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a September stock-take and an October onslaught.

It’s always therapeutic to do a stock-take after an eventful week, which would have been impossible to pull off and not fall exhausted on my face, if not for the grace of God that saw me though. Warning: long post.

Monday: attended QC (Questions and Contributions) time and a monthly mentoring session with Ps Edmund Chan; ’til this day, I still thank God for the divine appointment in which He has connected me to Ps Ed; what a privilege and honour.

Tuesday AM: led worship at the Tuesday staff devotion with Ps Meng Cham; that’s how I will do it from now on – being accompanied by a seasoned musician makes it so much more enjoyable (because I won’t need to practice with my guitar!)

Tuesday PM: prepared for and sat through a staff meeting, which was a heart-wrenching experience and threw me off my momentum; I’m thankful for Ps Ronald who patiently listened to me rant and vent my frustrations. This forced me to come before the Lord that evening to seek His face. And I’m glad I did. The Lord spoke to me through Genesis 13 and Hebrews 6.

Wednesday AM: Caleb crashed at my place the night before and we watched Man Utd surrender a 2-0 lead to Basel and equalised in typical United fashion at the dying minutes. I struggled through the second half, to be honest. I’m really getting old…

Wednesday PM: led worship at the weekly Wednesday church prayer meeting (J333) with Rafael.; exposing youth musicians through my J333 duties gives me renewed purpose when I find my name on the worship leading roster. My next session is on 30 November and I’ll go over-the-top because I’ll be teaming up with Ps Ronald and the church will be praying for R-AGE.

Thursday: presented the 2012 R-AGE budget in front of the Head of Administration, accountant and finance manager of Grace AG on Thursday (my first time presenting with Excel spreadsheets); administration is really not my strength. Thank God for Ps Ronald who rescued me by answering on my behalf on a few occasions.

Friday AM: had a delectable dim-sum lunch at Royal China @ Raffles Hotel with Sheryl from Eagles, together with Daniel and Xavier too, and joined the Vantage Point magazine editorial team. (I just received my first email from them!)

Friday PM: sat through another staff meeting, and wondered what it would be like next year when I’m chairing it.

Friday EVE: spent time with some of my favouritest people on the planet at the GII Shepherds cell, and facilitated our Harmony of the Gospels lesson; Yixian said if we continued at this pace (in-depth but extremely slow), we’d take two years to finish the book.

Saturday AM: led the R-AGE 2012 manpower deployment discussion with Caleb, Keith, Kenneth and Rachael; yes, R-AGE leaders, we were deliberating over your fate next year! HAHAHA. I can’t wait to see youths lead youths!

Saturday PM: preached an apologetics cum evangelistic sermon (my first attempt) for the Same Same But Different evangelistic service at R-AGE@GII. I actually enjoyed my preparation more than my execution. It was intellectually stimulating to read in greater detail how atheism, pantheism and polytheism (among many other -isms) stood against theism.

Saturday EVE: chaired the Bare Bones 2012 coordination meeting with Nicole, Keith, David and Grace – who have proposed some spectacular ideas for the year-end conference. It’s gonna blow Grace AG away; everything is going to be significantly leveled-up! I’m delighted to be working with such exceptional youth leaders. Watching Man Utd defeat Norwich 2-0 capped my day.

Sunday: preached the same sermon at R-AGE@GI. I took the opportunity to clear up some personal administrative work while waiting to have lunch with Huiyi and Yixian. After a short nap to recharge my batteries, I resumed studying for my 60% News Studies paper (the next day), which I have burned midnight oil for in the past seven days. Little by little, I’ve conquered the paper.

Monday (today): praise God for a relatively easy exam paper! It’s different when you understand what you are reading and memorising instead of mugging just for the sake of. I managed to finished the paper with an hour to spare, so I brought forward my appointment with my hairstylist. It’s 4pm now (at the point of writing) and my head literally and metaphorically feels lighter.

I’m going to complete this blog post before I go ahead to prepare the slides for the R-AGE 2012 Ministry Action Plans (which I’m presenting to all pastoral staff tomorrow!) Then I’m going to head out to China Square to treat my family to a nice dinner of Crab Bee Hoon @ Don’s Pie Club. We’re celebrating my sister’s belated birthday (1 October), as well as my 8th 21st birthday in advance.

This week, I also managed to meet Caleb and Lucas for lunch and mentoring on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. I thoroughly enjoy investing time into young men who possess a desire to grow. Lucas’ huge appetite for growth reminds me of me, especially in the way that I pursue my mentors. I told him to never lose his hunger (okay, boy?).

After our  mentoring session over coffee in Starbucks@Tanglin Mall, he asked, “How do you do it, Bro Joey?” It being managing the many things on my plate. I couldn’t find an adequate way to answer him except to say, with all sincerity, that this capacity is a God-given gift; how could I take credit for the grace of God? I told him to ask God for it as well, because I think God will give it. (I didn’t tell him about the price of increased capacity though, but I’m sure he’ll figure that out himself.)

September has been an exceptional month in ministry. Besides starting R-AGE on the Spiritual Disciplines: Training in Holiness sermon series, I’ve also been planning for R-AGE in 2012 and meeting up with lots of youth leaders who might be serving alongside me next year. I am convinced that it’s my time with the Lord everyday that’s keeping me afloat.

I’ve also been reading non-stop throughout the week (and at an aggressive pace too). Besides the Bible during my daily devotions, sermon preparation materials and academic texts, I’ve also been feasting into Edmund Chan’s Cultivating Your Inner Life, Philippe Auclair’s Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King and Larry Crabb’s 66 Love Letters. I think I’m concurrently reading eight books – and I love the variety! This is effective for someone like me who gets bored easily.

