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Posts in Leadership
What Does a Culture of Honour Look Like?
 
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“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”
- Romans 12:10

A Culture of Honour: The Atmosphere of the Greenhouse

Here at Awaken Generation, we often talk about the ‘Greenhouse’ - it is heaven’s ecosystem; the values of the Kingdom that we, as a community of believers, choose to live by that causes us to flourish.

The culture of honour to a person is what soil is to a seed. It is the cornerstone of kingdom culture and a foundational ingredient in the greenhouse that causes every living thing to flourish.  We hear this phrase a lot, but what does it mean?

Simply put, the culture of honour is being able to relate to people according to what God thinks about them.

When we as a Body live with a culture of honour, people will flourish in their God-given destinies and assignments. We are, in a sense, honouring God’s original intention when He created each of us.

A culture of honour sees David as a King and a man after God’s own heart, even though he was a mere shepherd boy, the ‘runt’ of the family, a murderer, and adulterer. A culture of honour sees Gideon as a mighty man of valour called to triumph over his enemies, even though he was hiding out in fear at the threshing floor. A culture of honour sees Joseph as a saviour and a blessing to his family, even though he was sold into slavery by his own brothers. A culture of honour sees Abraham and Sarah as the father and mother of nations, even though they were old in age and had not borne any children. 

These great men and women of God, just like us, have made many mistakes - but to honour God’s original idea was to see them for who they were created to be.

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Humility & Honour

You may be wondering, “What about the many who don’t deserve it? The ones who aren’t honourable at all?”

Honour isn’t based on a person’s character,  whether or not they deserve it. Honour is based on our character - whether we have the humility to give it. In other words, we don’t give honour because someone is honourable, we give honour because WE are honourable.

It is a choice we make to honour others because we understand that everyone was created in the image of God and that each was born with a beautiful purpose in the kingdom to fulfil.  

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How to start building a culture of honour practically

Building a culture of honour may sound daunting, depending on your existing culture, but it’s not complex. Start with the simple act of encouragement and affirmation. This prophetic gift is the framework that edifies the Church.

Encouragement is to a person what helium is to a balloon. Words of encouragement are needed constantly because our thoughts are bombarded with criticism and negativity. All of us need the constant flow of encouragement from the family of Christ to remind us of who we are in Him.

Let’s learn to be generous with our words. Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” The words we confess out loud express the beliefs with which we have chosen to partner; speaking it aloud is an expression of agreement with an idea - be it godly or evil. And where there is agreement, there is power and authority.

Let us always remember to champion people, not to remind others of their flaws and mistakes but to affirm & call out their God-given identity in Christ - as we do, we will see the people of God flourish into all God had destined for them since the beginning of time. 

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5 Ways to Value Your Pastor
 
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I have not been a Pastor for very long, just about 3 years. In my 30 years of being a Christian, I’ve been through Sunday School, I attended church as a congregation member and in 2004, I entered ministry to serve alongside my parents. In 2016, I answered God’s call to pastor. I was initially resistant because I saw my own parents minister and pastor for many years and saw the good, the bad and everything in between. Though I had seen God move in miraculous, supernatural ways throughout my life as a minister’s kid, I was also privy to the immense hard work and voluminous hours of pastoral ministry. It took me months of wrestling and questioning before I finally said yes and after almost 3 years, I can honestly say that I won’t trade pastoring for anything. The hard work, the pains of ministry, the tears… they exist; but nothing compares to getting up and serving God and His people every day.


Having said that, statistics show that Pastors aren’t doing very well. In a survey done by expastors.com* of more than 500 pastors in the US, 64% of pastors feel overworked, more than 60% of pastors fight depression and wrestle with anxiety, and a whopping 85% have considered leaving ministry. Although these are American statistics, I don’t think it’s vastly different in first world Singapore. Now that I understand the challenges of pastoral ministry, I would like to share a few things you can do to love and encourage your pastors and show them that you value them.

 

1.     Extend Grace to your pastor

Just having the title of pastor is weighty. Expectations skyrocket the moment people know you are a pastor. Pastors are expected to behave a certain way, speak a certain way, and always always go the extra mile for others. The moment we fall short, the tendency is to judge and criticise. But pastors are humans too and we make mistakes. Like you, we are on our own journeys of becoming more and more like Jesus. So do extend us grace. As we purpose to do the best we can and model Jesus’ life and ministry for you, there will be times we need your good will and support, and times we will need your forgiveness.

 

2.     Trust your pastor

With the widespread use of the internet and stories coming out about errant pastors or ministers, it is easy to be suspicious of those who are hold positions of spiritual authority. But we shouldn’t allow such stories to undermine the trust that is required for the church to thrive. Trust that your pastors spend time seeking the Lord and that they hear from God directly, trust that your pastors are for you and your destiny in Christ, and trust that they are well aware that they are accountable to God for you.

