Sunday, 21 August 2016

Ten commandments for the boy from Aleppo.


I dare not imagine a near perfect world. A world of intentional living for others. A world of self-sacrifices where unconditional love reigns. A world where the weak are protected, the old are respected, women are treated as equals, if not exalted, and the young do not lack heroes and role models they can look up to.

Such a world would be wishful thinking. I know that. My imagination does not fly me that far. My wings are clipped. I am not a head-in-the-sand optimist.

I am nevertheless a hopeful realist. And I do sometimes dream of a world a couple of notches down on the idealism scale. It is a world somewhere in the middle, hovering steadily above the barbarity and below a certain paradise. It is a world where expectations can still fall short, disappointments abound, and dreams unrealized at times. It is a world where new lives are born as old ones expire, and success and failures are part and parcel.

I harbor no illusions of perfection and I believe in cause and consequences. Sickness will strike. Happiness fades. Tears will be shed. Death and taxes assured. And sadness descends. It is no doubt an imperfect world, but not a savage one.

Yet, however imperfect, I cannot imagine a world that falls way below the steady middle where babies are mindlessly murdered and forgotten, young boys are mechanically trained to kill and disposed, young girls are mercilessly sold to slavery and abused, mothers are brutally raped in the name of religion, and fathers are cruelly tortured to death and burnt.

There are indeed limits to my imagination to dare venture into the realm of perfection, but never am I able to imagine a world where our protectors become our enemy, our elected leaders masquerade as our torturer, and our trusted custodians disguised as our betrayer. It’s a mind-boggling world to say the least. 

Alas, it is a world that is no different from a world of predators where we live for nothing but the hunt, where we pursue no higher goals than to satisfy our baser instincts, and where we care for no one else but ourselves. It is a world completely devoid of love, hope and joy.

Does human depravity not hit rock bottom? Is there no evil that is beyond our reach?

The Aleppo boy ("Omran Daqneesh") reminds me of how perilously close we are to such a world – if we have not already arrived. In Omran's hometown alone, 4500 children had died, and in the past five years of the Syrian civil war, 250,000 people have lost their lives. In the picture, Omran was in a state of utter shock as he was pulled out of the bombed rubble and he shed no tears. He was still coming to terms with the madness. In fact, he appeared more embarrassed and self-conscious than in pain and sorrow. While the bomb had hit his home and family, the reality of the chaos has yet to hit him. Soon it will.

While a perfect world is unattainable, a savage one where kids have no room for travailing tears but only paralyzed fears is truly unthinkable. And however unimaginable it is, such a world makes an absolute mockery of everything we have achieved thus far, that is, the so-called enlightenment we have attained and the modern civilization we are so proud of.

So, we can boast of many things. We can stand tall at the pinnacle of our own inventions, discoveries and innovations. We can brag to others about how far we have come in our learning and institutions. However, if we can’t keep our children safe, protect them from harm and preventable death, provide them with an environment of love and nurture to grow and mature, set an example in words and deeds for them to follow, and give them hope of a brighter tomorrow, then all our accomplishments in this world – be it material, technological, artistic and architecture - means nothing and amounts to nothing. We would have been no different from the savage animals that we so shamelessly pontificate against. And we would have failed humanity as a whole right from the start.


Let me end with the ten commandments for the little Aleppo boy, Omran, (and many war-ravaged victims like him):-

1) Thou shalt not forget me (I want to live too).

2) Thou shalt not make war at my expense.

3) Thou shalt not hide behind the name of democracy when it is all about self-preservation and greed.

4) Remember how thou have taken our parents away, and leaving us defenceless, orphans, rejected refugees and sold to slavery.

5) Honor thy words and don't wax lyrical in the international media just to further thine agenda. We don't need your sympathy or pledges. We need your help.

6) Thou shalt not kill to silence the voices of truth or mute the courage of the few.

7) Thou shalt not commit acts of hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

8) Thou shalt not steal to fatten thyself and leave thousands hungry, homeless and dying. 

9) Thou shalt not bear grudges and pursue vengeance and forget how many innocent lives like mine have to suffer just because thou can't resolve thine own differences or thine ego is just too ginormous to man up and take responsibility.

10) Thou shalt not covet after fame, fortune and power by selling thy humanity or conscience to the highest bidder. Leaders, please grow up soon so that we may have a chance to live.

Cheerz.

Crouching Tiger. Hidden Dragon. Chasing Monsters.


