Friday, May 15, 2009

Wow, 2Timothy 2:2 - a response to a Grace@work commentary

Another great piece by Soo Inn. This is my first re-posting of any of his e-commentaries in my new blog (now that I have closed down my Multiply blog) so a quick promo ...

1. He is a great guy - genuine and down to earth (though some may think too "down to earth"! :-) )
2. I consider him a mentor and I miss our sessions as part of a mentoring triad.
3. I am a financial supporter of grace@work and I do commend it
4. He makes a lot of sense

Ok, some additional comments. While I am seeking to see how I can "formally" work at developing leaders as well as be developed as a leader, I think the reality is that most of leadership development (also called disciple-making for the more spiritually / biblically inclined :-)) happens informally ... as a natural part of trying to living our lives honestly by the grace of God.

I am so glad for this as a wise man commented (and then prayed) on Sunday something along the line of "God has raised up leaders" and that "leadership development is happening!" Made me think hard as the comment was in response to my concern about so many up and coming leaders moving away due to the work related issues. And of course with it the seemingly shrinking pool of leaders, and my trying hard to figure out how to implement a leadership development programme to help those who are already serving.

For the curious ... the wise man is Dr. (Uncle) Max Liddle, my church's former pastor. :-) And yes, he is right as through the lives of people looking out for each other, praying for each other, encouraging each other etc, leadership development / discipleship is taking place in a real way as God pours out His grace through our lives. Amazing.... and I too am being "mentored" in the process by a godly older man's insights and walk with God.

Ok,. enough rambling ... over to Dr. Rev Tan Soo Inn ...

GRACE@WORK MAIL 20/09
May 15th, 2009 Edition.
This ecommentary is sent out free but your donations help this ministry in
its commitment to bring truth to life. Details below.
(Grace@Work Mail is a ministry of Graceworks: www.graceworks.com.sg)


Commentary: Wow, 2Timothy 2:2
By Soo-Inn Tan

Last weekend, I met two key leaders at the church where I gave a
seminar. One was on staff, the youth pastor. The other was a lay leader.
They both shared that their lives had been impacted by a guy named
Nick. I first met Nick more than twenty years ago. He was in engineering
school. I was pursuing theological studies at Regent College (Vancouver).
We worshipped in the same church. I haven't seen him since. Last
Monday I asked him to take Bernice and me to the best congee place in
Vancouver.

In the years that we had not seen each other, Nick had graduated and
worked as an engineer. He had also gone on to do a Master in
engineering. Somewhere along the way the Lord nudged him in the
direction of a church-related vocation. He too went to Regent and has
been ministering as a pastor since.

As we chatted, he told me how I had impacted his life. He remembered
that I was feverishly trying to finish my master's thesis, but that
whenever he contacted me, I made time for him. This is how he put it in a
recent email: "I hope you remember me ... the kid who used to interrupt
your Regent thesis writing with teenager issues." Truth is, I can't, I can't
remember the times we chatted. I remember Nick of course but I can't
remember the conversations that had meant so much to him. It has been
too long and too much has happened.

My friends in the Navigators and others, see 2 Timothy 2:2 as a key
programmatic verse for their ministry:

[And the things you heard me say in the presence of many witnesses
entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.
(TNIV)]

My present visit to Vancouver allowed me to catch another glimpse of the
truth of this verse. I guess some time has to pass before you are able to
see the truth of this principle in action. In my case more than two decades
had to pass before I had the delight of meeting these two key individuals
in God's kingdom who had been influenced by someone I had influenced.
There are some benefits from growing older. But let me quickly say two
things.

One, I am who I am today because others had invested their lives in me.
I am in Vancouver at the invitation of Dr Ward Gasque. He was my thesis
supervisor for that same thesis I was feverishly trying to finish all those
years ago. I remembered that we had all our consultations over pizza and
cider and Italian ice cream. After each session I had to go home to take a
nap. But Ward was an excellent teacher and thesis supervisor. He taught
me key lessons about the New Testament. But he also taught me about
life. In particular he taught me about friendship.

In the years since I left Regent, Ward has kept in touch and has
encouraged me through some of the toughest times of my life. He has
gone to bat on my behalf many, many times. I am glad for any
opportunity to work with him. I owe him. I need to make it clear to Nick
that if I had blessed him, I was only passing forward what I had received
from Ward and from many others.

The second thing I need to say is that I made time for Nick, not as an
expression of any intentional discipling programme. Nick was a friend.
And we make time for our friends. Now I am all for discipling
programmes, but much of life cannot be programmed. As Nick puts it in
his testimony, "Unlike my prior work as an engineer, I have learnt that
encounters with God cannot be engineered. Genuine experiences of God
are His doing." The same can be said about encounters with people.

I cannot take any credit for intentionally discipling Nick, choosing him
because of some foreknowledge of how he would turn out, and that he
would go on to disciple others. We cannot engineer a disciple. Perhaps we
should follow Paul and take our metaphors for discipling from the world of
agriculture rather than from the world of technique.

[What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through
whom you came to believe --- as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I
planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So
neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only
God who makes things grow. (1Corinthians 3:5-7 TNIV)]

In blessing the people that God puts in our way, we plant seeds, but only
God knows how those seeds will grow. Indeed, only God can grow a life.
But we have the privilege of being God's coworkers (1Corinthians 3:9)
and sometimes that means putting aside your thesis to listen to a
teenager with teenager issues.

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