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Weekly Favorite Links (July 9-15, 2015)

Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland

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So… here’s a belated update: I am on week three at the new job. Everything just happened so quickly and there’s been a ton of changes to adapt to. But y’all already know how I feel about change. For the past several weeks, I’ve been in training for tasks and duties that I have responsibilities for. In addition, since someone on my team will be going on leave soon, I have extra things that I’ll need to handle in their absence. Otherwise, I have enjoyed getting to know my coworkers and other people in neighboring departments.

Funemployment seems like so long ago, when in reality, it was only three weeks ago. THREE. I also started an online course around the same time, which has only added to the busyness. Does it sound a little overwhelming? It kind of is. I think the biggest change for me during this time of transition has been the loss of free time. (And sunshine. SUNSHINE, I MISS YOU.)

When I was unemployed, I had almost all the free time in the world. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to do — I still had a schedule that I followed — but the difference was that I could practically do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And it was really nice, not to mention super comfortable. But now, I’m quite limited in what I can do outside of work. My leisure time is limited to the couple hours I have before work and the handful of hours I have after work, before the hectic cycle repeats itself all over again. While I had expected this and had tried to prepare myself for it ahead of time, it’s nonetheless still overwhelming–physically, mentally, and emotionally.

If anything, I think resuming employment brought out certain idols in my life. I realized that I’m quite selfish with my time and I’m more of a creature of comfort than I thought I was. When a working day is complete, I can’t wait to go back home and just lock myself up in my room and catch up on a day’s worth of social media. When I clock out of the office, I wrestle with making time for others that are harder for me to love. I go back and forth on deciding whether to spend quality time with family over hanging out with friends because I’d much rather be surrounded by the latter. I grumble in my heart when I have to put aside my wants and desires, my so-called “me” time.

There are days when I feel depleted of energy, completely fatigued, and yet I know that I need to lay aside my own selfishness, pride, and love of self in order to be faithful. Sometimes it doesn’t seem “fair.” But employed or not employed, God is always teaching me how to follow him in the mundane. Every day, I have choices I need to make. Do I choose to live for myself or do I choose to surrender and let God reign in my life? Do I choose joy or despair? Dependence in God or control over my own circumstances? Anxiety or confidence in God’s sovereignty?

Sacrificial love is hard. Obedience is hard. Persevering is hard. However, if there’s anything that quickly shakes me out of my own pity party, it’s dwelling on the fact that Christ went above and beyond to demonstrate sacrificial love to me. Christ humbled himself and was obedient, even to the point of death on a cross. So in the mornings, when I struggle to wake up and have a cheerful attitude, or when I’m fighting feelings of being overwhelmed, I pray that God would humble and change my heart. I pray that I would repeat Philippians 2 to myself and that I’d cast away any self-centeredness, looking towards Christ as the ultimate example of how to serve and love others, and to have joy in the face of trials.

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Weekly Favorite Links (May 21-27, 2015)

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Starting from the beginning of this year, I have been in the midst of preparing for a big event for my church. The event itself would span three consecutive Sundays, probably not even constituting 24 hours in total, yet hundreds of helping hands and countless hours of email correspondences late into the night over the past several months have gone into preparation for it. Perhaps what makes this particular event “the biggest event of the year” is that it unites our entire church of all three language-speaking congregations in almost every age group.

At first, when people asked me whether I was stressed over planning and bearing such an enormous responsibility, I would respond that I wasn’t stressed about piecing all the pieces together. And I would say that my answer remains true, even with the last and biggest event being T-minus four days. Rather, my biggest concern at the time, which is still relevant now, is that my character would be right — that I would love God so much in order to love all the people that I would have the responsibility of managing.

I believe that loving others is the biggest burden for me, the one that carries the most weight. It ought to be for all Christians. Despite all the administrative duties that go into an event preparation, it is caring for my team members that holds a paramount significance. It is also the biggest blessing and gift from God that I have these opportunities in the first place to get to know people that I do not normally come into contact with because we have differences in our culture and age.

I could easily delegate assignments, coordinate meetings, follow up with all tasks assigned but what would be the point if I didn’t love the people? Those that are on my team aren’t simply chess pieces that I can maneuver into the right places so that we could get things done efficiently. Organization is important, but so are relationships. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. How could they follow my directions and my leadership if they didn’t get to know me, my heart, and if I didn’t demonstrate Christ-like love to them? Likewise, how could I possibly manage a team if I didn’t actively invest and listen to them, to know their strengths and talents? This is all to say that my authority is limited and when it comes to leading, I cannot rely on my own strength. The work that my team and I are doing is not for our own glory, but God’s. Even when we are planning logistics, love for one another must be present because it must come out of an overflow of our love for God.

I can’t say that I know everything that it takes to be a good leader. Even after gaining so much experience for this particular setting, I think I’m still at level one. But if there’s one ingredient that is essential and absolutely necessary for good leadership, it is love — love for God and a love for others.

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