Installing Polyair Bags on HJ61 Landcruiser

Towing a fairly heavy trailer every day I have noticed the saggy butt on my old cruiser and decided it was time to do something about it.

I had some poly-airs on my previous GQ Patrol and they did a good job of regulating the levels when loaded up, so at $275 on eBay I figured there wasn’t much to lose.

Installing looked pretty simple and bar a few annoying inconveniences wasn’t too bad. For those who also find the Poly-air ‘instructions’ close to useless here’s what we did with some pics.

I began on my own but a mate offered to help and skin his knuckles on the difficult to access screws so I gladly accepted :)

To be fair the instructions point you in the right direction but just don’t answer the tricky questions.

So to get rolling we jacked it up, (did one side at a time) stuck an axel stand under and got cracking. The instructions suggest you may be able to use a bump stop, but we found it was positioned too far back to allow the bottom bracket to be fitted.

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The first trick is to drill the holes in the chassis rail. Not too hard but tricky access. Make sure you drill 1/4 inch holes for those bigarse self tappers though because I managed to shear one off first time around and no one carries them. I ended up using a smaller gauge self tapper to do the job and hopefully it will be ok.

The screws go in slowly… Before you fix it in place be sure to connect the air hose as it would be hard afterwards.

The bottom bolts were a concern because they splayed somewhat when seated on the leaf spring but we managed to tighten them up and eliminate most of the angle once the bracket was fitted. They supply you with two brackets, but don’t tell you what the other one is for… I threw it out as it didn’t seem to be needed.

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Once the nuts on the bottom are tightened up (be sure to insert the small horizontal bracket before doing so) you are good to run the hose – pretty easy. I ran mine to the back bumper and drilled a couple of holes there for the valves.

We inflated them briefly to make sure they were running the minimum of 5PSI, but didn’t realise how quickly they went up. I checked the pressure and it was 50… oops… The max is 30 so we quickly let some out.

We ground off the ends of the bolts to tidy it up and then did the same on the other side

IMG_6888 (1)I’ve set it around 18PSI and it sits level but I’ll be experimenting for a bit to see what works best. Definitely a firmer ride and should be well worth it.

It only took 2 1/2 hours so isn’t a big job. But as I said, the instructions are pretty dodgy in places so hopefully this will help you if you get stuck.

 

Because Leaders Lead

Over the last few weeks at QBC we have been teaching and leading the crew in a congregational discernment process, seeking to help people listen to God and hear his voice on a particular issue we are processing as a church. The issue is one where its important that we get people’s contribution, but also their considered, prayerful input, rather than their ‘best gut feel’ when they have a spare moment. Its been good to re-visit this subject and attempt to put in place some thoughts for how we can do this as a church in future decisions.

As I began teaching on this stuff I came to the topic with the view that ‘we need to get the people in the game’, more when it comes to discerning. But the more I have delved into this biblically the more I seen and felt the need for leaders to step up to the plate and offer some clear spirit led direction.

Last week as we looked at decisions in the book of Acts we saw that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to this. We go from the replacement of Judas in Acts 1 with what is in effect a ‘coin toss’, through to the more rigorous and nuanced discernment process in Acts 15 where the discussion revolves around whether Gentiles need to be circumcised.

But what is common to virtually every decision made is significant leadership involvement and guidance. In Acts 6 where they choose a 7 men to serve, the apostles tell the people to do it, but they are then brought back to them for commissioning. In Acts 10 when Cornelius comes to faith and the Holy Spirit zaps him Peter makes a ‘captain’s call’ and declares them ‘in the game’ because of what happened. He acts alone, but not without accountability as in Acts 11 he gets grilled by the rest of the crew.

Clearly when we are leading people we need to meet them where they are at and lead from there – which can be tricky because people are in different places. But one of the challenges in involving others is paying too much attention to those who don’t have enough to say – or who don’t have ‘considered input’.

