Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Maid Dilemma

As more parents are working, the need for domestic helpers becomes obvious. A lot of families are not able to let their parents help because they are staying quite far away from their parents or that their parents are too old to help. Many families need domestic helpers to help them look after their kids, prepare food and carry out all the household chores.
However, we need to understand that not every family require both parents to work in order to support the family. There are cases where one income is able to support the whole family, but both of them still prefer to work. Many people today cannot stand staying at home whole day to do housework and look after their children. They prefer to work and achieve something in their career. This is most obvious in the role of women. Most of them are no longer housewives.
Even in cases where one soul breadwinner is enough to support the family, both parents would still prefer to work so as to better provide for the family. This is not a problem of greed but a issue of insecurity. As parents, they hope to earn more while they can so that they can provide a better future for their kids. This is understandable since everything is becoming more expensive. However, there are also issues we need to rethink when getting domestic helpers. Just to name a few here:
The issue of bonding
It’s sad these days to see the child more attached to the domestic helpers than their parents. Without the maid, the child would cry. I wonder how the parents feel, or are they just numb to it? The domestic helpers are in fact taking up the role of a mother. As such, our children becomes more attached to them than us. So the question is whether we want to bond with our kids. Some might say that we can have quality time with the kids at night. But are we not busy tutoring our kids at night? If not, we might be sitting dead tired in front of our TV watching programs or fiddling with our smartphones. Anyway, our kids not only need quality time with us, but also quantity time to bond with us.
The issue of safety
While many domestic helpers can be very experienced and well-trained, there is a level of danger. They might not treat our children like their own. Due to the fact that the domestic helpers come from a different environment and culture, they share different definition of danger as us. I have seen the helpers pushing the children around and even let the little children cross the road on their own. I supposed the parents do not know how their kids were treated because they have to work. They just let the helpers send and pick up the kids from school everyday. They do not know the dangers the kids are exposed to until something bad happens. We have to be careful and watchful as we do not want such things to happen to our kids.
The issue of role modelling
With so limited time with the kids, we would also have problem being role models for them. Most of the time, they would just see us coaching them in their homework and see us busy preparing our work. It is very important that we have time with the kids and be good role models for them. As their parents, we have the mandate to train the kids to walk in the ways of God. It is about discipling the kids. It is not just about sending them for tuition and different courses to make them better. As good parents, we must not just give our kids knowledge and skills, but we need to train them in their character too. This is the part that takes up most time and efforts too.
The issue of energy level
After a day of hard work, how much energy do we still have? Taking care of our children need a great amount of energy especially during those years where they are very active. We may have to play with them and be very patient with them. With a domestic helper around, we can leave the playing to her. After a day’s work, we just want to relax and be quiet. We do not want our kids to make noise and disturb us. However, spending time with the kids is very important. Despite of low energy level and the crave for rest and silence, we still have to take care of them. We cannot cease to be their parents. Perhaps, it is not that our kids are too difficult but our work has been too demanding. We may have to make the necessary adjustments and sacrifices so that we can look after our kids.
The issue of freedom
Another common issue is freedom. The dilemma is that though we want to have kids, we also want freedom. We want to have time without the kids tagging along to do our shopping and traveling. We want time for the couple to enjoy by ourselves. It is indeed important for the couple to spend time together. I believe it is all right for us to make arrangements to leave our kids with our parents or friends, but we also need to accept the fact that the composition and dynamics of the family has changed. We cannot have equal freedom as before or we would become irresponsible parents. We have to operate as a family unit rather than a couple. Through the things we do together, we build up the trust and love for each other. While the maid can help us in a lot of things, they cannot replace and should not replace us. We have to change our expectations of freedom. We can no longer exercise the same level of freedom as before. We have a new boundary set for us.
The issue of simplicity
While both parents working can earn a higher income, it is be also possible to survive with one. We can also consider working part time or flexi hours when our children are still young. But that may mean that we have to give up some luxurious lifestyle. Are we ready to live simply for our children sake? In fact, it may be good for our kids since they are getting more and more materialistic these days. They have become little kings and queens in our homes. They get a lot of things they demand because as parents, we want to give them our best. But giving them what they demand might not be best for them. We have to teach then to live simply as well.
The maid dilemma is a tricky one. While we all hope to lighten our workload at home so that we can earn more money outside, we have to evaluate whether this choice is worthwhile. We must be careful not to weigh this decision simply based on the freedom and lifestyle we want, but on the developmental needs of the children. We should constantly evaluate how to better build the family unit in terms of our devotion to God and our relationship with one another rather than being engulfed by our work. Before we get a domestic helper, let us think through the issues more clearly, lest we neglect our duties as parents. The price of it can be a costly one. We may end up having rebellious kids who do not want to communicate with us. Make a change in our parenting before it is too late.

