Life


project-manager-or-scapegoat

Blaming people is as old as history. The poetic stories surrounding the creation account found in Judaeo/Christian writing shows the story of God asking Adam, “who ate the forbidden fruit?”

It was the woman who you put here, it’s her fault!” (Man has blamed God or women for most of their issues since…I’m told ;-))

There is the ancient Hebrew story of sacrificial goats, one is killed and the blood poured on the other which is sent out to die in the wilderness, representing the taking away of blame and guilt of the people. This is where we get the term ‘scapegoat‘.

  • Mobs and individuals have ‘scapegoated’, laid blame on, (not just) innocent people forever.
  • Kids in the playgrounds gang up and bully the ‘looser’.
  • Insecure bosses lay their ‘issues’ on a worker,
  • Workers gang up and lay their blame on a peer.  
  • We often seek to blame and shame/scapegoat through gossip and criticism.

It’s feels easier than owning it, easier than dealing with our ‘shit’ – just lay it on someone else and I feel better…for a while. This happens in mobs from Egypt to Baghdad, it happens in workplaces from New York to Balcatta.

The cross of Christ was all about scapegoating, the Romans and Jews all had something to lay on him, but as it turns out, all of man-kind did. Violence seems to be our default position, this was exposed in the cross of Christ. “No more”…is what the cross says.

When we own our insecurities, when we discover the pointlessness of the ‘blame game’, the pointlessness of repeated violence, when we grow in awareness of our ‘murderous ways’ – then and only then do we really get along and get some serious living done!

6a00e54ecc070b883301b7c78443ea970b-115wiBeyond the Walls by Brad Chilcott

Who would’ve thought that one photo could cause so much trouble?

It wasn’t the first time I’d been criticized for my friendship and solidarity with the Muslim community, in fact I’d had some threats of violence when I spoke up about Halal certification but this one took it another level. Had I renounced the gospel? Sure, being friends with Muslims, but praying in a mosque? Did I even believe in Jesus anymore? The beard didn’t help any.

Had I taken the instructions “love your neighbour as yourself” and “love your enemy” too literally? Too far?

1 John 3. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

We know what loves looks like by only one measure. Jesus Christ. We only know what loves looks like because we know Jesus and what it looked like for him.

And if I had a Bible for every time I’ve heard a Christian use their love for everyone as an excuse to be bigoted, hateful, insular, selfish, fear-mongering, greedy and self- interested I’d be the library at the Vatican.

You’ve heard it like I have. This flippant Christianese about loving people for whom we hold our deepest prejudices and ugliest hatreds.

Let me say this –

If it sounds like hate, feels like hate and makes people feel hated then it’s certainly not love

There’s not some special form of love that only Christians get to know about that looks and feels a lot more like hate for those that it is directed towards, but in some super spiritual secret way is still love.

If it looks like prejudice, feels like prejudice and keeps us as far away from people as prejudice does, then it’s prejudice.

There’s not a special form of Christian love that looks like prejudice, feels like prejudice and distances and dehumanises people like prejudice but in actual fact is some secret kind of love that only Christians know of.

There’s no special kind of love where you get to be horrible to people, or pretend they don’t exist, a kind of love where you stay in your insular and ignorant world, judge people you’ve never met, protect yourself from difference and religiously maintain your privileged way of life and self-righteously sheltered paradigm.

There’s a reason that doesn’t sound a lot like love.

Because it isn’t love. It’s prejudice wrapped up in faith.

It’s ignorance wrapped up in religion.

It’s bigotry masquerading as Christianity.

It’s selfishness appropriating the name of the selfless one to excuse greed and insularity.

It’s our rampant desire for a comfortable, self-interested life using the one who gave up the trappings of heaven to set us free as an excuse not to give a damn about anyone except ourselves, our situation and our perspective.

That’s not love it’s blasphemy.

But seeing as that little rant doesn’t relate to anyone here in this room I want to move on and talk about some things that are a bit more insidious, a bit less overt and obvious but are nevertheless important to reflect upon if we are to apply this wild measure of love to our work in the community and world.

