Blog : coaching

If you could walk a mile in my shoes.

If you could walk a mile in my shoes.

It is so easy to make assumptions, to think you know better and even to make judgements when you sit on the sidelines and observe.


 I was in a situation recently where I wasn’t leading at a camp but simply observing from the outside…..

It was a camp for troubled kids and their behaviour was very disturbing at times. This is not unusual, as I have been directing camps like this for over ten years now. What surprised me was my internal reaction to what I was observing.

For the first time in a while I found myself looking through a different lens. What surprised me was my Personal reaction when I was looking from the outside where there was no emotional attachment. I was surprised how judgmental I was at times and how I lacked empathy. I found myself getting frustrated, impatient and actually at times lacked compassion when I watched certain children’s behaviour and the way they treated the adults and other children. Not that I think bullying and disrespect should be tolerated, but I was quite surprised what it stirred up in me. I can imagine if I had been working in the camp and got to know the kids and leaders personally that my feelings would have been different. I know this because I really don’t have those emotions in the camp I run each year in July. I didn’t realise that it is only when I am integrally involved and get to know and love the kids, how much more compassion and patience I have with them.

It is so easy to make assumptions, to think you know better and even to make judgements when you sit on the sidelines and observe. And it is not something I am very proud of. But I realised how differently everything is seen when you are in thick of it, emotionally invested and willing to take a responsible role in the running of such an event, which means taking responsibility for what is happening, both good and bad. In all my years of working with children and people, I do know that “There is always a reason why we behave the way we do.” I teach all the time the importance of looking beyond the misbehaviour for the cry for help and yet I so easily broke my own rules as I piously sat on the sidelines, trying to control my emotions of frustration and judgement.

Then I wondered how many other times in life could this be true? We may watch other parents and make assumptions. We can see or read something about other churches or ministries and make judgements. We even observe other people’s choices and behaviour at times and, without knowing the full story, it is so easy to watch from a distance and “throw stones” as the saying goes. I wonder how aware we are that we are doing it!

I love living and doing life in an “Intergenerational Faith Community.” Living and doing life within our faith community has bonded us all in special ways and with that special bond comes a love and grace to know each other, the good and the bad and ugly, and still to choose to walk together, as we desire to grow more and more like Him. I understand that others standing on the outside may see it differently. I have often wondered why more people don’t want to join this kind of community. Yet, I understand why many find this threatening and choose to sit on the sidelines, possibly just attend a service on a Sunday, not get too close to many. But I wonder if that makes it too easy to find themselves like me, making judgements from the sidelines. It is easier to do, after all. It does not require any sacrifice or cost to me personally to live in such a way. I often hear people say to me: “I am a Christian, but I am not connected to any Church.” I get it. I understand it, but without trying to be judgemental, I don’t believe it is God’s design or the model we see from Jesus when He walked this earth.

As the saying goes, “if you could walk a mile in my shoes…” I wonder how differently we would live if we could really understand and empathise with others. I was challenged by this as I realised how easy it was to simply sit back, watch and commentate from the sidelines. But actually, Jesus calls us to walk closely with others, to jump in boots and all and walk more than a mile in other peoples’ shoes. It is only when we do that that we have the right to make a difference, an opportunity to truly help and as we do we can’t help but be transformed in the process.

So can I be so bold as to say… Get off the sidelines and into the actual game. Get off your Soapbox and start to do something about it.

Get off the comfortable pew and "walk a mile in someone else's shoes," and watch what a difference it makes to you and those around you.

Just a flip of a switch

Just a flip of a switch

It is a strange place to find yourself; as a parent of a teenager. To discover suddenly that what was acceptable communication yesterday is not today. I want to ask “who flipped the switch?”


It is a strange place to find yourself; as a parent of a teenager. To discover suddenly that what was acceptable communication yesterday is not today. I want to ask “who flipped the switch?”

It is no surprise and I have been waiting for it, as it is no secret that all teens go through this time when parents can do or say nothing right …but still when it happened it caught me off guard. I am right in the middle of it, with one 15 year-old and one that is 18 years old. Yet I am surprised how the rules of engagement can change from day to day or hour to hour. So, not only does the switch flip, but it feels like it is flipping up and down constantly and to navigate what position we are in at any given time is almost impossible.

I do not intend this blog to become an opportunity to complain about teenagers, especially my own, as I happen to feel I have two exceptionally wonderful teens. As biased as that is, I stand by it. This is more about what I am learning about how to navigate this interesting season.

It is hard to be in a place where your opinion is not seen to be valued. It challenges me to think about where I get my value?

