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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Patience – A Most Necessary Love

Patience is a virtue,
That’s what they verily say,
Don’t be surprised what it costs you,
Just be willing to pay.
For by patience alone,
There is trust and peace and joy,
In patience alone,
Many things won’t annoy.
Like courage, which adds so much to so many qualities of virtue, patience augments a quiet trust born of humility, peace that transcends our understanding, an abounding sense of joy, and an overcoming hope that cannot be destroyed. The moment we put the purposes and the will of God first, that very moment patience is ours! There is no better choice.
No better choice.
That there is no better choice we can be certain: patience is faith; it is the formation of trust in our very beings; it takes us from uncertainty to certainty, because we have agreed to know what we don’t know – to leave ‘knowledge’ at the door and walk right in on our daunting realities.
What is more important – love or patience?
Wouldn’t Love Be a More Necessary Virtue?
As we read, we may be thinking that love is a more fundamental – a more far reaching – virtue. But patience is the relational expression of love. Patience says something about how well we are relating with ourselves, the grace we have for others, and our centrality with God.
Now, love is beyond qualification as a virtue. And although virtues point to love, love sits supreme over all of them. Love embodies all virtue. So, we might safely say that patience points us to love – it is an emissary of love; a meek combatant in the name of love; a worthy use of time, effort, resource and everything else we have to invest.
If we have patience we are exemplars of love.
If we honour life, others around us, and our God, by patience, we are esteemed – not for ourselves – but for God’s sake; for God’s glory.
Patience will have us transcending words as we ply our words by action. Patience is a very real manifestation of love. People cannot help but notice the kindness and compassion effused in patience extended toward them in what we Christians term, grace. It is the way we show we love people.
Tolerance, serenity, fortitude, persistence, endurance, diligence – these are the siblings of patience; a love that transcends words and meets the intent of words in action.
Patience is the love of both action and inaction.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Leader’s Sovereign Purpose

Motives are weighed by God (Proverbs 16:2) and a leader is known as iniquitous or inspirational purely on whom they do the work of leadership for. Let it be known that the leader whom God chooses will inspire people because of their commitment to inclusivity, reconciliation, personal humility, and because of their courage. A leader who is self-designated or raised up for the wrong reasons – an iniquitous leader – will lead people nowhere because nothing in their ministry of leadership is built with sustaining purpose.
Inspirational leaders ‘stand in the gap’ for others or a purpose beyond themselves, but iniquitous leaders run, spurn, or hide from such a role:
The Lord, through Ezekiel, said: “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap...”
— Ezekiel 22:30 (NLT)
If we are servant-hearted it is likely we will resist – at least initially – the mantle of leadership. Perhaps we can say, as a general rule, the best leaders are reluctant leaders. Many who choose the role of leader – at least initially – have their own needs and desires met through leadership – the wrong motive.
Leaders serve. They connect with people and, with resourcefulness, utilise things, to inspire courage through encouragement.
Finding a gap to be filled, leaders slide right into the niche of an identified need and soon they are filling what was previously hopelessly devoid of focus and activity. They tend to shine because of the innovation with which they get problems sorted. They are prepared to be unconventional, but are equally sensitive to reasonable people needs. They want to take people with them where they are going, but they don’t necessarily see themselves as the one everyone should look to. They have one goal in mind: they stand in the gap and do what needs doing in the service of people and the greater virtuous good.
What a privilege it is to work for God; to work hard on a purpose that consumes our lives, not so much that we are spent to the point of exhaustion, but that we are spent each day serving with joy, just because we can – because we have been invited into the only work with any lasting meaning.
To stand in the gap is a leader’s sovereign and God-anointed call. They see the need before them – a humanitarian need, a justice need, etc – and they give their lives to the fulfilment of that need.
A true leader can be trusted, because they have no call or commission from themselves. Those who serve Jesus don’t care about receiving kudos, but they give kudos. They care about the purpose God has given them, alone. They see what no one else does and they do what God tells them to do, and, in that, they are honoured.
When everyone else on the team is blessed, the leader feels they have done a good job.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Jesus Follower’s Paradox of Joy

