3 lessons we can learn from Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a fascinating character – he’s seen as one of the most influential people of the last three decades. He’s changed the way that computing and technology intersects with the liberal arts street as he so often used to put it.

I love to read good biographies and I am fascinated by people’s stories. Not even necessarily famous people or key world leaders, I just love the story of someone’s life. Walter Isaacson does a fantastic job of truly getting underneath the surface of Steve Jobs – sharing the story, the values, the highs and the lows.

A few things jumped out at me:

FOCUS

Steve Jobs consistently developed news ideas, but it seems that very few of the ideas that and the brilliant Jony Ive (his main designer) came up with made it to even board level, let alone a product for consumers.

Too often I think in the church we try to use every idea for fear of missing an opportunity – we sometimes need to be pickier about the quality of those ideas. Equally, don’t be afraid of the radical ideas – the iPhone, the iPad, Pixar and Apple Stores were all ideas that were revolutionary in their own way – pushing the edge of our normal understanding.

TEAMS WORKING TOGETHER

Jobs didn’t organize Apple into separate divisions like, for example, Sony or Philips, instead he pushed his teams to work together under the one profit and loss line. My experience of working in the church is that we’re very quick to adopt a business model of silos: children’s and youth, worship, pastoral care, teaching, work with older people all have separate teams.

Instead, we need to be clear that whilst there are experts working in their own field that people must contribute to the one profit and loss for the company – we must contribute and work together for the vision and goals of the organization. Jobs uses to use phrases such as “deep collaboration” and “concurrent engineering” to describe the process. I’m deeply passionate that we need to see more of this in the 21st century church.

HAVE CONFIDENCE IN WHAT YOU’RE DEVELOPING

In today’s consumeristic world there’s a lot of focus on giving the customers what they want. Jobs challenged that. He took a quote from Henry Ford: “If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, ‘A faster horse!’”. Jobs believed that people don’t know what they want until you show it to them and that’s why he didn’t place a large emphasis on market research.

Too often in youth ministry we’re tempted to swing from one iniative to the next trying to find the magic formula to get lots of young people to come to Christ and then grow in discipleship. Instead, Jobs believes that our task is to read things that are not yet on the page and that’s what youth ministry needs to be for the church – the prophetic voice that shows what the church should look like.

Leaders in business and politics have lots of to teach us, and we shouldn’t be afraid to learn from these leaders, but we also need to be clear that church isn’t an organization that can be run in the way a business or government can. Church has very different priorities, especially around values, in comparison with those organisations.

If you haven’t read Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson then do get a copy – it’s a fascinating insight into the change in technology and the arts that’s happened in the last 30 years.

A’ Level Results – how to help your child

Exam results

Here are some top tips on dealing with disappointing results:

For parents:

  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the results, either before or after.
  • Don’t shy away from the disappointment your child is feeling. Encourage him or her to talk about it.
  • Keep talking about the many possible future paths available.
  • Emphasise how hard they’ve tried and the work they’ve put in – and why this shows they have qualities that can take them far.
  • Explain – preferably with real examples – that many successful people have taken “a zig-zag route” to reach their goals.

For students:

  • If you’re worried, don’t wait till the last minute. Ring up and ask for an appointment with your tutor or careers adviser to look at options in case you drop a grade, so you have a real plan B. Find out too if there’s someone you can talk to at school or college in the days and weeks after results.
  • Be aware of the hype around A-levels day – TV images of ecstatic students, for example – which can inflate the importance of the results beyond the reality.
  • Develop a broader perspective on your future – talk to your friends, your family and especially your teachers or tutors, who may be well placed to help you think about alternative but equally rewarding ways forward.
  • Plan to do something positive on results day, whatever your grades. And stay in touch with people, to remind yourself that there is more to life than A-levels.

Clearing 2014 – A step-by-step guide

Ucas

Around 300,000 students will receive their A-level results on Thursday, and like every year, thousands of students will suddenly find themselves thrown into the Clearing system.