I am learning to continually see myself in the image of God, and as His child, as well as continually handing my children over to Him, knowing that He hasn’t finished with any of us yet. It reminds me that this season and these challenges are not about me, but about my teens learning and growing and needing to question, to widen their circle and seek out what they believe. AND I am learning that when I do get emotional about them not valuing my opinion, often it simply shuts down the potential lines of future communication. 

It is hard to be in a place where the conversation seems completely irrational to me and when I try to bring some rationality to the situation, it sends the conversation to an ugly place. It challenges me make to think about what is the right response as a parent in this space?

I  am learning that one thing they need right now is for me to listen, listen and listen. It reminds me that they need me to empathise no matter how ridiculous it sounds as it is simply a part of the process and often the irrational verbalisation is important for them to hear out loud for themselves more than anything else. AND I have learned to apologise A LOT, for not listening and speaking too much. 

It is hard to be in a place where I am asked for my opinion, but when it is not what they want to hear, then I become the enemy. It challenges me to consider that HOW I respond can make all the difference.

I am learning not to take this personally and to see that sometimes being the punching bag is because they feel safe to vent with me. I am learning that a response like “that is really tough”, “I am sorry to hear that ” or “I am confident that you will make the right choice”, or “have you thought about talking to … (a mentor/coach/trusted older person) about this ?” is often better than them hearing my opinion. AND I have learned that this is a really important time for others’ voices in my teens’ lives. 

 It has reminded me of the importance of coaches and mentors for both myself and the kids. I am thankful for the people in my life who have walked this road before, who listen to me and help me see the funny side of some of the conversations, because sometimes all I can do is to laugh it off and let it go. I am thankful for a wonderful husband and life partner, which means I am not alone and that we get to walk this season together. We often find that when one is weak the other is strong and together we get there eventually. I am thankful for the men and woman in my teens’ lives who they can go to and hear the same advice I would give, but that they will actually listen to. I encourage anyone with younger children that NOW is the time to start being strategic about placing the right people in your kids’ lives so that when they become teenagers the trust is already there for your teens to go to them.

This season challenges me to stay the course, keep the end in mind, keep short accounts of conversations, let go, draw closer and talk (sometimes cry) to my perfect Heavenly Father. ABOVE all, do whatever it takes to keep the lines of communication OPEN. Irrespective of whether the switch is up or down … because while it can flip any second … open lines, unconditional love, a calm and listening ear, wisdom from above and a willingness to say sorry… will get us through this season.

I have to believe that. I am not there yet … I will keep you posted.

The key is keeping communication lines open with your teens.

Family is not always ROSIE!

Family is not always ROSIE!

What do you do as a family when faced with challenging times? The sad thing is that most people’s response to is to avoid it at all costs. To separate, give space, isolate, stay comfortable. Today this has become easier and easier to do.

One Christmas our little Aussie family UNIT decided to travel to the USA for a White Christmas. 2 adults, 2 teenagers, 1 room, 2 double beds, 1 bedroom, 5 weeks. This is not the first time we have done this type of thing, but the kids are growing up and getting older and bigger and suddenly sharing two double beds in a small room, in a different Hotel every second night, was set to be a challenge. It was certainly had the potential to test the limits and reach new heights.  I have always believed with any awesome highs comes some challenging lows, so here’ s my chance to test my beliefs.


During this trip, I decided if my family UNIT was to be described by a colour it would be “red”. When I think of the colour red, I think of roses and the beauty of them, the fullness of colour, the sweet smell and the specialness of flowers.  Our family UNIT in so many ways is that. When we are together in a confined space on the whole we get on pretty well, in fact we seem to get on better and better as time goes on. We experienced some major highs and there was a beauty to be savoured, or course with much laughter involved. That’s when all was ROSIE and we were all in a GOOD space.


Then, the colour red, also can represent heat, electricity and fire. And boy, we had some of those moments.  All four of us have been known to be a little “Firey” at times.   When you are in a confined space, this seems amplified. These moments stung, but fortunately there were only a few of them.

It is certainly not comfortable, but if you want the highs, you can’t avoid the lows.   I understand why people just don’t do it, travel I mean, besides the cost involved, travelling with 4 people, and 2 being teenagers just opens you up to really tough challenges.


When you drive into a new town, you don’t know where you are going to stay for the night, you are hungry and you can’t find anything you all agree on that you are all willing to eat, and for the right price. When each person has a different idea of what they would like to do with their day and no one can agree on what attraction to go to first. Even driving somewhere, there at some point has to be some agreement on the music we listen to.  This is when it is not always ROSIE ! But I will add… In American country towns, where the only option is country music, on this matter we ALL agreed, even silence is a better option.

