What It's About

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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Do You Hear Yourself Speak?

OFFICE BANTER IS ALWAYS PRETTY SURREAL as you reflect over what’s said, from a historically relevant viewpoint. I sometimes wonder if people have the remotest level of self-awareness as to what they say and how they say it.

Then I got to thinking about a certain piece of video footage of myself at a family function years ago. I was in a pretty arrogant mood, it was Christmas time, and my behaviour was not really in keeping with the spirit of Christmas.

Not that it was that bad that many other people would have really noticed—but as it was played back later I noted, personally, that it wasn’t very good.

It’s a bit like when you hear your spoken voice from a recording… ‘Do I really sound like that?’ is the bemused, embarrassed thought to self, often vocalised to any who’ll listen. We often accentuate the negative about ourselves, don’t we?

The trick in relational settings, surely, is having the instinctual self-awareness (one of the pillars of emotional intelligence) to retract the words and tone before they leave our mouths.

If only!

But, then again, we must also forgive ourselves for the things we do say—and for how they’re said—that are regretful.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


“You can avoid having ulcers by adapting to the situation: If you fall in the mud puddle, check your pockets for fish.”

~Author Unknown.

We all have it: baggage. If we don’t watch it, however, the baggage creeps up on us both insidiously and actively and harms our relationships, even at an intrapersonal level.

There must be no limit to the amount of baggage we can carry; we just load it on, over, within, and through the existing luggage, latticing complications and emotional effect—to the jettisoning of our spiritual health.

What creates baggage?

Relationship outcomes gone wrong and inappropriately coped with... losses and life blows that are destined to make us stronger weaken us as we take the wrong road to “healing”... crushing experiences from childhood... theft of our souls... abuse, neglect, sorrows, death, divorce, bullying, inauthentic rapport, lack of love, fear etc.

This list is endless. One common denominator, however, is the coping mechanisms we choose to implement. Go the wrong way and we attract only more baggage, and such intricate little and bulky large bags, packages, cartons and parcels of fear-producing anxiety. Go the right way—the narrow path many do not take, for it involves its own pain—and we alleviate baggage, learning to live, eventually, a free life.

And this is everyone’s destiny; at least as far as the vast majority are concerned—those ones who have the capacity to be honest with themselves. This, of course, is a famous AA truism, enshrined by the biblical schema.

We all have it—more or less. The greatest gift for the person seeking to offload excess, fear-producing baggage is to simply be brutally honest about their life; this is to be humble within themselves as to where they’re truly at.

Seeking the truth in relational outcomes is crucial. Reflecting over our initiated actions and responses, continually and habitually, calling ourselves to account, is the only way. Our relationship outcomes are our biggest indicator of success and failure.

It might be difficult to grapple with the past, but if we treat our presents appropriately we will eventually gather the courage, and insight of awareness to reach back and touch those scary parts of our personal history—those things that’ll forever hold us back until they’re revealed and dissipated by God’s magnificent light.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Form, Storm, Norm, Perform... Transform – TEAMWORK

Teams run the world. Think of the broader context of team; they occur in marriages, de facto partnerships, family, sports, at the workplace and during projects.

As I reflected in the moment of a recent home move—an army of helpers, a truck, several cars and trailers, boxes and furniture everywhere—definitely chaos in the making, I noted in any great venture there will always be a tortuous process of forming the team and the “storming” that has to occur as everyone grapples with the chaos. Agreeing roles, assigning responsibilities and monitoring same is like grasping oil in the hand. It’s a tough job and someone has to do it.

Or do they? Not always. The “storming” phase of putting the team together ‘in action’ sees the struggle for leadership take place; there are generally either too many or too few leaders. Then a range of problems occur as the venture itself is executed; leadership and teamwork have to combine to negotiate the problems.

Once that process has taken place the operation resembles a rhythmic machine of productivity—for a time; it goes well until—as mentioned—a problem crops up. Then it’s back to the drawing board.

What is most important about the inception of new teams is patience, by leaders and members. If the team is a marriage both partners must be patient with one another during the storming phase i.e. newness, change etc. When we have our values-set challenged by another person we’re bound to experience frustration. Only the patience of awareness can help.

Part of the mystery of good teams is they begin with, and retain, the end in mind. They see the vision of what they’re trying to achieve and nothing sways them from the vision. And not only that, when they share the vision, it becomes a motivating object with which to fix their focus.

Patience is firmly set in faith. Faith says that the task will be accomplished—despite the conflicting emotions—and panicking action can be of detriment; so it doesn’t panic. Faith is therefore courage.

A team is two or more. When two or more people are thrust together as a team, they can either make or break the experience. Team is a transformational experience; always has been, always will be.

When all parties to the team believe so strongly in the goal they’re patient with each other there’s hardly anything more inspiring.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Honeymoons Never Last

THIS PHENOMENON OCCURS NOT ONLY IN ROMANCE but in all relationships. The classic “new” lustre wears off eventually. It has to. Then comes the hard work of making the partnership work when there’s two (or more) with grating faults and equally heart-bend needs and desires that foist their way to the forefront—after the politeness is gone.

This is simply a fact of life that needs to be, but often isn’t, keep in mind.

It’s like the truth—about those “little” things that quietly and ingeniously rub away at our displeasure—can only be denied for so long. We tolerate these things thinking things will change, or, ‘Isn’t that cute, the way they do that thing,’ not thinking we’re stuck with that quirky device.

Rose-coloured glasses are good in that they get us formed and operational, but what occurs when things start getting more real?

It is good for all relationships—whether romantic, business, sporting or other—to recognise and adapt to the phenomenon. It’s intrinsic to the nature of life. This is why we say it’s unwise to ‘move in’ with someone (or otherwise “commit”) until the relationship, for a time, has survived some beating weather, long past the honeymoon phase. At least if we do commit prematurely, we must do so knowing things will change.

So long as we appreciate that the other person (or people) has/have desires and needs like we do—only different ones that become urgent at different times than ours—and they, like we, have extraneous faults that nothing will cover over but tolerance and grace, we can make it work. This is going in with our eyes open.

And this is where we need to be with all our relationships. Dealing in truth and prepared to wear the consequences in dealing with another person—someone different than us—we go on in harmony, and so do they if they have a similar approach.

Only then can we begin to deal with the differences that enhance the relationship, for being in cahoots with another person breaks the monotony of only having ourselves to contend with.

Let’s get to the stage of tolerance and grace for the little things that will inevitably annoy us; then we can appreciate the beauty of the other person/people in the team—those things that set us apart and make our team or partnership everything it is or can be.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Peck Check

IT’S TRULY AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT your relationship in the most unlikely of places and situations. Removing furniture during a home move or cleaning windows, floors and mowing lawns seem innocuous enough, but I found myself receiving from my wife what I can only term as a ‘peck check,’ a way of her ascertaining how I was going—by way of attitude or mood. The peck check is her motioning a kiss to me (the peck) to elicit the same response from me—if I kiss back, all is okay (the check).

I’m no different to most people, I suppose; I don’t mind hard work but if it can be avoided I’m just as interested. I found this was the reason for the peck check—to check my emotional status, probably because at several moments I was fighting frustration.

How perceptive are our mates? They know us that well they (and we in return) use an unspoken language, a gesture here, a gesture there... a whole compendium of meaning is received and transmitted.

This is a good thing, this language of the relationship’s heart.

One identifies with the other and vice versa, especially when things get a little hot and pressures begin to mount.

It’s good to be aware of the little behavioural cues we give off, exhibit or respond to in our relationships; these are many and varied. Being attuned to these says something very positive about our relationships. But, these gestures can also be negative; we can make assumptions and then blame the person giving us these cues if things turn pear-shaped because we saw an intent that wasn’t there.

For me, my wife’s peck check was a very consistently delivered gesture that she gives me when she’s worried about me. It is of some real comfort to me to recognise this, because I’m in a position to do a great deal to assuage her worries—I’m in direct control of that, as it pertains to me. My response was to identify with her concern, kiss back instinctively, and then review my attitude to ensure it could be congruent with my kiss back to her i.e. ‘all is good.’

Picking up on others’ gestures and cues to us is hence a great thing to be aware of; to confirm receipt of the right message and respond the best way we can, both in a gesture of response and the behaviour that necessarily follows.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Promoting ‘the Skip’ in Our Kids

Reflecting at poignant times in life is a fundamental human trait. And as I reflect over my kids there’s always one indicator in at least two of them that I’ve caused delight in them—after their joy-filled interaction with me (i.e. when that occurs) they skip off; there’s a cute skip in their stride.

