Category Archives: Spontaneous Conversations

A conversation with people and a dialogue with God always energises my Sanguine and keeps me functional.

perth day 6: the jewel in any family.

I just received the “Never Let Go” updates from Yixian… 176 in attendance, 16 newcomers, 4 salvations, 2 re-dedications! Wow! God is good! Praise Him indeed…! Well done to everyone involved! Huiyi and I are really proud of you! In fact, she just asked me, “Are you a proud father?” And I nodded furiously! (:

***

I remember telling Huiyi that this holiday has passed surprisingly slowly; it feels like we’ve been here for a long time despite three more days on our itinerary. Normally time moves pretty quickly when you’re having a good time but time in Australia seems to pass at a different rate – and we love it.

I have written this entry on my way back from Denmark, a little town just about 100 kilometres off Albany. It had been a pleasant road trip. This incidentally is also the first time I’ve driven over 200 kilometres in one sitting. At the pit stop of our return leg, Ervina asked what each of our highlights were. It had to be the wind farm for me.

On a day with little activity (except driving) barring a visit to a berry farm, the West Cape Howe Winery and the Denmark Easter Market (which I’m told is the biggest market in Western Australia in the entire year), I’d like to talk about Chin Seng and his mother(, whose fitness is commendable for she could physically keep up with all our activities)…

I’ve always found it easy to speak with aunties and grannies and it was no exception for Granny Aw (I don’t actually know her real name). I have enjoyed breaking ice with this godly woman just by showing her my mischievous self (like a grandson would) and hearing her share her wonderful testimonies over meal times. Only moments ago, she shared a few more stories in the car. But what I’ve enjoyed most is to see that fire in her eyes and the enthusiasm in her voice when she shares what God had and has been doing in her life. I’ve been encouraged by her candid anecdotes communicated through four different Chinese languages – Mandarin, Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese. I told her that the next time she’s back in Singapore, she must make time to visit Huiyi’s and my grandmother, to tell them both how good Jesus is.

This morning, we woke up to avocado sandwiches prepared by Ervina and checked out of the beach house soon after. The visit to the berry farm was an anticlimax one as fruiting season had already passed. So it was a good thing that the winery visit was more eventful. I was glad to have finally visited a winery – now I feel more complete as a former marketing manager for a wine company. I enjoyed tasting a variety of wines and managed to pick up a bottle of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc at a pretty good price too.

In between those two places of harvest, we got a taste of the local spirit at the Easter Market. Huiyi and I aren’t big fans of such festivals; she’s convinced that she can’t find anything worthwhile in there while I’m just not fond of maddening crowds. So after a bratwurst sausage, we headed for the exit and went to enjoy our morning coffee instead at this establishment called Black Duck Cafe. Then we rejoined the gang for lunch at Bento Box, where Huiyi and I also bought matching Keep Cup coffee mugs that we would use in our respective offices and in future, our matrimonial dome.

We arrived at a local Chinese restaurant to pack dinner home. We wanted to head out to Little Creatures Brewery to have D&M but instead enjoyed it at the dining table over a few bottles of nice, cold and refreshing beer to bring the relaxing past three days to a wonderful finish.

There’s a Chinese saying that goes: 家有一老, 如有一宝. I admire the bond that Chin Seng shares with his mother; how they would converse in dialect; how he would, without fail, hold her hand to cross every road; and how he would lovingly reprimand his mother for things she would scold him for when he was younger – buckling up in the car, not buying unnecessary things and wearing enough clothes to keep warm, just to name a few. Prayerfully, may it be a reflection of Mummy and I two decades down the road.

perth day 4: mentoring on the road.

I don’t normally fancy driving on road trips because I do not have good driving stamina; by about 60 minutes I’ll start to feel fatigued and would want to do a pit-stop – my last road trips from Shanghai to Hangzhou and from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur were no different. It certain didn’t help when my navigators started to sleep on the job. Haha. This time however, enroute from Perth City to Albany, I got past that dreaded hour-mark by singing to 五月天 music and engaging in good conversations with the rest of the passengers.

