Can You Teach Someone to be Teachable?

I was in Perth recently speaking at a church there and I had a great question from a young leader at the break between two of my sessions with the church staff team: "Can you teach someone to be teachable?" I had to stop and think about that one. What an insightful question. If someone is not teachable, can you teach them? Probably not ... but I started to think about ways that you can help people recognise their need to learn from others. During our conversation, I shared the following example which I heard many years ago ... Imagine... Read more →

Life Change

Life change and character development take place best in the context of relationships. For example, when our three children were growing up, I noticed that when they are 'alone', such as on a date with me, each of them had the ability to be extremely angelic. However, when they were ‘together’, especially in the backseat of our car, something demonic seemed to emerge! “He hit me, … she hit me first… he’s looking out my window … no, I’m not … she’s ignoring me, dad … he ignored me first … etc, etc.” You get the picture! Yet it was... Read more →

The Great Unknown ... One Year On ...

Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of me finishing up 32 years of employment in the one place and stepping out into the great unknown. [See my post from February 2017 called "Time to Say Goodbye" and a poem I wrote in December 2016 called "The Great Unknown"). One year on, I am so glad I did. Words can’t quite express the increasing amounts of joy, excitement and meaning I am starting to experience. I am extremely grateful. So, what have I learned? There are many things, but here are 10 reflections: Your calling isn’t limited to your current role. In... Read more →

Love Pays Attention

Love pays attention. Unfortunately, I often get distracted when people are talking to me (including my wife, Nicole), which usually evokes the comment, “You’re not listening to me!” Love means being 'fully present' with a person, paying focused attention to them by looking them in the eye and concentrating not just on their words but also on the meaning and feelings behind the words. Studies in psychology tell us that the thing people value as much as direction or insight when they go to someone for counselling is to be in the presence of another human being who will actually... Read more →

How's Your Passion?

In the world we live in, passion is often a key to success and impact. In a research study of over 500 top performers from all areas of work, the arts and sports, this statement was made, “No two were alike, but the one quality they had in common was passion. It was their drive, their enthusiasm, their desire that distinguished them.” Another study of great people was done looking for essential qualities of their success. It wasn't intelligence (75% of U.S. presidents were in the lower half of their class, 50% of Fortune 500 CEO's averaged C- in school... Read more →

2018 ... Off and Away!

It’s hard to believe that we are already into February! The new year is well underway. I am loving life and really enjoying this new season. Nicole and I continue to base in the Sunshine Coast, Queensland with regular visits to Melbourne to visit our family and friends. This year, I am giving my time to a variety of pursuits including speaking, coaching pastors and church leaders, and some work with Halftime Australia. I’ve also been updating my dad’s web site (Kevin Conner), including uploading a number of his books in eBook format on Amazon, creating a new design for... Read more →

Becoming Childlike ... Again

When you were a kid, what excited you? What were you interested in? What gave you a buzz? What made you feel at home? The apostle Paul talked about putting away 'childish things' when he grew up and became a man (1 Corinthians 13:11). But there is a big difference between being 'childish' and 'childlike'. He definitely wasn't taking about not having fun, losing a sense of adventure or of becoming boringly serious! In fact, Jesus said that unless we become like a child we will never enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-3). Yes, we are to grow in... Read more →

Go With Your Strengths!

Have you ever heard some enthusiastic, optimist person spout statements such as, “You can be anything you want to be” or “What you believe, you can achieve!” As nice as these kind of grandiose motivators may sound, they are not true. You can’t be anything you want to be nor can you do anything you want to do. Yes, we all have strengths and great potential but we also have limitations and weaknesses - things we are not very good at. Accepting this reality and working within it is a part of finding joy and fulfilment in life. Some of... Read more →

The Art of Coaching (Part 3)

Graham Alexander developed a simple but effective model (or mental map) for sequencing good questions. It is called The GROW model and it was first published by John Whitmore. The Grow Model GOAL – “What do you want? What are you trying to achieve?” REALITY – “What is happening? What action have you taken so far and what were the effects?” OPTIONS – “What could you do? What are the alternatives?” Seek possibilities, not one solution. WILL – “What will you do? When will you do it? What obstacles will there be? How can I help?” This requires active listening... Read more →

The Art of Coaching (Part 2)

