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

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trusting the Law of Reciprocity

Major degrees of faith rely on trusting the law of reciprocity.

Commonly known as ‘what comes around, goes around’, the law of reciprocity suggests humanity returns like for like. But if we are to use it for good we need faith.

Just a few simple examples:

Someone treats us badly and we respond as we should – well, in this case – but then they continue to treat us badly; we take the law into our own hands and soon we are treating them badly. We have reached down and have declined to their standard.

Someone who we are colleagues with, who we greet every morning with a genteel “hello,” sometimes returns the greeting, but often they fob us off. We get to thinking, “It isn’t good enough; how disrespectful!” So we stop greeting them as a kind person would.

Someone is doing poorly and we decide to give them a gift to encourage them, but we don’t receive what we expect in return; a ‘thank you’. What will we do?


For the person who treats us badly, and they continue to do so notwithstanding our treating them with respect, can only improve their response to us if we continue to treat them with respect. Trusting the law of reciprocity – which is to acknowledge that people will return like for like – means we have faith that ultimately our overtures of respect might turn into their eventual respecting of us.

For the person who occasionally doesn’t respond to our greeting, again, we are advised to keep greeting them in grace. Trusting the law of reciprocity is holding out faith they will see our grace – given of God – and respond in turn. For, what do we prove when we trust this law of reciprocity? We prove our kindness is from God – that it is genuine.

And then we finally come to the gift that is given, yet not received with gratitude. This is a lesson in expectations; we have given a gift, yet we have expected to receive. Whatever is not received with gratitude on their part still requires grace on our part. Indeed, we might rise up above the ego and surrender the ego to God; the Lord will see that we are blessed.


Trusting the law of reciprocity is the extension of faith in the flow of life. Reciprocity says we receive like for like. If we keep being compassionate, kind, patient, and generous we will ultimately receive that which we are giving.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dignifying the Integrity of Our Communication

What game of gossip
Has the disciple of Jesus
To play?
All powers in heaven
Give them what
They are to say.
Resisting their flesh
Their pride and lack
The good Lord, Holy Spirit
Gives them their tact.
Hardly a more important sign of our emotional intelligence is our ability to read gossip for what it is and to refuse to partake. Gossip is a chief character test. And there are tests every single day. Be awake to them.
Let us not become won to a deception; the opportunity is to grow in understanding and awareness, so we might more instinctively respond in tactful ways. The world needs more tact, more maturity, more patience, and more enduring love. And we are the ones, who’ve had the light of truth shone on us, who can respond as we know is best for all.
Sustaining the integrity of our communication is a dignifying practice.
It dignifies the people we interact with and, thereby, it dignifies us; less often are we treated in an undignifying fashion, not to mention the incidence of the infilling of God’s Spiritual blessing for having glorified the Lord, in and through our interactions.
Refusing to be party to gossip
Is refusing to be part of the problem
If we won’t be part of the solution.
Gossip, or talking about others behind their backs, is an inherent part of relational life, because we are all damaged goods, needing constant healing of the Master. Sure, our integrity may be so that we have been trained by the Holy Spirit to resist the temptation to engage in gossip, but we will – more or less – be constantly exposed to ‘children talking out of school’. Sadly, it’s just as prevalent in the church as anywhere else.
Some Facts to Get Our Heads Around – and to Accept
One harsh truth we all need to confess is we have all been children talking out of school. We have all had needs unmet deeper beneath which we have usurped in gossip – in an attempt to make us feel better or to shore up an unsteady position.
When we consider this truth is true for us, how are we then to respond to others who engage? Our response is grace – they are neither better nor worse than we are. We can afford to extend to them understanding, even in the hurt we experience. The Holy Spirit affords the splitting of emotions such that we are able to wrestle with the hurt whilst we spare their dignity by not firing another poisonous dart back at them.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Okay, Just How Do I Pray for My ‘Enemy’?

Presuming we know the score – that Sermon on the Mount imperative of Jesus’ to love our enemies – we will have struggled to accomplish it. Is it a sadistic thing or not? Is it an unattainable thing? Even if we can achieve it, will it be worth the sacrifice of ourselves?