Its difficult not to be somewhat blunt in saying this, but truth is that some people don’t pray much, think much or take the time to really contribute. That’s how it is… Some folks attend church and that’s as much as they do… Others take the communal responsibility seriously and offer some great insights.

But leaders by necessity as well as by desire, will engage in the processes in depth and as a result their thoughts should be highly regarded. In a culture that has become increasingly skeptical of leadership and of agendas that can be difficult. But my read of Acts suggests that leaders have a prime role in discerning God’s direction and hopes for the church.

What does that mean for the people in the church community?

I don’t believe we ever get to a place where leaders just make calls and people go with it or suck it up. But I do get the sense that if people are going to participate in discernment processes then they need to do so with some rigor, otherwise it can actually undermine the work others will have done. We can’t have people turning up to a congregational meeting, opening the ‘church file’ in their brain and saying ‘right… where were we?…Oh yes that’s right…’

In issues requiring discernment I believe we need leaders to lead and also to listen to those who have taken the time to listen to God themselves. But primarily we need leaders to lead.

Decisions and Discerning

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Lately I’ve been considering how we make decisions as churches. We would all agree that Jesus is the head of the church, but how this works out in practice can vary and sometimes the idea is little more than just that – an idea…

For some churches the orders get handed down from a person in a position of authority and no correspondence can be entered into. In my own suburb the Anglican church ‘discovered’ they were moving premises… 10 minutes further south to the location of a new denominational school, but this decision was not one that the people were able to participate in so its resulted in some ill feeling.

Some churches are known for being ‘leadership driven’ as if this were a commendable characteristic. The leaders make the key decisions and let the people know what’s happening. Sometimes this happens in our community, but its generally related to small administrative decisions which people wouldn’t want to waste time discussing anyway. In other churches staff may be appointed, or other major decisions made without the ok from the community. Then its either ‘get on board’, ‘suck it up’ or go somewhere else. I don’t like that model much as it puts a lot of power in the hands of a few. While the ‘few’ rule wisely it can be pretty innocuous, but when the few manage their power badly, or foolishly it can be devastating. It also means that the largest share of people are being told that their participation is neither required or desired.

The other end of the spectrum where everyone participates does have some appeal, but the practicalities of life and limited time available to be involved means this can be a burdensome and unrealistic solution for a larger group. I think a smaller home based fellowship can operate in this way, but once a church moves into a more traditional mode it becomes difficult.

The ‘Baptist’ way is that of ‘congregational government’, a term that I think is often misunderstood and seen as a synonym for democracy. That’s not what is intended at all and when congregational government (CG) morphs into democracy we lose all of its power and beauty. At its best – and how it was originally intended – CG is the body listening to God together and making decisions based on what is discerned through prayer and conversation. Its not unlike the smaller group option, but it comes with the complications of the larger forum.

Given no system is perfect this would the one I would choose every time. It allows leaders to exercise a gift of leadership, to recommend ideas or initiatives, but also allows people to use discernment in the process. Its a delicate balance for leaders to propose initiatives and to then allow conversation, questioning and disagreement.

One significant challenge of this mode is that a congregation can often abdicate their responsibility to participate (i.e. by prayer, gathering and conversation) so it can end up being an exercise in futility, or a default reversion to old modes where a ‘vote’ is the deciding factor. When the process of genuine discernment isn’t entered into then people run with their opinions, lobby groups form and those with the numbers get the result while the rest are considered to have ‘lost’. Jesus must watch and shake his head in dismay.

The role of leadership in this community is to help and encourage people to look to God for his leading – to guide people into discernment rather than seeking their approval for what has already been decided.

Having said that, in congregational government every person is allowed a voice, but part of making good decisions is recognising that not all voices are equal. Some folks bring wisdom, experience and perhaps even a gift of discernment to a decision and ought to be listened to carefully. Others bring fear or foolishness to their decisions. Some operate from selfishness and their contributions need to be heard in this light.

