• Leaders chart the course

    We all want direction in life.  When we are in an organisation whether a church or somewhere else we want our leaders to have a vision for us as individuals and for the group collectively. We want no need leaders to chart the course.

    But what is charting the course? What is having a vision? Is it being able to predict what will happen in two weeks, two months or two years?

    No, I don’t think so, for two reasons. Firstly I don’t know what is happening tomorrow so how can I predict what will happen down the road? Secondly, this practice is based on outdated 1980s style business management which the business world has done away with.

    What I think we need to have a vision for is who we are as a community. So maybe we need to talk not about vision but identity. Leaders need to be able to define who we are as a community, who we want to be and how to get there.

    This identity then permeates every aspect of the organisation so that everything is refreshed and pushed forward by this identity.

    So as a leader do you have an idea of who the community that you lead is meant to be? Do you have an idea of how to get there? Does the identity of your community affect and shape everything you do?


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  • Leaders communicate clearly

    There is nothing worse than talking to someone and you walk away not knowing what they really said or meant. It is tough listening to someone who is just not clear in their communication.

    Leaders however must be noted by their clarity of communication.

    If you hang out with a great leader you see they communicate with confidence and with clear direct words. But how do you develop this?

    I have asked leaders and studied them and it seems that they do or are the following:

    Competent in their field – The reason a leader can be clear in their communication is that they know what they are talking about. They have had years in their field and they have thought deeply about what it means to be successful in their field. So when they speak they have a wealth of knowledge backing up their words which in turn makes their communication are clear and direct.

    They are prepared – Leaders are over prepared and this helps them to clearly communicate what they want. They have prepared what they want to say, how they want to say and why they want to say it.  I once sat down with an ex CEO of a multibillion dollar company and asked him about communication and he said that before every meeting whether it be a phone meeting, board meeting or just a meeting over a beer he would write down on a piece of paper what he wants to say and he would rehearse how he wanted to say it so that the best outcomes would be brought about. It is no fluke then that he was a brilliant communicator and leader. As leaders we should be striving for this kind of preparation.

    They are direct – Leaders never want to leave the people they lead thinking “What was I meant to do?” So they are very direct in communicating what they want and what is best for the organisation they lead.  This directness takes time to prepare but when they are prepared, leaders are direct in their speech.

    They have energy – When they communicate leaders have an energy that is infectious. They use words which have energy built into them. They use phrases which push forward in a loving way. They have artful turns of phrase that inspire, energize and encourage. Do you, as a leader, use your words to inspire, energize and build up?

    They love their people- as we have seen in the last post leaders love their people. This love helps the leader shape the way they communicate to each person they talk with.

    Leaders communicate in a way that inspires the people they love. They are direct and clear because they are prepared and competent in their field.


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  • Leaders connect with people on an emotional level.

    Think of a leader you would die for? Think of a leader you love? Why do you love them? Why would you die for them? Is it because they have a title or a name? Is it because of their level of skill?

    Generally not.

    See we have all met people with a title (boss, pastor, rev, CEO) who are jerks and yet we have met people with a title who we love. Also, we have all met people who have great skill and knowledge and yet we don’t like to talk to them let alone die for them!

    What is the difference between a leader who you love and leaders who you don’t really care about.

    The difference is the leaders who we love make an effort to connect with us on an emotional level.

    Do you make an effort to connect with the people you lead on an emotional level?

    How do you do that?

    Speak – you need to speak to the people you lead and let them know how much you value them. Tell them that you love them, tell them that they did a good job and be specific and enthusiastic in your praise. Don’t say “hey that was very helpful”  say “Man I loved the way you did X because of these four reasons and I found it encouraging because of Y and man I can’t wait to see you do that again. Great job! Leaders connect with words

    Understanding- we all want to be understood. But do we as leaders go out of our way to understand the people we are leading? Do we seek to ask the question “Why are they thinking this?” or “Why is this an issue for them?” before we launch into a rebuttal of their views?

