Hang in there!

I am missing sailing, and my first mate.

Our family loved our sailboat and for sixteen years we would be out on the ocean as often as we could. Today, I kept noticing my head raised up to look at the weather. What do I look for first? The wind. It is the wind that gets the attention of sailors, and this was one of those days.

In a sailboat, you cannot get back to port quickly should something go awry. This fact breeds self-reliance among those of us who love the sea. You learn to look at all the elements, to study the weather, to do a walk around your boat before casting off, and to understand where you are going and all about navigation.

Laughing now at the thought of how many times I would drive my car 100 kilometres per hour to get to our sailboat at Point Roberts WA so that I could get on board and proceed at seven knots towards some unknown destination. All the while, adjusting the sails, tweaking the sheets and scanning the water trying to get one more tenth of a knot out of her.

Perspective

Sailing, for me, has been the one thing I do that puts everything in proper perspective. I see it as the ultimate expression of freedom – perhaps exactly because I have chosen to place myself in a position where there is no forgiveness for mistakes. This causes you to become very aware of what’s going on.

Annalong

This is Annalong. She was named after a small fishing village in County Down, Northern Ireland where the Pue family are from. In fact the Presbyterian church at the top of the road has the Pue family gravesite with many of my ancestors named. It is also a meaningful name to us as my mothers name was Anna and we purchased the boat shortly after her death.

We don’t own her any longer. She is off on adventures with another family, but I sure miss her. Along with sailing her, I miss writing in the salon, making coffee at sunrise and sipping it outside in the cockpit during my quiet time. As the sun rose I would continue to sit there, my mind coming slowly to rest like I was in a sacred sanctuary.

Annalong was to me as I imagine going to a cabin is or others. But let me tell you, when you put up the sails and the hull moves through the water with waves lapping her side – there is nothing like it.

Being on a boat that is moving through the water it’s so clear… Everything falls into place in terms of what’s important, and what’s not.

James Taylor

Mentoring moment…

How is the COVID pandemic like being out on the ocean?

How has it made you more aware of what is going on, and what’s important?

I’d love to hear from you.

Long Obedience in the Same Direction in a Complex Neighborhood: Mumbai

Respect

I have a lot of respect for leaders who stay working in a business or organization for more than ten years. In order to do so they have built a tremendous trust account with their people, have adapted to the many changes that take place, and have re-invented themselves at least two or three times.

It is for these reasons that I was so delighted to spend time with a great leader – Stanley Mehta. He is, and has been, Senior Pastor at Bombay Baptist Church located at the southern end of Mumbai near the Gateway of India. He has been here for thirty-one years and is fifty-nine years old.

The British rulers, using Indian labor, constructed this architectural statement between 1913 and 1924. It was to commemorate the visit to India of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. The locals here refer to it as the Taj Mahal of Mumbai.

Interestingly, the congregation of Bombay Baptist Church would have watched this construction take place for the church was formed in 1896.

Complex Neighborhoods

Across the street from this charismatic Baptist church is the Imperial Mansion. In fact, within walking distance of the church are: homes of two of the wealthiest people in India (one of them in the world); a beautiful beach area frequented by Bollywood stars; and then less than fifteen minutes away is the underworld of the brothels of Mumbai.

This is a very complex community in which to ‘be the church’ due to the extremes of socio-economic cultures as well as a very diverse ethnic blend an languages spoken here.

The sanctuary itself seats five hundred people on plastic chairs that are stacked against the walls to use the auditorium throughout the week for other purposes. Today they have 4,400 attending on Sundays with services in English, Hindi and Tamil.

How do they do this? Well in 1987 they started training lay people in the church to minister in house churches and today they have over 25 locations for Bombay Baptist Church throughout greater Mumbai. With 70 staff and 65 committed volunteers it was easy to discern that my new friend Stanley is a great leader of people. Then when he let me in on his organizational structure that makes all this happen I was even more impressed.

Stamina and Giftedness

To stay put in a complex neighborhood situation like this requires stamina. In a formal role that demands you provide leadership, you’ve got to deal with the people thing. In fact, your impact, your effectiveness, and your performance depend on your ability to influence, work with and/or through others effectively. As obvious as this sounds, it is the primary failure of most leaders.

Stanley is not a failure. This man taught me so much in two hours I went away amazed and wondering how some of his strategies and methodology might speak into our church situation in downtown Vancouver.

