Sideways Time

by Richard Lister, Coach and Mentor
Coaching to Thrive

Logic drives me like a wasp.  A wasp can’t bend the window glass and I can’t shift this charity.  Time to slip sideways. 

I head out and ease into the rhythm of walking.  At the top of the hill I catch sight of a kestrel, our smallest bird of prey.  It’s hanging in the air, hardly moving, held up by the breeze.

As I ponder the kestrel I am reminded of the verse: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD Almighty’ Zechariah 4v6.  I rethink my approach: less slog, more nudging allies and being nudged.  When did this sideways thought come?

When I’d moved.  Alain de Botton says:

‘Journeys are the midwives of thought .. . There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, new thoughts new places. 

Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape.

The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do.  The task can be as paralyzing as having to tell a joke or mimic an accent on demand.  Thinking improves when parts of the mind are given other tasks, are charged with listening to music or following a line of trees.’  (The Art of Travel).

Where might you need to go to get a larger, smaller or unusual perspective?  Or what other activity may prompt a sideways thought?

Candles in a dark world

By Nick Wright

Last night I was speaking with Jasmin in the Philippines. She told me about an incident that really moved me. That day Jasmin saw old woman, who lived on the pavement, trying to eek out an existence by selling candles on the street. As Jasmin approached, this stooped woman beckoned to her with a smile.

‘Would you like to buy a candle?’ she asked. The tone in her voice suggested that she was bracing herself for disappointment, that same disappointment she had felt day after day, year after year, on so many occasions. After all, there were other people selling candles too, so what hope did she have? ‘How much for a candle?’, Jasmin asked. ‘2 pesos’, she replied. Jasmin said, ‘I will take 10 candles’, then, as if secretly, slipped a 500 pesos note into the woman’s hand.

‘But I don’t have any change for such a large amount’, the woman said. ‘How about you keep the candles and pay me next time you pass by, when you have some smaller change?’ Jasmin replied softly, ‘This is a gift to you from Jesus. Please accept it as a gift from Him.’ At that, the woman threw her arms around Jasmin’s neck, burst into tears, and cried, ‘Maam, thank you for helping me!!’ Jasmin hugged her back and whispered gently, ‘Pray and say thank you to Jesus.’

As she finished relating this story, I asked Jasmin why she did what she did. She welled up and said: ‘I remember selling candles as a child, how hard it was. I wasn’t good with maths and so, if I made a mistake when giving people change, I had to pay it back out of my own tiny earnings. I know what it is to be poor.’ So, I asked specifically about this woman, this one person, this stranger. Jasmin replied, ‘At least, for one day in her life, she knows how it feels to be loved, to be blessed by God.’

I fell silent. All I could see were images of Jesus, touching the lives of the poor and most vulnerable in the world. ‘I come to bring good news to the poor!’ He’s still doing it now. It challenges me:

  • How can I bring good news to the poor this week?

Confidence is the key

By William Ogara

What most people call mentorship is actually mostly about building people’s confidence. In one week alone, I have received the following requests:

“I am a member of an international board and we have just appointed a CEO who would like mentorship support from a fellow Christian. Can you assist him grow in his job?”

“I am keenly interested in pursuing a Doctorate, but I need your help to decide the area to specialise in”.

“We haven’t spoken for quite a long time… By the way, are you in a position to be my mentor?”

As I followed-up with each one, it turned out that people were primarily looking to build their confidence. It is about accompanying our fellow workers in achieving their assigned tasks in challenging situations. This reminded me of growing up in the village and learning to ride a bicycle with a large box of dried fish on the back. Initially I hid in the bush, hoping my father would not find me. But as I gradually understood how we needed this income for school fees and as I got more confident wobbling along the track, I began to enjoy it more and more. My father sometimes held my hands, sometimes let go, sometimes encouraged, at other times even punished. But he was always patient. It is like Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to pass on whatever he had witnessed to those who are ready in turn to share with others.

This week:
Who are we accompanying in their tasks? How can we build their confidence?