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!
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.