What It's About

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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Human Beings Being Human

We can well understand others when they fail, for we ourselves have failed, and we will continue to fail, as will they. They may fail us, but one day we may fail them, if we haven’t already. When we have just failed someone, we may thank God that we may be more compassionate with those who are about to fail us, especially if we experienced compassion; and if we didn’t, compassion is thereby our opportunity. Nobody learns anything when they’re cruelled for having failed. So, in terms of failure, we can understand them, just as we wish for them to understand us.
We can well understand people who hurt people, for we too have hurt people, and continue to do so. They may have hurt us today, but perhaps we will hurt someone tomorrow. We can understand them, just as we wish for them to understand us.
We can well understand those who live with anxiety, for we too have been anxious. Their anxiety may impact us negatively, but our anxiety has impacted others to their detriment. We can understand them, just as we wish for them to understand us.
We can well understand those who judge us, for we too have judged people. Their judgments may have affected our reputation, but we have damaged others’ reputations. We can understand them, just as we wish for them to understand us.
We can well understand what it feels like to be criticised, because we have dealt with criticism. What we hate to have to bear we know all too well. And yet it won’t be long before we are again berating a person, if not verbally, under our breath or in our heart. We can understand them, just as we wish for them to understand us.
We do the same things that we hate being done to us. We can well understand. Human beings being human. That’s a big cause of stress. It needn’t be. We are all the same. Forgiveness is about perspective. We forgive if we feel we warrant forgiveness.
Compassion is its own blessing because the compassionate understand the universal need of empathy. It begins with us. And we are never more blessed to partake without expectation of its return. God has His way of blessing us even if our compassion is not returned.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Do As I Do, Not Just As I Say


AFTER getting a little frustrated attempting to hang some twisted jeans on a clothes airer, my son said to me (as we do, him) “take a step back, Dad.” (He had our attention, because we knew what was happening.) After modelling what we require him to do when he gets frustrated — take a moment’s reflection — he comes up to me and, as I crouched down to his level, he says, “So what happened?” A discussion about what happened took place. Then he said, “Okay, I forgive you.” A few seconds later he told me he was proud of me.
It was a moment in my family’s time where we had to have the presence of mind to allow our young son to model what we model as a way of us impressing upon him the importance of example and of justice. He modelled respectful communication as we try to. He modelled care for me as he noticed me losing control. He modelled a heart for peace and reconciliation and the management of emotions. And it possibly is a powerful reinforcer of this method when we need to apply it next with him. (As it turned out, less than two hours later he was sent to bed early for not doing what he was told.)
Doesn’t parenting require much humility?
Humility and presence of awareness. I/we could have missed the opportunity had I overruled him. (And in our home those opportunities are often missed.) Had we missed it, he would have learned nothing. It’s not like I’m trying to promote him in his maturity or elevate us in our parenting wisdom. (We’re as ‘normal’ a family as yours is.) The win here is simply about capturing a moment and being aware enough of the potential positive coaching moment. In the moment, we caught ourselves observing what it was that our son actually knew, giving him the opportunity to show us; to be the teacher. Had he done it in a disrespectful way he would have been immediately chastised. We gave him the chance. On this occasion, it paid off.

We need to give people a chance to fail for them to experience what it’s like to succeed.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

