How Time Flies

Who is this man with my children? So freshed faced and young looking. My girls so cute and loveable.

This picture from about 11 years makes me think…

Time flies. 
How easy it is to forget what you’ve done and where you’ve been. 
Nothing stays the same. 
I look old now. And have a beard!
My family are beautiful. 
They still are but just not that little anymore. Still cute though. 
What have I done with those 11 years?
What will I do with the next 11 years?

None of us are getting any younger. So making the most of every moment, living with purpose and for a cause bigger than yourself is so important. 

I am adamant that being involved in building local church and being in relationship with God has kept me young. Maybe not in the natural as we cannot stop that, but definitely young in spirit.

How has time flown for you? 

Heading Home

Our trip is coming to an end today. We are making our way to the airport via the massive Pheonix Shopping Mall. Thank you to Immy for looking after us so brilliantly and for our driver Stalin. I would not have wanted to be driving here.

I didn’t really know what to expect before I came so it’s difficult to comment. The extremes of wealthy and poverty are evident, especially as I sit in Mall with every designer label you could name. 

The traffic is insane. No one stops for anyone. Crossing a road here would be like walking across the A1. 

The weather for us has been beautiful, sun shine every day and 35°. Can’t wait to be back in Aycliffe and a lovely 5° (not). 

Shopping for furniture was fun, bartering for the best price. We got there in the end and bought Immy a bed and mattress. 

Thanks for praying for us and checking in with all our social media posts. Here’s to the future of Xcel Bangalore. Why not be a part of the mission trip in August and you can experience it all for yourself firsthand. 

3 Things to Remember About the Words We Say

We say it. They hear it.

We move on from it. They get stuck in it.

We’ve forgotten what we said. They can’t forget what we said.

We need to be better at realising the power of ALL the words that we speak, the well thought out ones alongside the not so well thought out ones. ALL are powerful. ALL have influence.

We can argue that it’s not our fault that they hear it wrong and maybe there is some truth in that. However, we can play a more proactive role and possibly do more to ensure that people understand us. We have to help them know what we meant and decrease the potential for us inadvertently making someone feel worse or to cause a comment to stick at the forefront of a persons mind, lingering and festering there, leading them to think things we didn’t really mean.

It happens.

We say something to someone and (hopefully) expect them to get it. They might, they might not. It may bounce off them or it may go in. We feel better for having shared, yet they feel worse for having heard. We don’t think anything of it, they can’t stop thinking about it. At least we’ve got it off our chest, by throwing it all over their head!

Words are a challenge and we must be careful. So much presumption of understanding. So much misunderstanding. So much held on to and replayed, over and over again.

3 things to remember, to remind ourselves of…

  1. Just because it can be said, doesn’t mean it should be said. If we are honest, most opinions should never be shared. A lot of our thoughts should remain just that, a thought. This goes for posting on social media too.
  2. Never assume that those listening get the meaning of what is being said. What we say and what others hear do not always match. Presumption can be a killer. Plus no one should want to think that they have upset someone through blurting out some unfiltered thoughts.
  3. Ask yourself whether what you are saying is believing the best or the worst of the person, or the situation. If it is not believing the best, come up with a different way of saying it. Pause. Consider. Then speak.

I am not an expert at this. I get it right and I get it wrong. One thing I am determined to do is put as much effort in as possible to getting it right more often than not. Hopefully I’m improving. How about you?

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Leaders Must Learn to Understand People

I am no expert at this. Like most people, I am on the journey of learning how to win with people.

Here’s one thing I have been reminded of recently…

It’s not that people don’t like me, it’s that they don’t understand me. Or I could put it another way and say it’s that they don’t know me well enough.

In response to this, perhaps all of us at some point have been guilty of just making it the other persons issue. If they don’t get me, well tough. This is me, like it or lump it.

Really? I have learned to slap myself when I think that way. To be successful with people is not the other persons responsibility, it is mine. I have to make the effort. If I think someone doesn’t like me then I have to take responsibility and discover why. How is it that they don’t ‘get me?’

I cannot afford to continually live in ignorance. I have to consciously make the effort to win with others. To consider their viewpoint, to place myself in their shoes, to take time and help them to understand me, to know me better.

Next time someone we find ourselves in ‘one of those’ conversations where it just seems that the other person isn’t on the same page as you, lets take a moment and become a winner by helping them understand what we mean, to apologise for any confusion and do all we can to help move things forward.

We won’t always get it right but better to try and fail than to never even bother. Improve your ability to understand people and you just might change your world.

Chew The Fat

I am of the opinion that everyone needs someone in their world with whom they can chew the fat. And let’s just clarify, I don’t mean gossip or banter. That doesn’t benefit anyone. I don’t just mean agreement either. I think we need more than that.

This is purposeful conversation but without agenda. This is the exchange of thoughts and ideas but without an overly critical opinion. This is the sharing of life stories in a relaxed, honest, open and transparent way.

