The sandpit moment

“But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG)

I was recently introduced to a fellow leader of a Christian organisation here in Australia. We met for coffee at a local café, exchanged pleasantries and quickly understood that our connection extended far deeper than the common thread of being a leader of a Christian movement. We only planned to meet for an hour, but I guess you could say we ‘hit it off’. As soon as our time together elapsed, we quickly pulled out our diaries to schedule the next meeting.

In our discussion, we talked about our families, our faith, our dreams and vision for a transformed Australia. He told me of his pride for the courage The Salvation Army in Australia was taking to unite as one and offered much advice and encouragement, as he had recently led his organisation through a similar exercise. What he said resonated and confirmed to me this new thing we are doing is the right thing, whilst also challenging my own thinking, theology and enriching my own learning.

Throughout our conversation, I used an analogy of what it would look like if we worked together. I’m not certain why, but I used the metaphor of the ‘sandpit’. A sandpit was a place where I used to play as a child. It was a place where I felt safe and built new things, playing and engaging with other children in partnership. I was uninhibited in my quest to be free and creative in the sandpit – especially when I built things together with others. Fortunately this analogy was accepted by my new friend and gave us the freedom to imagine what partnership could look like.

We met together again, four weeks after our initial conversation, this time with other senior leaders of our respective organisations to unlock and discover what collective impact might look like if we partnered together. I thought, ‘this is what the new is all about’. Working with this team opened us up to new thinking and leadership, adding a new dimension of perspective that would refine and cultivate our vision to transform Australia one life at a time.

In Paul’s first letter to the church at Philippi, he implores us to be partners in the gospel together. “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” If we are to be united as one Army, we must also rely on the prayers, perspective and partnership of others. Like this initial encounter, we must continue to work with like-minded individuals and organisations to transform Australia one life at a time. We cannot do this alone.

Last Friday we marked Australia Day. A day where we acknowledge the freedoms and blessings we each have living in this country. We also acknowledge that Australia Day is a sensitive and distressing time for some Australians. As The Salvation Army, every day we commit ourselves in prayer and practice to this land and its people, seeking reconciliation, unity and equity.

This week, I encourage you to enter the sandpit. Be creative. Be open to partnering with others. Learn how a unique perspective from outside our worldview can assist us expand the Kingdom of God with even greater impact than we are already having. I am glad I had this experience and look forward to many more.

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