What a joy to be with someone who is so committed over time. I am silenced just thinking about all that has been accomplished in his neighborhood.

So, just before leaving I mentioned to Stanley how moved I was by their commitment to the community (I have in my journal a list of all the services they do as a church in the city).

“Carson”, he replied, “Jesus told us that we are to be about loving God, and loving our neighbors as ourselves. In our churches we are good at loving God in our worship and our prayers. We are not very good at loving our neighbors.”

I was quiet on the drive back to the hotel as I drove by his people, his neighborhood, and ponder these words.

Leadership Wisdom from Three Ethiopian Elders

Mulat, Mamo and Wolde were waiting for us on the second floor balcony of a coffee shop in Addis Ababada. These three men meet here every week as part of their routine to nurture their friendship and to discuss what they might do together to help others.

At seventy six to eighty three in a country where life expectancy is fifty-one years of age, these three men are certainly well named ‘elders’ of the community.

Ethiopia is where they were born and raised, but also where they have led. They were young children in October 1935 when the Italians invaded Ethiopia under Mussolini and the Ethiopians did not capitulate. Mussolini was trying to rebuild the Roman Empire and needed North East Africa to do so. He also wanted to settle the score with Ethiopia as they had defeated the Italians in the past during the battle of Adowa that took place in 1896.

Gorilla groups of fifty were organized by their leaders against the Italians. Ethiopia at the time had a relatively weak army that consisted of indigenous tribal forces that were still using basic weapons such as spears and shields, whereas the Italians had an air force of 12 fighter planes and made substantial use of mustard gas, in both artillery and aerial bombings.

Today the majority of Ethiopians are still farmers who still live from harvest to harvest, and are vulnerable to crop failures. Famine has ravaged this country time and time again and the country has been ravaged by the affects of extreme poverty. These elders know all about that.

Not only do they know about famine, they have lived through them and also done something about it. They are some of the founders of the Kale Heywet Church, one of the prominent and fruitful evangelical denominations in Ethiopia and have sacrificed their precious lives being actively involved in God’s service to the people bringing about holistic transformation.

Their church today has over 8 million people across 8000+ congregations.

“Would you like another cup?” I was asked, referring to their delicious Ethiopian coffee.

This little coffee group of elders had welcomed us into their fold and we were mesmerized by the leadership wisdom that flowed from them.

I have been asking leaders in the global south, “If you could send a message to leaders in the global north, what would you like to share with them?”

Dr. Baffa responded that he would want to remind us, “You don’t have to be fancy, you just need committed people.”

Ethiopians know what it means to be committed – to one another, and to a cause.

Ethiopia: Who is rocking this cradle?

This is my third time in Ethiopia.

I had wanted to visit here for years because of my friend Aklilu Mulat, my former colleague at Arrow Leadership. Aklilu is Ethiopian and had introduced our family to Ethiopian food and cultural tid bits. However, none of this prepared me for my first visit here.

Often referenced as the “cradle of civilization” Ethiopia is a landlocked country situated in the Horn of Africa. It is bound by its bordering neighbors Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and Eritrea. For outsiders, famine, war, poverty and drought are the things most synonymous with the Ethiopia. Even now, it’s still one of the least developed countries in the world, so those preconceptions would not be entirely baseless.

It is a country of over eighty-three million people – and believe me getting accurate census data is extremely hard in these environments. Addis in 2007 had just under four million people (last census). Today they estimate between six and seven million.

Based on Human Development Indicators ( a standard used globally to measure life standards) Ethiopia is eighth from the bottom of one hundred and seventy-seven countries. Life expectancy is 51 years of age – younger than both Bob and I now, and one in six children die before their fifth birthday.

Dubliner, Bob Geldof organized Band Aid and Live Aid benefits for famine relief in Ethiopia.

Many of us remember Ethiopia from the early 80’s when television brought home the impact of severe drought and the resulting famine that left more than eight million people facing starvation. Well if that broke my heart, the situation today, while different, sure wants me to do more to help here. I am looking forward to meeting the leadership of World Vision‘s national office here in Addis and visiting one of their Area Development Projects on Wednesday and Thursday this week north of here. WV has been working here on the ground since 1971 – a decade prior to the famine crisis of the 80’s. I look forward to hearing about what it is like on the ground here today.

