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how do you spot potential?

All right, it’s time for me to make a comeback on WordPress! I’ve struggled to recover my writing momentum after a five-day hiatus and being away in Cameron Highlands over the last few days didn’t help my cause. (It was a great break though!) Nonetheless, I shall give myself an easier head-start with a shorter entry tonight to break the silence.

Since PIERCE ended, I’ve had youths indicating their interests to be emcees, cell mentors, ushers and basically to serve in R-AGE. Of course, this delights me (and my shepherds) to no end! More significantly, this morning, I’ve had the privilege of welcoming the latest member to my beloved GII leadership family – NC! She shared with me her journey with God enroute to the DoYouLoveMe cell group and I just sat there at Ya Kun, and acknowledged the good work that the Lord is doing in her life. Her addition to the GII Shepherds means that “Plug & Play” will now be a monthly feature in the R-AGE @ GII services. (And everyone says “HURRAY!”) I can’t wait for the first installment in July!

I’d also like to record my answer to her question – “How do you spot potential in a young person?” I thought about it for a short moment and this was my response to her.

First and foremost, before you even identify any potential, you must get to know who the person is and this takes time and effort. The young people in this day and age are generally less likely to initiate approaching you, hence it’s important that you take the first step to be acquainted with them. Without any prior (or basic) knowledge of their background, personality and unique talents, you’d never get an idea of who they can become and how they can contribute to God’s kingdom.

Once that is established, it’s really about observing them. Again, this takes time and effort and most people write youths off very quickly, before they get a chance to express what they’re capable of and show you a glimpse of who they can become. I always believe that if you stick around long enough and are regular enough, young people will open up to you by the sheer virtue that you are ever-present; I’d like to believe that it’s never about charisma, but about consistency. No excuses for the introverted phlegmatic.

Now, I think I have an almost “blind” belief in young people because I trust God. I know He’s in charge of the process and I believe that He is in control of the outcome. Everyone is different and every person will become a unique jigsaw in the masterpiece of God; while some may have more significant roles and are more active than others, there is no one who is more or less important than the other – that’s my conviction, at least. So I tell myself that all I can do as a leader in authority, is to sponsor opportunities for young people to reach their potential, just like how my mentors have done so for me. I’m not afraid of making mistakes – even errors in judgment – and I think this helps the youths under me to feel that the pressure is off them. I always tell my youths that the only thing I expect them to do is to make mistakes – because I did and screwing up did me a world of wonders. Of course, I’ll try to prevent it, but I do not strive to stop it from happening. Some walls are meant to be crashed into; I always believe that God uses every single experience for His glory.

Often, I ask God to give me a vision of the “developed state” of the young person or leader that I am journeying with. I take a step of faith to believe that whatever I envision, I will play a part in helping that young person to realise his or her potential. The sense of satisfaction I enjoy when I see a youths soar in their capacities and capabilities is beyond what money can buy and what the world can offer. In an almost divine manner, God has been faithful to me – for most of the youth leaders and youths that I’ve worked with, they do eventually turn out to be what I’ve envisioned them to be. I thank God for giving me a “radical audacity” to dream and to see beyond what others can see – sometimes I even have the privilege of seeing beyond what the young person I’m journeying with can see. Don’t get me wrong – I’m far from being a soothsayer – I just try to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and act upon what is prompted in my heart.

Of course, there are some youths who didn’t quite develop the way that I had hoped that they would. Did I despair? I used to. But the older I get, the more I learn to trust God, because I know His plans for that young person are far greater than mine. God’s detours are better than Man’s direction. I’m reminded time and again that God is God, and I’m just a privileged mentor. I’m a risk-taker though, and I love to see young people lead young people. To an extent, I find myself in the process of lowering the average age of leaders in R-AGE and somehow, that gives me an immense sense of gratification – more than half of my key leaders are barely 21 years old!