We discoursed a plethora of issues, be it inevitable topics like Grace AG, R-AGE and YAYP, to more interesting topics like:

  • Mentoring is dynamic (i.e. organic), not decisive.
  • Mentors are one-off, but mentoring is life-long.
  • Mentoring is complex – both systemic and seasonal.
  • Mentoring is about the process and the product.
  • What happens when meritocracy creeps into mentoring?
  • Who’s going to mentor those whose potential isn’t obvious?
  • Could mentoring success be derived from duplicity alone?
  • What is the sustainability and repeatability of a mentoring cycle?
  • What is the optimum age gap for mentors to retain their relevancy?
  • If Jesus had more than 3 years in ministry, would he have continued journeying with his 12 disciples or would he have “released” them to be disciple-makers and gone ahead to make 12 new disciples?

At the end of the day, I arrived at one conclusion, as cliche as it may sound, that human mentors are finite while God’s sovereignty is infinite. We as disciple-makers can only impact, invest and impart so much, and it’s not very much at all! Hence, I honestly opine that regardless of all the possible answers we could find from the above questions, it’s more important for any mentor to enjoy the entire journey, regardless of its outcome, and trust God to shape lives for His glory.

Well, back to the extraordinary mundane… (:

Today packed a straightforward itinerary; we had breakfast at home before setting off to Albany via a 420-kilometre/ 5-hour road trip; saw and fed Alpacas on our first pit stop; fed ourselves over lunch at Black Cockatoo Cafe; drove past Dog Rock and checked into our beach house destination at Barry Court; went for a walk at Albany Town Centre, had dinner of fish, squid and chips at The Squid Shack near Emu Point; went to Albany Creek to do some grocery shopping at Coles Supermarket; and finally returned to our single-storey bungalow. It’s 10:30pm as I write this entry and I am about to retreat to bed – finally, a good night’s rest beckons!

As usual, I always learn from Hunk (aka Chin Seng) every time we interact. This time, he imparted a life-and-death lesson into my system – about decisiveness on the road. Read that as metaphorically as you want… All I shall say is, by the grace of God, I thank God for allowing that overtaking incident to have taken place smoothly… (:

P/S 1: Huiyi and I celebrate our 40th month together today! It is a good Friday indeed. (:

P/S 2: We’re praying for “Never Let Go”! Keep up the good work, R-AGE! Invite friends!

P/S 3: I will post more pictures in my DSLR when I get my hands on a USB cable. For now, here’s what I found in a shop called “Thingz”. I didn’t buy it of course… Bottoms up!

how you can be an effective marketplace evangelist.

A thousand apologies for the silence since the end of March. I’ve been completely swarmed, and this week looks like it’s going to be even crazier than the last. In the meantime, do enjoy an article I wrote for Eagles Vantage Point – a real privilege. Click here to see the online article, or just read on…

***

Generation Y Crusader!

by Joey Asher Tan

The Y Generation hallmark

One distinguishing hallmark of the “Generation Y” young adult is his or her likelihood of switching jobs every other year. As I embark on the seventh year of my professional pilgrimage, I am privileged to have worked in the military, marketplace, and Christian ministry, in Singapore and Shanghai. Hence, I am inclined to associate myself with the ambitious yet fickle minded traits of my generation and our increasingly challenging landscape of being an active marketplace evangelist.

It is neither simple nor straightforward to shine for Jesus as a young adult in a progressively dark world. That said, I hope that my experiences and observations will encourage you to persevere as an ambassador of truth; I offer my thoughts on the intrinsic issues of having pride, maintaining integrity, leaving a legacy in the workplace, and how that may be linked to winning souls for Jesus.

My definition of “Marketplace Evangelism?” The intentional effort of ensuring that colleagues and business associates recognize your Christian faith and lifestyle through your choice of words, work attitude, and what fills your calendar after office hours. You should also deliberately and regularly attempt to minister the Gospel of Christ through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit during God appointed opportunities – the results are up to God but the effort is down to us.