Yesterday was such a day for me. Coffee with a friend while chatting around ‘stuff’. It was encouraging, refreshing and enlightening. Most importantly, I felt good (lifted even) when I left. Ideas were thought of and others were supported.

A non-agenda friendship. Sounds really boring when you put it like that but that’s what it is. There were no leading statements. No ‘big’ asks. It was natural. It was good fun. It made my soul healthier.

What makes such a person? For me it’s not the years we have known each other, it’s the heart. The shared values. The shared journey. Having the best in mind for one another. Add to that, there is discretion and an encouraging voice. Honestly, even though we didn’t talk about some things I came away with a clearer view on them.

You don’t need many, just one or two may be enough. So, ask yourself if you have one? If not, if I were you, I would go and find one.

Dignity ~ a Lost Art

Some of us have forgotten how to carry ourselves well. In all different kinds of circumstances the ability to be a person of dignity seems to have been lost. Maybe we see it as weakness. Perhaps we think it’s not strong to be dignified. I wonder of we have become to brash in our dealings.

Dignity is about understanding the situation, the gravity of it and maintaining your integrity, handling others and what’s happening, whether good or bad with the same level of respect. 

Dignity in defeat. 

Dignity when winning. 

Dignity in our conversations. 

Dignity places value on others. 

Dignity in leadership. 

Dignity through times of personal loss.

Dignity in how we dress.

Dignity with others.

Dignity when things don’t go the way we think they should.

Some times we lose our dignity and maybe that can be good for us. It can mess with that sense of entitlement we can so easily lean towards. Other times we lose our dignity and it embarrasses us. It reveals a side of us that we wish others hadn’t seen but by then it’s too late, it hasn’t shown us of well. We think we are being humourous but actually we are being inappropriate. We think we have an opinion worth sharing but in reality we are just being opinionated.

Dignity influences. I would rather be known as a person of dignity than not. It may not be flashy or an ‘out-there’ character trait but it helps build the right kind of reputation with others. As a Christian it means I show off my God the best I can.

Dignity helps me lead well in life. It’s a quiet strength that goes unnoticed. Dignity, or the lack of it, only reveals itself when we are pushed, prodded or poked, by life or people. Without it I don’t consider to be leading the best I can.

Dignity helps me not say some stuff. It causes me to think things through before blurting out, before posting, before commenting on a topic in a way that it just shouldn’t be said. In otherwords it helps me keep my mouth shut and that can only be a good thing.

Dignity protects me. To lack dignity is to be thought of as insensitive, rude, inappropriate and be without discretion. When you become known for those things you may discover that people avoid you and where does that leave our ability to influence, build connection and lead people to Jesus.

Let’s make sure we are people of dignity first. Let’s keep it. It will open closed doors, breakdown prejudices and build bridges. It will give us opportunity to share the reason we live this way and point people to our incredible Saviour.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. [1 Thessalonians 4:11-12]


Act Loving First

It is easier to act our way into feelings than feel our way into actions.

Over these next few days as we remember the ultimate action of love demonstrated by Jesus towards us let’s reflect this in our interactions towards others.

We won’t always ‘feel’ like loving others. Even Jesus asked for what was about to come his way to be taken from him. Yet he ‘chose’ to love us. We won’t feel our way into loving others. Instead we have to act our way into loving others by doing something that demonstrates a love for them.

We need to learn to communicate well, giving words of encouragement and affirmation. Choose to appreciate rather than criticise.

We need to learn to empathise with others and see things through their eyes. Don’t judge another persons way of handling something just because you would deal with it differently.

We need to look for opportunities to meet a need. We can’t wait for them to fall from the sky, go find them. Everybody has needs.

We need to be willing to share ourselves and make more connections. This is when love actions just become a way of life. This is about loving others beyond convenience or no cost involved.

Act first. Act loving towards others first. Who knows what might happen.


How to Win Friends & Influence People

Reading this book once again and loving the powerfulness and the simplicity of the ideas Dale Carnegie promotes that can help us in our relationship with others.

Yet, despite their simplicity it’s a shame that an awful lot of people just ignore them.

We can be too quick to complain, too quick to criticise, too quick to condemn. We make circumstances about ourselves, our emotions kick in and out natural defensiveness comes to the fore. We don’t always like taking responsibility for the way things have gone or the responsibility to handle everything and make some necessary changes ourselves. After all, it’s never our fault.

Reminded that we all know people that we want to change, regulate and improve. However, the most important person to start with is the one we see in the mirror every day. I have to stop wanting everyone else to change while being unwilling to do so myself.

Don’t complain about the snow on your neighbour’s roof when your own doorstep is unclean [Confucious]

More importantly for me are the words of Jesus ~ ‘Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks’.

This is a good reminder for me. I don’t always get it right but I’m working on it. How about you?