What do you get when you cross a man with a ponytail and a mole on his face playing Pokémon go and a driver honking at him in a mall entrance? Well, if today's papers is anything to go by, you'll get a heated exchange and a fight.

The police were called in and both men were handcuffed. They were arrested for the offence of affray, and if found guilty, they face up to one year or fine $5k, or both.

In Parliament last week, Pokémon go was singled out and one NMP Rajaram said, "Again, and increasingly, consumers have to accept responsibility for playing the game."

Lesson? (This is a long screed, so pardon me). Here goes.

Forget about catching spiders. The world is busy hunting down monsters. It used to be crouching tiger and hidden dragon. Now its chasing monsters and people are converging at parks, malls, private properties and graveyards to religiously capture those otherworldly creatures with a nonchalant swipe of their index finger (the cooler ones use their pinkie; the more aggressive ones, middle).

This hungry ghost seventh month festival will see the territorial landscape getting more crowded than usual. Apart from studiously appeasing the ancestral spirits with food and burnt offerings, the finger warriors are taking to the street to lead the ghost busting trail on a mad rush to disarm monstrosity.

The one difference however is that the seventh month lasts for only, well, one month before the spirits pack up and head down-south. But the Pokémon craze is here to stay and come this September, the game will be equipped with a blue-tooth-low-energy-wearable-device for a more personal, futuristic touch.

When the fictional squealer in Animal Farm declared that "all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others," the same applies to Pokémon Go in that some monsters are more equal than others.

And the prize catch of the day is the slumbering snorlax, who is ideal for battle with its high hit points (whatever that means for an ignoramus like me). The overbloated somnambulant cat-mouse mutant is very rare and its recent sighting at Punggol Park caused a Mexican-run of Pokémon Go fans crossing a relatively busy road with car jamming to a halt and horning with disgust.

Local businesses are diving into the craze as well and for good profitable reasons. A dentist admits that he is "releasing lures every day at a location 10m away from his clinic at The Rail Mall in Upper Bukit Timah since Monday." The reason? The dentist said, "I am not trying to attract footfall like the malls. I am just trying to make the wait at my clinic more bearable and pleasant for my patients."

Mm...I wonder whether a good book or some quiet reflection while waiting would have a better medicinal effect?

Nevertheless, he's right about the malls and footfalls because Resort World Sentosa, Ion Orchard, City Square Mall, Singtel, Starhub and M1 are all releasing lures on a grand pandemic scale not so much to attract those furry ethereal animals. No way Hosea. They are merely secondary target to these companies. They don't increase overall profitability directly. What these corporate vultures are trying to bait are those hot-blooded, novelty-seeking social bipedal animals instead. And they are coming in the busloads with a hunger that is out of this world. The irony here is that humans are using monsters to bait their own kind.

The reality is that this Pokémon craze has reached unbelievable proportions and Nintendo and Niantic are laughing all the way to the bank. It is reported that Nintendo's market capitalization had more than doubled to hit $42.5 billion last Tuesday.

Here, the indulgence vendor Johan Tetzel's jingle that "as soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs" would equally apply for Nintendo's bank account with this modern tweak: "As soon as the download in the phone rings, the monster from one territory springs."

With a craze this huge, you can rest assured that the society will be divided. The fault lines are split between those who swear by the game and those who literally swear at it. There will also be people who play it for recreation and those who avoid it so as not to ruffle their style, standing and status.

Lastly, some see it as a game that fosters community, creativity and healthy competition, and others see it as a perpetuation of satanism, pantheism and polytheism. And it is reported that "Kedah Fatwa Committee has ruled that the Pokémon Go game is haram due to its potential to "jeopardise faith" in Islam."

Monsters Inc. strikes back I guess.

Here is the downside to the game. Two enthusiasts actually fell off a 50ft cliff playing the game. There were also reports of road accidents, robbery, gamers disturbing the peace and storming into private estate, military installations and churches. Four teenagers on a monster hunt had recently been rescued from a mine after getting lost in the complex. And now our first reported (and arrested) mall fight.

What is most unfathomable is to have people playing on the site of Auschwitz Memorial. It is reported that "in one case, a player claimed to have found a Koffing at the Holocaust Museum. The creature in the game excretes noxious gas, which some deemed inappropriate due to the use of poison gas during the Holocaust to murder millions of Jews." Some lines are just not meant to be crossed, regardless.