    Emotional intelligence – I sat down with a woman a few days ago who interviewed a bunch of candidates for a pastoral position. I asked her what she thought of the talent coming out of the local bible college and her response was “They generally lack emotional intelligence!” Emotional intelligence is the ability to discern the where a person or a group of people are at emotionally and to tailor actions and words to the emotional climate. Young men find this extremely hard because we want to fix things and win. Emotional intelligence forces us to slow down and think but also do the hard work of communicating and caring. As leaders we need to work on our emotional intelligence. We need to empathise with the people we lead and we need to laugh and cry with them too.

    Do what you say you will do – A way of loving people is to come through on your promises. If you say you will pray for them do you pray for them? If you say you will do something by this time do you do it? Are you a person who the people you lead can say “He or she loves me because they show it in their actions.”

    Apologize – When leaders who connect screw up they apologize. Not because it is a wise tactical move but because they are genuinely sorry. Who do you have to apologize to?

    Leaders do the hard work of connecting with people. They know that leadership is all about relationships. They love their people and this comes our in everything they do.

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  • Leadership boils down to three things

    I have read a lot of books on leadership in my short stay on this earth and I have been amazed at how many different things that leaders need to do or be. John Maxwell thinks there are 21 Laws of Leadership, Kouzes and Posner in the Leadership Challenge thinks there are five practices of exemplary leadership. I dunno about you I can barely remember 5 things let alone 21 and so is there a way we can boil leadership down to just the core essentials?

    I have been watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares lately and seeing learning what he does as a leader. Now some of you are thinking that Gordon Ramsay is that loud mouth pom who drops the F bomb a lot and so he is not to be taken seriously. But what I have noticed when I have been watching Kitchen Nightmares is that he is a great leader. If you have haven’t seen the show, Gordon comes into a restaurant that is usually about to close and has one week to turn it around. The selling point is the conflict but what I am seeing  is leadership.

    It seems that Gordon Ramsay does three things when he comes into a struggling kitchen and these three things are the things that I think all leaders do.

    1. Connect with people
    2. Communicate clearly
    3. Chart the course

    Over the next three days I will be blogging about these three things that all leaders do which will help me clarify my thoughts as I work on them myself.


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  • How I am using Google+ circles

    Google+ is the new thing on the social media block. I love it and my wife is sick of hearing about it! It has a lot of features that I have yet to tap into but these features make it look a lot better functionally then Facebook. (I still love Facebook and Twitter though!)

    The great advantage that Google+ has over Facebook is its circles feature. If you are not on Google+ when you post a status update on Facebook all your “friends” can see it. Google+ circles means that you can group friends according to what they are to you. For example I have a Resolved circle and a friends circle and a networking circle etc. People can be in more than one circle also. So when I put a post on Google+ I can select a circle and only the people in the Circle I select will see it.

    This means I can have a series of posts going out to my networking friends about what I am doing and what Resolved is doing. I can then have a series of posts trying to inform people of what is happening is at Resolved in the Resolved circle and I can have some discussion starter type posts in my friends circle.

    Circles gives me the opportunity to target different groups of people and use it as a tool to connect these people with Resolved which is what I want to use my social media for.

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  • Who should I date?

    When you look at the media and what it thinks are desirable qualities in a mate it seems like the qualities are very shallow.

    If you are looking for a girl you want her to be thin and yet stacked, flawless skin and yet look like that in the morning etc. She must always ready for sex, always funny, never angry or moody and be dressed like she is trying to be the next Paris Hilton and yet be sweet enough to be taken home and charm your mother!

    If it is a guy you are after, he is meant to have the right kind of facial hair, a six pack, he must wear no shirt like McConaughey and be manly enough to go bear hunting with a twig and come back with seven carcasses and sensitive enough to write a poem about his feelings about killing the bears!

    The issue is that looks fade. The bag and sag hits everyone’s body and so in 10 or 20 years we will not look as good as we did now let alone when we were 18.  The only option is to become a gym junkie or have so much plastic surgery that we end up not looking our age or our species. And the people we will be with will not look as good as they did when we met them.

    So if you are single you must train yourself to be attracted to and date people who have qualities that are more than skin deep.