What You Realize When It’s YOU That’s Being Judged

WHEN it’s you that’s on the rack, and the screws of condemnation are being tightened surely though slowly, you know one thing: people should only judge when they know enough to understand, then they would empathize and no longer judge.
So rarely do any of us know anything like all the information, therefore we cannot understand, and to empathize is but a panacea.
So rarely are we in the position to assess adequately or judge properly, but we are human, and that inclines us toward having our opinion. We are bound to act off whatever information we do have, whether it’s sufficient or correct or not. So many injustices ensue. But we have our view. And the expression of that view is just one easy unconscious step to take.
What we realize when it’s us who’s being judged is how unfair it is. Another person has developed a view of us or our situation, and we’ve got no recourse to challenge their view.
Finally, as the product of being judged, we discover a blessing. It is good to be judged; to experience injustice. It’s better for our mind to consider it a blessing than a curse.
Why is it a blessing? For the simple fact that we learn empathy for others who have been judged and condemned; whether they’ve been rightly judged or condemned or not. The blessing is we too have sat in the seat of injustice — as Jesus did. Again, whether we deserve the view people have of us or not, that view, having been judged or condemned, is unfortunate. It’s sad. It’s a horrible shame that people have their view and it won’t easily be shifted.
Even though being judged and/or condemned is painful, it is God’s blessing to experience and endure it, because empathy is piqued and nurtured and matured — if we don’t continue to resent it. If we see the purpose in the pain is to teach and grow us.
Only when we’re judged and condemned are we able to feel the loneliness that Christ felt. It is blessed to know that Christ knows how we feel. We’re growing in His empathy.
The outcome of our empathy is a sympathy for others and their situations that overrides the callousness of judgment and condemnation. We actively seek to build others up rather than be tempted to tear them down.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Purpose of Experience – To Torment or To Teach

As I raked up the leaves on our driveway and front lawn, it occurred to me that God was teaching me something important about life; something I had missed so many years previously. He had been teaching me the same lesson for nearly the past twelve months.
Initially the lesson had tormented me into varying degrees of chagrin. But now the lesson was teaching me. Such lessons always take time to learn. It was a most important lesson.
The lesson started where I worked, blowing leaves from one place to another. The leaves blew from one place, and I blew them back there, only for them to be blown back. Seems futile, but leaf removal is not the purpose of this task in my life at this stage. God has made it clear it is a lesson. That lesson is to simply watch for the lessons contained within each leaf-blowing experience. Many of them are gold. From a futile task? No. It is no longer seen as a futile, never-ending task. All that was needed was a change in my attitude. To jettison the closed tormented mind. To embrace the teachable open mind.
It’s the same with people. There are some who will always rub us up the wrong way. Some seem to be placed in our lives simply to torment us. But, equally, these same people God has allowed into our lives. He put them there. For a purpose. We would prefer to deal with ‘lovely’ and ‘pretty’ people who help make us feel good, who agree with us, and who inspire us or love us the way we want to be loved. But we would learn nothing about love or inspiration or the Divine if our lives weren’t scattered with unlovely people and difficult situations.
Consider that, for some people, we ourselves are unlovely people. Not everyone has had a bevy of positive experiences with us. Some we have hurt. Others have given up on us. Others, again, cannot work us out. Some cannot work with us at all.
Those we don’t get along with are simply a mirror to us of those who don’t get along with us.
So, we can afford some empathy. We can glimpse humility in entertaining the truth. We’re not as lovely as we’d love to be. The truth only hurts if we continue to court our pride. Better, every day, to pour contempt on it.
Unlovely and unloving people and the tougher situations of life are there either to torment us or to teach us. Which will it be? How would we have it?
It’s the plainest choice of life. Frustration or fulfilment? Infuriation or intrigue? Folly or wisdom? It’s a choice; the easiest thing you will ever do. Make it and live.
God has His purpose in every experience of life.
And I will concede there are atrocities in life that should never happen. Thank God that even out of travesty He can make things new.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

