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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Healthy Respect for Reality

“One of the signs of maturity is a healthy respect for reality—a respect that manifests itself in the level of one’s aspirations and in the accuracy of one’s assessment of the difficulties which separate the facts of today from the bright hopes of tomorrow.”

~Robert H. Davies.

A state of poise and balance it is that sees us seeing with right perspective. All our lives perhaps we’re striving for such poise and balance.

Separation is a Key

We cannot verily live in good conscience, in the midst of our difficulties, if we’re not honest with ourselves. And, yet, a rigorous honesty gets us few better places but unbridled and caged anxiety at times. The former mistake is denial; the latter is an improper or imbalanced focus.

As we hold dual realities in tension—the truth that subsists now, and our hopes for the future—separating and delineating them—we find an awesome truth prevails over our spirits.

This sort of separation is engendering a prevalence, and a preference, for reality—the world’s generally-accepted perspective that we might ordinarily shun.

Wisdom - An Acceptance of Reality

Per the Serenity Prayer, when we accept the things we cannot change, but equally when we have the courage to change the things we can, we demonstrate the wisdom to live the tension between the two.

This is the discharge of our vital reality.

Whenever we’re advancing on those things within our influence, whilst leaving well enough alone, we’re straddling the cusp of our reality with great skill. Indeed, we can be assured that this is the establishment of God’s will for us.

Hope in the Clouds and Faith on the Ground

Our core reality is remaining safely planted with feet on the floor whilst having an equally safe half-eye on the future hopes to which we’re called.

But we can’t afford to merge both these realities or we get confused and frustrated very quickly. We mix in hope for what we presently don’t have and we lose our perspective for what gets us there. It diminishes our faith.

Like juggling two balls with confidence, we keep both our hope for tomorrow and our faith for today safely in the air.

Our hope is never in defeat that way. It’s always ultimately set apart. It’s precious to us and it needs to be held and valued as sacrosanct.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Expecting or Requiring Grace From the World?

Grace is a fantastic concept but it is flawed in this world. It exists only to the extent of the will of the person extending gracious favour. It cannot be forced or coerced out of anyone. It is hence a voluntary gift of love and even much of the Christian world frequently gets it wrong.

So, why would we expect to see it displayed in our non-Christian world?

But, we often do expect it of people who’ve got no interest in it.

We get cut off in traffic and we think, “How dare they!” and still we’re found doing the very same thing, due to a lapse or because we’re in a hurry (because on the roads none of us is beyond human error). Still, we see their error as intentional and ours as an innocent mistake. ‘Grace’ is polarised.

We’re not getting closer to it in this but further away.

Forgiveness Expected?

Just because we may be ‘forgiving’ in our approach to life, we tend to then project that onto others as they relate with us. We come to expect them to forgive us. But they see the world through different eyes, a different filter for a heart—not better, just different.

They will not learn forgiveness via our legalist standards. The grace in forgiveness is a miracle. If they cannot see the miracle they’ll polarise back to what they know.

We haven’t convinced them one iota. In other words, we didn’t allow the Spirit to speak through us in our aberrant grace-engorged tolerance.

Or perhaps we live to an ethic of servant leadership and yet we get disgruntled when people trample us in the stampede for power. How can we possibly blame them? We left the door wide open for them. We can just imagine their consternation for our legalism in demanding they interact with us in certain ways. Suddenly our ‘love’ isn’t so loving.

No wonder we complain for being ‘doormats’. But we cannot have it both ways.

Living the Christian Ethic – It’s a Serious Call

It may very well be our biggest ever challenge; learning to live gracefully in the midst of many horrors, disappointments, injustices and myriad calamity.

God knows we can do it, but it’s going to cost us. At times the cost will be too difficult for us to bear and we’ll capitulate. It’s during these times, however, that we’re learning both our limits and even more grace for the future.

Perhaps we need to constantly allow the Spirit of God that resides in us to remind us that it’s merely a crucially important part of our ongoing discipleship to Christ.

That is to issue grace without any strings attached.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

You Tell Me – What Was It Like for You?

