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

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Whistleblowing as Modern-Day Martyrdom

There’s a lot of sacrifice in whistleblowing.  It changes your life in an instant.  But the thing is none of us think about it until a cataclysmic injustice has been done.  It’s so easy to criticise someone calling focus to the truth when we’ve never been in the throes of injustice.

Whistleblowing is a definitive stand against injustice.

Being a definitive stand, there is the past and the harms that were done that have not been accounted for.  That bestows a present littered with grief.  The present, into which a survivor of abuse is indelibly cast, literally survives the atrocity that is doubled by the apparent lack of justice on top of the original cases of abuse.  And then there’s the deafening silence of the unknown future.

The future, having cast the truth into the public square, is both a frightening personal reality, having painted a target on your back, watching for the attack that most comes when you least expect it, and it’s a weapon in the hands of a perpetrator, stalking being their Avant Garde.

Once the whistle is blown, it’s ever blown, and there’s no going back.

Don’t mistake this, whistleblowing is a form of modern-day martyrdom.  You may not lose your life, but you lose a lot in terms of reputation, what others might think of you, even your standing as a Christian.  You lose your church, oftentimes your friends, and you challenge those who enabled the abuse by standing by initially or through its being covered up.  Sometimes you lose your employment and/or your prospects.  It impacts hard on your identity; there’s much more to lose than to gain.

Of course, I’m only mentioning what is the tip of the iceberg.

Just as literal martyrdom would always be the hardest decision to make—to stand with Jesus and to not recant your faith in the face of terrorism—figurative whistleblowing is standing with Jesus in the truth in the face of murderous intent.

One murder is physical, the other is spiritual.  Don’t forget how Jesus talked about murder in Matthew 5:21-24... our Lord, Saviour and King didn’t just talk about physical murder.  His point was spiritual.  That’s the deeper teaching.  That’s what disciples (true disciples) are interested in.

I know that the mere suggestion of whistleblowing being a form of martyrdom will anger some, who would label the martyr a hero and the whistle-blower a traitor but take a look at that.

Labelling someone a traitor for being a prophet of truth, for having simply sought to have a satisfactory resolution to their claims for justice, is obviously a low blow of DARVO (defend, attack, reverse victim and offender).

It’s clear that the decision to blow the whistle on abuse is a bold and courageous move.

This article presumes real harm has been done to the whistle-blower or the party they represent.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Those we love are loaned to us

It happened while I was driving.  “Those you love are loaned to you one day at a time... you don’t know when that loan period will expire.”

Our dearest ones—our partners, our children, our parents, our grandparents, and grandchildren—are loaned to us.  We so easily assume that we’ll have them forever.  This isn’t the case.

And it’s not just death that robs us of these relationships, but it’s death I want to focus on, because it’s inevitable, and by focusing on death, we make the most of our lives in the here and now.


If I had one last day to do what I love to do, THIS is what I’d do...

If tomorrow was my last day, and I had the choice of what to do, I’d conduct a funeral.

It’s quite an irony I find that I most love doing funerals and yet there will be an end in funerals for me when I’m the one in the casket.

Funerals are the most salient of all living experiences.

The honouring of a life, of memories shared, honouring loss and grief, being there with and for one another, saying what needs to be said, memorialising an unforgettable life; these are just some of the reasons funerals are important.

At funerals, people cannot escape that most inescapable of realities of life—death.

On my last day, it will be me in that box.  Think about that for one moment.  It makes you reflect on what’s important in life.  I carry thought of my death with me most if not every day.  It influences many of my choices.

I will be the only one at my own funeral who’s not alive.  Everyone else there will be there to say their goodbyes.  And those who love me most will have difficulty saying goodbye, such is the impossibility of grief to reconcile satisfactorily.   And the reality of difficulty around saying goodbye shouldn’t be frowned upon.


Death gives life it’s meaning, if only we can view the whole of our lives, every single aspect, through the lens of, “This life is fleeting.”  Through the lens of death, perspective is granted.  We live wiser, more compassionately, sweating the small stuff just a little less.

If that loved one of yours isn’t going to be around for ever, what can you do to make the most of the moment?  Let’s not fall for the folly that everyone who’s here will remain indefinitely.  Cherish the time you have with them.  Make right what you’ve done wrong.  Set records straight.  Seek the forgiveness of those you’ve wronged.  Have those conversations you’d regret otherwise not having.

Make the most of the time and opportunity, now, while you have it.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A two-year period when home was not a happy environment

2009 journal entries are like a world away from the present day.  In those days, my eldest daughter (17 at the time) was living with Sarah and I, and it would be fair to say that all three of us had seriously unmet needs.

There are many reasons why there were unhappy dynamics in the home, and especially for wife and daughter there were seemingly insurmountable challenges to be worked through.