    When  you look at the ideal wife in the bible (Proverbs 31) there is nothing to do with her looks, her body or the fact that she is a fun chick to be around. No what God says men should go for is a woman of wisdom and character.

    There is not a similar list for the ideal husband in the bible but there is a list of characteristics that a leader of a church should have (1 Tim 3). It is a list which I think should be the list of things single woman train themselves to be attracted to.

    So who should you date if you are single?

    Someone of character who loves Jesus.

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  • Integrating Google +, Twitter and Facebook

    I just started using Google + and it looks awesome!!! But as soon as I was on there I was frustrated because I had my Twitter and Facebook accounts linked so that I could just open up Tweetdeck and type a tweet and it would go to Facebook and Twitter but then I had to cut and paste my tweet to Google +. But now I don’t have to do this!

    If you want your Google+, Twitter and Facebook accounts linked go to https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/hbgcgahdbgbdenffckohanhobdcnkoip and download SGplus which is a tool which lets you post something on Google+ and then it automatically Tweets it and Facebooks it!

    By the way I would love to keep the conversation going on Twitter, Facebook and Google + so please feel free to add me!

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  • What I learnt from John Stott

    Today I read this:

    “Those self-appointed evangelical leaders come across as hypocrites, monetizing Jesus rather than emulating him. Some seem homophobic, and many who claim to be “pro-life” seem little concerned with human life post-uterus. Those are the preachers who won headlines and disdain.”

    The quote is taken from a piece in the New York Times about John Stott who passed away last week. This article basically says how well Stott did at emulating Christ and how badly other more well known christian leaders have done in this area.

    It made me think what does the world hear from me?

    What does the world hear from my church, Resolved?

    What does the world hear from us as Christians?

    Do they hear that we love them as we take a stand on the issues we should take a stand on?

    Do they hear compassion as we preach?

    Do they hear and see both truth and tears or is it just cold truth?

    One of the things that I loved about John Stotts writing and his preaching was his ability to say what was true about our world and our condition and yet he came never across as judgmental but loving and caring. You could hear and feel as he preached and wrote that these weren’t just ideas and words he was preaching and writing about. These words and ideas were designed and crafted for people and so he needed to communicate them with care and love.

    I hope one day I can master preaching the hard truths of the gospel with love and care just like John Stott did.

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  • An apology from a Pastor to the gay community

    To the Gay community,

    As a pastor I want to apologise to you for so much.

    • I am sorry that a lot of Christians have not treated you with dignity and respect even though as people you are created in the image of God
    • I am sorry that a lot of Christians have not listened to you. We haven’t spent the time to hear about you and your hurts and fears and dreams.
    • I am sorry that a lot of Christians (especially the ones on T.V.) talk about being gay as if it is the worst thing even as we turn a blind eye to our greed, gossip, slander and other sins we make excuses for
    • I am sorry for TV Evangelists because they are TV Evangelists
    • I am sorry that in our conversation we major on your sin when I think Jesus would have majored on his love
    • I am sorry that we have not been there for you in your dark times. When you have seen friends die of AIDS. When many from within your number have committed suicide.
    • I am sorry that we have not preached against the sin of Homophobia
    • I am sorry that we have kept saying that we are all sinners which has made many of you wonder why is being gay so bad if we are all sinners? We should have communicated that the response we all have to make to Gods love is one of repentance.
    • I am sorry that we have tried to cure you of your homosexuality instead of helping you see how Jesus transforms who you are and gives you a new identity.
    • I am sorry that we have not loved you as God himself loves you.

    I am sorry for all these things and I hope you can forgive us. We would love to start a conversation about who Jesus is and how much he has done for you and how much he loves you.

    In love,


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  • A sermon celebrating Dad’s life

    Dad was born 21st of April 1948 to Hans and Kristiane Kristensen of SdrVium in Denmark. He was born premature and was not expected to live. But dad, being the fighter that he was, he lived. Early on in Dad’s life his parents taught him the value of hard work mixed in with lots of love and fun. He was taken to church every Sunday where he was taught about Jesus in Sunday School by his grandmother whom he loved dearly. At school dad was a bit of the class clown but he excelled in all his classes without much study.

