Streakness Number One and Other Things
Posted on 21 Oct 2016 by Vanessa Ong
It’s been two years and it’s assessment-writing time for me, guys! I’ve been going through my ministry reflections since the beginning of Ministry Training and am AMAZED and BAFFLED as I look through my “first-times”.
- First time leading TGG MonSun (Monash and Sunway students)
- First time preaching Ecclesiastes at a local campus
- First time song-leading, playing guitar, being MC and preaching at Havil International School (all in one session!)
- First time being in charge of Little People (evangelistic event for children), writing and narrating a skit for the children’s puppet show, organising everything else!
It feels like both yesterday and ages ago, all at the same time. What a funny feeling! I still can recall the mistakes I’ve made, both minor (e.g. not bringing things I needed, not contacting personnel early enough) and MAJOR (e.g. caring more about what someone else thought of me, not saying what needed to be said, not seeing things through to completion but moving away to new projects, being late for a sermon because I overslept) mistakes I’ve made. I can go on for a few more blog posts but I shall stop here! This blog post will cover some insights on how I’ve NOT changed but at the same time, changed… Haha.
One of the awesome things about MTS is that you get to learn about yourself better.
(It is an awesome but also terrifying experience. So thank you church for all the financial and emotional support so that I have the opportunity to experience this wonderful and yet terrifying experience learning about the person God made me to be).
Some things just endure forever
Ever had that weird experience of reading a person’s reflections and thoughts and finding yourself agreeing with every single word, only to recall that the person is YOURSELF, just many months of experience back?
Here are some interests, abilities and dislikes that remain the same:
- I hate written communication. Yes, I constantly worry that you, the reader might misunderstand what I’m writing because it’s just so hard to express my thoughts in coherent sentences! Miscommunication? There’s just no time!
- I dislike worrying about my dear peers, my fellow soldiers in Christ who should not be entangled in civilian pursuits. There’s just no time.
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. (2 Timothy 2.4)
- I enjoy talking to people I enjoy talking to; you know who you are. And somehow, I always have time for this.
- I like learning new things, reading, thinking, studying and writing in pursuit of learning. Nerding, basically. There can never be enough time for this.
- I love explaining, teaching, talking with a goal to change mindsets etc., talking theology, exegesis and ministry with students. And there is always, always time for this. But sometimes, I talk so much I run out of … voice? Please pray for my vocal chords etc to continue being good stewards.
- I love being involved in people’s lives, their living for Jesus though I honestly still prefer a two-hour slot of teaching than a two-hour slot of challenging someone to live rightly. I’ve seen how God pastors me each time I pastor someone else by me preaching not just to them, but to my ungodly self. It’s mutually edifying though often more emotionally draining and physically demanding than answering theological/exegetical questions.
- I have the runway model ability to break a shoe and keep walking like I’m fabulous though inside I am the complete opposite!
- I hate micromanaging people especially with regards to mundane things (though if it’s things like choice of background music, I’m in!)
- I am hyper-allergic to being emotionally down. I’d rather a light / witty banter / intellectual conversation.
- I can usually change the social atmosphere because I can be pretty loud, happy, fun, lively and a little too enthusiastic sometimes.
(If you are concerned that the above likes and dislikes are somewhat unsuitable for someone thinking about ministry long-term, please stay tuned to my next blog post titled “Streakness Number Two and Other Things”. I can’t wait to unpack some of the things I have shared with you about myself from above. Keep reading if you’re wondering what a streakness is)
…and a few things have changed (Mum, really…).
- Supernatural superhuman ability to wake up before the alarm clock rings, no matter what time it is in the day. Works most of the time la.
- Convicted about this little thing called ‘singleness’ for the sake of ministry (Well, at least for ten more years. I’m still young *winks*). There’s just so much ministry to do, and so little time.
- I can do some things (some small, some big) in order. Yes, you read right; in sequence. Yeap. Really.
- I know how to take naps! This is an amazing one, mummy.