Three-way disputes erupted often, there was much aggressive and withdrawing behaviour, the slamming of doors, drive-offs, that sort of thing.  Regularly, all three of us would be exasperated.

Now, Sarah and I were doing a lot of work with our counsellor to help make our marriage the happy place we desperately wanted it to be.  Seriously, it took two years to navigate.

Yet for my daughter, her entire future was up in the air, and she was finding her way with school and a difficult part-time job and negotiating other momentous relational and logistical challenges.

When I look back now, I see both their situations with an enormous amount of pride.

Within the space of a year from May 2009, these two had both overcome the challenges they were both presented with.  From mid-2010 onwards, there has been a deep respect nurtured between my wife and my daughter.

When my daughter moved in with us in February 2008 there was such a clear values divide between my new wife and her, a stereotyped (not stereotypical!) 16-year-old.  Again, both had such pressing needs, and they both had very defined needs of me, and the fact that these needs were often presented in opposition, it’s little wonder my solace was work during these two years of my life.

But in the couples counselling process, I was still just discovering how to be an effective husband—how to put my wife first when my children had become my ‘number one’ when I’d been a solo dad for three years.

Seriously, it took nearly two years for two things to happen that would transform our marriage.

The first was that I needed to make practical changes to ensure Sarah really was my number one, and that our marriage unit really was the centrepiece of my life.  The second thing was a subtle though significant change in Sarah—she resigned herself to the fact she couldn’t change what she’d been so desperate to institute.  Both of these things coincided with my daughter’s moving off in any event, contented, into adult life.  Yet it was also as if my daughter had resolved to accept things she couldn’t change as well in this season.

I know there was a shift for all three of us.  All three of us grew up a little as a result.

And seriously, Sarah’s and my first decent year of married life was year four because of these adjustments that were necessary to be made—our persistence paid off.  It would be grossly unfair to say my daughter contributed to these issues, because in many ways she was vulnerable to growing pains in our marriage, plus there was a significant change in my relationship with her she had to adjust to.  My mother became pivotal in filling the gap.


Step parenting is hard because it’s never natural, and there are ‘love’ challenges to be overcome—both ways.  Love does not come naturally, even if that’s our desperate desire.  This is so hard to say and admit because our love wants to overcome these challenges.

Bonds of love that are nurtured over a decade and more are not procured overnight.  And step parents and step children need to acknowledge they’re a threat to each other.

For the parent who has children in the marriage to their step parenting spouse, there’s the constant need to balance the needs of all, and yet the marriage must come first, otherwise that which is the very foundation of the family becomes brittle.  This assumes that both adults in the marriage are genuinely seeking the best for the marriage AND family, including individuals, and that that balance is being struck, with no selfish desires present—and we need to be really honest in assessing this.

Our experience pastorally is that couples who are conflicted DO NOT SEE their selfishness.  And then there’s the situation where both partners have real needs, but conflict begins when they individually DEMAND their needs be met a certain way.

Even good desires can birth conflict through a source of selfishness.  The ‘what’ might be appropriate, but that doesn’t mean the ‘how’ is.

Within the marriage of partners who are genuinely seeking the best of all, the children must be loved, but children aren’t entitled to shake the foundations of the marriage, and yet neither is either partner.  The common good must be sought by all, because only in this do individuals thrive.  If individuals don’t thrive, the common good isn’t served.

Children as well as the parent and stepparent all prosper with effective counselling support.  It’s best if all parties (both partners and the child/ren) genuinely seek contentment for all.

NOTE – my wife helped me write portions of this article.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Loss teaches humble survival in the adversities of life

Loss is an eye opener.  It opens one’s eyes to the depths of life possible in this life.

Until we’ve suffered through loss that cannot be shaken or resolved, we don’t realise what little power and control we possess in this life.  It’s true that this doesn’t occur to us until we’ve suffered, though there are rare individuals who do somehow empathetically understand without having yet suffered the salient depths of grief.

But suffering is and always will be the rudest awakening, even if it may not be quite as raw as our initial foray into trial.

The depths I sank to in my darkest sortie into grief 18 years ago were a ground zero—the end of one life and the beginning of another “reality” that was completely foreign—and yet I was astonished with how hard 2016 was.  Put this into context with the utterly incomprehensible 2014 losing Nathanael and being simultaneously stressed by the leader of our church.  Though I knew in 2016 what it was like to live as if all my desires were dead, that year showed me what it was like to live as if I were existentially alone, such was it that I was absolutely cast out of all that I loved doing and being.  I’d been considered “disloyal” when I’d done my level best to be faithful, and I felt many considered me an abject failure.  There were so many fragments of rock bottom in that year, 2016.

