Category Archives: Christen’s Thoughts

Personal connections

Just a reminder that most Wednesdays I’m on Oxford Street and available to meet up with anyone connected to Light Lunch, First Friday Breakfast etc… or if you’ve not been to either yet but work in the are it would be great to get time with you.

And don’t forget the next Friday Breakfast … it will be at 07:30 at Bar Remo on July 7th. I want to get more input from attendees this time, so if you have a story or something to share please drop me a line.

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Managment and God’s Therapy

“So who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will put in charge of his household to give them their rations at the right time? That servant is blessed, whose master finds him doing so when he comes. Really I’m telling you, that he will be put in charge of all his possessions” – Luke 12:42-43

I love these verses in Luke for one very simple reason, the word translated above as “household” is the Greek word “therapeias” from which we get the English word “therapy”. (Some versions of the Bible translate the word as “service”, but that makes the sentence grammatically odd in English as it doesn’t make clear who the “them” are that get treated therapeutically by the faithful and wise manager).

Now management is always about people, sure there is a task to be achieved, but a manager coordinates a team towards an end, they would not be a manager if they just did it themselves. And so the way we manage is always therapy for someone, good or bad our leadership has an emotional impact.

Jesus’ assumption is that good management is good therapy for the team! It is not just short term target hitting..

parableNow if you look at the outside shape of this story in Luke 12 for its Kingdom principles, it doesn’t fit easily as a parable about the church and it’s leaders, (despite being given to the Disciples regarding their own leadership calling). In the parable the the managers are willfully abusing people and the master is pretty harsh too, violence reaps violence. True it might describe some churches at their worst, but what is Kingdom about that! .

But if we look at it from the inside we see the leven of the Kingdom at work, the principle that changes the world from the inside out. Even those with middle-management responsibility have the ability  to create a therapeutic environment, a place of that aids well-being.

Now we see something incredibly relevant to every believer, not just to church leaders. In fact Peter starts by asking if what Jesus is teaching them is for just them or for everybody? Luke 12:41, and Jesus’ answer is clearly that it is for everyone.

After all every follower of Jesus should find themselves in a position where that are responsible for managing people, it is part of being the head not the tail. And in those positions, team leader, department manager, business owner etc, there is something about the way in which we manage that can be incredible therapy for our bruised and broken colleagues. It is more than just being kind and fair, we have the ability by the way we hold those around us in our hearts and attitudes to release a supernatural grace and love, a grace that heals.

In fact I would go further and say that the opportunities offered by our work life give us a responsibility to minister to those we manage regardless of whether they want “it” or even whether we want “to”! The therapy of the Kingdom can be healing for those we manage long before they come to church. And if your wounds don’t hurt so much you don’t need to be as defensive with those that might challenge or change you.

So even in a harsh and competitive industry we can create micro-climates that are good for those we cover, in fact our kindness contrasted by the wider and harsher reality may even make our testimony stand out more clearly.

So what might this therapy look like day to day…

Well our jobs can be very different and so our solutions will be too, but I suspect they all start with prayer, prayer for the well-being of those we have responsibility for. Then I suspect there will be times when we take criticism as the manager that is really due to a team member, our own mini modelling of the cross.

Good ManagerThen we should always try to see the person not just their activity. To see past the projected persona and encourage the truth of who they where made to be.

We might use our role to be developmental even in ways that can be painful in the moment for the recipient… because it is indifference that doesn’t bother, love of course cares. Jesus was often tough in his love with his disciples, but he never sought to control or exclude them for the things he had to challenge them on.

Promotion is great blessing when we get it, but we shouldn’t forget how Jesus ends this teaching.

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be required and to him who has been entrusted with much, of him all the more will be asked” – Luke 12:48

It’s an honour to be given a role over people, we should enjoy the privileges but not shirk the responsibility intrinsic to the favour. To be the faithful and wise manager of Jesus’ therapy. And if that is not enough, there is a blessing associated with good therapy too:

Really I’m telling you, that he will be put in charge of all his possessions” .

This image has nothing to do with the post, but it is what came up on the google
image search when I looked for “faithful and wise servant” !!


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Entrepreneurship and the Kingly Anointing

“It’s the glory of God to Conceal a Matter and the glory of Kings is to discover it” – Solomon in Proverbs 25:2

I often hear this verse used… sometimes in relation to prophets revealing God’s purposes and plans and sometimes in relations to teachers unpacking hidden truth hidden between the lines of scripture. I’m sure these uses are both legitimate, but they are both using the proverb in a metaphorical way after all the verse is about Kings, not Prophets or Priests. If we only read these words as a metaphore we miss the profound truth hidden in its plain meaning.