- I am more conscious of my peers thanks to Robin and his example and frequent reminding to work as a team. Cue: Barnabas!!
- I preach with more exegesis, and with more explanation to the audience than just me enjoying the meaning of the verses and significance of X, Y and Z in my own mind (Please pray for me guys. Part of my assessment will include a topical sermon I am giving at the end of this month)
- I actually think and plan ahead. A small example: I charge and pack my powerbank religiously and have more systems for other things like eating and laundry. Mum, do you believe this?! God really can change people for His sake!
- After 2 years of doing ministry non-stop, you could say I am more accustomed to the inescapable realities of ministry (the hurts, the disappointments) as opposed to living in my fantasy world where being affected by the outcomes of ministry just doesn’t exist. Positively, I think this conviction is linked to accepting my potential future in ministry, along with all my various coping mechanisms.
Having said all that, let me introduce you to a streakness.
A Streakness is a strength that is also a weakness. I have found so many of my own streaknesses, that I had to give it a term. In MTS, I realise just how good I am at certain things…then sooner or later realise that it can also be a CURSE! I have also found the reverse to be true. Some things that I have always sucked at have turned out to function as a strength. Let me illustrate with the below.
I have always been and still am absolutely hopeless at sticking to doing one thing at a time, yet even more hopeless at multi-tasking. *Sorry mum and dad for not listening to your patient and repetitive scolding about doing one thing at a time;
“Ness!! Finish this FIRST! I thought you were supposed to feed the chickens?!”
“Why are you looking at baby photos NOW?!!!! Do something and finish it!!!!!!!”
Now I am paying the price for my stubbornness and am working on it still. I have had some progress although they may be small milestones. It helps when the schedule is so FULL, almost bursting, that I don’t really have any space to drop what I am doing. Chasing deadlines does this to me and I am getting the hang of staying on one thing for longer.
But do pray for me, guys! I have a habit of being super lousy at keeping up with my various relationships. For instance, there are too many people who need someone to read the Bible with them, so much so that I often meet someone new and unthinkingly just ask, “Hey, would you be free to read the Bible with me?” without hesitation, without first planning and thinking if I would be able to follow-through or not. ‘Impulsive’ doesn’t begin to describe this crazy and persistent habit of mine! It is downright non-strategic, foolish, terribly irresponsible and embarrassing for someone who has been doing this for SO LONG, but the problem remains and the number of people who need the gospel is growing!
Their dreams, their difficulties, their strengths, their amazing abilities, their silly habits, their pain, their love for God, their… *Ok Van, they get the point*.
Though I am armed with such a burdensome double-edged sword (streakness) that God has given me, I somehow can imagine doing this job of meeting and reading the bible with people long-term. However, I need to overcome my fear of working with “the hard ones” though ironically, I also end up (very often, unconsciously) looking out for and sticking to the “hard ones”. I have discovered that part of my fear of working with “the hard ones” is the fear of emotional attachment/strain I experience when dealing with them.
It doesn’t help that I put in a lot of hope and energy hoping again and again, tirelessly, for someone to change, to do the right thing, to choose God and all that he chooses only for it not to end well. The let-down can be really discouraging and it does really get me down.
But I thank God that he has grown my thinking to remember that although I do take the hard falls of the “hard ones” quite personally, I should trust God even more tirelessly in him achieving all of His holy and good desires, for His glory. Thank God for the weekly Sunday pulpit; restores me to sanity again!
Alright, it’s time for me to wrap up and prepare for a Romans 6 get-together with an awesome student. I would write much, much more but I’d rather you come back to this blog to find out how God has changed me. Do thank God with me for everything I’ve written above and for the huge privilege I have to learn this for a lifetime of long-term ministry and freedom to serve God and His Son’s church this way. Till next time!
Vanessa was one of our Church Ministers’ Apprentices. She is now studying for her Bachelor of Theology in Moore Theological College, Sydney. Her first degree was a Bachelor of Science (Psychology). Her favourite pastimes include sitting and reading at the chup fun shop near CERC Central and waiting for random people to join her.