Now I’m sure this is probably a genetic predisposition or something the younger has modelled from the older—or something. But, the point is, in all kids—and in all people—there are indicators where we’ve caused joy to well-up from within them.

It’s a real buzz whenever we have this impact on people, certainly family.

And I note with a special delight that it’s not when I pander to these two that they instinctually skip away—it’s when there’s truly been something transformational take place in our rapport. These times I’m aware that God’s involved. Something deeply spiritual has taken place.

Taking a moment then to reflect on the behavioural markers that set our parenting apart in these ways, what speaks this transformational joy into our kids? Again, it is not about them getting their own way; hardly. These ways we just act as a conduit for God in our role as parents.

As parents, are we not a model for what God “looks” like? Entirely trustworthy and a beacon of light we should be, the vast majority of the time (for we’re not perfect like he is). And we find that when we do achieve this end, those “skipping” moments happen with a fairly decent regularity, though there are still the chastening times when things are tough, and the tough calls are made.

Parenting is not an easy role and hardly any of us received any formal training in it; we were thrown in at the deep end—up the creek without a paddle, so to speak.

But, it’s our love for our children that has us in headlong pursuit of a goal toward their actualisation; our kids set up for a lifetime of doing good works and enjoying these in an intrinsic happiness that we ourselves may not have even achieved.

And it’s a fighting for the truth that sets forth our love toward success. The truth always makes the difference in relationships. The truth in love.

Love presents its truth for consideration.

And there’s something of God in all of this—the gently streaming desire I mean. It’s a wish without a demand. This is parenting—overall, without specifics—at its best.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Forever Searching for Marital Happiness?

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”

~Friedrich Nietzsche.

This is a profound truth. We get eternally confused when we picture marriage as that ever-continuing dreamy romance that punctuated the early going... I mean, where did it go?

In marriage relationships a queer thing occurs. The ‘easy romance’ transforms beyond a return to it—no matter how hard we try. And yet, the way back to the romance is, paradoxically, through the friendship we engender in our ever-developing bond. We are confounded in our selfishness for wanting something for ourselves when the answer was easily as simple; it lies in pleasing our partners. For this is true love.

And besides, we can’t easily find marital bliss unless we can start to begin to know ourselves.

Most people will scoff at that thought; ‘Of course, I know myself, idiot!’ Sorry, but my response is, ‘Don’t be so sure!’ We’re a long way from ourselves unless we make it a deliberate and intentional mission in life—many people will not do this unless they’re forced there. Life’s too comfortable.

Yet, the comfortable groove that we exist in is often the very nexus of our problem.

When we don’t connect with ourselves well, how can we possibly connect with our partners in the necessarily sacrificial way that love implicitly requires?

But let’s get back to our original concern: friendship in marriage. How many of us desire not simply a partner but a soul-mate? That was and is my desire. Yet, to become soul-mates requires action, and that on a continual basis. Being a soul-mate is about being such a well-connected friend we don’t survive well without continual “helpings” of our partner. We’re desperate for them; lost without them—but not to the point where we’re no longer adequately independent people. Is your relationship this “connected?” (If it isn’t, don’t stress. It can only develop this way over time. Action is required.)

I recall a work colleague lauding to me, upon my quizzing, the blessings of wondrous sex in his thirty-five year old marriage; it just got better and better. His secret? He and his wife had simply endured the worst entwined together and now they were enjoying the best—entwined together.

And the product of this journeying in marital friendship is a centralisation on trust and respect—both partners looking positively to each other, entrenched in the purity of love’s most basic rapport—friendship.

Friendship is devotion. Devotion is friendship. This is relational love and the very best input to the unsurpassed marriage.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Lying Well is NEVER Cool

“Always tell the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said.”

~Mark Twain.

I’ve had times when I’ve told the smallest lie, whether it was to cover over some little detail or feign my affection, and as the situation has slunk away, thought to myself—‘Gee, I’m good.’

What a fool was I in those times! And yet, I think we all relate. I see this practice played out in daily interaction all the time.

See, the thing is, our very human nature has us concealing truths for a plethora of reasons—for some of these it’s more of a necessity than for others; for instance to protect someone from a likely predator. But, devious tongue-in-cheek lying is never a good thing, for at its base it’s a form of self-deceit—we’ll not even pick up we’re doing it half the time.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies.”