If you are among them, remember – ending up in Clearing is no reason to panic. University Clearing is there for anyone who has applied through Ucas but is without a place after receiving their results, whatever the reason.  Last year almost 52,000 people obtained a university place this way, so there is a good chance you will too, provided you are flexible and get your research right.

Here is a simple, step-by-step guide to Clearing should you need to get involved on results day:

1. Check Track

On the morning of results day, log in to Track on the Ucas website to see if you are eligible for Clearing. It’s a myth that Track is updated at midnight on results day. Only the Clearing 2014 Vacancy Search goes live at midnight; Track opens at around 8am.

2. Browse courses

You can browse Clearing 2014 vacancies at any time on results day, but you can’t make a formal choice until around 5.00pm when, if you’re eligible, an “add Clearing choice” button appears on your Track “choices” screen. However, you should call universities or colleges much earlier in the day to secure a provisional offer. Discuss your options with those who know your academic background and have been advising you up to this point. You might also find it helpful to talk to careers advisers on the Exam Results Helpline (0808 100 8000).

3. Be ready to act fast

Vacancies can be filled extremely quickly, and if you’re not around at the start of Clearing places on your chosen courses may have gone by the time you call the universities or colleges. Admissions staff will want to speak to you, not your parents or advisers.

4. Prepare to contact admissions staff

When you have found a course you like, call the university’s admissions office to confirm that places are still available and discuss the course demands. You should prepare for that phone call as seriously as for a job interview. Be ready to ask tutors intelligent questions about the course requirements, and make sure you are a good fit for them. You might want to ask how the course is taught, what assessment model is used, what materials you’ll need to supply, and about the accommodation arrangements. Admissions staff will ask for your personal ID and Clearing number to confirm they can consider you in Clearing (you’ll find these on the “welcome” and “choices” pages in Track). They can then view your complete application immediately on Ucas’s secure online system.

5. Add a Clearing choice in Track

If an admissions tutor offers you a provisional place, you’ll probably be given a deadline for making a formal commitment to the course by adding a Clearing choice on Track. You can only make one choice at a time. Before accepting an offer, research the course requirements and university carefully. You are committing to years of study and should feel confident that you’re doing the right thing.

6. Confirm or pick another course

Ucas tells the institution that you have entered its details on Track. If you are successful, you will see the acceptance in the “choices” section and Ucas will send you a letter confirming your place and giving further guidance. If you aren’t successful the “add Clearing choice” button will be reactivated so you can add another choice, and still more if necessary up until October 22. Vacancies in Clearing are a shifting landscape as people turn down offers and places are filled, so keep looking at the lists.

7. Consider applying again next year

If you can’t find a course in Clearing that matches your aspirations you can always apply again for next year. Courses for 2014 are already available to browse on the Ucas website. You can start work on your new application right now, although you won’t be able to submit it until mid-September.

John Orchard a friend who is the Education Outreach Officer at the University of Essex, wrote some comments from his perspective as someone who works at a university and will be answering clearing phone calls this week:

  • It is SO important to read up on courses and universities BEFORE making any phone calls. We don’t mind answering specific questions but it’s really important that students have a good idea of what they’re applying for before they ring.
  • If you’re applying to a university through clearing find out if they have a clearing open day or tours running and make it a priority to go if at all possible.
  • Please be patient with us. We will process applications and get a response to you as soon as we can Sometimes taking time out to reflect and re-applying the following year is the best thing. Rushed decisions are more likely to be wrong decisions.
  • Please be patient with us. We will process applications and get a response to you as soon as we can”

Praying with loom bands

Loom-bands_article_image

Loved the article on Praying with Loom Bands over at Childrenswork Magazine, especially this idea:

Praying for the world

Choose three colours of band – one colour to represent you, one to represent your country and one to represent the world.

Using the single-linked method to make a band with alternating colours or with a block of each colour (as shown above). Add the link to make a bracelet and use it as a prayer bracelet – praying for each person or group as you move from colour to colour around the bracelet, or block of colour to block of colour.

Go check out the full article for more suggestions.

