Reading all the tributes about Sir Alex made me realise that the man is more than just a manager… He’s a leader, teacher, father, coach, friend, mentor and even a “pastor” of sorts (among countless other roles) to not just the football players but the entire football club. He’s built not just a few football teams but an entire football club.
When you have a “manager” attending youth training sessions, attending employees’ bereavements and sending personal letters to grieving fans, texting former players and calling up fellow managers to support them, you know that he’s so much more than just a salaried man. If only I had the chance to have coffee with him…
The dedication to the job, the desire to win and the demand for excellence… We are not replacing any other man. We are replacing a football institution. And how is it even possible? I cannot imagine anyone else in the dugout because truth is, no one else has been in there except him!
Fans of rival clubs and haters will never understand how we feel (and it’s even harder for non-football people to get it). He’s been around before I started supporting United in 1994 and he’s the only manager I’ve known since. Only United fans can say something like that. He’s brought United from nothing to something, so that’s why he’s everything to United and all of us.
United is a machine – his machine – and this club will move on. But it will never be the same again. Sir Alex has always said that nobody is bigger than the club. But I think maybe… Just maybe… Ferguson is as big as the club because he IS the club. His retirement feels like something is being ripped out from my heart. It was hard when Cantona retired; Ferguson retiring is the same gut-wrenching feeling magnified multiple times over. Supporting United will never feel the same again.
Legend, legacy, longevity. He’s not just a football manager. He is Sir Alex Ferguson – the greatest EVER football manager in all of history.
I’m forcing myself to do this before I sleep so that I don’t sink into an unexplainable post-sermon depression; yes, once again I feel like I’ve preached the worst sermon of my life. And this is one of the lowest moments in my short journey as a preacher.
1. 322: our highest attendance for a combined youth service in a very long time. The GII Sanctuary was packed and buzzing with energy indeed.
2. 29: the highest number of newcomers for a youth service – proud of our youths who brought their friends and those who had the courage to invite.
3. 6: first-time salvations. And countless rededications. Without a doubt everything that happened tonight must be credited to God. All honour to Him alone.
4. Stella and Caleb: respectively, the brain behind the creative concept (we took a risk with this format of Easter) and the hands that helped the brain bring the plan come to life.
5. Swift: reading their praise reports on whatsapp and rejoicing with them for the success they experienced tonight with their region – something they really needed for all the hard work they’ve out in.
6. Worship: I could really sense the comforting presence of the Lord tonight and that the R-AGErs were so sincere in their response to God. Nell did a good job too – this young lady has a real anointing. One of those evenings where you wished you could linger a little longer.
7. Performers and crew: they just get younger and younger, don’t they? The average age of the youths serving and making a contribution across the board has lowered and their potential excites me. This X team was so committed and dedicated to their roles; they really pulled off something massive.
8. Soon Huat, his team of cleaners and the youths’ parents: for being so patient and understanding although we ended so late. My sincere apologies for that. I hope it doesn’t happen again.
9. Huiyi: who patiently and painstakingly encouraged, counselled and assured me from the moment I left the stage all the way until now. I cannot imagine sinking into this pit without her by my side. Thank you for praying for me and embracing me in my moment of weakness.
10. God: that He would even use a wretched, broken and untalented pastor like me to preach His Word, and was gracious enough to even send Yixian to encourage and pray for me – I didn’t deserve that. Father, I’m sorry for tonight. I’ll do better next time. Thank You for Your faithfulness and for showing up tonight – it would have been disastrous if You didn’t. All glory belongs to You.
It has been a humbling and forgettable night. In Jesus’ name, please take these negative thoughts and feelings away from me.
Okay, I need to sleep now.
I was disappointed with myself for not being able to subdue my anger during a meeting yesterday.
No, I didn’t flare up at a particular person or used words that I wasn’t supposed to, but I produced an unusually strong reaction to a decision that was made. I was the only one with a bad reaction even though that decision impacted all of us; there was another colleague who raised her eyebrow to that decision but she was gentle. Somehow, that decision triggered something in me.
The first few questions I asked myself were,
- How can a person who tries to be a man of God react in this unacceptable way?
- Is a pastor even allowed to show such emotion or is he supposed to be even-tempered all the time?
- Have I stumbled any of my colleagues with my display of emotions?
- What does it mean to respond, and not react, in that situation?
- How would I respond instead, if I was given another chance?
I excused myself, headed to the bathroom and attempted to sort out my emotions before I returned to the meeting. My colleague who went out with me encouraged me to speak to the decision-maker so that I can get it off my chest. I told her that I wouldn’t, until I sort out what’s in my heart, otherwise I’d get myself into more trouble.
I realised that over the years, a part of me gets especially annoyed whenever I feel that there is inconsistency in decision-making or in example-setting. I realised that I like things to be in black and white, yes and no, true and false. I operate in dichotomy and struggle to deal with ambiguity and ambivalence. I also have a low threshold for injustice.
