THE PARENT LEADERSHIP PARADIGM

https://youtu.be/n59ljFfdSQc

The often rehearsed concept and statement that we hear today, not just in Christian circles, but also in corporate sectors, is the term servant leadership. This has gained acceptance in contrast to and as opposed to professional leadership. I term all other previous leadership styles, viz. traditional, charismatic and bureaucratic, as professional leadership.

Traditional leadership is where power is given to the leader based on traditions of the past and their power was tied to their past leaders. The traditional leadership style is based on the belief that power is bestowed on the leader, in keeping with the traditions of the past. 

Charismatic leadership is basically the method of encouraging particular behaviours in others by way of eloquent communication, persuasion and force of personality. Charismatic leaders motivate followers to get things done or improve the way certain things are done. 

Bureaucratic leadership is one whereby employees are made to follow specific rules and lines of authority created by the superiors. These leaders function based on official regulations fixed by higher authorities within the organization. The bureaucratic leadership pattern focuses on the administrative needs an organization has and is used mostly in the public sector, which relies heavily on consistency and adherence to rules and regulations to get whatever results they seek.

In contrast, the servant leader’s goal is to serve rather than just focusing on the thriving of their company or organizations. Servant leaders have turned the traditional power leadership model upside down, putting the people, or employees in a business context, at the very top and the leader at the bottom. Armed with the attitude to serve the employees above them, servant leaders focus on ‘empowering and uplifting those who work for them rather than  commanding, showing humility instead of brandishing authority, and always looking to enhance the development of their staff members in ways that unlock potential, creativity and sense of purpose.’  

Even though the Servant Leadership concept and practice are much superior to professional leadership motifs, I believe that there is yet another leadership way which is higher and nobler. This leadership type, modelled, championed and showcased in the Bible, can be named or termed as parent leadership. 

The main focus of parent leadership is nurture rather than just achieving outcomes, attaining goals or reaching targets. It is about shaping and moulding the individual, considering them as inheritors of the leader’s character, culture, ethics, especially in work. 

Marks of parent leadership

  1. A parent leader focuses on the person in addition to overseeing the completion of the task and achieving of the desired outcome. He or she considers grooming of the individual as being of paramount importance as much as the completion of the job on hand.
  2. A parent leader measures his or her output or success by the transformation of the person, rather than just by the output gained in the successful completion of the job or project entrusted to them.
  3. A parent leader finds motivation, energy and fulfilment in the outcome of the person, ie., how the people entrusted to them shape up. They pour their enthusiasm into identifying and learning about the individual and what motivates them and then use these inputs to form the individual. 
  4. A parent leader has the uncanny ability to see below the surface and identify potential as well as weaknesses that are inherent in their trainees. Their focus will be to fortify and make room for their strengths while helping them to overcome weaknesses and flaws that will hinder the progress of the individual.
  5. A parent leader understands that changing the person, though it needs more effort and time, will ultimately result in better project results and more successful task outcomes.
  6. A parent leader takes responsibility for the individual and is empathetic, both to the dreams and failures of their team members. He or she does not throw their people under the bus, but stands up for them and pleads their cause.
  7. A parent leader considers those under him or her as disciples, protegees and inheritors, rather than as just employees or co-workers or team members.
  8. A parent leader is secure in who they are and hence do not find it hard to rejoice in the successes of their people. In fact, they feel thrilled when those under them do overtake them, for they know the part they played in that growth.
  9. A parent leader always gives his or her blessing to those who branch out from under their care. They willingly allow them to move on for they know how far they can impact. They understand that for the person to stay behind would stunt growth and therefore, release their personnel to fly high.
  10. A parent leader is never fearful of damaging his or her reputation by exercising strict discipline or strong measures. Their goal is to do so for the benefit of the person and hence are unafraid to exercise the rod, when and where it is required.

Parent leadership combines all of the other leadership styles, but adds a distinct and unique ingredient to it that spices up and flavours their craft – the art of care and nurture. 

Parent leadership is considering those given under you as your progeny and therefore, learning to rejoice in their growth and prosperity.

Parent leadership involves self-sacrifice and humility. It is to understand your own limits and limitations, comprehend the part you have to play and be willing to step back, into obscurity if needed, in order for your apprentices to move forward.

True Biblical leadership is parent leadership, especially in the church. It is no wonder leaders in the church need to have proven their mettle at home. It is in nurturing their families and taking responsibility for their growth and progress, leaders learn the art of parenting well. It is then they become eligible to lead and exercise authority in the bigger family, the church!

To the professional or traditional leader, his management is a post, a position and a vocation. 

To the servant leader, his administration is not a vocation or a style. It is a calling, stewardship and an influence! 

However, to the parent leader, his persuasion is a commitment and a sacred trust. To him or her, getting the work done is not enough; seeing their charge blossom and flower means much more. To them to see their ‘kid’ transform is reward enough.

Is it hard to believe such leaders exist? Is it a myth to expect parent leadership?

Maybe so, but I believe such leaders do exist. Many a teacher or instructor fully functions as a parent leader.

A parent leader is a rare find.

Blessed are if you find one or are under one!

*Pic courtesy google images

HANDLING Weltschmerz!

Weltschmerz is a term coined by the German author Jean-Paul, from the German, literally world-pain, also world-weariness. In its original meaning in the Deutsches Wörterbuch (German dictionary by Brothers Grimm) it denotes a deep sadness about the inadequacy or imperfection of the world.

One of the things we are battling, apart from our fight against the corona virus, is weariness and vexation. We keep thinking that the end of lockdown has come, now we can come out of quarantine, life is going to be normal again, we can pick up where we left off and finally move on with life. Then, bam, the announcement comes, the period of shutdown has been extended and you go, ‘Oh no, not again, when will this end’!

We are not just tired, but also bewildered at the turn of events as we haven’t faced anything like this before. We are flummoxed with this new way of life and how to process it. We are seeking answers for the many questions that plague our mind.

