What It's About

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

Sunday, February 28, 2010


‘EGR or Extra Grace Required,’ a concept I believe mooted by Rick Warren of Forty Days of Purpose fame. It is a symbol of thought and action in relational resilience—there’ll always be people who’ll test us to the enth degree, pushing to the extremes our tolerance.

The idea is to invest extra grace—an undeserved favour—to these people. It’s a gift freely given.

It’s important to recognise, of course, that the problem doesn’t really lie with “them” at all—it’s our lack of patience that is being tested. This is always the case no matter how “irritating” we find particular persons.

People who don’t exactly endear themselves with us may otherwise be seen as helping us mould and fashion our characters. In this way, they’re practise.

Anger needn’t be tamed so much as harnessed. When we’re tempted to react and get angry with these EGR people it would be better to turn that grating stimuli 180 degrees and use that extra drive in us to go beyond them, thrilling and surprising them in our Christ-like response.

The benefit, personally? Simple really; real Spiritual power is ours because of it. Nothing on earth can make us feel this way. We’re also very honouring in this approach. It’s a sure-fire winner all ways round.

EGR people – They’re practise. Truly, thank God for the opportunity!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Family Friendly

History in families has it they say,

Recalling and pondering my childhood tray,

Not everyone has it—come what may,

A family they meet with, work, rest and play.

Families are a place to greet and gather,

They consider okay really no matter,

A place where embarrassment’s definitely no shatter,

We tolerate our families beyond the clatter.

And it’s history really that binds us together,

The stories of laughter, tears, the “weather,”

Blood thicker than water—it gets even better,

We stick with each other beyond the tether!

Wonder of things holding true,

A place of safety we always knew,

We thought alone—then we flew,

To a place we’d be safe in horrid blue.

Come now down to the enchanting seat,

A moment here and we won’t miss a beat,

Time, a thought—really a treat,

We’ll think it precisely a magical feat!


We often undermine our families, taking them for granted, because frankly, they’ll always be there for us. Of course, this is a generalisation—not everyone is blessed with a functional family. But for those who are, it’s a privileged spot to come to; it’s a sanctuary.

And for those of us who weren’t blessed with the ‘perfect family’—which really doesn’t exist!—there is extra incentive to break open the generational curse in this generation and provide children what they truly deserve—that safe haven away from the prying, hazardous external world. To do this as an adult we must be able to get over the wrongs done us! Not easy, but very possible.

Family history is an amazing thing. We write it every single day by the words we use and the love we express. We are loath to forget this; that the stories of our very lives are being written in ‘live time.’

Families: a place we should learn about forgiveness and relational reconciliation; both in the hotbed of conflict. Yes, paradoxically, families are founded on it!

How families deal with their conflict defines them.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, February 26, 2010


We simply love them. If we’re honest with ourselves and others we’re dependent on them. But this dependence—unlike many dependencies—is almost entirely healthy, helpful, meaningful and purposeful. It’s the dependence on the humble ‘click gift’ we give and receive when we “fellowship” with our social network, increasingly through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.

A click gift is given when we “like” a status or click “comment” and leave someone our heartfelt thoughts, love and support. A click gift is received when we open our accounts up and commence reading our notifications, exploring those new people who want to know and connect with us.

These click gifts are a big part of what makes today’s relational world turn around.

Amazingly we are now impacting lives half a world away. I routinely pray for and think about some of the friends I’ve never met face to face, but who nonetheless have made such an important impact in my life, personally. I love them and they me!

There are those too who I knew a long time ago. My mind and heart are mystified how life has moved on for both of us... somehow we’ve both remained over an interceding generation, now in many cases with kids and in some cases, grandchildren! And a billion stories of life between.

These social networking applications have totally re-configured life; our lives are now so almost completely integrated as our history meets our present and we travel the world in microseconds. With our “friends” we open up, communicating what’s really on our hearts. And this is good. They reciprocate and support. It’s a marriage of humanitarian faith.

Click gifts I’m so in amid of. They are the tangible way I can relate with you. And “you” (for me) is what life is truly about! God helps me feel through you. He uses you to make my life meaningful. And this is the same for all people. We need each other.

We are reliant on our fellow human beings for our state of relationship with life.

The richest life, so far as the social networking is concerned, is about investing in and reaping of click gifts. They’re making meaning for all of us!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Stylish Entrances and Exits – Influence Personified!

IN LIFE WHAT MATTERS is not the body of detail so much as the frilly edging of appearance, the whims of eccentricity, the beginning and the ending of things.

These are the things that communicate our real intent, whether that “intent” is real or not.