12 Ideas That Connect You to Other People In Christ’s Love

RELIGIOUS extremism is something that not only turns people off, these days it’s driving new offensives that apparently equate to terrorism amid myriad less overt forms of violence. God, however, is and has always been, calling us to respectful unity of purpose — to love others.
Here are some ideas that heal rather than harm:
1.      Refuse to like, comment on or share divisive social media. Sure, you have your right to free speech, but consider the cost if your view adds to the division and is observable to others. (Remember that social media reports what you do to your friends, followers, and contacts.) You get to voice your opinion — your case for being ‘right’ — but consider the cost. Right things done the wrong way are not right anymore. Speak the truth in love, and if that’s not possible stay silent and pray for wisdom.
2.      Find one person you have rejected (viewed from their perception) in the past week and make creative, intentional amends to this person. That’s right, say sorry. Make it up to them somehow. Own what you did wrong. That’s humility. It promotes reconciliation. News Flash: the spiritually mature promote others’ good, not self-good.
3.      When in public, smile, be respectful and courteous, observe others through the heart of Christ and pray for them. Watch what God does in your midst. Be on your best behaviour when no-one is looking. Be an instrument for peace and reconciliation.
4.      Resolve today to be an evangelist of connection. Have no goal to ‘save’ people in the name of Jesus. Simply have the goal to do anything that enhances connection. Trust the Holy Spirit. Realise that establishing connection means risking authenticity to create intimacy. Connection requires boldness, which is a love that does not shrink, but creates opportunities in social situations.
5.      Identify blockers to intimacy in your personality, character, and make-up. Devise a plan to moderate these blockers. Some of these factors we have to live with, but others, like learning about positive body language and friendly gestures, can help.
6.      Be unusual in your love. Allow eccentricities. Disallow biases. Find people fascinating. Find them loveable as God sees them loveable. Use your ingenuity to love people genuinely and innovatively.
7.      Bless a family member today. Bless three family members this week. It is often easier to bless a stranger than it is a family member. Show your real love by loving a family member, especially one you normally disagree with. Love when it’s real is often not easy.
8.      Challenge those who take advantage of others, and take advantage of the challenges others throw your way. Be an advocate, but of others and not of oneself.
9.      Brace yourself for relational shockwaves. Be prepared for tests, remembering people themselves are not the enemy. The issues conspire and are the tyranny. But the issues are just the issues. They’re just matters. We’re the ones who take things personally.
10. Do something — anything — to allow an exhausted person some rest. Such consideration is always innovative. Even to listen to them in their exasperation is something that may reduce their burden.
11. Ask and never assume. But we invariably do assume too much as some point or other. The key is to do it less and less.
12. Study Christ, apply His Word, and reap unfathomable rewards. To study Christ is to become a lover of fallen humanity who so desperately needs Him. As we study Christ we connect with a Saviour who understands people’s fallenness that we ought to accept, too.
Stop at nothing to connect with people, because in connection is love.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Love Paradox

The beautiful shape of my wife’s hands
LOSS taught me love in a paradoxical reversal of fortunes. What was loss was gain. And it could be learned no other way. Like Jesus said, I had to lose my life to save it.
I learned more about love from loss than I could ever learn about love otherwise. What we would never ever ask for has nested within it, God’s irrevocable gift; a most remarkable compensation. In this case, an eternality of learning, upon which is tantamount to irony.
A perfect thing — love — is to be expressed imperfectly. The more imperfect love is, the sincerer it is.
Can we progress far in the reality of (the spiritual) life without love?
Yet, love is a complete paradox. The way of perfection is best actuated imprecisely.
God is love. God is perfect. We are sinners. Yet, we are given to, and are able to, love.
It wasn’t until I accepted how flawed I was, recognising for the first time that the drive for perfectionism comes from fear, that I saw that even in imperfection, love is possible… and it’s enough.
So good is God that He made love, not for the perfect, but for the good. Anyone who’s intent on doing good can love. And the genius of love is it is especially expressed through imperfection, for it is a uniquely human thing to do.
That’s right. In an imperfect world, and though it is, of itself, perfect, love is exemplified best through imperfection.
God’s grace imputes itself all over the human expression of love. The more imperfectly we love, the sincerer we are perceived. God has made love for a common and possible purpose. Everyone may love. Because everyone who can choose, can choose for love.
Love is perfect, but, the choice and action of being loving allows much for fallibility.
Thank God that what He made perfect, love, may be best expressed imperfectly.