The prophet Habakkuk in the Bible can surely identify with us, for he also lived in a time and season that raised questions in his mind. He was puzzled about many things and he set about seeking answers to his genuine doubts. His book is an apt read for this season, being an accurate reflection of his mindset and his progress through his perplexity.

Let’s see what he was worried about and how he resolved his problems.

Habakkuk noted that his nation had become filled with violence and wrongdoing. Everywhere he looked, he saw strife, conflict and destruction. Habakkuk knew that he and his people were chosen by God and belonged to Him. The why did God choose to be silent and without taking any action when the nation was filled with such violence and conflict? Why did He not bring justice and back up His law by punishing those who did evil?

God’s reply was that He was going to punish and discipline Israel by an enemy nation. Now Habakkuk is even more confused and at a loss. His question: How could You God, our own Protector and Preserver, sell us to our bitter foes? How could You use foreigners who are more corrupt to discipline us, Your own people who are trying to live by Your laws? How could You, a holy God Who hates treachery, use a wicked people to fulfil Your will and Your purposes, especially with regards to Your own inheritance?

Habakkuk’s question wasn’t a matter of doubting his God or testing Him, but a dispute and puzzle of faith!

Many of us can identify with Habakkuk’s quest of of faith. We are not questioning God and His power, but His seeming abandonment of the righteous. We are often puzzled about how and why the bad people seem to thrive and prosper, while those who strive to live and be good are put at the mercy and behest of the same vicious ones? Why would a holy and righteous God use renegades who delight in brutality to rule over or penalize the good people? If He wanted to streamline His people, why not do it some other way than allowing their lives to be under the mercy of the merciless? That’s the predicament we will face with God, at one time or another!

Note that Habakkuk did not question God, but genuinely wanted clarifications for what stumped him about God. He knew his God and therefore could not understand this aspect of God – how could He use the unrighteous His instruments? It went contrary to all that Habakkuk knew of God, His ways and His nature!

Habakkuk not only enquired and voiced out questions to clarify his honest confusion, but he also waited and gave time for God to get back to him with a reply. He said “I will stand like a guard and watch. I will wait to see what the Lord will say to me. I will wait and learn how He answers my questions.” (Hab 2:1 ERV). He not only asked questions, but also looked and listened for His answer, stoid watch for like a watchman on the walls of a city.

Habakkuk’s dedication and devotion to wait until he heard from God are the key to his hearing God and a mark of his trust in God. He knew that God would indeed answer him and not ignore his search of faith. His willingness and faithfulness to watch until he received an answer from God demonstrates his stance and stand of faith.

This is where we fail and we are different from Habakkuk. Oftimes we do not have the tenacity or the patience to tarry for an answer from God. We ask or raise an enquiry, but then we scurry away do our own thing. We do not give time for God to answer nor watch for His reply. We move on to our next project that captures our attention and then form our own conclusions about what constitutes the answer to our queries. We don’t listen to what God has to say and so erroneously conclude many things, especially about the nature of God. ‘God tells the man who cares’ is a true saying, for you need to understand that He has His timing. In the right season in the correct moment, He will always answer the one who cares to wait for Him.

God did answer Habakkuk and gave him to understand that when the wicked had fulfilled their role as a tool to discipline the righteous, they would be punished. God would not overlook their evil deeds, but in the due season would destroy those who make violence a way of life. Their turn would come when they would indeed drink of the cup of God’s wrath and destruction. God would call to account those who trust in riches and feel safe from trouble because of it, the reason they feel safe to bully others. They think they are inaccessible, but God has His own time to deal with them.

In seasons of distress, when evildoers seem to go unpunished, it is time for ‘the just to live by faith’. In the season of trouble it is important to realize that God is still on the throne. Soon there will come a day when the knowledge of Him would cover the earth as waters cover it.

While the unrighteous are busy gathering riches by hook or crook so that they would be protected and free from disaster, God’s people will trust in Him. God assures Habakkuk that those who are truly innocent will be preserved through the coming judgment and oppression by their godly lifestyle for God truly rewards the right way of life.

In contrast, those that are full of evil desires, greed and extortion will not be able to withstand God’s judgements nor His punishments. They will face the consequences of their conduct and careless life.

In spite of troubled lives, we need to realize that God is indeed on the throne and one day the whole earth would recognize and acknowledge the presence and glory of God. This is our anchor and safety that will hold us to right conduct and trust. Ultimately, those who choose to live unruly and unscrupulous lives will be punished. They will not escape surely, even though for now it looks as if they are successful and untouchable.

With his questions answered and his focus clarified, Habakkuk now responds with a prayer, a song and a confession of faith.

He prays to God to demonstrate His power as of old and pleads with Him to remember to be merciful, even when He is angry with His people and doling out His punishments.

He composes a song proclaiming the might and majesty of God, with joy declaring His glory and extolling His power over all, now that his questions have been answered.

He also makes a decision and a resolve to thank God, whatever may happen or whichever circumstance he may find himself in – loss or gain. He determines that he will still sing and thank God, content that God is the One who keeps him safe, always.

He ends with the bold and positive declaration that “The Lord God causes me to be strong. He makes my feet run safely over the rocks and hills, like a deer ‘s feet.”

Habakkuk found a way out of his doubts and a means to overcome his Weltschmerz, his world-weariness.

He took his troubles to God, watched and waited for Him to answer, thus finding a solution to his questions. He found rest as well as solace in the ensuing vision he had of God and His power towards those who are His very own.

How are you handling your questions and queries, your misgivings and your misfortunes, your woes and your Weltschmerz?

Are you drowning yourself in some addiction or taking it out your frustration on others or bullying those under you?

Or are you imitating a man who also had doubts, but found a way out to solid faith?

Learn from and imitateHabakkuk iin knowing how to handle your deepest anguish.

Turn and return to God for closure on your concerns and compelling issues.