It is Kings that see and release the value in stuff and in people. That is how they become leaders in the first place. Where everyday folks saw a pile of rocks, a King noted that if you smashed them up and threw them in a fire you could get useful metals out of them. Kings grew wealth and pursued conquest by the “matter”, the stuff hidden by God in the raw materials of the Earth and understanding what it could be used for.

Iron Age CartoonThe Old Testament covers the ages we now refer to as the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, (hover here for more?). Kings led their people through these ages into increased prosperity by developing the qualities hidden in the minerals lying around them. Each new idea gave the King’s people a competitive advantage.

The best King’s like David saw qualities in people too, so David received a rag-rag of the discontents, the stressed and the bankrupt, 1 Samuel 22:1-2, (as did Jesus, Luke 15:2), and within a few years the Bible is calling them “mighty men” and recounting their exploits.

Solomon, gave the quote I started this post with, we are told that he understood nature and people, 1 Kings 4:30-34, he used this understanding to build a prosperous and peaceful empire and to establish God’s covenant on the Earth through the Temple.

Of course most kings are a mixed blessing bringing security for some people while exploiting and conquering others.

But now I want to come to the point of this post… Kings are one of three anointed offices we read about in Scripture, which makes the qualities of Kingship a part of the Messiah and a quality that is released by the truth of Christ in us.

Prophets are custodians and managers of God’s words, plans and direction.

Priests are custodians of God’s presence and administers of God’s love, forgiveness and fellowship.

And Kings are custodian’s of God’s resources, organisers and releasers of wealth and people.

And so in the modern world Christ’s Kingship in us produces business and social entrepreneurs.

We the Kingly anointing as much as we need the Prophetic and Priestly anointings.  And I have a sense that in the season we coming into we are going to see Christians stepping out with their own ideas and insights, building new business or leading old businesses in new ways.  They’ll lead with anointing and by their ability to see qualities in things and people where others just see a pile of rubble.

Now there is a caveat, because a meet a lot of Christian’s who say they feel called to business and who I suspect are fooling themselves because they just want to be rich… Solomon, who was very wealthy warns us though not to become obsessive about gaining wealth or working out how to get it, because when we are motivated this way wealth becomes illusive, Proverbs 22:4-5.

Solomon’s wealth had come because he desired the wisdom that saw wealth in what was already around more that the fruit that insight would bring.

History is full of people who have benefited their societies because they have done something extraordinary with their passions multiplying their clever insights through process that lots of people can get their heads around and get involved with. And that in essence is what makes a good business.

I want to encourage you to explore what you love to do and the things you love learning about and start a dialogue with Jesus about whether these motivations could be turned into an income stream and into a product or procedure that others would benefit from.

On July 5th I’m hosting a day to explore the dynamics of how we relate healthily to money and how we prosper and create the financial freedom to be what we are called to be! Use the button below for more information and to register (for free).

Eventbrite - Money & the wealth in me: Exploring how I relate, make & bless with money.

I don’t claim to be an expert but at the moment I find myself helping create mini-businesses with various people in different fields, in construction, third world trade and manufacturing, in soap making, art selling, financial services, publishing, energy saving and more. There are common themes and themes and and excited by the prospect of an explosion of kingdom businesses and employers.

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Business and the Calling of God.

“Many are called but few exhibit the quality of called-ness” – Jesus

This may not be exactly how you remember the quote, but it conveys the meaning more accurately than most word-for-word translations.

Jesus is saying that calling is not a special quality available to just a few people, it is the norm. God has a purpose which becomes a calling for every one of us, because as a Father God wants us to be the best we can be. The problem is that too many of us don’t realize we’ve have been called.

I believe that part of the reason for this is that we separate our thinking into sacred and secular … If you’re a missionary or charity worker you are probably called by God, but if you run a Costa franchise or work for the finance team of a pharmaceutical company, well that’s just where you earn the money to support those with a real calling. In this way of thinking doctors and teachers are a grey area, worthy professions so the people who do them might be called.

The trouble is this style of thinking has put the cart before the horse, before mankind needed saving, and therefore missionaries and charity workers, God had commissioned us to be fruitful and to steward the resources He had given us. The world of work was a sacred vocation,  the only thing that is purely secular is Sin!

If we change our perspective, we can see that any job or work situation has the possibility of expressing the quality of called-ness. That doesn’t mean you can be anything that you want to be, calling leads us down one path rather than another. But if we follow His leading we will find ourselves in a place where we can advance Jesus’ Kingdom. In fact the mission of God has always advanced through peoples everyday work and business.

The Galilean Capital of Sepphoris, 3 miles north of Nazareth, the city on a hill built by Jesus in the first three decades AD.