Fruitfulness is the product of the obedience of faith; the execution of actions of love in the fortitude of hope. Joy is one key ‘fruit’ in the Kingdom of God. Joy is a reward for having obeyed God:
“Joy is helping to pay for someone’s medical bills.”
— Bryan Loritts
We are not living any ‘practise’ life. There is no need to waste our time. Frustrating as it is to be anchored to a life that is a waste, tomorrow is a new day. It’s hope for a better expression of faith in order to obey God.
To obey God is true joy.
And to obey God is simple. It’s about the giving of one’s life so someone else may have life. It’s giving what we have so someone else may be uplifted. It’s forgetting what would be self-gratifying in favour of a better gratification – a gratification only God can give: Joy.
When we give up thought for ourselves in the moment – to give something to someone – a material thing, a courtesy, a compliment, a smile, etc – God gives us something we cannot procure any other place or way.
When we learn of somebody’s deep need, and we find we are able to help with that need, or even meet it entirely, we then have an opportunity. Is God saying, “Give!” or is it a case that we are to keep what could be given. Often it’s a case of discerning the moment. Sometimes it’s God’s will to retain a resource we could give, but most of the time it’s God’s will to hand over what could be used now.
Money, gratitude, materials, guidance, time, and other gifts are so very important, but they are only resources. We need to hold them lightly and not so tightly as the world would have us hold them.
The paradox remains: to experience joy we must let go of what we can’t hold, and hold onto what will not let go of us: salvation.
As we give and give our lives to giving, something strange happens. Suddenly our lives take on an unfamiliar purpose. God reveals things to us we never experienced before. Through another’s being blessed, we, too, are blessed. Joy is palpably simple, but it’s profoundly meaningful.
Joy will drive us into the heart of God every time. And being one with God will drive us into joy. Joy will take us places we’ve never been: passion, purpose, energy, growth.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What’ll It Be Like To Meet You, Our Little Darling?

A very special day awaits. Whilst we have been expecting our special baby every day we have also been waiting several months since we found out at our 19-week scan. There is now the ominous feeling that we are literally days away from the birth. Sure, it could be weeks, but there is a feeling that a very special day is just around the corner.
What will it be like to meet our little darling? To meet him or her, to greet face-to-face as it were, to finally see, smell, and touch this precious baby of ours, and to experience our baby passing into eternity as we hold his or her dear body. What will it be like? Will it be traumatic? Will there be a variety of feelings? Should we be afraid? Will we see things we have never seen before? Possibly all these may be true, and then some.
We’ve taken you to the basketball,
We’ve taken you to the beach,
You’ve been there in many a shopping mall,
We’ve done all we can to reach.
One thing we’re so keen for,
Yet we’re scared greatly about it too,
When you finally come out through that door,
To meet you will be surreal and all too true.
Consistent with the births of my four children, there is no way we can anticipate how the experience of the birth might be felt. And this experience will be unique in my experience. Can there be any way of planning for what might be felt? Will I, as my wife’s husband, be enough support for her? Will everyone in the extended family have the freedom to grieve as only they should be free to? If anyone is traumatised, will I be able to help them?
All these matters are up to God. All I can do – all we can do – is ply our consciousness in faith, and do what the moment requires, whether we are equipped or not.
It is a complete mystery what will be felt just days away. And to travel that week – to, and beyond, the funeral – will be such a first.
Does any of the uncertainty of these words above implicate us in fear? No, only wonder. Neither of us are fearful of the sorrow we will inevitably feel. We know we are dearly loved, and, as an Aunt put it, love is enough.
Love will carry us like a bridge over the chasm of our baby’s death.
God’s love is like that. It is the power to endure much pain in the hope it will mean something one day.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, October 20, 2014