Move over from a world-view that gives you Weltschmerz to a God-view that enlarges your vision to see beyond the natural, by faith!

https://www.worshipsong.com/component/melody/songdetails/we-must-wait

We Must Wait


Verse 1
I must wait wait wait on the Lord
I must wait wait wait on the Lord
And learn my lessons well
In His timing He will tell me
What to do where to go and what to say


Verse 2
We must wait wait wait on the Lord
We must wait wait wait on the Lord
And learn our lessons well
In His timing He will tell us
What to do where to go and what to say


Verse 3
You must wait wait wait on the Lord
You must wait wait wait on the Lord
And learn Your lessons well
In His timing He will tell you
What to do where to go and what to say

CCLI Song # 38222
Randy Thomas
© 1979 Maranatha! Music (Admin. by Music Services)
CCCM Music (Maranatha! Music [Admin. by Music Services])
For use solely with the SongSelect Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. http://www.ccli.com
CCLI License # 3225879

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

STORAGE SPACE

One of the episodes in my favorite TV series, Person of Interest by Christopher Nolan, portrays a high school student, who looks to be average but is actually a mathematical genius and a prodigy in software programing. He develops a compression algorithm that condenses terabytes into a thumb drive. He later becomes an entrepreneur and a legend in the field for providing large storage capacity in a small space.

A prime vital need of the digital world, with its bourgeoning apps and usage, is storage space. Every device that is launched is promoted by mooting certain specs, topmost of which is storage capacity – so many gigabytes more than the previous or other models. The growth of digital age escalated exponentially with increase of memory in decrease of space.

Space crunch is not an issue confined to certain cities on terra firma, but also a major factor in the digital world. Researchers are scrambling to help their companies master the market through improving the unique capabilities of their product with greater the processing speed and higher the number of applications and finally the size of the product. The smaller and thinner the model the better the saleability of the product. The smaller the device and greater the memory space became the thrust of the digital world.

With the introduction of multiple search engines, coupled with the advent of smartphones and other digital devices that help you access information instanteously and immediately as well as the ability to store that information in a small memory space, has deleted the need to remember many things or keep relevant data in mind.

No one these days even makes an effort at remembering even basic multiplication tables, or conversion rates or any simple functions. A simple touch of the phone is all that is required to perform many actions that once upon a time needed the use of the mind and its capacity for memory. Gone are the days when people would remember many people’s phone numbers as well as other details such birthdays, anniversaries and other minutae with ease.

The key to such a feat is the heart and the mind. Indeed, the heart and mind are second to none for storing and retaining information. Their ability to grow and expand is the added advantage when they are trained to do so. The heart and mind have untold and infinite capacity not just for storage, but for learning, relearning and adapting. They are more versatile and multifaceted than any instrument that man has ever invented.

King David the Psalmist in the Bible says in Ps 119:11 “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” He also says in Ps 1:3 that the one who meditates (focus one’s mind) on God’s law day and night will be evergreen. The king seems to have discovered and declared that the best space for storing and preserving God’s Word are the heart and the mind.

Of course, he did not have the many storage devices and cloud facilities that we have today. He did not have access to digital tablets, though he had other storage devices such as stone tablets, papyrus rolls etc. Some would say that because he did not have all these, he was forced to use the heart and the mind as storage units. That may be true, yet all our gadgets and instruments do not work unless they have been connected or charged by a power source. They also be hacked or corrupted or even destroyed remotely. They can be shut down or made redundant by cutting of their power source.

What if you are in a place and a position where you have no access to such crutches and have to remember things, especially God’s Word? Will you become crippled and at a loss because you don’t have your devices or will you be able to tap into your in-built storage apparatus and draw input from your memory the Word needed for the hour?

Will you be able to draw strength from what you have stored of the life-giving word in your heart and mind?

All our technology and the devices they birth are only making us dependent like suckling babes. It is not wrong to use them when you have, but the question is what if you don’t have them!

We are living in a pandemic period when everyone of our systems are failing or proving to fail. Be it the educational, economic, medical, political, social or cultural construct, each of them have been shown to be of zero help in times like this. Everything around and on which we have building our lives have faltered, demonstrating their inability to help us. Technology alone is to an extent allowing us to maintain a semblance of life. When that too fails, we will be left with only the gifts God created us with and bestowed on us innately.

How about exercising and using your in-built storage capacity and facility, your heart and your mind, so as to come to your aid in times of need?

How about teaching and training our children to use theirs to the maximum to stockpile Scripture, while keeping technology as addendum?

How about giving attention to develop a cache of God’s Word in your heart and mind, tapping in to their full capacity and capability!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

WASTING OR (IN)VESTING SHUTDOWN

Shutdown, lockdown, rollbacks, cutbacks, layoffs and retrenchment are all dreaded words in the job market and industry circles. These indicate a loss, ruin, bankruptcy, failure, default, liquidation and debt. The current lockdown or shutdown is unique and unlike since it is not a result of any of these. It is an action that has been dictated and mandated as a consequence of a pandemic. However, in a way it can be said that it is not so dissimilar since there is loss here, the loss of the greatest resource on earth – human beings!

Shutting down for isolation or quarantine, and destruction are two sides of the same coin since one is the contraposition of the other. One warrants the other and one is the outcome or preventive measure of another. For example, evacuation is the last natural response or counter-measure to a flood or fire or storm, inevitable when all other efforts fail. It is done to preserve human life from becoming totally extinguished or extinct. Even though it is a moot point whether human life is worth saving, it goes without saying that human beings, made in the image of God need saving if not salvaging!

This period of lockdown that keeps extending and lengthening is aimed at saving people, not money or land or animals or plants or even the environment. It is an all-out effort to save the great and best resource of all. So to complain or crib against it is unreasonable and actually inhumane. If we haven’t seen and realised this, we would be cribbing about the measures being taken to sustain and preserve human life!

Having said that, it is time to run a reality check, to determine if we have realised and accepted that these measures are to prevent the extinction of the most endangered species of all at this time. If we have figured this out, we would know what to do or occupy ourselves with, during this confinement period. We have been restricted and contained at home, letting go of all that we once thought was needed and important for life. The question is how have been handling this enforced isolation and quarantine!