Monday, March 13, 2017

True Hope Enters Only As False Hopes Depart

HUMANITY is utterly dependant on hope. We all derive hope from somewhere. We all place our faith in something. Not all hope is healthy or productive.
It can be difficult to discern whether the hope we hope upon is a hope that will stack up at crunch time. One thing for sure, however, is once hope is gone — I’m talking all hope — a new never more vibrant hope may finally be allowed to make its long-awaited entrance. Requisite with surrender.
This can only be explained as the hope of God — hope that is stripped of every scaffold with which to attach false and failing hopes.
When we lose something uniquely valuable in life it feels we’ve lost everything. But there’s one thing we gain in losing it all. A fresh start. An unadulterated hope. Courage to begin again. To recommence life in a way that God designed us to live from the beginning. To hope in the only Source that can never disappoint.
Some, maybe many, of us will never truly believe in God until we’re desperate enough — when we need to hope, finally we hope with complete abandon.
Hope, when to hope is all we have left, because there is no other hope.
Back’s against the wall stuff. Nothing left to attach vain hopes to. Nothing else works. Only the true hope of Christ does. And it requires the fullest surrender, not to men, but to God’s leading Spirit. Then, and only then, do we realise that His Spirit is real, alive.
Hope, when to hope is all we have left, because there is no other hope. Think about it like this. We only grow beyond the gravitational pull of the forces that hold us in old and sick patterns when we have the courage to get past dated trajectories.
The Blessed Hope in Jesus Christ works. He heals and restores. But only if we let Him.
Hope works when we have no hope left but to hope. Then we find such a hope is the only true hope.
When we need to hope, we hope!
Only as we’re forced to relinquish a long list of false hopes do we then see the one True Hope, which is all we’ll ever need.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Rest from Work in Child’s Play

Blessedness is the business of those believing in Christ. Our pastime is faith, our proclivity is hope, our passion is love.
But how does that translate in common fatherhood? For me, it pivots around being present, which seems easier than it is in a world full of distractions. I’d love a blessing for every time I’ve failed to be present, but of course life (and God) doesn’t work that way. I’d love it if all those temptations into distraction proved of value, but of course they don’t.
The fact is we’re only rewarded with the sweet Presence of God as we slow down for sweet moments where we’re present in life, especially as we congregate with those we love.
On a common-enough Friday morning, my wife having left for work, which means it’s my day to manage household affairs and care for our son, I found myself in the backyard, absorbed by the imagination of our nearly four-year-old.
He stands atop a sawn-off tree stump and spies through a paper roll telescope at the land over yonder. You can see miles through this thing! He tucks his telescope into his shirt and he’s off. He climbs the ladder on the slide and spies over the fence into the neighbour’s yard, before I divert his attention to worthier pursuits.
Soon enough, he’s moved on to a game on the swing, where he runs up, having taken an on-your-mark-SET-GO approach, and flies through the air, his belly on the seat, nearly upending the swing more than once. (Dad decides to anchor it better!) He is, in fact, performing. Of course! What else?
The next activity takes place in the cubby house. 30-seconds of light relief, before the next idea springs from his mind. His Lightning McQueen (a Tonka truck) has to be refuelled and have its tyres pumped up. Then, he’s off, tearing through the backyard, taking tight turns, kicking up the dirt, just like the racing car reveller. Until Lightning McQueen is bogged in the dirt. We decide he’s to be winched out. I’m about to do it, when I hear, “I’ll do it, Dad.” The joy of seeing him take control of his play, watching him be responsible in discharging his cares.
***
Blessedness is achieved as quick as it takes to slow down. Darrell Bock says blessing rests on “one who is the object of grace and happy because of it.” Simply knowing we’re objects of grace, having received such undying favour, makes us bristle with joy.
Blessedness is close being a parent absorbed in our children’s lives.
Each moment in our children’s lives is an eternal glimpse into irretrievable memory. In years to come we will know we had these experiences, but our memory will betray us.
There is no time but the present.