No, it isn’t a sadistic thing or an unattainable thing from a Christian viewpoint; or, better put, not from God’s angle on things. And, yes, it’s worth it. But it’s never easy to forgive an enemy from a human angle on things! (If anyone were to say forgiveness is easy, then, at least from their human angle on things, they’d probably be lying... hardly a godly attribute. Too many people are challenged to pretend they know it all and have it all so far as the kingdom of God is concerned. But those genuinely content in the Kingdom can relax and be as they are; there is nothing left to prove and nothing left to gain.)

Our ‘enemies’ are anyone we have struggled to love – yes, that Christian imperative again! It’s not truly about how we are treated; it’s more about the focus from us on how we are treating them. Again, it’s much easier contemplated than actually achieved.

God is not asking us to do anything we can’t do, or anything that will be bad for us. Indeed, in faith, we will reap something for our overtures of trust in God, by loving those we’ve long struggled with; or at least to gain a grip over our fear for these encounters. Often that’s enough. Most would settle for that outcome.

Could it be that these people struggle also with us – could it be a two-way street? Be honest. We could resolve to make life easier for the both of us, and work on the only person we can change – that’s us. Surely we are not too conceited to see that we, as individuals, have our own faults.

From God’s viewpoint, there is little interest in the dynamics of who is right and who is wrong. All God wants to see from both parties – or at least one party – is that there is the genuine commitment to love and to keep loving.

Love is a commitment to keep loving and to endure and not give up.


Praying for those who we feel are against us is made easier to know that God works in our own hearts when we pray. We are the only ones that we can affect. When we ask God to help us, it’s about asking him to help us to change where we can; to become more tolerant and understanding and compassionate. It’s amazing what God is prepared to do when we truly seek his will.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Spiritual Dimension In the Mentoring Relationship

Spiritual work is the best work between two friends: a mentor and one being mentored.
Recently I mentioned to a young man I’m in a mentoring relationship with that he was ‘larger than life’, and to give him credit, he was pondering what that actually meant.
Later we ‘spoke’ over social media messaging, as he wanted to acknowledge that perhaps God was doing this work in him. This is what I said:
It’s good that the Holy Spirit is working in you, Tom (not his real name), to bring to the surface those things you reflect on in your unconscious mind. That’s the first thing. The second thing is this: ‘Larger than life’ is God’s joy working through you as you interact with others. The more you are yourself – your honest self – the more joy – the larger than life you will be. This is but a taste of what is to come... interestingly, I don’t see being larger than life as a showy thing... more of a ‘I want to pour all of myself into the moment – to give you all of me...’ if that makes sense...
As I re-read the words Tom had sent me and as I reflected over what I’d responded with I was amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit to break into a person’s psyche to cause deeper reflection, and what the communication of that reflection does as we journey together.
That is, of a poignant sense, what is happening as we develop meaning together in the spiritual dimensions drawn out of the mentoring relationship. It’s special in that the Holy Spirit is working in both people and between both people. There are those three visible dynamics at play. The mentoring relationship is thereby a meaning-making exercise. And the two protagonists in the mentoring relationship aren’t the only ones in play – the Holy Spirit, again, works in both and between both.
The dimension of learning far extends past the space that the two share in the encounter. Indeed, the Holy Spirit has already mandated those encounters between himself and the person with whom he’s working in – those minutes or months away.
So the Holy Spirit’s divine intervention, as he breaks through into the realm of our thought, is revelation, and, in that, the power of the living God, for which we can praise the Lord.
The mentoring relationship in the Christian setting is enhanced by the role the Holy Spirit plays in each person and between each person. Such a mentoring relationship is a dynamic working relationship that superintends learning.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fighting in Love for the Indefensible