New resource to help us love our neighbours from different faiths

P&E logo

From Toby Haworth:

I’m writing to introduce to you the new website for Presence and Engagement - http://www.presenceandengagement.org.uk/, which you may of course have already visited since it went live a few weeks ago. The website aims to bring together resources for clergy, congregations, chaplaincies and schools who want to follow Jesus in loving their neighbours of different faiths.

Key features include religious demographic statistics from the 2011 Census mapped to dioceses and parishes which can be used as a tool in developing strategies for inter faith engagement. Other parts of the website provide stories and other resources for that engagement.

We intend the P&E blog to be a place for lively and thoughtful debate about inter religious issues and events which overlap with the Church’s work in our multi faith society. For example, a recent blog post from Birmingham (also published in the Church Times) focussed on the Trojan Horse investigations.

Please do be in contact with me if you would like to offer a blog post, update us on particular work in which you’re engaged or with any feedback on the website in general.

This comes with my warm good wishes,

Toby

The Revd Canon Dr Toby Howarth | Secretary for Inter Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and
National Inter Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England
Lambeth Palace, London SE1 7JU | Tel: + 44 (0)20 7898 1475 | Mobile: 07811 467 999
toby.howarth@lambethpalace.org.uk | http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org

Mental health schemes to give early help to teenagers

Funding mental health

New mental health projects across England will help school pupils to deal with their problems and worries after receiving almost £5m of development funding from the Big Lottery Fund.

The funding means that pupils in a number of areas across the country will take part in pilot projects in the new school year. The area partnerships will use this pilot to work up long term plans that could then benefit from a multi-million pound share of HeadStart funding.

The areas receiving grants of £500,000 are Middlesbrough, Cumbria, Blackpool, Knowsley, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Southampton, Kent, Cornwall and the London Borough of Lewisham. The partnerships in these areas will bring together a key mix of young people, youth workers, charities, health commissioners, parents, teachers, GPs and local authorities to address the various factors that influence a young person’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

The statistics on child mental health make stark reading. Among teenagers, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70% in the past 25 years while  one in 10 young people – so approximately three in every classroom – has a clinically diagnosable mental health problem.

A previous YouGov survey for the Big Lottery Fund revealed that 45 per cent of children aged 10-14 have reported being unable to sleep because of stress or worry, with fifty nine per cent saying they feel worried or sad at least once a week. However, only around 25 per cent of young people needing treatment for mental health problems actually receive it and usually only once they reach 18.

The HeadStart programme aims to develop ways of dealing with mental health issues before they become deep-rooted problems. Focussing primarily on schools, the HeadStart partners will offer a range of approaches, including peer mentoring, mental health ‘first aid’ training, online portals and special resilience lessons helping pupils aged 10-14 feel they have support at in the classroom as well as at home and tackling the stigma that can often surround the issues of mental health.

Angie Hart, Professor of Child, Family and Community Health at the University of Brighton, co-Director of Boingboing Social Enterprise and HeadStart advisor, said:

“Good mental and emotional health is as important to a child’s development as good physical health. Too often this can be neglected until problems and worries have become much more serious. The key to ensuring a strong emotional resilience among young people is early intervention. This involves tackling the root of the causes, including poverty and discrimination. The importance of prevention rather than the cure cannot be underestimated. The HeadStart programme will help to develop ways of supporting young people’s mental and emotional resilience in a world that only seems to subject them to more and more pressures.”

Junior school assembly on Leadership

I recently led an assembly on the theme of Leadership for one of our local junior schools:

servant leadership

Preparation:

  • A bowl of warm water, towel and flannel.
  • Some feet to wash! This could be a real person (a colleague not a child as this could lead to a misunderstanding, and you could also wash hands instead of feet if that’s more appropriate), but perhaps it would be more fun to use a doll/action man.

Assembly:

Explain that we will be thinking about leaders today – lots of different kinds of leaders in our communities and world. They are people who help shape our lives, give guidance and are meant to be examples to us.