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The Challenge Of Discipleship

Discipleship is one of the greatest challenges in churches today. Without it, Christianity would just be an empty shell void of its true power. It is therefore an important area that churches today must constantly evaluate and make sure that it is properly implemented.
The first challenge of discipleship is the issue of it being neglected. With greater emphasis on world evangelisation, more resources and programs are geared toward reaching out. Rallies, social programs and even cell groups are designed to cater for reaching out rather than building disciples. Churches are spending more time thinking of ways to grow their attendance rather than thinking of ways to improve discipleship.
The second challenge of discipleship is the issue of it being generalized. Due to the emphasis on church growth, discipleship is usually left to the job of adult schools. They assumed that training in a classroom is discipleship. But more often than not, training usually inculcate knowledge rather than build character. Furthermore, not everyone is in adult school. There are still many who are not in adult school. Some churches assumed that discipleship take place at cell groups. Of course, there are churches with very good discipleship programs, but to some, cell group is a place to invite new friends to fellowship together only.
The third challenge of discipleship is the issue of control. Some church leaders are actually not discipling, but they are controlling. They want to poke into every issue that the disciples are facing. In the end, they just suffocate the disciples. On the other hand, there are those who do not bother about anything. The disciples are allowed to do whatever they want. The leaders focus more on preaching and conducting the sacraments. They do not confront the disciples with issues at hand.
The fourth challenge of discipleship is the issue of time. As everyone gets busier, people are not having the time for discipleship. The disciples are busy with their work and their leaders are busy with meetings. It is surprising how much time church leaders are spending on meetings these days. They have so many committees to be in, so many programs to coordinate, and so many visitations to make that they can only literally run the church but no time to disciple people.
The fifth challenge of discipleship is the issue of succession. When there is a lack of discipleship, there will also be a problem of succession. The leaders may be able to run the church very well, but the ministry may also perish with them when they die because they did not spend enough time in discipleship to raise the next generation of leaders.
The sixth challenge of discipleship is the issue of family. There are leaders who can run their churches well, but they did not spend enough time with their family. They forget that their families are part of the people they need to disciple. As a result, there is a lot of heart breaks in the family.
Discipleship needs quantity and quality time. We have to make it personal to be effective too. Every disciple is unique and therefore, what they need to be discipled is slightly different too. We need to be understanding and we need to build a loving and trusting relationship for it to work well. Hope that every person we bring to the Lord can be discipled to be a servant for the Almighty King. Perhaps, it is time for churches to cut down on the number of working committees and put in more effort to build structures for proper and effective discipleship. Everyone deserves to be discipled to his fullest potential in God.