BABY-BASHING is probably not a new phenomenon, notwithstanding its abhorrence, but there are a rash of videos being cast over the internet these days, and when they autoplay we are captive to a traumatic viewing. Just think how traumatic it is for the poor little boy or girl who is suffering the abuse.
No wonder there are so many damaged people around
When you see babies and children abused and neglected
In videos on Facebook, even on autostart
Who could watch and not be affected?
We never know when we encounter ‘bad’ people
Just what on earth as it is hell
They’ve been through,
So let us give them the benefit of our love
To love them ever so true!
The phenomenon is ghastly and it makes us sick. These babies and small children will grow up one day and they will be damaged beyond repair many of them. There is also the incidence of children who propagate the violence because they, themselves, have been or are violated. Not in all cases, but certainly in some.
Watching abuse – like watching pornography – is not good for the mind, so it is not good to watch these videos. But we ought not to pretend it doesn’t happen, for it does. It happens too much.
Every human being has a role in righteous justice to protect those weaker than themselves. If we neglect these responsibilities which are opportunities, also, we will only harm ourselves, not to mention them.
The main trouble with small children who are mistreated is the damage done to them, not to mention much the cruelty of the act itself.
The indefensible need an advocate and that is your role and mine.
The person who is stumbling needs a person who will give them a hand.
The little one is Jesus, and the little one is broken beyond redemption if we don’t do something about it – everything within our power and control. This is not to make us feel guilty or guiltier than we should. But we do need to ensure we protect life the best we possibly can.
All babies deserve the highest love, but too many receive the harshest treatment. All we can do is love those God has given us, but we can also defend those in our field of influence who are being abused. Abuse against children should never be tolerated.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Accepting Your Attachment Style

Attachment is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space.
— Ainsworth, 1973; Bowlby, 1969
We have all been deeply affected by our caregivers. They ‘met’ us, deserted us, catered for us, mollycoddled us, or they abused us – among the many nuances of care that was provided us. We are today, largely, what was set in train back then. Like the personality, which was formed almost as originally as in our DNA, our security in life was preset, as in a set ‘n’ forget function, way back when.
Not that we can’t change things now through therapy.
But we must first learn to accept who we are; what has made us who we have become; the dye in the wool of our very formation as psychological beings. We must reach acceptance, first.
And we need to forgive our parents for their brokenness – they parented us with everything they had to give. For some it wasn’t much; for others, violence; for others, again, it was a sense of love as we would commonly see it. Our parents, in the general sense, did the best they could. And we as parents know what a challenge to our flesh and our own brokenness it is to bring up children.
Once we have accepted the role and the effect of our parent’s care-giving, then we are ready to work with what is.
Are you anxious as a person? Are you anything but anxious, but people see you as distant and uncaring? Are you confused about life not knowing whether to love or hate those who love you – wondering constantly whether their motives are pure or not? Do you simply praise God for who you are and for how you’ve been raised?
It’s all about attachment.
Attachment – how you found yourself attached to your primary attachment figures – determines largely how secure you feel in your world. Thankfully, as adults, we can transcend the strains of attachment in our development that could potentially hold us back.
Healthy adult attachment is often depicted in the health and vitality in our most intimate relationship – with our spouse if we are married. If there is intimacy, trust, transparency, and functionality in our marriages it’s because we have worked through the problems in our attachment as children.
The best of life is a secure life; a secure base from which to relate with others in love, where we don’t hurt people. What comes first is accepting who we are from how we were raised. Don’t miss this first, vital step.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What Shopping Can Reveal About Marriage

Shopping with my wife, Sarah, and looking at footwear, the following conversation took place:
Me: What about these Ugg boots?
Sarah: Nah, they’d make your feet sweat.
Me: Oh yeah, you’re so right. You know my feet.
She knew, somehow, that woollen lined boots would make my feet feel hot even in winter. She knew before I had realised it, but as she said what she said I had the immediate recognition that she was right. Amazingly, she knew me. Such comfort was ushered through me as I thankfully shopped with my wife. What Sarah didn’t know was how much my soul was brimming and alive in her that day – as God shone his mighty revelation in me through this little and typically insignificant marital encounter.
Shopping tells us a lot about our marriages. Shopping is indicative and predictive of the amount we know about each other. As marriage partners there are venues and situations and avenues of knowledge that marriage reveals. And this is for confidence – that our partnering together isn’t a waste. We invest so much of ourselves in marriage; it is just so nice to see the fruit ripen in accordance with God’s promises.
Marriage is wonderful in that we can so know our spouse as to know them instinctively. This is the oneness in marriage that we signed up for. It’s “me into you and you into me,” in such a way as to merge into the oneness of the other. We want to vanish into our partner and to become them in some ways – to lose nothing of our individuality, but to gain everything of them.
It is “your needs are my needs – and to know your needs fulfils my needs” and marriage is the unification of two souls who are made better and more functional as individuals.
And that is it. The best of marriage – the unification with the sanctifying of both individual such that they are made better individuals – is manifested in the knowledge of one in the other and vice versa; proof of oneness is knowledge and implicit acceptance of the other.
One of the great blessings of marriage is to know our spouse – to know them back to front with confidence, acceptance and safety. It is beautiful to be known so intimately and thereby be loved.
Marriage marries minds, hearts and souls in a fusion of devotion; one to another and reciprocated.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Is There a Way To Be Thankful In the Struggle?