Forget the dilapidated and pained-over material you’re peddling—the ‘middle part’—it might be entirely necessary, but it’s not going to sell you a scrap more relational influence, trust or respect in the overall scheme of things. Some value diligence, but there’s so much more to communication than the body of data and information we’re about.

It can be so disheartening to have done so well in the presentation and impression of things for an hour or more, only to lose the moment in the last few minutes (or seconds!). Likewise, how do we fully recover the fractured start?

We therefore ought to focus and magnify our entrances—creating a set-apart, authentic, “real” impression. But, hold the bus—the conclusion and wondrous, well-thought-out exit is what everyone waits for, baited for more next time.

Start and end well. The middle part, if you’re prepared and organised, will sell itself.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Changed Life, Strewn Wreckage and Compassion

“All I knew was that I had walked out of [the lounge room] at Christmas for a few days up north and here I was returning in a wheelchair five months later, another person.”

~Rosalie Leaney, Whose Hand Is This?

Having suffered an almost life-ending stroke, Rosalie Leaney had had the fight of her life—miraculously she had clung to it, against all medical odds. Now, imagine for a moment “wheeling” into a room in your home, and considering strangely, the last time you were there you had no idea of the impending change you’d be just about to go through!

In her book, Whose Hand Is This?, Rosalie and her husband Gordon detail but snapshots of what it was like to adjust in those early days of massive upheaval. We’d expect a person like Rosalie to be irrevocably affected, but we don’t often think of the wider ramifications on family, neighbours, friends, work colleagues etc.

Yet, the wreckage of these events is vast and incalculable.

Major life change in one single life affects everyone close—and even those not-so-close—in so many ways, as the ripples of effect ever-widen, time extrapolating the often deplorable and southwardly depressing meaning of the change.

The effects are so often hard to describe and quantify in tangible terms, let alone predict. Recalling Charlie Moorcraft—a “famous” burns victim who was seriously burned over more than 50 percent of his body—and massive changes that he underwent, the ripples do indeed widen over the succeeding months and years—a life forever changed. He suffered the collapse of his marriage, the death of his father he blamed himself for, not to mention the drastically shocking reduced quality of life; all of which seemed to be as an indirect, and in some cases, a direct result of his life-changing workplace accident.

Charlie’s story is poignantly illustrative. No one seeing his video presentation could twenty minutes later walk out unaffected.

And the point I’m trying to reinforce here is?

Not one of us truly appreciates the costs of this magnitude of change. The human costs are massive and certainly incomprehensible, especially where major disability and permanent impairment are concerned.

We can expect something of the momentous emotional waves of change—those that sweep us completely off our axis of composure. Forever life is changed, and yet, somehow, life must go on!

No matter the change that’s staring you down right now, find the feeble strength to hold on. I hope you’ll have much family and friend support and love; you’ll need it.

For those who’re fortunate enough not to yet be dealt such a hand, don’t take your life—and your quality of life—for granted!

Look around you and find some compassion for those who’re grappling with their ‘new reality,’ and not just the one in the ‘hot seat’ either. And be thankful for the legacy of the Leaney story to stir within us the compassion and understanding needed to help the next victim(s) of tragedy.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Reference: Rosalie Leaney (with Gordon Leaney & Geraldine Mellet), Whose Hand Is This? – Our Story of Stroke, Recovery and Love (Fremantle, Western Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1999), p. 167.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Father’s (and Single Mother's) Mandate

THE FOLLOWING EIGHT TIPS COME FROM a training course my wife and I completed last year—it is one of the best parenting courses you’ll find (in my humble opinion). These tips can easily apply for single mothers and within step-families too.

A father (or single mother with God’s help):

1. Cultivates a sense of family identity: each family is a unique entity or should be. Family traditions are important and should be created with the father’s enthusiasm. Children should be able to feel some healthy pride in being connected to their family.

2. Regularly demonstrates love for his wife: it’s critical for children to feel secure in the family home. This is initiated in the father loving his wife. In the case of single mothers, it is crucial that the kids know how much God loves Mum! This is most visible when she loves herself.

3. Understands and respects his/her child’s private world: we all have a part of us deep within which is intensely ours and God’s. ‘Open windows’ when children offer us access to their hearts are precious moments where the father and single mother should tread warily. No charging through a china shop like a bull. Trust is born and nurtured when we carefully resist re-arranging the furniture of the child’s heart.

4. Gives his/her child the freedom to fail and encouragement to try again: we all fail. Fathers should actively show their kids how they’ve failed, and that in failing we can learn a better form of eventual success. Let us not fall into the folly of causing a ‘fear of failure’ in our kids! Where the father is missing, single mums can and should compensate. Show how God continually forgives our failures.