How can we possibly tell what the truth is so far as our relationships and performance outcomes are concerned when we only see one shallow fraction of reality—our own? We are best to seek feedback to augment our truth.

Our truth is never a tidy truth—it always has holes in it.

When assumptions, and attributions for others behaviour and responses, are fitted like band-aids over our living situations we run close to entertaining great falsity, and from there it never usually ends that well.

Better to be healthily and fearlessly curious.

Curiosity Cannot Harm Us

By simply asking questions to confirm how we think things are going or how they went, or just to establish what it is or was like for them, we open the window on a stinking hot day to let in the cooling sea breeze.

The breeze is not going to scorch us like we think it might. Sure, there may be some revelations we didn’t expect to hear, but just simply the matter of asking has created in us the mode of accepting bravely what will come.

This shock is a better shock than one that comes later on, overblown and inflated.

Two Great Relationship Rules

1. Be Honest With People

It takes moral courage to be honest with people. Especially with children and subordinates at work we must be honest and give them the information they need so they don’t feel compelled to make assumptions, which they will do if they’re not given the information they need or don’t naturally seek it of their own volition. (It is not normal for people to always go out of their way to confirm their assumptions.)

To be honest with people reveals a character in us that we genuinely care for them. Those who couldn’t care less, however, will not risk it—they do not have the moral courage to risk of themselves, and their own comfort, for others’ betterment.

2. Seek Confirmation

This is reciprocal for point 1. It’s too easy to rest well in the contentment of our own assumptions. What we risk, however, is that our belief in such falsity, will possibly, at some time in the future, shatter. This is never a good place to find ourselves in. We feel crushed for a time.

It would be better to use our moral courage to go and seek confirmation and feedback before it is egg that we find over our face.

Relationships – for Success – Require Moral Courage

For two people or two groups to co-exist in harmony, and lastingly so, there must be trust that’s enjoyed between the two, and this is afforded only when one or best both enter into moral courage to stand in the gap of the relationship.

Someone, or better both, must give for the relationship to survive.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Succeeding and Surviving in a Stupid World

“I have a notion that the real advice I could give to a young journalist is simply this: to write an article for the Sporting Times and one for the Church Times and put them in the wrong envelopes... What is really the matter with almost every paper, is that it is much too full of the things suitable to the paper.”

~G.K. Chesterton, Autobiography.

Don’t expect to succeed in this life by the conventional way. Don’t even expect to succeed in this life by the unconventional way. Success in this life is often more about chance, luck and circumstance than anything else—this is because our worlds are so very often ruled by ‘wise’ men and women.

That may sound sceptical, but it’s often so true.

There is, of course, a purpose served in all this. It’s the ‘modern’ economy. It’s how the world goes around—no, not the actual earth, but the interactive nature of life we know now.

Countering Insanity

There is no point actually to countering the popular fashion of the world—the world’s way. It is best countered in acceptance, and by acceptance we gain an advantage over those who cannot or will not accept what is quite bleedingly obvious.

Going further in, then, we can establish that this world wants us unstuck and that our only way of overcoming the world—John 16:33-style—is to see this and constantly prepare for it. In this we give ourselves the self-served grace of patient wisdom.

It Comes Down to Motive

Where we want to get to and what we want to do should dictate how we’ll ‘use’ our world for our purposes, for it takes patient cunning and the approaching opportunity to establish ourselves in certain worldly settings.

But do we really want it? Or are we already ‘over’ that way of influencing our world?

Surrendered to the world or to God—what’s it to be?

Motive is important because it demonstrates, at least to ourselves, that our want-of-desire cannot be swayed by the world; that we are not tricked or trapped into thought of coveting anything. We’re bought to God and the things of virtue, which are against the stupid world.

Succeeding in this stupid world, then, is as much about re-setting our expectations and living apart from the world as anything. It is certainly also accepting the world for what it is—an enigma.

That it is an enigma is perfectly okay.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Friday, November 26, 2010

One Mad Day Ushers In a Better One

During one 24-hour period we can easily deduce that this life is out to get us. Sadness abounds, and with it anger, both vacillating, as each frustrating second succeeds the last one. Fear reigns.

