coffee afterwards.

God’s Inherent Concern

It shouldn’t surprise us that the heart of God is intrinsically connected to his creation.

It is because this creation of God’s groans through this very age (Romans 8:22) on the backdrop of eternity that God is most intimately connected and concerned. We’re apt to think God’s strangely silent to world affairs—to a broader sense of care; we forget the flood came and coming fire comes by God’s plain yet eternal Word (2 Peter 3:3-7). This Word of God sees all (Hebrews 4:12-13) and will judge all. Nothing will escape God’s attention, ever, concerning deeds done and not done in this world... to the extension of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

Morphing Perceptions of the Great Commission

Could it just be that the Great Commission—to “make disciples of all nations”—is programmatic for the mission of the church? In other words, was it perhaps Jesus’ fundamental design that evangelising Christians might convert a world in Jesus’ name via the works of compassionate missional love that we see all too rarely—on a major scale—come from within the church?

Imagine the power for change if entire believing nations would join forces for good beyond their own borders.

But this idea creates problems. It begins to involve the State.

The State in our world has the role of coordinating such efforts, presumably, and we know that Church and State—as two organisational entities—don’t fit that well together. They share divergent ideologies and, therefore, neither trusts the other sufficiently to join forces in any lasting way.

This is where inter-faith groups have more of a role, yet that potentially dilutes the actual mission for Christ in the purist’s eyes. And, still, so much power for good can be done. Inter-faith groups have much more credibility with the State in that they don’t have a particular religious agenda to push.

We believe the gospel is compelling, and yet how much more visible is the gospel (the one ‘preached’ with loving acts of national aid and not sermons) in the hands of social entrepreneurs with a pastoral heart? This is surely the church with a conscience approaching the State’s.

God Both Personal and National/International

The Bible presents us with a God who’s intrinsically personal, yet also fundamentally national and international—a God who is no respecter of one person or nation over another.

God and church are connected. Church is therefore, we can see, purposed in the program of the entire world and any and every problem beset of or by it. In this, the powerful truth of the gospel—to the end of God’s love—is best heard, i.e. it hits where it is most needed.

Our challenge both personally and familiarly (within the church) is to be a signee to this, perhaps the most inherent of God’s purposes.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Anger and Patience – Two Divergent Poles

Clang goes the dishes into their cupboards, “huff” grates the person crashing them away, and slam goes their door when the job’s complete; out they go! It’s a familiar but embarrassing story that we all identify with. Without notice, we all become typhoons without cause. We are vaguely conscious how illogical we’re being.

~Stepping Outside this Situation~

What is it standing on the other side of the room? We see it faintly and must move closer... wait... it looks like Patience. And so it is!

Anger and patience span the known world. They look apart from, and cannot understand each other. Each has logic that seems weirdly incongruent to the other.

Such is life as it appears.

Achieving Patience

There appears no shortcut to patience, but just to know it’s the opposite reality to sinful anger gives us the motive to grow it.

How will we know we’ve arrived at patience?

In the midst of trial and chaos we will be found smiling; not with gritted teeth, but a genuine smile of joy to know that this too shall pass as all trials do.

This smile knows somehow the power of victory to remain resilient. It doesn’t lose hope.

Smiling, from without or within, and both it seems, is our patience key performance indicator... that, with God, we’re winning this battle against our anger.

Patience – the Perfect Retribution for Anger

Anger is a corrosive element destroying many things; it is patience that gets us achieving what was once impossible. Even for those of us that rarely ‘blow up,’ perhaps holding onto our anger, which only corrodes our insides, patience is a beautiful blessing of God to bestow on ourselves.

Patience has a way of getting anger back—the best way possible. It gets anger back by making friends with it, and not for one moment presenting a threat. Patience calms anger, conforming it into itself through understanding.

Understanding is always the key.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Enhancing Relationship Trust – ‘Removing the Hypotenuse’

Triangles and relationships don’t mix. Regarding trust, where two’s pleasant company, three’s definitely a hindering crowd.

It happens in every sphere of living involvement to the farthest corner of the globe. It hinders and even destroys relationships more than we often care to realise.