Only in the past year or two has the Christian world been rocked by what I knew back then was a toxic dynamic—that of blind loyalty.  Thankfully, such blind loyalty to one’s leadership has been shown to be the toxic dynamic it is.  This dynamic caused me no end of grief, and you know this is the case when you try to please people and it still isn’t working.

Such a year like 2016 forces you to sow hard into the rebuilding, like building again from the foundations up.  Sowing as it’s occurred has been the easy bit, because I’ve got no problem saying yes to God.

What I’ve struggled with is soul tiredness of a deferred hope that makes the heart sick.  Sowing, sowing, sowing some more, yet little reaping in the way you expect to reap.  Yet God has opened unexpected doorways.

I’ve found personally that though there are times I’d give up, even in this present season, I’ve also found my God and my faith won’t allow me to.  I keep getting cause for hope, and that’s at least an admission of how blessed we really are.

And that’s it.  Somehow, no matter what’s ripped away from you, there’s still so many reasons to be thankful.  And still, what cannot be ignored is that riveting experience of a mind bludgeoned by thoughts of dread for the loss.  And again, that’s the blessing having truly carried our losses as cosmic burdens from that first day forward to the very present, that life has come to now have a depth about it that’s irrefutable.

Loss teaches us that life is fathoms deeper than we’d previously contemplate.  Loss shows us that the bandwidth of life is unintelligible.

Loss invites us into humility, to know that we’re truly small, and this simply serves to right size our expectations.

Loss teaches us to estimate ourselves more truly according to the reality of our being.

Loss summonses us to maturity, and though that’s the hardest living process of all, we wouldn’t be who we are today—empathetic, resilient, and compassionate—without having grieved.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Psalm 35’s biblical curse against the abuser who thrives

You know what it’s like.  The abuser has done their horror.  Then they redoubled the horror through silencing you, through gaslighting you, through denying, attacking, reversing victim and offender, through every weapon you did not know about until they pierced you with it.  They win at every post, and they leave you destitute for justice.

Then you open the Bible and find yourself reading psalms like Psalm 35:

The psalmist calls for the Lord to contend with those who contend with them, to fight against those who fight them, to take up the shield and buckler, and brandish the spear and javelin.  “Arise to my aid... defend me against those in pursuit...”

The psalmist continues to implore of the Lord, repeatedly, “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation’.”  You know how it is, that need that God would reassure you that he IS your salvation—because it feels as if he’s silent.

Imbibe these words from the psalm:

May those who seek your life be disgraced and put to shame...

May those who plot your ruin be turned back in dismay...

May they be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of God driving them away...

May their path be dark and slippery, with the angel of God driving them away...

And, again, you’ll relate with this...

And since they’ve hid a net for me without cause...

And since they’ve dug a pit for me without cause...

May ruin overtake them now suddenly...

May the net that they hid there entangle them...

May they fall in the pit that they dug for me...


And then, my soul will rejoice in the Lord...

And then my soul will delight in God’s salvation...


Then, my whole being will exclaim, “Who is like you, Lord?”

Oh Lord, who is like you??????

For our Lord is the God of justice.      And still, you wait.           Don’t defer your hope.

And all of this imprecation is biblical; it is godly, simply because you’re asking God to do it.

And as you pray these words of God over your enemies when you’re triggered, God allows for it, for such visceral emotion, for the spill over, for the boil over, for the spoil of lament, expressed in disgust.

It may not make you feel any better, but at least there’s a godly expression of anger for the hour or the day of its visitation.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Those who overpromise tend to underdeliver

Those who enter our lives with much spunk and panache often eventually leave a trail of devastation.  It’s a generalisation, I know, but it’s a trustworthy model for many types of relationships, from romances to work relationships to business partnerships to matters of spiritual direction involving power disequilibrium.

Think of it this way.  Not always, but so often we find that those who spark most curiosity and interest in us threaten to win us over at such a deep level that we commit far too much to these people far too early.

In other words, we don’t yet know who we’re truly dealing with.

It takes a while before the shine of ‘romance’ dulls in relationships generally.  Call it 12 months at a minimum before we sense that all isn’t as it seems.  Yes, I use the word romance, but this dynamic is evident a great deal more commonly than we realise.

The person who comes into our lives with charisma gives us a dopamine hit and we love being in their presence.  They’re funny, they make deep sense to us, we love being around them, because we connect with them!

It’s fine if they were just funny, or they were genuinely loving, but so many people trade out of their charisma, manipulating people and/or situations.  Much charm is manipulation.  They store up the favour they create and then they capitalise on it.  That’s okay if you know about it; if they’re transparent about it, and you’re okay with it.

But the fact is, much of the charisma that a magnetic person exudes seduces especially empathetic people, because they’re attractive personalities, and empaths are drawn to highly connective people.  The trouble is, empaths aren’t always aware of this dynamic, and some charismatic people take advantage of this favour.

