Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Tale of 3 Lands

I'm in the midst of a faith journey.  I've committed myself to an enormous step of faith and there is no turning back, there is just the journey, complete with all of it's obstacles, challenges, opportunities and victories.  

Yesterday, I was reflecting on the various 'lands' that I am visiting along the way.  My trip began in the Land of Wow.  The Land of Wow is filled with possibilities, opportunities and excitement.  My heart beats a little faster when I am in the Land of Wow.  My vision is crystal clear and I can see outcomes in the opportunities.  I love the Land of Wow!  If I could live here forever, I would!  Dreams and vision cost nothing at this point.  There are no bad ideas, train wrecks or plans gone awry.  There is just a series of happy thoughts that are filled with excitement.  If you are a baseball fan, the Land of Wow is best described as a sliding triple with the occasional walk off home run thrown in just to keep things interesting.  It is breath taking in every way!!

Not far from the Land of Wow is the Land of How.  The Land of How is a difficult place.  If the sun is always shining in the Land of Wow, it's always overcast in the Land of How.  Dreams are free in the Land of Wow but the bills come due in the Land of How.  I'm convinced there is a cemetery for dreams in the Land of How because that's where most of them die.  They die because How demands that I sort out the action steps that will turn Wow into How.  It's not necessarily that the dreams were weak or that the idea wasn't a good one.  It's more that the cost of Wow is higher than what most people are willing to pay.  Turning Wow into reality isn't cheap, easy or quick.  Most dreams, God given or otherwise, come to an end right here.

Navigating through the Land of How demands courage, focus and determination.  The Land of How requires faith... gutsy, Red Sea crossing, Lion and Bear Wrestling, Giant Killing, Fiery Furnace, a Cloud the size of a man's hand kind of faith.  This is 'God, I remind you of Your promises' faith. The kind that asks and acts boldly.  It's the kind of faith that will get you out of the boat to walk on the waves.

The last time I went on a journey like this, I was almost overcome in the Land of How.  There were days, many in fact, when HOW almost snuffed out the WOW that I carried in my heart.  The size of the mountains, the giants in the land and obstacles that were set in front of me were overwhelming.  I'm doing this differently this time.  I return often to the Land of Wow and let the scope and 'bigness' of the vision fill my heart.  I ponder the goodness of God and His faithfulness to me thus far.  I reflect on the promises that He has made and fulfilled.  I come back to remind myself that 'thus far, the Lord has helped me...'

Each time I do, the Land of How becomes a little less intimidating and overwhelming.  I am learning (again and still) that there are things I must do but there are things that only God can do.  When I try to do what only God can do, the results are never what they could be.  God doesn't need my 'help' to make it happen.  He just needs me to be true to what He's asked me to do.  Sometimes it seems that the most important part of this journey is allowing God to do His part while I stay focused on mine.  

I'm making a fascinating discovery.  Ever so slowly but at the same time in a very real and profound way, I am seeing a new land taking shape around me.  It's the Land of WHOW.   WHOW is the place where Wow meets How and vision becomes reality.  It's a messy, complicated place with more questions than answers, with loose ends and gaping holes, but it's the place where God works and creates.  It's the place where He stretches me, surprises me, challenges me and changes me. It's the place where if I'm willing to stick with Him and stick with the dream, He fulfils His promises and makes something out of nothing.  

Unfortunately, (or maybe not so unfortunately) there are no direct flights from WOW to WHOW.  You have to pass through HOW multiple times in order to get to WHOW.  It's enough to make some people give up on the journey and take up residence in either WOW or HOW, but the truth is, nothing happens in WOW or HOW.  All of the action is in WHOW! The weather can swing from bright and sunny to overcast and blustery in the blink of an eye, but if you can hold on just a little bit longer, WHOW becomes an amazing place of fruitfulness.

Happy travelling!

