Thursday, July 19, 2007

Giuliani - Leadership - First things first

I first read Rudolph Giuliani's book on leadership a few years ago and since then it has been a book that I never tire of. Giuliani was a two time mayor of New York and was mayor during the September 11 terror attacks. The book will not be everyone’s cup of tea but if you have an interest in politics (and leadership) then I am sure you will find the book very interesting. While I do not agree with Giuliani on some political and moral issues, I have come to admire him tremendously as a leader. The book is jam packed with fantastic leadership principles and examples of how these principles worked in changing New York City. So for the next few days I will discuss a different chapter of the book.

#1 First things first

"Every morning at exactly eight o'clock, I make my mother very happy. Throughout my childhood, she would lecture me on the virtues of finishing my schoolwork before I went outside to play ... That's why I've begun every single morning since 1981 with a meeting of my top staff"

Giuliani goes on to explain throughout the chapter that as mayor of New York City the task could be completely overwhelming. So to ensure he dealt with the vital things first he met with his key leaders first thing every morning. This would give the opportunity for key issues to be dealt with in a timely manner. He credits this meeting as one of the keys to his success as mayor.

While this may be leadership 101, in rereading the book it has challenged me afresh. Often I find myself getting drawn to what appears to be urgent rather then what is truly important. The other challenge is to avoid tasks that while important are not exciting and instead rush to tasks that are exciting regardless of importance.

As a Christian leader (or even just as a follower of Christ) the first things first principle means that time with God needs to be the first part of your day. One of the things I have discovered is that you never know who you are going to encounter on any particular day. As a Pastor, people will ask you for advice and they are hoping for more then just your opinion Рthey are looking for Godly wisdom. If I am regularly connecting with God and putting him first, there is a much greater chance that I will be able to have an informed perspective on a situation rather then just regurgitating clich̩ answers.

The first things first principle is all about living life according to priorities and doing the right thing at the right time. Jesus constantly lived by this principle – His life was driven by his mission, not the agendas of other people. In Luke chapter 2, Jesus as a 12-year-old boy goes missing and when his parents eventually find him he is in the temple. When they question him about where he has been he replies, "Why were you searching for me? Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?"

Later in John Chapter 4, prior to Jesus meeting the woman at the well, the Bible says that "Jesus had to go to Samaria". The interesting thing is that he was taking a journey to Galilee, which would not usually necessitate going through Samaria. The reason he had to go to Samaria was that he had to visit the woman at the well. His life was ordered by his mission not convenience, and he knew the principle of completing everything at its appointed time.

In John Chapter 11 Jesus finds out his friend Lazarus is sick, this seemed to be an urgent situation. It would appear that the first things first principle would dictate that you would go and visit your friend. However as Jesus knew what he was going to do, he knew that this was not the time to visit Lazarus. Instead he waited until Lazarus died and then visited. When Jesus arrives, Lazarus’s sisters say, "Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died". In other words, “If you had just put first things first then we would not be in this situation”. But Jesus was looking at a bigger picture than their agenda. Jesus wanted to raise Lazarus from the dead but to perform this great miracle he had to delay what other people deemed to be urgent. I am not suggesting we leave our friends to die! But the first things first principles does mean not being ruled by others’ opinions and agendas but always acting out of true priorities

Friday, July 06, 2007

Our new house

I have not been blogging much recently due to us moving into our new place last weekend. As you can see from the pictures the place has an amazing garden, this is going to be a big challenge for Sarah and I to keep in order.

In other news next week we take 17 young people to Get Smart Conference in Auckland, should be an awesome time!

Sunday, June 24, 2007


A few months ago Andrew asked me to be a contribute to his review blog intraspace. It has taken a couple of months for me to actually contribute but you will now find a review of the book Leadership Excellence by Phil Pringle. Check it out

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

World youth culture dominated by Asia

In visiting Steve Taylors blog I was fascinated to find a link to this blog about how Asia has become the dominant trend setter in World youth culture. In particular the video link in the blog has some very interesting facts.

