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top ten personal requests.

I’ve been wanting to publish an entry to highlight some housekeeping matters for some time now and so I finally shall do it today. I’m pleased to say that this is the 180th post since this blog incepted last October. I’m still adding value to it so that your navigation is a breeze and your precious time with me in the virtual world is well-spent. In time to come, besides writing new material, I will also be cleaning up categories and tags, adding more pages and updating links. Basically, I want to enhance and improve the user interactivity and experience of my blog.

To make this happen, I need you to get involved. I know, from my previous blogs and from observing other blogs which are miles cooler than mine, that there are definitely more phantom than active readers. I think I have a healthy following on my blog and so I’d love to hear more from more of you. Reading your thoughts and opinions really does make writing a lot more fun I desire to incite responses. So, help me along yeah?

Without further ado, please allow me to present the top ten things you can do on my blog to enhance your experience here – these are also my personal requests as a writer. Yes, I’m shamelessly asking you to walk an extra mile with me. Would you? (:

1. SUBSCRIBE! If you are already checking my blog regularly, why not conveniently receive my new posts in your mailbox at the time of publication? Simply drop your email at the side bar on the right and click on subscribe.

2. RSS! (Trivia: did you know that it stands for “Really Simple Syndication”?) Most mailboxes have this function and most blog readers use this function. You can do that by clicking on the RSS icon on the right, the RSS word on top, or simply just click here.

3. COMMENT! Have I ever mentioned that I love receiving comments? If you are already leaving comments on my Facebook links, could I trouble you to leave your great comments on the blog itself? I request for this because I want to remember the comments. Comments on Facebook disappear into cyber wilderness over time, but comments here are saved and archived accordingly for future recapitulations.

4. RATE! I’ve added the rating system (“Rate This”) at the top of every post for your convenient rating. Ratings are useful indicators; good ratings help me to recognise popular entries that people have enjoyed and poor ratings help me to improve on my writing or selection of topics. It doesn’t matter if it’s one star or five stars. So for my sake, please just rate! (You remain anonymous anyway.)

5. RE-BLOG! Maybe you need ideas for new entries, maybe you have done a little reflection after reading my posts, or maybe your comments are so long it could become a post itself. It’d be my honour if you, from time to time, used my blog as a base for your thoughts and entries. My only request is that you let me know, so that I can check it out and reciprocate the gesture.

6. EXPLORE! Check out my pages, links, categories, tags and archives and search my blog (using the search field on the right)! My desire is to, after a year or two, have written on enough topics that this blog becomes a comprehensive collection of matters which matter to me.

7. CONTACT! It’s always fun to hear from strangers and I’ve “met” a couple of them here already – where I’ve “heard” their voices before I’ve met them face to face. My contact details are virtually everywhere. You could also add me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter. I really enjoy meeting new people!

9. SUGGEST! I’d love to write on a topic that people are more interested or inclined to read. So from time to time, I’ll try to share my thoughts on what’s current or frequently-asked. If you could suggest a topic for me, I’d love to take it up for these “challenges” serve to make me a better writer.

10. PUBLICISE! In layman terms, please spread the word for me! If you know someone who may be blessed by or benefit from what I share on this blog, please tell them about it. Also, do link me to your blog – I’ll return the gesture and link yours to mine.

Well, that brings me to the end of my 180th post. I hope you’ve enjoyed your time here for I’ve certainly enjoyed your virtual presence here. I look forward to spilling my brains out on a daily basis and also to seeing my top ten requests as a writer being fulfilled. Thank you for your continuous support; your encouragement really makes a difference and spurs me on to write some more. (:

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top ten (re)discoveries of being in youth work.

I spent the last two days on course at SSTI (Social Service Training Institute), the training arm of NCSS (National Council of Social Service). There were many factors that contributed to my thorough enjoyment. It was conducted at their main office at Ulu Pandan Community Club – yes, a three-minute stroll over 200 metres – even nearer than walking to the bus terminal. It was great to network with people in this line of work; I was glad to meet three full-time staff from NCC and I think we connected well. The trainer was a former senior pastor of a local church and he received his postgraduate education from (my dream institution) Fuller Seminary. It was great to meet people from different demographics with a similar heartbeat for youths.

