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ten quick and random thoughts after Rhema opening night.

1. I really enjoy working with young people, regardless of whether they are experienced or emerging ones.

2. R-AGE really has an abundance of talented and committed youths and I am grateful to God for all of them.

3. It is my prayer that you will thrive in faith, hope and love. We are ready for You… Are you ready for Him…?

4. There’s nothing we can do to manufacture God’s presence but we can do everything to do our best for Him.

5. I thank God for the young adults who serve in R-AGE for they play an integral role and contribute significantly.

6. We have a delightful batch of 13-year-olds at both GI and GII; what a joy to see them serve God as ushers or in the choir.

7. If given a choice, I’d rather not do productions because it’s tiring, but it’s immensely gratifying to see a vision come to fruition.

8. From recording the above video from the gallery, God reminded me of my calling and duty towards this youth ministry.

9. This is a fantastic opportunity for me to put more names to faces and to know these precious youths a little better.

10. I really, really, really, love young people and I consider it an honour and privilege to be able to pastor this youth group.

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day two – hurt people hurt people.

These are the things on my mind at the close of the second day at Grace Retreat 2010.

  • When God pursues you, it is because He’s looking for a mouth to speak through, to accomplish His own purposes for His own glory.
  • Let us be wary about a cavalier attitude towards our calling and God’s anointing in our lives; many feel the touch of the mantle, but only a few respond to it.
  • Does authority come from positions and statuses or come from the Lord? A rhetorical question but a necessary reminder. Do you find security in who you are or what you do? What a timely reality check.
  • A stronghold is like a prison that keeps you in and keeps others out.
  • Fear may cause us to isolate ourselves and cause a driven person who is performance-oriented to gain acceptance this way.
  • A prior rejection of others may cause us to reject people even before they get a chance to reject us, as a result of our self-defence mechanisms.
  • Flying a kite teaches us a lesson on letting go; but beyond that, it teaches us to relinquish control of our own power to release it to a greater power that will take the kite to places that we could never imagine we could in the limitations of our power and ability; we should let go for something greater.
  • God challenged my perspective on being authentic. I used to live by, “Why should I tell you who I am? If I tell you who I am, and you don’t like who I am, that’s all I’ve got.” It was time for a paradigm shift and to trust God to protect my esteem and security, regardless of who or what I encounter.

I look forward to Wednesday. 79 to go! You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, “Blessed be Your name”. I love You, Lord. Amen.

the difference between a job and a career.

I spent some time deliberating this over the past couple of days. I found some interesting attempts at defining and differentiating the two. These definitions are amongst the first few to appear when I googled the above question:

“Your job is what you are doing today. Your career is what you’ve done over the past years and what you plan to do in the future… Your job feeds you and your family today. Your career will feed you and your family tomorrow and beyond.”

“The job pays your bills, and a career is a path you’ve taken (hopefully because you enjoy it) to attain or keep the ideal job for you.”

“A career is something that you build during your lifetime. Jobs are often times task-oriented positions to help meet the goals of an organisation or business. Jobs are often a means to an end… Sometimes jobs lead to careers.”

“A job is something you do simply to earn money; a career is a series of connected employment opportunities. A job has minimal impact on your future work life, while a career provides experience and learning to fuel your future. A job offers few networking opportunities, but a career is loaded with them. When you work at a job, you should do the minimum without annoying the boss. When you’re in a career, you should go the extra mile, doing tasks beyond your minimum job description.”

There’s an endless list of dichotomous definitions but they are largely synonymous.

I remember learning this from somewhere – maybe in one of KK’s workshop (?) – that in a career, people usually stay for a long time and “climb” up the organisational ladder; the good ones care about the welfare and well-being of the company and its employees. To a certain extent, they live for others. Whereas a job is just something people do from 9am to 5pm and remain indifferent to just about everything except for the accuracy and arrival of their paycheck. To another extent, they live for themselves.

Now, this gets me thinking about my own predicament – is it a job or a career? I know for sure that during my army days, it was a job – I did what I was expected to do; on good days, I go the extra mile and on bad days, I do the bare minimum. When I was in Shanghai, it felt a little different because I treated it like my own company. There wasn’t such a thing called “Official Working Hours” simply because at the management level, you work as hard and as long as you’re required to; my boss did not believe in overtime pay for the managers because it was expected of us to get the job done and the project(s) completed. AT’s an excellent boss, and although sometimes he’s quite a slave-driver, he has successfully imbued in us managers the all-important ownership of the company.

So this brings me back to me today as a youth minister with Grace Assembly of God. Is this my job? Not really, because I’d have been imparting my life into young people anyway even if I was an army officer or a marketing manager – I’m just doing it full-time on a more intensive level. Is this my career then? Not really too, because I do not even know if I will be doing this for the long run. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m committed to what I have signed on to do, but I’m keener to listen to God’s prompting. The last thing I want is to overstay – I think that would be absolutely meaningless. But if God tells me to go, I’d be gone in an instant – I’m not worried about transitions and to start out all over again in any industry because I have confidence in my ability to excel wherever I go.

Hence, my answer to the question above – the difference between a job and a career is to know your calling in life and to pursue that calling wholeheartedly in any given time or space instead of being in an occupation for a season of life. I’ve said this to quite a number of people – in my current “job”, while it’s slightly easier than the previous ones because my gifting and skills-set are tailor-made for it, I’ve also poured in double the work hours and emotional involvement. Yet I feel that since I’ve joined Grace in October 2009, I’ve not worked a single day at all simply because I am pursuing what I believe God has intended for me to pursue for this season of my life.

