I’ve been invited to write a journal this year as I move into the role of CEO at Stand Against Slavery (SAS), a Baptist justice initiative launched at Assembly in November 2013.
On 28 March 2014 I concluded a significant ministry leading an organisation that is nearly 130 years old, moving to one that is barely six months old. This shift in reality is massive. It’s scary and exciting at the same time.
Two things have demanded my attention lately – finishing well at NZBMS, and starting well at SAS.
The privileges I have enjoyed over the last eight and a half years are up for grabs as I get a new organisation up and running: the huge history and heritage, the well established robust systems, the people who know exactly what they are supposed to do and do it without much of my involvement, the relationships that have been forged around a common goal, and the very privileged platform on which to engage our Baptist constituency about God’s mission in the world. I have been the custodian of a very special treasure and I hand it on in the knowledge that God’s presence and grace have enabled me to serve Him and the Baptist Churches of New Zealand in this way. As I complete handovers to an incredible team I really do feel I am finishing well.
In starting SAS we find ourselves thinking about the branding of this great organisation, while cleaning down the walls of our new office space, wondering if a coat of paint might be in order; developing the marketing and advertising plan for our first major event (18-20 March in case you missed it) while making sure the rubbish gets into the wheely bin before it goes out each Tuesday; or discussing strategy for a meeting with a Cabinet Minister, while working out how to use the new printer. I think we are starting well.
I have gone from being focused primarily on mission, vision, future and leading an amazing team of seasoned professionals to coughing into existence something new, where our job descriptions are literally changing everyday. We are continually refining why we exist, who we serve, how we will help the New Zealand public to become active participants in abolishing slavery and the trading of slaves worldwide (including in New Zealand) and how we do all this through a sound biblical understanding of justice.
My calendar on 31 March 2014 had two entries:
- Start fulltime at SAS
- Tyburn Monastery (3 days)
I’ve been readying myself for an explosive start. When I read my calendar I’m symbolically positioning myself in the starting blocks waiting for the gun to sound in this new race. That will happen, but not in a manner you might normally expect of an enthusiastic leader.
I will begin my time in solitude and silence.
When I began my amazing ministry journey with NZBMS in November 2005, my first three days were spent in a little Benedictine Monastery in the Bombay Hills south of Auckland. I went there to exit the world and listen intently to what God was whispering in the wind. I wanted to make sure I gave God my undivided attention. It was an incredible time that is difficult to describe in a journal like this, except to say that God’s voice was clear and uninterrupted by the noise of humanity. I vowed then that I would continue this practice into the future. So if you couldn’t reach me between 31 March and 2 April, you know why… I was in a three-day meeting with God.
In my leadership studies we have recently been looking at the ideology and theology of character and leadership. The inner life of a leader is possibly the most important thing to get right before attempting anything else.
During April I’m having a party. My friends and Baptist colleagues will farewell me from my role as General Director. I can’t wait… it’s been a blast in every sense of the word. Stories will be told, tears will be shed and our sides will likely split from laughter. However, I can’t wait to get alone with God to thank Him for bringing me this far by His grace. What we celebrate in our inner life is more important than what we celebrate externally. Our outer life must mirror our inner life, not the other way round.
So I am both finishing and starting well and I look forward to sharing a little more of my journey with you throughout this year.
Until next month… fight for a slave-free world.
Contact Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit facebook.com/sasnz to keep informed.