It seems that blame-shifting and responsibility-shirking has become ingrained in our systems. Time and again when something goes wrong, we never fail to push the blame to someone else and absolve ourselves of all fault. It happens everywhere – home, school, work, ministry and with friends. We are always reluctant to believe that we can be at fault, or at least, we have too much pride to admit that it might just be our mistake.
For instance, I’ve seen many people join and leave their church. More often than not, when they exit, they will find a pastor to crucify, a preaching style to criticise or a leader to cuss. I managed to do this of course, but in a less violent way. When I decided to leave my former church for Grace, I politely gave reasons like “you need to be 18 before you can serve”, “when the pastor preaches it’s like he’s scolding us” and of course the timeless classic of “it’s a family church that’s too cliquish”.
Surely we are familiar with these “justifications” when we considered leaving our church:
“Oh I prefer a more expository style of preaching.”
“The leaders are too demanding.”
“The youth group has too many rules.”
“I feel that I can’t grow anymore because the teaching is too basic.”
I think I recall BH (who happens to be one of my favourite speakers) saying something like this before, “If there was a perfect church, you wouldn’t be in it“.
Well, what is my point then? I think it’s always easier to change ourselves than to change other people.
- Before you complain about your imperfect church, ask if you’ve been a good member.
- Before you lament about your nagging mother, ask if you’ve been a good child.
- Before you carp about your boring job, ask if you’ve been excellent in all your tasks.
- Before you grumble about your substandard school, ask if you’ve been a good student.
- Before you whine about your unsatisfactory grades, ask if you’ve been studying hard enough.
- Before you grouse about your small allowance, ask if you’ve been a good steward of money.
- Before you mutter about your weird cell, ask if you’ve been putting effort to unify everyone.
- Before you kvetch about your disloyal friends, ask if you’ve been a reliable buddy.
So I urge everyone to do some self-scrunity once in a while. It may do you more good than harm.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
A few weeks ago, MF approached me to send her some lessons learnt while I was growing up. It wasn’t difficult coming up with content and I could write a lot more but here are 10 lessons that rolled off the top of my head. Seven of them were published in the R-AGE bulletin, so I’ll add three more here.
- You will make mistakes. Just don’t make the same ones.
- You will only get busier and busier, so start the habit of serving God as early as possible.
- School friends are friends for a season. Church friends are friends for life.
- Accountability doesn’t imprison you but sets you free.
- Having someone believe in you is the greatest gift you’ll ever receive.
- Never underestimate the power of encouraging someone else.
- No amount of ministry can compensate for failure in the familly.
- The quantity of close friends decreases as you age, but the quality of friendship increases. Invest more time in less people.
- You cannot please everyone, so stop trying. There is nothing more assuring than God’s approval.
- The higher you rise in leadership, the more you need to be comfortable with being alone.
I guess I could go on and on with a plethora of thoughts, really. That’s precisely why I have decided to resume blogging – to capture one thought a day, everyday, from an otherwise overwhelming influx of ideas. It’d be an achievement if I could capture and expand on 365 thoughts annually. Let’s see how far this blog would take me on my cognitive journey.
“Sir, I think you booked the wrong tickets.”
Without a shadow of a doubt, this goes down as one of my biggest boo-boos. I couldn’t believe that I committed a mistake of this simplicity. The crazy thing about it was that none of the four people I had sent my itinerary to spotted it as well. The dates on my E-ticket read 28 Nov Fri to 28 Dec Mon (!!! – I know). On hindsight, thank God there was no promotional fare this time – the more expensive flexi-saver ticket I purchased allowed for a n0-fee flight change.
To help you understand the severity of the situation, on the line was 40kg of fish meat, a $919 SQ air ticket and another $90 paid for excess baggage. It was midnight and my sister (who kindly sent me to the airport) had already reached home. The current flight was fully booked and so were the next two flights at 7am and 10am. The frozen fish meat only had a lifespan of 10 hours without refrigeration.
To say I was panicking is an understatement. But a part of me really enjoyed the impending adventure. Suddenly I was captured in a cinematic moment. Strangely, I was at peace but also in a flurry.
Check-in for the flight closes at 12:35am. The plane takes off at 1:15am.
T-30 minutes @ 12:05am:
After confirming this major mistake, the check-in officer informed me that 12 people have not turned up for this flight. And there were already two passengers on the waiting list. I was third on the list. If nine passengers turned up, it’d be game over for Joey. My uncle and I dismissed paying for Business Class (DANG!) and were hoping for the no-show of these 12 people.
T-20 minutes @ 12:15am:
After putting down the phone with HY for the third time – I needed an anxiety-venting outlet – I was informed by the same officer that there were only 5 seats left. Calmly, he said, “Sir, maybe this is your lucky day”.
His colleague added, “But honestly Sir, based on my experience, I think your chances are really low.”
T-10 minutes @ 12:25am:
I told HY that I couldn’t be on the phone anymore because I was in such a state of peaceful flurry (!). I hung up, looked towards the counter and established eye contact with the same officer. He didn’t give me a thumbs up, but gestured “3” instead. I remembered the two already on the waiting list and my negotiations with God reached a new level of extraordinary wagers. I think I must have really tickled God.
D-day H-hour @ 12:35am:
“Sir, please proceed to the opposite counter to pay for your excess baggage after you check-in. Please watch your time as the gate closes at 1:05am. Have a good flight.”
This was the first time I was the last person on the plane. And this miracle really made me look forward to my short 3-day 2-night hiatus in Shanghai.
Tomorrow, find out why I got zero rest on the plane in Shanghai Tan Part 2 – Sleepless on SQ.