Alas, we are generally attention and sensation seekers. And the convergence of consumerism, internet and technology have reduced our attention span, heightened our drive for greater highs, and turned us into short-term pleasure seekers. For this reason, we are always on the lookout for the next new craze and we can't wait for one to come before we readily abandon the one before it.

One professor from NTU commented that "Angry Birds and Candy Crush were massively popular, but players lost interest and moved on to other games." Breakdancing, goli (marbles), spinning tops, yo-yo and Kendama have gone that way. I guess it's just a matter of time for Pokémon Go.

Personally, I don't prohibit my children from playing Pokémon. In fact, I don't talk much about it to them. I once asked my son, 14, why he's not playing the game and he told me this with pretentious toughness, "I've got a life."

Well, life or otherwise, Pokémon Go and any game of this genre will draw the people and money in because we are basically thrill-seeking, competitive and social animals. The catch is that if you build them, they will come. And if you push the right buttons, they will stay long enough until the next big thing comes along.

Here I recall what Eric Hoffer once said, "When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other." And Pokémon Go is the perfect mass mobilization social copycat exercise where such unfettered freedom comes fully alive. Most of us would go to where the action and crowd are. There is definitely fun to be had when people are engaged in the same activity en masse. It's an inclusive feeling of identity and community on a large scale.

But let's hope that the familial and community fun do not mutate into a form of personal obsession and cause the gamer to escape the real world just to immerse in an augmented fantasy reality. Or worse, turn players into "monsters" themselves being triggered by the slightest of agitation like the mall fight.

Because, if you think about it, at the end of the day, what matters most is not to capture those pocket monsters. On the contrary, what matters most is to "capture" the respect, affection and trust of the people we love. And you just can't do that hiding in a world of imagined monsters

Let me end with what Stefanie Sun (who recently released her new song "Rainbow Bot") said regarding her privacy: "Aiyah, I don't keep such a tight lid on my personal life. I don't hide at home and am everywhere with my family. It's just that everyone is playing Pokémon Go these days not Spot-the-singer-with-the-kid." I guess we can always turn a recreation into an obsession and miss out on the real good stuff in real life.

And as Jesus told Martha: "But few things are needed--or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

That's about eternity perspective. The earthly parallel of that is family and loved ones, and Sun has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her (on this side of heaven). Cheerz.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Schooling for life.


This moment is not about me, it’s about my coaches, my friends, my family…This swim wasn’t for me, it was for my country.” That’s what Schooling, the Olympic gold medalist, said. His father, Colin, told him to stun the world before the final, and he did just that.

He united a nation, changed our sports history, inspired hope, and with modesty, he demonstrated not just resilience and perseverance, but character. It’s definitely Schooling’s moment and he and his family deserve it.

The journey has just started for the 21-year-old with a "face like choirboy, ambition like a streetfighter.” But it was a journey his family walked with him every step of the way.

At 6 years old, in 2001, he was inspired to be like his granduncle, Lloyd Valberg, who was Singapore’s first ever Olympian in the 1948 Games as a high-jumper. At 13, in 2008, he met his idol Michael Phelps. He then competed in the nationals in ACS(I) and moved to Bolles School in Florida in 2010 to be trained under one of the best swimming coaches.

Since 2010, he had competed in the SEA Games, Commonwealth Games and Incheon Asian games, and bagged numerous gold medals. The victory trails led him to the summit of the Olympic glory yesterday when he beat three international superstars (or pantheon’s gods of the sea) to secure Singapore's first gold.

My mum, 60, said, “I have got to take care of two households on both sides of the world. It has been tough. Tough because we are not getting any younger…It is tough on family life, missing each other. Financially, using up all our reserves and having to budget like crazy. It has been tough on all of us, but he wants it.”

Altogether, the realization of the dream costs the Schooling about S$1.35 million. And every cent of it was well spent.

Now the nation celebrates. PM Lee said, “The motion will be formal recognition of his achievements by Parliament.” Schooling is scheduled to return First Class compliments of SIA and he will make his rounds in an open-top bus in like fashion as our football dream team winning the Malaysia Cup in 1994. 
What’s more, Singtel, McDonalds, Brands and SPH have all published a full-page Straits Times’ tribute to our champion flying fish from the humble estates of Bedok.

Lesson? Let's face it, not all of us can be like Schooling. It’s reality check time. We can admire, emulate, and even idolize him for a season, but his Olympian journey is a physically, emotionally and spiritually tough one and he has changed history of competitive sports for this little garden-city state.