If you have been sulking and whining about being confined at home unable to go out, or putting tantrums and throwing your weight around, or needling those around you and venting your ire on them, or chafing at delays and being restless about the extension of protocol, then you have lost out!

If we are wise, we would use these extended periods of being shut up:

To recover health
With time to relax and rest, catching up on sleep would have been your priority. Weaning your system off junk food and indiscriminate eating, you would have started a regime of healthy wholesome food, proper hydration and regular exercise.
If you haven’t, you still have time. Start now!

To build and repair relationships
You would have used this time to spend time with family, getting to know them once again, grasping what makes each one tick, etc. You would have repaired breaches and built bridges in relationships, restoring those you may have lost. You would have forged new ones since you have time to talk and enquire, using the pretext of the pandemic concerns to your own advantage in this aspect. You would have tweaked your daily and weekly routine to include giving attention and showing concern for your spouse, playing and teaching your kids, put in place family activities and caught up with senior citizens in the family.
If you haven’t, you still have time. Begin now!

To learn and pick up new skills
You would have taken this season to do things you have never done before and maybe identified acumen you never realized you had, such as cooking, tailoring, painting, gardening, writing and such like. You would have picked back up a hobby you had in your school or college days, something you didn’t have time till now and enjoyed doing it alone or along with your family. You would have gone online and learnt something new, maybe another language acquired another degree or certificate may be, taken a new training, attended a workshop etc.
If you haven’t yet done it, start now!

To enjoy solitude and develop the art of meditating
Instead of being stressed out, you would have realised that you now had time to sit down and have a quiet conversation with yourself, with nature, in the quietness of the night or the early hours of the day – something you didn’t have energy or time to do because of a busy schedule. You would have learnt how to handle silence, listen to a song, heard sounds around and silently noted the rhythm and flow of life around.
If you haven’t done it till now, you still have time. Start now!

To assess and gauge your shortcomings
As your body began recouping with rest and relaxation, as your feelings and emotions began streamlining, you would have understood the mistakes you have been making, especially in relationships. You would have noted your misdeeds and found yourself wondering why you had to be so insecure or short-tempered. You would have vowed to change and become a better person, as you weighed your actions in the past and thought of how you would behave and treat others once this period is over.
If you haven’t at all, there is still time. Begin now!

To count your blessings and be thankful
Most of us have a roof over our heads, food to eat, a bed to sleep and a family that also has all these things. We have been truly blessed, especially in the light of the many migrant workers who have been stranded and trying to make their way home by walk. They have to depend on the courtesy of others and have to wing their way through life depending on the mercy of strangers. We need to count these things in our lives and be thankful to God for gifting us all things needed to exist in a comfortable way. We need to be grateful for this time to unwind, destress from hectic schedule and grace to spend moments with our family.
If you haven’t taken time to be grateful and prayerful, begin now. There’s still time to do so!

To look forward to new times and reset yourselves for a new normal
This season is so providential because we have been given the occasion to pull back, recuperate, reorient, repatriate losses and refocus for the future. Never has the human race faced such a time as this and given such a great opportunity to make amends and reorganize. It is the season to restructure our lives and set our direction according to a new normal, for life is not going to be the same.
If you haven’t thought through things, estimated the new future, sat down with the family and planned for the days ahead, don’t worry. Just do it now!

To value life and align your every priority towards preserving it
We need to understand that life is all about people, about saving and serving others around us. We need to cultivate generosity, weed out selfish narcissism, looking beyond what is of use to me and mine. We need to look past what belongs to me, what will benefit me and make every effort, as much as we can, to protect, preserve and progress life.
If you haven’t ever done it, this is the time to do so!

To understand the connectivity of humanity
We must understand that we are all part of humanity and share the same space in time. We are all brothers and sisters by virtue of being part of the human race, living in the same era in history. We need to accept and acknowledge that we are our brother’s keeper, and therefore responsible to do as much as we can to make life easier for those within our reach.
If we haven’t learnt this valuable lesson, it is time to do so!

To acknowledge the chain reaction reality of our existence
We need to seriously consider the impact and effect of being a part and parcel of the valuable flow and cycle of life. We are not living isolated and remote from others in society. We cannot afford to be estranged or detached from the community we are placed in. This pandemic has made us intensely aware and sensitized us to the domino effect and contagion impact of our existence. What happens in one remote corner of the earth will gradually but surely spread and seep into the economy, health, sociology, culture and politics of every other part of the world. We are all in a web of relationship and so cannot avoid or protect ourselves from this chain-effect.
If you have lived life as though you are the only one and that the whole world revolves around you, now is the time to change!

COVID shutdown time is a time to invest in and rethink many things! It’s a time to sit down and evaluate your life, something you may have avoided doing because of the busyness of life and the mechanical way of existence!

COVID lockdown is a Godsend, a gift from the Almighty to stand still, take stock, realign, restore and refurbish life as a whole. It is the blessing of God, a pause and reset time, a boon to be able to assess and zoom in on the essentials, weeding out the debris and extra burden we have as a species picked up on our way to what we thought was progress!

The question as we face lockdown 5.0 is: what have we done in this time and how have we used it. What have we, as individuals and families contributed towards saving and sustaining the sanctity of human life and livelihood. What are we going to do to conserve and perpetuate the human race, preventing its extinction!

The real question is: Have you been wasting or investing in and during the COVID protocols!

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

WANT TO WRITE? HERE’S HOW YOU CAN!

https://youtu.be/-4zU0NFsUz0

Writing is an art, a skill and a science that can be learnt and acquired. You just need to pick a pen and paper to note things down! Do it constantly and consistently and soon it will become a practice as well as natural act.

Writing is simple – just put down what you want to put down. It can be your thoughts, your impressions, what you see, what you note, what you observe, what you feel, what you deduce, etc.

I have developed the habit of writing whenever and wherever I can, on the notepad available in my phone. When inspiration hits, I immediately store them in writing using these apps so that I don’t miss the idea or forget them in the flow of work and day!