It doesn’t really matter how far anyone’s ventured in the faith, we can be stripped of it and laid bare by our circumstances and the vacancy of our spirits without a lot of notice. This is particularly true of times when we have an adjustment to make in life.

For instance, it occurs with everyday grief—a promotion missed out on, or an unanswered prayer, or just because we miss someone dearly. Perhaps it’s a mini identity crisis. Maybe it’s a conglomeration of issues.

Why is it that one particular day can turn out to be so disastrous?

Skewed Perspective

Besides the reasons that make for convincing reading, our vision and standpoint to the reasons is usually off balance. Who knows why, apart from the fact that life has ‘turned on us’.

God understands such a perspective. He gave us these emotions for dealing with those issues that tip us over the edge.

It is very human to have a skewed perspective. There’s nothing wrong with it provided we’re not making important decisions in this heart-frame and mindset. Whilst things are a little awry, we just rest if we can, not putting too much pressure on ourselves.

Yes, we can even rest in the midst of furious life. It’s about the practice of being gentle with ourselves, reassuring ourselves, even as we’re required to interact.

Two Special Truths

And perhaps the Divine Being wants us most of all to know two special truths at these times. One we’ve already mentioned; that is to be truthful about these things within ourselves. The other is to realise—with our logic—that there is hope; there is always hope, even when we don’t see it.

Holding both these classic truths in our hands and bringing them close to our hearts is power for tomorrow.

Tomorrow Always Comes

The sun always eventually sets on our metaphorically gloomy days.

Tomorrow is usually different, though not always better. But slowly things will get better if we’re absorbing our emotion and living truthfully in that heart-space, as well as shoring ourselves up with our logical minds for those facts of cognisance we can still be truly thankful for.

Holding out for tomorrow, however, always has a bit of a catch to it. Like happiness, we cannot afford to hanker after it too much. We must allow it to happen of its own accord. We must hold it lightly.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reconciling the Hurt Heart and Troubled Mind

Tussles occur within each of us when things don’t go right. When we’re hurt, the heart attends and the mind is convoluted in pathological spirals.

Better still is the destination we get to where the mind knows that all’s okay – at the logical level – and it can gently placate the aberrant heart.

When things don’t go well for us we’re often thinking of the people enrolled in those circumstances—about what they might have ‘against us’. Most of the time, however, these people are not against us at all—or not the way it appears to us at least.

There is a coarse interaction between the heart and mind as we deal with hurtful and troubling circumstances.

The Roles of the Heart and Mind

The heart’s role is to feel. It is there as our instinct. We intuit and perceive things with it. And often we respond from the heart.

The mind’s role is to think. It is there as our way of sensing situations; with it we decide and therefore judge.

Because neither the heart nor the mind is exclusive to the risk of the other they work in unison to form our sense of wellbeing.

Common Traps in Feeling and Thinking

Merry-go-round thinking is what happens when the heart is constantly informing the mind of its hurt feelings and the mind’s not doing anything but complying or agreeing with that input. As a result we have a situation where erroneously caustic thinking erodes at our concepts of these and other living situations, and ultimately on our self-esteem.

A sinkhole syndrome is therefore manifested and it can continue to form into something quite dangerous to us. This situation sees us not responding to the self-propagated negativity in positive, countering ways. The lower we go, the closer we get to mental, emotional and spiritual ill health.

A Proposed Solution

Our best objective is to simultaneously receive the hurt so it can be dealt with and processed—not denying it—whilst we manage these levels and process the hurt in safety. We need to be destined for healing, ultimately.

Let’s not forget that one core life purpose is to receive our healing throughout our lives. There is a more-or-less continual need of it.

We need to develop a system of responding to our hurts in a way that uses the best faculties of both the heart and the mind.

This is best done when the heart is free to feel, and where the mind checks and validates the feelings before rebutting these situations with its gentle truth, empathising always.

Here we’re allowing and even encouraging a dichotomy to exist between the heart and the mind. The heart is necessarily (and healthily) irrational, but the mind counters it with an empathetic logic. This way we’re not at war with ourselves. A sensible peace is therefore thrust at the pandemonium we otherwise experience.

