THOUGHTS

Some of my thoughts and musings on faith, life and ministry. All that is posted here are of my own opinions and do not necessarily represent any organisation, church or ministry that I am a part of/affiliated with. 

Leadership Lessons - Part I

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One of the things that I am very passionate about (apart from Jesus, my wife, motorcycles, Manchester United and coffee) is leadership. While I don't consider myself a guru in this area, but having been involved in different areas of leadership for almost 10 years - I'd like to think I know a thing or two about it. My leadership journey consists of different levels: leading small groups of 10 people to eventually multiplying after hitting 30 members, growing a ministry from 100-120 to 250-300 with 60 volunteer leaders and to now being in a staff development committee for approximately 60 full time employees. 

Some of these principles I am sharing will be more applicable in a Church/Ministry setting, but most of them are relevant to any form of leadership/management context.  Leadership, after all is a spiritual gift (Romans 12:8) exercised by many characters in the bible (including Jesus Himself) and I would even argue that some of the best leaders in the world are in the Church - because they have the challenge of mobilising unpaid volunteers! 

I've got a lot to say about leadership, and I will do so over a few parts. I wanted to put it all down in just this one article but realised I have too much to say... but hey it is my space - so if you're interested here is part one:

 

Personality, Gifting And Talent IMPRESSES People But Only Character, Integrity And Authenticity Can Truly IMPACT Them.

If you truly want to leave a positive, lasting impression on people as a leader - it is going to take more than just showing how good you are (although you do still need to develop certain skills to gain credibility). But that's the good news: anyone can learn new skills, but it takes a lot of intentionality to work on our character (which not many people do) and vulnerability to be authentic with those whom we lead. Character is not your personality (shy or outgoing, loud or not); it is what determines the choices you make everyday: your work ethic, the way you treat others, the way you handle challenges, how you speak to people etc. 

Authenticity I would classify as genuinely being passionate about what you do and the people that you lead. Believe in what you do, find the significance in it. If you are in a school/university club or department in a company/business see it as an opportunity to impact people. The saying goes: people don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care. Leadership is messy. Get your hands dirty. Get close to those you lead. Don't just see those as tools to be used but as people to be developed. Share your failures and struggles - sometimes it goes a longer way than blowing your own trumpet. Here's another thing: if you made a mistake, admit it and apologise to them. Trust me, they won't respect you less for it but rather MORE because of you did! 

People "buy into" persons more than plans, vision, systems or organisations. Show those around you that you are worth following and you will get their support. 

 

Be Personal, But Don't Take It Personally

Oh get this one right, and you would be miles ahead of so many other people! What do I mean by this? Be personal in all your interactions with people. Show warmth, display good manners, always try to extend grace. Make people feel valued, like you are genuinely interested in them (and not just what they can do for you). Encourage and appreciate them, get into their world whenever possible - all these little things go a long way. 

But if people do not respond the way you expect them to ... don't take it personally! Don't take things to heart - it will quickly cause you to lose steam as a leader. People are complex. They are not like mathematics, where if I apply a certain formula to a certain equation I should get a certain result. We do not always get the outcome we expect with people and it is very normal. Everybody has their own battles to fight, and sometimes we don't really know what is really going on with them. Sometimes people need time, so be patient with them. 

If people criticise you or disagree with you... don't take it personally and be personal in the way you respond to them! Nothing causes a leader to lose "buy-in" faster than reacting extremely insecurely to criticism or someone disagreeing with them. 

 

If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go With A Team

You know what I used to really hate back when I was still a student? Group projects. It is difficult to get an assignment done when you got so many people involved, particularly if you got non-contributing or absentee members (and then only one or two ends up doing all the work)! Doing things solo is definitely less complicated but a good leader knows the power of a team. 

A team is only effective when it has a good leader. So what must a good leader do? You must trust your team. Trust that they can get the job done. This is first and foremost. If you do not have faith in your team it will show in the way you treat them - and they will know it too. If they need guidance - give it to them, but don't over micromanage. It is very frustrating for both them and you. If they can get the job done but not in the way you expected - it's ok! If they found an even better way to do it than you originally proposed - applaud them! 

Learn conflict management - this will minimise politics and gossip, which can develop into a toxic culture and kill morale and productivity. Learn how to work with and manage different personalities - recognise that different people have different personalities and work with their strengths. Only address character issues, don't try to change personalities. 

When the right time comes, don't just delegate tasks - delegate authourity. In that way, you are not just producing doers but more leaders. If you just produce doers, you can keep your thing running. But if you produce more leaders... what you are doing will naturally grow. 

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This is simply the first part, and I have more to share. I love discussing leadership and would love to help any who would want it - send me an email or tweet me! 

Some Thoughts On Youth Ministry In Malaysia And Around Asia

Recently I had the privilege to minister at The Edge in Singapore after being invited by Pastor Jeremy Seaward who not only leads The Edge but is also an executive pastor at Victory Family Center. Before the youth service, we had the chance to get together and just talk about the current state of youth ministry in Malaysia and all around Asia. I share some practical things I have picked up through my own experience on how we can be effective in this day and age. 