The technological changes are already well and truly effecting the face of NZ youth culture and subsequently NZ youth ministry. However it will be interesting to see how other Asian youth trends effect our culture.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The power of encouragement

Our Senior Pastor spoke on the power of encouragement. As his closing illustration he played this video clip. Their was hardly a dry eye in the church and well.... the clip speaks for itself!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Charlie Boswell

The following is a true story which I read in the book Leadership Excellence by Phil Pringle.

Charlie Boswell was blinded during World War II while rescuing his friend from a tank that was under fire. He was a great athlete before his accident and in a testimony to his talent and determination he decided to try a brand new sport, a sport he never imagined playing, even with his eyesight . . . golf!

Through determination and a deep love for the game he became the National Blind Golf Champion! He won that honor 13 times. One of his heroes was the great golfer Ben Hogan, so it truly was an honor for Charlie to win the Ben Hogan Award in 1958.

Upon meeting Ben Hogan, Charlie was awestruck and stated that he had one wish and it was to have one round of golf with the great Ben Hogan.

Mr. Hogan agreed that playing a round together would be an honor for him as well, as he had heard about all of Charlie's accomplishments and truly admired his skills.

"Would you like to play for money, Mr. Hogan?" blurted out Charlie.

"I can't play you for money, it wouldn't be fair!" said Mr. Hogan.

"Aw, come on, Mr. Hogan...$1,000 per hole!"

"I can't, what would people think of me, taking advantage of you and your circumstance," replied the sighted golfer.

"Chicken, Mr. Hogan?"

"Okay," blurted a frustrated Hogan, "but I am going to play my best!"

"I wouldn't expect anything else," said the confident Boswell.

"You're on Mr. Boswell, you name the time and the place!"

A very self-assured Boswell responded "10 o'clock . . . tonight!"

Monday, June 04, 2007

Andy Haden

Part of New Zealand rugby folklore is a 1978 test between the All Blacks and Wales, New Zealand were losing by 2 points with only moments left on the clock. As a lineout was formed Andy Haden took a huge dive and threw himself onto the ground pretending that he was illegally pushed over by a Welshman. A penalty was given, kicked and the All Blacks won the match. The referee confirmed later that the penalty had not been given for the Haden hollywood but for another infringement.

All who saw the Haden dive knew that a hand was not laid on him so the media brandished him a cheat. After days of being hung out to dry for his unsporting play Haden made the following comment in response to the criticism "All of your ridicule and scorn is preferable to me then to get back into the changing sheds at the end of the game, look at myself in the mirror and think you could have done something more to try and win"

Andy Haden's attitude to rugby is the same attitude that all of us should take into life. So often we are silenced by the criticism and opinions of others and by allowing these voices to dictate to us we run the risk of one day sitting down at the end of our lives and thinking I could have done something more.


For a while I have been meaning to change the name of my blog and have finally got around to doing so. So with this change I have also made a commitment to myself to try my very best to update this at least on a weekly basis. Exciting, I KNOW!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Awesome things happening

Well it has been a while since I have posted here and as of late a lot of awesome things have been happening.

Our youth has really been growing both in numbers and spiritual depth. We have seen at least one new person at youth every week for the last 6 weeks and have grown from averaging about 15 an event at the start of the year to 25 each week.
Two weeks ago we had three girls make first time commitments, all of them from non christian families. We also had nearly all our youth respond to an alter call where they committed to God that they never wanted to get involved in the 'party scene' it was awesome stuff!!

I was also really blessed to be asked to share a message at Faith Bible College. Having only graduated last year it was an honor to be asked to share with the students. I shared on Spiritual Fatherhood through the life of Mordecai which was well received.

Last week Pst Trevor (my SP) and I went to pursuit of excellence conference in Auckland. It was an awesome time hearing some amazing speakers and being gathered in the presence of God. We received so much quality input over those four days, I think it will take a couple of months to process it all.