This is in some ways a warning to us all for those only just entering our lives now, as well as those who have entrenched themselves; those who threaten or promise to be problematic.

This is also a reminder for all of us to thank those figures in all our lives who tend more to underpromise and overdeliver.  They don’t use the powerful influence of manipulation to draw upon what won’t ever be repaid, but they instead rely on being quiet achievers, expressing faith that their deeds will speak for them when their words might otherwise be hot air.

NOTE: none of the articles I write that represent the darker nuances of life are written from specific experience of particular persons.  In other words, if I know you, I’m not writing this about you.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

5 tactics bully bosses use to control you & why great bosses don’t

One thing we’ve all experienced: great leadership and poor (or abusive) leadership.  Bully bosses leave us feeling used at best and traumatised at worst.  If there’s even one benefit of having been bullied by a boss, it’s that we recognise the signs a bit better when we see them in the future.

I’m using the term ‘bully boss’ in this article generically, acknowledging up front that bullying is a discrete type of abuse, but in the following context I’m using the term more broadly.

1.     Sidelining / Isolating

The bully boss doesn’t want threats to his control to exist.  If you threaten his desire to control you or anything else, he will sideline you.  He will isolate you from information that would help you do your job properly or better, because he can’t stand it that you might outshine him.

Great bosses don’t mind in the slightest when you shine, because they know that it’s always a good reflection on them when you perform well, besides the value that you’re adding.  They’re not threatened in the slightest that ‘you might take their job’.  They have faith that in doing their role well to encourage and empower you, you’ll both prosper.  They also accept that the world of work is fluid—it’s changing all the time, and it’s best to go with it and simply enjoy the ride.

2.    Gunnysacking

You may not have heard this term.  Bosses who count things up secretly—little offences that they don’t share with you—who suddenly blurt them out at performance appraisal time, store these things up in their gunny sack (a small cloth container big enough to hold your lunch attached to a stick slung over the shoulder) and they’re truly shocking to hear.  Their pent-up passive aggression will come out in a seething anger, augmented by their delayed response.  For you it’s, “I never realised you felt that way about that...”  Immediately, you’re intimidated because you wonder what else they’ve got stored up.

The great boss, on the other hand, has such confidence in both their ability to handle conflict without their emotions getting away from them and in your ability to hear what’s on their heart, that they share any issue almost immediately.  These conversations are always redemptive, and they always build upon the steady state of trust that exists between you both.

3.    Manipulation

A bit like the above, where a leader doesn’t want to go the direct route to get work done, they manipulate people and situations so that they can get their own way without having to deal with awkward questions.  They give themselves permission through a sense of entitlement to do whatever they please when it comes to arranging work, and when it has a disrespectful impact on a person or people, manipulation has been done.  When people experience this, they experience betrayal.  Manipulation equals relational betrayal.

The really great leader always asks what impact will be on people in the doing of work.  They realise that if people aren’t put first, all kinds of inefficiencies come into play.  And the effectiveness of what they are trying to achieve is diminished.  They are humble enough to be truthful about what they want and how they want to do it, and importantly, why.  This takes courage and character, to slow down, to bear the costs of progress, that the manipulative boss has neither the courage and character to do things the right way.

4.    Overt Aggression

There is nothing more intimidating than an overly aggressive leader.  This kind of boss inspires fear and trepidation.  The mere prospect of their presence is unnerving.  The rage and their tongue are a force to be reckoned with.  And they justify their behaviour.  Most bully bosses are not like this, because they recognise their tactics are easier to identify as abusive when they are overt about it.  But there are still some that feel absolutely entitled to exploit anyone or anything in any way they wish.  These are the one-percenters.  These sociopaths fully believe they have the right to act as they please.

Any wise leader will quickly repent of any sense of aggression, should they make that mistake.  They see their wrongdoing, and quickly apologise and seek forgiveness.  They recognise in themselves and in others that anger can get away, but that the swift reconciling of emotions is required to make peace.  Again, they have the courage and character to be humble.

5.    Passive Aggression

If in aggressive leader is intimidating, a passive aggressive leader is disconcerting.  The passive aggressive leader uses manipulation and their calculating aggression leaves people under them discerning something’s not right.  This is actually possibly worse than the overt aggression we find in the above situation, because it is covert and often it’s very hard to see and pinpoint.  This means that you’re forgiven for second-guessing yourself—like, “is this really happening?”

The assertive leader on the other hand doesn’t use aggression to do anything.  They realise that everyone has needs, and the most basic needs are for safety, which is respect, dignity, the capacity of being safe in vulnerability, being able to be open and transparent.  They go the second mile in order to be clear about their communications, their motives, and the reasons driving them.  This kind of leader invites everyone else into the vision, never insisting that it’s their way or the highway.  And this kind of leader, everyone can relate with.