Have you found your calling? Are you stuck with a job? Or are you caught in a career?

He who has called me in will keep me in.

I just got home not too long ago from an extremely satisfying meal at Pasta Fresca with LS – I credit him for my singing techniques as well as for spending time to groom me as a singer 13 years ago. It’s amazing how that has laid a strong foundation for me to perform as well as to lead worship. The most important vocal technique I learnt from him – how not to slur in your singing. Thank you, LS, for believing in my potential back then and for continuing to believe in what God has in store for me even ’til today! Details withheld, but I really enjoyed being able to share so honestly and openly and knowing that he fully understood my every sentiment because he was able to identify with it.

Other than that, I thought it’d be important for me to jot down the things that was impressed upon my heart during our internal prayer meeting this morning:

  1. Remember your covenant
  2. Renew your vision
  3. Reaffirm your calling
  4. Reinstate your passion
  5. Realign your will

I serve a faithful God and I know that He who has called me in will keep me in!

I’m heading for PY’s writing seminar early tomorrow morning so I shall keep this account short and sweet. Looking forward to learn from an established author!

top ten ingredients of a worship leader.

I have decided to embark on a periodical series of “Top Ten” lists. To kickstart the series, I’ll share my initial insights of being a worship leader for the last 12 years. I received my calling to lead worship when I was 14 years old at a NA’s Bondage Breaker Conference (I know the topics are unrelated but I don’t decide when I’m called!). The first time I led worship was when I was 15 years old, at a Methodist Schools’ Combined Christian Fellowship Camp. I joined CAMY (before it was called CAMY) when R-AGE services first began as a 14-year-old backup vocalist (way back in 1997) and I began leading worship in R-AGE and in the adult services when I was 17 and 21 years old respectively.

Throughout the 12 years, God has always been faithful to me in assuring me of my calling – He consistently sends (at least) one person to encourage and affirm me of my worship leading anointing, for every single worship session that I’ve led, be it in school, small groups or services. I praise and thank God for His grace and faithfulness. While I sense that my calling has shifted to preaching, leading and mentoring for this season of my life (that’s one reason why I didn’t join the worship ministry in my church in Shanghai), I’m still blessed to have lots of experiences to share with current, new and aspiring worship leaders and hence the birth of this simple bite-sized list.

I’ve divided the list into two categories; the five ingredients in the “Worship” category deals with inward and internal character traits which I feel all worship leaders should possess; the remaining ingredients in the “Leader” category deals with outward and external personality attributes which I think all worship leaders should exhibit. This list is by no means exhaustive and I could probably list another 10, but these are the ingredients that come to my mind first. So here goes the alpha of many “Top Ten” lists to come:

“WORSHIP”

1. Personal worship – The songs you choose should minister to you first and your worship expression on stage should be as consistent as your expression at home, during your devotional time spent with God.

2. Private prayer – Anointing and spiritual authority flows into your life by one way only – an intimate relationship with God; you must develop a habit of regularly praying for yourself, your team and the congregation that you are leading.

3. Reliability and Reliance – Besides being a dependable and available worship leader (for your team), you must learn to be reliant on the Holy Spirit to lead you when you lead worship; failure to do so results in leading by charisma and not by anointing.

4. Humility – Realise that the definition of a biblical leader (modeled after Jesus) is first to serve before you lead, hence your team members are people you serve and not people who serve you; learn to meet their needs and always be concerned for their spiritual growth and character development.

5. Accountability – Being a worship leader means your life is now amplified for all to witness; it is absolutely imperative that a (more) mature and experienced (worship) leader watches over your spiritual well-being for there are many potential hazards as a high-profile personality.

“LEADER”

6. Excellence – Solid preparation is key to leading effectively and so you must memorise your music and your lyrics, as well as to be absolutely familiar with the arrangements, before you can even expect your team to do likewise. I also challenge all worship leaders to expose themselves to more musical genres, know basic music theory and learn at least one instrument.

7. Responsibility – Realise that you are now a public figure and hence your onstage leadership must be a reflection of your offstage lifestyle; you must be responsible for your speech and conduct for they carry a lot more weight now.

8. Initiative – As the shepherd of a flock, you should organise cohesion sessions (such as meals and meet-ups) to bond your team together as well as to give you a platform to get to know them better; take ownership of your team’s overall growth – first as believers, then as musicians.

9. Enthusiasm – If you are half-baked about the things that you do, you will end up producing half-past-six members and your worship session will also be a reflection of your personality. Hence, you must believe and be excited about what you are doing if you want others to catch your “fire”.

10. Connection – I’ve saved the most personal ingredient for the last; one reason why I am convinced of my effectiveness as a youth worship leader, is because I make deliberate efforts to get to know the congregation that I am leading (through intentional fellowship). Hence when I lead my congregation into worship, when I articulate lyrics, when I look into their eyes, (I think) I get an idea of what they are experiencing in their lives and I am to able lead and minister to them because I understand their struggles. You must feel for your congregation.

In closing, a popular perception of a worship leader is that he only needs to concern himself with the 30-minutes on stage. I vehemently beg to differ this dangerous rockstar attitude. You are the worship leader who leads others to worship God, not yourself. The glittering “glamour” of leading worship comes with the great task of leading your team during the time that you are not on the platform (which is the bulk!). Remember, a worship leader is not a superstar.

Suddenly I have a lot more to share, so perhaps I’ll write another “Top Ten” in the coming days. I sincerely hope that was helpful for you and can serve to be a simple yardstick for all worship leaders.

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