If there was anyone in the world I could ask to mentor me in spotting and developing potential, it would undoubtedly be Sir Alex Ferguson. One day, I will meet him, along with Eric Cantona and John Piper – these are the few people whose hands I’ve yet to shake and whose feet I will sit at to learn from.
I couldn’t help but to rack up my respect for the Gaffer with his latest statement on Rooney. Absolutely classic. I completely resound with the Boss.
… But Ferguson ratcheted up this extraordinary public battle, with a powerful and idiosyncratic late night explanation of why Rooney should have invested faith in his proven ability to spot talent and why the grass might not be as green as the striker really thinks it will be at Manchester City. “Sometimes you look in a field and you see a cow and you think it’s a better cow than the one you’ve got in the field,” Ferguson said. “It never really works out that way. It’s probably the same cow and its not as good as your own cow. Some players like to think there’s a better world somewhere else. It never really works.”
As metaphors go, it was about as memorable as Eric Cantona’s “seagulls follow the trawler” story, though and it was accompanied by Ferguson’s revelation that a lack of belief in his judgment in the transfer market had once persuaded a player – possibly Roy Keane – to leave because he thought Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo were not good enough. “He was not prepared to wait until they were good enough,” Ferguson said.
“But that’s the trouble with potential,” he went on. “People don’t identify potential. They’re very poor at it. I’ve identified it all my life – the potential in young people. I know potential. I know how to develop and have faith in young people, who surprise you when given the opportunity and that’s what this club is all about. When you see Manchester United at the moment with all these young players, 14 under 22, you can’t see Manchester United three years ahead.”
(Source: The Independent)
WOW! What a statement of intent! I could totally see myself saying the same thing as Sir Alex! I always believe that we must be infinitely patient with (young) people, because one day, they will surprise you with their goodness. I’m sticking to my guns with this philosophy in my ministry. You can even look at the Bible to see traces of older men believing in much young men to mentor and take over their ministry.
I’ve achieved what I’ve intentionally set out to do – to lower the average age of all my first tier leaders. No, it’s not meant to declare anarchy or rebellion but to simply demonstrate my absolute belief in young people – by putting them on the frontline of leadership. I’m already thinking about the members of my first tier leadership team in 2012! The first thing I told these my current leaders is to find a successor. I believe it’s all well and good if one of my leaders want to remain in young ministry and serve until they’re old like me – in fact, I’d rejoice and praise God for their commitment and passion to serve the youths alongside me! But it should and must never come at the expense of preventing another young person from rising up in ministry. As long as I’m in charge, I will never allow that to happen. Leadership must always renew itself (although I must state my caveat that the higher the position, the harder the succession, and the lengthier the process).
Never, EVER, tell a young person he is a failure and will never make it. Remember one thing – he or she is still young! They have the licence and the privilege (just as you had when you were young!) to make mistakes and more importantly, to learn from it. Our hearts with wrench each time we see a young person falter, but it’s all about the recovery process – never forget that! I remind myself time and again that I’m never looking at the final product. Youth ministry is known to be transient and quite rightly so – the young person you see before your eyes today is far from being the polished individual you will see years later. I don’t know about you, but I’m committed to play my role in cleaning and sharpening this young person.
If I may reiterate Ferguson’s words, there are two lessons to learn and two principles to cherish if you’re in youth ministry:
- Be patient to wait until they come good, for they surely will, with the right guidance from you.
- If you can’t see their potential – that’s your problem – it doesn’t mean they do not have potential!
I’ve stated it on this blog before and I’ll happily post this paradigm-shifting quote again from the legendary Sir Matt Busby:
If you are good enough, you are old enough.
The funny thing is, the reverse may not be true! Again, I’m spilling my heart out on this matter because I’m so passionate about believing in young people. You’ll do yourself and the young people you are working with a world of injustice if you merely look at ability and age instead of potential and possibilities. You can limit yourself. But never, EVER, limit a young person. OH YEAH, THE SPRINGTIME OF YOUTH!
P/S: I’ve really missed the catharsis of writing daily!
After I waved goodbye to my new-found friend, I knew something was definitely amiss when I found myself still at the baggage collection belt – 10 minutes after he left. Yes, the inevitable happened; the 27kg box arrived but the 13kg box did not. I was tired, frustrated and worried (that the fish meat might spoil) but I was also amused at the ironic unfolding of events.
