Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith


Pastor / Leader

Leadership in Life & Parenting

As many have followed my journey, you would know that in the last 4 years (in which I was told I would not be alive), I have become a grandfather to three adorable children.

They are adorable, but not always amusing.

Sometimes without a reason or warning they “spit the dummy” so to speak. When and where they choose to do this is anyone’s guess and not any of their concern.

I can clearly remember one of my own children losing it every time we tried to put a seatbelt on her.  She hated it so much she would scream as if we had abducted her.  It was both very annoying and embarrassing as a parent.

So I know that our Instagram children are not the real deal, there are times when it is just crazy.

Let me recall an incident when shopping with my daughter and my grandson (at the time he was three years old).

Shopping at a busy shopping centre, my grandson realised we were heading in the opposite direction to the play area, so he just threw himself on the ground in front of his mother, grandpa and everyone else at the shops.

Grandpa couldn’t pick him up as I was in my wheelchair, all I could do was look and wait.  I saw a shop assistant come running out and offer this screaming child a lollypop.  My daughter kindly and respectfully declined the offer on her child’s behalf.

For me watching on was more than educational, it was one of my proudest moments as a dad as I watched the way my daughter navigated this cyclonic outburst from my grandson.

She first moved him out of the path of other shoppers and placed him in a safe place as he continued to cry and scream. (Doesn’t it always seem louder when strangers are watching on?)

What I saw next was a mother who responded and didn’t react to the anger she was seeing. Her response was, I believe, a manifestation of her core beliefs about her son, herself and their relationship with each other.

She was not concerned about how she may have looked to others who walked past this outburst.  Her total focus was on her child and what he would learn from this outburst.  It was an opportunity to be secure in who she was as a mother, an opportunity to develop the little gentleman her child was becoming.

My daughter allowed him to exhaust himself and then when she had his full attention again, she explained that we were going to the play area after we had finished what mummy needed to do, but that if you have one more outburst we will go straight home. We did end up going straight home where the lesson continued with the help of the little boy’s dad.

Notice my daughter didn’t make unrealistic threats or label him something that he wasn’t. She didn’t say, I’m going to slap you so hard when we get home or call him a little devil.

Also, there is a commitment from his mum and dad to discipline their son, therefore they do not ignore what happens but bring it up again in a more settled and calm environment. This continues his development and restores his relationship with conversation, understanding, kisses and cuddles.

My daughter responded from a place of love, not guilt, and a set of fundamental principles that are core to my own philosophies of parenting and leadership.

I believe these principles are transferable and applicable to all relationships. Parent-child, husband-wife, employer-employee, leader-follower, etc.

So here are some of those relationship principles I have learnt:

1. Determine to see the ‘personal pain’

Most anger is triggered by ‘personal pain’, not a ‘painful personality.’

When we can empathise with the persons’ personal pain, we will see them differently and respond to them accordingly.

When we see a person with anger as something other than their personal pain and disappointment we could make assumptions like:

They are demon possessed.

They are just an evil person.

They have a personality disorder.

Yes, these are all possibilities but are also highly unlikely and should never be our first judgement.

Seeing your child as angry, and not an angry person, is empowering and releasing.

Look for ‘pain disappointment’ not ‘personality disorder’.

My grandchild was behaving like a normal three-year-old. He was acting like a child because he is a child. Hopefully, with good parenting, he will one day NOT act like a child when he is an adult.

When you see them as an angry person you give them no way forward and you disempower your ability as a parent to discipline correctly.

So it is with those we lead. How you see the person will determine how successful you are as a leader in developing and releasing their potential as a person.

2. Determine that your discipline will have ‘restoration’ not ‘retribution’ as the goal.

My daughter had a decision to make. It’s a decision to respond to this with the goal being restoration or retribution.

Restoration has to do with the other as a priority, whereas retribution has self-protection as the priority.

I have seen parents’ responses being retribution: I will punish you for embarrassing ME; people are looking at ME, so I will react in a way that is fuelled by SELF-focus: this child is making ME feel disempowered; I’m embarrassed; I’m out of control; my reputation as a parent is being challenged.

It’s all about how you’re feeling as a parent, not about the child.

When our focus is on the child and about restoration, then we will respond in a calculated, calm and courageous way.  Our goal is to discipline for restoration, not punish for retribution.

Let me add here, all discipline should have as its goal full restoration, not continued retribution. The discipline is about maturing the individual, not manipulating for self-protection.

I have noticed that “time out” has become a go-to disciplinary option. A child is removed from the situation and told to sit by themselves for 2-5 minutes.

I have seen this also in my adult world where people who are in need of discipline are given “time out”. That is, they are removed from the position they held for a period of time.

My concern with “time out” for the child or adult is that time doesn’t change anybody, it’s what is accomplished in the “time out” that counts.

When my grandchildren get “time out” they also have an adult talk to them about the behaviour. They get asked questions about why they behaved the way they did and if the child sees anything wrong with what they did. This is intended to bring them to a place of repentance, sorrow and apology to the one offended by the behaviour.

3. Determine to be a person who is secure in who you are as a parent and leader.

Restorative discipline flows from a place of security, not insecurity.

Parenting cannot be successful if the parent is insecure when it comes to their own value and significance as a parent and a person.

Leadership cannot be successful if the leader is insecure when it comes to their own value and significance as a leader and a person.

Insecurity punishes from a place of embarrassment.

Security restores from a place of confidence.

Insecure children and adults lead by fear, which leads to bullying.

Yes, a lot of bullying we see today is done by insecure, fearful people!

As a parent or leader, your goal is to be restorative and releasing.

Parenting is our greatest opportunity for leadership and leadership is all about parenting.