Dealing with the evergreen issues of pride

You cannot escape it – how you deal with pride kicks off your first foray into the battlefield as a Christian in the marketplace. In my initial weeks in Shanghai, I adorned what my boss candidly referred to as, “The Typical Singaporean Mentality,” where I actually believed in my superiority over my Chinese counterparts.

I have repented, of course, but I remember feeling severely humbled when my supposedly inferior Administrative Manager demonstrated, with ease, how to negotiate both complicated Chinese laws and cunning Chinese businessmen with shrewdness; only then did I appreciate our vast differences and his vast experience. It was a sobering realization.

Regardless of positions or paychecks, we must carry in our suitcases an attitude to learn – from subordinates, peers, and superiors. After all, what do we have to lose except our repulsive and often obstructive pride? Observe what 1 Peter 5:5-6 (The Message) instructs, “…And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other… So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs.”

Displaying visible integrity in invisible places

I spent 21 months as a Marketing Manager in the alcoholic beverage industry in Shanghai. Sometimes, I had to accompany my boss to entertain clients at bars and nightclubs. In a (literally) dark place fraught with affordable sleaze, it becomes easy to forsake your Christian values, especially so if you are a visually stimulated, testosterone filled man. I recall a conversation with the twenty year old girl who was paid to host me – smack in the middle of our superficial chatter, I asked her, point blank, “Why are you doing this?” Rather than taking her home that night, I sincerely hope that she took home my probing question instead.

Temptation is real and it charges at us with alarming regularity. We must be aware of the different types of temptations in our various arenas of work. Fight the temptation of sluggishness and haphazard work; fight the temptation to abuse the privileges of position; fight the temptation of excessive occupational indulgences (like alcoholism); fight the temptation of a secret and decadent overseas lifestyle or when no one is observing.

Leaving behind a legacy of authenticity

Be true to yourself and stick to your convictions – pretending to be a good testimony is short lived and strenuous. I believe that it is acceptable to mess up occasionally or have fragments of bad attitude in the beginning; it is how you repent and recover from your mistakes that truly matter. I am persuaded that a non believer would find it more refreshing to see an imperfect believer making blunders and bettering himself from it.

A former Singapore Armed Forces colleague commended me for heading into full time ministry because it was something I had told them I would do eventually. And when he learnt that I am ministering in a church now, he spoke of the respect he had for me.

Let us not measure our successes by material achievements nor prestigious positions but by the unique footprints we leave behind. We must remember that our testimony is not what others think of us but what they think about Christ in us. I quote Steve Green in his timeless song, “May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe and the lives we live inspire them to obey. Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.”

Getting the Church involved

The Church must teach her youths and young adults how to remain relevant instead of teaching them to be perfect religious snobs. What does it mean to be in the world but not of this world when sometimes their behavior and demeanor suggest that Christians are sometimes out of this world?

It is imperative for the Church to impart a humble spirit and a non judgmental attitude if she wants her people to reach the lost in their world. Believers must learn to write their own testimonies and be equipped to share it anytime and anywhere; they must also know when and how to step out of their comfort zone and to bring comfort to a society that is hurt, confused, and searching for more.

I have discovered that being available and meeting felt needs are the most effective ways of marketplace evangelism; and usually these two work in tandem – you should be available for them whenever they have needs. I encourage my young people to be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit whenever they converse with people, so that they are able to recognize when they should transit from a worldly dialogue into a spiritual conversation.

How would you describe yourself as a professional?

You should ask God for a personalized vision statement to anchor you at the marketplace!

Midway through my stint in Shanghai, my company instructed us to update our personal particulars and there was a field that read “Briefly describe yourself.” I struggled to describe myself without using John 15:5 or my life motto that was derived from it. Anything that was religious in nature would be irrelevant to my organization. I remember staring at the monitor with complete blankness. So I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to inspire me.