The coaching process involves two aspects: (1) raising awareness and (2) building responsibility. Creating awareness is all about helping the individual see themselves ("self-awareness") and their situation (what is happening around them) accurately. People can only deal with what they are aware of. Without awareness, no true change or progress can be made. John Whitmore says that “a coach is not a problem solver, a teacher, an advisor, an instructor or even an expert; he or she is a sounding board, a facilitator, a counsellor, an awareness raiser.” Building responsibility is the next step. Until an individual accepts and takes... Read more →

The Art of Coaching (Part 1)

In many ways, all of us are leaders. We influence others - family, friends, neighbours and school or work associates. It may be formally or informally, but it happens. We get to choose whether that influence is positive or negative, helpful or unhelpful. Leaders engage in a number of activities when interacting with other people, including communication, planning, problem-solving, directing, training, assisting, mentoring or coaching. People, including ourselves, rarely achieve their potential without the help and input of other people. Today let's talk about coaching. In his excellent book Coaching for Performance, John Whitmore defines coaching as: “unlocking a person’s... Read more →

10 Tips for Being More Productive

I love achievement - getting things done. There is a certain joy and sense of satisfaction in ticking off a job on my task list. Because of this, I am always looking for ways to get more done in a day and to be more productive. I do this by talking to other high achieving people and reading books or articles on productivity. Here are my Top 10 Recent Learnings about Productivity: 1. Know the outcomes or results you desire for the year ahead. If you aim at nothing, you will be sure to hit it. Activity is not accomplishment.... Read more →

What's for Dinner?

So, what's for dinner? It's a question that comes up most days in most families. Personally, I love good food and I have always eaten plenty of it. As a kid growing up, my mother didn't let my sister or me leave the family dinner table until our plate was cleared. It's a habit I still have to this day. In fact, I have been known to help other people finish their plate too! Over the years, I have developed a taste for all kinds of food and, after marrying Nicole over 30 years ago, my appreciation for different types... Read more →

Making the Most of a New Year

Well, here we are - a new year! It's 2018 now and 2017 is in the history books. My, how time is flying. Anyone remember Y2K!? The turn of the century sure had its share of sensationalist debates about the future. Almost two decades on, we are still here and our world continues to be full off challenges ... and opportunities. So how do you make the most of a new year? At the beginning of any new year, I have found it very helpful to do three things: 1. Look Back. The famous Greek philosopher, Socrates, once said that... Read more →

The Christmas Season

It’s the Christmas season! People are carefully selecting gifts for their loved ones, the air is filled with the sound of Christmas carols, bright Christmas lights sparkle each night, and many are looking forward to some time off with their family and friends. For people of faith, this time of year is a reminder of God’s amazing love for the world demonstrated by sending his only Son as a baby - born to be the long-awaited Saviour of the world. Yes, Jesus came to bring peace, love and joy to a fallen and broken world. He still does, if we... Read more →

Mark Conner's Web Site Update

Just for your awareness, my web site is undergoing an update at the moment. Soon there will be new graphics, new pictures, and my BLOG and web site will be integrated into one location. As the renovation continues, here are a few things that are new – all accessible via the Main MENU on the front page: My speaking schedule, outlining the places and events that I am speaking at. Various services that I am now making available – including coaching, consulting and speaking. A link to my resources including this BLOG, the books I have written, and links to... Read more →

Personal Impact

Take a moment to think about the person who has had the greatest positive impact on your life. I’m sure someone is coming to your mind right now – maybe it is a teacher, a coach, a team member, someone from your family, or a friend. Now ask yourself why you chose them. What was it about them? I’ve done this exercise with hundreds of people and the results are always the same. It’s very rarely talent, achievement or knowledge that impacts us the most. It is always the character of the person – qualities such as their care, their... Read more →


There is a lot of talk today about leadership and management. Both are important but what is the difference? There is a story I heard many years ago that really helped me: There are this group of people cutting through a jungle. The managers are there co-ordinating everything – the rosters, machete sharpening, the drinks breaks, mosquito spray, sun lotion, first aid. It’s all happening. The leader is the person who climbs a tree, looks around and shouts, “Oops, wrong jungle!” But the managers say, “But, we’re making such great progress!” You know, you might be moving along really fast... Read more →


Have you ever seen someone who is really good at what they do? We’re talking about excellence. It can be quite inspiring, even breath-taking. Of course, when we see someone who excels at what they do, we don’t see the process or the journey over time that they took to get there. Former NBA basketball coach Pat Riley once said, “Excellence is the gradual result of always trying to be better.” I like that. I remember when I first played the piano for our church youth group. I had music in front of me and God help the meeting if... Read more →