On a more personal note, I’ve also been spending lots of time with Huiyi with our wedding preparation; we’ve reserved Sunday afternoons to visit bridal studios and photographers, as well as to plan for our big day. The highlight of these trips is to catch a sneak preview of my wife-to-be when she emerges from the changing room in glorious, gorgeous white; she’s gonna be the most stunning bride in all of Singapore next August – you have no idea how much we are looking forward to be married to each other!

I’d probably be packing my luggage midway when this post is published; Jetstar is going to take me to Perth at 5:45pm (Tuesday). I look forward to hanging out with Chin Seng, Ervina and Liang Zhi, but the highlight of my trip is to spend time with Ps Edmund and Ps Ann. I’ve been looking forward to this trip ever since I purchased the air tickets (super cheap!) a few months ago.

When I began my mentoring journey with Ps Edmund around this time last year, he emailed me his traveling itinerary and invited me to follow him on one of his countless trips; so here I am, excited and still starstruck, counting down the hours before I get to spend quality, uninterrupted and extended time with a God-given mentor, whom I’m sure will sharpen, challenge and inspire me!

October, I am ready for your onslaught!

Quenching my spiritual thirst with living water! (@ The Pinnacles, Perth, Australia)

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your greatest trump card is not ability, but availability.

Now, let’s return to real life for just one more entry.

I’d like to capture how I’ve been blessed over the past two days at the Eagles Leadership Conference 2011 (ELC), which took place at the Suntec City Convention Hall. It was my first ELC. It started when I brought Peter Chao out for his (very) belated birthday meal last month. I asked him if he needed help at ELC and he hooked me up to the various departments. I was ready for most assignments, so long as I could handle it.

I just wanted to be available to serve Eagles, for they have been exceptional with me. I guess it’s my way of returning their kindness and generosity with me. (And it turns out that my intention to bless them brought about a blessing too – I attended the conference free-of-charge as a volunteer.)

At first, they asked if I could serve as a videographer – I was frank with them and admitted my machinery incompetencies. I think I am more effective as an emcee, usher or with front desk duties. In the end, they assigned me to be a session coordinator (for Workshop 8)… And a narrator (i.e. voice-over) for the ELC 2013 promotion video. Or at least, that was what I thought I was going to do.

But when I came down to meet the producer on Wednesday, I found out that I wasn’t just the narrator… I got more than what I bargained for… I discovered that I would be filmed. Yes, f-i-l-m-i-n-g. Not voice-recording. It was a tremendous privilege, but I was a little stunned at their faith in me. So, I took up the challenge, returned home to memorise the script, rehearsed in front of a mirror, and recorded myself with my iPad 2.

The actual filming took place on Friday at the Grand Ballroom during lunch hour. It went more smoothly than I had anticipated and I only had a couple of bad takes. The producer was pleased with what he saw at playback and we called it a day.

At 9:20am, I received an SMS from Peter Chao. He asked if I was interested to join him at the Fuller Seminary alumni meeting at 10am. Of course I turned up… It was refreshing to meet a couple of the current students, as well as a few prospective students. Let’s just say… I can’t wait to graduate from RMIT. And what happens after that, I’ll let the Lord lead me… (:

Anyway, before the filming, I met Ps Edmund Chan outside the ballroom and told him that I would attend his afternoon workshop, which was titled, “Mentoring the Whole Person”. I told him that I was afraid I couldn’t get seats. To this he said, “Just tell the organisers that you have my personal invitation.”

I smiled at the generous favour I received from him.

Coincidentally, I was filming in the ballroom that he was going to be speaking at. So at the end of the filming, I saw him stroll in to prepare himself for the session. I asked him if I could serve him in any way possible. He said he was fine and proceeded with his own setup. It was already 1:40pm and I haven’t had lunch so I packed my belongings and got ready to leave the hall for a quick meal.

Just before I left, he stopped me.

“Joey, would you still like to help me?”

I was ready to skip lunch to perhaps help him with his slides, run an errand for him or just be his PowerPoint clicker.

“Later, I would like you to spend about five minutes to talk about how we met, and share a couple of your perspectives on mentoring. Edward is here too so I thought it would be a nice polarity to have my oldest and youngest mentoree share something with everyone.”

My jaw dropped as I stared at Ps Edmund.

I was in the company of giants. Ps Edmund is the Reverend Edmund Chan. And Edward is the Datuk Edward Ong (do yourself a favour and google him). Joey Asher Tan is the smallest guy on the totem pole.

“You want me to what?” I tried to communicate that to him with my eyes. He smiled at me.

I had the most stressful lunch, ever, in my entire life. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say later.

Thank God I blogged about our divine appointment – so that really helped to jog my memory. And by God’s grace, within that 15 minutes, I somehow came up with 4 R’s of mentoring (which I chose not to share in the end because I felt it wasn’t necessary).

As Datuk Edward was bringing his sharing to an end, my heart was beating faster and faster to no end! I had never been so nervous before! Ps Edmund introduced me (!) and my hands began to tremble uncontrollably after I took the microphone. I uncharacteristically stammered and stuttered at some parts, and none of the eloquence in my arsenal showed itself. It was a humbling, humbling, humbling experience, but I was happy, happy, happy.

What an honour. What a privilege. What a moment!

It’s never about ability, isn’t it? It’s always about availability. All I wanted to do, was to be available to serve Eagles. And God took care of the rest.

You want me to what?

“I want you to be available.” — God

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