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus laid down his life for us.” There’s a CS Lewis quote that I find helpful to explain it in practice

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” ―C.S. Lewis

Another way of putting that could be “good intentions are not the same thing as love”.

Why? Because if we don’t do the hard work of turning good intentions into real outcomes for people then it’s likely that the “good” in “good intentions” is more about how good we feel about what we’re doing.

There’s a danger that we’re in fact congratulating ourselves for the intention to do good deeds, the videos we made to celebrate them and the likes on our Instagram account of ourselves with poor children rather than doing whatever it takes for the good of the people we say we love.

The phrase in CS Lewis’ quote “As far as it can be obtained” is key for us, I think. Love seeks the ultimate good of the loved person “as far as it can be obtained”.

Here are some very practical things that love does when love has the intention to work for the “ultimate good … as far as it can be obtained”.

1. Love intentionally escapes the echo chamber. In love we realise that it is easy to be surrounded by people, ideas, books and stories that affirm what we believe, the way we think, our theology, missiology and ecclesiology and we end up in a situation where we think anyone who isn’t doing it like us, or with us, must be naive, uneducated or willfully incompetent.

The echo chamber is when we find a bunch of like-minded churches, with similar culture to our own, and so do what they’re doing – it must be the right thing because they had a sick video and their people love it.

Love is not an excuse to be uneducated, or narrowly educated. Love is a steady wish for the loved one’s good as far as it can be obtained. As far as it can be obtained means being aware of the danger of the echo chamber where all our ideas, practices and projects are constantly being affirmed by those who we have become mirrors of.

2. Love is teachable and actively seeks out learning and critique. Love makes sure we’re at the cutting edge of community engagement, aid and development and have made every endeavor to learn from the best practitioners in the world about how to maximize our engagement with the people we say we love.

Love is not an excuse to do things badly. Love is not an excuse to be ten years behind. What I mean by this is that love won’t just send money, people and hours to any foreign aid and development project, or local community development work, driven by an emotional response we call love.

Love will, in seeking the loved one’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained, actively seek to understand what it world’s best practice today and invest in that best practice.

If you don’t know what results-based accountability, asset-based community development or collective impact mean, it’s time to learn.

When we’re still behaving like the white Saviours who can solve all the world’s problems for them the photos look great but It’s not love.

3. Love maximizes outcomes no matter what the cost – because it’s about the recipient and what they get out of our love acting towards them and not about us and our desire to feel like we’re good people.

In a small church community like mine, hundreds of people hours and thousands of dollars are invested in helping the people we love. In larger churches it’d be thousands of hours and tens or hundreds of thousands.

Across this room, across Australia, it’s incredible to think how much human and financial resource flows from our love for others.

Love, seeking the loved one’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained, pays the price of ensuring this investment does the most good it possibly can. That sometimes leads to conflict when we learn that our favorite projects aren’t aligned with good development principles, or that our community engagement isn’t helping but is feeding a dependency mindset.

Love sometimes means educating people that there are better organisations, projects, activities to invest their time and money into, and others that need to be abandoned, or radically re-imagined.

Love is not an excuse to avoid the conflict that comes from assessment, accountability and education. In fact, love makes those things essential because love doesn’t ask, “How does this activity benefit me and my church?” or “How does this keep people in my church happy and comfortable?” love says, “How can I best obtain the ultimate good for these people we say we love?”

This is how we know what love is – Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. What would you give up for love of people?

Changing the way it’s always been done? Escaping the echo chamber and being challenged by new ideas and paradigms? Being willing to take your people on a journey towards world’s best practice despite the uncomfortable changes on the way?

Maybe it’s risking your reputation, like Jesus being seen with sex workers, tax collectors and sinners as we do whatever it takes to make our community engagement about them and not about us and our church-culture measures of success.

This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. Thanks.

Brad Chilcott

[Source: World Vision’s National Church Leader’s Summit – February 2015]

 


In April of 2010 I did a flat water canoeing course with my then employer Alta-1 Education. The guy leading the course was Mark Tait from Kuringal Education (Christchurch Grammar School). We got talking about a dream both of us had dreamed about building a Cedar strip canoe. I had considered it from time to time over previous years, I was particularly inspired when a friend built 3 nice kayaks our of Cedar. So the conversation with Mark on the course tipped me over the edge and I began to investigate plans.