Thirty minutes later, in one fell swoop, I penned a statement that would foreshadow the testimony that I would eventually leave behind: “I am a Bible believing Christian who desires to know God more by working excellently, learning earnestly while pursuing a God pleasing balanced lifestyle for the glory of God!”

Joey Asher Tan is a 27 year old Youth Minister with Grace Assembly of God Church, Singapore. He answered God’s call by heading into full time ministry in October 2009 and pastors 120 young people in the Grace Assembly of God (Bukit Batok) youth community.

The Y Generation hallmark

One distinguishing hallmark of the “Generation Y” young adult is his or her likelihood of switching jobs every other year. As I embark on the seventh year of my professional pilgrimage, I am privileged to have worked in the military, marketplace, and Christian ministry, in Singapore and Shanghai. Hence, I am inclined to associate myself with the ambitious yet fickle minded traits of my generation and our increasingly challenging landscape of being an active marketplace evangelist.

It is neither simple nor straightforward to shine for Jesus as a young adult in a progressively dark world. That said, I hope that my experiences and observations will encourage you to persevere as an ambassador of truth; I offer my thoughts on the intrinsic issues of having pride, maintaining integrity, leaving a legacy in the workplace, and how that may be linked to winning souls for Jesus.

My definition of “Marketplace Evangelism?” The intentional effort of ensuring that colleagues and business associates recognize your Christian faith and lifestyle through your choice of words, work attitude, and what fills your calendar after office hours. You should also deliberately and regularly attempt to minister the Gospel of Christ through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit during God appointed opportunities – the results are up to God but the effort is down to us.

Dealing with the evergreen issues of pride

You cannot escape it – how you deal with pride kicks off your first foray into the battlefield as a Christian in the marketplace. In my initial weeks in Shanghai, I adorned what my boss candidly referred to as, “The Typical Singaporean Mentality,” where I actually believed in my superiority over my Chinese counterparts.

I have repented, of course, but I remember feeling severely humbled when my supposedly inferior Administrative Manager demonstrated, with ease, how to negotiate both complicated Chinese laws and cunning Chinese businessmen with shrewdness; only then did I appreciate our vast differences and his vast experience. It was a sobering realization.

Regardless of positions or paychecks, we must carry in our suitcases an attitude to learn – from subordinates, peers, and superiors. After all, what do we have to lose except our repulsive and often obstructive pride? Observe what 1 Peter 5:5-6 (The Message) instructs, “…And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other… So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs.”

Displaying visible integrity in invisible places

I spent 21 months as a Marketing Manager in the alcoholic beverage industry in Shanghai. Sometimes, I had to accompany my boss to entertain clients at bars and nightclubs. In a (literally) dark place fraught with affordable sleaze, it becomes easy to forsake your Christian values, especially so if you are a visually stimulated, testosterone filled man. I recall a conversation with the twenty year old girl who was paid to host me – smack in the middle of our superficial chatter, I asked her, point blank, “Why are you doing this?” Rather than taking her home that night, I sincerely hope that she took home my probing question instead.

Temptation is real and it charges at us with alarming regularity. We must be aware of the different types of temptations in our various arenas of work. Fight the temptation of sluggishness and haphazard work; fight the temptation to abuse the privileges of position; fight the temptation of excessive occupational indulgences (like alcoholism); fight the temptation of a secret and decadent overseas lifestyle or when no one is observing.

Leaving behind a legacy of authenticity

Be true to yourself and stick to your convictions – pretending to be a good testimony is short lived and strenuous. I believe that it is acceptable to mess up occasionally or have fragments of bad attitude in the beginning; it is how you repent and recover from your mistakes that truly matter. I am persuaded that a non believer would find it more refreshing to see an imperfect believer making blunders and bettering himself from it.

A former Singapore Armed Forces colleague commended me for heading into full time ministry because it was something I had told them I would do eventually. And when he learnt that I am ministering in a church now, he spoke of the respect he had for me.

Let us not measure our successes by material achievements nor prestigious positions but by the unique footprints we leave behind. We must remember that our testimony is not what others think of us but what they think about Christ in us. I quote Steve Green in his timeless song, “May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe and the lives we live inspire them to obey. Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful.”