Until I succeed in managing this tension, I’ve always asked the Lord to keep my head straight and stick to my convictions, but never at the expense of being self-righteous. I asked God to make me flexible leader with wisdom to know when to compromise and when to stay firm; there are some battles that are just not worth fighting. I asked the Lord for a greater threshold of grey areas.
Then the Lord reminded me to wear my Double-L plate; except that this time, a leader and a learner must also be ready to be a loser and lover. I want to learn to lose my rights and love others. I want to grow from this setback. I want to mature. I want to be godly.
I am thankful for the grace of God and how He would still use me despite my multiple flaws. I will do better next time.
I met up with two of my closest friends today – Lionel Koh over lunch and Joel Tay over a late night chat.
There was no need for airs or icebreakers. We just dived straight into a heart-to-heart talk, being as honest and straightforward as we knew how to, without the fear of being judged. I am thankful that God has blessed me with buddies whom I can be truly be myself with.
It’s tiring (sometimes, honestly speaking) when you relate to people as a leader or pastor or mentor. It’s refreshing to just be Joey for a change, to be among people who grew up and will grow old with me. The older you get, the fewer they get.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. — Proverbs 17:17
Pray for me, for I’m losing sight of the goals of my Lent. I must persevere… I must stay focused. I want to experience that breakthrough.
One of those days where I allowed busyness to completely rob me of my time with God. I just want to sleep now. Goodnight.
I’ve said this many times – I have a dream job.
I still pinch myself every morning because God has given me the privilege of being the youth pastor of the youth group that turned my life around. And because of indebtedness towards this youth ministry, work never feels like work as it is something I’d have done anyway.
Huiyi and I wanted to start a tradition in R-AGE – a 开工餐 at the start of the year to kick-off the year of ministry. I gathered those who were working together with me as full-time staff (my ministry interns) as well as those in my Think Tank (key leaders in my strategic team). These folks are critical to the operations, leadership and growth of the youth ministry.
So after dinner last night, my wife and I went to Sheng Siong Supermarket and bought over 20 different ingredients for the steamboat dinner that we were hosting tonight. There was enough food to feed a small army. We told ourselves to go all out to bless the people who go all out to bless the young people. We wanted the eight of them to feel loved and like they deserved nothing but the best.
Together with my awesome mother-in-law (who kindly and generously offered me her time and energy), I spent most parts of today preparing the food. I think she put in the most work for this steamboat – she prepared the soup broth, marinated the meats and chopped the vegetables. As I ate lunch and did a little grocery shopping with her earlier today, I felt so incredibly blessed. It is God’s grace that I’ve found favour with my mum-in-law, and I am grateful.
And I realised that my wife and I are like Martha and Mary respectively – you need both types when hosting a gathering. She is amazing – she helped me clean up everything when we finished dinner – and this after a full day of work. I am blessed indeed! Darling, you’re a wonderful pastor’s wife – thank you for being a part of and embracing my ministry and calling as your ministry and calling. (:
The 10 of us ate to our hearts’ content and had a great evening together. It’s truly a blessing to serve the Lord alongside brothers and sisters whom you like and love. These young men and women are like my family. I cannot imagine leading the youth ministry without them by my side. I also cannot imagine R-AGE without them.
Ministry is all about relationships indeed. I thank God for being a part of these God-given relationships and the privilege to do life with them.
The difference between Lent and a full-on 40-day fast is that one is a journey while the other is a discipline.
One of the things I set out to do in my first Lent is to celebrate on Sundays and special occasions. And it’s been a while since I looked forward to Sunday as much as I have. It was like a much-needed pit-stop to celebrate the journey so far (however short) and to remind myself of the blessings that I’ve always enjoyed and taken for granted.
For starters, I drank my usual cup of Nespresso coffee in the morning. Then for lunch, I ordered a ribeye steak ‘xtra cut at Aston’s and even drank teh peng jia C to my heart’s content. And for dinner, I tucked into Mummy’s homemade chicken rice, helped myself to a serving of young coconut juice and before the night is over, I’m sure I’ll be gobbling down some honey mangoes.
There’s something beautiful about delayed gratification, especially in this microwave generation where everything is instant.
I also took the opportunity to log in to Facebook and Instagram and realised that there’s really nothing important that I’ve missed, despite the 100+ notifications that were beckoning my attention. Lull time (periods of inactivity where nothing happens) is better utilised when you sieve out the distractions.
But the most beautiful thing about today was the spiritual conversation that I had with Mummy in the late afternoon. She asked me all kinds of questions that young believers would ask. It felt like the Holy Spirit triggered her curiosity to learn about the things of her faith. I was energised by our interaction together and for the first time in her life, she actually said she would consider going to cell (to ask all these questions); she finally saw that there was another purpose for cell besides just sharing about her problems (which she is extremely reluctant to). Perhaps Apokalupto finally took place in her spiritual life. I am thankful. May God continue to fuel this spiritual hunger she has.
As I gave thanks for our 元宵 dinner just now, I felt an intimate connection with God; it wasn’t just customary, but heartfelt.
With that I greatly anticipate the week ahead.