Yeah… It Is a Big Thing

Next Saturday evening is my book launch, where I get to celebrate the creation of two very different pieces of work. I love them both!

The Future is Bivocational is a proposal for a different approach to ministry in the years that lie ahead. It is based on both personal experience and biblical reflection – written primarily for those who are moving into church leadership roles in the years ahead. That said I hope it inspires others to consider how we may re-invent this thing called ‘pastoral ministry/leadership’. As I look at this book now I feel like I hit the mark with what I wanted to say. You may not agree with it, but I feel like I managed to get on paper the ideas I have been wrestling with over many years.

The second is titled On Earth as in Heaven, but you won’t find it on Amazon or anywhere for that matter. For the last few years I have been producing a photobook of the beaches in our local area. It’s a personal project so it’s all funded by us until the books are sold and then the profits go to a charity in Bali. This year rather than just offer a book of photos I decided to also write some stories of where we have seen signs of the kingdom of God in our neighbourhood – stories of kindness, forgiveness, courage, beauty and other qualities that hint towards the world that Jesus invites us into.

Again I feel like it turned out very much as I had hoped. I have always wanted to have a book I could give to friends that spoke of the things that matter to Jesus but in a way that could be understood by the average Aussie. I have stumbled on a few along the way, but this one feels like what I hoped it would. As I look at the pictures and re-read the stories I feel satisfied that it will do the job I had hoped and along the way it’s profits will feed a bunch of struggling families in Bali.

Both books make me smile inside because they have captured so much of my own heart.

A few days ago I asked Sam if he was coming to the book launch. It’s a very busy time for him at Uni with exams before and after that Saturday evening. I may be there’ he said, ‘Is it, like, a big thing?’

‘Interesting question…’ i said ‘and as a matter of fact, yeah it is!’ I didn’t say that to give him the guilts. I said it because in that moment I literally realised that yeah… it really is a big thing.

And as I said it I realised that for me it is bigger than the two degrees I have completed. I didn’t even attend the graduation for my Phys Ed degree! It was a means to an end and nothing more. And then my theology degree was a decent achievement, but it was me following someone else’s plans for my learning.

Writing a book is so so very different. This is not completing a course and ensuring I have done enough to pass. This is a much more self directed, visceral expression of thought. Books flow from your own heart and head so they are deeply personal.

One book (Future is Bivocational) I would describe as reflective and hopefully provocative – the other is beautiful and inspirational. And they both capture the essence of who I am. In that conversation with Sam I realised ‘yeah… it is a big thing…’

In saying that I am offering no comment on the success of the books. I doubt either will reach a massive audience and if I ever recoup the time and cash I have put into these books then it would be miraculous… But I feel like I want to celebrate a significant achievement. I am prone to under-playing this kind of stuff and to just moving on to the next project, but this time I do want to make something of it that

And Sam… As much as I’d love to have you there, I really won’t be wounded if you do have to study – but thanks for helping me realise that it is kind of a big thing for me 🙂


Earning Respect | Psychology Today Australia

This last two weeks I did something I haven’t done for many years.

I locked in 10 full days of work from 7.30-4.00pm, which amounted to 90 hours actually on the job as well an hour or two each evening invoicing, quoting and ordering. 

If it sounds like a pretty normal week to some of you then that’s right – it’s supposed to. It was 10 days of solid work – same as what most people do every week.

Why do I tell you this?

Because after not having lived like this for so long, I observed some curious questions emerging. I noticed how ‘hemmed in’ I felt – how my week just seemed to be work-sleep-repeat with little time for anything else. I caught up with my brother and his wife one evening and was quite literally falling asleep during the conversation. On Friday night I kicked back on the couch to watch a few episodes of Breaking Bad (I know I am late to that party) and after the first I fell asleep and 2 episodes ran in the background. I felt the strain of a full working week in a way I had never imagined.

We are in the process of training up a friend to work in our business, which means I need to spend a several weeks slowly helping him get up to speed. It won’t be like this for ever – but it gave me an insight into the lives of those for whom this is normal – those whose work is either physically or mentally exhausting. It can be heavy going… and that’s when things are going well!

I clean forgot we had our Yanchep Food Program on the Tuesday night. I was wiped out. I really didn’t want to head anywhere on the other nights and on two of them I was asleep by 8.30pm. And as we worked, I found myself wondering, when will I get to the post office? What if I need to go to the doctor? When will I mow the lawn? When will I get to Supercheap to buy stuff for the car?..

Saturday?… Sunday?…

Suddenly my time and my life felt constricted, tiring and somewhat sapping. Even though I enjoy the work I do I didn’t like being locked into having to do it every day.

I realise this is life for most people – which is what prompted the post. After being a pastor for 31 years I have come to expect a relatively flexible life, trading daytime hours for evening time and so on. I know most people don’t do this, so it gave me a deeper insight into one aspect of other people’s lives.

It was hard – and I enjoy my work… How hard must it be for people in difficult jobs, or where the relational tension is high?

It also made me curious as to how realistic our pastoral expectations have been of people over the years. It made me wonder what ‘commitment to Christ and his church’ looks like. Have we got caught up in a work culture that is unhealthy – even sinful? Are we driven by the need to accrue wealth, acquire more and upsize? If so can that be changed?

And as churches do we expect more than is reasonable from people who work full time, are managing families and young children? When Saturday and Sunday are your only rest options and you also need to wash the car, go shopping, attend aunty Doreen’s 80th etc etc then those two days fly by.

This week I remember getting to the end of Wednesday and the term ‘hump day’ took on new meaning. I have always understood the term, but this week and last week I felt it tangibly. We are over halfway… you will make it…

And as the weekend approached I was waiting like a hungry man for food. I have a list of ‘jobs’ to do, many of them enjoyable, but I had no time – or energy for them during the working week. I also want to rest – to slow down and ‘smell the roses’ – or in my case go to the beach. Last weekend I ended up feeling like two days just isn’t long enough to tick all those boxes, especially the ‘rest’ one.

So to those who work long hours day in day out with no relief in sight you have my genuine, deep respect. To those who also commit to their local church to serve and engage joyfully while working full time you have my immense respect.

And to those bivocational pastors who work full time as well as leading a church – double respect! You guys are amazing