    After school Dad went and did his apprenticeship in carpentry. Around this time he started to race in rallies. Dad had a lot of stories to tell about him and rally driving. He never won a race but one time he did come in 2nd. It was in the worst car he ever drove: a Ford Cortina. His dad told him before the race that if he broke down, don’t come and call him. Well they came 2nd and on the way back home they did break down. My grandfather was called and because they came second, my grandfather picked him up.
    Not long after he was finished his apprenticeship, Dad moved to work in Greenland and in 1972, after going back to Denmark for a short time,Dad boarded a ship bound for Australia. When he landed he found a job very quickly and John and Sharn Vanderplas took him under their wing.

    Dad told me that when he landed in Australia he had a limited use of English and so he learnt English from the guys on the worksite and also from reading the Telegraph Newspaper and till the day he died Dad Loved reading the Telegraph. But Dad’s grasp of the English language wasn’t perfect. He did get some words wrong and our family had so much fun with this. One time dad was talking about his beloved Magazine Unique Cars but dad called it Uni Q cars. To which we all laughed and said ‘Can you pass the uni q cars? Where is the paper? Under the copy of Uni Q cars.’ Dad had enough of this and said “shut up none of you can speak two languages!” To which I replied “Well neither can you!”

    Some time after that Dad started working for the guy he would call boss for almost 40 years, Ysbrand Verhuel. In this time dad came home with many stories about working with Ysbrand, Kenny, Lee, Darrell,Weemalah Bill, Doug and many others. He took great pride in his workand to all those he worked with I just want to say he loved you guys like brothers. Thanks so much for being the best bunch of mates for my dad. And thank you for giving my dad so many good times, stories and jokes. The last time I remember my dad really laughing was recounting a joke that Kenny told. My dad loved you guys and you guys loved Dad.Thanks for that.

    It was around the same time that dad started working for Ysbrand that Dad saw her. She was a leggy brunette with a big smile. They were at the German club in Stanmore in Sydney and she had just told one of her Girlfriends that “all the good guys were taken!” and then dad asked her for a dance. The girl was my mum and that was the first and last time Dad asked mum for a dance. In the year that Mum and Dad were dating dad would finish work in Bega and then Narrabri at 3:30pm and then he would get in his car and drive the many hours it took to see Mum.On the 18th of December 1976 mum and Dad were married. Mum had snagged the guy she would later dub her handsome hunk of humanity!Mum and dad had a very loving marriage, one where there were a lot of laughs. time I remember Mum had gone out clothes shopping that day and since come home. She had changed into her house cleaning clothes and then dad came home and mum said to him “I bought some new clothes today” and Dad looked up at mum in her daggy housecleaning clothes and said “Mmm looks Good”.

    On the 8th of may 1978 Mum and Dad welcomed into the world their first child, a beautiful girl named Sarah. A few years later Mum and dad welcomed me into their lives. Dad loved us kids like anything and he would consistently go out of his way to help us fulfill our dreams.Whether it be driving me to Gunnedah every 2nd week for guitar lessons or helping Sarah out with…… Dad was only too ready to do all he could for his kids.

    Growing up, our home was full of laughter and where laughter was,dad was usually to be found. It seemed like every week dad had a funny story or joke to tell that he heard from work. But Dad had the amazing ability to get a rise out of us at will. Whether it be watching the news with mum and saying something totally inappropriate to which mum turn to dad and react, or saying something to Sarah that was politically very right wing, or arguing with me that Elvis Presley was the best guitarist ever and that Jimi Hendrix couldn’t play compared to Elvis,Dad knew how to get a rise out of us. And when we bit hard and argue back, that cheeky smile came across his face which meant that dad was having a stir and loving every minute of it!

    Growing up, Dad taught Sarah and I about hard work, not taking yourself seriously and about loving and respecting everyone. For Dad it didn’t matter where you were from, what colour your skin was or whether you were rich or poor. As long as you worked hard, respect others and liked a good joke, you were okay in Dad’s book.