Lastly our church has a couple of ministries that reach out to the homeless in our city. We have been doing this for the last three years but in the last little while we have been seeing the fruit of this. Three of the streeties have recently given their hearts to the Lord and one brother in particular has been utterly transformed on Sunday morning he gave a powerful testimony. He shared how he spends time every day in the theology section of the local library as he loves to read the word of God and God really speaks to him in this place. After leaving this spot he found a wallet on the ground. He quickly grabbed it stuffed it in his pocket and made his way to the toilet where he could check the contents of the wallet. Going through he found $141 and also some dope, he assured the church that it was good quality stuff as well! He sat in the toilets and debated what he should do with each item. He knew he shouldn't smoke the dope and thought maybe he should give it to his friends on the street who would appreciated it. Although on second thoughts he knows that God is reaching out to many of his friends so it would probably be better not to give it to them and to smoke it himself and then ask for the Lord's forgiveness. After many minutes of debating he realised he that he could not smoke or give away the dope, the money wasn't quite so straight forward though. Maybe this was a blessing from God he reasoned. He could have a night in a hotel with clean sheets, clean blankets and watch movies!! He decided he would go back to the theology section to make his decision. As he sat surrounded by books about God the presence of God touched him and he realised that he needed to hand the wallet into the police!!! He said he chuckled to himself as he approached the police station as this was his first time entering through the front doors in his old life he had always been taken through the back. The policeman on duty took the wallet and began to count the money, "no need to count" my friend said "their is exactly $141.30, believe me I have counted it!!" The policeman was further shocked when he asked for his address and the reply was "no fixed abode". The policeman commended him and told him that their was not many people like him in the world.

It was so awesome to be reminded of the transformation of the Cross. Our God is truly amazing!!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Who is God?

Our church advertises in the local newspaper the Bay of Plenty Times. Each week the paper gets a different church to write an article, this week was Tauranga City Elim's turn and my Senior Pastor delgated the task to me. With a lot of editing and creative help from Andrew I have written the following article.

“So, what do you do for a living?” There’s that question again – and it never gets any more straightforward. I used to say, “I work for the IRD”, which was followed by a range of less than enthusiastic responses. But now I’ve had a change in jobs. Now I answer, “I’m a Christian Minister.”

The look of puzzlement that crosses the other person’s face, as they try make a connection between their mental picture of what a Christian Minister looks like and the 26 year old standing in front of them, often leads to a more in-depth discussion. The conversation inevitably touches on one of the main issues of my occupation – the question of who God is. People’s opinions about the nature of God range from thinking about him as a powerful impersonal force to a convenient help-line in times of trouble. But who is God really?

The Bible teaches that humans are made in the image of God – this means that we resemble him and have many of his qualities. One of the qualities that we share with God is the desire and ability to create. Throughout history, humans have continuously come up with new concepts, technologies and philosophies. But we have also used our creative abilities to mould our perception of who and what God is. Often we end up with a God that is made in our own image, rather than the other way around. We attempt to turn God into what we want him to be, based on our own unique lifestyles, experiences, needs and beliefs. No wonder the response is so varied when you ask people about their opinion of God.

A Christian thinker named Patrick Morley said this: “There is a God we want and there is a God who is. They are not the same God. The turning point of our lives is when we stop seeking the God we want and start seeking the God who is.”

Few people are willing to challenge their own beliefs and search for the God who is. The Bible says that God understands people because he created them and then chose to become human in the form of Jesus Christ.

God’s position towards humanity is not just one of understanding but one of deep love. God has created us to have a relationship with him, and true satisfaction can only be found in a relationship with the God who created us. An amazing thing happens when we begin to seek the God who is – we find that he is the God we need.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Spare the rod spoil the child, use the rod and be put in jail

Currently there is a bill before New Zealand Parliament to make it illegal for parents to hit their children. While New Zealand does have shocking domestic and child violence statistics this bill will mean a parent could be charged for even administering a light smack.

At the moment the law allows for a child to be smacked as long as "reasonable force" is used. The problem with the current legislation is the term reasonable force is not defined so what is reasonable to one person may be entirely different to someone else so it does little to give clear boundaries about what is legal and what is not.