This veiled beauty is the one above and this is what we see in our moments—but the cost is our self-deceit, which has an ironically consistent flick-back effect, hurting ourselves and our relationships eventually. This can manifest itself from a lack of authenticity of exchange to out-and-out cheating etc.

Lying truly is never cool. At best we do it to protect good things i.e. it is used in necessary wisdom—for we have no choice; but at worst it’s a sinkhole syndrome cascading us toward further and more awkward sins—sins unintelligible to the naked eye.

The Twain quote at top is a most fundamental thing to bear in mind.

Telling the truth as much as we can—and taking pride in that, not for our “efficient” lying—is a classic purity that sees the soul purveying the quality purged of mental anguish, which otherwise needs to reach routinely into the deeper recesses of the memory: ‘What did I say back then... what “truth” did I tell.’ Oh, what unnecessary stress!

For lack of truth always tends to bite back at us at the least expected moment. To operate consistently with a fresh and clear conscience is a marvel to the spirit, allowing it to soar with unparalleled joy. This joy feeds our confidence, and in turn, our self-esteem—for our love is real. This makes us feel good.

Tell the truth. The truth is worth the costs, always.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Not Enough, Too Much

Do you ever get the impression there’s...

Not enough ideas.

Not enough time.

Not enough spaghetti.

Not enough time to write.

Not enough sleep or energy.

Not enough relaxation.

Not enough passion.

Not enough sauce.

Not enough hope or love.

Not enough sunlight.

Not enough quiet time.

Not enough vision.

Not enough thought or reflection.

Not enough space.

Not enough grief.

Not enough life or light.

Sometimes there’s also…

Too much noise and vibration.

Too much pace and freneticism.

Too much creativity.

Too much thought.

Too much head-banging.

Too much life.

Too much stress and despair.

Too much sunlight.

Too much rain.

Too much conflict.

Too much tension.

Too much introspection.

I wrote this reflecting on a train, travelling to my wife’s graduation ceremony recently. Ironically, I, dressed in a suit, was “accompanied” by a train-load of AC/DC fans, clad in a different variety of “black”; we enjoyed the ride together, as I reflected upon the weird incongruences of life in general after a typically busy day.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Brave or Foolish? Broaching Conflict

“We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read.”

~Abraham Lincoln.

If there’s one guaranteed skill we’ll need in all our relationships it is effective conflict resolution; the objective—active listening of both parties, understanding and eventually, forgiveness and commitment to change.

What about when we’ve got something controversial to say? We know it’s going to produce conflict and we really don’t know which way it’ll go. No one can accurately and consistently predict another person’s response, no matter how much we know them.

Perhaps this situation takes two things. First it is obviously a case of courage that is required. But secondly, and equally important, it’s wisdom we need.

‘Brave or foolish’ translates into ‘courage and wisdom’ to hopefully crisis-manage, with good effect, the issues at hand. It takes a plan for approaching the other person at the right time, with the right attitude and information, and in the right way.

Many people in relationships, however, shirk the risks of hurt and conflict and simply forego the opportunities to bring things to a head. They’re scared of upsetting the apple-cart. Denial of the problems is not going to help; they won’t go away just because we pretend they’re not there. Indeed, the situation can only slowly and eventually get worse.

Forgiveness and a ‘moving on’ is the necessary end point we’re trying to achieve—to the point that no emotional baggage clings to us as we and they go about the rest of our lives.

If we’re not careful we can start to see things as the Abraham Lincoln quote suggests; everything going from bad to worse at the flick of a television on/off switch or the opening of a newspaper. This can easily rub directly off on our relationships as we fear backlash coming and just simply take the easy way because we see everything negatively.

Yet, we must know, ironically, the “easy” way is the hard way.

Tackle your issues, do so wisely, and don’t give up on conflicts—resolve them or accept they will never be resolvable. Either way, move on.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Surviving Life in the Tribes... Loving It

Life in the tribes requires humility for we all make mistakes.

Humility in this sense is self-forgiveness as we think not too much of the necessary embarrassments that come our way out of these mistakes.

Take a drive on a busy road any time soon and you’ll soon see people make silly mistakes—we all do. We make mistakes everywhere, every day. If we don’t handle these mistakes with an appropriate level of humility we cruel ourselves unnecessarily. And if that’s not bad enough this will also end up having a negative effect on others, ironically, as our self-directed castigations somehow spew uncontrollably over others—worst of all, at the least desired moments!

So, humility—manifested as self-forgiveness—is critically important.

This humility doesn’t sweat the small stuff that happens “to” us. Indeed, it takes a quiet, unannounced pleasure at its own mistakes, learning to smile wryly inside, even to the point of having a laugh about the silly mistakes it makes. It knows mistakes are generally nothing really, and a simple, authentic “sorry” where the mistake applies to others sorts 99 percent of it instantly.

Humility doesn’t resent; it accepts.

We need to draw resilience out of our days so as to ‘live the next.’ We can easily not deal with our “stuff,” especially on a level beneath the conscious thought that feels okay. But subconsciously we feel it; it affects us if we deny. Somehow. It’s important to be honest with ourselves, rejecting propositions to deny.

It is a necessary attribute for not only success and happiness in the tribes; it provides the gateway to peace of soul.

And this is most certainly the crux of living. It underpins everything, not least of which our relationships. What is success and happiness without a sound foundation at our innermost spiritual level? It’s short-term success that neglects our long-term wellbeing. Like a stack of dominoes we’ll start to tumble eventually. Of course, we know this.

In life, stay grounded. Forgive yourself. Don’t take yourself, your life, your relationships, your happiness, your success—or anything—too seriously. Sure, it’s important. But life is full of surprises. Following along with the flow of life is more important than the detail which always threatens to swallow us whole.

In life, with this approach, we will stumble but we don’t need to fall. And stumbling can also become fun; certainly nothing that fears us.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Using (Not Abusing) Personal Power in Relationships

OF THE FIVE LEGISLATED POWERS of Leadership and Influence, personal power is by far the most charismatic and hence it’s the most alluring.

The person who enjoys the skills of holding this power stands at an important cusp. They hold not only power but an even more awesome responsibility; but how many squander their power because they’re grossly irresponsible?

But, a negative focus is not my aim.

There stands at the gates of this person’s reason, the divide of truth and grace. The manifestation of this person’s presence—and this applies to us all, for we all have personal power and influence—is weighed in balance regarding these two: truth and grace.

Truth and grace in equal portions is what I’m alluding to. It’s the “what” of truth and the “how” of grace i.e. what we do and how we do it. These presuppose the purposes of the person’s acts and the consequences of same. If they act with a great sense of personal power they do everything aligned with truth, and the way they act with people is tinged with grace.

Personal power needs truth and grace balanced and poised. Both are crucial, but it is grace that always needs to win out if there is any doubt. Truth alone backfires awkwardly at times as we’re left muddy-faced and scratching our heads. And grace alone, too, renders our efforts hardly credible and therefore ineffective. But grace is still more important.

The person with much potential for personal power i.e. because they’re likeable, charismatic, personable and humorous etc, can maximise their power for good by focussing on a wise blend of both truth and grace.

Truth is to run the person’s general attitude toward life and relationships. Grace, which is kindness, generosity and forgiveness and a whole lot more, complements the aberrant commitment to truth, for truth alone is too harsh. Like the tempering of hardened steel makes that steel effective for its purpose, making it not too brittle, grace makes relationships palpably joyous, useable and free. Grace saves in the emotional bank account what can be used on a rainy day.

Grace in relationships really is the greatest thing; it’s the meld of a thousand forms of indivisible love.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


“The deep pain that is felt at the death of every friendly soul arises from the feeling that there is in every individual something which is inexpressible, peculiar to them alone, and is, therefore, absolutely and irretrievably lost.”

~Arthur Schopenhauer (Italics in original;

modified for gender inclusiveness).

There are some inconsolable times in life when “things” are just simply too raw. For this reason it is only fair to consider various forms of grief—separating out profound grief so plastic platitudes are never flippantly delivered.

When I recently attended an unconscious lady, trying with others to revive her, I wondered serenely what kind of person she was; her lifeless body but a shadow of the spirit of the person that lay deep within. At her loss several hours later, she was gone, never to grace the stage of life again—absolutely and irretrievably lost, indeed! For her family how must it have been adjusting to life without her?

How do we possibly reconcile acute grief?