Jesus’ day job was as a builder, not as a carpenter as tradition has led us to believe, (note: the Greek work “Tekton” is a builder as in “Archi-tekton” which is a master-builder or “architect” in English).

Being a builder infused so much of who Jesus was and still is today, building His church. You hear it in the first accusation made against Jesus, that He would pull down and rebuild the temple in three days. You catch it in his wisdom, “don’t start building a tower before you’ve calculated the cost”. And you hear it in his prophetic teaching, “my Fathers estate has many buildings and I’m going to prepare a place for you there!”

But it is interesting to also note how other people jobs and businesses opened doors for the kingdom and provided a platform or foundation for ministry too.

Jesus ate the last supper in the upper room of an estate that also owned a working olive oil business. Gethsamane means oil-press. The early Church tell us the last supper was eaten at the home of John Mark the Gospel writer, and it tells us that he was the lad who ran away naked from the soldiers when Jesus was arrested. John Mark was no doubt sleeping out in the outbuildings of the families Olive Oil business as so many adults where in town for the passover!

John the disciple also had property in Jerusalem which tradition ties to his business activity selling the fish that had been brought down from Galilee. This base and the related commercial activity meant that John new the staff at the nearby Priest’s palatial complex and this got him access to Jesus trial in the High Priests mansion. John’s house also acted as a gathering place for Jesus’ family in the days immediately after Jesus trial and execution.

Paul the apostle used his trade as a leather worker  to fund his missionary work, (“tent maker” is a term used for more general leather working just as “saddler” is is English). But it was about more than just money, the tools he used for his work actually became a part of his missionary outreach. So people would take the aprons and sweat clothes Paul was using during the day to people who needed healing. There was no conflict of interest between Paul’s natural gifts and vocation and his missionary task.

In planting the church at Ephesus Paul used the school of Tyrannus as their public building. The school would have been a private lecture hall used for a variety of purposes, most Greek cities had these halls, often attached to Gymnasium’s. So Tyrannus’ business assets became the means by which the Ephesian church was established..

Right the way through the New Testament the kingdom grows and spread through the resources of business owners and trades people. Lydia traded in purple fabrics, Luke probably traveled as a ships doctor etc.

And so it is through history… God want’s to bless the work of our hands. We can display the quality of called-ness whatever the details of daytime employment. In fact we might not be able to show that quality in any other way.

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Why the West End?

Bugsy PosterI love London’s West End, my first ever paid work was in the West End, I was part of the stage crew on the musical “Bugsy Malone” at the Her Majesty’s Theatre on the Haymarket. I was technically still at school, I would head up to the West End as soon as school finished, I had to skip games on Wednesday afternoons to cover the matinee performance. Now here I am over thirty years later writing this blog at the Salvation Army Hall on Oxford Street and I still think the West End is one of my favourites places in all the world.

Now if you work in local government then the term “West End” has a tight and precise definition, it is a local ward in the borough of Westminster covering Mayfair and Soho. But most of the World uses the term “the West End” to define a broader area defined more by the sense of life and energy that revolves around its world famous landmarks than by boundary line on a planners map. From Big Ben and Tratrafalgar_square_mediumfalgar Square through Soho and Piccadilly Circus, up Regents Street and across to the Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner, The West End buzzes with life 24 hours a day.

Perhaps that is why it was recently found to be the worlds most expensive place live and/or rent office space, beating even Tokyo into second place. Of course if you can afford to live here you get some of the worlds best and most famous shops, (Selfridges, Hamleys, Fortnum and Masons etc), some of the worlds best Galleries and Theatres, and your neighbours include the royal family in Buckingham Palace; and the prime minister at 10 Downing Street.

SH outline2The idea of living here would for most people simply be a fiction, oh did I mention that the West End also contains the most famous fictional address in history, 221b Baker Street, the home of Sherlock Holmes.

But the idea of working here is a reality for thousand upon thousands of Londoners A 2012 report by the commercial estate agents CBRE stated that the central West End area had 86,600 businesses and the periphery had and additional 25,750 businesses. That is over 100,000 businesses connected to an area that only has 30,000 residents in the officially defined ward. In 2013 the West Commision noted that: “It has the largest and most diverse concentration of jobs to be found anywhere in the UK” .

Which is why we are trying to develop West End Wednesdays!

As a support and ministry to those who spend most of their waking hours here even if they don’t technically live here. Whatever sector, however permanent of temporary we want to create an oasis of spiritual life at the heart of the commercial reality.

We are re-starting from small beginnings, but there is a world of need and opportunity, we are not looking to detract from the work of people’s home churches but to help people connect with Jesus and their calling right in the place where most of their life is lived.

