Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Welcome to my new website and blog, a timely relaunch that mirrors the new of discovery season in my life. A huge thanks to the legends who are Matt and Jess Cooper www.thetigerz.com for bringing me into 2020. Since moving back to Australia in 2014, so much of what I do and how I operate has changed and my new website acknowledges that. I continue to speak at conferences and churches, as well as mentoring leaders and organisations, but there are other things on the horizon also. It seems the Lord is elbowing me further and deeper into issues of social justice, instigating varying degrees of appreciation, bemusement and chagrin to many, including myself. In addition, I am writing more and in different genres. More on that later.
I have inhabited senior leadership roles for a few decades now, as well as mentoring and advising leaders of all shapes and sizes, and I continue to be passionate about the vital importance of good leadership. Nations, churches, clubs, corporations, departments are all continuously being shaped and reshaped by who heads up the charge…or not, as the case sometimes shows. The wellbeing of any group is profoundly impacted by whether those who lead it are internally healthy. Ultimately, whether they are or aren’t will show up in what they are leading, which is good or bad news, depending on the outcome.
However, since I am no longer actively the front runner leading an organisation, I’ve been as surprised as some of you who know me may also have been, at the way God has expanded my concerns and focus to extend into issues of social justice. I confess, that expansion in me has taken place somewhat reluctantly. To have opinions contrary to much of the popular Groupthink is never comfortable, generally guaranteed to draw the ire of those who have a vested interest in the status quo. However, the voices of those who choose to swim against the tide of popular public opinion are always of value, even if only to make us think about why we do what we do, and then decide to keep doing it.
It is in that spirit that I find myself unable to keep from entering the arena. Part of me doesn’t want to draw the wrath of the ignorant and the unread, nor do I want the opposition of those who have a vested interest in believing whatever hyperbolic rhetoric happens to be popular at the time, but needs must!
"Ultimately, if you don’t stand for right when you can, those who come after you must inherit the mass slaughter of truth and justice."
Nazi Germany and Rwanda are key examples of this.
I’m a proud Christian, but my pride comes from the Christ I follow, rather than any notable followership of we, the rabble who gather around the Cross.
I’ve been around long enough to know that using the word ‘Christian’ as a personal descriptor, doesn’t signify that a person does right or is even all that good. Being a Christian is about being forgiven, a gift for which I’m eternally grateful, but beyond the state of being forgiven lies a jumbled mixture of human behaviour that, unfortunately, often does nothing to convince the world of the Christian’s inherent integrity or even their authenticity.
The use of the word ‘Christian’ cannot and should not be enough to validate our veracity or reliability. Each Christian, as a member of the human race, must earn their own personal right to be trusted, over and above using a word so packed with complexity as part of their identity. We especially ought not use it to substantiate our identity as a leader. The title Pastor or Vicar or Reverend or Father or any other handle we may want to attach to church leaders ought never automatically presuppose that person to be worthy, or indeed that the title is worth anything in and of itself.
The trustworthiness lies in the person, not the title, and that kind of honour is observed and earned, just as it is with any other title, be it President, Prime Minister or CEO. When a title automatically confers an honour which proves to be counterfeit, the crash reverberates around the entire sphere of influence and the fall out is fierce, a fact which has been shown repeatedly… ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
It may surprise you to know, but some Christians, even the important ones with the large titles, have done some really crap things. I cannot exclude myself in that. One thing I’ve learned, and which is crucial for all of us to know, is that we’re following Christ, not His mates. We are to value our leaders, appreciate and support them, but mindlessly adopting the Groupthink of popular opinion espoused by the latest or the oldest celebrity pastor often leads to the severest disappointment, disillusionment and cynicism … at best. The wreckage of faith and hope that often comes is far worse.
"Ultimately, we were given a mind to think with. The beautiful world humanity was given to tend and develop is now overwhelmed with wars, horrific abuse, racism, intense climate crises, misogyny, sexual violence, greed and terror."
Many of the answers offered by religion’s attempt to provide reasons and solutions for the questions that abound are faulty, mere dogma handed down from one generation to others without question and without willingness to understand that the world has changed. Many times, those theories have no relationship to Jesus Christ, the One whose name we use to validate our opinions.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Maybe I have none of them, but at least in the discussions this blog may arouse we may be able to get beyond Groupthink to really wrestle with the questions, like Jacob wrestled with God. It would be great if we come out the other side of our grappling knowing that we have investigated honestly and with integrity, asking God to help us come to a right conclusion. Such spiritual integrity is always preferable to the automatic rote answers of Groupthink. (You may have inferred that Groupthink is among my pet dislikes. I love it when people make use of the brain God gave them.)
We may arrive at our answers quickly or it may take a significant time to think the issues through, but either way, let’s choose to have the courage to live with the grace and love of Jesus Christ in that tension regarding the mysteries that still perplex us. Heaven will provide the answers if we don’t get them here.