At QBC we have been trying to move away from the ‘democracy’ concept and towards the ‘discernment’ process, allowing space for God to speak and space for us to listen. But old habits die hard and busy lives are often consumed with other immediate pressing decisions, so what the community needs can easily be relegated to the ‘meeting’.

I don’t have any easy answers, but I have enjoyed the principles and ideas Ruth Haley Barton shares in her book Pursuing God’s Will Together, where she articulates a process for making decisions and actually seeking to hear God rather than the loudest voice or the strongest lobby group.

We’re in the process of some discernment at the moment so you may hear some more reflections on the topic as we go.

 

Ritual & Rhythm

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To keep a healthy rhythm of life I find it helpful to have a few defining rituals that mark out the borders of my activity.

One of my favourites is unloading all of reticulation gear from my car every Thursday afternoon. I don’t need to unload necessarily as I don’t need the boot space over the weekend, but the act of unhitching the trailer and taking all of my equipment out says simply ‘this part of the week is over’. When a call comes on Friday morning there isn’t a temptation to squeeze it in because I have everything with me. It simply has to wait until Tuesday when I begin work again. All my gear is stored in boxes so its a 3 minute exercise to unload, but it marks a shift in my psyche. I am now unavailable to do those jobs.

I also put the phone on silent/vibrate for most of Friday to Monday, so instead of that loud ‘old phone’ ring tone (which I need when working outside) but seems to blare ‘ANSWER ME NOW!’ there is a quiet buzz and which actually means I respond differently. I look at the number and decide if I want to answer it, or if it can wait. And when I answer it I can do so calmly. I don’t miss many calls because I am still aware of the buzzing, but it is less intrusive into my world.

Also on either Thursday or Friday afternoon I usually wash and vacuum the car. Again, not a monumental event by any stretch, but I like a clean car – it feels much better to drive – and having it freshly cleaned is another marker of a week of physical work coming to an end. I wash off the sprinkler stains and enjoy seeing the shine of the paintwork. While I’m washing the car I set the coffee roaster going and knock up a fresh batch of beans for the week ahead. I enjoy the smell of the beans and the opportunity to sniff around the shed while I wait from them to finish.

Another ritual I’ve had for as long as I can remember is to make Saturday AM a time to sleep late and then read the paper. Sleeping late these days generally means staying in bed until 7.30… but its still nice to recognise Saturday as the one day of the week when I don’t have to be up and at em. (Try and get me to do anything early on a Saturday and you will be battling…) Reading Saturday’s paper has always been a relaxing thing to do, although this is one ritual I find less rewarding, possibly because so much news reading and general reading is now done online and via a tablet.

In reality I never stop being a Christian leader from Tuesday to Thursday and I am still a retic bloke on the other days of the week, but the rituals help me adjust the dials in regards to focus.

I have other rituals which would probably take the form of spiritual disciplines, (morning prayer / evening examen etc) but they are probably more predictable and expected. What I’ve discovered in the practice of these small things is that give better shape to my identity and they allow me to regulate life more intentionally.

Got any rituals?

What’s your favourite?…

Obstinacy

obstinateThere’s a word you don’t use often…

I was working today and had one job left before heading home, for a local woman with a sticky solenoid. In irrigation if a solenoid sticks then one station stays on while the others are running.

I came to look at the problem and she showed me the one solenoid she knew of. I explained that it wasn’t the problem – mainly because it had been disconnected and blocked off.

She insisted it was the problem.

I indicated that it would be one of the other solenoids. I said, ‘Given there are three stations of irrigation there will be 3 solenoids – I will need to find the problem one.’

‘No – this is the only one. I have dug up every bit of this yard over the years and never seen any others. This is it.’ She was probably 80 years old and wasn’t going to take any nonsense from me. She knew her own garden…

So I began to explain to her why this couldn’t possibly be the problem, however she didn’t want to know. She wanted the problem fixed – but wouldn’t listen to me.