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3.     Honour your pastor by being present

I am a Xennial… (micro-generation born between 1977 and 1985). Growing up, I did not to have a computer in the house and got my first mobile phone in my early 20s. Us Xennials have witnessed how, in just 2 decades, we have become so connected to the world through our devices and social media. The flip side is that we have also become distracted. With access to the world of information literally at our fingertips, it’s been increasingly difficult to be present in church, in meetings, at meals, etc. It can get discouraging to sit across someone who keeps looking at their phone, or see congregation members scroll through Facebook or Instagram while we preach. I believe that if you value someone, you will honour them by being present and hearing what they have to say. Now that I know how much it takes to craft messages and write material, I want to honour the one standing at the pulpit, sharing his/her heart out by being present.

 

4.     Encourage your pastor to rest

In the 2016 survey mentioned above, 70% of pastors indicate that they have experienced burnout. Perhaps this is something that Singaporeans, not just pastors, struggle with. We unconsciously fill our schedules and end up being perpetually busy. Let’s not be ignorant, we ALL need to rest. We need to take time out regularly and allow ourselves to recover, reflect and recalibrate. Pastors need that so that they can be alert and sensitive to the Holy Spirit, healthy and strong so they can do the work of the ministry, and more importantly, be able to last the long haul. So encourage them to rest.

 

5.     Pray for your pastor

Nothing comforts me more than knowing that the pastorate is supported by the prayers of the saints. I have on so many occasions felt the tangible power of prayer of those interceding while I minister. Even the Apostle Paul thanks those praying for him (1 Cor 1:11). So please pray for your pastors in your time of daily prayer. We certainly need it and appreciate it.

 

These can actually be applied to any relationship… marriages, friendships and work relationships. I personally believe that as we purpose to value those around us, we can all be effective for the Lord wherever He calls us.  


*http://www.expastors.com/2016-expastors-pastor-survey/

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The Greenhouse Effect: Building Healthy Team Culture
 
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Gossip, backstabbing, politics. Sound familiar? Many of us have experienced these things first-hand, or have even used them to get our way. Despite often being associated with the workplace, in reality they run deep even within our Christian communities.

What would be like if we didn’t have to deal with a negative team culture? Is it even possible, especially when your situation seems bleak? I believe it is.

Greenhouse: The 5 C’s

Recently, AG held a leadership elective about building a healthy team culture. Our Senior Leader Calvin presented to us the ‘greenhouse’ concept. Let’s think about that idea for a bit. Firstly, what is a greenhouse? What does it do? Well, a greenhouse is a structure in which plants are grown and nurtured, especially the ones that require specific conditions to thrive. The temperature, humidity, and many other parameters are controlled so that the plants within it can flourish.

Wouldn’t it be great if our community, ministry, or church had dials and switches with which we could alter its culture? The good news is that there are! However, as with most things in life, using them is not quite as straightforward as flicking a switch. Building anything takes time and effort. How then can you make your community, ministry, and church a greenhouse? Calvin shared about the five C’s that make up a healthy greenhouse: Character, Competency, Chemistry, Culture, and Calling.

I’d like to talk about one of them in more detail - Culture.

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Culture

Many have approached to share how the culture at AG had blessed them. They often share about how different it is to the cultures they had experienced before. Was it by chance? Did the AG culture organically evolve into what it is today? All of here would answer that with a resounding ‘no’!

We believe that core values, when communicated, demonstrated, and enforced, play a vital role in shaping any culture. These are the core values that AG fights to uphold - a passion for the Presence of God, a Culture of Honour, Mentorship & Discipleship, Relationship in Community, and Creativity & Excellence.

These are more than fancy-sounding buzzwords. These are truths that we believe are on God’s heart for the Body, and keys to crafting a new wineskin into which He will pour out more of Himself.

Let’s take a closer look at two of those core values.

A Passion for the Presence of God

Any organisation can plan events, create communities, and build a sense of belonging. But without the presence of God, it would ultimately amount to nothing.

We must be like the Israelites who encamped around His presence - in the form of a cloud - in the wilderness. When the cloud moved, they packed up and followed. When it stopped, they set up camp. We seek to be utterly and completely reliant on His voice to direct us, and His presence that renews and empowers us.

Like Moses, we, too, do not want to go anywhere without His presence. Are you dependent on God no matter where you go? Will you obey willingly as the Lord directs?

A Culture of Honour

To honour someone is to give value to them; to affirm them. It’s not about whether they deserve it or not; we are called to honour because we are people of honour.

We see each person as sacred, made in the image of God Himself, and therefore since Jesus has bestowed so much value to us by dying for us, who are we to do otherwise to our brothers and sisters?

Could we honour and celebrate them for who they are, instead of stumbling over who they’re not? How are we demonstrating love, affirmation, encouragement, and kindness to our brother?

In conclusion...

Calvin elaborated on the four other ‘C’s that would help develop a Kingdom culture within your community. To attain this may sound daunting to some of you, but be encouraged that our God cares about our communities more than even we do, and He always, always empowers those He calls!

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If you or your ministry would like to receive leadership training or find out more, contact us at info@awakengeneration.sg!

