Friday, June 28, 2013

Sharing godliness goals - counterproductive?

TED wisdom:

Everyone, please think of your biggest personal goal. For real -- you can take a second. You've got to feel this to learn it. Take a few seconds and think of your personal biggest goal, okay? Imagine deciding right now that you're going to do it. Imagine telling someone that you meet today what you're going to do. Imagine their congratulations and their high image of you. Doesn't it feel good to say it out loud? Don't you feel one step closer already,like it's already becoming part of your identity?

Well, bad news: you should have kept your mouth shut, because that good feeling now will make you less likely to do it. Repeated psychology tests have proven that telling someone your goal makes it less likely to happen. Any time you have a goal, there are some steps that need to be done, some work that needs to be done in order to achieve it. Ideally, you would not be satisfied until you had actually done the work. But when you tell someone your goal and they acknowledge it, psychologists have found that it's called a "social reality." The mind is kind of tricked into feeling that it's already done. And then, because you felt that satisfaction, you're less motivated to do the actual hard work necessary. (Laughter) So this goes against the conventional wisdom that we should tell our friends our goals, right -- so they hold us to it.

So, let's look at the proof. 1926, Kurt Lewin, founder of social psychology, called this "substitution." 1933, Vera Mahler found, when it was acknowledged by others, it felt real in the mind. 1982, Peter Gollwitzer wrote a whole book about this and in 2009, he did some new tests that were published.

It goes like this: 163 people across four separate tests -- everyone wrote down their personal goal. Then half of them announced their commitment to this goal to the room, and half didn't. Then everyone was given 45 minutes of work that would directly lead them towards their goal, but they were told that they could stop at any time. Now, those who kept their mouths shut worked the entire 45 minutes, on average, and when asked afterwards,said that they felt that they had a long way to go still to achieve their goal. But those who had announced it quit after only 33 minutes, on average, and when asked afterwards, said that they felt much closer to achieving their goal.

So, if this is true, what can we do? Well, you could resist the temptation to announce your goal. You can delay the gratification that the social acknowledgement brings, and you can understand that your mind mistakes the talking for the doing. But if you do need to talk about something, you can state it in a way that gives you no satisfaction, such as, "I really want to run this marathon, so I need to train five times a week and kick my ass if I don't, okay?"

So audience, next time you're tempted to tell someone your goal, what will you say? (Silence) Exactly, well done.

My question: By sharing our godliness goals in bible study groups (ie. gossip less, read bible more) are we shooting ourselves in the feet?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Attention supply teachers!

Or normal teachers, or RE teachers...

I want to tell you about a game that can bring joy to the most trying class. It takes no equipment. It takes no preparation. It works 100% of the time. It is a gift to us all.

The game? Silly Sausage.

It has no educational value (you can tell the kids this - it will make them want to play even more!)

You get 2 kids and stand them facing each other about 5m apart. One says 'silly' and the other responds with 'sausage'. If one of them laughs or smiles, then they are out and replaced with another kid. If neither laughs, they both take a step forward (towards each other) and say it again and again. The rest of the class watch on silently and point if either kid smiles. Most kids last for about 2 seconds, but if they keep a straight face, they keep on taking steps forward until they are about 20cm apart. The kids keep count of how many other kids they 'defeat'. The child with the most victories after everyone has had a turn plays against the kid who is left in at the end, and a winner is announced.

See? Absolutely no educational value.

But it's gold. Here's how it works:

1. You walk in to a class of random kids who are planning on misbehaving for you and tell them that after they've done their maths (or whatever) you'll all play a game. Stress that you don't cope with noise at all and they'll have to work in absolute silence. Be a cow and follow through on this. Warn kids once, then move them. Take on the kid who takes you on. Win. Make the kids work silently. "I'm sorry. I don't handle noise. You have to be quiet."

2. Introduce the game. Tell them again that it has no educational value. Explain how to play. Demonstrate (it's fine/good if you lose and laugh. The kids will like that.)

3. Play the game. Notice how:
- the kids who gave you the most trouble during the maths are the best at the game? (Silly Sausage favours ASD.) Build them up with this. Tell them that if they work well in English they can have a rematch.
- It is a good team building game. People look closely at each other's faces and notice the smallest changes in expression. People feel accepted.
- Everyone laughs. When one person laughs, everyone else joins in. There's lots of happy hormones flying around the room. It's a great release.
- Suddenly all the kids like you. All your cow like insisting-on-quiet behaviour is forgotten. You are the teacher who gave everyone good feelings.
-The kids are happy to work silently on their English for the next hour.