So, once I’d realised I was not being listened to I excused myself and left. ‘I can’t fix the problem if you don’t believe it exists… So I’ll leave you with it.’

She was puzzled, but shrugged her shoulders and wandered off.

A bizarre encounter.

So her problem stays. It doesn’t get fixed. And someone else will called out only to not do the job. Maybe sooner or later she may realise the problem is not with the retic bloke but with her own perception of reality.

Then again obstinacy is powerful and can prevent you from seeing any other point of view. As it is in retic so it is in life.

Obstinacy is never a virtue.

 

 

Not Me…

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Over the Easter weekend I took the family down to the Baptist Easter camp in Busselton, a camp for 18-25 year olds and an event I hadn’t been to for a long long time. I was the camp speaker, another role I hadn’t been in for quite some time either. I think my last gig was 15 years ago…

The theme I chose for the weekend was the ‘Road Less Travelled’, focusing in on the call to discipleship and to following Jesus. My point was to say there are a couple of roads we can travel – one involves not following Jesus, another involves ‘recreational’ Christianity, while the one I was calling people towards was the one of discipleship – of seeing Jesus as the centre of life rather than a useful add on.

It was challenging to get back on the same frequency as the crew who were there and while it went pretty well, it was hard work. I realised half way thru my prep that in not knowing the people who would be there I was pretty much flying blind. So I prepped two messages to get things started then made the rest up while down there.

One of the messages I felt I needed to share from deep in my gut spoke to longevity of faith. You could call it a ‘prophetic urge’, but I felt the need to tell the group that if stats are reliable and history is a guide, then of the 30-40 of them sitting there, only 60-70% of them would still be following Jesus in 20 years. Around 10 of them would lose their way, give up on faith, wander off or reject faith and there are many many reasons that happens.

But I offered 7 things to do to minimise the chances of being a casualty:

Pursue simplicity – avoid being trapped in the career advancement, upwardly mobile, aspirational life cycle. Allow Jesus to define life and priorities and this will give you a fighting chance of not being seduced by the marketers. For most of the crew this one was bordering on irrelevant as they haven’t yet been trapped. I hope it served as a ‘heads up’, but I think this one just slowly entangles us and it isn’t until we are knee deep in consumer slime that we realise we’ve been dudded. I could hear them grappling with it theoretically but kinda blind to its devastating pull.

Choose fellowship – whatever shape it takes, be committed to living out the Christian life with others. The gospel is not an individualised salvation package designed around accommodating our western lifestyle and your own philosophies of life. Its not about life enhancement, and when we reduce the gospel to ‘my personal relationship with God’ we leech it of its powerful communal aspect. If a person wants to keep going for the next 20 years then it won’t happen by dropping in on church occasionally. Discipleship occurs in robust authentic community not in isolation.

Develop Healthy Spiritual Rhythms – in the absence of spiritual disciplines and practices that sustain us we end up easily gravitating towards activities that require least effort. We take the path of least resistance and that can easily lead to us losing our sense of focus. I’ll watch TV before meditating on the scriptures, so unless I develop healthy spiritual practices it will only be a matter of time before I am flabby and out of shape. And we all know what its like trying to get back in shape after letting ourselves go…

Deal With Your Demons – we all face various challenges that limit our progress towards Christlikeness. We can choose to face them and confront them or we can accept that they are just part of who we are. I have a sense that those who take on their dark sides will get much further in the journey than those who deny its there, or simply accept it. Living with debilitating sin is a recipe for discouragement and weariness.

Expect Disappointment – if you are expecting an easy pain free ride then you will be disappointed. Jesus didn’t come to guarantee personal happiness. So hard times will hit – friends will die, divorce will happen, illness will strike and tragedy will come our way at some point. If you see God as the ‘happiness fairy’ then you’re screwed. Just know in advance that Christians don’t get an exemption from pain and you have a chance.