Some of life’s BIG questions include: “Who am I?” “What is the meaning of life?” “Where am I going?” and “What am I here for?” That last question is an important one. It taps into our purpose, our calling, our life contribution, our vocation. After all, everyone wants to be useful. No one wants to be useless. And I’m not talking about just having a job so you can pay the bills and have some money to spend on the weekend. Deep inside very human being is a longing to make a difference in the world. To do something …... Read more →


One of the most powerful things you can give another person is the gift of empathy. I remember hearing a story about a man sitting on a train, reading his newspaper when another man came on to the train and sat right next to him. He slouched and closed his eyes, as if to shut out the world. He had two young children with him who proceeded to run around the train, disturbing everyone in sight. The man couldn’t believe it. Why didn’t this man control his children? Eventually, when his annoyance reached a certain level, he said, “Excuse me... Read more →


I’ll never forget having lunch with a friend a few years back. As we sat down, I asked him how he was going. “Awesome” was his answer and he went on to tell me about a bunch of good things happening in his life at that time. Then he asked me how I was doing. I thought for moment – “Will I go with ‘Awesome’ or will I be honest?” I decided to be honest and so I said, “Yeah, not the best. I’ve had a few challenges lately.” And I began sharing some of things I was facing at... Read more →


Each year a new word is added to the English dictionary. A few years back, in 2013, it was the word ‘selfie’. Yes, there is nothing like a good ‘selfie’ taken with your mobile phone and maybe even with a selfie extension. On a recent overseas trip, my wife and I had a 24-hour layover in Beijing, China. We decided to tour the city. Our final stop, on what turned out to be a really hot day, was the Great Wall of China. We took the chair lift to the top, then climbed 100s of steps to one of the... Read more →

Your Story Building Project (Part 3)

God’s work of renovation is designed to make us more like Jesus so that we can have a greater positive impact on our world. Ask yourself, “Is there anything about my life that makes being a Christian attractive to the world?” We are to be a sweet smelling aroma not someone carrying around stinking attitudes. Sadly, there is often a big difference between being a “Christian” and being “Christ-like”. We are called to join with God is seeing thousands of stories of transformation in our world. BUT guess what? Transformation starts with me and with you. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18. Now... Read more →

Your Story Building Project (Part 2)

How Do We Co-Operate With God's Work of Renovation is Our Lives? Firstly, let go of the past. See yesterday's post. Secondly, deal with what is happening today. God is more interested in who we are becoming (our character) than what we are doing for him (our achievements). So what is God up to in your life right now? Not everything that happens to us has to have some deep and meaningful reason … but what are we learning? This season you are in right now is only one chapter in your life - it is not the whole story.... Read more →

Your Story Building Project (Part 1)

Not only is the church God's story building project, you individually are also. The apostle Paul puts it this way: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. NIV You as an individual person are the temple or dwelling place of God. Through the Holy Spirit, He lives inside of you. You are his home - his house. Often at church services, we hear people... Read more →

God's Story Building Project

Most churches I have been a part of over the years have undergone a building project or extension at some time. Of course, a church is not a building nor is a building ever meant to be the vision or the focus. After all, buildings don't change people's lives but what happens in them can and does. When the building project is finished, it is easy to think that the work is done. But in reality, the work is only just beginning. Buildings are a tool to continue to carry out the mission of the church. Not only do churches... Read more →

Is it Halftime for You?

I came across the best-selling book Halftime: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance by Bob Buford in my late 30s. I loved the concepts but I was busy chasing 'success' as a young pastor of a large church in Melbourne, Australia. By my late 40s, I was what other people considered 'successful', as our church had grown by 5 times in size - from 1, 000 people attending church services each weekend to 5,000 people attending. But I was tired, very tired. During a 3 month sabbatical in early 2012, I travelled to Dallas, USA with a business... Read more →


Have you ever fallen flat on your face? Have you ever disappointed yourself, others or God? Maybe it was a sin, a mistake or a personal failure. For some reason, you didn't live up to your own expectations or promises. We have all experienced this, at one time or another. Sometimes, over-confidence, arrogance and pride are the catalysts. At other times, they are not. When personal failure occurs, we experience guilt, embarrassment and at times shame. Guilt is the result of a convicted conscience. It is usually specific and aimed at a response which usually includes feeling bad (genuine sorrow)... Read more →