To help you write, do these things:

1. GATHER CONTENT – Intent or aspiration or desire alone is not enough to write. You need a storehouse to draw from and a knowledge bank to draw on. Without a repertoire of content your writing will be just hot air and not solid substance that people can read and relish. If your writing is like candy floss, spun thinly out of minutiae, then those who sample your wares will not greedy to return for more.

2. BE OBSERVANT – To have a wealth of content, you need to be perceptive. Watch life around you and note the complexities as well as patterns of its flow. There is ever so much happening around you and if you care to see, your writing will have richness and nuances. So teach yourself to be alert and perceive changes around you.

3. LEARN TO PONDER – Don’t just bypass life and be satisfied to watch it. Think on what you have observed or what you see around you. Weigh and assess the events, incidents and people. Let the wheels of your mind turn and exercise, chewing on the fodder it has ingested from the world around. Digest the lessons you learn from life you see , becoming knowledgeable in the general nuances of everything.

4. BE INQUISITIVE – Explore and investigate to learn instead of simply browsing or passing by. Go a little beyond the surface and be curious to unearth new treasures that become a stock to draw on. Grow your storehouse of knowledge by being a discoverer.

5. BE A NOTE TAKER – Jot down thoughts that crop up and points that surface as you pass through your day. Recognize a nugget of wisdom that pops up on your consciousness and immediately put it down. These are the beginnings of what might later become a profound insight, an article, a poem or even a book. Your writing begins here, by noting down random ideas.

6. CARRY AROUND WRITING TOOLS – Get used to having small jotters or notebooks along with a pen. Make use of the various notepads and writing apps freely available on every mobile and iPad. There are a number of note pads or word apps such as Evernote, Penzu etc available for immediate and easy use. Exploit the capability of these gadgets to use cloud facilities for accessing and transferring data among various devices.

7. REVIEW YOUR NOTES & HONE IN ON A THEME – Time and again go back and read what you have jotted down. Set apart a time to look at some of them to see if there is a trail of thought to follow. Pursue that trail and see if you can flesh it out with some research. You can also select a topic and see if you have anything noted down relating to the topic. Maybe a number of them can be clubbed together to be compiled as a post.

8. MIND YOUR LANGUAGE – Pay attention to sentence structure, grammar rules and avoid syntax errors while writing. Your ideas need to be encapsulated in beautiful wrapping to entice the reader to continue beyond the first look. Your language can be simple but it has to be error-free.

9. EVALUATE YOUR WORK – Allow proficient writers and other knowledgeable people to read, critique and correct your work. Invite comments and concerns from friends and family. Improve your writing by accepting instructive and constructive criticisms. Do not shy away from exposing your writing to people, for it cannot then progress.

10. DISSEMINATE AND DISPERSE YOUR WRITING – Post online in whatever social media you are active on. Circulate your work among those who will appreciate your maiden effort.

11. FIND A WRITING COMMUNITY – Be part of a writing group or a writers’ conclave for it will help you grow. They will encourage your many steps and you will learn by reading their works.

12. PERSIST AND PERSEVERE – Initially you may not be able to produce much, but don’t give up. Continue writing and keep on doing it until you find your niche in this world. Do not be discouraged that your writing doesn’t flow. In the beginning it will be hard, but as you continue to push on you are sure to hit a wellspring of words. Keep on, for writing is not a sprint but a marathon!

Life is dynamic and in motion, not static and stationary. It is constantly moving, evolving and growing. It throws up enough nuggets of worth, if one is alert and sharp to catch them. Even death is part of life, possessing a beauty worth viewing and a lesson worth learning.

Capture, if you can and will, its artistry and charm in your words.

Extract, exhibit and excite others with its elegancies through your writing!

*Pics courtesy: unsplash.com

HOW I BECAME A BLOGGER & A VLOGGER!

I always had the urge to write and in the time of postal mails, post boxes and postmen, I became the letter writer of the family. Those were the days when you would eagerly await the arrival of the mail men since it was the only means of long distance communication. Telephones were good for local and national use, but international calls were costly and laborious. With the advent of the internet, the joys and pleasures of receiving a much awaited post or letter has given place to instant and immediate connectivity.

When life became busy with work, marriage and raising a family, I did lose sight of writing or penning down thoughts and observations. However, the urge and the push to become a writer began to pulsate and grow in me. I did maintain a prayer journal and a biblical meditation notebook, but had no time to be a writer or an author.

A few years ago I intentionally set aside time, an hour or so per day, to write and also joined a writers group. I began progressing as someone who could articulate more through writing rather than by speech. In the beginning it was a struggle, but a time of breakthrough came, as though a dam broke and writing became very natural. I grew in leaps and bounds for it was as though I had touched and released an everflowing spring from deep with in.

I even published a book and made it available online via Amazon: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B078HC586X/ref=cm_sw_r_apa_i_CtvZEb4SVKAXC

As of now, I have more than two hundred articles published on my blog page: https://mullingspicewordpresscom.wordpress.com/

My blog posts began to get good response and I revelled in the return of this skill. Then I began to notice the impact of videos and the reactions they garnered. I learnt that the next big thing was video blogging, especially in view of rumours of major changes in the way Google and other search engines functioned. Though wanted to generate videos, I could not as I had no training nor the necessary infrastructure for it. I was at my wit’s end and reconciled to not produce videos when I came across an awesome tool for creating videos. A software, it enabled me to create videos of my blogs and other writing without the hassle of using a camera and other equipment t needed to produce videos.

This tool, basically developed as part of content development, is called Vidnami and was originally marketed as Content Samurai. The name Vidnami comes from combining the word “Video” and the Japanese word for wave “Nami” and it relates to the idea of using video to create a positive wave of influence in the world.

Vidnami is an online video creator software that allows you to produce easy, and professional-looking videos within short minutes. You can use it to create a quick video for social media sites, blog posts, influence videos, instant ads, sales videos, online courses, property listing.

When I started using I was thrilled by how detailed the instructions wereand how easy it was to use. From last November until now, I have created more than thirty videos with just my laptop or even my phone in use. I have posted them on my own channel in YouTube.

