Yesterday I had the amazing opportunity to take time out to be at Tearfund’s annual staff conference.
We heard about the value and importance of Tearfund being known as a ‘movement’ rather than an ‘organisation’. I love that idea. Yes there has to be an organisation but the story and real heartbeat of Tearfund is in the movement, the impact, the stories, the people rather than the machine of the organisation!
We were reminded of the core values of Tearfund: Christ Centred, Courageous, Compassionate, Truthful, Servants. Language that inspires and languages that makes me come alive and confirms that notion of a movement rather than an organisation.
Our Chief Executive continued the theme by encouraging us to be a movement that is brilliant at building and doing relationships. Valuing relationships, agility and creativity above and beyond systems and processes. To be in the world but not of the world. To use the values and ethos of Tearfund to be a springboard
It was nice in this context to have genuine quality time over lunch and beyond to spend time with people and build relationships and create enjoyable and memorable shared experiences. All of this in the context of a really great and diverse group of people united in a common purpose, unity and vision! Just Fantastic.
We then also got to hear of lots of great stories of transformation and impact from all over the world. Changes in the law, great fundraising, improved access to anti retroviral drugs for people living with HIV,Communities transformed, programmes being recognised for their quality and standing out for special recognition and so much more!
A great reminder that the values and ethos Tearfund when outworked lead to impact and transformation. That poverty is not about numbers and statistics but about people and human beings and human relationships. To have the local church at the heart of so much transformation is so inspiring and encouraging!
My only lowlight was an innocent game of table tennis that resulted in me rupturing my achilles tendon. Crazy but sadly true!
The longer than expected wait in hospital did give me a really great opportunity to stop, reflect and read a significant chunk of Henri Nouwen’s incredible book ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’. It was a timely read as earlier our Chief executive had talked about the importance of us fully grasping our true identity and living out of that place. The identity of being a beloved child of God.
Nouwen’s depth and honesty as he reflects both on Rembrant’s painting (pictured at the top of this post) and the story from Luke 15 is arresting, inspiring and challenging. I was really struck that he takes time to reflect on each of the 3 main characters; The Younger Son. The Elder Son and The Father. Nouwen highlights the fact that he can identify and resonate with each of the characters. The need to feel and live with the reality of rebellion of the younger son but also the desire and opportunity for that welcoming embrace. The resentment and hard hearted approach of the Son and how to break that mentality and approach. The role of the Father to extend welcome, embrace and live in a place of valuing grace, return, restoration and new opportunities. There is a lot of profound and brilliant depth to this work, but depth that is also applicable and has potential to be transforming. Transforming relationships, approaches to work and understanding of ourselves and our true identity. The same themes emerging from the conference. I was in all honesty struck by how much more I resonated with The Older Son than I would like to admit or project. How much long and crave to feel the embrace of the Father but also how out of that embrace I want to develop and cultivate more of the characteristics of the Father.
At Lunchtime yesterday I had no idea of the agony I would be feeling and the way in which my evening would turn out so differently than planned. I would much rather it hadn’t happened and right now would much rather I was walking and active (So would my amazing wife and children). However I have to face into the reality that I won’t be so free to be active and mobile. I don’t want to be in this state but I am and I have to choose now to embrace it well and use a slower pace of life and mobility to learn, grow and cherish more of the things I so often just take for granted.