Overtime, Overloaded and Overworked

People are our greatest resources. As such, we are always thinking of ways to increase productivity so that with fewer people, we would be able to do more work. We hope to decrease the reliance on manpower as the population continues to shrink and age. We also hope to do more value-added jobs so that they would provide the country with a greater cutting age. However, we still have not find the right balance with regard to increasing productivity. When we talk about increase productivity, we usually mean to invest more in capital-intensive assets as compared to those which are labour-intensive. This means that with the help of machineries, we are able to do more work within a shorter time. Definitely, there have been more capital-intensive investments that depend less on manual power. Due to these arrangements, one person can handle the work of a few persons as compared to the past. In a sense, we have increase productivity. However, we did not realise that there are also more overtime than ever. With the cut of foreign manpower, foreign workers have to work longer hours, especially when they have a shorter deadline. We use their overtime to exchange a higher productivity for us. It is the same for the management side, one manager has to do the work of a few persons. This does not just happen in private companies but also in statutory boards. Even though executives do not have overtime pay, they have to work harder than ever. Many of them have to bring their jobs home. Perhaps, this is one of the key reasons why people are not having children. People are just overloaded and overworked. I would say that to many of them, they do not have financial problem in having more kids though increasing cost of living do pose a constant threat. But even if we have the money, we do not have the energy to bring up our kids. In the name of increasing productivity and to keep up the cutting edge of a First World nation, we have become a very overloaded people. Frankly speaking, there are many people who have no time to claim their leave. We have become a high-strung and a high tension society. People just got to work harder and harder as the government also works harder. There would be no end to this.

The Church, therefore, has a greater role to play. Rather than loading people with more work, she has to be a place of rest. There must be a sense of restedness and peace when we come into the presence of God. We should not be rushing in and out of the church and rushing to produce more programs and grow our church bigger. It should be a place where our souls are restored and our my are renewed. If the church does not help people to slow down their pace, we have failed. We have conformed to the pace of the world. Very soon, we would have worn out Christians. They would be more tired than the rest of the world. People would be fearful of becoming Christians. Who wants to get busier anyway?

Some may say that we can overwork for God, as long as we come to Him for those who are tired and weary. But I do not think that was what Jesus meant. Jesus is calling us to take up His yoke which is light. He is calling us to learn from Him who is meek. Jesus is calling for a balanced lifestyle. No cow should be overworked or overloaded. There is a need to unload and find  true rest in Jesus.

World evangelisation is urgent, but it is not done at the expense of being overworked and overloaded. Sometimes, it is because we are the one who is hogging the work. We hold on to the work because we feel the need to be within our knowledge and control. We have the problem of disseminating the work and delegating them to others. We are not ready to let go and decentralize. This may be the reason why building mega churches is so popular these days. Is it not better to empower more leaders and let them run churches on their own? Why hog to the power on one central figure? Are our faith really building on God or on one charismatic figure who ended up have to be overloaded and overworked? I know they are willing and they feel good about it; they can even boast about it but is this Jesus’ lifestyle? Why are we getting busier than Jesus? Are we saying that we are more capable and more indispensable than Jesus? I am worried when we start to run churches like big organisations and companies. We start to drive people around and we measure people by their performance. In actual fact, we are following after the world rather than directing the world.

Perhaps, now is the time to re-evaluate our life and ministry. Where is it heading? Maybe it is time to unload and be rested in God. It is time to let go of our kingdom which we build with our own hands and surrender it to God. We can make a choice.

Information or Internalization?

We are bombarded with lots of information every day. Now with the use of smartphones and tablets, information is right at our fingertips. We have so much information that we may feel numb by the information we receive. They no longer strike us as before. We can end up just reading for information.

However, information can be of great value if we know how to process and use them. Information can be more than knowledge if we know how it can be applied. It can become valuable lessons for us if we process them internally. It can become wisdom for us when we have internalized the right information.

How should we process this information?  We need to define our values. Basically, it means that we need to know not just what is good and bad, but also why good is good and why bad is bad. The basis of judging is, of course, the Bible. It is good to know what the Bible says about each piece of information. Next, is the process of searching. It is about going through our minds the worldviews we are holding on to. In searching our souls, God reveals to us the values and principles that we need to change. There is also the process of filtering. We need to separate what is true from false, right from wrong, and good from bad. What is true, right and good can be used to form our character, meanwhile that which is false, wrong and bad should be discarded. Last but not least, we reach the process of internalization. We need to use the right and useful information to form our values and principles for our lives. Then they can become wisdom for us. When situation arises, we would be able to make the right judgment and sound decision.

