The recession I had to have
I never blamed Paul Keating when the 90's recession came along. It might have been a silly thing to say in the face of some very real suffering " "This is the recession we had to have" " but even at that age I realised that there were larger forces at play than one man could command. My Christianity had prepared me, reminding me at every stage "" in his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps." (Proverbs 16:9).
Now the "recession' has come to my own doorstep, and what am I to say? Anglican Media has announced that I will be finishing up at the end of September. The decision to make my position redundant was not an easy one. Quite the contrary, it has caused some very close friends a great deal of pain and more than a few sleepless nights. There was not only the pressure it would put on myself and my family to consider, but the other positions that would go, and the very real effect our collective departures would have on Anglican Media's ministry. We have struggled together to build up effective channels of communication, the bonds of any real community. Deconstructing them was going to be painful for everyone involved. Maybe this pain was inevitable, even if the Global Financial Crisis had not come along. To quote a particular hobbit, the staff at Anglican Media have been feeling like "" too little butter spread over too much bread," for some years now. But that is a discussion for another time"
This is a personal reflection on the time behind and the time ahead. I'm writing this on the 14th anniversary of my coming to Anglican Media. I'd like to publicly thank God for the ministry He has allowed my family and I to participate in. My appointment in 1995 was the culmination of four years of prayer that my Father would let me use my journalism skills to build up His Kingdom. Since then He has delivered more opportunity than I could ever have dreamed of, delivering Gospel television series, documentaries, cinema campaigns, radio programs, news bulletins, podcasts, vodcasts, articles, stories, lectures and sermons across Australia and the world. If I have any discontent it relates solely to the desire to continue doing this much and more.
The greatest blessings, however, have not been the opportunities to serve but the people I have served with and the effects they have had on my life. I have been humbled and inspired by the women and men I have worked alongside of, whom God used to school a very wet-behind-the-ears fundamentalist. Most have left Anglican Media before me, many to other vital fields of Christian communication, some to Glory " all continue to serve. I can't list them all here but I know they would not mind me making a particular mention of "the Chief', Clifford Warne. Clifford is, quite simply, the best communicator the Sydney Diocese has ever produced. The protÃ©gÃ© of Paul "The Jungle Doctor' White, he achieved an international and secular reputation for effective communication that often went unrealised in his "home town'. Our diocese boasts many champions of the faith who bore clerical collars and earned theological degrees. Clifford stands as a perpetual encouragement to the layperson who possesses neither. Thanks to the wonders of the New World his wisdom can still be sampled at the click of a mouse. I remain indebted to that prayerful, Gospel-saturated man who taught me the fundamental lesson: "Give them what you want to say, in a way they are prepared to receive it."
Redundant is a thoroughly human word. I am unable to think of any way it can be usefully used in connection with the Kingdom. Our God is the supreme economist. Our inabilities are utilised to display His power; our humiliations serve to reflect His glory; even our sin proclaims His grace. In God’s hands our gifts are anything but redundant. My wife, Maia, and I are convinced that He is setting us free from our present labours to serve in some new capacity. That goes some way to explaining what will probably sound like the most ridiculous personal decision.
Today I turn 40. We have two beautiful boys with particular trials. Our third child is due in November, a month after I finish up. A sane man would be running for the first full-time job that presented itself. And they have presented themselves, and we have declined. When Maia and I first heard the news that my job was going the way of the dodo, we took a day out to pray and plan. We began by reminding ourselves of the verse that we have tried to make our mainstay: "Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) Rather than seek safety, we asked ourselves how this might allow us to serve? Within days we were made aware of a number of potential ministries. None of them could offer complete support, but they represented real ways to aid the Kingdom's advance.
So, with growing conviction and assisted by good advice, we have decided to launch out as freelance communicators. A major part of my time this year and next will be taken up with helping to establish and grow the online community of the church planting organisation being launched by Al Stewart. Other time will be spent providing analysis of popular culture for a number of publishers. Some more will be spent developing the sort of factual and fictional stories for television and print that we hope will prick the conscience of an increasingly secular world. Follow me on Twitter (@markahadley) and I'll keep you apprised.
None of these pieces presently add up to a "whole' and living expenses, therapies and mortgages continue to prod our anxieties. But God has provided work to do for the months ahead and plenty of encouragement of more to follow " feel free to add your own on either account. Most of all, though, please pray that we will continue to hold what we know to be true: that our God is faithful, that this world is passing away, that He will not lead us where He cannot keep us.