Friday, June 03, 2016

Across the Country - Ontario, the Land of Opportunity

As many of you already know, after 9 years of pioneering and establishing Leading Influence in BC, I have taken on the task of building and growing the ministry in Ontario.  This is without a doubt, 'a whole new world...' It's a world that fascinates and intrigues me and it's a world full of new challenges and opportunities.  When you consider that 1 of every 3 Canadians lives in Ontario and that there are more people living in Toronto proper than live Saskatchewan and Manitoba or Atlantic Canada, the importance of reaching and impacting the leaders of this amazing province takes on a much greater urgency.  

Over the past number of months, we have processed through how we will build Ontario in a sustainable way and have settled on the following approach.  Starting in September, I will spend 3 weeks/month in Toronto networking with MPPs, developing resources and laying a strong foundation for the future.  I will come home to Victoria on break weeks (Stat holiday weeks) and catch up on life and work here.  Mostly, I intend to just be a stay at home husband for that time.  It's not ideal, but it's the most ideal at this time.  We will work within this structure from September through June and evaluate our progress and opportunities at that time.

This is entirely a step of faith.  We don't have the budget ($35,000) in place to see this happen today, but I am confident of 3 things.  God is BIG.  God is GOOD.  ANYTHING Can Happen!  The same God who has made something out of nothing in BC, AB and SK is surely able to do the same in Ontario.  All He requires from us is faith and obedience.  He is fully able to do the rest!

Onward we go as we follow the King!

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Across The Country - A New Chapter in Saskatchewan

Meet Dr. Scott Francis!  Husband, Father, Executive Coach, Podcaster, Chaplain and Volunteer Fireman!  We could go on, but there just isn't enough space!  We are thrilled to have Scott serving with us in Saskatchewan.  

In between spring grass fires and visits to the Legislature, Scott shares the following:

This has been an exciting couple months!  I joined the Leading Influence team in Saskatchewan following the conclusion of the recent provincial election.  Since then life has been a bit of whirlwind finding my feet in a new role.

It was incredibly inspiring to attend the MLA swearing-in ceremony. Most impressive was to see a group of people committing themselves to serve in the full knowledge that this will be a difficult and challenging job. Their decision to give of themselves inspired me to commit myself to support them both emotionally and spiritually.

The first few days of spring session made it very clear that SK MLA’s have a significant amount of work ahead of them. There are difficult decisions on the horizon that will test their wisdom, strength and courage. They truly need our prayers and support.

Leaders in the public service face make great sacrifices, which can result in deep challenges. It is easy to run out of emotional and spiritual gas. When a person’s internal life becomes depleted, it can lead to stress and difficulty. Leaders with the best of intentions can be blind-sided and become derailed both professionally and personally. 

My passion is to contribute to the inner spiritual life of the MLAs and to help them live in a way that builds substance. Please pray for me as I do it.  

Across The Country - Good to Go in BC

It’s been an incredible spring!  After 20+ years of pastoral ministry my heart has been captured anew with the opportunity to serve leaders inside the walls of the BC Legislature.  Each day as I walked up the front steps and though the big wooden doors my sense of anticipation grew with another chance to be salt and light.  Every day was a new adventure. 

Apart from celebrating our 10th Annual Prayer Breakfast with almost 30 members in attendance, I am most excited about what I see happening at our regular Thursday Prayer Gathering.   We have members from both sides attending and it’s easy to see that God is up to something in the lives of our leaders. There is a genuine sense of God’s presence at work in our midst.  

One of the stealthier ways I've been able to have an impact is through being asked to write the morning prayer for several members.  It’s been fun to hear them prayed and to know that God is hearing because leaders are asking!  

The most important part of my work is connecting with members in a meaningful way.  Pray with me that God will open the right doors at the right time into the right lives. This is always our most important and pressing need.

It has also been very encouraging to have friends, family and ministry partners visit the legislature to gain a better understanding of how we serve. Please let me know if you are interested in seeing what we do and I’ll work with you to make it happen!