After I finished my breakfast appointment with NC, I had lunch with SY and I remember telling him how he carries the potential to be one of the pillars of the cell mentors corps. He shared with me his keenness to take on the role of a service emcee (which thrilled me greatly!) and I told him that I can’t wait to retire from being an emcee because it’s such a powerful sight for him (and his peers) to take ownership of the ministry.

As if it’s not obvious enough already, R-AGE @ GII is on the threshold of revival. I feel it!

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top ten ways to end your relationship.

Even though I’ve been with HY for nearly 2.5 years, I’d never profess to be an expert in relationships simply because I’ve made countless mistakes in the past. But being with HY has changed me significantly (for the better, of course!) and there are some lessons that I’ve learnt along the way, which I’d like to share with you. As the Latin proverb goes, “A wise man learns by the mistakes of others, a fool by his own”, I do desire that you learn from my shortcomings. So, from the top of my head, here are the top ten things to avoid doing if you want your relationship to last!

1. Hang your dirty linen in public. Go ahead and announce to the world how terrible your partner has treated you and how horrible he or she is. There’s never a better way to kill your relationship than to embarrass each other publicly. While you’re at it, be sure to publish it on facebook, twitter and of course, on your blog.

2. Keep using “never” and “always”. Actually, this applies to any perilous relationship. If you want to continually make your partner feel condemned and like he or she always pisses you off and never makes you happy, go ahead and use these two very powerful and poisonous adverbs in your daily conversations.

3. Threaten to break up at every conflict. Nothing makes the relationship more unstable and volatile than to intimidate each other with the promise to call it quits at the dawn of any argument. Yeah, reap the benefits of blackmail. (This is something HY and I have carefully committed to never do and so far, we haven’t, thank God.)

4. Reply with “fine” and “whatever”. Guys, especially, will be particularly annoyed with this common bad habit that girls have. Whether you’re the guy or the girl, remember that this damaging attitude is one of the most terrible ways to communicate and it’s act of cowardice and immaturity.

5. Sweep things under the carpet, avoid and escape. Then rake up everything when you quarrel. This soak-and-strike method reflects your inability to resolve existing conflicts and your failure to learn from past mistakes. At the end of every episode, you both will feel empty, frustrated and like you’ve taken a step backwards.

6. Live in your private world all together separate. Isolation often leads to secrecy and this results in the couple making mistakes without the protective umbrella of accountability. This is deceptive when things are fine and dandy but when you get into trouble, you’ll learn the precious lesson of, “No man is an island”.

7. Express yourself through physical intimacy. I honestly confess that this is the number one struggle for guys and the number one weakness for girls. Too-far-too-soon is the number one killer for most relationships. Those who’ve experienced it may just tell you, regretfully, that their number one relationship didn’t survive.

8. Communicate the wrong love language. This passive error is one of the greatest cause of misery because the good intention displayed from either side is let down by the wrong delivery method. Do not ever forget to discover how your partner feels loved and appreciated, best done at the start of the relationship.

9. Exclude each other from each other. As if being guy and girl, being brought up completely differently and having different values systems isn’t already hard enough, you can jeopardise your relationship further by keeping your friends and activities to yourself. Watch how you slowly but surely drift – it’s a guarantee.

10. Maintain status quo, rewind and repeat. Take your courtship for granted and persist in your comfort zone by continuously doing the same things and going to the same places. Your laziness, inertia and reluctance to be creative will bear the fruits of apathy, lethargy and monotony. Great ingredients for any relationship.

As I type, I realise that I can easily share another five to ten more. So maybe I’ll share that in the sequel to this post. In conclusion, just remember that my relationship is mine to learn from and cherish and yours is yours. Every relationship is vastly different yet it requires the same amount of immense effort in order to make it work. So, whenever you’re in doubt, refer to a higher authority. I don’t know who or what you turn to, but I’d recommend you to consider referring what I use as my guideline:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever… 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, New Living Translation

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