Here is the link to one of my videos: https://youtu.be/qA91YXxACCk

Yes, there is a cost involved in using this, but the benefits outweigh what you pay. I havd never regretted the investment since the creators keep upgrading and advancing its capabilities. Also,their support system is tremendous and their community encouraged new users. Being part of it has helped me grow and learn many new things.

The major plus point for me was that they did not demand my credit card or other payment details during the trial period.

Also, I was able to get 40% off because I used the link given by one their users. It was an awesome advantage and I was thrilled that it was a lifetime offer!

If you are a content writer or developer you would really benefit from this one. If you want to improve sales or you want to develope influencer video, this is your best option.

If you just want to learn something new or just experiment with something, this is the one app you need to access.

In this age where watching something takes precedence and priority over reading something, video making is surely something you need to learn. So do check out this great tool.

There is some good news about this software.

A new 14 day Vidnami free trial in play right now. Just use the link below to avail it.

https://vidnami.com/c/SABINA1-vn-freetrial

Be adventurous and experiment with this one.

Just give it a try for two weeks.

You won’t be disappointed!

*Pics courtesy: unsplash.com and google images

A NOTE ON PASSIVITY

Passive spirit vs meek and quiet spirit is about not being lazy but possessing a calmness that’s born of dependence and trust in God.

Violent vs being aggressive is about not being unruly but being militant to claim what rightfully belongs to you in Christ and not giving place to invasion and annexing by any other.

Passive spirit Vs Timely action is about not sitting down but acting on God’s word with quiet confident dependence on God that produces a stillness of heart and mind resulting in the fruit of the Spirit.

Wrath of man vs righteous anger is about not meekly submitting to injustice but rising up against unrighteousness to protect those who are weak and defenceless and as such unable to fight for themselves.

Passive spirit is dangerous for it opens the door for demonic oppression and possession, while an alert and renewing mind will bring sensitivity to His word and a yielding to His Spirit.

Passivity is lethargy that produces slow paralysis and make a person a burden for others to carry. Jesus told the paralytic, rise and take up your bed and walk, because the way to overcome deadening of limbs is action. For then new blood flows all over rousing the atrophied limbs that have been hibernating and new life rejuvenates you to surmount the bonds of death and decay.

Passivity is antithesis to being an overcomer and taking stand in the spirit. It is sleeping on the battlefield and resting when you should be fighting and defending your own, alongside with your comrades

Passive people are dead weights that a church/family/person have to carry, sapping the energy and strength that is sorely in need for others who desperately need us.

Difference between passive people and those who genuinely need us is that the former are people of potential who refuse to work and stir themselves up, while the latter try to help themselves inspite of their shortcomings.

You can identify such ones by the words they speak which will primarily be gossip since they have time to waste. Their negativity will drain you even your active spirit and most used part of their being would be their wrong thinking and their negative words.

Difference between being active and being activity-prone is that the former know when to what to do and to rest in quiet stillness. The latter are in constant pendulum-like motion that is ceaseless and create restlessness in others. Concept of Sabbath quietness is foreign to them and what makes them tick is fear not faith!

In the church, especially in counselling, it is important to understand these concepts and concerns. Such understanding will go a long way in being able to discern and help those who require unravelling of emotional knots and deliverance from crippling fears.

Let us be skillful surgeons and nurses in recovering and restoring emotional well-being and mental health!

*Photos from unsplash.com

TIPS TO DEVELOP GOOD ACUMEN FOR ONLINE SHOPPING

In these days of covid protocols and shutdowns, online shopping is the only option available

Shopping, be it through online sites or social media sellers or going to the malls or bazaars or other shops locations, is both an art and a science.

For me, shopping is an adventure, a hobby and one of the loves of my life! Over the years I have by experience and interest acquired the acumen for shopping both offline and online.

The major question that online shopping throws up is: how do we know that we are getting our money’s worth. This is especially tricky when you can’t touch, feel, test the fabric but only view and that too in a limited fashion. Not being able to physically interact the product could result in some missteps, but, by and large, you can get good stuff if you really using some determinants.

Here is a list to check off when you shop online:

  1. FIX A BUDGET THAT YOU WANT TO SHOP WITH as this will stop you from splurging too much. Determining the cost bracket of your product will help you seek the best deal within your means. The sky is the limit when you shop online and every search will throw up enticing bargains that are just outside your reach and you will be tempted to cross over. I always use the price option on the filters to limit my choices!
  2. SURF DIFFERENT ONLINE SHOPPING SITES TO COMPARE PRICES AND GOODS so as to get good bargains. Oftentimes, you can find a product marked slightly lower in another site than the one you usually shop on. I don’t mind browsing through couple of sites to get a good deal, similar to trudging up and down couple of shops to made a good deal.
  3. SPEND SOME TIME TO READ UP THE REVIEWS ON THE PRODUCT as this will help you fairly assess the worth of the product. As we cannot physically see or touch the product, this is the best way to enquire if the product is what the site says. People are quite willing to post reviews with pics and with their input you will be able to set your fears at rest. I generally look for 4 or 4.5 rating and/or photos of product posted by buyers since you get a real view of what you are about to purchase.
  4. LOOK TO SEE IF THERE IF THERE IS FREE DELIVERY since otherwise the total price on your detailed bill will be more than what you saw on the product. Recently, my mother saw 4 bedsheet sets being advertised on TV as costing Rs 999/- and thought it a good bargain. Yet when she called up to place the order, she was told that courier costs would be an extra Rs 200/-. She did not purchase the sheets as the delivery charge was as almost as much as another set or the cost of taking a cost to a local shop!
  5. CHECK OUT THE RETURN POLICIES AND PICKUP OPTIONS so that you can return product and reorder or get your money back in case of any hitches in delivery or damage to product or wrong product delivery. Most sites do oblige in this, but some sellers even on such sites mark their products not returnable. So watch out sharply for such notices and addendums. Many sites have their own certification placed on products and these actually are reliable to purchase. Some sites want you to mail it back to them, which means extra work for us.
  6. ANALYZE TO SEE WHICH SITE WORKS BEST FOR WHICH TYPE OF GOODS you want to purchase. I have actually isolated sites that are good for grocery and household items, others for clothing, still others for beauty products etc. This helps me identify where I need to look for bargains for the item or items I interested in buying, besides saving from over-analysing or expending energy unnecessarily!
  7. BE CAREFUL WHEN PURCHASING FROM SELLERS WHO ADVERTISE ON SOCIAL MEDIA because many of the earlier tips may be absent with them. I had a postman, while delivering a parcel, warn me of sellers on a particular social media as he had seen people being dumped with the wrong product. He told of how folks would lament to him about it and their inability to return it or get refunds. Proper shopping sites actually work better as they are quite authentic and mean what they say. That’s not to say you can’t buy from them as I actually got a good product at a very reasonable cost from couple of them.
  8. TAKE TIME TO WHET THOSE WHOSE GOODS CATCH YOUR EYES ON SOCIAL MEDIA by connecting as much as possible through personal messaging or whatsapp or other means. Some of them abscond, leaving you unable to get any response for your requests for exchange or money back. They bombard you with queries when they want you to buy and then abscond when you start bombarding them for returns, with even their sites having no proper communication links. So better to have some form of connectivity other than on social media and check for customer care options that will enable direct complaint and communication. I did buy from couple of sellers, but only after checking them out. They proved to be really good and I did get real bargains on authentic stuff!
  9. KNOW WHEN TO SHOP ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND WHEN TO BUY FROM SHOPPING SITES. During lean shopping seasons, sellers on social media actually offer lesser price than shopping sites for the same goods! I know it from experience and I was surprised to note the difference. The saree was marked higher on a shopping site and I opted to buy from a seller advertising on social media, resulting in acquiring a genuine product for a lesser price. During season, shopping sites offer better options, combos and gifts to buy from them, while social media sellers actually hike their prices during it!
  10. DO NOT SHOP ONLINE BUT OFFLINE DURING CERTAIN SEASONS. Times when people are on a shopping spree such as during festival seasons, auspicious marriage times, beginning of school year etc., the actual shops in bazaars and shopping centers offer better prices as well as discount sales. Make full use of them and real bargains and gifts thrown in, enjoying the festivity as a whole. I was surprised to find a saree I had purchased from a shopping site a month or so before a festival season marked with a much higher price on the same site!

Online shopping is like trading on the stock market or handling an investment portfolio – you must learn the basics of it. You must have enough comprehension to know when to buy and went not to, where to buy and where not to, how to buy and how not to, what to buy and what not to. You must have certain competence to not to get your fingers burned, confidence to take the right risks and complaisance to be able to absorb any losses that may occur in spite of your carefulness.

Play and pay within a small budget so that your risks are small. If you hit a snag or a loss, rather than bemoaning it or staying away from it, consider it as payment for a lesson learned in the process of becoming online shop savvy!

Online shopping is the only safe mode available in these pandemic period. May it be an enjoyable experience while it lasts!

*This post is available as a video in youtube. Please click the link: https://youtu.be/voSGMMzJgd8

*Pics courtesy unsplash.coml

PARENT LEADER OR SERVANT LEADER OR PROFESSIONAL LEADER

The often rehearsed concept and statement that we hear today, not just in Christian circles, but also in corporate sectors, is the term servant leadership. This has gained acceptance as contrast and as opposed to professional leadership.

A professional leader is there to extract work and treat his team or those who work under him as not deserving attention beyond what their work entitles. This means that his focus is on what they do and the results they produce. To him, they are just people who have been appointed to do a job and his work is to extract the desired outcome from them. His relationship is limited to the work sphere and his care of or over them is always in relation to that circle. To him or, they are slightly better than slaves, but hstill there to provide the service.

In contrast, servant leadership is ‘a leadership philosophy in which the main goal of the leader is to serve. This is different from traditional leadership where the leader’s main focus is the thriving of their company or organizations.’ Here the leader goes beyond the work sphere and comes into an understanding that his people are his to care for. He or she does not consider them as being there to serve him, but that he is there to serve them. The servant-leader steps into the personal space of his subordinate, not invading it, but seeking to build a relationship. Due to this, he or she is able to empathize not just criticise, working to produce results, not by a rod, but motivation and seeks to gain their trust.

For the professional leader, his management is a position and a vocation. To the servant leader, his administration is not a post, a vocation or even a style. It is a calling, stewardship and an influence!

There is a third higher and more noble leadership strain or trait that exists, especially in the Bible – that of parent leadership. 

The mark of a true parent is to desire the best for their child and they are most happy when the child grows beyond them. A parent is most happy when they see their child superseding them in achievement and overtaking their position. So also, a parent leader is one who is thrilled when his team member or subordinate or disciple outgrows him or her, to take on higher position and post. He or she is thrilled to have groomed them to that level and used the time given them to lay avoid foundation.

A parent thinks nothing of laying down his or her life for the sake of their child and will never crib one bit of sacrifice they make for their child. A parent is the one person in the whole wide world who never minds the cost involved and the price they pay for their child to rise to heights they weren’t or haven’t reached. So also, a parent leader welcomes the role he or she has played in the life of a trainee or apprentice that enables them to go beyond their level. In fact, they consider them the crown of their achievement.

A real parent is intuitively aware of their child’s strengths and weaknesses to at and then work on and with them in a way that fits that unique makeup. A parent then sets goals and milestones that challenge yet motivate their child, boosting their child in the right places and prodding them beyond their pain barrier until they inherit their destiny. A parent leader, likewise, is so able to assess their team members personality quirks and traits that they know what task to entrust to whom. They also know whom to push and prod, and whom to cajole and encourage in the process of getting the desired output.