5. Is the encourager of his/her family: both dad and single mother are the motivational forces for the family. Don’t worry, this is not an additional pressure. It’s a privilege. Doing practical things like writing warm notes of love and encouragement and placing them under the sandwich in your kids’ lunchbox is one easy thing to do. All it takes is a little forethought and planning.

6. Guards his/her tongue and tone, measuring his/her responses according to the excitement on his child’s face: this is for me a little embarrassing. I have too often responded in harsh voice and language without first looking. What we risk doing here is quenching to some extent the child’s spirit. Free are their hearts and imaginations, and certainly not as “grounded” are they as we are. Allow them their glory days. We also forget how scary we can be when we’re angry and upset.

7. Routinely embraces his/her child: as kids get into their teen years the opposite parent (mum/son and dad/daughter) can start to become more reluctant in physically embracing their growing kids. The truth is all children (including grown children) want to be embraced by their parents. Let us not stop our embraces because of fear of feeling breasts and erections etc. They’ll always be our kids. Embrace with meaning and embrace often.

8. Builds trust relationships based in God’s wisdom, not on human wisdom: there are many things that don’t stack up in our world. It is only through the vision of God’s wisdom that many of these glitches in our parenting are truly sorted out. We must remain clear on this.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Reference: Garry & Anne Marie Ezzo, Let the Children Come, Along the Virtuous Way – Growing Kids God’s Way (Happy Valley, South Australia: Growing Families Australia, 2002), p. 69-83.

Acknowledgement: to course facilitators, Stuart & Angela Klassen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Man Whisperer

“Are you complaining, darling?” she gently said,

A calming hand upon my head,

Given a moment to gather instead,

I’d been “whispered,” relaxed, ready for bed.

A comforting, authoritative look to her eye,

Just enough strength to quash my belie,

Tact and resolve, a confidence I’d buy,

She that day, barely a knot awry.

It was a solemn moment as I was whispered down,

Hardly a thought, I simply dipped the crown,

So willingly did I do this I nearly fell down,

Amongst the steadfast drill but certainly not a frown.

An instant in time under the gun,

Certainly special barring none,

A driving heart, hers to be won,

Yep, she’ll be mine till the day life’s done!

Man whispering’s definitely an art,

Adjust the will and then just start,

A comedy moment as funny as a fart,

Reminiscent of the wedding cart!


Apparently not everyone thinks farts are funny! Women find them less humorous I’m “reliably” told (?). Notwithstanding, man whispering is a golden age-respected art, just the same as woman whispering is. They exist equally and in good, healthy tension with each other.

It’s the convolution of humour, humility, good sense and mutual submission. It’s the spice of married life.

Being ‘whispered down’ is a concept made famous by an unmentioned beer advertisement; it’s a play on horse whispering (or taming) legendary in equine circles. Brumbies aside, the nature of taming is not exclusive to horses or the animal kingdom. In reality being whispered down is about submitting to the common sense moment; finding the mirth in laughter in the seriousness of tempting emotional pride.

The partner who whispers down their mate holds the moment beautifully, but the response is all-important too. Both in partnership need to be at one—synchronised—for it to truly work.

This, of course, is a light-hearted dig at myself as much as it is about anything else.

The moment made “famous” by this poem was a true event. My wife and I both learned something very profound in it.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No Second Chance to Make a Good First Impression

RELATIONSHIP BUILDING CAN BE A TRICKY BUSINESS. It symbolises wisdom when outcomes are mutually favourable. The key input is managing who you are to them and how they are to you. Enter the first impression.

Making good impressions is simply about maximising opportunities and limiting risk.

Making a good impression is important to the broader goal of changing minds—the business of everyone. Although it seems a little devious to say it, this is true. It is especially the duty of those charged with influence. How else do we teach or coach or mentor or facilitate?

The psychology of meeting people for the first time is incredibly alluring. We subconsciously struggle until we’ve “fitted” them into one of our previously designated classifications; a “box” if you like. This probably explains why we’ll experience nerves. Both parties (us and them) are doing the same thing!

The trouble with the first impression is once the person has found their way into a classification they’ve been placed in it’s difficult for them to get out of it. For us, we keep the other person in that classification unless they surprise us and genuinely force us to reconsider our first choice of where we placed them. For them, they’ll seek evidence in us that confirms their first impression of us. If this isn’t positive it’s up to us to shift (over time) their classification of us.

On meeting people...

“Deliberately sending signals that say ‘This is what I am’ [will help] them classify you in the way that you want. Also be careful about your own classification. People are complex and it is very easy to get this wrong.”[1]

What if we’ve (or they’ve) botched the first impression?