May our parenting, our lives, our leadership be all about the other because we love, we are secure and we are all about restoration and restitution.



“Train up a child in the way he/she should go [teaching him/her to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”


“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to the point of resentment with demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive; nor by showing favoritism or indifference to any of them], but bring them up [tenderly, with lovingkindness] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”


“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”


Why a property guru climbed Mt Everest and what it can teach us today


I have had the privilege of becoming friends with Leah Jay in recent years, who is not only a prominent business woman, but who also lost her son Elliot (pictured below) to Motor Neurone Disease / ALS when he was just 19 years old.

Elliot Jay was a talented basketball player and bright University of Newcastle student.

At first, Elliot began to fall over, as his legs would collapse from under him and he struggled to walk up small stairs.  One day when his Dad dropped him off at work, he limped to the stairs, stopped at the base of them for a few moments, then turned, struggled back, eyes filling with tears, removed his tie and said “take me home.”

He was never to return.

In his first semester of university, his friend would joke around with him, because he would take the elevator for only a small flight of stairs.

He was walking with his mate down a popular street lined with cafes when he fell over. Onlookers thought he was drunk.  With the help of his friend and a stranger, he got back up.

Little did they know this weakening of his left calf was the beginning of the Jay family’s tragedy.

Diagnosed in 2007 at just 18 years of age, by January of 2008, Elliot had lost the use of his arms, legs and neck.  He died in April 2008, after a 12 month battle.


In honour of her son, nine years after her his death, at 4:40am on 22nd May 2017, Leah Jay reached the highest point in the world.

She successfully climbed Mount Everest, becoming one of less than a dozen Australian women to successfully do so.



Her goal is to climb the seven highest mountains on each of the seven continents in honour of Elliot. This was her sixth and Denali in Alaska will be her last.




There is so much I never knew about the feat that is Everest.

For example, did you know, there is only a window of two weeks per year that you can climb it?

First you have to trek the Himalayas for 10 to 12 days before you even get to base camp, at an altitude of 5, 300m. Yellow tents are home for six (yes, six!) weeks.



Things I learnt about climbing Everest from Leah’s Pursuit:

  • You climb Everest by completing three multiple rotations going up and down (back and forwards) while your body acclimatises and develops red blood cells.
  • If you could get dropped off on the top of Everest by helicopter, you would die within 10 to 15 minutes. This is why you have to do the rotations.
  • From camp 2 to camp 3 is only 2,000 feet, but it takes 7 hours of treacherous climbing an ice face.
  • Anytime your body is above base camp you can feel it wasting and become weaker.
  • As you climb, you spend about 20,000 -30,000 calories per day.
  • You climb at night, leaving at about 1am.
  • There are 30 ladders, held by ropes, between base camp and camp two.
  • Remember, you do it three times before the summit.
  • It takes six weeks to climb Everest.



Leah wrote in her journal last year while on Everest, “I’m not super human, I’m just a girl from Newcastle. But I chose to be here.”

She said, you can’t practice the fear you will feel climbing and navigating the ladders.

With so much you can’t control, you just have to keep going and remember the pain is temporary, she said.

She was literally in the death zone.  She slept with two dead bodies outside her tent.  That’s when you start questioning your own ability and reason for being there, Leah said.



I have learnt so much from Leah’s pursuit.

Leah didn’t just wake up one morning and go and climb the biggest mountain she could find.  She began with high tracks, then small mountains and then Everest.  Once she decided to climb Everest, she lived and breathed it.  Her whole focus was on fitness, diet, sleep, equipment and training.

I believe there is much we can take from Leah when it comes to how we live in the pursuits of our own lives.

Things I learnt about leadership from Leah’s pursuit:

  • There’s no escaping the importance of setting goals.  Those goals need to have incremental victories attached to them.  Leah had a strategic plan in place to conquer Everest.  In fact, she climbed many smaller mountains before Everest, giving her both confidence and credibility.
  • Leah knew she needed a team around her before, during, and after the climb that could make her better than she was on her own.  Her climb was only made possible by the commitment of others in her team.
  • Leah showed commitment and dedication to the team by her personal discipline to her own preparation.  She prepared her mind, body and soul.
  • Leah, to achieve what she needed to achieve, narrowed her focus.  She lived and breathed Everest.  Her eating, sleeping ,and exercise was totally focused towards the climb.  Every activity was attached to the purpose of the climb.
    Activity without a purpose is like a boat with a roaring motor but no rudder for direction. 
    Why not remove the activity in your life that is not producing or moving you towards your purpose and passion?
  • Leah was not just about being prepared, but it became her passion. When Leah shares her passion, her goal and the reason behind why she is doing what she is doing, people rally around that.  People want to attach themselves to things that matter and have meaning.
  • Remember the rotations that Leah did I outlined above?  They involved her climbing for seven hours, returning to base, and climbing another seven hours, then seven more, then again, returning all the way back down to base camp.  This is a test of how your body and mind adjust to the higher levels of altitude.  As her body adjusted, she went a little further.  Leaders note, don’t try too much too early.  Prove yourself in the small things and then you will be ready for the bigger challenges ahead.

Leah will pursue Denali, her final mountain, before returning to Newcastle for the Big Freeze, seeing locals slide into ice water, raising much needed funds for a cure for MND.

For those who want more info on this year’s Big Freeze on June 23rd 2018, you can visit – a worthy cause, I am passionate about and proud to support.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, for all those who are fighting or who have lost anyone to MND, you are not alone.  There is an army of friends, family and a community who are behind you to conquer this beast, this mountain, of a disease.  And like any great endeavour, it will be one step at a time. 

Have a blessed day,

(And sincere thanks to Leah Jay for allowing us to share her amazing images of Everest and of her beloved son, Elliot.)

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