    Dad wasn’t part of the generation where guys were open with their feelings of affection for each other. Dad showed his love for people by doing things for them. Whether it be being the Danish translator town for a lot of people or helping out chopping some wood for someone, or just doing some odd job, I think most of us could say something that Dad helped us with. And if you gauge how much Dad Loved by how much he helped others, dad was one of the most loving men we have ever known.

    Dad loved his family in Denmark and I think he would say that some of his best times were when we went as a family over to Denmark. We Had many trips to Denmark and we all loved every minute of them.And over the years we have had many visits from various friends of the family or cousins, and in the last few years Mum and Dad were blessed with three visits from Karen and Knud, Dad’s sister and brother in law.

    In 2009 dad had a cancerous kidney removed but unfortunately that cancer had already spread. Dad was diagnosed with Bone Cancer in January 2010 and the prognosis was dire. In the time that he had cancer, although dad was frustrated, tired and sometimes in pain, mum says that Dad never complained once, never got angry and always hoped for the best. It was in this time that our family experienced the great skill and care of Dr Jack Shepherd and Dr Scott Finlay along with the great nursing staff at Moree hospital. Moree is extremely blessed by God to have such skillful and caring medical practitioners and I want to thank them on behalf of our family for all they did for dad. But the other person that deserves high praise is mum. Mum, you worked around the clock tirelessly for dad, you always were so upbeat and positive and you never asked anyone for sympathy, you just did the job of loving dad and you did a great job. I think dad lasted so long because you were such a compassionate, faithful and loving wife.

    But one of the greatest things that Dad did in his last 18 months on earth was to reconnect with Jesus. Dad always had a belief that God was there but it seemed as though because the end was imminent,dad took these beliefs more seriously. And so we need to ask, what hope is there for my dad now that he is no longer here with us? But we also have to ask what hope is there for any of us in the face of death? Because one day we will all be where dad is right now. There is so much hope in the face of death in the two passages we had read before that mum and Sarah chose.

    In the first one Jesus is having his last meal with his mates, his followers, and he has told them he is going to die and so they are freaking out. But did you see Jesus words:
    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”

    Jesus says to his followers that he will prepare a place for them. Jesus has prepared a place for dad too. See, so many have said to me and my family that dad is in a better place now and that is true. But Dad being in a better place now is not mere sentimentality, it is reality. It is this hope that we can all be assured of. That you can be assured of. But how can I be so confident? Well it is because of what Jesus says.

    Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

    Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
    Jesus, in effect, says ‘If you want this hope you have to connect with me.’ See the message of Jesus that my dad believed in is that God Lovingly created each one of us with beauty and with dignity and worth and yet despite our best intentions we have pushed God aside and said ‘Hey man, I will run my own life.’ But it is God who fixes the situation that we are in. It is God who came down as a man named Jesus and it is this Jesus who took the punishment for our rebellion when he died on the cross. It is this Jesus who rose physically from the dead guaranteeing that death, although it is final on this earth,it is not the end. Jesus is preparing a place for us. See dad is not in heaven because he was a good bloke or because he went to church or whatever. Dad is heaven because of what Jesus has done for Dad and because dad trusted Jesus when he reconnected with him.

    But what is that place like? What is heaven like? Well that is what our 2nd passage talks about.
    And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

    There are two things that we see here what this place is like. The first thing is that God will be with his people. The relationship that we broke is now fully restored. And secondly, did you see what is not there?There will be no more pain or crying, no more death or mourning, no more cancer, no more. I dunno about you but I am sick of mourning,I am sick of crying, I am sick of death. But the hope that Jesus gives is that he is preparing a place for us that is exactly like this.
    One of the things I hope you will do today as you celebrate my dad’s life is you will ask yourself whether you have this hope that my dad had in the end. Dad was not scared of death because he knew where he was going.
    Last Friday when dad died, there was no mention of dad on the Prime News, or Seven news or the ABC news. There was no mention of him in his beloved telegraph newspaper. But when he died, all heaven was on their feet welcoming dad home. That is the future we can all experience. That is the future my dad is experiencing all because of Jesus.

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