A parent may feel and deal with their child in anger or with sorrow, but never will they give up on them. They will always accept and have a soft corner for their child irrespective of how many times they fail. Till the end, they will never give up on their child but always expect he or she will one day turn around. A parent leader, likewise, is ready to give their subordinate a second chance and in case they fail, they do not mind handing over their protégé to other leaders for his or her betterment.

A parent may expect returns or remuneration from their child, not as a right or as a payment for their work in reading them, but more as a token and an acknowledgement of their input in their child’s life. Their child’s growth and progress are all the thanks they need to know that they have been honoured. A parent leader does not feel neglected or sidelined when he is acknowledged for the role he played in his disciple’s achievement but will rest on the fact that his laurels are from the one who sees all and rewards openly.

Finally, a parent is never jealous of or in competition with his or her child, for he knows who he is and what role he has played, even when his child does not accept it. So also, a parent leader is never insecure that he has to fight to gain or hold his own. He rests in the satisfaction of a job well done and trust well completed.

Can there be such parent leaders and will we find them in this world?

Certainly and for sure, because there have been such people of old!

To be a parent leader needs guts, humility and compassion.

Which type of leader are you? What type of leader do you desire to be?

*Pics courtesy unsplash.com

IS IT TIME FOR GREAT THINGS?

The prophet Jeremiah in the Bible is one worth knowing about, especially in this unprecedented pandemic and total lockdown days. 

Born into a family of priests from the town of Anathoth in Benjamin, Jeremiah was the last prophet before the Kingdom of Judah was carried away into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Jeremiah is rightly called the prophet of doom tasked as he was with the message of imminent judgement. He had the unenviable burden of warning Judah of the immediacy of God’s judgement as well as the misfortune to see it happen in reality and actuality. It was during his lifetime itself that Judah was captured, it’s capital city destroyed and it’s subjects interred in Babylon. He was truly the Prophet of end times for the nation and had to live till his last breath among rebellious people who persisted in their defiance of God and His laws. 

Jeremiah is also called the Weeping Prophet for he was totally heartbroken with the message he had to preach and he was a true nationalist at heart. He suffered greatly at the hands of his countrymen because he wouldn’t preach a message that was favourable or palatable to them. He was called by God to sound the alarm of God’s judgement and His rejection of them as His people. He was one who paid the price for calling people to repentance, the most unpopular of almost all prophets because he preached an unpopular message!

Jeremiah’s companion and secretary, probably in his later years, was Baruch, son of Neriah, a young apprentice. Baruch was tasked with writing down all the prophecies of Jeremiah at the behest of God (Jer 36:2). Being privy to God’s prophetic utterance and the authentic knowledge of His plans put pressure on Baruch.  His association with Jeremiah affected him terribly for the message to his mentor, which he had to transcribe, was one of constant gloom and unrelenting doom. No wonder then God had to single him out to speak a very short, special and personal message in chapter 45 of the book of Jeremiah. 

For a young man, the death knell to his future and his plans for it would obviously be upsetting and terrifying. To be told that his world was going to end because of God’s decree of punishment would have rocked Baruch’s world and his visions of a rosy future! It was now his time to live and enjoy life, but what to do when God Himself was dismantling his world! The name Baruch means ‘blessed’, but Baruch probably felt cursed for being born into those times (Jer 45:3)!

Without mincing words, God tells Baruch “You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ But the Lord has told me to say to you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the earth. Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’ ”Jer 45:2‭-‬5. 

The key note to Baruch was “Is it time to seek great things for yourself”! The Message version puts it well “…forget about making big plans for yourself”! God tells him, ” I am going to overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted throughout the earth and you are worried about yourself!” Baruch was worried about his own life and bitter that his plans cannot be accomplished at a time when the whole world was being judged!

How like so many of us who, in these days, are frustrated and in despair because our dreams and well-laid-out plans for our future are falling apart and collapsing like a house of cards due to COVID! We are belligerent because we feel robbed and cheated of our rightful future. We had such hopes, not just for us, but also for our children, and now all of that had been swept away with one stroke of a pandemic! Some of us were galloping merrily along life’s path, progressing well, having a good life and then suddenly all of it has ground to a halt by a stupid pandemic!

God’s answer to Baruch is the answer for us today: Is this the time for such thoughts of self! Is it time to rue the ruin of our calculations for a secure future! Is it time to curse our ‘fate’ for being born in this generation! Is it the time to view with a sense of loss your ‘ill-luck’ for being in this season! 

No, it is not the time or season for us to sit down with our heads in our hands and think of what we have forfeited. Rather, it is the time to sit down and take stock of our priorities, our focus and assess where we are going. It is time to realign our priorities and decide what we will be following and doing. It is time to become committed and build our relationship with God, seeking wholeheartedly to follow His precepts and to live by His standards. It’s time to seek to do His will and hanker after eternal goals rather than simply targeting temporal things. It is time to be serious!

We are in a period when tragedy has impacted the whole world, an unprecedented happening. COVID has become an uncontrollable and unimaginable event of epic proportions, rendering everything uncertain and vulnerable. The only stable and sustaining factor of life is God with His constancy. He is the only Rock on which we can stand amid the sinking sand. He is the sole guarantee of our future in the midst of the question of what might happen next in this world!

It is very comforting to note that along with the prediction about their captivity and their exile from the land, Jeremiah also prophesied about their return from exile and their settling back in it. He even gave a timeline (70 years) for their return and a reason for it (the land had to have all the sabbath years it had not been given) Jer chapter 25!

Even in the midst of His judgments, God’s compassion and mercy cover us with His promise of return and restoration. It is in the book of Jeremiah that we read the famous oft-quoted words: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jer 29:11 NIV! 

God is not out to destroy us or our future, but to preserve our lives in all that may happen, whatever may hit this world before His future arrives and plans for us come to pass. That was God’s promise to Baruch in that special message to him: ‘Should you then seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them. For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.’ Jer 45:5 NIV. That was God’s Word to Baruch and it’s  His Word to us, a word of greatest comfort and anchor in troubled times!

May we use this time for a restoration of our love for God and a time of renewing our relationship with Him!

*Pics courtesy of unsplash.com and google images