So, as I type this on a restful vacation morning, I look back and reflect on an eventful 2012.
1. Be careful what you pray for, because God has a sense of humor.
I remember in the beginning of this year, I asked God for two major things in 2012:
a) I would be exposed to material that would build my leadership skills. You see, I am not the natural leader type, but I know that my job would require more and more leadership abilities, abilities that I need to learn; and,
b) I would like to share God’s Word/principles, and the benefits of a lifestyle that abides to such, to people. You see, I come from a church community that has strong advocacies towards family (marriage, parenting), personal development, young people, and, at the core of it all, building strong Christ-committed followers. However, I just feel that this country would be a much better place if more, lots more, become equipped like these churchgoers are equipped. I understand that not everyone is willing to come to my church, so my prayer was to bring the principles outside of its walls.
Well, God can have a great sense of humor, and He answered both my prayers in ways I could not imagine. So, here they are (with reflections):
I volunteered to use my teaching gifts to facilitate the GLC program this year, GLC 3 specifically. The GLC program in my church is a 10-month course that teaches on several topics like apologetics, making disciples, counseling, family life, Bible survey (where you have to know all the books in the Bible, who authored them, the audience, etc.), and so many others. Well, when it was my turn, lo and behold, out of all the bazillion different topics that I could be scheduled to facilitate, I got, you guessed it: Leadership. Really, Lord? Really? The church staff had no idea of the prayers that I had. I had another six sessions of awesomeness as I learned fantastic leadership principles, and then I had the privilege to guide the GLC students through the Leadership workshops and material. Awesome.
At around the same time this is all happening, my church held a mid-year leadership summit. We always have one at the beginning of the year (which had a great impact on me, as you will see below), but a mid-year one? Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is a first. My wife and I got the invitation to attend, and one sentence read that “In the said event, we will be learning some leadership essentials that will help us in shepherding the flock the Lord has entrusted to us.” More learning about Leadership, Lord? Overkill much?
• Now that it's the beginning of 2013, we got an invitation for yet another church leadership summit, two of them, in fact (Jan 5, 2013; then on Jan. 25-26). More learning about leadership. Will I attend? Oh yes!
• My take home here is simple – when God answers prayer, He answers BIG. It reminds me of a verse “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20) Yup, that’s how I felt.
2. Kids Church…what a year in ministry.
As I said earlier, 2012’s first leadership summit had a very strong impact. In fact, it moved me to tears and something out of that became one of my biggest decisions in 2012. A little background first, though:
My church has always had a good children’s ministry, but I thought there could be room for improvement. It’s a critically important ministry, maybe the most important, and I felt that lately, with the focus on ministering to adults and the GLC and stuff, our kids (including MY kids) were getting the short end of the stick and I was quite vocal about it. It’s not done on purpose, of course, but this is how things can sometimes go in organizations…especially volunteer ones.
This was especially true with the DVBS, which is a ridiculously fun kiddie event that we used to hold every summer. During the earlier years of CCF-CDO we held excellent DVBS’s, and my eldest children were products of that. As our church takes in more kids…I was worried that said new kids (including my youngest child) would not have the excellent foundation that the older ones have. Again, I was vocal about it, like noisy gong and clanging cymbal vocal about it.
Well, enter the first Leadership Summit of 2012. The whole event was powerful, but one that really struck me like a jackhammer was a message by Singaporean pastor Edmund Chan. I’ll never forget one powerhouse sentence he said; and I don’t remember the exact words, but the jist of it is, “Do not turn God’s blessings into your excuses from serving Him.”
I was transitioning into my new role as Assistant Head Teacher of (in my very biased opinion) the best high school in town. I thought the huge workload I’ve been blessed to take responsibility of is a good enough reason to not take a more active role in our children’s ministry (translation: running my big mouth and not much else). Boy, did God use Pastor Edmund to call me on my baloney.
|Thank you DVBS volunteers. You guys were awesome!|
I made a blog entry about the DVBS, which you can see by clicking here. I hope you don’t mind if I feature the thank you video that was made after it.
Also, the church has since transformed the Children’s ministry, renaming it Kids’ Church and making it totally awesome. We had mentors fly in to teach us how to make every Sunday a great Sunday for the little ones. The results were, and continue to be, amazing. I’m so glad to be a part of the awesome Lifeshapers team, and I’ll continue to give my all in this ministry until God wants to use me elsewhere.
• I now hear of kids who get angry at their parents for not hurrying up to get ready for church. Epic. They really enjoy what the Lifeshapers do every Sunday.
There was this one kid who, after the DVBS, wrote all the songs on large Manila paper and taught them to his neighbors. These cheerful songs were about forgiveness, loving God, and being faithful to Him and to others. Note: I heard that this kid lives with extended family (neighbors of a church-goer, hence his joining DVBS) because his parents abandoned him, unwilling or unable to take care of him. Can you imagine the change in the trajectory of his life brought on by the DVBS? Can you imagine the lifelong impact? Brings me to tears.
• The same challenge issued to me, I now issue to you if you’re a church goer: “Do not turn God’s blessings into your excuses from serving Him.” Look, if Jesus is tapping you on the shoulder, asking you to serve His people in any way, how can you refuse that?
• I’ve found something during the DVBS week: if you want teenagers to grow in Christ, have them serve, especially serving kids. They LOVE doing so, and they put in their considerable energies into it. Lynn is now bona-fide Lifeshaper as a part of my team. She LOVES the responsibility, and she even leads a small group of kids now.
• Like I said above, I again feel that CCF’s kids (or kids from our kinds of churches) shouldn’t be the only ones benefiting from these great programs. I have a burden of exposing other kids to a DVBS or Lifeshapers somehow. But how? A Lifeshapers mentor then told me, “Well, why don’t you hold a DVBS in your subdivision?” What a great idea!! When my daughter, who was just behind me, heard it, her eyes lit up and she shouted, “YEAH! Let’s do that!!” So, here’s a prayer topic…a DVBS uptown.
3. Children are getting bigger, and they traveled without us…twice.
Earlier this year, I reached two milestones simultaneously in my youngest child graduating from Casa (preschool) and my eldest graduating from Elementary (see this article for details). Wow, this is the first time in, what, 11 years (since my eldest started school at 2 years old) that I have no preschooler in the brood…and now I also have a kid past elementary. I’m old.
It was also a milestone in that during the summer break, both my eldest and my middle children, Lynn and Mesoo, traveled by plane without any of us adults with them (they visited my dad’s relatives in Roxas City and had a little fun in Boracay while they were at it).
Then, just last month, Lynn traveled with many of her classmates and schoolmates to Hanoi, Vietnam in our Odyssey (a sort of mega-field trip that happens once every 6 years). I couldn’t go with her because I was tasked to handle another Odyssey group that went to Palawan.
|A pic at the hotel buffet during the Vietnam trip. Appetizing?|
• I often reflect how I am as a dad. I often wonder if I got them started right. In some ways, I’m confident that I did raise them well. In other areas, I wish I could rewind the clock and do it over again. Ditto as a husband.
• One goal next year is to be more purposeful in teaching them life skills. I noticed that I was lacking in that area this past year (and I had lots of electronic competition, too…I have to do something about that).
Well, this piece is so long that I will have to finish this in Part 2 of this article (UPDATE: Part 2 is done). I hope you enjoyed my Reflections of an eventful 2012.
(This blog site, Lessons Of A Dad is mostly about parenting, marriage, and other topics aimed to develop the reader’s mind, body, and soul. I’d consider it an honor if you’d follow or subscribe to this site. You can also go to my Facebook page here, and I’m also on Twitter at @lessonsofadad)