Rocking back and forth, then, the heart issues its hurt feelings to the mind and the mind then responds with loving care, so that internally we’re not being torn apart. We’re actually just innocently vacillating. This sort of temporal double-mindedness is normal in situations of adjustment.

This is how we were designed to cope with everyday life grief.

This is how we adapt to our changing circumstances and mature through them.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Changing Moods by Addressing Triggers

Moods are states that seem quite mysterious and what leads to them cannot always be consciously known. But the truth is moods are so often propagated via a trigger or triggers.

If we can identify the triggers we have a better chance of controlling both our own moods and influencing for their better the moods of others.

Triggers are those things that evoke emotional responses, whether good or bad, happy, angry, sad or glad.

Our triggers were wired into us, generally through our experience of life, mostly in our childhoods. Of course, triggers have adapted and continue to adapt even today. What might have triggered a certain response a few years ago may not trigger the same response today. Similarly, we might respond to a trigger today that we weren’t even aware of six-months ago.

Getting Inside Our Own Minds and Hearts

If we do not know our own triggers and master them the best we can, how can we expect to adequately manage and facilitate others’ triggers?

Changing moods is made easier if we can at least change ours—or at least be honest with ourselves and others when we’re just allowing the mood to take us for awhile. (Some moods are just best ridden-out.)

We should never underestimate the power advanced to our own credibility for being honest with ourselves and others regarding our own moods and triggers.

Getting Inside Others’ Minds and Hearts

Some might suggest, “No, you cannot do that—get into others minds and hearts!” I’m sorry, but if you’re a parent or in any sort of supervisory role, yes you do.

Most adults are in some fashion a ‘supervisor’. It warrants the supervisor, then, to attempt to understand the makings, machinations and wirings of the people who need to be influenced in order to get ‘the job’ done.

Influence, here, is not about anything against the person. It’s always working with them and for them, especially if it is adults or teenagers we’re talking about.

The Key to Success is Motive

Whenever we’re appropriately motivated we’re set to succeed. It doesn’t always mean it will happen, but at least we’ve done all we can.

When our motive is simply to engage with people fairly and we do that, things do generally turn out for the best.

Perhaps best of all is having the preparedness of empathy for all people’s moods. To a point, we cannot predict incoming triggers and the respondent moods, so we best have an approach that can live with the status quo as it attends.

It Has to Be About Love!

To summarise and symbolise such a motive, it has to be about love.

Love is the thing that opens the door to an unthreatening awareness, and it is awareness that can then be acted upon, if the person subjected to the awareness is willing.

Awareness roams free, without recrimination, within the bounds of love.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Philosophy of “Like”

Being “liked” has about it a translucent power hardly ever more important. In this sweeping global phenomenon that is Facebook the amount of “likes” is a currency we all seem to now relate with.

We ought to never underestimate the psychological powers that ‘be’ in the realms of Facebook and Twitter and their fellow constituents.

Social power is now the voice of this Day. It commands our zealous attention.

This New Day finds no restriction to genre or age or medium. The generation that is conversant with this social phenomenon is not at all restricted to Gen-Y or the Millennials; it is capturing the hearts and minds of all people and of all ages and in every nation of the world; people in a massive variety of circumstances.

It is the newest new thing.

Likeability’s Role

There are some people who are more prone to this than others are, but there is a need deep within each human being to be approved.

Being liked when we went to school and as we entered our workplaces—and as we continue—was (and is!) quite dramatically paramount. It always will be. If we’re not approved, lest otherwise our approval in the guise of God, we feel disconnected, disenchanted, disillusioned.

Facebook have tapped into the psychology of this beautifully, even down to the colour scheme of “likes,” the notifications, and use of “home” and “profile” pages, so far as “likes” are concerned.

The receipt of “likes” is affirming but also dependency forming. We’ve perhaps never been more influenced by what people do and don’t like about what we post.

The trouble is we can find ourselves either elated or despondent. There’s hardly a middle ground.

A Better “Like”

Some things were never meant to be the zenith.