The driver came to receive me and sent me back to my uncle’s house after we dropped off the fish meat at the factory. It was good to see my relatives again, in Shanghai, where I spent nearly two years. I was kept abreast of the company’s situation and I was really glad that I pulled out early. I called up SQ, finally got through after being put on hold for 15 minutes, and tracked down that missing box, which was on its way to Shanghai onboard the 10am flight. I didn’t push for it but I was a little disappointed that SQ offered neither apology nor compensation – after all, I did have to pay excess baggage for it. Poor public relations, I think.
On the way back from the airport, I got a little nervous about going to WK’s place to surprise KP because I didn’t know what my opening line would be. WK told me that KP enjoyed Mee Jiang Kueh so I brought some over for her. So when I walked over to WK’s apartment, I really felt like I was in a cinematic moment, pulling off a surprise that you’d only see on TV screens. My favourite couple in Shanghai were having breakfast when I sprang the surprise.
JA: *knock, knock, knock* [heard muttering of “So early, who’s that?” in the background]
WK: [opened the door] Oh, Kay, it’s the postman, your package. [closed the door]
KP: For me? Really? *flip flop, flip flop* [opened the door]
JA: Hello, mee jiang kueh for you?
KP: [stared] [registered face] [screamed] [opened the door wider] [covered mouth] [screamed again]
JA: [walked in, saw WK laughing in the background]
(This is the really funny part…)
KP: [still responding] [composed herself] [RETURNED TO SEAT] [RESUMED BREAKFAST]
JA: [still standing at the door] Erm, welcome to Shanghai?
KP & WK: [broke into laughter] [rose from their seats] [realised they haven’t welcomed me] [exchanged hugs]
It was an amazing feeling to see my buddy and neighbour back in Shanghai again. It truly was. I was delighted to embrace them and to just be in their presence. We had a good breakfast together and I regaled to them my divine appointment. Then I knocked out on WK’s sofa for a good 45 minutes before I woke up to join my uncle and aunty for lunch. So far, so good.
Everyone is excited by different things in life. I am always excited to go on a date with HY, to be near her and to just be with the woman I love; I am always excited to partake in my mother’s cooking and it’s almost certain that I’ll finish every morsel of food; I am always excited to converse with my sister (when she’s not moody) because she’s like the best friend I’ve always had (and knowing her, she’d puke when she reads this because she has affection-phobia towards me).
So, what always excites you?
Nowadays, I get excited by learning something new about God and knowing something more about Him. I get excited about preaching because I think it’s something that stretches and challenges me in my competencies. (On that note, I really think that my “season” of worship leading is over, well sort of.) I get excited when I am mentoring someone and imparting what I know and have experienced to him or her. I get excited when I meet my mentors and to learn from their many life experiences and stories.
So, what excites you today?
I think it’s imperative that we all live for a purpose greater than ourselves. It would be pure drudgery for anyone to have to drag themselves out of bed each morning. We have to be internally motivated by goals and externally driven by actions to achieve all the dreams that are birthed in our hearts. There is no salary high enough that could ever satisfy a man if it doesn’t challenge, inspire or motivate him to take a step closer to his given destiny in life. This is why I’ve always aspired to live the mundane in an extraordinary fashion.
You and I are no different. We have similar struggles and have as many victories as setbacks. We get persecuted as much as we get praised. I’d like to think that my life is a fulfilling one because I choose to approach it that way. I refuse to live a life of mediocrity and settling for second-best (unless God specifically instructs me to do so). While life (on earth) is short, it is also the longest journey (on earth) that we will ever embark on. So let us learn to remind each other to live our lives for something, someone, some event greater than ourselves.
And to close a less serious note, I do enjoy very much (“get excited” is an exaggeration of this sentiment) when I make people laugh or when they laugh at my jokes – there’s a sense of gratification bringing joy, fun and laughter to someone’s day. This is one reason why I have baptised myself as Asher – which stands for “blessed, joyful, happy”. I also enjoy it very much when I pull off a stunt that people will remember. Presenting to HY her 22nd birthday gift was one; suddenly deciding to leave Shanghai was another; appearing for the No One Else was something that is etched in my heart forever.
And for the most recent one, it was great to pull off something so crazy in my trip to Shanghai last weekend. Man, the look on people’s faces – priceless. Lovely.