An Ambassador in Everday Life

Something that I wrote for the Ambassadors2020 website in March:

Almost a lifetime ago, Bob Hoskins’ BT adverts reminded us that ‘it’s good to talk’ and ever since we have seen the growth of the telecoms industry and an explosion in social media. Like others, my smartphone addiction needs careful monitoring, and so, I have chosen to say hello to the people that I pass when I walk down the street with the following caveat; to be willing to talk with folk that are up for conversation. It is so much more fun than the handheld screen.

A few weeks in and there have been remarkable results. I wait for eye contact and then nod, smile and say a casual greeting. Most people pass on, yet from this simple gesture, a number of conversations have been sparked. One guy shared the story of his life and the challenges he faces in retirement, and an elderly lady shared about her fears for her future as she is being relocated in a new development. Quite wonderful life stories that began with a simple smile and a ‘hello’.

 In both these cases, there was no need to share a full gospel sermon to go into great depths about Jesus love for them, but there was an opportunity to say that the local church is a safe place to talk of these concerns, to find friendship and to learn about faith in Jesus. Perhaps the greatest witness was the time that I gave and the willingness to listen and respond. Both these conversations ended with the individuals saying thank you for taking the time. It cost me nothing but left me with a sense that I had been a friend and that listening to them had been a support.

As an ambassador, I do not need all the answers, to solve all the world’s problems, or correct all the mistakes of others. But providing a little salt or a smidgen of light can make a big difference in the lives of those we meet. When we make ourselves available, in Jesus name, who knows what can be achieved?

As Ambassadors, it is ‘good to talk’, what conversations can you have today?

Leadership Values

What are your values? Not your stated values but those you truly live by? It is important to know the difference because it will determine your effectiveness as a leader and impact the culture you are creating in your organisation.

This week we have seen a major upheaval within the political landscape of the United Kingdom and the values of our political leaders have been seriously tested. A number have resigned. All politicians state that they are representatives of their people and will uphold democratic process. However, it appears that some may have forgotten this. It is easy to knock public figures, what about our organisations? 

So often, we have values that we state, mention and uphold publicly. Yet, they are aspirations rather than heartfelt passions, so that when troubles come…..they can be forgotten. Our values have become a management tool rather than a code we live by. People notice, recognise it and respond in kind. If you don’t truly live by your values, there will come a point when it is tested and you will pay a heavy price. 

What are your values? What are your real values?

Team or Celebrity?

Currently, the football (soccer) world was taken by storm by an unheralded Leicester team that won through an emphatic season. Their was no stand out stars although certain names began to emerge. Similar to Greece in 2004 when they won the Euros with a group of players that were unknown to a wider audience. This is unusual, most teams will have a player who is considered a star and if the team is fortunate, they will have a number of stars (cf Real Madrid and their Galacticos).

However, it should be remembered that in team sports, a star player cannot win on their own. Think Pele with Brazil, Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, Kobe Bryant with the Lakers. None of these celebrity players could have won on their own – they needed a team around them, most of whom remain forgotten in the mists of time but were essential to the success of the team.

So it is with Church. There are many who would choose to be the Apostle Paul (yet shy away from the persecution and suffering), yet even Paul needed his support people. Many would like to be the author of a great book, new course, on the platform at the global conferences etc. etc. but we cannot ever lose sight of the community of faith. We are all called to play our part and to engage with the mission. Not all of us will receive the credit, praise or be given a platform but all of us are called to love one another, seek each others best interest and to honour the name of God.

Let’s serve the team and be humble enough to accept our place within it. Lets be satisfied to be the Horace Grant, Steve Kerr, Brian Shaw, or Wilson Piazza on our team.

Let’s play!

Just interrupt?

“Can I just interrupt for a moment?”
Words spoken as a meeting finishes and two of the participants pick up on a conversation. Someone wants to interrupt….what does this say? It can say;

1)my time is more precious than yours
2)my conversation is more important than yours
3)I have a right to disturb you

A lot can be gleaned from this type of interjection and it is usually negative. Patience will earn more friends, develop trust and show character. Persevere in doing right and honouring others, it will pay dividends.