Choose to Marry a Christian – this one seems kinda obvious to me and many of us who have been on the road for a while, but its a challenge for younger people. Perhaps its enough just to have someone who isn’t antagonistic towards my faith? Maybe that will allow you to limp along, but if you want to pursue discipleship and the life Jesus calls us to then experience tells me this is actually one of the most critical of all.

Find Someone to Confess Sin to and Be Specific – Its probably a bit like dealing with your demons, but its essentially making sure we live authentic lives and we grapple with our humanity rather than hiding behind a veneer of apparent holiness. Not being true who you really are is a sure way to getting 20 years down the track and feeling like a fraud.

That’s no comprehensive list, but its a bit of compilation of my own thoughts after watching what happens in young people’s lives. What was interesting was that around 30-40% felt that maybe they could duck a few of these and still make it 40 with no worries… Yeah – that same percentage that stats show will drop out was about the same as the percentage of people who felt they could ignore the info and still make it.

Like I said – that’s no failsafe, ‘fifth gospel’ approach to the issue. Its just my observations after being around the church scene for a long time.

I was encouraged by the crew of people I got to spend the weekend with and the genuine passion for following Jesus that many of them possessed. I would have loved to have had longer to hear more of the challenges they face as young adults in the world today and to consider how the gospel speaks to them. At QBC we don’t have a heap in the age range so my insights into the issues they face is limited.

That said I imagine that at baseline level they face all of the same issues we have faced since time began… selfishness, pride, indifference… and so on. Its the human condition just expressed in different ways at different times.

First Get the Idea

When someone has been doing the same thing for over 40 years then chances are they have worked out what it takes to be successful and to get results.

Or perhaps… they are still committed to the process of ongoing learning and development, hoping to discover better ways to do what they have always done.

These are very different states of being. One says ‘I have nothing new to learn’, while the other is on a journey of continual growth and improvement.

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Last week Danelle came home from the basketball class she takes the kids to as part of their homeskooling and was telling me how impressed she was with the way the coach taught and invested in the kids.

The coach, a 69 year old by the name of Warren Kuhn, is a well known name in WA basketball circles, because he has been around for as long as I can remember (and I started playing at 12 years old). I don’t have a resume for all Warren has done, but I know he coached at the WA Institute of Sport, was assistant to the Wildcats and has coached at a high level in various places.

This week I had a day off on Wednesday so I tagged along to watch the kids as they did their basketball class. I had met Warren briefly around 25 years ago when he recruited a kid I was teaching for college basketball in the US, so I introduced myself and we got chatting.

What I discovered was that Kuhn has been on a mission of seeking to understand how we can produce better basketballers here in Australia. Essentially he was wanting to know why we always veered towards ‘average’ and ended up bringing in Americans to lift the standard. At 69 he is still as passionate as ever about coaching and about introducing young people to the game – but his approach has changed.

As I sat there watching I had my own personal lesson as Warren explained how his philosophy of coaching had changed in the last few years. He had travelled the world seeking to learn why some countries were producing excellent basketballers while others continued to be average.

It was several years ago in Spain he had his revelation that ‘ideas are to precede skills’. In an online interview I discovered he said

‘The most important aspect is that teaching ideas should precede teaching skills.  Skills are only worth anything when they make superior ideas work. This concept has not been widely accepted in West Australia yet, so many coaches are uncomfortable with the new style.’

So these days rather than starting with ‘how to do a jump shot’, he begins with the nature of the game, with giving the kids the big picture and the overall intent and allowing them to work out how to play within that. His approach to coaching on Wednesday was certainly somewhat unorthodox, but it showed his commitment to a new methodology that he believes will end up producing better results. Skills become a means to an end rather than end in themselves.

Its not surprising that many coaches in WA are uncomfortable with his new approach, because it lacks the systematic methodology of what has always been done. It is experimental and unproven – so it is a gamble.