Social networking has many, many pluses about it. It’s not ‘addictive’ (in this context it’s meant in the best sense of that word) without good reason. Many people receive some significant portion of their fellowshipping needs from it. For others, despite want for body friendship, it’s all they have. Facebook has hence got a godly purpose.

But it comes to an end pretty quickly, does its purpose. We can all too easily find ourselves unfulfilled if we seek all our fulfilment out of it.


The best philosophy of “like” there ever can be is God’s “like” of us. This is true, but because it’s so ethereal we often aren’t satisfied with it. Our ambivalence is obvious.

A moment in time when we truly go after this “like” will dictate something significant—the angels of the Lord will go there with us into contentment.

Finally we will feel approved, for there is no approval like God’s approval.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Monday, November 22, 2010

‘Bad People’ – God Put Them There Just For Us

In every one of our lives there are people who mess with our minds and hearts. Believe it or not, God put them there. They’re there for our benefit.

This is no crazy talk. It can be backed up biblically via examples from Joseph to Jesus. Although the Apostle Paul talked about his “thorn in the flesh,” that “messenger of Satan” that was sent to buffet him (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), he too knew full well that the truth is God allows these people and challenging situations in our lives for our betterment.

This is Wonderful News

We are not at all very apt at seeing the silver lining to our very near and resplendently dark thunder clouds, are we?

We will most usually struggle to see the ‘good news’ in people who’ve set their hearts and minds against us, to expose or depose us. But, if it wasn’t for these people we wouldn’t have the opportunities to meet the challenges that God knows we can meet. We’d miss vital growth junctures that are part of our God-willed destiny. We can see it as God forming us via eternal discipline.

The writer of Hebrews hit on this very point:

“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

~Hebrews 12:11 (NLT).

The point is we have to allow ourselves to be trained in this way. It comes natural to no one.

An Exercise in Execution

We cannot get better at spiritual practice without applying it. We need to get our minds and hearts involved in the practice of new ways of living if we’re to master them.

Perhaps this exercise in question—seeing a nemesis as someone sent from the very hand of God—is best accomplished in spending some time reflecting over the role one of these people has played, and is indeed playing in our lives perhaps now.

This is the practice, it is hoped, toward spiritual enlightenment whereby God might tip into us some level of his own holy revelation. We might consequently begin to see the overall purpose of this evil against us in conforming from it, goodness.

Salient Examples

If someone is bullying us our opportunity is to learn how to respond in assertiveness, and not match their fire with our own aggression, or submissive behaviour.

If another person has betrayed our trust our opportunity is to practice forgiveness, and learn classic lessons about trust, as well as learning some sense of empathy for why there was a betrayal in the first place.

If we’ve been disappointed by a lack of opportunity we’re now given the opportunity to work through the present issues and develop resilience and patience. It’s also an opportunity to reassess goals.

There is always a silver lining and we’re blessed to seek vision of it.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Letting It Play – Leaving Well Enough Alone

There are times in life when, whilst riding shotgun, we’re sorely tempted to push over and take back the reins from the stage driver. At times this is necessary, but oftentimes we either don’t need to or we don’t need to do it so overtly.

Using the Wild West analogy we’ve perhaps agreed with God that we’ll ‘ride shotgun’ leaving the driving of the stagecoach to the Holy Spirit.

Why then do we retrieve the reins?

There are many situations in life where we feel that if we don’t take control now we’ll lose the ascendency or, worse, we’ll actually get to pay dearly for our situational timidity or ambivalence.

Yet, it’s faith that’s so very often cloaked in the garb of taciturnity. It’s faith that goes beyond the conscious mind that screams out, “Act (or react) now!” Faith orders and vindicates our restraint.

The Psychology of Experience (Times Two)

There are two forms of experience useful in this present discussion. The first is the actual experience of relations with our fellow human beings, and the second relates to the acquisition year after painstaking year of learning that we now apply, usually for our own (and others’) benefit. The latter is our substantial experience of experience.

It is not too far a leap to call this latter experience “wisdom”.