Silly Sausage. Golden game. Everyone wins.

"Known Unto God"

Service to commemorate drowned asylum seekers. I wish I could be there.

Ancient words ever true

A Catholic school choir sang this song at the eisteddfod yesterday. I'm sure that most of them didn't believe a word of it, but I felt it when they sang it.

Ancient words, ever true

Holy words long preserved
for our walk in this world,
They resound with God's own heart.
Oh let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e'er we roam
Ancient words will guide us Home.

Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you,
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world.
They resound with God's own heart
Oh let the ancient words impart.

We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart

Michael W. Smith

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

politician's salaries

Today I had a conversation with someone who plans to vote for Clive Palmer's party in the coming election. This was the first time I've met a Palmer supporter in the flesh and it was an interesting experience. A big issue for her is the obscene amount of money that politicians are paid. In her mind, politicians don't deserve pay rises and shouldn't get any 'perks'. They are already ridiculously overpaid.

Her comments have gotten me thinking. Why does she have a problem with what politicians are paid but no problem with what Clive Palmer earns? CP earns the PM's annual salary in around about 1 hour (according to the billionaire wealth calculator)!

Here are my thoughts.

1. Politicians market themselves as being like 'the rest of us'. Being too 'other' is not a vote winner.
2. Politicians are like 'the rest of us' in that they have 2 arms and 2 legs, but apart from that, they are not like many of us. They work long hours - much longer than the average shop keeper, they have lots of responsibility, they are generally well educated and have a drivenness about them that would give them big earning potential in the private sector.
3. People buy the propaganda and don't see the very real differences between their work and the work that politicians do.
4. Because politicians are 'like us', they should be paid 'like us'. And for this woman, that would mean a salary well under 50k.
5. It hurts us when people 'like us' get paid much more than us. We feel cheated. It's like we are in competition with them and we're losing.
6. Mining magnates are not 'like us'. They never said they were and it's obvious to us that they're not. Because of this we don't feel cheated when they are paid more than us. They are playing a different game.

It's all very curious. I think politicians have a dreadful job. However much you paid me, I'd never do it.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How to have a decent marriage 101

1. Use your manners. Say please and thank you. Listen to each other. Don’t speak over each other. Use gentle and kind words. No name calling, yelling or insulting. No put downs.

2. No punching, hitting, kicking, pushing or other physically threatening behaviour ever.

3. Don’t try to control one another. You are both grown ups and can be trusted to make decisions.

4. When you are feeling down or anxious or lonely or stressed, don’t self medicate with alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, shopping or an affair.

5. Don’t take revenge on your spouse.

6. Overlook whatever annoyances you can. Things don’t have to be a big deal.

7. Forgive offences that you can't just overlook. Remember that you have been forgiven for so much. Pass it on to your spouse.

8. If you are having issues that you can’t quickly work through, go and get help. Everyone should have a good counsellor's number ready just in case it's needed. Better to ask for help too soon than too late.

Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm playing 'pick the christians' in the coffee shop.

Yes and yes.

2 tables.

"By their loud voices you will know them."

Sunday, June 16, 2013

5 thoughts on 'the newsroom'

1. It's excellent that we get to live the Josh-Donna thing again. Seven series of UST was barely enough.

2. It's also great that we get to redo the Harriet-Matt thing. It finished way too fast in Studio 60 because the show was axed. Let's be thankful it'll be drawn out for more than a single season this time.

3. Good to see Leo again. He shouldn't drink so much this time around and he should try to relax more.

4. This time the main character is a republican so that goes to show how bipartisan Sorkin is. Really it does. It really does.

5. I'm sorry I showed so little self control in watching this series. It's all over in under 2 days and I'm suffering for it. I'm feeling way too righteous...

Friday, June 14, 2013

Things that get my goat #96

Telling children that they are 'cute'.

'Cute' is meaningless praise. What can a kid do with it? Try to be cute some more? Cute is only cute when it's unintentional. Forced 'cuteness' is horrible. And cute isn't a virtue anyway. The word can be used to mean naughty or pretty or charming or childishly amusing - none of which are particularly praiseworthy.

Cute is condescending. My dog is cute. Children are complex, wonderful, interesting little people with eternal souls and the potential for deep thoughts, powerful feelings, new ideas and brave and selfless acts.

Cute doesn't really cut it.

(But yes. I've called my kids 'cute' too.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Archbishop Questions

I'm not special* enough to go to a 'meet Rick' info night. But if I was, I'd put these questions to Rick. And to Glenn as well.