Well, it’s understandable that some days will pass harmlessly by whilst others will be tormented with incredulous thoughts that are barely containable. All that could be done, truly, is to take the day as it comes—knowing with some distant knowledge that one day the sun will shine over our souls again.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

“Sorrow makes us all children again—destroys all differences of intellect. The wisest know nothing.”

Grief is a leveller. We could be forgiven for thinking this depth of emotion was beyond any fellow human being; it seems so impossible. It is of some pale relief to know others are going through just as bad, if not worse. But for some, what they deal with is the worst! The worst possible thing has happened.

Know, however, that:

“Grief is itself a medicine.”

~William Cowper, Charity.

If you were the one grieving you might be thinking this pithy quote is a platitude.

But the truth is, grief—whilst being impossibly difficult—is often the nexus of new life. It can be afterward. Grief softens us. It makes us more human if we don’t deny the pain. It makes us more compassionate and more reachable.

Yet, this won’t help the person in deep grief in the slightest, I suspect.

Being in the heart-rending state of acute grief numbs us. When we sleep we often don’t want to wake. This below is my favourite grief quote; it takes us into the imagery of the heart:

“Grief is a dark, lonely, private room with the curtains drawn, where cherished memories of laughter and tears dance with angels in the cathedral of the heart. No one may enter. None are welcome. No words penetrate its walls or ease the pain that fills it. The door remains locked until the will pries it open to allow the helpless, well-meaning, outside world to enter and interrupt its sanctity.”

~Billy Thorpe, Sex, Thugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll, 1996.

This quote nails it. How hard to write on a subject where words are totally meaningless.

Yet, my own experiences of grief led me to search. And we search much reading media. Sometimes we find what we’re after, sometimes not.

The main thing in the shrill of raw and cogently impactful grief is don’t give up—though for a day or two you might; don’t give up hope totally. One day at a time you will climb your way out of it.

Life may never be as it was, but it will be good again. You’ll see.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saying Goodbye to a Cherished Church Fellowship

TWO THOUSAND, TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY EIGHT DAYS and this morning. That’s the period that has spanned the journey I’ve been on with my local church; the one I’m leaving today.

As I reflect and consider where I was and where the church was back on 14 December 2003, much has indeed changed. The vision for both entities certainly has materialised somewhat and God has used and grown both, for much good, according to his purposes.

The highlights for me, personally, have been my involvement in coordinating 40 Days of Purpose special events, team leading the children’s and youth ministries, being a deacon and a trustee, and roles coordinating other special events particularly in the period 2004-2006. Ministering to high school students for two years in a part-time role was great and it’s so interesting to see them as nearly adults now.

Since the end of 2007 my formal ministry roles gave way to a new season of adjusting to new married life, fulltime secular work and a burgeoning love of writing and blogging. I’ve not looked back!

But, now, as I allow myself a moment to ponder I see some marvellous people who loved me to the person I am today, making indelible contributions along the way. Not naming them, they’ll know who they are.

There’s a comrade of the opposite gender who walked with me in my singleness—together we even raised some eyebrows in the church, but what we had was always Jesus-platonic, a wonderful testimony to God’s grace and sufficiency to provide for ‘a time such as this.’

There’s also a terrific servant-hearted worship team leader who, with her powers of courage, pure kindness and generosity, and dedication to Jesus, contributed to anointed worship every single week it seemed from January 2005 onwards—that “feel” remains today even though she has relieved herself of those reins.

There’s the pastor. He and I have had our differences but whilst I worked for him we had an entirely appropriate and very functional working relationship, and he taught me much. Any hurts I suffered God used as a process in my own discipleship—some of these were based in a necessary tough love akin to Hebrews 12. I learned that being involved in ministry involves hurt—but that the healing grace of God is always nearby. My reflections of this pastor’s skill and well-rounded love are solid and true.

I was involved with an elderly pastoral couple—highly regarded former pastors and missionaries—who ran a Bible study group. This too was a fiery furnace for me that catapulted me into the call of God—to study at seminary. They saw in me what I didn’t see at the time, but is now an indelible image that has become intrinsically part of me.

This church fellowship—via the Holy Spirit—has been central to the raising and sorting of some of my many character issues during the earlier few years, and now God has brought me and my wife to move to another area. It’s a fresh start, new home, church and neighbourhood.

I’m hoping the brand of Jesus-love we’ll find there won’t be too different, though I’m confident we’ll adjust in any event.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.