Saturday, February 22, 2003

Mentorship and Leadership... Just a couple of topics that have been on my mind lately, what with the outset of the University of Waterloo Chinese Christian Fellowship elections subcommittee...

Signs of age -- discussions of the fellowship: the future direction of the fellowship, how we are to carry the vision out, and with what resources would we employ to fulfill the vision...

Resources, undoubtedly, being people.

It never ceases to amaze me -- the talent with which God has blessed our fellowship. It is somewhat mindboggling to fully grasp the extent of manpower that the fellowship requires and utilises to complete the many initiatives that it establishes. To name a few, weekly Friday night programs that cater to 100+ people, a number of various small groups that meet weekly, once a term productions including refreshments for upwards to 400 people... all on top of our normal academic careers and personal lives. Incredible. Definitely, nothing could happen without the strength of God; we would not be able to accomplish anything.

Practically speaking, however, it would be impossible to start everything from scratch. I mean, whatever learning curve we pick up should be transferred to the next generation -- a sensible concept whether it be explained in terms of the environment (reuse and recycle!), management efficiency (eliminate non-value-added and redundant activities), economics (reduce fixed costs), or whatnot.

Anyway, my point is that as a fellowship, we are continuously in training, equipping the future leaders of the fellowship. Which brings me to my main topic: Who is a leader? What makes a person a leader?

Sure, a gesture such as the undertaking of an initiative rings a clear message. What about age? I know that age itself does not necessarily say anything in particular. Nonetheless, I think it is a reality [whether you choose to accept it or not] that "seniors" (i.e., 3rd year and on?), at least, are automatically perceived as leaders. The question is, then, do perceptions of someone affect how he/she chooses to *be*?

As always, extremities are never desirable. On one hand, we are not to be as callous as to go about our own ways without regard to what people think at all. On the other, we are not to be as easily influenced as to lack any personal conviction. The balance? "...make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way." —Romans 14:13. It would be ignorant to avoid perceptions of oneself; at the very minimum, one should examine one's conduct, that it not cause others to stumble. However, what people perceive and thus take as examples of leadership will be retained and carried on. Ultimately, one must think hard of the question of choosing to accept these perceptions, and resultingly, choosing to adopt the role of a leader. I do not think it is a question to be ignored -- ignorance is unacceptable.

On a recent car ride home, we were challenged to think about people who have made us up -- those who have spent time to mentor, influence, and nurture our growth. I know that who I am today is greatly attributed to their time and care. Although it is easy to just be grateful for them, the next logical question is, For whom have you had the honour to mentor, to influence, to nurture *their* growth?

I know that my mentors have been a true blessing in my life, and I have learned much from them. As with all of God's gifts, however, I think that they are to be used. The parable of the talents [Matt. 25:14-30] / ten minas [Luke 19:14-27] illustrates that we are to invest with whatever God has entrusted us; it would only be selfish to receive his gifts for ourselves and keep it at that.

Now that I'm in my last year, at times I have been regarded as "ancient" in the fellowship [but I still challenge anyone to DDR anyday! =p], I think I have more or less adopted a role as a leader. As much as I have tried to challenge some of the younger ones in the fellowship, it has been a two-way street, which has been cool. =) I do not agree that only mentors can influence us; I think any number of people can challenge us and make us think, and I have learned much from many people younger than me.

Notwithstanding the pragmatic issue of training, I think mentorship stems out of love, that we want to expend the energy to build up a fellow brother or sister. Indeed, it is a privilege to be allowed into someone else's life, to know that they honestly consider my opinions and advices... and most gratifyingly, to the point where I can reach out to the person, not "below" me as a mentee, but alongside as a peer -- a beginning of a lifelong partnership to carry on the good work until the day of completion.

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

An article that my sister brought to my attention a little while back. Well, at least it was amusing to us. =p

I yam what I yam

Today's question, brought to you by Knight-Ridder news agency is: What's the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? First, potatoes are tubers. Sweet potatoes are roots. Also, U.S. growers would like for all of us to stop writing two words for sweet potatoes. They insist the proper spelling is sweetpotato — one word. There was no word on whether Dan Quail would add an "e" or not.

A real yam is grown primarily in Africa and the Caribbean, and is darker on the outside, pure white inside. The sweet potato is copper-coloured with a golden-red flesh. The confusion began when slaves compared the sweet potato with the "nyamis" of their homeland. Nyamis became yams, and the two terms became interchangeable. The confusion continues today as the duo are often mislabelled.