Monday, March 6, 2017

What I’d Wish I’d Known at 19

At 25 years, in 1992.
Ever wished you’d known something before you stepped into it? Many times, I’m sure.
But there’s a problem with knowing things before we step into them. If we knew what we were about to step into we would never step.
Thirty years on from the time I was 19, there are some things I wish I’d known back then. The trouble is had I known now what I wish I’d known then, I would not have had the tenacity to do the ensuing thirty years.
God knows we need life to be a mystery, or we would never do what He is calling us, through our lives, to do. It’s like getting near the end of any journey; at precisely the same time we feel as if we’ve come too far to give up, yet we may feel we cannot take another step. Then we experience the exhilaration of having achieved something.
At 19 I wish I had have known:
1.      That life doesn’t ever get easier, and although there are easier seasons, life tends to get tougher the older we get. This is okay if we’re accepting of such a reality and are committed to growth — growth in many ways as a survival mechanism, where thriving is the only way to survive. God knows we can do it. Our hope is that one day we will find out it was perfectly worth it.
2.      Once we have children our susceptibility to vulnerability doubles overnight. They can be taken from us. They don’t enjoy it when we’re doing a good job of parenting. They are work, work, work, which wears us parents down. And they leave the nest. Finally, when most of the hard work is done, they cease needing us (which we recognise is bittersweet).
3.      Some of the most painful life tests occur in our twilight years. What compounds this is we can fall for the temptation, that, because we’re in our twilight years, we’ve got our stuff sorted. But we never do. Humiliation can seem fitted more to those of advanced years than those of youth. And that’s a hard truth to swallow. Humiliations as a youth were hard, and possibly traumatic, but I’m sure they didn’t shake me to my core as they do when I’m older.
4.      Despair is a real thing. It teaches us deeper truths about hope, but despair must still be endured. At nineteen I didn’t endure anything without escaping. And escaping seemed to work… until it no longer did. At least I know now that, in bearing reality, there is no need of escaping — a Christ highlight.
5.      Christ. I wish I’d known Christ like I do now. I would need to wait another four years to be converted, but it was to be another seventeen years before I would really receive His Spirit. Before I was 36 I was an escape artist. Though I had many fond experiences, it was a waste of time, and that life was ultimately taken from me.
6.      Human nature. I wished I had known about the reciprocal nature of humanity, that we get what we give. I wished I also had known the unpredictable nature of humanity, that we often don’t get what we deserve — both in good and bad ways. Justice is patchy in this life. That’s a wisdom I could have done with thirty years ago.
7.      Memories. Their importance. We don’t record what we really would wish to preserve. And we may preserve that which we need no record. The older I get, the more I wish I could time travel. I have less need of knowledge (in a knowledge age!), because I have experience, which I think is more. Precious experience loaded with precious memories that are hardly retrievable in the computer speed I would wish to have them.
8.      Soon my body and mind won’t work as well as they once did. What a shock this is! I cannot do that which I once took for granted. My body has the aches and pains of an athlete, yet athletic pursuits are largely a thing of the past. Since burnout in 2005, my brain is wired differently. I’m a linear thinker when life seems to demand I be a multi-tasker. The older I get, the less instantly pliable is my mind. I reflect well, but instinctive responses are a weakness. But at least my mind knows how to deliver what is on my heart. I know how to care for people. I had no need of caring for others when I was nineteen.
Maybe it’s good we don’t know what’s ahead of us.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I Get to Decide If You Care or Not

Humbling truths are the hardest to learn, and there’s only one way to learn this one: others decide if we care; they choose if we’re trustworthy. God’s Spirit will convince us if we’re genuinely concerned.
We may care a great deal, but if someone doesn’t trust us, they don’t think we care. More so, they don’t believe we care. There is still more to do in that relationship.
This truth is irrefutable as much as it’s indispensable. People are never convinced beyond their will, unless God convinces them to trust again. And our prayer is to make the most of that opportunity when it comes.
So, if someone clearly doesn’t trust us, for whatever reason that is real to them, there is no use in being frustrated, whoever we are to them. It’s best to take their side and begin to attempt to see the world from their exclusive perspective. There is no other way.
In fact, this is also the way forgiveness works — from the other person’s viewpoint we get to see a unique ‘truth’ that is as viable as our ‘truth’ is. It might seem that surrendering our standpoint for another person’s is debilitating, but the opposite occurs; to leave our polarised perception to join another’s outlook is liberating. We give ourselves to something bigger than us, which is beneficence for the relationship so everyone wins.
The blessing of shared perspectives is God shows us what others need regarding their care. We become convinced of something new; a knowledge about them and of the context of their lives we didn’t previously have. We’re always enriched in empathy.
Care provides for dignity, which is about respect, and trust cannot be given unless respect is earned.
Empathy enriches,
dignity is fair,
gaining a person’s trust,
is about showing that we care.