1. What do you see as the primary role of the Archbishop of Sydney?

2. While the Sydney diocese is strongly evangelical, there are lots of different flavours of evangelical within it. Some people prefer prayer book services, while others are drawn to more contemporary meetings. Some people like homogenous group churches while others think it better to have multi-ethnic, multi-age meetings. Some people are committed to an exclusively male pulpit, others are fine with women preaching occasionally. You will, of course, have your own opinions on many matters, but how would you, as Archbishop, work with those who have different opinions to you? Have you had to do this in the past?

3. What are your thoughts on the place of caring for the sick and needy in society? Does having a keen interest in social welfare pose a threat to our evangelistic mission? [I'd like to hear both men on this, but especially Rick because of what he said here (24 mins in) about how writers like Tim Keller and Chris Wright can make us 'add to the gospel'.)

4. What's your vision for the diocese of Sydney?

5. If same sex marriage was passed by Australian Law and you were called up for a TV interview to talk about the subject, what would you say. (3 points)

6. A charismatic, a high churchman and a low churchman walk into a bar. What happens next?

7. What should be centralised? What shouldn't be?

* I'm not on Synod, I'm not an Anglican and I don't live in Sydney!

Saturday, June 8, 2013


I've been following the story of this little boy for a couple of years now. Karen knows the family.

He died this morning.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Who Would Have Thought - Draft 20

Hopefully this is the one!

Who Would Have Thought (Lift High The Cross)

Who would have thought the schemes of man
Could bring about our father’s plans?
Who would have thought that rage and spite
Would work for good and bring us life?

Who would have thought the cursed cross
sin’s bitter wage, the hangman’s tree
Would be our joy and our delight
the flag, the glory of the free?

Lift high the cross
Sing out Jesus’ name
Lift it up, sing it out
It's God's power to save.

Lift high the cross
Sing out Jesus’ name
Lift it up, sing it out
Praise his glorious name!

Who would have thought the Lord of life
could lie so helpless in the grave?
Who would have thought that out of death
would come God’s mighty power to save?

Repeat Chorus

No eye had seen
No mind conceived
No heart had dreamed
Who would have believed?

Repeat Chorus

Who would have thought this broken heart
could be renewed and purified
Praise be to Christ, this dying frame
will rise and gain eternal life!

sar 2013

Who would have thought (draft 15)

Who would have thought the schemes of man
Could bring about our father’s plans?
Who would have thought that rage and spite
Would work for good and bring us life?

Who would have thought the cursed cross
sin’s bitter wage, the hangman’s tree
Would be our joy and our delight
the flag, the glory of the free?

Jesus, no heart had dreamed your saving plan
Jesus, reconciling God and man
Jesus, glory follows pain
The cross, the power of God to save!

Who would have thought the Lord of life
could lie so helpless in the grave?
Who would have thought that out of death
would come God’s mighty power to save?

[repeat ch]

Who would have thought my sin stained soul
could be forgiven, pure and white?
Praise be to Christ, this dying flesh 
will rise and gain eternal life!

[repeat ch]

sar 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Oh no!

I'm trying to write something and I realise I've just broken 5 of my own 10 songwriting rules! (numbers 1, 2, 7, 9 and 10)

command A
command delete

Who Would Have Thought (rewrite)

Who would have thought the schemes of man
Could bring about our father’s plans?
Who would have thought that rage and strife
Would work for good and bring us life?

Who would have thought the cursed cross,
sin’s bitter wage, the hangman’s tree,
Would be our joy and our delight
the flag, the glory of the free?

Who would have thought the Lord of life
could lie so helpless in the grave?
Who would have thought that out of death
would come God’s mighty power to save?

sar 2013

Still needs a chorus.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Five inanimate objects that I love

1. My viola
2. My lovely BAM viola case.
3. My MacBook
4. My mobile internet dongle thingy.
5. My Assam Bold tea bags


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

DISC Personality Test


Describes the way you deal with problems, assert yourself and control situations.


Describes the way you deal with people, the way you communicate and relate to others.


Describes your temperament - patience, persistence, and thoughtfulness


Describes how you approach and organize your activity, procedures and responsibilities.

Your DISC personality type

Your unique sequence of scores characterizes you in a specific way. The positive impact you are likely to make on people is:
You have a strong inner motivation to influence people and circumstances. You thrive on competitive situations and challenging assignments.
The stresses and pressures of everyday work and life are unlikely to reduce your effectiveness and enthusiasm.