The latter ‘experience’ explains our reticence to barge into china doll shops riding a rodeo bull. Fifteen times bitten, twenty times shy.

Yet, how do we ‘strap on’ such experience to save us the heartache of learning?

Unfortunately there’s no short and easy answer to that one.

Enters the Risk of Not Risking

We’re more normally, by default, risk-takers.

This is most certainly true of our general approach to life—we don’t like to go about things the long, or standard, way around. We rather love finding the shortcut or the ‘more efficient’ way. We eagerly throw our instruction booklets back into the empty box so we build our flat-pack furniture ‘our way’. In the process, as irony would have it, we’re often found paying double and triple the cost in terms of rework.

This risk-taking anomaly is illustrated also in our communications. The trouble is our rapport with people all too often reaches the level of ‘preciousness’ or precociousness and we find our bull-through-the-china-doll-shop approach readily backfires.

Much needed and long-gained trust and respect is lost in one foul swoop; perceptions are forged that very moment, and these are not that easy to shift once they’re set. We like to think we’re a forgiving lot—humankind—but the truth is we find it incredibly difficult to bury the hatchet or forget a significant transgression.

Let me get to the point.

The key, perhaps, is learning to take a different sort of risk.

It’s risking to lose. It’s the risk of not risking. It’s more cautious and highly prudent, and willing to ‘cop’ a loss rather than risk putting the status quo at jeopardy. This method has a longer term reality sharply in focus.

This is not a timid play, but one involving much wise restraint.

It’s remarkable what we can find God doing as a result of such faith. But it must be experienced personally to be believed.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Neutrality from Life’s Observation Deck

Why is it that we’re still holding our views of certain people which are ancient history so far as they’re concerned?

Whatever they did that predisposed us to have a view has most likely changed. People do change. Besides, we can often be found judging incorrectly, via 20/20 hindsight.

What a personal disadvantage it is to be weighed down monumentally with thought of the past. This sort of outset has about it the potential preclusion of facts of the present to the persuasion of historical hearsay. No wonder some errors-of-life stick.

Even worse to be in a position of authority or power and exhibit these traits.

Signs of An Undisciplined Mind

We’re all likely to recognise these traits where honesty motivates us. The facts of grudge-worthy thought have surrounded every last one of us. We’ve all had to deal with the clouded cognitive reality where a certain person or situation has been met with a lack of grace or favour on our parts. We certainly recall where we’ve been on the receiving end of such partiality.

What we have here, if nothing else, are the signs of an undisciplined mind that’s aloof with its imagination, vagrant of fact, estranged to fairness.

Again, apart from others who’ve been like ‘this’ to us, we’ve known of it personally as we’ve set ourselves against others.

Welcoming the Reality Check

It is good to wake up from this daze. And if we won’t awaken ourselves it is likely that we’ll be proverbially slapped about the cheeks by someone else or another situation, eventually.

But when we’re on the receiving end, and another person is unfairly casting us out for their own partiality, our reality check needs to be different. We understand and empathise, as God would, that they appear not to considering all they ought to. Forgiveness, then, becomes our angle. We cannot do anything else. There’s no use losing sleep over it.

We pray that right-sight will come for them, and we defuse any reason on our parts to limit such possibilities. In other words, we present no reason to become a barrier to their acquisition of this right-sight.

Whether it’s us that are the target or the offender, or whether we just see it in a situation nearby or not, matters little. Blessed is the person in possession of the truth.

Observers Over Life

As we cast our own gaze over life, and our auguries are hence made visible, we’re blessed perhaps with a mightier perspective.

This is the ‘observation deck’ experience.

How mighty it is to imagine being on holiday or vacation—touring the countryside and aloft admiring the views from a lookout—and in a detached peace, we gain glimpses into the heart ‘n’ soul of life, as it is. When God awakens within us these propensities, we wonder just how we got there, but we’re ever thankful for such holy revelation. It realigns and bridges our partiality.

Finding such neutrality is the blessing of the Lord toward tangible and intangible blessing. Suddenly the most intrinsic and empathetic love of true humility is known again toward our fellows. And peace is hence known. Life is beautiful again.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.