Wednesday, August 31, 2011


There’s a distinct strength about a man or woman who has endured the fires of life and come out the other end more passionate for God. 

I’ve seen a number of family members suffer in recent years, some with cancer, others with painful sickness, some have lost those closest to them.

A dear friend of mine, Ted is one of these individuals. Ted was diagnosed with cancer in 1996 and began painful treatment, three years later he broke his back after falling from a ladder, and only a few months after that he required brain surgery. 

Ted went under the knife again, this time to repair arteries in his heart that were 90% blocked. Four hours later he had a heart attack but miraculously survived. After being stabilised he was sent home with a blood clot, undiagnosed pneumonia and fluid on his lungs. 

As I listened to his incredible story of suffering I wanted desperately to know how after a lifetime of service to God, his love for his heavenly Father had not dwindled. 

Without hesitation Ted responded with a powerful statement his Godly mother taught him during a time of suffering. 

“We serve God for who He is, not for what we can get out of Him.”

I was amazed to hear the words, spoken with a quiet inner strength and a deep authentic love for his creator.

Battered and bruised, Ted has continued his journey of faith, and it is clear he has kept perspective during a time where emotions and feelings can get the best of any human being.

Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest, “Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness, but it does not always make a man better.”

Someone wise once told me, trials and tribulations can make us bitter or better. I have met people who have become consumed with their suffering, and as time passes the anger and resentment builds up, they are bound by their bitterness and become a slave to their circumstances.

But as Christians we are called to live a selfless life of joy.

Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus...” 

It’s a remarkable challenge, and one that is impossible without the power of the Holy Spirit in us giving the strength to persevere.

Last year my aunty Debbie left behind six children, and her loving husband, after losing a ten year battle with cancer.

During the decade of painful treatment, Debbie’s love for Jesus Christ shone brightly to those around her.

While waiting in the hospital for her regular chemotherapy treatment she developed friendships with other patients and selflessly chose to be a blessing to those in need around her.  

She was a joyful woman who gave thanks in all circumstances.

“You always know the man who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, you are certain that you can go to him in trouble and find that he has ample leisure for you.” (Oswald Chambers)

God in His sovereign love uses suffering as a way to develop us into men and women who bear fruit for His kingdom.

People who have suffered in very specific ways can in turn provide vital care to other individuals who are suffering in the same way.

“If you receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.” (Oswald Chambers)

It’s encouraging to know that through the fires of life, God has a plan, and will make all things work together for good.

Daniel Sercombe

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

2011 GLS Highlights Session 1 - Bill Hybels

Wondering what the Australian Global Leadership Summit will be like?!
Check out what's to come with Bill Hybels session 1 highlights!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Resilience in Ministry

What contributes to resilience in ministry and hence enables finishing well?  Here in brief is my story and insights.  I responded to God’s call in my late teens while working in cartography.  When I entered theological college and university at age 20 my intellectual and theological life was fed in a new way. 

In my younger years my leadership gifts were recognised, but the leadership research and the articles and books of the last 25 years have helped enormously.  I am grateful to those who saw potential in me and who knowingly and unknowingly mentored me.  Hence I, in turn, willingly and intentionally mentor others.

What has kept me resilient?  Here is the heart of it:

First, I am sustained by God’s call to ministry and leadership. 
The sense that I was born for this has upheld me, especially in times of great challenge and opportunity.

Secondly, I work to my strengths. 
At Spiritual Gift Workshops I led many years ago, some ministers were frustrated that no gift stood out for them.  In doing a multitude of various tasks in ministry they had no time to focus on their strengths and gifts.  I decided then that I would not follow that pattern.  Also, using the Clifton StrengthsFinder and Leading From Your Strengths profiles has been of enormous value.  I pattern my life to bear the fruit that comes from the strategic use of my dominant spiritual gifts, passions and strengths.

Thirdly, in later years I planned my life so that, from the time I reached 60, I would give myself to building into the next generation of leaders.
Hence, now that I am officially in ‘retirement’ I have far more than retirement to look forward to!

Fourthly, I endeavour to be open to 360 mentoring or mentoring up (learning from the generations following me).
Discipleship for me has always meant a willingness to learn.  I take to heart Proverbs 1: 4-5, “to teach shrewdness to the simple, knowledge and prudence to the young – let the wise also hear and also gain in learning, and the discerning acquire skill.”

Fifthly, I make sure I am in mutually rewarding ongoing close relationships with a few chosen people within and outside ministry. 
I have decided who I want to connect with at a deeper level for the rest of my life.

Finally, I soak myself in the Word.
I love using the Bible offensively and self-feeding my mind and soul.  Though I expound scripture in my teaching and preaching, over recent years I have read the Bible daily and have found helpful personal edification from keeping a journal of the revelations I receive.

Rev Dr Dean Brookes

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Cost of Networking

I love my office. I love sitting in my office pumping out that next well-crafted sermon. I love sitting at my computer fleshing out that new strategy that is going to revolutionise my ministry. I love pausing in my office as I think through an idea that could really change things. 

I just love my office.

Despite this love affair, it sometimes does me more harm than good. The more I love my office, the less I want to be involved with others in my ministry area. I often view networking with other leaders as the annoying interruption in my comfortable, self-absorbed day. It is only now that I realise why this networking business often makes me feel uncomfortable. It costs me.

Networking costs me time. If I meet another leader for coffee, that’s at least an hour out of my day where I could be finishing off a new roster. If I meet with local youth pastors for breakfast, that’s 90 minutes that I could be spending preparing next week’s service.

Secondly, networking costs me control. Whenever I’m involved in organising an event with other youth ministries, I don’t get to make the final decision on everything. I’m only given one responsibility and kept out of making other decisions, which makes me feel less important.

Finally, networking costs me my personal beliefs. When I work with other leaders, I often need to sacrifice my perspective on various matters. I may have to give an offering talk even though my denomination doesn’t usually do that. I may have to allow worship to be done with epic lights, booming speakers and slick-dressed people on stage.

But if I step back and look from a Kingdom perspective, is 90 minutes with a local leader and a ‘Big Breakfast’ really a sacrifice of time? Who cares if I’m only in charge of wristbands at a combined event? And come on, does it really matter if there’s an offering talk or not? I mean as long as the gospel is being preached, right? As long as discipleship is still the priority. So please, stop reading this in your office and call a leader in your area for a catch-up. Organise a breakfast for your team.

Go! Get out now, before you’re tempted to marry your office chair!

Luke Williams
Youth Pastor 
Wollongong Church of Christ