I discovered a great book about canoe building that had been turned into a DVD. Good start, watch a DVD. The brilliant (and entertaining) carpenter made it look so easy, as a good carpenter would! So I bought the book some weeks after I watch the DVD (minutes more like!)

Now with the book and DVD from the same place the plans needed to follow.

In July I made the choice of Bear Mountain Boats for my place of purchase for plans (Where the book and DVD came from). Theboat – The Prospector. An old guy, a legend canoeist off one of the training videos we watched on the course used this canoe, so that sealed my choice, I ordered the plans. They cost me about $100 with postage.

I had promised to finish building a long promised bed for Christine and I. So after the plans arrived I needed to do 2 things;

1. Clear the shed of all the bio diesel production plant

2. Build a bed head.

Once complete … well to be honest just before the bed was complete I began the construction of what is called The Strong-back. This is like the bench upon which everything else is built on.

Strong-back #1 was built from a booklet that came with the plan kit. That was a mistake. I should have stuck to the book and build the lot from the one set of instructions because the Strong-back in this little booklet was a different one and did not fit the boat I planned to build. Sophie my 9 year old disassembled the whole thing with my drill, she had fun – I was frustrated, off to a bad start!

By the 4th of September I had finished Strong-back MkII. I had not paid for any wood andwas determined not to. The wood for the actual boat was to cost me plenty! In fact I understood I would be up for over $600 for the Cedar. I mixed up (wrongly) some resin and glued it all to the floor.

Around this time I began to get fascinated by hand carved paddles. I saw some nice ones down at Main Peak Paddle in Cottesloe. I investigated online and found a good teaching DVD from the UK – couldn’t resist. I bought it!

By the end of September I had set out all the station blocks and created the 2 stem molds. The pointy ends at the bow and stern of the boat. These are all just molds mind you. Not actual canoe. The stem molds would be used to bend the steam heated strips of wood around.

A few days into October and I had created a few of the station molds but I was fast running out of wood. I had gotten wood from all over the place, – bulk rubbish, Des up the road, Alta-1 shed, Uncle Earl and so on.

I stopped the mold stations for a few weeks towards the end of October whilst I taught myself how to steam bend. This started with the construction of a steam bender for the small strips of wood I had for the Bow and stern. I bought exactly the wood recommended in the book.

Each end had 3 strips of Cedar for the the under-stem and 2 Ash and a final strip of Cherry for the outer stem. I soaked them in hot water for about 4 hours then steamed each set (6) for 20 minutes before bending them and clamping them on the stem. I did this again for the stern.

Then a couple of weeks later I made up a (good) batch of resin. Stem set 1 glued up good, the second one, well lets just say the weather was warmer and the resin went off quicker! But it all worked out OK. I think it did not spend enough time making sure all the strips were the same width and when clamped up I did not work hard at making sure they were all in line. This posed a problem later when I went to mark center lines! I needed to borrow lots of clamps!

With only a few station molds left to make and the stems completed I decided it was time to look into buying the lengths on rough sawn Cedar. Austim are the importers of all things rare in the Timber game so I headed down there happy to discover they did 6m lengths of 50x150mm Western Red Cedar from British Columbia…the price was $997! I bought it quick so I didn’t have time to think about it!

At the beginning of November I scabbed a hug sheet of MDF for station molds from Alta-1 which took me to only needing to build 3 more. I found some out at the factory where Clint and I went to rip all the Cedar one Saturday. The ripping job took almost 5 hour out there in Bayswater with 4 of us on the job, Massive!

By mid November all station molds were complete, balanced/leveled and set in place with a fastener running temporarily along the top to stop wobble. Each station had tape running around its edge to stop glue from sticking to it when the boat was pulled off.

Sophie and Clint helped out in what was a 10 hour day for me running the strips through the router here at home to create the bead and cove joins.

Last Saturday, the 20th November I laid out the first 2 strips along the beam line. Not easy as it all had to balance right. When I tried to put another one on top, the staples ran out and I couldn’t fit the new ones right, the glue dried and … well it was a frustrating mess to say the least. This is the hardest most stressful part of the whole process to date – without a doubt!