In a historic moment, Singapore flag stood alone at the top spot with three other national flags (US, South Africa and Hungary) in a three-way tie.

This was what the water god Michael Phelps announced after clinching the silver medal yesterday: “I’ve been able to do everything I’ve ever put my mind to in this sport. And 24 years in the sport. I’m happy with how things finished. I’m ready to retire. I’m happy about it. I’m in a better state of mind this time than I was four years ago. And yeah. I’m ready to spend some time with (baby son) Boomer and (fiancée) Nicole.”

The reality is that there can only be one Phelps, one Bolt and one Schooling. They are top athletes who have paid the price, completed the race, and earned their place in sports history. Their paths, backgrounds and circumstances differ from each of us.

We can envy, adore or be inspired by them, but we have to confront our own obstacles, trials and challenges. Real life for most of us is not reel life for some of us. We have our own demons to wrestle. And we must never forget that the greatest privilege in our life is to live up to who we are, what we can do and what we have set our mind to achieve. It is essentially about overcoming and prevailing over our current circumstances and be the best that we can be.

The story of Phelps, Bolt and Schooling is our story too. It is a story of determination, faith, vision, raw grit and a never-say-die spirit. These traits or values are common to all men and women. They are not exclusive only to superstar athletes, empire builders or national leaders. Heroes were once strugglers who kept the hope up, the faith within, and the passion going.

You don't need to win a gold or silver medals to possess or embody these values. No doubt it is a matter of degree, and Schooling fires up with them, but each of us confronts our own battles and choose our own fights. In other words, our life is unique to us and only we can live it, excel in it, and keep the faith about it. 

Ultimately, life's gold medals (so to speak) is all a state of mind. The gold mentality is a mindset that never gives up. That is what set us apart from the animal world. That is what makes ordinary folks extraordinary. That is the mind of champions.

You therefore don't need to be recognized, famous or rich to be considered successful. They are the frills of success, not her causes or reason. If I have a definition of success, it would be about living with a sense of purpose, fulfilling it at your own pace, and being content with each progress made towards it, however small. Character always precedes enduring success.

Neither Phelps nor Schooling took giant leaps to arrive at where they are today. They took conscious, measured and oftentimes painful small steps to reach one set goal after another. In the end, we must not forget that a straight line is made up of innumerable almost unnoticeable tiny dots that band together in one direction for unity, visibility and impact. It’s the same with small daily victories in life that all adds up in the end.

Most of us live seemingly ordinary life. We may not win medals or attain the same level of fame as some people we marvel on tv. But living to the fullest is what joins us together in one common bond. And living to the fullest often takes extraordinary effort and strength.

For a mother who raises her children with love unconditional, a husband who loves his wife to the end, a friend who stands by another in good and bad times, and a father who sacrifices all for his children, they are all “life's medalists” in their own rights. They all deserve credit and recognition for leaving a legacy their loved ones can be proud of. Schooling's parents, coaches and friends are exemplary examples.

I guess the only consolation prizes in life are reserved for those who wallow in self-pity, indefinitely. They make excuses for their shortcomings, failures, and mistakes. Blaming others instead of looking inward for lasting change. The winners however pick themselves up from wherever they have fallen, kick the dust off their feet, and move forward with renewed hope and passion. They don’t hide behind excuses. They are not embittered, or embroiled. They are not waiting to be consoled. They are just looking to complete the race. To live life to the fullest. We can all do just that. Cheerz.

I WANT GOLD.


