Thursday, 24 October 2013

Search for the leader within

Guest blog from Luke Havard

How’s life? For many men, the token reply might be: “I can’t complain”, “Alright”, “OK” or “Not bad”. But how often are these standard answers simply an empty response designed to save from us from acknowledging and sharing the truth?

I don’t know about your experience, but I speak to a lot of different people from all walks of life and there’s a common theme I find with almost everyone when they’re being dangerously honest: life regularly feels like an uphill struggle.

But what if, in the midst of our darkest hour, we could reinterpret our biggest challenges and most painful struggles and use them as the catalyst for our greatest breakthroughs?

Eight years ago I hit rock bottom. In truth, I’d been struggling for years, but this was my lowest ebb. I was unemployed and addicted to drugs and alcohol, going from one relationship to the next and my life was a complete mess. After wasting years of my life in and out of trouble, I had exhausted all my options and I was fed up.

One day I decided I’d had enough. I felt powerless to control my life and was fed up of waiting for someone to rescue me. I stood on the edge of pavement feeling empty and heartbroken, riddled with anger and self-loathing. I decided my life was no longer worth living.
In that moment I decided to jump in front of one of the big tour buses that toured the red light district where I lived. But just as I had decided that I was ready to go through with it, something happened.

Now I don’t know what you believe, but in that moment I had an undeniable encounter with God. From one moment to the next, I felt such a deep need to live; as though a voice inside me was telling me to reconsider. The only way I can describe it is that there was a fight going on for my life; like I was being pulled from one side to another, from death to life.

I’m happy to say that the pull to live was so intense that I immediately stepped away from the curb through shock. An overwhelming sense of hope flooded my body and I knew without fully understanding how that there was more for me. That day I gave my life to Christ and was instantly free from my addictions.

Now, I’m a completely different person. I know that I am 100% forgiven of the mistakes that I made in the past. However, forgiveness was only the beginning of my journey. Over the last eight years I have dedicated my life to studying human psychology and to helping others make the changes that we as individuals have to make for ourselves.

I’ve realised that most people aren’t living the lives they’re designed to live. Regardless of their faith, the majority of people believe they have very little control over their destiny. Most have stopped growing and taking risks and have simply settled for the status quo. 

The reality is, no one ever aimed for mediocrity, but in order to avoid feeling out of control, most people have chosen to play safe and use humility as an excuse. Secretly, many live in regret.

The greatest myth perpetuated by society is that leadership begins and ends in the corporate boardroom. The truth is, real leadership starts in your own living room.
Regardless of what you believe, if you’re feeling unhappy, uninspired and unfulfilled, it’s because you are not the leader of your own destiny.

I’m excited to invite you to attend a two-day event called I’m hosting on January 31 and February 1 called ‘Become the Leader’. At this event you will learn exactly what you need to do in order to transform the way that see and live your life forever. 

This event will take you way out of your comfort zone, demanding more of you than you ever imagined possible. You’ll discover how to re-engineer your psychology so that you can feel more in control and happier than you have in a long time.

As a special incentive for Sorted readers, register before the end of December and I'll include £1,000 of bonuses when you email with your ticket receipt and enter SORTED in the body of the email.

To register for the event, visit

Read more from Luke in Sorted January-February, out in December. If you can’t wait for your Sorted fix until then, our November-December issue is just landing on subscribers’ doorsteps and hitting the shelves of WH Smith stores. Click here to buy your copy today.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Is Christianity being squeezed out of schools?

Having grown up in a Christian home and split my scholastic career between three ‘Christian’ schools, you might think I would have been overwhelmed by Bible teaching and endless faith-based discussions. 

However, while God was very real to me outside of school, the way religion was presented within the school walls was somewhat lacking. Assemblies were boring, RE lessons were lacklustre and the general feeling was that no-one really believed what they were teaching us anyway, so why should we?

Interestingly, Ofsted seems to have come to a similar conclusion when it comes to the portrayal of Christianity – and religion in general – in schools. According to the schools inspection body, the Christian faith is being “squeezed out” of schools and pupils deserve “much better”.

I actually remember what we were taught about other faiths much more distinctly than about Christianity at school. I was fascinated by the appearance of Vishnu and Shiva, and intrigued to learn what was eaten during the Passover Festival. But apart from some very dry discussion about sacraments and God’s judgement, I don’t remember very much of what we learnt about my own faith. I’m pretty sure Jesus was barely mentioned.

One of the criticisms Ofsted has levelled at schools is that they are focused on “superficial” observations and bringing discussions about Christianity to a “happy end” rather than engaging in genuine debate. I wanted to know how all the animals fitted into Noah’s ark, or at least whether my pets would go to heaven (I'm told not, but am still holding out hope). But back in my day controversy was strictly avoided, and Ofsted claims this is still the case today.

After inspecting 185 schools, Ofsted found that 60% of primary schools and just over 50% of secondary schools failed to realise the subject's full potential. Its 'Religious education: realising the potential' report identified low standards, weak teachings, a confused sense of purpose, training gaps and weaknesses in the way religious education is examined. 

RE is compulsory in all state schools at present, but weirdly it is not part of the national curriculum. Instead, individual schools and councils are responsible for drawing up their own syllabuses.

Ofsted’s director of schools, Michael Cladingbowl, said: "At its best, religious education encourages children and young people to extend their natural curiosity and prepares them for life in modern society.

"We saw some great examples of this during the survey, but too often we found religious education lessons being squeezed out by other subjects and children and young people leaving school with little knowledge or understanding of different religions.

"This just isn’t good enough when religion and belief are playing such a profound part in today’s world. Pupils deserve much better."

It’s hardly surprising that the number of pupils opting to study RE at GCSE level has dropped sharply. But on reflection, should schools be held responsible for teaching children about Christianity and other religions? Or do parents and local churches/religious centres also have a part to play?

I know for a fact I’d never have encountered God for myself through our boring RE lessons, but fortunately my parents walked out their faith and took me to church where I could ask the questions I had (and there were many) and pursue my own faith. So what about those who aren’t given this opportunity?
Well I guess that’s where we come in. Some Christians are accused of indoctrinating their children, but I believe it is our responsibility to present people with the basics and then allow them to make their own decisions. And that doesn’t just apply to children.

Sorted and Liberti magazines aren’t the answer to our schools’ lack of conviction when it comes to religion, but they certainly engage with Christianity in a real and unforceful way. I’m happy to have swapped the dusty lessons for the glossy magazines and I hope you will feel the same way should you choose to have a read.

Buy your copies here today.