This thing is triangulation in relationships, where one person’s problem with another person is ‘shared’ with a third person without the person with the problem knowing about it. When the third person then talks with the person who’s apparently got the problem, that person feels betrayed by the person who went behind their back to speak with the third person. As a consequence trust is diminished.

The Role of Trigonometry

The three sides to the common triangle in trigonometry are named the opposite, adjacent and hypotenuse sides. The opposite and adjacent sides are presumably like brothers or sisters whereas the hypotenuse is like the parent—or in this case, the third person.

In trigonometry, the hypotenuse is the function of both the other two; it’s bigger. And when we add a hypotenuse to our relational situations we get something bigger alright; usually a bigger problem. We start to involve a sense of innuendo, and trust between the first two flies out the window, no matter how well the ‘hypotenuse’ role manages the tension created.

Unlike trigonometry, relationships are best designed without this third more supervisory side.

Techniques in Two-Sided Conflict Resolution

There’s nothing wrong with having someone in an observer or arbiter role. It’s just best that the two that have the problem—or one with the other—can ‘battle’ it out together in the same room, so a productive resolution can possibly be achieved.

We best have the conversation, forgetting email and conference calls and the like. Trust is actually enhanced when we have the courage to say what we think and feel in a safe environment. In this we’re trusting the other person with hard information and trusting that they’ll have a response that won’t hurt us. This environment is also very likely to lead to a restrained version of each protagonist in any event.

Moral Courage – The Missing Link

The courage to confront people on issues is never easy but it does become easier with successful practice.

It’s always best, wherever possible, that two with a problem can fix it themselves without help. This often takes a great amount of restraint and courage—both adding up to form maturity—from both.

But, certainly, where things are too strained for one or both it will involve even more courage—and certainly wisdom—to get someone else involved in the face-to-face encounter, because both are now placing at least part of their hopes for recognition of ‘their side’ in another person. This third person is likely to command much influence whilst they maintain their credibility with the protagonists.

Courage is the only way we navigate through our relational problems; otherwise, it’s too easy to let bygones by bygones, and much less resolution or healing takes place there, particularly with unforgiving people bent on grudges.

And added to this is possibly the most important facet of courage.

This is the humility of self-courage to look at our own faults squarely and admit them—for our part—when we’ve got it wrong. Two people do that and resolution suddenly materialises.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wise and Vital Compromises

In order for two to become one there must be dual commitment early on and – give or take – all the way through.

It occurred to me recently that for at least some people who might continue through life on a trajectory of singleness, there could be the hint of insufficient compromise to make a relationship with a particular person commence. This is not about those who’d be desperate to give any reasonable relational compromise a try.

There is a sharp difference between not entering into an unwise partnering and simply not taking up the cudgels related to reasonable, or unselfish, compromise.

Compromise is necessary in relationships; to allow them to commence, develop and continue.

The Difference Between Success and Failure

For many who’ve long sought a relationship there might be times of sad reflection for that moment in time, where we chose one path, and there are recurrent thoughts of “what might have been” had a different decision been made. I think we’ve all been there. It’s certainly true for myself.

Of course, we’ve known the opposite reality also; that we are so thankful for the wise choices we did make.

Success does, however, require some level of compromise, and we do it in faith, in the hope that that action of trust we sent their way might be returned.

Two As One

It would be hard to imagine the biblical image of marriage—that of a “one flesh” reality (see Genesis 2:24)—or more extraneously, for any partnership—to operate with any real and lasting effect with the compromise going more one way than the other.

But relationships seesaw, don’t they? Things are hardly ever perfectly balanced.

But, then again, compromises, relationally-speaking, are acts of faith, and faith when it’s good is based in love. A love-held faith knows no end. It keeps trying and doesn’t get despondent. By virtue of this victorious reality, then, faith holds sway in the compromise, and godly influence is very often foisted over the relationship. Blessing is often the outcome.

This sort of compromise attends gracefully to the ebb and flow known to all relationships.

Compromises – Initial and Lasting

The key point is some compromises—however small they appear at the time—have significant and lasting consequences. We always need to be willing to bend to another person if we feel our future might be assured in their presence.

