Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
The above verse spoke to me almost a year ago, during Good Friday's sermon.
The context then: Ministry for the academic year in vcf was drawing to a close, and the past year was one marked with great struggles and on many instances, discouragement and disappointment. Char and I were wondering what we could do with the time we had left.
Later that night, the above 2 verses came to mind again. It was a frustrating and discouraging night at the plh easter retreat, which I was helping out in, along with some other tchers. 3 years since we graduated from youth ministry, and we saw for ourselves how things in ministry have changed. Once a highlight (read: staying overnight in church!), the number of youth who attended the retreat were few, and the number who stayed over... were even fewer. Might have been the organising committee themselves only. It was... sad, to say the very least. Maybe especially so for me because plh has (and always will) be a big part of my heart, having come to grow in faith there, and served in ministry for 3 out of my 6 years there. (On a side note: It was particularly frustrating then because it wasn't my season to serve in youth ministry, as much as it remains close to my heart). But then again, that same frustration we all felt that night was reminiscent of the THROW-ICE-AT-WALL helplessness I felt about youth ministry some years ago when I was heading the youth committee. Crazy times when we literally cried while serving in ministry (no thanks to burn out and stress).
Then throw in Paul's burden to 'present everyone mature in Christ', 'struggling with all his energy' for this purpose.
What a sharp difference from the huge sigh T and I let out at the end of our conversation post-retreat.
The depth of love and concern that Paul has for his ministry is always... mindblowing. That desire and willingness he has to struggle for the sake of the people under this care, in order to present them perfect and mature in Christ, is encouraging, and I guess puts in perspective why we struggle and work hard in ministry.
Today, almost a year later, things have changed... yet remained the same.
It is a privilege and blessing to be back in plh serving as a mentor, albeit as a very new and young one (apparently the plan is to disguise me as a youth sometimes). It hasn't been as easy as I thought... But things are exciting. E passed me Ps Edmund Chan's Mentoring Paradigms (hey, answered unspoken prayer!), and it has been a pretty good read so far. Looking forward to training (hahaha) in May.
Sat in for my first mentor's meeting yesterday. I guess it is safe to say that although it has been 5 years since I last sat in one (back then in my capacity as youth committee chair), things... are largely the same. 3 hour long meetings, interrupted with laughter and "THE hand". But at the heart of it all, a desire to see ministry and the youths grow.
Although hearing from Y (the current youth committee chair) was a little worrying. I have seen too many youth committees burn out (mine including, sigh), and I definitely do not wish to see that stupid cycle repeat itself all over again. Although it was so encouraging to hear the big plans they have, and the change they're trying to push.
So I guess, here we stand, breaking the trend and pushing new boundaries, or remaining comfortable in the status quo. We were made for more. Here's to labouring hard, with the power that comes from Him.
And it's the time of the year when succession plans and preparation for next academic year's ministry go into full swing. Am currently in a state of _______ and confusion as with 2 years ago. I guess it kindof makes me appreciative of the fact that going on exchange last sem made decisions and seeking God's plans so much easier and clearer. Although in retrospect, so many things and relationships have changed as a result of my absence/departure. I am not sure if it's worth it. But in the fullness of His time, it will all make sense.
I digress. Was talking with D about what lies ahead for me in the coming academic year - specifically about staying on in CAPT, and ministry in VCF and church. In the course of our conversation, I was reminded of the conviction which I came back home with earlier this year (that which He spoke in the quiet streets of New York) - that this is my season to be back home in church. D and I are quite similar personality-wise (which makes talking to him very enjoyable), and he said this "You're the sentimental type, right? That's why you find letting go of ministry so hard." I guess he hit the nail on the head. I should go figure out of it's really my call in this season. And let go. Rather than fighting so hard to "finish well" on my own terms. Maybe it's just this heart's prideful desire to end off my time in nus/vcf with a big bang.