Have you ever thought about your conscience? I once heard a story of an American Indian who gave a great definition of what a conscience is. He said our conscience is like a small wooden triangle on the inside of us. When we do something wrong, it turns and scrapes the sides and we feel some pain. If we ignore it, however, over time, the edges of that wooden triangle eventually wear off and when we do something wrong, it spins, but we don’t feel anything anymore. How profound. You know guilt can be our friend. It is trying to... Read more →


I think we all understand the importance of our attitude. After all, life isn’t so much what happens to us as much as how we respond to it. Our attitude determines so much of who we become and what we are able to achieve in our lives. Of course, everyone has times when they feel bad or down. A good attitude doesn’t prevent this from happening but it can stop us from getting stuck during those times. The key thing is to realise that we are responsible for our attitudes. I remember one Saturday morning, one of our kids, who... Read more →

Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is one of the world's most well-known Psalms, written by King David. It has been a source of comfort and encouragement to people from all ages and generations. Below is the entire Psalm from The Message Bible translation. I encourage you to read it through slowly, taking in every word and phrase. The words in bold were meaningful to me today ... God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send... Read more →


Have you noticed the increase in demand for fields such as counselling, coaching and mentoring over the last few decades? There is something highly beneficial about talking with someone else about what is going on in your life, especially what is happening on the inside of you. It is sometimes referred to as “externalisation.” The story is told of Einstein going for a walk with a friend. At the time, he was struggling with a problem he couldn’t solve. In the process of telling his friend about it, he ended up getting an idea about how to fix his situation... Read more →

Church Life AFTER Marriage Equality: The Questions No One Is Asking

Right now, Australians are deliberating about just one question - “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” A majority of conservative Christians (as well as Jews and Muslims) are campaigning for a 'No' vote, while less are saying it should be 'Yes'. A majority of society in general seems to be campaigning for a 'Yes' vote, while some are saying it should be 'No'. Whatever your answer is to this one question, the work of discussion and deliberation doesn’t end on the 15th November (or whenever the government makes a decision); it just begins. Regardless of... Read more →

Self Care

Have you been on an aeroplane lately? Before the plane takes off there is always a safety spiel – which we all pay close attention to. Right? Right. The instructions always include something like this: “In case of an emergency, an oxygen mask will fall down from above you. Put it on yourself before assisting others.” Have you ever thought about that? It sounds a bit selfish doesn’t it. If it was a Christian flight, you’d think it would say, “Put it on your neighbour first!” But no, ‘self-care’ is primary. Why? Because if you aren’t breathing, you are of... Read more →


Think for a moment about ‘atmosphere’. Every room has an atmosphere – it could be bright or dark, hot or cold, pleasant or smelly. So does every family, every team, every school, and every workplace. That atmosphere is usually the composite result of the people in that group or of its strongest influencers. Two particular instruments deal with atmospheres. First there is a thermometer, which measures the temperature of a particular room. If the room is hot, the thermometer goes up. If the room is cold, it goes down. It is a reactive instrument. Then there is a thermostat. In... Read more →

A Pain in the Back

I was in agony. I couldn't move. As I lay on my bed, the pain down my back and through my right upper leg and calf muscles was so great that I didn't think I would get through it. Eventually, I rolled very carefully to the side of my bed and somehow managed to get up ... very slowly. What was happening to me? It was January this year. I had overdone it with lifting a month earlier - moving house and moving a heap of boxes (762!) of my dad's books with the help of my son Josiah and... Read more →

The Smart Phone?

I love my mobile phone. I have had one ever since they first came out back in the 1990s. I've moved from the Motorola brick size ones ... to the flip lid ... to a few versions of the Nokia ... and now I have my faithful iPhone 6 Plus (no, I never had a Blackberry or a Samsung). I am an 'early adopter' when it comes to technology. I love to have the (almost) latest and greatest. But I probably won't jump right away to the new iPhone 8 or iPhone X (with face recognition!), as amazing as they... Read more →

The Berlin Crows

Nicole and I are nearing the end of our 12 days of touring Germany. The beauty of the stunning scenery of the villages, lakes and mountains of southern Germany has been a stark contrast to the horror of the Dachau Concentration Camp and the Holocaust Museum in Berlin. Reflecting on the genocide of 6 million people (primarily Jews, but also gypsies, gays, the elderly and the disabled) is a sobering experience, not for the faint of heart. Yesterday and today we meandered around the streets of Berlin - a city with plenty of attitude, and it's easy to see why.... Read more →