I know with the overdose of information, we would not be able to process all of the information we received. But at least, we can start to process some information rather than letting all of them slip past us.

“Discipled” By Our Kids

Raising our kids is more than an art or a skill. Many a times it takes more than who we are. As a parent, we need to be a role model for our kids. But very often, we ourselves are not up to it. There are many ways that we are more of a negative example. We have to strive to go beyond ourselves to be good. We do our best to show them what is right and good, even if sometimes we do not do it. In this manner, our kids are actually conditioning us to be good and right, so that we can be a good role model.

The bible tells us that as iron sharpens iron, so we sharpen one another. We can see that this can be applied to our kids too. Unknowingly, our kids are sharpening us to be a better person. There are times that we may scold our children for their wrong behaviour, but we do not realise that they can be mini reflection of ourselves. The kids have picked up certain aspects of our traits and bad habits which are inherent in us. Sometimes, their conditions may be worse than ours because of their need to seek attention. But nonetheless, their symptoms may share the same roots with ours. Therefore, it is good to pause and think whether our kids are reflecting some things about our own character. God has put them as mini mirrors so that we may be transformed for the better.

It is also interesting to note that our kids may display different personalities from ours. Different kids may even have different personalities. I believe that God has a great sense of humour in this. While some parents are so introverted, God blessed them with kids who are extroverted. While those extroverted parents can be blessed with introverted kids. We are constantly challenged by God not to conform to our personalities. No one should use our personalities as an excuse. We are challenged to move out of our comfort zone. The purpose of God is to transform us so that we may conform to the image of God.

The next time we are disciplining our kids, do remember that they are God’s instrument to disciple us too. We are constantly challenged to be good role models for them. They serve as mini mirrors to reflect our lives and values. They also portray different personalities to move us out of our comfort zone. They are indeed God’s precious gift to us.

Disciple Our Kids

It is never easy to bring up our kids, especially if we are to train them in the ways of the Lord. We cannot just depend on techniques or methods to bring the kids up. We also cannot just depend on their schools and other training centres to pass them knowledge and skills. They need parents to spend quantity and quality time with them. They need parents to communicate with them and understand them. They need patience and love from their parents. They need right principles and values to be inculcated in them through modeling of the parents. They need their parents to disciple them.

Discipling our kids is essential if we do not want our kids to become people who become so knowledgeable and skillful that they look down on others, including their parents. They may end up feeling that they are superior to others and are not able to communicate and understand others. They can become mechanical and superficial with relationships. They can become so demanding and unreasonable in just wanting things to go their way. All these can happen during our generation if we are not willing to disciple our kids.

Yes, we are all so busy. We have to earn big bucks to pay for the kids expenses and future education. But we cannot leave this awesome task of discipling our kids to our grandparents or our maids! We have to do this job because we are their parents. God has given us this great privilege and responsibility. Do not get too engrossed in providing for the needs for our kids, so much so that we do not have time to spend with them. We may have the money to get what is the best for them, but we may lose the chance to mold their character. We may even lose their love.

We reap what we sow. What we invest today is only seen in the future. The lack of discipleship in our kids today is experienced tomorrow. I hope that we do not wait to see the fruits in order to convince us. It may be too late as the kids would have reached a rebellious age. But if we invest time, patience and love, we will also get to enjoy the fruits tomorrow.

Do not just sacrifice to give our kids what is best in terms of knowledge and skills, they need us to give them our best in terms of our character. If not, we would find our “best” meaningless and futile. The best way to impart our character is by modeling. We need to be an example to our kids. We need to take time to explain to them what is right and wrong, good and bad. We need to embrace them and show acceptance for them. We need to make time for them. Recently, I have come across a few moms who gave up their big pay just to take care of their kids. This is admirable. Not that they are rich, but they found something more important. They are giving up money in exchange for their kids’ future. It is really not easy to face our kids whole day and do all the housework. It also takes a lot of faith to live on one salary. But I am sure they would find it rewarding some day.

Start discipling our kids today with our life, love and patience.