How often we forget and lose

When we strive and struggle with the blues,

We lose out on life because our hope

Is reliant too much on our own strength to cope.

But it is good for us to be troubled

And this is no sadistic teaching

So look up when trials are doubled

We are blessed in our very reaching!

“It is good for us to have trials and troubles at times, for they remind us that we are on probation and ought not to hope in worldly things.”

— Thomas à Kempis (1380–1471)

YES. Yes is the short answer to the question, “Is there a way to be thankful in the struggle?” But this knowledge is conditional on at least two things. Firstly, we are not thankful for the struggle – just in it – for that would be sadistic teaching (to be thankful for something that is hard. Some people in some circumstances are able to be thankful, especially months or years after the threat has passed. But not for all or in all circumstances. But we can be thankful that we carry about us the very Presence of God in the struggle.) The second condition is so simple we could easily miss it.

It relies heavily on the word, “probation.”

Yes, we, Christians of the saved to the Kingdom of Heaven kind, (for there is no other sort of Christian), are on probation. We gallivant around in a world free, having served our sentence, or, more appropriately, having been pardoned of our crimes. But our gallivanting is curtailed, in that we are often called to suffer without the worldly ‘coping mechanisms’ those of the world have access to (those that give them no solace, mind you).

Our trials and troubles ought to drive us into the heart of God who can console us in our afflictions with the consolation that only God can give.

We also ought to know that this is the only way we can live the authentic Christian life, for we are not living the Christian life when we resist those pains we ought to endure.

Our trials and troubles will remind us that we are forgiven and need not venture into anarchy against the Lord God Almighty. We must do better than that. And by doing better we simply resist the default of the flesh to wriggle out of difficulty. We endure it the best we can, albeit imperfectly.

Difficulty can be endured.


As we wrestle with the ignominy of trials and troubles we can endure them. We can. And when we do, we find we are responding to our trials and troubles absolutely in accord with how we are encouraged to. Blessing is the end result.

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Cause and Correction: the Critical Spirit In Marriage

Belittling behaviours have their way in many relationships; and in many marriages. It’s always fear that underlies the critical spirit. Let us attempt to define it.
The Critical Spirit: that approach to relational life that speaks a perception of truth without the covering of love. Such a criticism, therefore, is not constructive.
Given that there is generally a hint of truth in any criticism – that hint exemplified in the criticiser’s rationale of attack – we cannot hold that the critical spirit is not without cause. We all tend to act in ways that demonstrates unflinching commitment to what we think God has shown us; only later is it sometimes revealed that we were deceived. There are so many dimensions of truth that we are to be forgiven for acting in what we think at the time is good faith, that only ends up being action in bad faith.
But what is the cause of the critical spirit, and what, specifically, is it in marriage?
When a husband or wife berates their partner in an emotional way there clearly isn’t the presence of the adult sensibility within them at the time. They have become the child again, as we all have the propensity to regress into the child from time to time; the scary thing is it can happen in a heartbeat. No adult is too far from such a regression – a minute or two sometimes.
What underlies the child (the child that is wounded) in the fully-formed adult is fear. Somehow fear is operating cogently, and such fear can be entirely unconscious, to the point we are not aware of it. This is why, in that mode of the critical spirit, where our anger is raging, we don’t feel fearful at all. But fear is at the root of it.
Correcting such a state of the critical spirit in full fly is, hence, just a matter of embracing a humbling reality: “What, in this moment, is inciting fear in me... what may I not be aware of... what fear(s) could this be?”
We want to name our fears in order to be corrected of them. Awareness is the miracle of God – divine revelation and inspiration.
The critical spirit in marriage saps it of life. Discouragement becomes resignation, which becomes low self-esteem. Fear is behind it all; fear in the criticiser. They must become aware of their fear and explore how to be healed of their fear in order to love their spouse as they deserve.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Honour the Call on your Heart by Faith

MENTORING has its great rewards. To sit with someone and explore the fabric, the intensity, the struggles, and the victories of their life with them; it is a privilege replete with honour to think that God would bless us with these roles. Of course, any good mentor should be mentored. And that, too, is such a blessed experience – that someone I can learn from is interested in investing time, effort, and resources with me.