What I’m Learning About My Anger

Everyone has a red button. It just depends on what (and how much) it takes to actuate that little toggle that sends us into febrile convulsions of heated emotion.
Recently, on a day when I was praising myself for my efficiency around the home, I suffered the indignity of washing a disposable nappy (diaper) with a load of clothes. As soon as I approached the washing machine, and saw inside, I had that instant sinking feeling. Having just put my son to bed, I was sizing up a full hour or two to do some discretionary work; something I actually enjoy and not the housework.
It took a little while, but soon I started to really get annoyed with myself. Shaking each item of clothing several times before I could peg them on the line, I found it was a messy, not to mention an unnecessary, job. If there’s one thing that presses my red ‘anger’ button it’s the accumulation of senseless tasks.
Yet, suddenly as I began to vent, I remembered a promise I made to myself. The Holy Spirit has evoked curiosity in my approach to anger over the past week or so, due mainly to some material discussed in pastoral supervision. At the time I didn’t want to admit I had a problem with anger; pride initiated by fear was my potential stumbling block. But as soon as I did admit that my anger was pressing in upon me, affecting some of my closest relationships, I felt God breathe fresh life and hope into me, in order for me to deal with it.
I tend to be quite a serious person, and the angrier I get the more serious I become. The Holy Spirit said, “You need to pour contempt on your pride by laughing at yourself.” As a result of doing this at the clothesline God’s Spirit dissolved my anger and I saw how pathetic I would have been had I allowed this learning opportunity to derail my moment. As I shook those clothes out, one by one, I thought not about the time I was wasting, but about finishing the task, and the health I felt just by looking at the situation differently.
Anger is easily resolved if we step back a little. Choosing to find something to laugh about can work on many occasions. Choosing to see the moment as a test of our temperament to overcome can also work.
When we understand that anger and aggression harm relationships, we are motivated to surrender our emotion to God. The Lord can do what we cannot do. The Spirit can change our attitude and approach in an instant.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Fruit of Endurance For Strength In Grief

Our first discussion date involved the question: “What character quality do you have that God is most pleased about in you?” It didn’t take too much thought on either our behalves. For me, it was my responsible nature that I felt God was most pleased about in me; for Sarah, it was her faithfulness. Until very recently I had not quite connected the character quality of faithfulness with endurance.
At a recent appointment with our obstetrician, Prof. Jan Dickinson, there was an acknowledgement of Sarah’s stoic nature. In being acknowledged in that way – which was a validation of Sarah’s self-concept – there flowed tears from my wife. Isn’t it wonderful when God reveals something to someone else about us that we hold as the truth?
Speaking with my father-in-law as we waited for Chinese takeaway, I remarked about this event, and Sarah’s pain threshold; somewhat resembling her father’s and brother’s. But my father-in-law tweaked my understanding. He said there were two forms of bearing pain: 1) the pain threshold and 2) the ability to endure pain.
Suddenly I made the connection between Sarah’s faithful nature and her ability to endure hardship patiently.
People often ask me how Sarah is coping; I had used the word ‘pragmatic’, and now I know what underpins her pragmatism. She is a faithful person, and, within that virtue, has been blessed with spiritual gift of endurance. Of course, spiritual gifts we cannot claim as anything we can be personally impressed by. A gift is just that; something someone has given us, and in this case, God. So I praise God that my wife bears the gift of patient endurance, for it is a blessed inspiration to me, and it actually makes my life much easier than my life with her could be. My wife is also very humble, so she would hardly endorse this view beyond me and her. There is no glorious satisfaction in her; no swelling pride for that which God alone deserves credit.
God desires deeply that we would nurture this gift of faithful endurance in our grief to reconcile our weakness with his strength; that, somehow, bearing our losses in stoic truth would procure more of God’s blessed gift.
As we sow into the use of a gift, God gives to us better access.
As we endure with purpose beyond our knowledge – a faith beyond the reality of hopelessness – God gives us the ability to endure.
We don’t need to know how to endure to have endurance. All God requires is that we keep stepping forward by faith, step by step. We keep doing that and faithful endurance becomes us.
Step by step,
Hour by hour,
Step by faithfulness,
Get God’s power.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.