How good to find a 69 year old who is still passionate, still learning and still willing to take a new tack if there is hope of better outcomes. In the interview Kuhn mentions that he has run up against the inherently conservative nature of the established sporting organisation as he has charted his own course, based on his personal convictions and discoveries.

Will his outcomes be better? Will he shift the primary coaching philosophies of basketball in WA? Maybe… maybe he will discover what no one else would ever find because he had the courage to sail off in a different direction and look in a different place.

Whatever you are doing, there are parallels. You can keep rolling with the tested and true methods that produce average results, or you can allow your internal dissatisfaction with ‘average’ to keep driving you to discover new ways that may just reshape the future.

And the key in all this?

Passion. If you don’t care then you won’t bother. Kuhn cares. He cares very much about basketball and he exudes that in his conversation. I came home from that day having been evangelised into a new way of seeing sports coaching and reminded again that we need our pioneers, innovators and creative thinkers to keep leading us into the future.

Musing

If I go back 10-15 years in life and think about how I approached Christian leadership it was with energy for the role, the tasks and motivated by the big picture of what we could achieve. The people were somewhat incidental and I found I often viewed them according to what they brought to the cause.

 

The people I connected best with were the ones like me who were head down, bum up going, going, going and who could help us get where we were headed. Those who detracted from the cause I had no time for and similarly those of ‘neutral’ value.

 

I was captivated by what I was doing (emphasis on ‘I’), loved the role,  the tasks and the challenges and people were a means to that end.

 

Danelle and I have been considering an extended break from leadership in the following year, partly because we are a bit weary of the roles and tasks we find ourselves a part of, but what is interesting is that we don’t like the thought of a significant period away from the people we have been leading and grown to love.

 

It’s an inversion of where we were previously and another one of those things that snuck up on us. Both of us feel somewhat tired of the regular responsibilities that form Christian leadership in a local church and would like some time to refresh and renew. But we will miss the people… would never have thought that would happen 15 years ago.

 

We’re not sure what form a ‘sabbatical’ type of year will take bit we are currently praying and thinking about it.

 

Part of the challenge is that it’s not a ‘me’ question but a ‘we’ question. It has to work for all of us if it’s going to be worthwhile. As we discussed this the other night as a family Ellie asked me what I’d really like to do. I found myself a little caught off guard as I hadn’t really considered that… I had been considering what is possible or what may satisfy all of us, but not what I really want because I didn’t see that as even a possibility.

 

We finished up in some tense conversation as Sam adamantly stated he ‘wasn’t going anywhere ‘. He wanted to spend the whole year in Yanchep, not taking any holidays and doing well at his school work. Might need a paternity test I am thinking…

 

While it was a difficult conversation it was also a good one because we worked hard at discussing and negotiating as a family.  We explained to Sam that ‘no – we wouldn’t cancel all plans if he wasn’t keen… ‘ but we also want to go ‘together’  and enjoy time together. Once Ellie starts year 11 and returns to regular schooling we will be restricted for the next 4 years until Sam finished year 12, so this is the window of opportunity to clear the heads,  recharge the hearts and come back ready for another 5-7 years.

 

I’m not sure what will happen to this point and it feels like there is a fair bit of ‘work’ to be done before we can agree together what will be valuable. But I also think it will be a good process and important in shaping our kids understanding of decision making and listening to god.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living by The Well

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We are coming up for 24 years in Christian leadership this year. Almost half of my life I’ve been leading churches or Christian organizations of some sort or other. We started as we got married and apart from a few extended breaks we have been at it non stop for that time.

In the early years I would run like crazy, crashing my way thru whatever I found difficult and cleaning up the mess afterwards (or not). When it came to re-energising and living sustainably I didn’t really think about it. I was young, determined and tireless. But I was also like the sprinter with no form. Lots of body parts flailing wildly, but the actual forward movement was not that exciting.

