On Thur 12 May 2022, with ‘just on’ one hundred guests arrived suited up and seated for an inspiring business breakfast held by Christian Ministry Advancement Ltd. CMA is a ministry dedicated to better governance, leadership, and management of Christian Not-For-Profit businesses in Victoria. CMA believe that administration is both a stewardship responsibility and a gift that the body of Christ and believers in business need to take seriously and, on this occasion, invited an inspirational speaker, leader, and visionary to share his story and new book.
However, due to an unexpected health concern, the very loved and respected new author, Tony McLellan was unable to join in the days leading up to this occasion and Nick Cater, the co-author of his new book, A Glorious Ride: From Jumble Plains to Eternity, stepped up to share instead.
Nick Cater, who was born in the UK, worked for the BBC before coming to Australia in 1988 with his young family. He met the senior editor for the Adelaide Advertiser, Piers Akerman from News Corp, invited Nick to work for him. After many years of commitment, Nick has worked to become a noted Australian journalist and author. He has written about this journey in his bestselling book, The Lucky Culture (2013).
Nick is now a quality weekly columnist in political and cultural journalism for The Australian Newspaper, Sky News, and others. Over the years, Nick has served with the Sunday Telegraph in Sydney and as the editor for The Weekend Australian and Hong Kong correspondent for News Corp.
Today Nick has successfully led the Menzies Research Centre as Exec. Director since 2015. As noted by the centre, ‘The Menzies Research Centre is a think-tank that champions Liberal principles and advocates for a free, just and prosperous Australia. It draws inspiration from Sir Robert Menzies, Australia’s longest-serving prime minister and an exceptional articulator of Australian Liberalism’.
Nick was so gracious in his delivery at the breakfast that one could hardly tell he was an impromptu guest. He was as fluent and current as ever, sharing that both Tony and he were still very good friends after having written a book together.
Nick then opened the morning on the topic of quality values that lay in the early formation of the Liberal movement since the 1940s, noting that this heritage also came from an early Presbyterian faith culture.
In this era, leaders wrought a driving philosophical value for personal and national freedoms and an opportunity for all, an equality of worth and respect for all. The notion that every person has dignity and value is ‘at its core’, decided by God and not any one group alone, undergirded the values.
The key driver for Nick’s involvement and leadership is the belief that the development of solid ideas and lasting values-led policy is good governance. This is why he has committed to genuine and robust research and persuasion in building the MRC. Nick thanked all the wonderful agriculturalists throughout Australia who represent the early 1800 era rural advancement of truth and values from Scottish clan heritage, noting that Tony McLellan and his story really do speak from this influence in Australia.
Tony’s story is compelling in that though there is a four-generation heritage, he was still not stand-alone, nor silver spooned, but rather, like many in the generations around this great country, took opportunities before them, and stepped into these, either to succeed well or fail hard, and in his case, his responses were shaped by strong Christian family values. Added to these stands the practical wisdom and long view of a rural farming culture, which is ready and prepared to work hard and get a job done or fix the fence when it has to be done.
Nick elaborated that Tony began on the farm and then took his opportunities, even as early as his youth, in music, farming sheep, and later in property development. He knew exactly where and when to embrace and expand. This hard work took him to Egypt, developing houses across from the pyramids, and investment in an energy company in the US. The push of work and deadlines transformed his life; he was a regular on that notorious Concord. Nick pointed out that the acknowledgement by Tony in returning to Sydney after his wife Rae left him was a turning point lesson in priorities and values, and wisely he asked his local pastor for help, became a Christian, asked for God’s help and made significant changes.
By the early 90s, Tony grew in his visionary work, began to place God first and reached into new fields, including the Not For Profit sector. He saw that living the Gospel didn’t just mean taking hold of the easy bits of the Gospel, but meant handling the challenging areas and giving back to God and this world.
So, in no uncertain terms, Tony acknowledges that his most successful business venture was at the end of his life, a developmental idea with the CSRIO investigating, detecting and refining the earth’s core for precious metals using new technologies. This story is now history, and its legacy means that Tony and his wife have been able to sell the investment of that company, establish a philanthropic family trust, and bless many needs around the world, including a hospital for women in Africa and more. Nick acclaimed Tony, saying, he could have gone away and bought a boat or taken cruises, but instead has given away, so that thousands of lives can be changed.
Nick concluded his sharing, saying, ‘Christ has saved us first, and then we outwork what we do, so what matters is how we place value on what we do and how we direct this life with others, in the journey’.
Similarly, Nick said concerning CMA and the important ministry they do in helping NFP’s develop, that in running any organisation or a Christian organisation for purpose, we run a risk if we do not run it with true transparency. Billy Graham was a great example of personal and business integrity in relationships; without him, our world would look considerably different, and God’s message be less for it, Tony having noted him as a critical role model for himself.
Nick finished the morning with final responses to audience questions, sharing the importance of prioritising one’s purpose and evaluating one’s motivation in work and living courageously before the world.
‘Editors Note’: On writing this article, Tony McLellan has advised that he is on the mend and preparing yet again for another venture in the development of a film based on his life story.
Pray for Tony and Nick as they speak into the lives of business people and ministries throughout the nation and world. We do need many more persons of integrity in our world as heroes for a new generation.
– Written and Ed., by Doug McDonald, for New Life Aus, 14 May 2022.
– Image by KirkMedia