 
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Spiritual Family: What Does It Look Like?

by Calvin Hong & Shawn Wong

From the beginning of humanity, God showed that His design of Family was something special. He thoroughly enjoyed the company of Adam and Eve and they enjoyed His presence. There was no shame, nothing to hide, and in fact, were without clothes! They were completely vulnerable.

But because of sin, a separation occurred. The natural instinct of Man since then has been to cover ourselves up; to protect and defend ourselves. However, in God’s original design of Family, there was no need to be ashamed of anything - because He is a God of covering.

When Adam and Eve sinned, it was because they chose not to trust God when He instructed them to not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Instead, they chose to listen to another voice. They did not believe that God did not mean them harm, nor that He knows and wants the best for them. They didn’t have a Family mindset.

But God fights for Family.  He could have chosen to wash His hands off of humanity and restart creation. But ‘He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it.’ (Phil 1:6) In order for sin to not have a hold on mankind, the spilling of the blood of an animal was required as atonement. He then spilled the blood of His Son Jesus to permanently reconcile all of humanity to Himself. He is a God who covers. He calls us Family, and He values Family.

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We all need a spiritual family - a community of people who genuinely love and care for us, who point out the veggie leaves in our teeth (literally and figuratively), and who are unafraid to say what’s needed to see us step into our destinies. Here are 4 truths about building healthy relationships within a culture of family that I learnt from my friend, Victoria Jeffs from Day2 International. These points sum up how we can relate to each other in a healthy way and display God’s original idea of Family to our brothers and sisters in Christ:

  1. “I mean you no harm.” It means you only have good intentions for your family members – to see them prosper and succeed. It means wanting to bless them and to be a key part of a their lives. When they’re convinced of this, they become more honest and vulnerable, and more willing to allow you a place of influence in their lives.
  2. “What matters to you matters to me.” There are important things that we are all after. Ask yourself: How can I as a family member help guide and build you so you can fulfil your purposes and dreams? Each of us has different needs. However, though we try to do what’s humanly possible for them, we don’t try to become the Holy Spirit - for it is God who actually makes the change and transformation in their lives.

  3. “I only want what’s best for you.” It means seeing the gold in someone, instead of stumbling over their shortcomings. It’s about looking out for each other. There’s no competition within Family - it’s about helping each other climb our ladders, to be the best that we can be.

  4. “It must pass the test of seasons.” How can we build a relationship with someone unless we’re willing to spend time with them, be vulnerable, or willing to invest in them? Doing all that takes time, patience, understanding, and grace. Seasons involve ups and downs, and Family lasts regardless of them.

We all make mistakes. That’s why God in His grace covers our lack. Likewise, that’s the example we must follow. Let’s all ask: Do we cover each other despite our failings, or do we openly reprimand and shame? Do we pray for each other, or cast judgmental looks and express disgust in subtle ways? May we grow in love and be living testimonies who rightly display God’s original design of Family.

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Many thanks to Day2 International for the 4 Truths. Do visit their website at www.findyourday2.org!

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How to Be an Encourager

By Alarice

What kind of environment did you grow up in? What was your childhood like? Chances are, if you grew up in an Asian family, affirming and encouraging words may have been a rarity. In Asian culture, we tend to show our ‘love’ by pointing out the negatives in you rather than the positives, hoping that you will do better. The idea is that ‘tough love is better than no love’.  There is a silent expectation that if I don’t publicly or audibly express ‘I love you’, you should know because ‘I provide a roof over your head!’ Is this kingdom culture, though? Using fear as a form of motivation is never a good solution. It leads to emptiness, a perfectionist mindset, and a self-hatred when one fails to purge out these imperfections in their life.  Instead, we need to be releasing words of life and godly truth that call out and shape the destiny in people. Through our words, we are calling out the great army of God to fulfill their destiny in Christ across the earth! To do that, we must simply learn to start by being an encourager!

Encouragement is a prophetic gift. I’m not talking about complimenting or flattery, for true encouragement is not self-seeking or motivated by an agenda; true encouragement chooses to see past flaws and instead calls out God’s destiny over the person’s life. It takes prophetic eyes to see what how God has originally designed the person, what gifts they operate in, and their unique contribution to the world.

Words carry the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). It is how we access the spiritual realm. We get saved through HEARING the gospel! In the same way, wield your words like a weapon of warfare and ensure that you use it for the glory and kingdom of God! Here are 3 tips on how I’ve learned to be an encourager:

  1. Share with your brother and sister how they have been a blessing to you. Be as specific as possible. 
  2. What gift do you see in this person? (It can be a skill or a spiritual gift!)
  3. How do you see them using their gift to impact others?

Once you learn to practise this natural act of simply being an encourager, you will soon find that it becomes supernatural! When the Spirit of wisdom and revelation comes upon you, God will reveal the secrets of His heart. Perhaps the Lord will download a vision or specific Bible verse to you for that person that will greatly strengthen them in their season!

Remember as worshippers or even worship leaders, we are releasing songs that will encourage, exhort, and edify the church. Let us learn to be an encourager on and off the stage, using our words to lift up one another and the name of Jesus!

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