It is not easy for me to write this entry. Our faithful readers have given me this feedback “Come on, don’t just write about the good news, write about your real struggles and some war stories on the missions field.” Our standard answer is always that we want to be more positive and encouraging on our blog. But I guess we also have to paint a more balanced picture of church planting, so I decided to share some of the struggles I had.
I was feeling rather negative about the people in church recently. It seems that people just don’t appreciate what PR and I are doing in church. We felt disappointed with certain people for their lack of responsibility and excellence in doing things after being told for more than a year. I too sensed distance from God. Sometimes I think “God, I wish I felt more positive than what I am feeling now.” Yesterday after preaching the sermon on Sunday, I felt so tired that I went straight to bed after reaching home in the afternoon. I felt better when I woke up but I thought I really needed some time alone to re-orientate myself. Thankfully my wife was very understanding when I told her that I need to be alone for some time. In the evening, I took a book to read at the nearby “Sweet and Coffee”.
It was really a good time of learning through reading the book “Courageous Leadership” by Bill Hybels. Let me share a few excerpts from the book which I felt more encouraged after reading:
1) “The Jonathan in the bible had a huge capacity to love. In his youth, David was the recipient of Jonathan’s genuine love even though Jonathan could have viewed David as a threat to his own inheritance. But Jonathan never sacrificed his relationship with David to protect his own future. On the contrary, he put his heart on a platter and offered it to David…. when I’m thinking clearly, I realize that I’d rather be known for being a man of love than a man of vision. I’d rather be thought of as a man of love than a man of strategic intent. I’d rather be remembered as a man of love than someone who achieved a lot of goals.”
2) “Michael Jordan: The legacy he left Chicago goes far beyond his outstanding talent or his amazing athleticism. What set him far above other talented professional athletes was Michael’s unbelievable intensity. His focus. His work ethic. His competitiveness. His drive to win… Michael’s intensity was so powerful that it lifted all of his teammates to a higher level. Often as the game wore on, you could watch the opposing team start to wither and to melt under the pressure of Michael’s incessant drive. Late in the fourth quarter Michael would just take over. His message was clear: “I will not be denied. This team will not give up the victory.” Usually the other team ended up not only defeated, but demoralized as well…. The apostle Paul is the only Christ follower I’ve ever known whose intensity about Jesus could match Michael Jordan’s intensity about basketball. When you read the story of the apostle Paul, the intensity of his commitment is so obvious:
– ‘I do not consider my life as dear unto myself. Only that I would achieve the mission that I have received from the Lord.” (Acts 20:24)
– ‘One thing I do… I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 3:13,14)
– ‘For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.’ (Philippians 1:21)
– ‘In a race, there is only one winner. When I run a race, I do so to win.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)
– And then his famous words near the end of his life, ‘I have fought the good fight, I finished the race, I have kept the faith.’ (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
I want more of that intensity in my life. My heart’s desire is to pursue an imperishable wreath with the same intensity that Michael Jordan pursues a perishable one.”
3) “One time when Mother Teresa could not sense the presence of God, she wrote that even when she didn’t feel his presence, she would ‘seek to love him as he has never been loved.’ When I read those words, I put the book down and said to myself, ‘Those are words that are foreign to my depth of spirituality.’ Even though I don’t sense God’s presence for long periods of time, I will seek to love him as he has never been loved before. What an incredible and beautiful sentiment. God deserved to be loved – with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.”
It was a very refreshing solitude time of reading for me yesterday. I went home late at night praying to God “Jesus, give me Jonathan’s capacity to love, Paul’s intensity to win the race and Mother Teresa’s love for God.”