Some of the changes I notice here are:

  • the indicators of economic growth like many new buildings in the last three years – although I do smile at some of the construction techniques still being antiquated.
  • there are no street signs or house numbers here in Addis. People refer to locations by landmarks. With all the new building taking place, landmarks are being replaced and they are talking about having to one day name streets and even create a map of the city.
  • walking downtown today I noticed many more women wearing what I might describe as western or european clothing styles. Not all, but my first trip here I saw nothing like this.
  • There are some new churches that have begun in the downtown area – protestant evangelical charismatic tribes
  • There are still no stop signs anywhere making driving here very exciting
  • Construction has been very good for employment and for retailers selling building supplies
  • Much of the money coming into Ethiopia is from China and India

China and India possess the weight and dynamism to transform the 21st-century global economy. I think it is easy for us in North America to put our head in the sand over this. But come to the global south and you will see it more clearly. In the coming decades, China and India will continue to disrupt North American workforces, industries, companies, and markets in ways that we can barely begin to imagine. We are looking forward to being in India in the

My first visit to Addis 7 years ago left me in shock by the poverty and the chaos that surrounds this city.

Over 100,000 boys and girls abandoned on the streets of Addis Ababa

Today, on my third visit I am grateful to see all the change – in a positive direction with the economy but am still left with questions about the overall impact on children. There are estimated to be over 100,000 abandoned children living on the streets of Addis. We have met some who have gotten off the street through the work of Youth Impact but the numbers are overwhelming.

Tomorrow, we head north of the city to a place no one here in Addis has heard of. It is an area development project of World Vision.

I knew it was a little off the road when I read that we are travelling there by vehicle and horseback.

This is not the first, or the last, time that World Vision will be in a place few have heard of. I do know that they are there because of the children and the ability to transform a community.

Lion Like Leadership

A highlight memory in my life was recently watching a pride of lions hunt in Kenya on the Serengeti plains. Here are some leadership points I took away from the experience.

Leaders are hard to find

The pride was carefully concealed in the grass. Although these lions are large creatures, they usually kept their heads beneath the level of the tall grass. You had to look very carefully and get up closer to really notice what was taking place.

Lion Insight: This is true of leaders. You need to get close enough to them to really see their leadership at work.

Identify the target

One of the pride raised her head high above the grass and spotted a single Hartebeest on the horizon more than a kilometer away. Once identified, she never took her eyes off the prey and somehow signaled to the entire pride to do the same.

Lion Insight: Leaders are the ones who can look out to the horizon and determine where the entire group should be headed. They also have a way of communicating this so all eyes are on the goal.

Spread out and gain perspective

With a military like precision, the pride began to spread out across the plain, each one staring intently at the goal. By doing so they were increasing their ability to judge the direction and potential action of the prey. It also positioned them in such a way that no matter what took place, some member of the pride may be in a place to have success. This was a team effort.

Lion Insight: Leaders are always helped by getting more perspective on a situation. Allowing your team to be among your feedback group gives an even greater potential of achieving your goals.

Be patient

The pride began to move toward their goal slowly, quietly with stealth. They were not in a rush, as they knew that would be futile when they have to cover so much territory to get close to achieving their goal.

Lion Insight: Leaders need to have the discipline to patiently work towards their goals. One step at a time will get you there. If you rush, you may loose entirely.

Ignore the distractions

We were in a four-wheel drive right amidst the pride, in fact they walked around us while hunting without even giving an acknowledgement of our presence.

Lion Insight: There are so many things that can capture a leaders attention, but if we are going to reach the goal we must learn to ignore distractions and keep moving forward.

Outside influences can affect the plan

As the pride were moving towards the Hartebeest another Land Cruiser came across the plain towards the lions so that their customers could catch a glimpse of one of the Big Five. In doing so, he attracted the attention of the Hartebeest who then quickly took off in the opposite direction foiling the hunt.

Lion Insight: There will always be the outside influences that can impact your plans. Leaders need to realize this and get over it quickly.

Be quick to regroup

As soon as the pride realized their dinner was now far from a reality they quickly moved back together and began the task of identifying a new target

Lion Insight: Leaders should be quick to call the team together again when there is a need to regroup and set a new goal.

We have an example

There is another lion from whom we can glean leadership principles. Revelation 5:5 refers the Lion of Judah, one of the names ascribed to Jesus.

Lion Insight: Following the Lion of Judah can be a guide for life providing leadership insight and life in all its fullness.

PS – I might add one more to this list and that is that it was the women doing all the work!