In just over one week I’ll be on a plane headed back to the UK. Heather came with me for part of the last trip but this time it’s five weeks on my own. Even though I expect to be lonely, the time will pass quickly because there’s so much to be done – mentoring appointments, speaking at a conference, seminars to teach, two church consultations to carry forward, meetings to attend and many books to read in preparation for future speaking and writing commitments. And, of course, there are Skype calls to Heather every day to get me through.
Ryan moved out of our home last weekend; the first one to leave the nest. This is in preparation for his marriage to Mim coming up on 18 December. He’s now in a very nice little unit in Gladesville and discovering the joys of independent living. He’s only popped in a couple of times during the week but already there’s something different going on. Previously when he was home he would generally be in his room and we wouldn’t get much conversation from him. Now he’s only around for a short time but there’s no room to go to and in any case he’s keen to chat. We’ve been told that an adult child moving out can be a very positive move for all concerned. What I feared might be a loss of connection might turn out to be a maturing and deepening of relationship.
When I left Castle Hill Community Church my sense of calling from God was to ‘strengthen leaders translocally’ through mentoring, consulting, training and so on. Launching straight into that full-time would have been too difficult, so I took a part-time faculty role with ACOM, a Churches of Christ Theological College operating throughout Australia. I thought that role would give me plenty of scope to pursue my call while adding value to ACOM’s objectives. But the fit became more and more strained over the past 15 months. So a little over a week ago I finished my work with ACOM, leaving me free to concentrate fully on mentoring and consulting.
To facilitate that transition I have registered a business called Anamcara Consulting. ‘Anamcara’ is a Celtic word meaning ‘soul friend’. I hope that’s what I can be to my clients, while at the same time delivering a high quality, professional service. Under the Anamcara banner my main emphases will be mentoring for individuals and consulting for organisations. Alongside this I will also offer:
- training for mentors
- leadership and team development
- conference and workshop facilitation
- building self-awareness in leadership
- help to work through conflict and change
If you know anyone who needs assistance with any of these areas, I’d be grateful if you would point them in my direction.
Training for the Camino is coming along nicely. I promised back in July to let you know how I went with preparation. I’ve been building up my training route and I’m now walking a little more than 8kms most days. Twice I have done an extended walk of 28kms with a small pack. The first time was painful. I believe the reason for that was not drinking enough water. More recently I walked from Woodford to Glenbrook with a friend and felt great afterwards. The only problem was with chafing which will be easily solved with some bike pants. When I get to the UK next week I’ll have to check up on my friend Martin who is planning to do the Camino with me. He’d better have his training schedule on track. I don’t want to have to carry him!
Amazon has become a force to be reckoned with in bookselling. I had a message from them the other day to say that of all the authors they sell, I was ranked at #63,699 in the ‘Religion and Spirituality’ category. Were they trying to encourage me? Depress me? Goad me into marketing by book more effectively? At least they are helping my cause by recently releasing Mentoring Matters in a Kindle edition. I don’t have a Kindle myself, but those of you who do can pick up an electronic copy for US$9.99. Come to think of it, my mum has a Kindle. Christmas present sorted!
I’ll conclude with a ‘private’ rave I sent off recently. It was to a friend of mine with a 9-year old boy who has expressed his desire to be baptised. She was delighted about the inclination of his heart, but uncertain about how to respond since he’s so young. In response to her request, I wrote down a few thoughts that I’ll share with you in case you might find them useful. This has already appeared on Facebook, so if you’ve read it there, I apologise for the repetition.
I’m getting back to you about your son and his desire to be baptised. It’s wonderful, of course, but I sense you wanting to make sure he doesn’t later regret having taken this profound step when he had only a limited idea of its significance. It would be a shame to pour cold water on such a pure and holy desire on his part, but wouldn’t it also be a shame to allow him to go through with something so meaningful without a deep appreciation of what he’s doing? So you have to balance these things and there’s no standard answer. I do think that the first thing you can do – which you’ve no doubt already done – is to warmly affirm his desire to show his loyalty to Jesus in this way. Then I think it would be responsible of you to slow things down a bit, not to frustrate him, but to help him appreciate what he’s doing at maximum depth. All the way along I think you’re best to take a very positive stance towards his baptism and talk about it as a done deal in principle – all you’re doing is working through the detail.
You could say something like, ‘Baptism is such a good thing to want to do, and Dad and I are going to help you do this and do it really well in a way that will honour the Lord. We know that you do love the Lord and that you’re very serious about this. We can see that this is not something you’re going to change your mind about, and we respect the faithfulness that is growing in your life. Now, there will be some preparation required. Are you ready for that? Can you be patient enough to work this through? Baptism is as serious as getting married, maybe even more serious than that, and you know that only people who don’t understand the importance of these things just go into them without proper preparation. When Dad and I got married we had a period of engagement. Do you know what it means for a man and a woman to be engaged? They buy a ring and the woman wears the ring to let everyone know that they have promised to get married and that they are preparing for their wedding. As you are preparing to get baptised, you’re in a period like an engagement. What do you think you would like to do to show everyone that you love Jesus and that you want to follow him for the rest of your life?’ [This could be something like putting some stickers on his books, or wearing a cross – it would have to be your son’s idea and be something he can really relate to.]
These are just some starting thoughts. But it doesn’t really answer the question of how long you make the preparation phase. It’s not a matter of him being a particular age; it’s a matter of being ready and having good reason to be confident that he can follow through on the extraordinary promise of loyalty that baptism signifies. You probably need to think about the sort of benchmarks you’d like to see – and that he would like to see – evident in his life prior to his baptism. What those are will be up to you to sort out with your son. But I’d suggest they not be merely intellectual benchmarks, like a list of things he needs to know or verses he needs to have studied and be able to explain. Better benchmarks are evidences of your son surrendering to the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart – ability to love people who are nasty to him, to hand over his worries to the Lord and find peace through prayer, to bear with situations that would have made him impatient or angry in the past, to enjoy being generous and kind towards others without expecting anything in return.