The sad thing is that most people’s response to challenging times, is to avoid it at all costs. To separate, give space, isolate, stay comfortable. This has become easier and easier. Now more than ever before 4 people can be in a confined space like a car and yet be truly separate. With technology, earphones, Ipads, computers, it is really easy to check out. I understand this response but it is so sad that people don’t understand we are meant to push through the challenges, even grow through them, rather than do all we can to avoid them.

In the end it is in that place where we truly learn who we are, who God can be and what really matters! And what matters is that it is not always ROSIE, and it is not meant to be. Whoever said that REAL LIFE and LOVE never had a sting, is living in LA LA land… I want our kids to know, when it gets heated, those who grow and last are those who hang in there to work it out.

I am glad our RED family has been willing to grab the bull by the horns and go for the adventure, because what we gained by being together, far outweighs the bruises along the way.  The memoires we have created, the chats we have had, the laughter we have shared, the things we have seen, the ways we have grown together, the talks about God and life cannot be replaced or recreated. It is not always ROSIE, but when the ROSE blossoms, it is BEAUTIFUL.

It is not always ROSIE, but when the ROSE blossoms, it is BEAUTIFUL.

The Encounter must be yours

The Encounter must be yours

While there is important strength to be found in the community of faith and being with others that spur us on, our encounters with the Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit must be our own.

Our encounters with Jesus must be our own. A Christian will not get very far on someone else’s encounters.  This is a very important formation piece. When Jesus left this earth, He said “It is better that I Leave so the spirit can come.” (John 16:7) If Jesus was still present and visible on this earth our focus would be on Him, where He is, what He is doing, seeing Him as much as we can and trying to get contact with Him. After all, He is the Son of God, so who wouldn’t?  It is our human nature to get our inspiration from tangible things.

Jesus said that the comforter would come; a guide, a teacher who would be available to everyone, everywhere, anytime. The spirit has been described as the wind, breath, life that flows, a fire and much more.

“The wind can be blowing, but if your sail isn’t raised, you wont go far. You can be surrounded by oxygen, but if you don’t breathe, it won’t do you any good. The sap can be flowing, but if the branch is not connected to the vine, it will wither. If you don’t put wood in your hearth, a lit match won’t burn long. It is the same with the spirit. All that remains is for us to learn how to let the spirit fill, flow and glow within us.” (McLaren, PG 254)

While there is important strength to be found in the community of faith and being with others that spur us on, our encounters with the Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit must be our own.

Sometimes I feel sad that I didn’t live in the time of Jesus, and get to actually meet Him and sit at His feet and see the miracles He did, but then I realise that now I have something so beautiful. I have His spirit inside me, guiding me daily, never leaving me. I don’t have to go to a service, a meeting, a conference, trek to a far off land to meet a man who may place his hand on me and bless me. I can encounter Jesus daily, just Him, as I get up in the morning, as I walk through the day, as I lay down at night.

Formation and growth can happen at any time, when you “walk with the spirit of Jesus”. But this must be your own journey.

Sometimes the church “mis-communicated” to young and old, that programs, services, teachers and leaders are who you must come to, to encounter Jesus?  Have we created spaces, liturgy, services, practices and processes where we have come to believe that if we do, recite, or attend, then and only then, Jesus will fill us again? We must be aware that this is our human nature that needs to make a formula out of things; that desires to have 4 steps to assure an encounter. It becomes a dangerous thing when people come to church for the purpose of getting another fix, another shot to keep them going for the next week.

As I read more and more about the life of Jesus, He sensed when people were enjoying the spectacle of being with Him, and it was then that He would often retreat. Jesus did things differently all the time. Each encounter with individuals was exactly that, unique and individual?  There are some things that never change … the fruit of the spirit is always love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. This fruit guides us in what is really the Spirit of Jesus working in us and its purpose is always about transformation of a person’s life.

We ask why are so many people leaving the church? I believe it is partly because they are withering from being unconnected and have found the conduit of a service or a leader is not enough anymore. Because they can’t breath throughout the week well enough, and the oxygen they get on a Sunday morning is just not enough. Because they have not been encouraged or taught to put their own sails up and catch the daily wind of the spirit. Because their kindling has all burnt up as they are waiting from Sunday to Sunday, or from event to event, and it is just too long. In the meantime they find other things to get the fire going. If we are going to be to “Here2Stay” in life long discipleship, our encounters must be our own.

What is your “Jesus Encounter” story?

We cannot put a program, a set time a day, an age limit, or 6-week course on the Spirit of Jesus. The spirit of Jesus is not limited for some to access and share out as they will. Our encounter with Jesus must be our own. The greatest thing any program, ministry, leader or church can do is to keep drawing us closer to the truth that our encounter with Christ must be our own. The spirit is always moving, always present and we must learn how to let the spirit fill, flow and glow within us.



