As part of my Masters studies we have been talking recently about our timelines, phases and sub-phases in our lives and the transitions between these. These transitions are also referred to as boundaries. It is suggested that each of us has probably four major phases in our lives. The first Phase is our growing up and formation years; the second our transition to working/adult life; the third moving into significant life contribution prepared for us during phase 2; and the fourth being the twilight/reflective phase. Below is a reflection of the transition from Phase 1 to 2 and Phase 2 to 3 in my personal life dramatically centred around a note I wrote to myself at the age of nineteen. Enjoy…
Two months before my 20th birthday I sat down, pulled out a sheet of lined refill paper and titled it Peter Mihaere. It was the 4th of April 1983.
Near the top of the list I wrote, “Really would like to be in the army. In the army I would like to be SAS.”
A few years prior to this, while still in High School, I applied for a cadetship with the New Zealand Army and was turned down because I had applied a year too early. When I was in my 4th year at High School I applied to become an officer in the New Zealand Army and was accepted for, what was then called, a Regular Officer Selection Board (ROSB). After a week of exercises, tests and interviews, the recruiters said, “You are not a leader”, and did not believe I had the capability of being an army officer. I was turned down again.
Yet, three years later I still wanted to be in the army. Perhaps it was because my family were military. My father was an Engineer in the NZ Army. He was the first recorded Maori to be stationed in the Antarctica, for six months. He was also stationed twice in Thailand as part of a specialist team, teaching the Royal Thai Department of Highways how to build roads in the sixties and early seventies. The second time we went as a family and lived there for two and a half years. My Mums’ brother was a great friend of my Dad in the NZ Army, that’s how my Mum and Dad met. My Grandfather on my mother’s side was in the NZ Army based in NZ during WWII. My Great Grandfather, on my father’s side, served in WWI. So there is a military flavour in my family, and perhaps that is what drove a deep desire to join the military.
I don’t recall much about 1983 except that I was working in my first job at the Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune as a Publishers Assistant. That basically meant I got to learn how to count and get a daily newspaper distributed out across the Hawkes Bay region every afternoon, six days a week. When I wrote this I must have been looking for direction in my life. I lived away from home and was enjoying the freedom that comes with independence, money and no one telling me what I could or couldn’t do with my life, yet I was yearning for something.
What was clear at the time was that I wanted to be in the army still and if I did get into the army I wanted to be in the SAS (Special Air Service), the elite army division known all over the world for its ability to deliver on every mission given to it. I wanted to be part of that.
In 2013, thirty years later, when I was privately playing with the name Stand Against Slavery or SAS for short, I mused that my wish in 1983 had come true, albeit in a different uniform and for a very different mission.
Further down in my list I stated, “I also need God, as he is the only thing that can help me successfully. The biggest thing I need is the strength to stand as a Christian and the conscience and confidence in God’s Word”. I was clearly filled with conflict. I even called myself “a chicken” for not being the Christian I know I should have been. I needed God, but at that time in my life I wasn’t sure I trusted God and was, “too scared to trust God”. Yet the last few words on my list said, “Lord help me. Show me the way, Lord Jesus.”
There were a couple of other goals included on the list: “I wanted to be fit and lose weight”, yeah that never happened; “a nice, respected person in the community, a champion in life and I wanted to be the best in self-defence.”
I folded and hid this note for many years in the spine of a Living Bible my parents gave to me at Christmas in 1975.
As I look back after thirty years I say to that twenty-year-old young man…
Peter, you dreamed some dreams in 1983 and now I can tell you how you have done so far.
You did get into the army, not the NZ army, but God’s army and you have been a faithful soldier since 1985 when you moved from Hawkes Bay to Auckland where you met your wife to be. You became a willing servant at the Franklin Baptist Church and God used you in the music ministry and being a good friend to your Pastor. You Married Michele in April 1986 and have been happily married ever since. You continued to serve God in leadership at Franklin Baptist Church and then for 21 years in the Manukau Central Baptist Church, as you developed a career in Insurance, Administration and Human Resources within the Insurance and Telecommunications Industries. You have two beautiful daughters; Jamila who was born in 1993; and Shanae in 1998. You have been a champion in life and God has richly blessed you, well done.
Peter, from 2001 you had additional ministry responsibility in serving the Baptist denomination. You were elected onto one of the key denominational governance boards, Assembly Council, in 2001, and then worked for the Baptist Union of NZ from 2002 as a Church Consultant, working part-time. You became the co-leader of Manukau Central Baptist Church in 2003, responsible for leading the ministries of the church. In 2005 you were called to lead the New Zealand Baptist Missionary Society until March 2014. Peter you were a leader among leaders and you were well respected by a great number of leaders within the Baptist movement. You were also respected in the many countries you travelled to as part of your work. Well done Peter, those early army recruiters got it wrong, you can lead an army, but it’s the Lord’s Army that you were destined to lead, not a military army.
Oh, and here is the real kicker Peter. You know your desire to be in the SAS? Well you are the Founder and CEO of Stand Against Slavery, affectionately known as SAS. You made it young man you are SAS.
And what about that conscience, confidence and trust in God and his Word? All through the years you have faithfully kept Jesus at the centre of your life. You are studying at one of the most prestigious theological seminaries in the world, Fuller Theological Seminary, completing a Master of Arts in Global Leadership.
Peter, your trust in God is admired by others. Faith is one of your strongest spiritual gifts along with leadership and giving. You demonstrate your faith by trying to live as God had always intended you to live. Sure, you have made plenty of mistakes and you have sinned on an almost daily basis, but you have hung in there, you have stayed the course in your trust and faith in God. Jesus helped you along the way and I’m pretty sure he looks down, smiles, and thinks you’re a pretty alright kind of guy.
Lastly Peter, your life has been a window with God’s light shining out from it. Recently I received this Facebook message from a relative:
“Hi Peter. I have been following your words of wisdom for a while thru Facebook and very proud of how you touch so many people’s lives. I see a beautiful spirit that dwells in you and your family as well as your siblings. I have been a Mormon all my life and have never felt anything like I do now. I have been born again for a month now and just getting to know Jesus. It has brought so much comfort to my life. You had beautiful parents Peter who taught you well. Just wanted you to know that you are a great inspiration to me xxxx.”
And you responded…
“Kia ora, What a blessing to hear from you. As you get to know Jesus more and more may his peace continue to equip and bless you. I am humbled if you have been inspired by my life. I give glory to Christ who is my guide. Blessings upon you. Give my love to your whanau and especially to Uncle.”
Young man, it has been a privilege to look back and give you a report on how you have done since that note of April 1983, I pray we have a few more years yet. God has got me fit and fighting in SAS and I am full of deep joy even though it is a very difficult and tough task God has got for me. But I march on, standing against slavery for as long as God wants me. The Lord helped you and Jesus showed you the way Peter, and he continues to do so today.
I write this reflection two years after a major boundary transition between Phase 2 and Phase 3. I wrote the words on the lined refill pad two years before the major boundary transition between Phase 1 and Phase 2. My life has been a series of convergences and this period of my life is very poignant given the topics we have been studying. As I shared with my group Phase 3 and Phase 4 almost run parallel to one another because of the history of my family health. On my father’s side, many of the men have died from heart disease between the ages of 47 and 62, including my father and grandfather.
There is still much for me to learn, much to be forgiven for, and much to do in serving God, so lets hope I have my Mums heart and live to be an old old man!
A student of leadership
9 August 2014.