Goals are killing us…

In a work place that demands higher productivity, greater rewards and demands visible success it is no surprise that people are falling ill, requiring medication and suffering continual stress. The bottom line is market dominance, share price and brand awareness and if we are honest, this thinking has invaded the evangelical church to such a point that we are losing sight of God and building a church that is the bridesmaid and not the Bride.

We can quote sport stars that tell us ‘some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen and others make it happen’ (Michael Jordan) and put unknowing pressure on ourselves to perform. We need our church plants to be financially viable but try and model our churches on a franchise set up without reference to the community they serve, we want to see full pews in buildings that were built in a different generation…..the list is endless.

If you quoted that previous quote at Jim Elliot (missionary to the Aucas) his ministry would have seemed like failure. With the years that have passed, we can now credit the success of the ministry but it is only now that we can celebrate knowing that the Auca people met Christ. The disciples sat huddled in a room as their messiah was dead and defeated but in time they discover their resurrected Lord had conquered death.The missionary to London who has sowed seeds of faith continually in their neighbourhood and may never see the rewards but the person that follows…..Boom!

Goals are killing us…..because we are setting the wrong goals. The goal is to be faithful to a living God, to worship Him, living a life worthy of the calling we have received. We must not remain idle, we are fellow workers with Christ and will be held accountable for what we have done but we must reset the balance and set the right goals, otherwise our goals will kill us. It is not the balance sheet, it is not the numbers of seats filled, it is not the number of churches we have planted (they may be indicators of something…but do not over estimate their value) but the obedience to our call and the way we live our lives.

Set the right goals…..and know life.

Who gets the credit?

There is a popular quote with various accreditations and guises that goes something like:

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” This by Harry S Truman

As a whole, there is nothing wrong with this, in isolation it is not helpful. If people are genuinely working as a team, to the same goal and rejoicing together then it is fabulous. However, if part of the team is not appreciated for the value they bring, ignored for the service they contribute and not celebrated for their sacrificial endeavour, our normal human nature kicks in and demotivation or apathy ensues. 

It is important to celebrate appropriately and to honour those who work hard amongst us. Scant praise will be seen for what it is – we need to do things well. 

A quick, but not conclusive, survey of social media suggests that many who use this type of quote are in positions where they are honoured, celebrated and praised. Far less usage is visible from those without a platform. Surely that can inform us of something?

The flip side of this is that those who are not praised need to recognise the place where they place their identity. In the hand of God or the hands of men. Surely the highest praise is received from the former when He says “well done my good and faithful servant”

Snapchat – think twice before using

I am amazed by how many people use Snapchat – it was back in August 2013 that I was downloading new apps when I read this post from Adam Mclane that shared the negative aspects of the app. I deleted it straight away and have never used it.

Adam highlights some significant dangers of the app, its false promises and its darker side, this was a convincer for me, which is why I struggle to understand why others would choose to use it. Is it because of a lack of knowledge? Is it because people love to flirt with danger? Do people love sexual ‘picture’ frivolity too much? These may all have an element of truth behind them but there are as many who just do not care. The recent upsurge in my contacts who are using this app have not convinced me to try it – in fact it is a brick wall that is faced when trying to convince them of the dangers inherent in having the app at all.

Perhaps the greatest resonance of concern is with parents of children and teens. Parents are concerned of the wider stories of sexual predators and what this may entail but seemingly less concerned about the insidious slide of decay when we talk of morality and the way we view our bodies.

It may be true that there are plenty of users who use the app in ‘appropriate ways’ but the question then – why the need for supposed anonymity (nothing is truly deleted once posted!) of the app? There are plenty of other alternatives.

If you are a snapchat user, or thinking about it, please think again – it is not all that it is cracked up to be.  This post will disappear within 10 seconds of you reading it! (Oh no it wont – 😉 )