Have I mentioned before that I love these things? Selfish reasons yes, but I'm interested in your profile too! Free test here.

h/t Mikey

Monday, June 3, 2013

My ideal job. Want to employ me?

I would really like a job as an ideas person. I could work for a company or a church organisation. Here’s how it would work.
You call me up and tell me what you’re thinking about. I’m genuinely interested in what you‘re thinking about if it is about company/ministry strategy, your direction in life, managing the politics of a situation, personal stress, what the bible says about something, working with others etc etc. I’ll listen and reflect back to you what you are saying and help you clarify your thoughts. Maybe I’ll think of a good way of expressing it as a diagram or in some nice words. Perhaps I’ll help you come up with a creative solution. You’ll feel better because you’ve talked it out and understand what you are thinking better. I’ll be excited because I’ve had the opportunity to think about something new and create something - even if it’s just a few words that really nail your feelings.
So. Any big rich organisation want to employ me?

An excellent idea: A short women's conference

Not a conference for short women. A conference that goes on for a short amount of time.

I've spoken at 2 church women's days in the last month or so. Both were well attended and very well organised and I enjoyed them both. But one went on for 6-7 hours and one went on for 3 hours.

The long one was for church women and their friends. It started at 9am with a craft session followed by morning tea, a longish presentation about a worthy christian cause, another craft session, a fabulous lunch, a 12 minute bible talk (my part!), another craft session and afternoon tea.

The 3 hour one was for church women. It had a song, a couple of testimonies, a bible reading and a 25 minute talk, a fantastic hour for lunch and chatting, a musical item, another bible reading and 15 minute talk, a couple of discussion questions and that was it. People could hang around afterwards for afternoon tea if they wanted to.

Just about every woman in the church (young, old and in-between) came to the 3 hour women's conference. A narrower cross section came to the longer day and many left at lunch time (before my talk (sob sob)).

Last year I spoke at a long women's day specifically for Christian women (6-7 hours). I did 3 talks. There was also a long (30+ minutes) book review, 2 long (30+ minutes) talks on worthy causes and a testimony or two. People were struggling in the after lunch session. Older women were well represented and stayed all day but many younger women with kids and sport and stuff either only came for some of the time or didn't come at all.

There's a place for long and short events, but having experienced both recently I'm a fan of the shorter variety. A wider variety of women come, there's a higher percentage of time spent in the bible and there's no need to pad out the program with extras. You?

How to be a git on a Jetstar plane.

1. Don’t put your feet on the floor. Put them on the back of the seat in front of you. Push the seat every 10 seconds. 

2. Recline your seat. You’re allowed to, so do it! Don’t worry about how cramped Jetstar planes are anyway. The guy behind you won’t mind being sliced in two by his tray table every time you wriggle. 

3. Talk in a loud voice to your friends across the aisle and one row behind. Other people won't mind.


I flew to Cairns and back this weekend. One of the things I read on the flight was ‘Gifts Differing - Understanding Personality Types’ by the Myers Briggs people. 
Something that occured to me was how Getting Things Done and other books like it are all written by strongly ‘judging’ types (rather than ‘perceiving’ types). Read the descriptions:
“[Judging types] are more decisive than curious. [They] live according to plans, standards, and customs not easily or lightly set aside, to which the situation of the moment must, if possible, be made to conform. [They] make a very definite choice among life’s possibilities, but may not appreciate or utilize unexpected, unplanned and incidental happenings. ... [Judging types] like to have matters settled and decided as promptly as possible so that they will know what is going to happen and can plan for it and be prepared for it. [They] think or feel that they know what other people ought to do about almost everything, and are not averse to telling them. [They] take real pleasure in getting something finished, out of the way, and off their minds.”
Perceptive types, however, “are most curious than decisive. [They] live according to the situation of the moment and adjust themselves easily to the accidental and the unexpected. ... Being empirical, they depend of the readiness for anything and everything to bring them a constant flow of new experiences-- much more than they can digest or use. [They] like to keep decisions open as long as possible before doing anything irrevocable, because they don’t know nearly enough about it yet. ... [They] take great pleasure in starting something new, until the newness wears off. [They] aim to miss nothing [and] are inclined to regard the judging types as only half living.”
I wonder how much the aim of GTD etc is to turn perceiving types into judging types. Because that ain’t going to happen. Sure, you can pick up a couple of tricks (which is great), but perceptive types aren’t going to alter the basic bent of their personalities. Nor should they try to. If we were all judging types, a whole lot more would get done, but none of it would be interesting or particularly well informed.