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Be like Zacchaeus

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As we move through February the New Year is a fading memory for most of us, as are the New year’s Resolutions that some of us will have made.  Whether you decided to join the in Veganuary or lose weight after a large Christmas Lunch it is highly likely that the smell of a tempting bacon sandwich has put pay to your ideas of becoming a New Year vegan or lowering your pre-spring calorie intake.  Research suggests that by February some 64% of people abandon the commitments they made as Auld Lang Syne filled the air.

Sticking to a plan to change can be challenging at the best of times and New Year resolutions are often the hardest to keep.  Over half of people who make New Year’s resolutions make and break the same one year, after year.  Often when we set ourselves the challenge to make a positive change in our lives, we are too vague setting goals like, ‘be happier’ or ‘get fit’ that are hard to define success or see small steps to achieving the goal. The other main reason we fail is because we don’t climb a tree, but I’ll come to that in a moment.

I find the bible is full of helpful advice for everyday life, even those bits that are told as children’s stories. Take the story of Zacchaeus, a short, corrupt tax collector from Jericho.  Zacchaeus learned that Jesus the prophet was passing through the city.  Since Zacchaeus was "short in stature," he ran ahead of the crowd and climbed up into a sycamore tree to have a better view of Jesus.  When Jesus arrived, he noticed Zacchaeus in the tree and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today."  This made the crowd "grumble," as they had been the ones defrauded by Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus had decided to make a change and declared "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much." 
Zacchaeus made a resolution to change, it was very specific with measurable goals. To give to the poor, and to pay back four times.  Setting achievable, realistic, and measurable goals are key to making change happen in our lives.  Zacchaeus also climbed a tree.  His decision to change could be seen by others, there was no going back.  Psychologists call this having an accountability structure.  

If you have made a decision to make a change in your life this new year and have given up or are just finding it hard, let me encourage you to keep on going.  Maybe alter your goals to be smaller, focused, and achievable.  Swap get fitter, to walk for 20 minutes 4 days a week, then aim for 30.  Share your decisions to change with people that will support you and keep you accountable when you feel like giving up.  Looking to improve your well-being? Why not try the gathering place, our well-being group on a Wednesday afternoon?  No pressure just a relaxed space to be supported as you look to improve or overhaul your well-being. If change is possible a short corrupt tax collector, you can do it too.

 

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  • We are now providing:

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    Working alongside the combined churches in the village and key community leaders a small army of volunteers provided a joined up service for the most vulnerable and isolated during the first lockdown.
    Since then, support has continued to be provided through Assist.
     
    The 0333 772 6021 number is still active and CC@assistlincs.org.uk emails can still be used to request assistance as well as the main Assist contact details https://www.assistlincs.org.uk 01522 370164.
     
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    We are an organisation set up to facilitate support to those who have no one else to help them during times of difficulty or crisis. The Covid-19 response was co-ordinated through the local churches, the Parish Council and Community Members.
     

    We can:

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    As an organisation we will monitor the volume of requests being received and will look to increase capacity through volunteers as the need is understood.
     
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    If, however, you do want to volunteer please do contact us via contact@assistlincs.org.uk
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Vine Life

A collection of the latest news and articles from The Vine

  • The latest in leadership trends

     

     

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    I am, what is known as a co-vocational church leader, which means as well as pastoring the Vine I work in industry for some of the week too.  As part of my work in the world of commerce, I see the latest trends in leadership being touted as the way to transform your business, motivate your staff, and improve both productivity and the wellbeing of your workforce. Over time I have seen consultants spouting the benefits of 'authoritative leadership' or 'delegative approaches' to leadership. I have attended courses to develop a 'coaching style' of leadership, or whatever is the current leadership trend.  I raised a wry smile recently though as the ‘next best thing’ was declared: Servant Leadership.

    I smiled as I am pretty sure this has been around for a while and is not really a new thing in business.  I was also somewhat familiar with this idea of servant leadership in the context of my faith in Jesus, where it is a tried, trusted, and essential way of working.  

    Jesus served his friends as he washed their feet, highlighting the humility that should accompany leadership. In Galatians 5:13 believers are reminded “It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows.

    The end of this month and beginning of June sees the Platinum Jubilee, with a series of events and an extra bank holiday to celebrate not 70 years of the Queen being Queen, but as the official statement reads a ‘celebration to mark 70 years of service to the people of the UK, the Realms and Commonwealth.’  The Queen is and always has been a fan of servant leadership. 

    In her 1957 Christmas broadcast, Queen Elizabeth II conceded that she could no longer lead the nation in battle or give laws. “But I can do something else - I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations”.

    In a changing world, where the role of the Royal Family is questioned and the concept of the commonwealth is changing, the Queen has stuck to this concept of servant leadership as her core approach not just to her role as Queen but as a wife, a mother, a mother-in-law and a grandmother.

    Each of us is a leader in some way, either influencing those around us or in our families or simply choosing how we act ourselves – whatever your role I recommend following Jesus’ lead and like the Queen being a servant leader.

    Whether you are an avid fan of the Queen, a republican or somewhere between I pray you will get a chance to enjoy the extended break at the end of this month.

     

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  • Jesus wept, so did I.

    John 11:35, ‘Jesus wept’ is the shortest verse in the English translation of the bible.  Those words come as Jesus is speaking to two grieving sisters as they mourn the death of their brother and Jesus’ friend Lazarus.   A natural emotion born out of grief, a demonstration of humanity and compassion.

    I dare say that this month many of us have shed a tear or at least ‘had a speck of dust in our eye’ as we have watched the events in Ukraine unfold on our TVs and newspapers.  The injustice and suffering we have seen is at times a source of anger, frustration and grief that could bring most of us to tears even though we are not ‘living it’ or don’t have close contacts directly affected by this unjust war.

    For me, there have been three things that seem to have made my eyes leak. The first was the overwhelming generosity of people’s response to this crisis.  The sheer number of people and places that stepped up to act as collection points for essential items was amazing, the tireless efforts of a small number of individuals who have driven this effort are incredible and the amount of stuff collected was tremendous.  The compassion being shown by strangers from all walks of life amazed me. 

    The second thing that brought a tear was the number of nappies that were amongst the collected items.  A chilling reminder of the children that are caught up in this act of aggression.

    The third is the overwhelming nature of these events and seemingly how little we can do to change things and yet so many are trying. Some giving more than they can afford others putting their lives on the line.

    For those in the Ukraine Jesus words, ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (John 15:13) will have specific relevance as we approach Easter.  On Good Friday Christians across the world, will focus on the cross. As God’s own son dies so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life; a sacrifice for all humanity, a time that believers may, like Jesus, weep.  Sunday however brings joy as the result of that sacrifice, the victory of resurrection becomes known, weeping ceases and hope for a future returns.

    By the time you read this the fighting in Ukraine may have ceased (I pray it will have) but it is clear the humanitarian cost will still be ongoing.  For many in the region they will be left looking at their personal sacrifice and wondering where will hope come from.  I find hope comes from two places: my fellow humans, so please continue to give via local appeals or financially through the Disasters Emergency Committee (www.dec.org.uk); and my trust in God.  For this I simply pray 

    Almighty God, we pray for the continuing situation within Ukraine.  We pray for those who live in fear, that you may grant them peace. Lord, we ask that you raise up peacemakers on all sides, that war and violence might end and hope return.  Amen’.

     

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