I got 3 strips up and decided to head to CarbaTech and buy me a chunk of Western Australian Sheoak. A lovely red hard wood, but not as had as Jarrah to run a feature strip along the waterline.

It was a short bit and I had to join it twice on each side of the boat. In fact putting those 2 strips on in the heat of the day was quite the challenge…glue drying, wood slitting, seeing gaps through the joints AND through the bead and cove join – aghhh. But it’s looking ok.

 

I think I will call this the half way point and do part 2 as the next post…

I was reflecting the other day on why it is that some people seem to be motivated to change the world and other struggle to change their undies.

The two types of people were juxtaposed this past month in a couple of events I have been involved in. A camp for kids who are at risk from falling through the education system as well as falling into the prison system, then a couple of meetings with a young guy who used to be in my youth group who has recently set up Spark* a fantastic leadership development not-for-profit organization to train leaders in the developing world, starting with PNG.

The camp I ran was for Alta-1, a great education program to help kids hold their education until they can either graduate to further study or into the work force. Many of these kids have done time in juvenile detention or/and have been kicked from school to school due to behavioural issues or simply learning ability. Some of these kids lack so many of the things people need to ‘make it.’ And by make it, I mean…the basics, healthy relationships, a job…any job, a place to live, a budget to enable them to eat and sleep somewhere, stay out of trouble and the like. Many, not all, but many, seem to lack serious EQ. Awareness skills. I sat there listening to some of the conversations wondering how they would do much with their lives. It sounds judgemental – I know – but that was what I was thinking. I even went to questioning the parenting. I had opportunity to spend the second week of the camp camping alongside one of the parents of the kids who came in week one. This Dad, I pre-judged the first time I met him. I judged him based upon the behaviour of his son on a previous camp I had run. But having 4 nights together around a campfire I was able to put aside my prejudices and get to know him a little better. I have heard myself saying, “it’s always the parents”, when it comes to kids and their behaviours. Well maybe parenting is a major part in teenage rage and misbehaviour, but I tell you this – This guy was a really nice guy with some very strong views on parenting and discipline. Not too heavy, not too light, he seemed to me – just right. Why then would his kid plant a brick through the front window of their house and the family car, then proceed to kick in all the doors in the house? Drugs? Maybe. But why drugs? Peer pressure? Maybe. But where did he learn how to choose his peers and be wise in these choices? Man!! Sometimes I wonder if there is a heap of luck in parenting. You just get what you get. Well actually, I don’t think that at all. I do believe parenting plays a major role in moving teens through ‘those years’. Easy for me to say this…my oldest has only just entered ‘those years’. But decisions we make as parents, ways in which we parent, consistent positive patterns of parenting all compound – surely – to create a safe(r) passage through adolecence…I hope!  One example of this was when I was speaking to this father around the campfire and he said he only let his  14 y/o stay out all night twice a week. I shared that my daughter was only just allowed to go to the shops with friends for an hour on a Thursday night and even then only a few times a term! But it’s too late for my friend I think. The freedom has been given, now it would be more than hard to take it back. His son has parked his brain somewhere and is running with a pretty rough crowd.

The other conversation that I had this past month was with a young guy I had in my youth group when I was a Pastor at Whitford – Aaron Tait. This guy comes from a classic “anything is possible” type family. His Dad makes pretty much everything he touches turn to gold. He talks like something between your nicest next door neighbour and an Amway seller, he is a good guy.

Aaron is an inspiring leader and social entrepreneur. Deployed to Iraq on a United Nations mission as an 18-year-old, the leader of a secondary school for vulnerable children in a Tanzanian slum at 23, and more recently the developer of a HIV orphanage and micro-finance project in rural Kenya, his leadership of his new venture – Spark* is built on a first hand understanding of the frontline realities of humanitarian work. Aaron matches this experience with a Masters of Strategy and Policy, and a Masters of Development with Distinction from the University of Cambridge, as well as a couple of degrees he completed whist still in the Navy. To sit and hear him and his wife Kaitlin share their story this past Wednesday night at our church was simple inspiring. But as much as it was inspiring, I had to ask in relation to this post, “was this the ‘doing’ of his parents? Was it just a lucky series of events?” (he just got a good commander in the Navy who encouraged further study, he didn’t get shot, he met a great wife, he was moved by compassion on a trip to Africa to start a school etc) – I suggest not! Was it something he was born with, just a positive, ‘can do’ personality…the same as his Dad’s! So what do you think? Environment or genetic? Both?