At the risk of sounding cocky (forgive me), I didn’t really learn anything new for there is nothing new under the sun. Most of the findings could be researched online and most of the principles could be self-deducted with common sense. Unfortunately, (the participants and) I do not have the luxury of time to do either, so I was glad that this course helped to piece together the thoughts that were already in my head; I declare it so arrogantly (forgive me again) because a lot of what was taught can actually be found in the 70+ drafts that I’ve written so far, just phrased slightly differently. The presentation may vary, but the train of thought and cognitive motivations are one and the same.

However, this (“Engaging Youths Through Their Culture”) course did affirm my calling, as well as my decision to enter full-time ministry to work with young people at this point of my life. I think it will benefit anyone who has “work with young people” in their job description. Here are the ten things I’ve (re)discovered about myself at the end of the course:

1. I truly am wired for youth ministry. Again, another immodest statement (forgive me, I’m on a roll!) but it is what I honestly believe; I am acutely aware of my strengths and weaknesses. This course has reinforced the preexisting thoughts and mentalities in my head which I have independently developed over the years. There’s no work I’d rather be doing than this.

2. I truly have the DNA of an evangelist. Within hours, I found myself sharing God’s goodness in my life and my journey to full-time ministry to Christians and non-Christians alike. We overcome the evil one by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11) and it was almost instinctive that I did what I did – intentionally share the Gospel through my life, by my speech.

3. I truly enjoy meeting new people and I’m not afraid to air my opinions. In other words, I find it exciting to connect with all kinds of people and I’m outspoken, even in a new or unfamiliar environment. It’s been a while since I’ve mingled with non-church people and today I realised that my personality is quite consistent in every arena of my life. I can only be thankful for that.

4. I truly understood why I was a marketing manager in my previous job before I went into full-time ministry. When the trainer gave us insights into the world of media and marketing, I found myself instantly connected to and comprehended what he was sharing. These topics were my professional competencies and rice bowl; it was what I “specialised” in, sort of.

5. I truly am a senior youth after all. Instinctive compulsions are synonymous with youth. I self-declared to be senior because I no longer act crazy out of impulse, but I self-declared to be a youth because I still have these crazy impulses! (And also because I’m within Singapore’s official 15-30 year old age range!) Nonetheless, I thank God for this all-important suppressing ingredient called maturity.

6. I truly relish communicating and expressing myself through words to a different audience. On a daily basis, I work with Christians, be it my colleagues or my youths. Even the couple of at-risk youths I work with are Christians. I must admit that it’s slightly easier to speak to this group of people because we subject ourselves to a greater authority (in the Bible), and often can use phrases like “I’ll pray for you”, or “Have faith”, or “Trust God” as part of our arsenal of advice. I cherished the opportunity to articulate my thoughts with a deliberate reduction of Christian jargon.

7. I truly am able to speak the language of youth. Be it through the mediums of music, media, colloquial expressions or the virtual world, I realised that I could feel what a young person is trying to tell me in their multi-coded and often pseudo-confused state of mind, evidently manifested in their language – both verbal and non-verbal. Simply put, I think I can readily emphathise with a young person and I thank God for it.

8. I truly see myself doing this kind of work should God lead me out of full-time ministry one day. I always tell people that I take working in Grace/R-AGE a year at a time. I’d love to do it for the long run, but if I ever do something else, with the right credentials, this could be the other dream job I’d want to declare as my occupation – studying youths and talking to youths and people who work with youths about youths – what a combination!

9. I truly love young people. We were shown a surfeit of video clips throughout the course and whether I see something spectacular or sorrowful, I’d spontaneously ask two questions – “How can I rejoice with them?” and “How can I reach out to them?”. It could be the celebration of an achievement, the recovery of a failure or the development and fulfilment of potential. I absolutely yearn to be a part of it – whatever it is!

10. I truly am privileged to work with a kaleidoscope of youths. This is the first time I see my clients playing a significant role in my own training and development as a youth professional (if I could lump all of us into one overarching category). Unlike other youth workers in specialised roles (like social workers or psychologists) who attend mainly to one subset of youths, I have the wonderful benefit of meeting all kinds of youths from all kinds of social backgrounds with all kinds of upbringing and all kinds of aspirations.

All right, this post has certainly evolved into a piece longer than I had expected so I shall conclude it here; at the end of the day, this is how I would consider my job, or better phrased, my current phase of life – that it is my absolute dutiful delight and delightful duty to work with young people. And I praise God daily and nightly for putting me where I am. This truly is a reward that the world could never give.

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