Work

My second chance with full-time ministry

David Mak, CRU Singapore // May 3, 2018, 11:41 am

Walking away

“What? Return to Cru?” It was my honest response to God when the probability arose. At the same time, I also knew what was on His heart.

It’s a second chance – to do things rightly.

Of all the things I saw and could have seen on my personal retreat at the Bukit Batok Nature Reserve was a yellow ribbon lying on the pavement.

Its significance rang loudly in my heart, even thought I was highly apprehensive of its implication.

Since 2007, I always thought my life was to be spent serving God full-time. The call of discipleship, evangelism and missions resounded strongly with my core beliefs. And so that’s what I did straight out of school.

But by 2016, not even a decade into the campus ministry I’d spent my youth on, I was forced to call time on my burgeoning “career” as I realised my soul felt dead, and the work dry and mechanical. Pure ambition was fuelling my decisions.

I was burnt out and uncomfortably wary of the mechanisms of Christian vocational ministry.

Through a prolonged season of rest and recalibration as a marketplace communications executive, placed under the care of a loving (and very prayerful) boss, some precious life reentered my soul and my relationship with the Holy Spirit.

That’s when the call came again. My second chance.

And as I approach this second chance, here are some lessons on “lasting the distance” that I am carrying with me into this new season.

 

5 LESSONS ON LASTING THE DISTANCE

1. Beware the posture of entitlement

Senior staff are supposed to give younger counterparts responsibilities – the greater the trust, the larger the responsibilities! And when this happens, we applaud the young ones, and more often than not, place them on an invisible pedestal. Who does not like to see ministry succession take place rapidly?

I was a privileged recipient of such opportunities and lived with a big vision of global outreach. Regrettably, I started to demand my way, and only accepted opinions that I wanted to hear.

My carnal self – my selfish, self-centred, self-righteous agenda – had taken over the steering wheel. I was good at right-sounding rhetoric, but this only served to veil a toxic silent ambition.

2. Make prayer the foundation of everything

I am an expert at coming up with the best excuses for a poor prayer life, especially when I haven’t been praying much at all.

Start the day in prayer – and pray through everything, even the smallest details of life and ministry.

Never take on disciples or mentees whom you have no real intention of praying for consistently and fervently.

Churning out a great sermon-script will always be more attractive than prayer-time when our hearts are not captivated by Christ our Saviour.

3. Constantly ask ourselves what is the end-goal of ministry

My insistence on seeing things done a certain way, through a certain process just because “We are Cru!” drove quite a few people mad. And I didn’t have the humility to care.

Realising that all Christian ministries and agencies are after the same end-goals helped me to major on the major and strive after the things that are truly life-giving in ministry.

4. Observing personal silent retreats is a matter of life and death

If you really want to last the distance in full-time ministry instead of suffering the spiritual death and barrenness of a minister, take advice from someone who went berserk on the false belief that my workload was justification enough for my compromise in this area.

You need to regularly spend undistracted time with yourself, with your heart and the presence of God.

Heed this warning and guard this principle. Think about the tens and hundreds of lives you will be touching – it pays to guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life.

5. Respect the lines of leadership

Disrespect for authority reveals a heart of rebellion. The Bible teaches that out of the same mouth, we cannot speak both foul and good things. And out of this mouth, the heart speaks.

I have learnt so much from observing people who are walking in the Spirit; they live peaceable with those around them and always think the best of people and leaders.

This goes a long way for our personal discipleship and builds a healthy organisational culture. As a minister, endeavour to serve our leaders with utmost excellence and obedience, in full integrity, submerged in strong theological foundations.

Am I still fiery? Yes.

Am I still critical? Sadly, yes.

I just thank God for a journey of burnout that upheaved these inner skeletons. And I’m sure there are more.

This makes God’s grace and empowerment all the more precious, simply because apart from Him, we really can do nothing – not even ministry work.


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