"I WANT GOLD". That the front page news. That's the words of a champion in the making. That's our very own Singapore son. Joseph Isaac Schooling ("Joseph") could very well make history come this morning at 9:13 am.
The race starts at 9:12 am and 1 minute is what separates him from being the greatest Olympian on this little red dry-eyed dot (in terms of not having won any gold in our brief history for competing in this category, that is, 100m butterfly).
To say that our local fastest-clocked butterfly in the semi-finals has butterflies in this stomach is an understatement. Our little David is up against a few water Goliaths in the biggest race of his life.
It reports that "the greatest Olympian of all time lurks in Lane 2. American Michael Phelps, 31, defying logic and age, has yet to lose any of his four finals so far in Rio. He will be gunning for another gold to add to his astounding tally of 22 over five Games." Joseph with need to throw more than five stones (or strokes) to defeat this giant.
Then we have Chad le Clos on Joseph's immediate left. He is the South African's star swimmer and is a "two-time world champion in this event and also a winner on the Olympic stage."
Lastly, "five-time Olympic medallist Lazlo Cseh of Hungary, backed by the experience of swimming in big finals, is also in the group." Talk about having your hands (arms) full eh.
Clearly, our little aqua boy is outflanked by experience, gold medals tally and swimmers with really long legs and arms.
But I guess what distinguishes Joseph and the rest of his competition is his determination to win. This is what he has been training for all his life thus far and the 21 year-old said this with uncompromising gusto, "I don't care if I break the world record and get a silver or bronze, I still lost." That's the hunger he has for the Olympic gold and he is not losing sight of it. He is not blinking. He's laser-focused.
And the other added advantage is that his mum is in the crowd. That is maternal boost-up for Joseph in ordinary Pokemon Go lingo. Mrs May Schooling will be "dressed in red" with a Singapore banner held aloft over her head.
She will represent for her son three things: a mother's unconditional love, the undying support of a hardcore fan, and the Kallang roar of a 51-year-old nation all rallying behind her.
To add to the victory chant, our very own President Tony Tan will be cheering too. Now that is like the whole nation symbolically standing behind Joseph. Phew!...no pressure bro.
Lesson? Joseph has a lot to teach the youth of today. He is a towering inspiration. He puts grit into gumption, instills hope into every living breath, and fires up a nation's febrile imagination.
In my book, whether he wins the gold or not, he's already a winner. This may sound cliché, but it really is not - because the race is always a lifetime marathon; not a one-off sprint.
And the saying that "winning is not everything, it is the only thing " is only the tip of the iceberg.
The entire hidden structure, which lies silently below the water mark of what is not seen, are the many years of never giving up, living your dream, holding your head up above the water, facing the grueling race with the right attitude, taking the plunge even when nobody is there to cheer for you, shedding tears of determination to make the difference by that one seemingly insignificant second, and after overcoming years of back-breaking discipline, soul-draining training and spirit-testing trials in the waters, making it for the 9:12 am slot this morning to complete in the greatest race of your life.
If all that is not winning as winning ought to be defined by all, and duly recognized by those in the throes of their own trials and tribulations, then I don't know what true winning is anymore.
In other words, what is the only thing about winning, which is everything the youth of today needs to know about winning, is that Joseph never gave up and that is what makes him the champion of hearts. We can therefore all come together at 9:12 am, and stand tall and proud.
So, come 9:13 am, the Olympian gold medalist will be announced. Regardless of the outcome, Joseph will swim like he has never swum before, that is, with grace, coolness, determination, and a heart for gold.
That's the making of a champion of all time, and for all time. Bring it home bro! Cheerz.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

What I've learned from the Eng Han-Kong Hee fallout.


Eng Han once said this about the whole CHC saga: "I bear no grudge in my heart". I guess he does not see the point. Although he started in earnest, somewhere down the road he went in with eyes open and put all that he had, money and time, with the Church. For about eighteen years, he gave his all to the ministry, to CHC, and most of all, to Kong Hee. 

In fact, Judge See, in delivering his sentence, had described Kong Hee as “the mastermind behind the conspiracy to cause wrongful loss to the church.” He said that “it was from him that the other accused persons sought approval and guidance." Along side Kong Hee, Judge See singled out Chew as his closest ally. He even called them "kindred spirits" who "fuelled each other's drive, one as a spiritual leader and the other as a finance expert".

Eng Han once lamented in an interview late last year that “It seems like I’ve got so many enemies. So many battles, I’ve got to fight so many people”, and I guess like Judas, he currently stands alone in Hakeldama, that is, the bloody acre. However, Eng Han also said that, “these days, strangers do come up to him to wish him well. One even paid for his meal at a Japanese restaurant and left him two Bible verses for encouragement.” They appreciated his courage to speak up against the leadership of the church he once sworn allegiance to.

He ended the interview by saying that once this whole saga is over, he plans to write a book about his experiences and hopefully, someone will buy the rights to make a movie out of it. "It will make a good movie," Chew said with a smile. 

Well, movie or not, I have learned from Eng Han that no leadership is perfect – not even by a long shot. It is a lesson that needed reminding because we are all looking to pin our hopes and dreams on a shooting star, or in this case, a leader of promise. It is second nature to us and we often pay a high price for it. 

It is thus pure foolishness to put our faith in the leadership of man. When Jesus said upon this rock he will build his church, he was not referring to Peter as the rock, but himself. It was Petra – the Rock of Ages - that the church will be built upon and not on man’s rules, regulation, and practices. Neither will man’s vision, 5-year expansion plan, itinerant music band nor evangelistic program be the church’s cornerstone. 

