Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year End Reflections 2015

Written by: Dr Conrade Yap
Date: Dec 31st, 2015

It's been another year. One regular thing I do is to reflect and to give thanks. Many people would note the big news highlights of the year. Whether it is political change or economic downturn, in an age of social media, people are becoming independent news broadcasters. I prefer not to focus on what the public have already written plenty about. I want to keep it simple and personal.

Like any other year, it began with a warm, nice, and fuzzy goodbye to the old and a fun and loud Happy New Year to ring in the new year. I was in Seattle last year with my family watching the fireworks over the harbour overlooking the Space Needle. It was nice to have all the family gathered together in one car. Of course, the few exciting minutes of fireworks were followed up by nearly an hour's wait for the traffic to clear after the fireworks event. It made me wonder if it was all worth it.

It was a year where I see a couple of high notes. Like many people, family has always been a priority for me. I am reminded of the biblical injunction in 1 Timothy 3:5 for any servant of God to learn to manage and care for his own family before even attempting to manage the Church. The apostle was clear:
"If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?" (1 Tim 3:5)

The context is for the servant-leader to be above reproach, be faithful in his marriage, be temperate, self-controlled, respectable, teachable, hospitable, and learning to care for his family. In Paul's mind, the family unit is the individual person's laboratory of faith and service. I make no apologies for spending time with family. In fact, loving my family is a demonstration of my service for God and Church.

Another high is to see my son enlisted into National Service in Singapore. Seeing him in green for the first time and learning lots of skills as part of his commitment, I see him mature from a young boy to a man. For all the negative talk about the compulsory military service, there are positive things to take from this phase of his life. A key source of joy is his willingness to be responsible for his own life. I took unpaid leave so that I could travel back to Singapore for three months, to support him in his initial months at basic military training phase.  When my son goes for military service, the entire family is affected. While I was i Singapore, my wife stayed behind to be present for my other children. It was a pleasant surprise to learn about my son being selected for Officer Cadet School. We applauded on this achievement and opportunity for him to further develop his leadership potential. We are all proud of him.

I got to meet friends and reconnect with family. I gave several lectures as an Adjunct Professor. I preached. I gave talks and shared teaching moments. I ate lots of local delicacies too. On my return, I continued with ministry, also helping out in other churches apart from my own. It was fun and a deep privilege to share the Word of God. Whenever I delivered a sermon well, I would be pleased as well.

I ministered with people from different age groups. My online ministry continues and in the middle of the year, I reached the Top 1000 Amazon reviewers' list. I was also pleasantly surprised to find myself on the front page of a local online news ministry as a "Master Book Reviewer."

As a pastor, people growing in Christ often energizes me. It made it all worthwhile to see individuals hungering after God's Word, asking questions about faith, and desiring to grow in Christ. When people open up their lives to me, it helps me to pray and to position them before the Lord for God to bless them. I thank God for the privilege to be able to say a word of wisdom or offer a pointer of guidance. This is part of the joys of ministry. Writing is also a big part of my ministry. It helps me to put what I know, what I learn, and reconnect with practical matters of life.

There were low moments too. When I heard about two members of my extended family encountering health problems, it burdened me. I am reminded that we are all growing older. We are more susceptible to falls, health issues, and aging problems.

As I reflect on my life, sometimes I wonder about that weird decision 11 years ago to leave the corporate world and go to seminary. Maybe, if I've not, I'll be having a big house, a posh car, and rub shoulders with the powers to be. Maybe, I'll be boasting about my ranks or my accolades as I climb the corporate ladder. Maybe, I would have been retrenched by now, replaced by those young graduates who are more agile, more technology savvy, and more economical to employ. Maybe, I'll be struggling to even land a decent paying job just to make ends meet. I don't know.

But this one thing I know. I have watched my children grow up before my very eyes. I have spent the time just enjoying regular meals with them, driving them to/from school, and seeing the smiles on their faces. I've experienced a shift from a technologically-fed race to something more human pace. While financially, it is still not as good, I realize emotionally that life is indeed more than just making ends meet. In being counter-cultural to do the opposite of what the world expect me to do, I learn and re-learn this truth over and over again.
"I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I may enjoy all things."

All things. Indeed, the lack of worldly things frees me to pursue the Giver of all things.

The end of the year also marks the beginning of my sabbatical. After seven years, it is a good biblical practice to take time off to seek God for guidance in a more focused manner. As my current church does not have a sabbatical policy, I will be going on unpaid leave for the next three months. It is a step of faith for me to listen to God as I ponder about the next few years of ministry. Do pray with me. If you feel called to support me in this small writing ministry, you can click on the link on the top right hand corner to make a donation of any amount you choose. Sabbathwalk articles and devotionals will continue to be free. My time is not free but I do it out of love for the Word of God and the joy of sharing reflections upon God's Word and God's work.

Thank you for reading.

Have a Happy New Year 2016.

Happy New Year 2016!


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