Over the past couple of months, I’ve spent Monday afternoons at Dunearn Secondary School, together with a class of secondary one students. First and foremost, an honest confession – I know that my strength is with developing emerging leaders, so when KK told me that I had to stand-in for him for two sessions, I couldn’t help but to brace myself for the challenge of teaching 13 year olds. I like being around young people, but handling these especially restless students required a higher calling; I applaud KK as well as the school teachers, who have done it for years.
I took a gamble today and conducted an activity that I wasn’t really confident of pulling off or sure if it would succeed. I briefed the class on the six typical roles in a committee – chairperson, secretary, treasurer, publicity coordinator, logistics coordinator and programme coordinator – and got them to plan a fictitious event from scratch. The nominated chairperson in each group would choose from the following events to plan: rock concert, CCA open house, school excursion, iJourney camp, fun fair or sports day. They were given 25 minutes to nail this.
When I handed over the time to them, I was pleased to see how involved they were. I had expected the students to get rowdy and to lose interest but they were so engrossed in the planning and creative process; I had expected them to give up or ask a barrage of questions about the various roles but they grasp their functions pretty quickly. I had given each group an imaginary budget, but after seeing how absorbed they were, I upped their budget ten-fold to encourage them to dream even bigger and get even more creative; their budget calculations, though elementary, really caught me by surprise.
I was secretly delighted at their seriousness in accomplishing the given task. When it was time to present, each chairperson was given five minutes to describe everything the group had discussed; it was truly a sight to behold as every student listened attentively and responded enthusiastically to the wacky ideas tendered. I closed the session by sharing PK’s rags-to-riches story (founder of Nike) and drilled into them the importance of planning – especially if they desired to be successful. I drew parallels from the events-planning exercise and helped them to see that planning precedes success.
I sincerely hope that they caught it and would apply it into their lives. Frankly, I’ve never seen them paying such intense attention before. I gave them another five minutes to translate what they have learnt into fulfilling their childhood dreams. During this time of reflection, one (of the more serious) girls actually planned to move up from the normal technical to the normal academic stream by the end of the year to fulfill her dreams of becoming a rich businesswoman. My heart leaped for joy with her. Pardon the cliché, but if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Today, these students taught me a lesson even as I shared my lesson with them – that if you instill belief in people by giving them the key to being responsible for their own planning for success (or failure), they might just surprise you by actually taking ownership of their lives and pilgrimage to success. I was even treated to a bonus exhibition of dandy ideas! I believe that if you empower a young person to dream, they will truly dare to dream along with you. The challenge then, for youth workers like me, is to give them a platform, some perimeters, and to help their see the picture that it takes a team to realise a dream.
This was, without a doubt, the iJourney session that left the greatest impression on me thus far.
REAL Lock-in Camp 2010 will go down as one of the biggest highlights and achievements of my 12 years of serving God in Grace Assembly of God.
I am reminded of the changing power of God’s presence, the massive potential of young people, the victorious satisfaction of a breakthrough, the immense delight of obeying the Holy Spirit’s guidance and amongst many others, just witnessing how these 15 young souls are surrendering themselves to Jesus. WOW!!!
Now, this is what I came into full-time ministry for. I love you all, I’m so proud of each and everyone of you, I believe so much in you all and I can’t wait to invest even more of myself in every one of you. The next two months, we’ll go into Holy Spirit overdrive.
(Okay, I know this post is kinda like a outburst of emotions and very unlike the typical way I write on this blog, but hey, it’s something worth shouting out loud for. God did such a miraculous work of restoration during the camp that I just HAVE to testify of it! More to come in later days. For now, I need to break the non-writing inertia.)
It is inevitable that I am extremely excited about REAL and especially about the upcoming lock-in camp. I’m praying that God will send me the right 10 participants who are serious and not just curious. On a side note, I realised that I’m really quite a camp person; I spent the day putting together the lock-in schedule and I am proud of what I have put together because it looks different from the other years, refreshing and purposeful. I’d like to think that this lock-in camp packs a punch.
I’ve been accumulating sleep debt over the last week (mainly due to FM, I have to be honest here, but my repentance began last night) and as I dragged myself out of bed yesterday morning, I thought about my friends who have “burnt out” in ministry and what these former youth leaders are now. I’d like to think that there’s a huge difference between burning out and losing your fire completely. Think about that for a moment.
More often than not, (physical and emotional) fatigue is usually the cause of sizzling out and I think to address that, it’s an issue of constantly having input – be it through your devotions, mentoring sessions, bible studies or other methods. But losing your fire completely is a sad state of being – it’s like having your passion, zeal and zest for serving God completely removed. I cannot imagine the kind of person I’d be without passion! I’ve become so synonymous with passion over the years that without it I’d be devoid of my driving force, or in a more humourous way, my mojo.
I don’t quite know where I am going with this entry but I find myself juxtaposing how we used to serve and how we are serving now. Did something happen along the way? Did growing up or the allure of the world take something away from us? Some of us seem to have lost that spark in the eye, that fire in the belly, and end up serving the ministry with a lackadaisical attitude.
I have strong opinions about this matter and I do apologise if my tone sounds offensive, but it won’t stop me from saying that it is truly sickening when I see people shortchanging the ministry with a less than excellent spirit (because I know that they can do and have done better!), and yet put in 101% for academic or work pursuits. The question I’m asking isn’t “What’s your passion?” but “WHERE’S your passion?”
This entry is turning out to be a little tough to stomach but at least it’s out of my system. I especially caution those in leadership positions. Once these symptoms start to infiltrate the way you serve, you have to address it immediately by being accountable to someone. If you don’t already know, bad leaders produce bad members who’ll eventually result in becoming worse leaders. This downward spiral of standards and vicious cycle of mediocrity is poisonous not just for our generation but for the generations after us.
May we should rethink the way we ought to serve God.