How does one kid leave home at 17, knowingly or unknowingly to change the world, and another (I know he is only 14 and could yet become a world changer!) ends up doing time in Rangeview Detention Centre and continues to tag everything he can touch and is generally looking like heading into an ugly life of interactions with the wrong side of the law?

Dads – Fathers Day this weekend – may you be challenged not only by the question – “What do you want as a gift” (for me – a new drill!) but also by the question, “How will you raise, challenge, nurture and love the gift you have been given in the child(ren) you have”?

I am not saying every child has to end up like my friend Aaron and create brilliant organisations like Spark* and change the world…but, heck, the world could use a few more like him!

I think Matty B emailed this to me once. I now must be reading a book he was reading then and so I too have come across this great quote, and I publish it for you (probably again, I am sure I put it in here once before!)

Parker J Palmer says;

…the soul is [ ] shy. Just like a wild animal, it seeks safety in the dense underbrush, especially when other people are around. If we want to see a wild animal, we know that the last thing we should do is go crashing through the woods yelling for it to come out. But if we walk quietly into the woods, sit patiently at the base of a tree, breathe with the earth, and fade into our surroundings, the wild creature we seek might put in an appearance. We may see it only briefly and only out of the corner of an eye – but the sight is a gift we will always treasure as an end in itself.

A Hidden Wholeness (58/9)

Matt (OEUp) sent me this link. These reflections are definitely thoughts I regularly ponder!

Taken from – here

Pioneer and/or Pastor

Just at the moment I’m struggling with energy, it’s not tiredness in the traditional sense, it’s more a sense of being de-energised… this morning feeling incredibly down I began to reflect on just why I’ve been feeling so down/depressed for the last week or so… it’s fair to say life isn’t easy, financially things are tricky for us as a family but I began to realise that there is a deeper personal/spiritual issue for me… I’m a Pioneer, a creative etc. I need new challenges, new projects to sink my teeth into, to get my creative juices flowing again.

In the business world it seems accepted that entrepreneurs are always entrepreneurs, they specialise in “blue sky thinking” and they then work with managers and administrators… the worst thing to do with a new product/initiative is to leave it in the hands of the inventor!  Yet in the Church it seems to be assumed that a pioneer will gradually morph into a manager/pastor… I’m beginning to doubt this model.  There is nothing wrong with managing, and we all need to manage to some extent, but as a Pioneer I’m finding it’s killing me!  When I worked in the Theatre a project would last 2/3 months then it would be time to move on to the next challenge, I could never be (and never was) a stage manager who would stay with the show for the foreseeable… I had to move on… I’m beginning to realise this is my nature, I’m energised by risk, by new problems to solve, by the creative dynamic… when left to manage something I stuff it up, not by making a mess of it but because I find myself gradually drained and I lose the energy needed and I get distracted or just thoroughly demotivated… and as hard as I try I can’t find energy from nowhere!    With the creative bit between my teeth I get told off for being a workaholic, without it I can turn into a couch potato!  I’m not sure what the answer is, but it worries me that the CofE has put a lot of work into developing the Pioneer Ministry stream (both Lay and Ordained) perhaps assuming that once they have started new things they will cease to be pioneers and become Pastors… I just wonder how sustainable it is to wind up all these Pioneers if we are going to sooner or later squeeze them into being something they are not?

I took one of those Personality Profile things – Myer – Briggs. It was scary how accurate it was

This is me ;

ENFP (Extraversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Perception)

You are warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. You see life as full of possibilities. You make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns you see. You want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. You are spontaneous and flexible, and often rely on your ability to improvise and verbal fluency. Famous people with your same ENFP personality include: Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Andy Kaufman, Bill Cosby, Robin Williams, Sandra Bullock, and Robert Downey Jr.

Next Page »