As time went on and our marriage took some massive hits as a result of my workaholism I started to become quite disciplined with my re-charging. Regular sabbaths, a scheduled and fairly non negotiable day off during the week as well as time to go off in retreats formed the basis of my re-energising. This worked and got some sanity back in our lives but it was a discipline because I still felt compelled to change the world.

In this phase of life I seem to have changed tack yet again. The shift has been  more intuitive than intentional but as I was talking with friends the other day I found myself describing how we recharge these days like this: 

Rather than taking time out to go ‘back to the well’ we now seek to ‘live by the well’. 

We aim to live in such a way and at such a pace that we are close to the source of life and able to draw from him as needed. It inevitably means fewer ‘mountain top’ experiences but it also means fewer times of significant disconnection and wandering into unhealthy places.

When I say ‘living by the well’ I’m simply speaking of a way of approaching life that is more integrated and seamless, rather than segmented into work and rest. It’s not without its challenges because when life does get busy we don’t have strict schedules to protect us, but the reality is that we are much at better at managing our time and being careful with what we say yes to.

I think different approaches to sustainability work for different people – and may be appropriate for different stages of life – but I find where we live now and the way we allow life to flow together has helped us become more whole as people as well as allowing our leadership to be less driven and a whole lot more attractive.

I wish I’d known how to live a more integrated life at 30, but then I think I would have perceived me as lazy then…

Besides Everything Else

As our plane landed a couple of weeks ago I felt a tangible weight descend on me, a heaviness that wasn’t there while we were tripping around Bali. I couldn’t articulate it at first. I just attributed it to ‘going back to work’, to re-entering normality, but its been sitting there for a while now and I think I know what it is.

in 2 Corinthians 11 Paul is defending his apostleship and listing the various challenges he has endured as part of his calling. Then in verse 28 he changes tack from the outward afflictions to write:

28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

I think that’s a bit of what I have been feeling. I guess its what every church leader feels – a deep, daily responsibility for the people we are called to lead, shepherd and equip.

As I woke yesterday morning and headed off to church I went dutifully as I just didn’t feel like it. I was weary, feeling like avoiding people and yet my ‘job’ meant I couldn’t skip it and have a quiet mope at home. And then I was scheduled to preach too… I was thinking ‘I really don’t want to do this today… or any more… for that matter…’

Then as we sat in church and sang some songs, gathered with the crew and re-entered the community I felt myself shedding some tears. Because it was good to be there. Really good. It was coming home. Being with the family. With the people I love, sharing in worship.

But therein is the struggle.

The ‘heaviness’ I felt descend when our plane hit the ground was the weight of responsibility. Paul calls it his ‘daily concern for all the churches’ and while we only lead one community I sense his emotion. When someone is weak we feel it. When someone screws up we feel it. Of course when someone has a win we feel it too and that is wonderful.

But… there’s no avoiding the weight of responsibility and concern that goes with leading a community. Its a completely intangible thing, but I believe its the most important thing Danelle and I do as part of our role. We care. We think about the community. We notice stuff. We attend to things.

And I know everyone does that to some degree. But for those of us who are called to the roles of leaders and shepherds the bar gets raised – and I don’t mean by the expectations of others, or because we are paid – but simply because this is where our heart is aligned.

Its a good thing.

Its a good thing to feel that weight of concern, but lately its felt heavier than usual. There isn’t much going on that is particularly draining, so I wonder if its a cumulative thing? If 5 years of leading has worn us down a bit?

We have been discussing the option of taking 6-12 months off next year and re-energising. A sabbatical of sorts, but we’re not sure what form it will take. For now we carry on and we do what we do knowing that some months are ‘heavier’ than others and that these things come and go.

So this isn’t a whinge or a cry for attention. I’m not seeking sympathy or answers. Its just an observation that leadership in Christian community at times carries an intangible weight. We are blessed and privileged to do what we do, and I can’t imagine a life where I don’t lead a church community, but we may be moving towards taking a deep breath and a long drink.