I have a certain someone on my mind as I write these words – a person, I think, who is an encouragement to many, but someone who is also neglected so far as encouragement is concerned; though people love him.

He has a calling on his heart – a godly calling to unite with the partner of his dreams – a godly woman who is sold to the covenant of Kingdom.

Too many times we are dealt the legalistic rhetoric as singles – “Wait, grow in Christ as you go, but wait patiently, and do nothing hasty.” I agree with the sentiment, but it does young men and young women of Christian faith no good to have to negate their calling; a most intrinsic heart-calling. There is nothing wrong with getting to know those of the opposite gender and see where God leads. Indeed, to stop doing so would be to give way to our fear of rejection.

This young man has a more pivotal and pulsating calling. He is wedded to Christ. That is, of itself, inspiring. But he also knows that celibacy is not something he (or most, for that matter) is called to.


When we sense the calling on our hearts to follow a particular path we are blessed to walk that path by faith.

It seems a no-brainer, but never is walking the path by faith an easy option, though we may know it’s the right way.

Never is walking by faith, that path of righteousness, devoid of its own necessity for wisdom.

We are counselled well if, having sensed the call on our hearts, we have retained the call, and made inroads into the revelation of it in our own lives.

To honour that call of Christ – and to honour that specific call to partner with someone to the ultimate goal of marriage – is a diligent task. Diligence can never fail us. To honour such a calling of Christ is the reverence of respect to the making of commitments, and the winning of commitments generally predisposes us to further spiritual awakening.

If you have a calling on your heart, honour it by faith, because it is only faith, by his grace, that can save you!

© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

3 Blessings of God for Courage in Conflict

For years I was scared of conflict
Then out of the worst things I could see
The very materials to manage
All my conflict in order to be free.
When the Spirit leads ahead of me
And my fear’s contained and addressed
My character ensures conflicted situations
Have the opportunity to be blessed.
“So, do you think that’s it as far as conflict is concerned: to rely on character virtue and to be led by the Spirit?” I said. The person I was meeting said, “I think for me there is one other factor: security. When I am safe in who I am – because I know Christ loves me and has saved me – because of what I know about myself and how I feel about myself – I feel secure, and I’m ready to walk into conflict with the best intentions, not afraid of how I or how we will go.”
We had been talking about the mystery of meeting conflict head-on from an assertive win-win mindset; how at one time it was a mystery, but now no longer.
The thesis is this. There are three components to being blessed of God with the courage to adequately meet conflict toward an acceptable solution:
1.      Be Secure in Oneself:
Of all things we need most of all when it comes to handling conflict confidently, humbly and assuredly it is inner security. Nothing beats a solid sense of security in and about our person; an identity founded in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The practical outworking of such a reality is a steady sense that God is in control of every situation – notwithstanding the challenges presented.
We need steadiness when we feel we are being attacked; when we are fearful; when we don’t know what to say or how to respond; when we need to be patient. Steadiness comes from a sense of inner security.
2.     Trust the Godly Character Traits Already Formed Within:
Having journeyed with God, having honed those traits of godliness, there is no point in negating our acquisition of them in our moment of need.
In conflict we need every essence of godliness to get through – on a wing and a prayer.
We trust God that he has developed in us sufficient courage, humility, wisdom, kindness, grace, forbearance, amiability and compassion. We trust God that, in applying our traits of virtue that others may follow that lead. And even when they don’t, we hold to the fact that it is right to deal with others fairly, no matter how they are treating us.
3.     Be Led By the Holy Spirit:
Jesus told the disciples, when sending them out, “do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” (Matthew 10:19-20)
We can rest in the fact that by our faith we will be given the right words to say at the appropriate time. Indeed, to do anything else than rely on the Holy Spirit would be disobedient.
Another fact; when we do manage the conflict well we won’t boast it was us if we believe it was the Holy Spirit speaking for us. God will get the glory.
Three indispensible possessions to carry into conflict are: 1) the strength of a Christ-centred inner security; 2) trust in God’s character in and through us; and, 3) the reliance of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Trusting God in conflict is crucial.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: to the person I was working with, with thanks!