The interview is recorded as part of Pastor Jeremy's initiative called Elevate Collective which basically serves as a resource for youth pastors and leaders in the Asia Region. You can check it out here. 

Hope the video above blesses you! 

 

Teenagers: Why You Need To Attend Youth Meetings

 NarrowStreet ! 

NarrowStreet ! 

Are you a teenager and are wondering: why do I need to be a part of my church's youth? Can't I just go for the church's services? Maybe you are a leader/pastor and you want reasons to encourage those under your care or those you are trying to reach out to. I offer some reasons below. 

Before I do, I understand that some churches may not have the resources to start or sustain a youth ministry: and that is OK. I am writing to those who already in a church with an existing youth program.

1. IT IS BIBLICAL

Acts 2:42 (NLT)

The Believers Form a Community
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper[a]), and to prayer.
Hebrews 10:25 (NLT)

25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

The Bible does not suggest that a Christian should be part of a church, in fact it is IMPORTANT that a Christian does. It is only through a community that one can truly flourish as a believer. Do not be misled into thinking that you can grow alone. In fact, Christians who refuse to be a part of any community often have issues in themselves that they have to sort out. 

Churchgoers are like coals in a fire. When they cling together, they keep the flame aglow; when they separate, they die out.

- Billy Graham

 

2. JOURNEYING WITH PEERS IS MORE ENJOYABLE

Anything done with friends is automatically more fun and meaningful.  We go to the movies, meals, play games with friends... so why not grow in faith together as well? Youth is a great place to share dreams, ideas, hopes, struggles and fears with people who are going through the same stage of life.

Heres the thing: it takes effort to make meaningful friendships at youth. I hear many say: "I get along with my school friends much better than my church friends." Want to know why? You probably spend at least 5 days in school but only 1 or 2 in church... so of course you would be more familiar with your school friends. All the more reason you need to be at youth REGULARLY. 

School friends are great, keep them by all means; but some of them may not be Christians and cannot help your grow in Christ. Make the effort to connect with more people your age at church! 

 

3. THE MESSAGES ARE MOST LIKELY EASIER TO UNDERSTAND

Have you ever been to the main service and have absolutely no clue as to what the pastor is saying? You are not alone. Most church services are more geared towards adults, it is just the way things are. It defeats the purpose of going to church if you go home learning nothing. 

I am going to safely assume that your youth pastor will at least be a whole lot more understandable, his messages are more applicable and hopefully he is funny as well. But, if you say that the messages in youth are too shallow or you often learn nothing then...

 

4. SERVE! 

Romans 12:11 (NLT)

11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.

If you think yourself as more mature than others in the youth group, then you really should consider serving as a leader. We are called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), and I am guessing as a young person you would not feel comfortable fulfilling this commandment on adults. 

The youth group is a great place for you to develop your gifting and abilities. There is a saying in my church, that TASK = C.A.S.K (Character, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge). Every task that you do whether big or small is an opportunity to grow in C.A.S.K. 

Serve in any capacity that is needed, not in the avenue which you want. Do not only go for positions of "glamour" or serve to get attention, but do it because you love God and want to grow. We should always desire for others to see Jesus and not for others to see us through our service. 

Serving can be done in a variety of ways: setting up the hall, playing in the worship team, leading a small group, welcoming new people, taking care of younger ones in the group, making sure your pastor has water before he preaches... anyone can serve!

 

Hope this clarifies some things, have a blessed week ahead! 

 

Growing A Youth Ministry

What does it take to build a strong youth ministry? Some say it's all about the program: vibrant worship, relevant preaching, cool giveaways, epic games and so forth. The content of your program does matter of course, but it is not the be all and end all. I would suggest that one component is extremely important: Relationship.

Let's put it this way: imagine you were invited to a party in which you had to put up with bad food, poor choice of music and maybe some lame attempts at getting a game going. All these things you will forget and forgive eventually when the party fades into memory, but one thing that might stick longer is: if nobody talked to you at the party.

The horror! Imagine yourself standing in a corner trying to look like you are meant to be there or getting introduced to a bunch of people who do not really seem keen to hang out with you... how awkward! I'm not sure if we realised this, but this often happens to a lot of people who come through our programs and churches. 

Having a cranking program but no follow up can be counterproductive, and the most effective way of making someone come back is to make them feel welcomed. This to be honest, takes a lot of intentionality. When I first took on the youth ministry I am in, the one thing I had to do was drill into my leaders that they needed to break out of their cliques and to start looking out for people. 

So apart from just focusing on getting the worship, the games and the preaching right; make sure you (and your leaders) put extra effort into befriending and connecting with both existing and new people.

One problem that many ministries face is that they can become so comfortable and familiar with the usual regulars that newcomers find it hard to fit in. This too takes intentionality to overcome (I actually forbid my leaders to hang out with their friends during youth, they can do that on their own time). 

We have to remember that people matter more than the programs, and discipleship is most effective when done via relationships. Build a culture in your ministry where people are cherished and celebrated; where everybody who walks through the door feel like they belong - then your ministry will definitely grow!