The West End is argueably the most culturally important location in Britain and if you are working here, however grand or small your job might seem to be, it is very possible that Father God has put you here. We want to help you know your calling, because who knows if you weren’t put here for such a time as this!


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The Real Deal

MmillerToday’s news was dominated by the resignation of Maria miller from her post as Culture Secretary . It’s not my intention to debate the rights and wrongs of her case, nor pass judgment. But as I watched the news this morning the Sky News reporter  made an interesting observation. She commented that the resignation was as much a consequence of Ms Millers reaction and response to the investigation into her expense claims, and the brevity of her apology (when it was found they where in error) as it was to do with any perceived or real wrong doing.

Maria Miller had behaved in a way that annoyed people and made them believe she had something to hide.

She had behaved defensively.

We all do it and yet we are distrustful of others when they do it too. When we are aware we are being defensive we tend to be aware of the wounds and wants we are protecting from pain or manipulation. But we also know that defensive behaviour is associated with having to hide and so when others do it they appear dishonest and shifty.

It’s a pattern that goes back to the beginning. After eating the fruit Adam hears God in the Garden and hides. When God asks “Where are you?” Adam replies honestly by saying “I hid because I was afraid”, but when God probes the root of that fear, “Did you eat the fruit…?” Adam defends himself by pointing at Eve… “It was the Woman!” … Then promotes himself by pointing out God’s mistake, “…that you gave me”.

We avoid blame by self promoting and self protecting.

We all have things we want to hide, whether real sins or simply vulnerabilities that we don’t want others to exploit. So we get into the habit of hiding ourselves, even from our own scrutiny at times.

We put on persona’s and that we think will make us more attractive and trustworthy to others, but in truth they separate us. We where made to want to know and be known by others. So we are willing to follow the authentic and real…  position and power can coerce you to follow them but they are no-where near as effective in leadership as the heart connections that come from feeling you know someone and that they know you. The theory is easy but to be authentic and real requires vulnerability and openness. And that takes courage.

So it is easier to adopt behaviour patterns that justify our hiddeness. But today’s events where a clear example of how these behaviour habits can undermine our best intentions and shut doors to us that our skills and abilities should have kept open.

It says of Jesus that he entrusted himself to no one because he knew what was in people, John 2:24. yet at the same time people didn’t feel he was hiding himself from them nor was he defending himself or setting himself over them. So it must be possible to be real and still be private.

I guess authenticity is a quality not a technique, it requires courage and peace in the inner-self, both works of these are works of the  Holy Spirit. But the benefits of this confident vulnerability are more than simply personal. Being the real you opens up opportunity, it brings what the Bible calls favour.

It is one of my favourite things to help people encounter Jesus in ways that release this attractive quality of favour in them. Favour  allows you to lead others without coercion; it lays the foundations for business; and it  attracts promotion and responsibility at work.

Favour comes as the Spirit brings courage to the inner-self. That stops us needing to promote and protect.

By all accounts Maria Miller was competent and her errors where found to genuine not malicious, but her refusal to co-operate nor be candid when questioned over her affairs have prevented her being who she could have been.

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First proper blog post

This is my first post for our new web-site… I’m aiming for at least one a week from now on.

So where to start. Well why the West End… In the borough of Westminster… There is a personal answer to the question, and a strategic one too. So first the personal one.

west endAbout three years ago I woke up knowing I had had a dream and as I woke up I heard a voice say…”It is about Windsor and Westminster” I mentioned the dream to my wife but did nothing about until two weeks later I received an invite to the Houses of Parliament, to attend the windsor castlenational Prayer Breakfast. From that point I found Jesus opening all sorts of doors for me in the Westminster Area.

Now I live in the borough of Windsor an Maidenhead so I found myself regularly in both the places referenced in my dream.

So that’s my personal reason for being involved in West End Wednesdays… I want to see a forum here in the heart of the UK’s cultural, commercial, civic and spiritual centre that supports people in their working life and service of these institutions. Over the last couple of years Jesus has opened doors for me into parliament, government, church and commerce in the West End/Westminster area.

And from a strategic point of view it should be clear already that the West End of London is where so much that shapes the nation originates. Buckingham Palace is here; the theatre and entertainment industry is based here; actually my first ever paid employment was on the stage crew at Her Majesty’s Theatre on the Haymarket; Parliament, Government and the Old Bailey are all here.

The City of London is a global force when it comes to finances, but the City of Westinster if a global force on so many different fronts.

Now if we are going to change our nation it will not be by taking control of these secular high points for Jesus, it will be by people called as salt and light operating in these arenas by faith. So it is people we want to support, people who bring a different spirit and authority into rooms and meetings that decide outcomes for thousands.

In my next post, I’ll start thinking about what the Kingdom looks like in each of the fields.

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