This, however, involves quite a copious portion of wisdom to separate out the rare wheat from the very common-place chaff in the field of candidates.

Lasting compromise is very simply the work of humility of character in each partner—and that, over the long haul.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Still Battling for Recognition?

“There are some callings which gain universal esteem, while others more important are without credit. The former, pursued before the eyes of all, obtain the universal favour; the others, though they are rarer and more valuable, remain obscure and unperceived, honoured but never applauded.”

~Balthasar Gracian, Aphorism #67, Prefer Callings “En Evidence”.

Everyone craves recognition.

Here we analyse the topic of feelings of a lack of recognition. It is the remarkable truth that we’d often rather believe in, and want to covet, another person’s truth as it pertains “fitted” to our lives—via the way of making, at times, foolish comparisons—than deal with a truth closer to home i.e. our own recognition.

In this our envy grows. Everyone is susceptible.

Recognition is best understood in terms of actual evidence—to the almost absolute disregard of feelings, for we’ll all feel inadequately compensated, and at times, quite often. The truth is we’re probably just feeling inadequate—mostly at levels below our conscious awareness.

‘Facilitated’ Recognition

There is an art that some draw upon, yet others leave by the wayside. This art is simply the facilitation of our own self-recognition. This is an easy thing to learn and do and it can help enormously to prevent the disruptions we’ll undergo due to myriad form of discouragement from a lack of notice.

This is simply about taking more notice of the things we’re involved in, reflecting over our goals, what we’re learning, and our results compared to our goals. It also pays to ensure our goals are personally relevant and achievable. It’s choosing to be a little more introspective. There’s nothing quite like taking the time to do this.

When we do this we remain buoyant in that we’re using what we can control—our own feedback, recognition and wellbeing—to limit what we cannot control, which is the perceptions of others as far as we’re personally concerned.


We have to admit that we will probably only at times be recognised to the level we feel we deserve. Indeed, sometimes we’ll get flatly no recognition. This is the nature of life. It’s the same for everyone, although it often feels like we’re the only ones being unfairly segregated for the cold shoulder.

We cannot do anything about how others perceive our contributions or intent.

What we can do something about, however, is to stave off any distractible feelings we’ll have as a result of a lack of recognition. This we can most effectively do by way of recognising ourselves.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Charity the Virtue - Out of the Heart into the Hand

“Charity is a virtue of the heart, and not of the hands.”

~Joseph Addison.

All the giving of the world comes to nought if it’s not from the heart that wishes to give. It’s the heart which owns abundance, not the hand.

As charity—or otherwise, love—begins at home, so it does commence from our innermost being. Charity cannot authentically come from extrinsic bases.

And though it happens it’s never something that truly occurs extrinsically. It can never be the hand that designs the acts of love, although the hand in faith expresses the desire to love and does complete the feat. Hands, then, are just as important—they just come in further on down the track; more rightly as an output of heartfelt action.


There are all sorts of well-meaning turns of phrase around the humble coffee being our faithful “heart-starter” of a morning—that little shoot of caffeine bringing us more consciously awake.

Charity, however, is the real heart-starter, for our hearts will not be further engaged—and indeed fuelled for the day ahead—without thought of charity. It is, therefore, a key ingredient in our living joyfully and spritely.

Let our hearts always inform our hands. May the hands faithfully serve the heart... for the hand that does not serve has a compunctious heart to blame for that, hiding deep and behind it all.

The Source of All Motivation

The heart is central to the flow of our being. It begins and ends there; the heart even informing the mind how it’s to think (despite better conscience).

But we just as easily address our estranged hearts by investing much good and virtuous thought and prayer—the power of the mind—to redress heart deficiencies... and we all have them.

Our objective, then, is to identify where we lack motive for God’s best for us—as mostly it pertains to others also—and to work on improving those matters at no better a level than at the core—our hearts.

This is very much about always asking very honestly, “Why?” Why do we do bad things or things that feel bad? And how well or acutely are our consciences piqued?

The heart must always be the target of our keenest growth.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.