 

Play a short guessing game. Give the initial letters of jobs that involve being a leader and a clue to help the children guess.

 

For example:

  • HT – someone who leads a school? – Head Teacher
  • 
C – someone who is the leading player in a team? – Captain
  • PM – someone who leads our country? – Prime Minister
  • 
C – Someone who directs an orchestra? – Conductor

 

Explain briefly the kinds of things these leaders do. If the school has a school council, talk about the role of school councillors.

 

Democratic countries have elections in order to try to change their countries for the better. We live in one of the world’s oldest democracies. Some historians argue that the first moves towards democracy in this country took place with the signing of a treaty called the Magna Carta in 1215. The treaty required the king of England at the time, King John, to have a duty to protect certain rights of his subjects, and restricted his powers under the law.

 

At the start of this new school year, we want you to think about your likes and dislikes in this school environment. We would like you to have your say. Do you feel that it is an attractive place to be in? Do you have enough computers? Do you have any ideas for improving this school? They will be presented to our school governors and you will have an opportunity to vote on which idea could be put into practice in the future.

 

‘It is the duty of government to make it difficult for people to do wrong, easy to do right,’ William Gladstone, Liberal prime minister of the 19th century.

 

We need good leaders in every area of our society. Without good political leaders, laws would be passed that would make it easier for people to do wrong things and get away with them. Gladstone was right about what governments exist to do – good leaders make it harder to do wrong and easier to do right. Without good political leaders, the country would descend into a very unstable place where the poorest and most vulnerable in society were not being looked after. Many believe a society should be judged on how well it looks after its most needy and vulnerable. Good government frees up people to take responsibility to do good and confront things when they are bad.

 

Explain that Christians believe that Jesus was a very special leader and that he showed his friends very powerfully what it meant to lead. Explain that in hot countries it was a custom that when a visitor arrived at someone’s house they would have their feet washed, because they would be hot and dusty, and this would be done by servants.

 

Tell the children about Jesus’ special meal with his friends, where he, though he was their leader, chose to wash their feet. His friends were not happy about him doing this, because he was taking on the role of a servant. As you talk, demonstrate by washing feet in your chosen way (see Preparation and materials).

 

Time for reflection

Reflection:

Explain that this story does not mean we should all go around washing each other’s feet literally, but that we should have the attitude of Jesus towards other people, serving them, respecting them, not bossing them about; treating each other as special people. Encourage the children to think how they could serve others today, in simple ways such as caring for a younger child in the playground, helping clear the table at home, and so on.

 

Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for all the leaders in our communities, 
for our teachers, policemen and women, and so many others. 
We thank you for all those who serve with the same attitude as Jesus. 
Help us to serve each other with gentleness and respect.

 

We think of our leaders – whether those with political power or those that volunteer their time as school governors to help run our school. Thank you for democracy which provides a way for us to have our say.

 

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Assembly: The Bible is a library

Bible

Today’s assembly was for one of our local Infants school’s and themed around the Bible is a library:

Aims

To help the children understand the variety of material in the Bible.

 

Preparation and Materials

  • A large Bible (you could borrow a lectern Bible from church).
  • Two benches or equivalent, one on either side of you.
  • A4 cards showing the following words, one on each: Stories, Songs, Poems, History, Wise sayings, Laws, and four road signs.

 

Assembly

If I asked you what your favourite book in all the world is – hands up if you would be able to name one straight away? Books are fantastic and the great thing about them is that there are books to suit everyone. Hands up if you like books about cars, wizards, pirates, detectives, cook books?

 

What book am I thinking about now? It’s in two main parts. One part is a special book for Jewish people, Christians and others. The second part is the Christians’ special book. But the whole thing is not just one book but lots of books – it’s the Bible.

 

Does anyone know how many books are in the Bible? The two parts are the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books). So it’s a bit more like a library of books than just one book.

 

Ask the children about going to the library – if there’s a school library you could talk about how we choose different books.   I expect your teachers really like you to choose a wide variety of different books, not always the same kind. That helps us to learn about lots of different things.
So I thought we would create a human library today. I am going to need some volunteers.  Invite a number of children up to represent the different types of books that we find in the Bible library. Don’t go into too much detail – you just want to give them the idea that the Bible is a rich and varied collection. Give them the A4 cards to hold. Put some volunteers on the OT ‘shelf’ (bench) and some on the NT.

 

Christians believe that as we read the Bible we get to know God better. There are lots of great children’s books and Bible stories (you could show some or mention where they are in the school library). Even if we find it hard to read the Bible ourselves at the moment we can listen to others tell us the stories and get to know God that way. Above all, Christians believe that God’s great book, the Bible, is meant to be enjoyed by everyone.

 

Ask the children what each road sign stands for:

  • No entry
  • Stop
  • One way
  • Danger from falling rocks.

 

Show a Bible and point out that Christians and people of other faiths believe that it is a book that contains much wisdom that can help us to live a better life.

 

Show the ‘No entry’ sign. Sometimes the Bible tells us that it is better for us not to follow certain ways of living (such as being selfish and holding on to our possessions). You may wish to draw attention to the Ten Commandments. Christians believe that this is not because God is a ‘spoil sport’ but because God loves and cares for us.

 

Show the ‘Stop’ sign. Explain that sometimes in the Bible there are stories and laws that tell us to stop doing something we are already doing. It may be that we are hurting other people or doing something that we know is wrong. The Bible shows us that we should stop doing wrong and follow a life that is good and helps and cares for others.

 

Show the ‘One way’ sign. The Bible shows us a way to live that encourages us to think of others before ourselves. It asks us to not always put ourselves first and make demands, but to consider other people’s ideas and preferences. We will be happier when we live like this.

 

Show the ‘Danger’ sign. Explain that Christians believe that the Bible is not there to make our lives boring or miserable but to show us a good way to live that makes those around us happy. It shows us that there is a danger of living lives so caught up with ourselves that we end up making ourselves and those around us unhappy too.

 

Recap that the Bible is not just a rule book for Christians to follow; it is full of examples of how we can live our lives for others. Many people find that it gives them direction and provides them with peace and comfort. Some people believe that God speaks directly to them through the Bible and others find it a good source of interesting stories and wisdom from the earliest civilizations. It tells the stories of Jesus and his followers in the New Testament, and of the Jewish people in the Old Testament.

 

Time for reflection

Think about books. What kind of books do you like? Do you have a favourite book and a favourite writer?  Do you know any very old stories such as those you might read in the Bible or from ancient legends?

 

Dear God, thank you for all the different types of books.  Thank you for the joy of reading.  Thank you for the Bible, for the stories, letters, poems and songs, history and more that we find between its pages.  Amen.

Job opportunity at schoolswork.co.uk

Schoolswork.co.uk are advertising a great role to go and work with them:

Job Opportunity - schoolswork.co.uk

Are you passionate about work in schools?
Are you interested in professional development?
Would you like to work within a creative, growing team that works nationally but is rooted locally?

We have an exciting new opportunity at schoolswork.co.uk for someone to join the team and take the work of the Enable Schools Work course to the next level. The job is part time and is available from May/June. You can download the relevant documents below, which should include all you need to know. Please also pass on the word to anyone you know who might be interested in joining us.

If you have any questions not answered in the documents below, please email or call on 01582 748964. We can also send you all of the documents in an email if it is tricky for you to download them here, or even post them out to you. Just get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. The closing date has been updated to Friday, 27th June 2014.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Amy

Read me first: Introduction letter
The Job Description: Download
Background information: Download
Application Form: Download

Talk on Psalm 84

Psalms

Tonight as part of our Psalms, Pudding and Prayer series, for our 11-18 year olds, I spoke on Psalm 84 – you can download the powerpoint here:

You might know the words of this Psalm from the Matt Redman song that we sing at Soul Survivor. The Psalm is the musing of one unnamed pilgrim as he makes his way up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. He’s longing to get to God’s house – he has this intense desire for the House of God. He longs to be with God’s people, worshipping. We read about it in vv1-2.