Clearly something needed to changed but sadly the bill that has been presented to parliament seeks to make criminals out of well meaning parents. The bill's sponsor Sue Bradford would say that this not the intention of the legislation at and that it is unlikely the police would ever arrest someone for lightly hitting a child. However at the same time she is not willing to have her bill amended in anyway to allow for parents to lightly smack children.

The best suggestion has come from national MP Chester Burrows who has suggested an amendment to the proposed bill. Mr Burrows amendment would allow parents to use limited force when disciplining children but. So it would be similar to current legislation but would be a lot more definite about what constituted discipline and what constituted violence. Sadly Sue Bradford will not consider this as an amendment to her bill and claims that this would be worse then the current legislation. She has not however offered any explanation as to why clearly defined boundaries for physical discipline of a child would be worse then what we currently have but instead has insisted that if the amendment is approved then she will withdraw the bill. Clearly a case of if you disagree with me then I'm taking my ball and going home.

With the current debate going around Jim Hopikns wrote this fantastic piece for the New Zealand Herald. In it he addresses the pressure being put on individuals to vote down the party line despite it being a conscience vote. And also the inconsistencies between the governments attitude towards child violence and their attitude to abortion.

Sadly most commentators seem to think that Bradford's bill will be accepted. What can one say except GOD DEFEND NEW ZEALAND

Friday, February 23, 2007

The world is upside down

I once heard a preacher say "You know the world is upside down when the best rapper is white, the best golfer is black, the tallest man in the NBA is chinese and the number one r rated film is about Jesus (the passion)".

A NZ cricket fan could add NZ beating Australia 3-0 nil in a cricket series to the list. Of course this series is really only a warm up for the world cup which starts next month. Below are my thoughts about both teams world cup chance.

Australia will be a huge force and still probably deserve the tag of favourites. It will be interesting how the bowlers respond to the pastings they got in NZ. It is clear now the selectors made a huge mistake in selecting Tait over Clark. At the moment Tait does not appear to have the control to be an international bowler. I am certain he will take a few wickets at the cup but he will also bleed a few runs. However the key to the World Cup will still be the batsman. If Ponting, Hussey Clarke and Gilly fire then look out.

New Zealands fortunes depend on Bond and Vettori. Firstly they both need to be fit and secondly on form. Vettori has been a bit more inconsistant then usual, but I am sure he will relish the slower pitches in the WestIndies and be a force. Bond must adjust quickly, in Australia he seemed to struggle to adjust to different conditions early on and it is paramount that he works out his lengths early. If these two perform consistanly then we certainly seem to have a middle order capable of scoring runs.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Weighing in the bags

According to this article at it may not just be the bags that get weighed next time you head to the airport. It has been suggested that airlines may offer a discount for lighter passengers as it keeps less weight on the plane. I wonder if such a plan is really feasible.

This reminds me of a trip to a ladies clothes shop (with my wife) one time. I had just been training some new recruits at Inland Revenue on customer service so CS was at the forefront of my mind. One shop assistance was helping a lady in the changing room and when a particular item of clothing was two small rather then walk herself over to the other side to collect the bigger item she yelled across to a co worker "I need a size 16, the size 14 is too small". I must admit I was amused but I also felt extremely sorry for the lady who had just had her dress size yelled to all and sundry. Now that's classy customer service with a capital K.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

David's Success

In Christianity I often find the most profound truths are also very simple. I was amazed at the simplicity of two keys to King Davids success in 1 Chronicles 14:2

"And David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that his kingdom had been highly exalted for the sake of his people Israel."

David knew that his calling was not from man, that it was the Lord who had established him. To be successful in any God given task or any ministry position we need to realise that we are their because of the Lord.

Psalm 75:6-7
For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another

How else will we ever truly endure in a particular work. Surely the only thing that enables us to hang in when the going really gets tough is the revelation that we have not been appointed because it is a good idea, we are not just fulfilling another position but the God of the universe had a plan and wants to use in a special way. Another example of a leader who knew that his ministry was of God and not man was the Apostle Paul who wrote in Galatians chapter 1

1Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead

Oh Lord help us not to be people that think we do things to impress man but let us realise that you are the one who truly calls us fourth.