Getting the Church involved

The Church must teach her youths and young adults how to remain relevant instead of teaching them to be perfect religious snobs. What does it mean to be in the world but not of this world when sometimes their behavior and demeanor suggest that Christians are sometimes out of this world?

It is imperative for the Church to impart a humble spirit and a non judgmental attitude if she wants her people to reach the lost in their world. Believers must learn to write their own testimonies and be equipped to share it anytime and anywhere; they must also know when and how to step out of their comfort zone and to bring comfort to a society that is hurt, confused, and searching for more.

I have discovered that being available and meeting felt needs are the most effective ways of marketplace evangelism; and usually these two work in tandem – you should be available for them whenever they have needs. I encourage my young people to be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit whenever they converse with people, so that they are able to recognize when they should transit from a worldly dialogue into a spiritual conversation.

How would you describe yourself as a professional?

You should ask God for a personalized vision statement to anchor you at the marketplace!

Midway through my stint in Shanghai, my company instructed us to update our personal particulars and there was a field that read “Briefly describe yourself.” I struggled to describe myself without using John 15:5 or my life motto that was derived from it. Anything that was religious in nature would be irrelevant to my organization. I remember staring at the monitor with complete blankness. So I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to inspire me.

Thirty minutes later, in one fell swoop, I penned a statement that would foreshadow the testimony that I would eventually leave behind: “I am a Bible believing Christian who desires to know God more by working excellently, learning earnestly while pursuing a God pleasing balanced lifestyle for the glory of God!”

Joey Asher Tan is a 27 year old Youth Minister with Grace Assembly of God Church, Singapore. He answered God’s call by heading into full time ministry in October 2009 and pastors 120 young people in the Grace Assembly of God (Bukit Batok) youth community.

dads for life – don’t ever take fathers for granted.

I regret not doing something crazy but radical during my evening run just now.

The final part of my jogging route took me to Holland Grove View, just off Mount Sinai Road. I sneaked glances into those huge house as I trod down a small road flanked by luxury cars. (I digress but isn’t it interestingly dichotomous that Mount Sinai Road and Ghim Moh Road share the same tar? What a world of affluential difference!) It was 7:30pm – dinner time. One in four households I ran past were sharing a meal over the dining table. And at every single gathering, the Holy Spirit pointed my attention to the father figure.

Without fail, I immediately spotted the head of the home. And by the time I hit the third household having dinner, I remember being prompted by the Spirit to go to the fence of this huge white bungalow, for it was just outside the dining room. I felt moved in my spirit to deliver the following words of encouragement to the elderly man clad in a white tee:

“Hey you! Are you their father? You don’t have to know who I am but I want you to know that what you’re doing – it’s great. Keep having meals with your family as often as you can, please. You’re doing an amazing job as a father. Don’t underestimate the importance of simply eating together!”

But alas, I didn’t. And within two paces, my window of opportunity vanished. I didn’t run by another house again with the dining room within shouting distance from the road. Then I started to reflect – on how I wanted my family to look like a decade from now. Due to external upbringing and an internal resolve, I was quietly confident that I would be a good husband and I was determined to be a father but I didn’t want to take anything for granted. Being a good 一家之主 requires planning, effort and sacrifice. I don’t need to be a father to know this.

Immediately I started to recall all the good father figures that God has graciously placed in my life to inspire me, and set an example on how a household should be led and how children should be brought up. I began to thank God for great men like Pastor Ronald Yow, Uncle Kheng Leong and Peter Lim, just to name the first few off the top of my head. With these wonderful examples, amongst many others, I nearly slipped into an unnecessary melancholy comparison due to my lack of a fatherly figure, but I decided to celebrate God’s faithfulness in these families instead.

My message tonight is simple.

If you are a father reading this, and have been consistently investing into your family – keep going! You’re doing a great job! And I am certain that your rewards will come when you still have communion with your grown-up children when you’re old and gray.