Jason Goertzen

Across the Country - Alberta Update

I'm excited about the opportunity to serve at the Alberta Legislature.  It has been both rewarding and challenging.  Rewarding in that I have had the opportunity to meet with MLAs from each caucus.  These interactions happen sometimes through my own initiative and sometimes through theirs.  I am pleased with either option as it gives me the opportunity to connect, hear and share with those God has called to lead our province.  This gives me confidence that the ministry is valuable and needed. 

With the current economic challenges and Fort Mac forest fire situation, our province is walking through a difficult time.  Our leaders need the support and ministry that we are able to provide.

Our leaders also need your ongoing prayer support.  Please visit prayab.com to track with our daily MLA prayer strategy.  Elaine Baillie and her team are doing a great job leading this crucial ministry.

My hope and prayer going forward is to be able to continue to meet with those in leadership in our province and to let them know that the church is praying for them.

Murray Coughlan

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Ironman of Golf Version 6.0

The IronMan of Golf!

Version 6.0 

The IronMan of Golf  is our summer fundraiser and helps us meet our annual budget.  Our goal for this summer is to raise $7000 and its important that we reach it!  Our fall/summer ministry travel plans depend on these resources and we need your help to make it happen.

The IronMan of golf works as follows:

1.  Make a pledge.  You can pledge/hole or simply make an event pledge.  
           $10/hole is a $1000 pledge.  
           $5/hole is a $500 pledge.  
           $2.50/hole is $250 pledge
           $1.00 hole is $100 pledge
           Or you can pledge another amount of your choosing. 

           Click here to make a pledge.

2. Follow Through.  
         You can pay your pledge immediately by credit card, online banking or by cheque. 
         If you prefer to wait until after the event, that's fine with us.  We will contact you after              the event.

3.  Watch Tim's progress on our Leading Influence Facebook Page on June 21.  

God Makes It Grow

Our daughter has recently discovered Ancestry.ca and we are having fun watching her discover and explore our family roots.  My family has farming roots on both sides dating back to the turn of the 20th century.

Remarkably, my great-grandfathers chose to homestead across the road from each other.  In both cases, they cleared and 'broke' the land that eventually continues to produce crops that have sustained and provided for families for generations.

My maternal grandfather spent most of his life on as a farmer. In the years after he retired from farming, he would often become nostalgic about his years on the farm.  I recall him telling me how 'the land smells different in the spring' and that the 'scent of spring' always brought him hope for a good harvest.

On my last trip to Toronto, I watched the city shift from winter (it was snowing when I arrived) to spring (the temp hit 20C) later in the week) and while the 'scent of spring' is certainly different there than what my grandfather referenced, the 'scent of spring' was still in the air.

I've been having a significant shift in my thinking over the past months.  For most of my ministry career, I would view the teachings of Jesus through a grid that said 'Jesus lived in an agrarian culture, but this is what this means today...' More and more, I am coming to conclude that the best way to understand how God works is through an agrarian grid.

(Imagine that... it really is the way Jesus says it is!!)

As I look at our work across the country, here's what I see....

We have faithfully tilled the land that God has given us in BC and today we see tremendous fruit coming out of the relationships we have nurtured on both sides of the House.  We are humbled and thankful for God's mercy and goodness to us.

Our path has been different in AB.  The ground has been harder and the work has been tiring but we are starting to see the earth turn from brown to green with the advent of another spring.  This gives us hope that soon we will see blossoms that will turn to fruit.

Saskatchewan continues to flourish.  We were blessed with a network of relationships when we arrived and by God's grace have been able to build upon them.  With an election comes an entirely new set of opportunities and possibilities. We are excited about what God has in store for us in Saskatchewan.

Ontario is in a different and unique place. In many ways, the ground has never been tilled.  This is both a challenge (as we cast vision, create awareness and lay a foundation) and an opportunity to learn from our mistakes and to build on our successes.  While it's true that the culture is different, it's equally true that leaders still need someone to support, encourage and minister to them. What I find most exciting about Ontario is that there is a clear sense of the need for this in the church and a generally warm reception among those who lead.  While it won't be easy, we have a bright future in Ontario.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Every Place You Set Your Foot

There are dried out maple leaves on the mantle of my office fireplace. I collected them on a prayer walk at Queens Park in October of 2008.  Our ministry board and a few friends came to Ontario to launch Leading Influence Ontario.    After the launch celebration we went to Queens Park and did a prayer walk around the perimeter of the building.  We asked God to give us every place we set our foot believing that He would grant us favour and blessing in Ontario.  We had great faith, hopes and dreams.   The leaves were a memento of our time there.  