A New Day

Nicole and I are currently spending 12 days in Germany while on our way to Russia, where I will speak at three church leaders' conferences (in St Petersburg, Moscow and Novosibirsk). Our day is about over here in the northern hemisphere and we have had a wonderful time touring some of the beautiful southern Germany countryside. Today we drove from Triberg in the Black Forest all the way to Fussen where we will visit a few famous castles tomorrow. On the way, we stopped for lunch at Lindau, a picturesque town right on the edge of magnificent Lake Constance with... Read more →

Successful Christian Ministry

I love cooking. Sometimes I discover a new recipe that I am keen to try out on the family. At other times I pull out one my ‘classics’, a recipe that I have used before that everyone already loves. One of those classics is a roast chicken and vegetable meal based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. It is delicious! No wonder it is a hit every time I cook it up. This time last week I was in Adelaide speaking at a ministers' conference for about 250 church leaders. The theme was ‘Growing Leaders to Grow the Church.’ Any time... Read more →

Personal Update from Mark Conner

It is hard to believe that it has been 6 months today since I finished up as Senior Minister of CityLife Church. The month of February this year was such as special time as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of CityLife, had my farewell, and inducted Andrew Hill as the next Senior Minister. These important events all went so well and I look back with gratitude for that. Nicole and I are particularly thankful for the many 'thank you' notes and video messages we received from people both inside and outside of CityLife, as well as the generous gifts from... Read more →

Reflections on Psalm 139 (Part 4)

As we said when we began these reflections, the writer of Psalm 139 was facing many challenges from unjust people and oppressors. In this context, a hymn of adoration was crafted, declaring that (1) God is always with us, (2) God's affections are towards us, and (3) we have a unique purpose. In concluding this journey, the psalmist offers a prayer to God: An Open Book Vs. 23-24. Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong— then guide... Read more →

Reflections on Psalm 139 (Part 3)

Psalm 139 not only reminds us that (1) God is with us and that (2) we are objects of his affection. It also shows us that we have been crafted for a specific purpose. Crafted for a Purpose Vs. 15. You know me inside and out, You know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, How I was sculpted from nothing into something. Vs. 16. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; All the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my... Read more →

Reflections of Psalm 139 (Part 2)

As we continue our reflections on Psalm 139, we move on from the awareness that God is always with us to the understanding that you, like every other human being, are made in the image of God. Let's read on ... Vs.13-15. Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; You formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God — you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration —what a creation! Your Identity - A Child of God We all long for a sense of identity and significance. We often search... Read more →

Reflections on Psalm 139 (Part 1)

This beautiful Psalm begins by boldly declaring that God knows all about us, will never let us go, and has been involved with us from our earliest beginnings (vs.1-18). The latter part of the Psalm provides the context - one of feeling the injustice of people who go about doing wrong and need to be held to account (vs.19-23). When we are faced with life's contradictions, with personal challenges, or opposition from others, it's good to remind ourselves of these truths about God: God With Us Vs.3-5. I'm never out of your sight ... I look behind me and you're... Read more →

Pass the Baton: Successful Leadership Transition

CityLife Church, located in Melbourne Australia, had three Senior Ministers in the first 50 years of it's history. Richard Holland was the founding pastor and led the church for 20 years, followed by my father, Kevin Conner, who led the church for the next 8 years. I was the Senior Minister for the next 22 years before passing the baton in February of this year to Andrew Hill. [Read my announcement on 28th February 2016] Like any relay race, passing the baton effectively is vital for any organisation, including a local church. I wrote about this a few years ago,... Read more →

Living with JOY

Over the last month or so, I have been gradually reading through the book of Psalms in The Message Bible translation. It's a wonderful collection of songs and poetry, expressing the full range of human emotion: disappointment, frustration, anger and hope, as well as praise, worship and joy. One of the most well known Psalms is Psalm 100 - which is a call to worship. It begins by declaring, "Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!" The next line is "Serve (or worship) the Lord with gladness (or joy)." Every day, as we go about our life,... Read more →

Dealing with Depression (Part 10)

Hope for the Future The amazing thing about Elijah is that, despite his incredible bout of depression, he continued to minister. God helped him to honour his physical body, he learnt to observe his thinking then renew his mind, God provoked him to action, and then God moved him back into relationship. Elijah lived on. In fact, what is quite humorous is that the biblical record tells us Elijah never died, even though he experienced a suicidal episode. How good is that! Apparently, he went straight up to heaven. When you feel depressed, it can seem as if you will... Read more →