If you are a father who is distant, or have a desire to want to reconnect with your family – my brother, this is your time to redeem what was lost. Your career must never, ever be at the expense of your children and your wealth-accumulation must never be at the expense of your wife.

Fathers – never underestimate your role in your children’s lives!

If you are a son or daughter reading this – why don’t you just take a minute to walk to your father, hug him, and tell him that you love him and appreciate all that he is doing and has done for the family? I’m sure he’ll be shocked and may even think you’re nuts, but deep down inside, I’m also sure that it will swell his heart swell with warmth and pride. Go now!

And if you, like me, are disconnected from your father – why don’t you take this time to pray for him and thank God for the many good fathers that are around you?

Well, since we’re on the subject of encouraging dads to be dads for life, why don’t we use Facebook or our mobile phones to encourage a father right now? We don’t have to wait for Father’s Day since fathers play their roles as fathers, not just once a year, but everyday.

why you should attend the church’s annual business meeting.

I have neither been instructed nor felt like it was my duty as a church employee to write this post; this is a completely voluntary and perhaps even purgatory entry as a result of my day-long dialogue with the Spirit about ABM.

On my way to school after the ABM dry run and briefing in GII, I recalled what it was like for me to attend ABM as a fresh-from-baptism-first-year-church-member. I anticipated it with excitement – partly due to novelty as a first-timer but mostly because I was acutely interested in the deeper workings of the church… It was after all, my church – the place I grew up in.

And this beginning conviction was something I needed to be reminded about today.

But truth be told. While I could only recognise 10% of the potential board members whom I had to vote for and was never a fan of the mandatory (and boring) graphs and numbers in the annual report, I did recognise the importance of my choices and acknowledged that I was indeed a big fan of my church.

I was intrigued by how their operations; I felt special knowing exclusive information before the everyone else did; I stopped nodding off when someone fires the occasional tough question; and of course, I get amused by how the pastors and board members attempt to reply, albeit awkwardly and sometimes even embarrassingly. The hot topic consistently seems to be how the church remunerates its pastors – somehow there’ll always be someone asking that question.

Well, for most of the youths (and especially those who are very young, new to the church or attending ABM for the first time), I honestly think this is how they will vote:

  • Do I know him?
  • Do I like his face?
  • Do I know his children?
  • Has he attended youth service before?
  • Will he favour the youth ministry?

Maybe you’re a serious voter – good for you! – but that’s about as frank as it gets for me. At least that was how I voted the first time. Those board members with the 欠打 face or those who looked too serious never received my votes. Yes, I did pray before I cast my votes but it’s more of a “God, I hope this fella is the right chap!” than a “Oh Lord, open the skies and reveal Your choice to me!” Today of course, I know more than 50% of the board members, but come on, who was I kidding back then?

Nonetheless, whether I was an informed or ill-informed voter, I was still present and my vote made as big an impact as the gentleman who has been attending the church before I was born. With my votes, I represented my generation, my ministry and my personal convictions. I thank God that He knows the final verdict for every decision contested and I also thank God that I know I played a part in His plan. Without me, things might just turn out differently – not for the better or worse, just different.

If I may, I will make a sweeping statement here – I conclude that there were generally two types of church members: those who cared about their church and those who don’t. You can’t be in between. You can’t have conditions. Either you do, or you don’t. And how do I see the commitment in your heart? Very simple – by observing the choices that you have made.

This entry by the way, is not meant to prick your conscience. No, it’s an outcry of how the Spirit convicted my heart today. It was a necessary reminder of my role in the constitution of the church. Perhaps, just perhaps, you may be able to identify with me.

Let’s get excited about the direction of our beloved place of worship. Let’s get enthusiastic about making decisions that will shape our next generation. Let’s get energised about our church – after all, Jesus overcame death to build the church (Matthew 16:18)!

See you later at the 50th Annual Business Meeting – I can’t wait!

the destructive power of assumptions.

