Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pride, Humility, Family or Airing Dirty Laundry?

"Why are you selling and moving house?"

Our public sharing of this intent has sparked some open questions by some and perhaps even some behind the back questions by others... What am I on about? Well recently over the whole "house" episode (not the TV series about a doctor) about us looking to sell and buy a place, especially me posting our marketing video on YouTube over on Facebook, has sparked questions. These questions are both internal (in my head) and external (asked by people I love). Questions like, "why did you post this online? People might think you're proud." or "why share your intentions to move and its associating issues and concerns to others? why do you air these dirty laundry openly?"

While I am still 50/50 on these things. The title of this post is a mixed set of emotions and questions I have raised within myself about these things sparked by someone bringing these to my attention. What are these things? These things are like:
  • Telling others our intentions to move and why
  • Admitting on FB or at church about our weaknesses and sins in our lives
  • Lead on from the above, to ask people and our church family openly to pray for us in our times of need and issues.
  • Sharing the joy and happiness of life with FB friends through posts and at bible study meetings
  • You get the picture?...

When you struggle with pride as much as I have, it is quite a battle to stop yourself post something on FB and catch yourself right after hitting "post" to realise that what I post in my sheer joy/amusement/happiness could go across the inter-web and arrive at the other end seemingly boastful and proud. With that many "political business rules" I've built up since my Chinese/Singaporean heritage, although my "filters" are not working well, they are there. Always watching, always making sure I don't say something to offend someone because someone else may think its something else about this someone else on this seemingly related issue about this... Anyway, I'm digressing...

Now back to the prideful post bit. Here's another one: "Why did I post this weakness of my pride and sins for the world to see?" "Why air the dirty laundry using this very post?"

Well, here are 3 reasons why I think its alright to air our dirty laundry. Controlled of course! Not everything. But why some can be "aired".

  1. Humility exercised - Although I AM struggling with the prideful posts, I think speaking openly about sins and weaknesses for the purpose of asking the Church family to pray for you is a good thing. I call it the Guard-against-being-a-pharisee technique. By getting others to be your accountability partners, it guards you from pride or keeps you "human". Constantly attuned to your sins and telling others about it protects you from the delusions and from developing pharisee complex.
  2. To manifest/magnify God's glory - You can do this a number of ways. By edifying others, by using your post or public declarations to open the door to gospel sharing (I've done that with my house thing 3 times now!) and lastly through our weakness, God can be glorified. Taking our house thing for example. We had so many let downs and disappointments with our plans so much so that we were able to learn true obedience, faithful prayer and submission to God's plans. When we did this, it was then perfect and beautiful! God's plans started to unfold. It was then irrefutably His. We cannot claim it as our doing, because to us it was NOT possible. But He made the impossible possible! Now I have another full blog post (next time) about this journey and a proper testimony about His goodness because of this House thing.
  3. To live like a Church family - We use this term "Church family" a lot. We know in our heads that we have a Heavenly Father, the God head. We are saved through Jesus His son, our co-heir. And we know we are sealed and made His promised sons and daughters through the Holy Spirit. We read about it. We hear about it in sermons, we study it (even in camp!). But you know what? Sadly, most Christians don't really practice it! Most don't live like we have and are part of a Church family. We go to church, we smile, we talk small talk, we leave... Like meeting friends to do a hobby called Christianity. I don't know about you, but to me "family" means we support, love, serve, cry, laugh, learn and fight with each other all the same! If blood family does this naturally, IMHO the Church family should do more of it!

So please.... The next time I post or say something to you about my personal life. Don't see it as pride or airing laundry. Most of you are my Church family. Others of you, I'm working hard to MAKE you my Church family. I share part of my life with you so you can share in my joy, amusement, excitement, sadness, fear and amazement at God's goodness. I do this as a fellow member or soon-to-be member of my family, God's family, nothing more.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Project Manage Your Life!

Following from the previous post I last made about Christianity being my hobby... And over the last few months I've been systematically re-evaluating many areas of my life and my family's life to see how we can NOT make being a Christian just a hobby. I came to a daunting realisation... Living for God and not wanting just Christianity as my hobby is going to be tough work! And you know what? It IS going to be tough "as it is written"...

"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." - Matt 7:14

So why did I title this newest post "Project manage your life" with an exclamation mark? Being a consultant for the last 10 years and having advised and consulted on many projects, its issues and helped many organisations through lots of their budget, time, people problems.. I see how tough it is being a project manager. Oftentimes it is hard because the people you work for wants to give you as little as possible to get the job done. And your resources, mainly people, wants to take the longest time possible to finish the work! Giving "excuses" like, "But, I want to do quality work!". In reality, juggling limited resources to produce a quality outcome is what good project managers do well.

Now, how is that all relevant to this post? First question I asked was: from Matthew 7:14, what is this gate that is narrow? What is the way that is hard? IMHO, figuring this out should then become every true Christian, every non-hobby-playing-Christian's "quality outcome". To reach the end of this Project called LIFE and have your key stakeholder, God, telling you "well done, my good and faithful servant".

It is funny how the most profoundly precious things are the most simple. I looked at 3 areas based on my roles in this life for example...

  • The Christian's Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20, ESV); 
  • And also as a husband: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word," (Eph 5:25,26, ESV); 
  • Finally as a father: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Eph 6:4, ESV)

If as a truly born again Christian, you are the project manager of your life and the above 3 examples are to be your goals. Wouldn't you find this really hard to do? Although the statements are fundamentally simple? I certainly did! It takes ENERGY and TIME... essentially precious resources... my selfish little voice inside me said... "you mean I have to spend precious time and energy, the little that I have in my life, to make disciples, sanctify my wife and teach my kids? Everything else is secondary?" 

So, I guess what I'm saying is if I start acting like a project manager and treat my energy and time as precious resources to work towards heaven. The path is NARROW and HARD! I'll always have distractions and useless detours like earning more money, or more coffee hobby time or simply more sleep time (which I enjoy.. a LOT)!

Friends, I am coming to a really confronting realisation that the extra 2 hours I spend playing a computer game is 2 hours lost towards the narrow gate. I am not saying I'm giving up all recreational activities. Just like occasionally having that Durian or KFC is ok, but having that every day? Or every week even, might make me sick or fat or both! I don't know how everyone else does it. I personally struggle with this. There is just so little time and so little precious energy in my weak and small life to even finish what God is asking me to do. How can I afford time to do any other things! Do you know how hard it is to...

  • ..have deep meaningful relationships with people to disciple them? 
  • Or to constantly connect with your wife at the spiritual, emotional and physical level to a depth that would sanctify her? 
  • And lastly, do you know how much energy it takes to teach my kids the right foundational values with love and grace as like the Lord? 

How do you guys do it???