A life of servanthood
CERC’s second apprentice, Daniel Lu, recently completed his Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) assessment after undergoing a four-year apprenticeship stint. Daniel’s training took a longer duration than the programme requires, but he has no regrets about it.
Having completed his apprenticeship, Daniel has greater clarity about what ministry he is suitable for and he is now focusing on training to be in some of the various pastoral ministries in CERC.
Here, we speak to Daniel, who reflects on the key lesson he has learned during his time in ministry. He emphasises that the servanthood attitude does not only apply to those in full-time paid ministry but also to Christians working in secular jobs. His rationale was simple – Jesus deserves it.
Now, Daniel is pursuing his Bachelor of Theology under Ridley College’s online programme. He plans to continue his education in Melbourne after the second year of his degree.
Now that you have completed the apprenticeship programme, can you share with us the outcome of your assessment?
I’ve been in MTS for four years, two years longer than the programme requires. From my personal assessment, I don’t think I am suitable to be an elder. However, I will be happy to serve the church in teaching and preaching. I think I can do that, but not take up eldership because an elder requires the gift of leading. Based on my performance and on my self-assessment, I don’t think I’ve reached the standard to be an elder in CERC.
It must have taken a lot of courage to admit that. Is that why it took you some time to complete your written assessment?
There are a few reasons to that. At the heart of it, I was struggling to accept the fact that I couldn’t be an elder. But along with that, I wanted to keep trying to improve so that I could be an elder.
I also found it hard to express what I was thinking in clear and organised thoughts. It was all jumbled up in my head. I had to take time to write it out. It could partly be a language issue (English isn’t my first language) but I was also trying to piece things together to accept the reality while also trying to be very objective about it.
But, taking a longer time to finish the assessment gave me more time to assess myself and it did some good to me. I improved in terms of reading the bible, teaching, managing and running ministries. I’m happy with the results I have.
Now that you have assessed yourself as not suitable to be an elder, how do you feel about it?
I’m relieved that everything has worked out and I’m happy that there is clarity of the situation now.
I’m also happy that I can accept that I can’t be an elder. The reason for that is because I now understand the struggles that I had during my apprenticeship days. I’m happy that I went through it, I understand now that it’s about service.
What I’ve learnt from the sermon on Luke 17 is that it’s about serving Jesus! Not about being an elder, nor is it about being a leader, but ultimately it’s about serving Jesus in any way I can and being a gift He has prepared me to be.
The big challenge now is to live out according to what I have understood about theology.
So, I suppose the big question now is: What’s next for you?
Right now, Robin has offered for me to aim for the role of a pastor, where I’ll be one of the paid teaching staff in CERC. The bible doesn’t quite have a role like this, but it is one of the functions of both the leaders and members of a church.
Would this role require you to pursue a degree in theology?
Yes, I want to do that. For me, this is a very new phase. I say to myself “Wow, I actually have to choose and make decisions now on what to do next.”
I am a bit afraid to have to make these decisions. But based on how I have seen God working in my life, I think this where I should go. I just have to convince my parents and to assure them on my decision.
Did you ever wonder to yourself whether you could be better off doing something else?
I’ve thought about that. I can do anything but the goal has to be the Kingdom. So I’ve thought to myself: “Why not study psychology, or take up a business course?” To a certain extent, if it helps the Kingdom better, why not?
But there will be a need for pastors in the future as the church expands, and since I’ve been given the opportunity to be a pastor, why not?
I also understand that the Word ministry is important. I can contribute because of the four years I spent in MTS and I can teach. The Holy Spirit has seen fit to put me through this [four years of training] and given me this opportunity to be a pastor, so I’m taking it.
Share with us your experience as an MTSer. What were the few crucial things that you have learned throughout the four years?
Towards the end of my MTS programme, I came to a realisation that it was all about servanthood. Getting servanthood is key in MTS. You can talk about it and preach about it, but you must be able to accept that you are really just serving God while going through the temptations. That is important.
MTS in CERC has also taught me that Jesus’ glory must come first. I must do all things for Jesus’ glory. AND God’s glory demands a lot.
I cannot slack because Jesus deserves His glory and ministry. If you want to do ministry and if you want to live as a Christian, you must really go all out and give your best. Everything must be thought through out and planned out because Jesus deserves it.
In ministry I’ve learnt that there is no such thing as secular-sacred divide, it’s really all about Jesus! Whatever you’re doing, be it ministry in church or a “secular” job, you must still do it all for Christ.
Another important thing that MTS taught me is that the church is really important. You must put the church in the centre because it’s the only thing that will last. It’s not about me, but it’s about God’s institution and my service to church. Your life is really about service to God.
This is why I’m happy to stay in CERC to do whatever is given to me because ultimately, God wants us to serve the church. God does not want me to be a superstar, he wants me to serve His church faithfully because that is what will last in heaven.
How has MTS helped you be a better disciple of Christ?
It’s the same thing – understanding and living out servanthood. It has tested me and challenged me. I have had to face my demons. I’ve had to fail, to see myself preach sermons I know wasn’t going to work. Then taking feedback and trying to improve. After all that, not improving but still needing to push through. I’ve had to tell myself that I was doing this because I’m a servant.
At the same time, understanding that this is how God wants to use me. Nobody wants to feel useless, but I had to feel like that sometimes.
I feel that I took such a long time to learn and I definitely feel that I should have been better. Personally, I think I suck but I also know that God uses weakness to serve him. So, if this is how God has gifted me and used me, I’m fine with that.
Would you say that these four years have been the most challenging time in your life?
Yes. Growing up in my family was very easy. My parents worked hard to make sure that we all lived a good life. Growing up, I’ve never had much responsibility.
My dad told me: “There are many phases in life. Right now, this phase that you’re going through, is to study well”. So I grew up only studying, that was all I cared about, I didn’t do much things.
In MTS, I had to learn so many things that I didn’t know. This is part of the reason why it took me four years to complete. I had to learn so many things, even about taking care of people.
So it has definitely matured me theologically and as a person.
Posted on 2nd March 2016