Those who follow my blog and know me personally would remember my association with Dercum’s disease, a collection of fatty deposits all over my body. I went for my routine (every 6-9 months) check-up today and it left a deep enough impression to blog about. I spent the chunk of my day with Keith Yeo and I was glad he was there to witness what happened.

A quick background – each check-up costs about $70 and lasts no more than five minutes. Today, I arrived on time and waited 40 minutes before I was served. And I was done within one minute – Keith’s surprised expression when I exited the room verified the swift consultation that just transpired. While I was treated by the best in the business, today’s check-up amounted to $65, or about $1 per second. Cut throat? You tell me.

I walked to the counter and was ready to pay, but as I took out my wallet, I felt uncomfortable – that’s not cost-effective at all! I spent all that time waiting to be told something that I already knew from the last visit – that regrowth is normal and that I should wait for a lot more lumps to grow before I decide upon another operation. So I decided to walk back to the room to perhaps, negotiate with the doctor.

I knocked on the door gently as there was another patient in the room but the nurse curtly shooed me away. The way she told me to take a seat was rude and unnecessary but I tolerated it and waited as instructed. A couple of minutes later, the patient left the room and I entered it.

Before I could even present my case, the doctor suddenly became extremely defensive and started to put words in my mouth.

“If you feel it’s a waste of your time, you can drop the case immediately.”

“If you want a subsidised price, you can close this case and reapply through a polyclinic.”

“If you think that I’m overcharging you, you can always change a doctor.”

And all these were fired at me before I could even utter a word.

Now, I was caught off guard because this wasn’t the doctor whom I’ve interacted with for the past three consultations. And certainly neither professional nor acceptable for a man of his stature. I was taken aback and I stopped him in his tracks.

“Doctor, why are you putting words in my mouth, when I haven’t said anything at all?”

“Why are you behaving so defensively and taking this so personally?”

“All I wanted to do was to come in here to clarify the fee, but I was quite ready to head out to pay the full amount of this consultation.”

“If anything at all, I don’t think I’m the kind to be unreasonable – I just needed to hear an explanation.”

“Why did you jump to so many conclusions before I even asked you anything?”

“I think you should have a word with your staff about the things she told you before I came in…”

I think I must have caught him off guard too, with the way I retorted his (baseless) accusations. And I think he didn’t see that coming from someone who’s probably half his age. He composed himself after a couple of more defensive statements and I remember counting three verbal apologies from him; it was a professional apology though, not a genuine one. But I decided to be gracious about it so that he had some space to 下台 (retreat).

I couldn’t help but to assume three preconceived ideas he had before our little exchange:

  • his nurse fed him with the wrong information
  • he felt that I was about to attack him professionally and personally
  • he probably had a bad day

I left the room feeling confused but something that annoyed me more was the injustice that I experienced. I felt maligned. I believe the medical staff owe me an apology. I was surprised though, that I didn’t lose my temper during the exchange. Instead, I spoke calmly, gently yet assertively. I asked the Spirit to help me respond like Jesus. Still, I left the hospital feeling 不爽 (unsatisfied).

On my way home after leaving Keith, I brought this before the Lord and asked Him to help me make sense of it. I haven’t heard from Him but I am glad that in my anger, I did not sin. Conversely speaking, I’m proud of my conduct and my reaction in the aftermath.

So this is what I am going to do now… I’m going to write this doctor an email to affirm him of my appreciation of his skills and expertise, make him reflect upon his (regrettable, haha) words and actions, close this incident, ask for his composed response to what happened today and tell him I look forward to see him again two years later at my next appointment with him.

Finally (and this is where you can join me), I am going to pray that this would lead to a divine opportunity for me to share the Gospel with him. Of course, I may not get a reply, but if you never ask, you never know.

ten disjointed thoughts and an attempt to resume writing.

1. Numbness is a clear symptom of pre-burnout; it’s a terrible feeling (paradoxically speaking) not being able to feel. All I asked God for today was to help me love Him with my heart. I have little problems loving Him with my mind, soul and strength or even loving others. But to love God with my emotions seemed like the hardest thing to do. Nonetheless, the key word here, is “pre” and the response to numbness is gratitude of foresight; the insight of foresight.

2. Ever since planning for Rhema 2010 began, everything seemed like a task to and for me. I loathe it when my (rare) desire to dwell in melancholy is overpowered by my choleric temperament to solve problems, disengage and move on. I may not show it, but I hate being unemotional. I hate it, really. It was never like that before when I was younger – what’s happening to me? I have become intolerant to affection and indifferent to sentiment. I must never become irrelevant to the people I love and disinterested in the world that I live in.

3. I experienced a paradigm shift on Monday. I repented before God for being transactional in the way that I related to Him, my mentors and mentorees. It is my deep desire that my relationships with people evolve into transformational journeys, and not just transactional events. I got so annoyed at myself for getting ahead of myself. I must learn to differentiate between form and substance. I must not allow intentionality descend into the abyss of transactions. There’s so much more – I don’t want to settle for anything lesser (with presumptuousness)!

4. This week, I finally caught a glimpse of why Peter Chao and Edmund Chan prizes mentoring relationships above ministry leadership. After spending the evening with DYLM, I understood it; while leading R-AGE to the next level is what I will always aspire to do, being a friend and mentor to my beloved shepherds and mentorees is what I shall desire to be for all my days. And I believe the turning point was this week – when investing into their lives becomes the topmost ministry priority for me; let’s see how God helps me to translate that into action.

5. I’ve completely messed up what “intentional” means. And I’ve shortchanged myself with my mentors and shortchanged my mentorees when they’re with me. Oh Lord, help me to undo what I’ve foolishly done! Humble and help me to learn from this. Intentional is when I take a step back to allow God to use me to minister to people. Intentional is when I seize opportunities. I know I’m speaking in code and only I will decrypt it. Ironically, agenda is the enemy of intentionality. Yes, I have identified my “Peter, James and John”; the journey with them begins now…

6. I could have a hundred mentors and a thousand mentorees, but nobody could ever take the place of each one of them in my heart. It’s not about calendar or content… No one could replace no one. One of the worst feelings in mentoring (or life in general), even though it’s theoretically unhealthy, is the feeling of abandonment. I understand how you felt now because I felt it myself… Now it’s up to me to take the next step towards reconciliation – I know it is about to unfold. Oh God, give me wisdom to repair relationships. People aren’t statistics and mentors aren’t vending machines; I am humbled.

7. I intentionally (URGH – the use of that word fills me with disgust!) rescheduled all my appointments next week because I’m in desperate need of an extended break. Regardless of how invincible I’ve always perceived myself to be, still I couldn’t shake off the emptiness that accompanied the disengagement from an intensive two-month discipleship programme. I gave so much away my tank is almost empty. It happened last year and again it happened this year. I am a fool to think I could have overcome it. (Now I understand why I was compelled to read Wayne Cordeiro’s “Leading On Empty”.) It’s time to recharge.

8. Leading a youth ministry from 80 to 120 people within a year makes any youth pastor swell with pride… But nothing – and I mean it, nothing! – is more satisfying and encouraging than watching my successors take the lead to bless me… This afternoon, they instructed me to sit back, relax and do absolutely nothing tonight – and I did just that. I cannot thank God enough for their deed and gesture. Keith and Yixian, you both are God’s precious gifts to me and I will remember that I am leading a group of youths who love me deeply and want me just as I am. You have honoured me tonight – thank you.

9. I thank God for the parental green light to (at last!) take our relationship to the next level in 2012. I may not have the emotional capacity to respond but cognitively, it’s one of the greatest news I’ve received in a while. What a privilege – thank you for daring to entrust your daughter to me; she is most special because one has ever made me want to love her more than I love myself. You have no idea how much we are looking forward to our union. God has answered our year-long prayer; He is faithful indeed!

10. I really hope to commence, complete and continue my theological education at Fuller Seminary and I am truly convinced that it will come to pass one day…

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