Things did not turn out as we had hoped and shortly after we started, we chose to withdraw.  Sometimes things don’t work out like you expect.  The leaves stayed on my mantle as a reminder of where we had been, what we had prayed and where we believed we would go again.  In the meantime, we strengthened BC and launched Alberta and Saskatchewan.

This fall our board formally approved a change in my role giving me the freedom to take on the challenge of launching Ontario.  I booked my first flight for late November, exactly 7 years and 1 month after I gathered those leaves.

I was more than a bit excited as I walked through the front door of Queens Park on Monday morning for my first set of meetings knowing that it was a new day and that rather than being outside praying for open doors, I was inside watching them open.  Over the course of the week , I walked many halls and through many doors and deep in my heart was the constant prayer that God would give me every place I set my foot!

We have great faith for what God has in His heart for Ontario’s leaders.  We are confident that as we reach leaders, we can shape Canada’s largest province one step at a time.  Thanks for praying for us and with us!

Across the Provinces....

We have some exciting changes happening within Leading Influence!  From West to East, here’s what’s happening.

Pastor Jason Goertzen has officially joined our team in BC and will be taking the lead role at the BC Legislature in the 2016.  Jason has been interested in our work for some time and has spent the last half of 2015 job shadowing Tim and building relationships with BC MLAs.  He is being well received and finding great favour.  We are excited about the possibilities as Jason takes on this new opportunity.

Jason is married to Christine and serves a campus pastor with LifeTree Church here in Victoria.

Pastor Murray Coughlan continues to serve as our chaplain in Alberta.  Murray continues to find open doors and a warm reception to his ministry at the Alberta Legislature.  Most of his success has come through cold-calling new MLAs after the election, introducing himself and building relationships.  Murray’s hard work has resulted in the development of a strong network in Alberta.  We are very grateful for Murray’s hard work and willingness to serve in this way. 

When Murray isn’t at work, he enjoys riding his Victory motorcycle in the summer.  In the winter, he thinks warm thoughts and wishes it was summer! 

We have bittersweet news coming out of Saskatchewan.  Barry Berglund has announced that he would like to retire after the upcoming election.  Barry has been a tremendous pioneer for us and has done an exceptional job of establishing the ministry in Regina.  We will miss him.

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Scott Francis will be joining our team in the New Year to take on the role of chaplain at the Saskatchewan Legislature.  Scott has recently completed his doctoral studies in leadership at Gonzaga University and will be a great fit in Regina.  Scott is married to Janelle and they have two children.  He is also an Executive Coach, podcaster (LeaderFM) and volunteer firefighter. 

He’s got a professional picture, but we really think the firefighter picture shows off his movie star good looks! 

Tim’s role in Leading Influence is changing from ministry delivery to ministry development. As part of that new role, he will be launching our work in Ontario at Queens Park, mentoring and coaching our chaplain team across the country and seeking new opportunities to both resource and grow Leading Influence into a strong presence within the leadership community of our nation.  It’s a huge challenge filled with opportunities and possibilities to impact our nation in significant ways. 

Be sure to read: Everywhere Your Place Your Foot Article for more info on Ontario.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Oops... He Showed Up Again!

I'm convinced that Jesus has no time for decorum and protocol.  His entire history underscores that He is the Master of the Unusual, Unconventional and Unexpected!  Don't count on Jesus to play by the rules other than the ones He decides on!  Here's a case in point.... 

A few weeks ago, I attended a Christmas 'Light Up' event.  For the most part, everything was as it always is.  A gracious host, several speakers bringing greetings, 2 choirs and then the big countdown to the moment the lights came on.  