We daren’t give up when we’ve made a horrible first impression. We must always have faith that we can set the record straight—that our character will inevitably be the best indicator. Likewise, we should always be prepared to give people second chances to prove us initially wrong in our negative classification of them.

The key aspect underpinning the ‘classification process’ we all go through when meeting and relating with people is having sufficiently detailed—or number of—classifications to fit the amazingly huge array of different people we meet. The larger our repertoire the more success we’ll have in actually classifying people correctly and hence the better chance we’ll have of actually interacting with them the way they desire.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] David Straker, Changing Minds – In Detail (Crowthorne, Great Britain: Syque Publishing, 2008), p. 137. Italics in original.

A Father’s Reflective Joy – a Poem

Porcupine prickly is not what I mean,

Brazened with emotion I feel pretty keen,

When I consider you—the fact that I’ve been,

Always there I’ll be for you, not a moment green.

Present that day you first peered into my eye,

Teary looks returned not a moment dry!

Now as I reflect back life’s a far cry,

I’ll feel this way about you until the day I die.

What is it about being a father I so often miss?

Crunchy golden pancakes and the parting kiss,

As our hearts warm together—the moment of bliss,

Cherished smiles and laughter, an inverse abyss.

You know me and I know you,

We help each when we feel blue,

Times together given but a clue,

Feelings when we helped each other, hence the peace we drew.

Though there are the trials, challenges and snares,

Blessed I am part of you—all abundant cares,

Even though it seems there are sometimes long-felt stares,

Notwithstanding part of you—all of my life bears.

The unbridled wonderment of earth’s hold on the sun,

Reminds me of the time the Lord showed me I’d won,

And even though this victory is never quite done,

We’ll see together, hang together, punctuated by fun.

And finally as I stand here to consider and muse,

Watching you do your thing hopefully not a bruise,

Knowing life is tricky, however not a ruse,

We only need trust each other and forever we will cruise.


So many hopes and dreams go into parenthood. Most of these hopes and dreams are transformed under the shadow of an often stark, humbling reality... or so it seems.

Yet, whilst parenthood’s never a thing to be taken for granted, we so often have. We learn so much more about ourselves as parents than we do beforehand. It’s got to be the hardest, yet most satisfying “job” on earth.

Perhaps it’s a case that we learn more about how God feels about us in our parenting; likewise, at some point we must let go.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

What is Always Left Unsaid, Never is Ever Put to Bed

IT’S PART OF EVERY COMPLETED PROJECT. Barring none, it’s part of every marriage too. It’s part of life as we know it. It’s the unreconciled moment; banishing a skerrick of trust. Erosion by other means.

The power of the reconciled moment is awesome in ‘Relationship World.’

When we have the awareness to revisit the moment, people find us unusual for the fact that such awareness is almost unheard of. The “sorry” the next day hence—the 30-seconds that takes in an otherwise busy day—is a huge investment to the positive and into the unknown future of that relationship.

We will always transgress, as we too will be transgressed. It’s life.

But life is far more than just one project or one day after the other. Life is about people. Without people, our world and existence is totally meaningless.

With people—and relationships—all things are possible, especially when we believe in the miracle by choosing to believe in them. Projects are never so complete with this component left out of them. How can we move on if there are undealt-with issues afoot? But this too, seems to be our way. We promise to forget but we can’t. The erosion happens too deeply for us to comprehend its damage.

When entering into relationships of any kind, we must watch especially our parting words and looks.

We should get into the habit of reflecting over what things we’ve said and how the other reacted; likewise, we should reflect over any niggling issues we have with people and what they said and did. Though forgiveness is ideally a two-way deal, we must still forgive them, even with no promise of requitement.

In tolerance, it is critically important to forgive. This is an exclusive condition of living a redeemed life. We forgive. No ifs, buts or maybes.

People are key. Whether we like it or not, this is true. People are key.

Life’s most fundamental aim is to simply forgive. Once we understand this and begin applying it, life all of a sudden starts to make a lot more sense.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Letter to Mr. or Mrs. Angry (Yep, That’s You and Me)

THE MR. MEN SERIES HAS BEEN A HIT FOR DECADES. Roger Hargreaves’ creations have, of course, swept the Western world and beyond, as we harmlessly yet poignantly resolve and identify our personalities in his characters.

Enter Mr. Angry. He actually appeared later, much later, than the original 1970s series of books and television programs. He made his entrance in 1995-1997 in the Mr. Men and Little Miss series aired in the U.K. and the U.S.

But this is not about some strangely funny cartoon character. It’s not even a history lesson. It’s a much more serious subject than that.

