Seeing the world upside down is helpful. Australians are warm, friendly people, but above all they are direct. They tell you the truth and expect you to respond with the same candour. Here are five truths that I received between the eyes:
1. Sometimes standing still is success. A man who runs a major Christian institution keeps being asked by his management team and business colleagues for a five year plan. ‘My plan is to keep doing what we have been doing.’ I waited for the second element, ‘in rapidly changing circumstances…’ but it never came. Circumstances are trivial. Christians stand firm.
2. The best people with the best plans for the best reasons don’t always work. A decade on from Sydney’s great mission plan being unveiled, and there are roughly the same number of people in church and the same number in training. Only the Lord’s plans succeed.
3. Kill vanity. Even the best known pastors and preachers have to deal with church members who are upset about chairs having been moved unexpectedly. Rightly so. Pastors can never stop dealing with their own people. Those who become relatively famous in the Christian world can start to exist in a bubble of admiration, but the wise ones prick it constantly.
4. Time passes. My heroes are ageing, slowing down, passing on their roles. None of us lasts, but my generation needs to put its shoulder to the wheel. We can’t expect other people to solve our problems for us
5. We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. That’s it. If we remember that, we’ve remembered everything that matters. That’s seeing things the right way up.