However in the second half of the Chronicles text we see that David didn't just understand who he was called by, he also understood who he was called for.
He knew that the Kingdom has been made great for the sake of the people. He realised that any success he had was not for himself but success in the kingdom was for the people of God. How important it is that Christian leaders do not get caught building an empire instead of God's Kingdom. That the Holy Spirit would constantly remind us that what we are doing and any success we experience is truly for the so others can be blessed. Oh God let our ministry be strive to have something of worth to impart for the sake of others.

In short we are not called by man but we are called for man

Monday, January 15, 2007

Call of God

For a while I have been thinking about the call of God. As pentecostal churches we often focus heavily on the individual call of God for a persons life. We always need to ensure we keep the balance between what God wants us to do and what God wants us to become. I had been thinking about this then I read a fantastic part in the book Church@community by Ed Delph, which puts it far better then I could.

"Our primary purpose as Christians and churches is to be conformed to the image of Jesus(it is predestined), and secondly to fulfill calling. If your calling comes before being conformed to Jesus, you are in danger of becoming sectarian, judgemental and one-dimensional ... Your calling is never the standard, Jesus is! Every emphasis needs a context. You are a Christian first, a prayer warrior second. You are a Christian first, a theologian or church historian second ... "

Church@Community page 161

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Video store

When the man at the video store tells you not to get the film that you have picked because "just between us it iis really silly" and tells you to get American Dreamz instead DO NOT LISTEN TO HIM

Atheism scary in its sheer conceit

The New Zealand herald published an article today about an Anglican bishop who claimed himself to be an angnostic. An interesting opinion piece was written by Colomnist John Roughan (a non believer) titled "Atheism scary in its sheer conceit" here is a snippet

The bishop also noted, happily, that the parliamentary prayer is under review, as is the nature of prayer at Anzac Day services.
"As a church leader I feel uncomfortable leading prayers in public that have an exclusively Christian ending, thus excluding people of other faiths."
It should not fall to an unbeliever to say this but, God help us. This country's religious heritage is Christian; people of other faiths know it. They do not feel excluded when our ceremonies reflect our heritage.
They probably worry, as I do, that if we dilute that identity into some arid catch-all we lose a little more of our society's spiritual roots.
Possibly politicians who fear to declare themselves atheist, understand that better than today's church leaders do.
It is a tragedy the modern church has been divested of much of its ancient splendour.
Political leaders understand, I think, that though we are as secular as Mr Barrington says - most people don't admire or even like religion and turn away from its display - we find atheism just as repellent.
Atheism, humanism, rationalism, call it what you like, is a conviction that offers nothing beyond the reach of human knowledge, when their plainly are such things. Not just the obvious: the boggling infinity of the universe and its density that suggests matter we still cannot see. Or the apparently random behaviour of subatomic particles that comprises everything we see. Quantum physics sounds like metaphysics to me.
Our very brain remains largely unexplained. How do thoughts happen? Physically, what is going on in there? How do neurons compose a symphony? What makes us love?
I like mysteries in existence. I'm not religious about it but there are things I sense spiritually, for want of a better word. I want to be awed by infinite possibilities.

The full article can be viewed at

Friday, January 12, 2007

End of the first week

Well my first week as a Youth Pastor has officially ended (Friday is our day off). I have been spending mornings and early afternoons in the office doing some of the prep for the coming year and then have been catching up with some of our young people and leaders during the afternoons and evenings. It is very exciting seeing things begin to take shape!

Great quote

"To say their is no absolute right and wrong is in essence to say their is no tangible difference between the lives of Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa" - Steve Kumar (Christian apologist)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

new beginnings

Well from tomorrow I am officially the full time Youth Pastor at Tauranga City Elim Church. I am really looking forward to a fresh start and a new challenge. It is quite a change after working for the Inland Revenue for nearly 8 years.

It is sure to be a real challenge and I am looking forward to sinking my teeth in and really growing in God over the next 12 months.

Hmmm do you suppose people would rather meet a Pastor or a Tax collector?