Prior to going full-time in church, I was a teacher in ACS (Barker Road) where I had the privilege of working under a principal who is such a spiritual giant.
Mr Peter Tan is a principal whose policies clearly showed a pastoral heart for every single student in school, and it inspired me to be bold in my efforts to bring blessing to the students as well.
As such, it was my honour to be able to invite Mr Tan to share at our most recent Thir.st Youth Night, where he spoke on grades and academic excellence.
We started off the evening with some ice breakers through Slido, where we discovered interesting insights from polling the attendees.
- 60% of participants feel forced to study things they do not like
- 30% struggle to find meaning when it comes to school
- 44% feel the pressure to do well in school to be conventionally successful
Numbers like these stood out to me because they revealed that there are young people who do not like what they study but feel forced to do it, out of a fear they will miss out on life in the future.
Speaking to this issue, Mr Tan had a very clear approach to this problem: as Christians, we place our faith in Christ, whose best plans for us are greater than any of our own plans that we can have for ourselves.
We can trust that the twists and turns along this road of life will lead us to His will, if we choose to walk in it!
Mr Tan also spoke about a famous verse in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.
“This is one of the most memorable verses in the Bible that is commonly talked about,” he said.
“But deep down, do we truly believe what God says about us in this verse? Do we truly believe and trust that God has a good plan for our lives?”
That night, Mr Tan shared several stories of believers whose lives took several twists and turns. But the common thread in these stories was that, in the end, God made all things work together for good.
Whether it was setbacks, failing subjects along the way, almost getting terminated from their course of study, even being led astray into bad company… God never let go of each and every single one of them.
God had greater plans!
Take it from someone who grew up in the Singapore education system and was an educator myself.
I admit that there were times when I let the grades I had (and subsequently, the grades my students had) define what I felt about my future and theirs.
But that’s no way to look at our future or worth as individuals!
Indeed, I was struck by one of the closing remarks Mr Tan: “You can count the number of seeds in a fruit, but you can’t count the number of fruits that come out of a seed.”
Here I was looking at myself and my students as fruits, summing them up by the seeds they had.
But, really, they are seeds and have great potential to bear much fruit!
As a new father, I found myself reflecting upon what was said at the Youth Night in the context of how I should encourage my own daughter as she grows up.
I developed a new conviction to be able to tell her one day, when she needs to hear it, that her grades do not define her – but her excellence does.
I will tell her to be free to study what she enjoys.
But I will also teach her to have the patience and endurance for subjects and stuff that she may not like to go through – because you never know how God will use that for her future!
Above all, her daddy will always be there to support her and he will love her just the same – good grades or bad.
Dear reader, maybe you’re struggling with separating your identity from your results.
I want you to know this: God loves you beyond your results and has a plan for you.
Will you choose to walk, seek and discover God’s plan for you? His plans are so much better.
That was Pastor Amos reflecting on everything that went down at August’s #ThirstYouthNight that was all about education. Following on from our missions-focused TYN in July, the Thirst Youths Night Team is supporting ANTIOCH SUMMIT by being there ourselves and urging all to participate. Details below: