Saturday, December 1, 2012

Father first, then Preacher?

I remember watching a movie with a title like, "I know what you did last summer". Lectures ended about a month ago. But my work does not seem to end or get any lighter. In the first two weeks of my "vacation", I examined two MTh theses. I wrote a 1,500 word report for the first one and a 3,000 word report for the second dissertation. Thank God that I have graded 17 exams scripts of Greek 1 within days after the exams in the 2nd week of November. For the past week, I have been going through 19 New Testament essays. Every year I set a different question. This is the first time in 5 years that the topic is not directly about Jesus. I set the topic: "Discuss the portraits of Peter in the synoptic Gospels with special reference to the theme of discipleship." I hope I will finish grading all essays before I go on leave. After I return from leave, a third MTh thesis awaits examination.

I thought coming to Singapore I would have more time for my family. I had a hectic 5-year in Sabah pastoring a growing church. I look with envy at most Singaporean churches that have multiple pastors. A church of about 500 people will boast 4 or 5 or more full-time pastors and other church workers as well. I was the sole pastor with a children's pastor helping me for 4 years before the church appointed a youth pastor in my 5th year when the children's pastor left for another ministry.

But I am encouraged by the example of John Sung. He travelled and preached for 11 months non-stop and spent only a month with his family, wife and 4 children. Some people including Christian ministers thought that he neglected his family but the word of Christ holds true: "Unless one hates his father and mother, his wife and children, he can't be my disciple." This is not an excuse to neglect our families or do less for them when opportunities avail themselves. But the command of Christ tells us that the summons of the kingdom of heaven takes precedence over familial ties. The disciple's allegiance to the Lord cannot be compromised by kinship.

Thanks be to God that this vacation I think I will have the opportunity to have some quality time with my son and spend Christmas with him. Last year he came back for a month but I was busy preparing lectures and preaching including travelling away from home to preach in a 2-day Christmas celebrations in Sipitang.

I was praying for a sign and the Lord showed me from the book of Isaiah that the prophet Isaiah had children and in one passage in Isa 7:3, it is said that the prophet Isaiah should go forth with his son..." This is good enough for me that I should go to my son and show him that his pastor-father can be father first, then a preacher.

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