 

This traveller is even jealous of birds! The Temple courtyards were open to the sky, and the great eaves provided a place for good nesting, so there were always these birds in and around the Temple.

 

Do you have a love like this – a longing for God’s house?

 

As we read through the Psalm I think there are four key things to reflect on. Firstly:

 

  1. Look to God alone for your strength

How many have found that the Christian life is impossible without God’s strength? Yet so often our greatest battle is about learning to trust Him instead of doing it on our own steam. That’s human nature.

 

We do not have enough resources in ourselves to make the whole journey. Christians burn out because they strive in their own strength. And you know, you can get so far, but you’ll never finish without God’s strength.

 

At some points there has to be refuelling. Refilling. It’s why it’s so important to stop each day to read the bible and pray – to live daily in God’s strength.

 

2. Put your heart into the journey

Put your whole heart into the journey. We shouldn’t be people who are just letting life pass us by – being dictated to by our circumstances – “waiting out” our time until Jesus comes – we must have our eyes on the finish line, but our energies, our heart, our hands and feet, ought to be occupied with making the journey count – living for Jesus – Paul wrote: “For me to live is Christ”.

 

3. See the opportunity in every trial

Trials are on nearly every page of the Bible. The Bible talks about them a lot, because they are common to every person on the face of the earth. And if some well-meaning person has suggested to you that Christians aren’t supposed to have trials – that we’re never supposed to ever have a cold, that we won’t ever experience sadness or loss, that we shouldn’t ever feel a financial difficulty – then I think you should go back to that well-meaning person and invite them to read their Bible through again.

 

The 3rd key is not to pretend trials don’t exist but rather to see trials as opportunities. “The Valley of Baca” is literally: “The Valley of Weeping”. Haven’t we all passed through some Valleys of Baca? Some Valleys of Weeping. But here it says that, if the Lord is your Strength, and if your heart is set on the journey, you can see the Valley of Weeping become a spring. What to others is a place of bitterness can to you become a place of blessing. A place of growth.

 

It might not always be apparent, but the opportunity for growth and blessing is always right there in the middle of the trial. It’s not always easy, but with God’s help, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, we can use trials as opportunities.

 

We all love the “mountain top” experiences; times of blessing and sunshine – but where does the fruit grow? You won’t find many orchards on mountain tops – oh, the view is nice up there, but the fruit grows in the valleys. And it’s those trials in our lives that God can use best to bring us on “from glory to glory” by His Spirit.

 

And this leads us into the fourth, and final, key:

 

4. Remember that God is in control

He’s always in sovereign control. He will never surrender His position on the throne to any person or any thing. He cannot be defied. God is in control!

 

Let’s read together verse 6 of this great 84th Psalm … [Read]. Here is the promise of God. If I am (1) looking to God alone for my strength, and (2) if I’ve put my heart into the journey, and (3) I’m looking to see what opportunity God might have in every trial, then the sovereign God will do two things for me:

a)     He will direct my steps in strength, and

b)    He will bring me right through to my eternal destination

 

He will direct their steps in strength: When you allow the Holy Spirit free reign in your life, you will go from strength to strength, until you bear the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. Oh, let God do that in your life! Submit to Him, I urge you today.

 

He will bring them through to their destination: This pilgrim is just longing to get to Jerusalem – to the House of the Lord. And here is the assurance – God will bring him through, safe all the way.

 

Can you be sure that you’re going to make it all the way to Heaven? Can you really know? ABSOLUTELY. He IS the Author and the Finisher of our faith!

 

Conclusion

I don’t want to just limp through life – by the grace of God I want to go from strength to strength! With faith in God I believe I can outgrow my difficulties. I believe YOU can outgrow YOUR difficulties.

 

Here again are the 4 keys to a successful passage through life, as we see them in Psalm 84:

 

  1. Look to God alone for your strength
  2. Put your heart into the journey
  3. See the opportunity in every trial
  4. Remember that God is in control