It’s a letter to each of us. It’s a message to the soul of every human being that feels explosively with the emotions. Fears, troubles, despairing and anxieties speak to us via our anger; the secondary, ordinarily hidden-from-view emotion. For we negate the primary, more truthful, emotion the moment we give voice and effect to our anger for the things that aren’t working out. Frustration makes way for avenging as we take untidy matters into our own hands.

So what, already?

Well, of course, there’s always the relational component—the people, and rapport we have with them, that we harm or destroy (beyond forgiveness and requited trust). This is the precious thing we hardly think about; the thing we burned in a second’s madness.

We’re loath to forget these. They make our lives mean what they mean for the vast part, yet we toss them, like a piece of meat to the wolves, as the vitriol drips and spews, gushing forth.

A moment recently where I calmly resisted spoiling a good few relationships of my own—the moment painfully paralysing, perplexing and confusing—led me to again ponder, ‘What is it that helps us in those shrieking moments of inner madness?’ And, ‘What is it that levels the emotional ship as it lists perilously from side to side?’

For me I was thankful. I wanted to blow but didn’t. A strange foresight went operational—the sort of foresight that doesn’t always ‘turn out’ I can tell you. It was the foresight of well-founded faith—a faith that never fails, if we invest of, or express it, entering into it.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned; anger is divisive like nothing else on earth. We ought to be positively fearful of it—enough to do something to prevent it.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Why Change If He/She Won’t?

LOVE OUR NEW DESK CALENDAR, The Two of Us, by Janvrin & Selleck. These ‘nuggets of sense and laughter’ make a day’s focus simplistic, yet powerful. Get a load of this; a ‘Thursday’ offering:

“It is unreasonable to expect your partner to change if you are not prepared to make changes yourself.”

Huh! How do you just like that?

We know, of course, it’s implicit in us that we want the whole world to change despite us. We can be trapped in this thinking: ‘I do my 50 percent; he/she should do their 50 percent.’

That sort of thinking makes sense in almost every other area, but not in relationships. It’s certainly the case in customer-supplier arrangements, but life partnerships are hardly this sanitised. (Besides many customer-supplier relationships go off the rails too for the very same reasons—uncommunicated and non-agreed expectations.)

In the perfect world we’re loath to hold back on our contributions for change, ever so small, and we’re also loath to expect change from our partners if we too won’t change.

But a better, more positive premise is to always be prepared to change—and always be prepared to give your 100 percent to the relationship. Your partner deserves nothing less.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Days of Grappling Emotion

ISN’T IT FASCINATING HOW VULNERABLE WE ARE TO TEMPERATURE? It wavers only ten degrees Celsius one way or the other and we freeze or fry; many of us are emotional in precisely the same way, especially the Myers-Briggs “feeling” types, which describes approximately 60 percent of the population.

We face a bleak day as we arise or the day is full of bells and whistles, joy abounding. As the day springs forth we’re swept up in our emotions, particularly in view of conflict and celebration—both occurring in relatively equal portions over life, give or take.

We carry the emotion with us in every interaction, always seeking to harness it and somehow put a lid on it.

But for the “feelers” in our midst—and for 3/5ths of us that’s us!—the spending, limiting and management of the emotions can be tortuous and exhausting.

I don’t really know but it seems that conflict and emotional battles are being waged more and more in my world; I’m sure it’s only my perception and perhaps it’s simply a season where I’m dealing with it more. At times I just seek to escape.

Days of emotion, one way or the other—high or low—are counterfeits, really, for the real deal, the equilibrium, of life. Still, counterfeit or not, we are bound very much to our natures. We need to accept them.

As Susan Boyle sings, “I am who I was born to be,” and we find ourselves emotional or not. We are who we are. To some extent we can revolt to the temptation to become upset or confused—or if we desire, ecstatically happy (not that many complain about the ups!)—but this is often little help.

As the pendulum of life swings to and fro, and we’re swept up in the tumbling of things, we must find time to reflect, time to escape the hustle and bustle tumultuous life where the aggressors would swallow us alive, and where equally there are those who’ll chase (with us) the pot of happy gold at the end of the emotional rainbow.

None of this is real.

But, somehow our emotions are. They are very “us.”

Steady as she goes is great, if we can only hold her there! Otherwise, just accept that today is one of those days of emotion and smile awkwardly into the mirror (you’ll laugh). Time perhaps to play a beautifully reflective song like Simon and Garfunkel’s, Bridge Over Trouble Water, or a Wintley Phipps’ rendition of It Is Well With My Soul.

Let the Spirit calm you.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.