I enjoyed the speeches, even the inclusive one that reminded the children and adults in attendance that 'there are many celebrations' during this time of year. (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and others).  The message was that we should be respectful of other celebrations.  I don't disagree at all.  The same freedom that gives me the privilege of celebrating Christmas full on, is also freely extended to my Jewish friends who celebrate Hanukkah and those who celebrate Kwanzaa and the many other celebrations that coincide late in the year.  The reminder ended with 'Happy Holidays' and then things got interesting...

It was announced that the choir would sing 'Go Tell It On the Mountain' and that it would be a sing-along number.  My intended subtle smile at the irony of the moment turned into a full blown grin bordering on suppressed belly laugh as I listened to several hundred people led by an amplified choir joyfully singing 'Go Tell It On The Mountain That Jesus Christ is Born!' My favorite was the man several rows in front of me who was full on singing, head back, and arms waving as he sang the verses and chorus never missing a beat!  

I LOVE this stuff!!!

I'm tired of the church fussing about red coffee cups, the never ending stream of 'share' if you believe that 'Jesus is the Reason For the Season' or 'Keep Christ in Christmas' because I have come to the conclusion that Jesus doesn't need our help to take centre stage!  He takes it when He pleases and how He pleases!  He breaks the rules to suit His purposes! 

While we might share the timing with other faiths and groups, this is the season we remember that God became flesh, that God was born of a virgin and that God interrupted regularly scheduled programming for His own special event.  This is a season of miracles and surprises.  Expect Him to surprise you this season!

Have a great Christmas!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Skin in the Game

I might be one of the few people in Canada who was able to watch the Cabinet Swearing In Ceremony and call it work!  The 'changing of the guard' brought with it new faces, fresh ideas and for many Canadians the sense of a a new day in Canadian politics.  My attention was captured when I heard the commentator make reference to the Hon. Jane Philpot's involvement in her local church as both a board member and 'song-leader' and I was reminded, AGAIN... that God always has 'skin in the game'.

Technically, to have 'skin in the game' means to have a money in an investment.  In this instance, I take the expression more literally, in that God always has people strategically placed within the our culture and society.  Consider that of all of the people who ran for office, that the Hon. Judy Philpott, a devout follower of Jesus would not only win her nomination, but also her seat and then be given the very significant and strategic position of Minister of Health for all of Canada.

In 8 years of serving leaders, I've come to the conclusion that despite what we may think, expect and inevitably conclude from an uninformed distance, God always has 'skin in the game'.

I recently spent 3 days at Queens Park in Toronto.  A few days before I arrived, I was encouraged to make contact with a particular member who I was told would be quite helpful to me as I sought to establish our work there.  When given the information, I made some quick and broad assumptions about how this person might receive me.  I was proven wrong in our initial phone call and even more wrong when we met face to face.  During our conversation, the member said, 'We need to make this a spiritual place!'  Once again, I discovered that God had 'skin in the game' in an important and significant spot and needed to repent and recalibrate my thinking and perspective.

At this time of year, we remember the most incredible 'skin in the game' event in history when according to John's gospel, 'the WORD became flesh and dwelled among us.'   Jesus took on humanity and in every way became God's most significant investment.  Nothing says 'I'm committed' more than God becoming flesh!  He came to model, to teach, to live, to die, rise again  and most importantly make a way for us to find forgiveness and eternal life.  You would think that would be then end of  God having 'skin in the game', but God always has 'skin in the game'.

The Bible is filled with the accounts of ordinary men and women who served as 'skin in the game' so that God's purposes and plans could be fulfilled through their lives.  From every walk of life, God called them, empowered them and used them in strategic ways to impact the lives of countless others. He still does!

Being 'skin in the game' isn't so much about knowing all the answers or even understanding all the questions.  It's more about saying yes to God and going with His plans and purposes.  The biggest part of being 'skin in the game' is just showing up, watching and listening and then letting God do the rest through you.  

Have a great Christmas!