Friday 19 August 2011

Hit the Ground Kneeling

This week, I have been reading ‘Hit the Ground Kneeling: Seeing Leadership Differently’ by Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford.

As the title suggests, the book proposes that leadership most fruitfully begins from a place of contemplation and, for the Christian, prayer.

I am not good at taking time out to kneel before God, and to contemplate the role of pastor to which he has called me. When I do take a day retreat, I can easily feel guilty about all the other things I should be doing. So on this day, when I am on retreat, it’s been good to have the wisdom of this book. For now, I’ll share just a couple of snippets:

‘Being available must never be the defining characteristic of effective leadership.... The wise leader will make wise choices about how time is managed, giving first priority to that space for refreshment and discernment where decisions about the right use of the rest of the time can be profitably made’ (p17).

‘Many leaders rush around doing lots of things because they are seeking affirmation in the wrong place, trying to keep everyone happy rather than being engaged in the more noble vocation of making them holy, helping them become themselves’ (p22).

It’s good stuff, and there’s more where this came from. It’s well worth reading!

Oh, and Cottrell does recommend a day away every month, where Christian leaders can rekindle their first love. Amen to that! Now, all I need is to do it….

Thursday 18 August 2011

Revolution and Riots!

It seems like old news now, but we have recently returned from holiday in the peaceful land of Egypt to the restless world of the United Kingdom!

I have to say that there were times when we wondered if booking Egypt was such a good idea. If First Choice had let us transfer our deposits to another holiday without cost, we would have done so. They wouldn’t so we didn’t, and I’m glad. It was a fantastic holiday!

The Egyptian people were so pleased to see us. We were treated like royalty on our Nile Cruise, and almost as well at our other two hotels in Cairo and Luxor. Tahrir Square was peaceful, having been cleared of the few remaining protestors just a few days before. We understood why Thomson moved our Cairo Hotel from the Rameses Hilton, next the burnt out premises of Mubarak’s party. Day 1 of Mubarak’s trial was being watched avidly on TV as we popped into a local shop to buy provisions. We were driven by the courthouse where Mubarak was appearing, where all seemed peaceful, helped by the court being well outside Cairo and by a heavy army presence. All was quiet, not least because, sad to say, the usual tourist presence on which many in Egypt rely, was reduced to 10 or 20% of the usual trade. Meanwhile, we watched our hotel TVs with horror at the unrest and riots back home!

Life as a tourist from the UK is no experience of real life in Egypt. However, it is obvious that many in that country experience major poverty. I can understand why they should rebel against the increasingly dictatorial government of Mubarak and his family, who were feathering their own nest at the expense of the people. It’s a little harder to understand why the comparatively wealthy young people at home (even those who are unemployed) should take it out on whatever they can lay their hands upon.

Perhaps, like the Prince and the Pauper, we all need to change roles and experience how the other half lives? We might all be more grateful for what we have!