The original article in the Toronto Star

Until next time, this is Gladys YAM.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Well, to continue some analysis of Les Miserables, I am sure it is apparent to all, but I thought it was cool how the theme of grace constantly prevailed over the law...

Despite the righteousness that comes with abiding with the law: "You have done your duty, nothing more," in the end, the law cannot prevail over grace:

And must I now begin to doubt,
Who never doubted all these years?
My heart is stone and still it trembles
The world I have known is lost in shadow.
Is he from heaven or from hell?
And does he know
That granting me my life today
This man has killed me even so?
It is either Valjean or Javert!

And what of the final statement,
"To love another person is to see the face of God."?

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
–– Matthew 26:40

Sunday, February 16, 2003


It has been a while since I have experienced peace in our apartment -- my roommates have left Waterloo for reading week. Not that I don't enjoy the [yeet lau] loud fun when it *is* here, but it is definitely nice to once in a while recline from my usual whirlwind of activities, throw on some jazz tunes, and reflect...

Les Miserables

Definitely my favourite musical. I used to, and still do, empathize with the character of Eponine, the tragic heroine who does not win the heart of her guy. I've always loved "On My Own" due to its relability, although right now, I can't say I really pine for anyone in particular... =p Anyway, the point of this reflection is not about relationships...

If I were to sum up the musical in one word, it would be grace. No doubt, it was writen with such a theme in mind, but the following are just a few extracts of my analyses...

Contrary to the functionings of the world, not everything is about what we deserve... Yes, the world is unfair; he did not deserve to be ostracized by society when he tried to look for a normal job, but after the Bishop of Digne treated him kindly, Valjean stepped back and asked, "Why? Why are you so nice to me?" To which the bishop replied,

But remember this, my brother
See in this some higher plan
You must use this precious silver
To become an honest man.

Following the Bishop's challenge, Valjean decides to turn from his old self. No, actually, more than that: he kills his old self and begins anew. Easier said than done, I know, but with a complete change in attitude and mindset towards his new goal, obstacles *will* be overcome.

[more to come]

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Good morning. =)

Oh, the joys of online courses: supplemental in-class sessions on Saturdays at 9:30am.

I'm in a lab in Carl Pollock Hall... I cannot get over how nice this lab is!!

Anyway, back to work...

Until next time, this is Gladys Yam.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Sorry, I've been busy with various things, as usual... This is a cheap post, actually; it's not written by me, but I thought it was interesting and it also goes back to the initial topic of this blog: BALANCE. =)


Keeping the balance in your life
By Rick Warren

“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” —Luke 2:52 (NIV)

The Law of Balance is built into our universe. For things to function properly there must be equilibrium.

For example …

… The Earth doesn't vibrate when it rotates because it is balanced on its axis. And we neither freeze to death nor burn up because we are just the right distance from the sun.

… Nature exists in balanced ecosystems. God has built checks and balances into nature that keep the food chain in order.

… In Architecture, the stress on a building must be balanced or it will collapse.

… The Human Body works best when our systems are balanced. Imbalance is called "illness.” Restoring balance is called "healing.”

One of the most common problems I see are people living imbalanced lives. It’s a disease with many symptoms but the same root cause. You can become imbalanced with anything - working, eating, sleeping, playing, TV, sex …etc.

The fact is - many people tend to pay more attention to their PUBLIC lives and neglect their PRIVATE side. Like poor photographs, they are overexposed and underdeveloped.

The results of imbalance are always the same: frustration and fatigue. Like imbalanced tires, you wear out quickly. Imbalance unchecked eventually leads to burnout.

A number of years ago, Dr. Charles Garfield did a landmark study on "Peak Performers"- those who were leaders in their respective fields. One of the common denominators of peak performers was that - contrary to popular myth - they were not single minded workaholics but rather balanced

The most balanced person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. In one translation, the Bible says he "grew intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.” (Luke 2:52)

How would you rate yourself in these four categories of growth?
Is there balance in your life or have you neglected one or more of these key areas?

Let me challenge you to do a personal check-up this week:

- Am I mentally sharper than 5 years ago? Why not?
- Will I do anything about it?
- Am I frequently complaining of fatigue or poor health?
What's my plan to change?
- Am I developing the spiritual side of my life? What am I doing
to better understand God and his purpose for my life?
- Am I cultivating meaningful relationships where support is
given and received?
- Who can count on me as a genuine friend?


Copyright 2002 by Rick Warren.
Rick Warren is the author of “The Purpose Driven Life” and pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.