Mentoring 101

Mentoring 101

 It is natural to go back to what you know when you are not sure of the future. It is during these times of uncertainty that the right mentoring and coaching is vital to anyone’s life. 

 A few of Jesus disciples were back fishing only a week after Jesus had died and risen again and had even appeared to them.  It is natural to go back to what you know when you are not sure of the future and stick to what is familiar.  Our human nature will do this even when it very destructive for us. It is during these times of uncertainty that the right mentoring and coaching is vital to anyone’s life. 

So the disciples are fishing, they have gone back to what is known, what is sure, can I even say “easy”. It seems to be an acceptable thing to do, to go and get a job, provide for your family and try to make ends meet especially after three years of travelling with a miracle man are over.   It is interesting that this is even after they have seen Jesus in the upper room and they know He has risen.  I would have thought this would have been a time when they would have been the MOST excited about the future. I wonder if they were a little scared.   They were forging into new territory and were not sure what it all meant; so they went back to what was familiar.

Peter must have been carrying a big dose of guilt and shame and the prospect of facing Jesus, his master and mentor would not have been easy after all that happened only a week ago. However Jesus shows himself to be a caring, loving mentor and makes a very strong point by his deliberate actions.  He does not lecture, or lay out a guilt trip or start a condemning conversation.   It is often in what is NOT said, even if tempted to do so, that qualifies a good mentor or coach. When we ask our kids if we can have a chat with them, their first response is often, ”What have I done wrong now?” Boy, have we failed in mentoring 101!

Jesus is strong yet gentle, firm yet loving, strong on actions and symbolism, rather than put downs and “Ï told you so”. He says, “Did you catch anything for breakfast?” (John 21:5) When the response is “NO”, he doesn’t say, “Well that’s because you shouldn’t be here……what the heck do you think you are doing?”  He says, “Try the other side”. The nets are suddenly full showing them an incredible visual for the first time they meet Jesus. It shows that He will provide our basic needs if we trust him. His actions may even say, “If you want to go back to fishing, I will bless you.”  I believe he was also recreating an experience of when He first said called them to become “fishers of men”.  This was an anchor point that would ground Peter in his ultimate calling.

What visuals, actions, experiences and anchors are you creating for those you mentor that help them stay the course?   I believe God creates these all the time for his disciples and maybe our call as mentors and coaches is to bring people back to this place time and time again in various ways.

Peter knew who the stranger on the beach was. I love the fact that Peter jumps out of the boat immediately at a time when he could have felt like he couldn’t possibly face the One he had let down so badly.  Instead he runs to Him!  This challenges me as a coach and mentor, as I find often when people feel that they have messed up they try to avoid me. There is so much I need to learn from the way Jesus mentored and coached his disciples.

Jesus ever so gently, but firmly, addresses the “elephant in the room” or more correctly on the beach. Jesus chooses to address what must have been an awkward situation, head on. He does it by breaking bread with them and sharing it, just like he did the night before he died. He uses symbolism, past experiences and reminders to create an environment that allows a “safe” conversation. There is something powerful about breaking bread together. As coaches we can create rituals and moments shared over and over again that become safe places, anchor points and places of trust where difficult and constructive conversations can be had.

Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15-21) There are so many layers to this conversation however the layer that challenges me most as a coach and mentor is the manner in which He makes his point without “over saying” it or heaping on the guilt.  He knows when NOT to tell a story, a parable or a life lesson but rather by His simple actions and questions, over a simple breakfast, He releases Peter to move on and leave the past behind. Through His love, Jesus empowers Peter to leave his past failures behind and move forward.  What should our focus be on as coaches and mentors? What do people hear from us?  Most of us are acutely aware of our own fears and failures, we don’t often need to hear or feel them again from someone else.   What we need is to sense the love and grace that empowers us to move through them and know that we are not alone in that process.

“If each new generation of disciples follows this example, centuries from now apprentices will still be learning the way of Jesus from mentors, so they can become mentors for the following generations”

(B. McLaren, We Make The Road By Walking, pg 219)

Jesus finished the breakfast with the call, “Follow me.” Peter immediately loses focus and asks about someone else and what is going to happen to them and Jesus replies, “Don’t you worry about them, you simply follow me”.  The call has never changed even though at times there will be uncertainty, dark nights and empty nets. Others will fall away, get distracted and stop following.  Opportunities and old habits will be tempting and we may trip over, but a coach and mentor walks with you through it all and helps anchor you to the call.  We all need this type of coach/mentor.  We all need to be this type of coach/mentor to others.