Needless to say, we are all fallible, and not even Kong Hee, Joseph Prince or Joel Osteen would dispute that. When it comes to leading the church, no one runs it better than the guided spirit of God. It is not by might, nor power, or if I may add, charisma, eloquence or church size, but by the spirit of the Lord. That’s the incontrovertible truth. However, we all know that our daily reality is often far remove from this truth.

After the sentence in November, Kong Hee went before a cheering crowd of worshippers in his Church and said: "My family and I, we are fine. We are just living each day by faith…I know that this is a painful time, not just for us... but also for everyone associated to this ministry. As this court trial has come to a close, I pray that all the pain and turmoil for you will come to an end." 

I guess it was just too little and too late for Kong Hee when he had by sheer obstinacy dragged the church through a 2-year investigation and a grueling 3-year trial where all the dirty linens were hanged out in public for everyone’s bewilderment and bemusement. Alas, Chew may just be on the money about making a local movie with all the shocks and suspense of the Korean hit drama, Descendants of the Sun.

Nevertheless, the plight of Eng Han has taught me that as a church grows in size, money and complexity, it runs the real risk of falling into the same trap that any secular organization faces, that is, the obsession of control. Especially for a non-denominational, independent megachurch with no affiliations and open hierarchical accountability, the issue of keeping it all within the founder’s tight rein becomes an unspoken ironclad rule. As the church expands, the leadership digs themselves deeper into its foundation and becomes indispensable. With such secured indispensability, the accompanied expansion makes the leadership even more indispensable as people rush in just to marvel at the cause célèbre

This insidious loop reinforces itself as the administration grows, the money pours in, and people attract more people. This is also where the cult of personality becomes deeply entrenched and the infallibility of the leadership is covertly presumed, corporately accepted and closely defended. 

By such time, when everything that the church plans practically revolves around the celebrity-like leadership, it would be almost heretic (or mutiny) for anyone to suggest that anything that proceeds from the founder’s lips is not also from same lips of the divine himself. There will therefore come a time when the will of man becomes indistinguishable from the presumed will of God. Who is to question the authority when the authority establishes itself as the authority?

But as I have said before, it is sheer foolishness to put our faith in the leadership of man. And Eng Han learned that lesson the hard and painful way. The Rock of Ages upon which the church is built on is often bypassed for another man-made rock located nearby, which is more visible, more convenient, and more tangible. When it comes to scouring for church leadership, some of us inevitably go for the lowest hanging fruit. The Catholic Church had in fact over the centuries built their doctrines and practices on far shakier foundation - anything but the Rock of Ages. By the looks of things, the Protestant Reformation has changed little of that.

The truth is that human leadership is always liable to fall, fail, distraction, self-delusion, self-perpetuation and derailment. What we need is more accountability, checks and balances, greater discernment, an open heart to accept diversity of views, even if the view clashes with the vision of the leadership, and the humility and courage to review, reevaluate and reverse the plans. The last thing the church needs is a leadership that is self-referential, accountable only to itself, manipulative and dictatorial, and directly instilling fear in her members only to ensure that they either shape up or ship out. Eng Han experienced that ultimatum personally, and most viscerally.

In the book The Emotionally Healthy Church by pastor Peter Scazzero, he urges us to learn to accept the following realities concerning the fallibility of human leadership:- 

“You can be a dynamic, gifted speaker for God in public  and be an unloving spouse and parent at home.

You can function as a church board member or pastor and be unteachable, insecure, and defensive.

You can memorize entire books of the New Testament and still be unaware of your depression and anger, even displacing it on other people.

You can fast and pray a half day a week for years as a spiritual discipline and constantly be critical of others, justifying it as discernment.

You can lead hundred of people in a Christian ministry while driven by a deep personal need to compensate for a nagging sense of failure.

You can pray for deliverance from the demonic realm when in reality you are simply avoiding conflict, repeating an unhealthy pattern of behavior traced back to the home in which you grew up.

You can be outwardly cooperative at church but unconsciously try to undercut or defeat your supervisor by coming habitually late, constantly forgetting meetings, withdrawing and becoming apathetic, or ignoring the real issue behind why you are hurt and angry.”

And in Eng Han’s case, you can be a leader of one of the fastest growing churches, leading at the forefront of evangelism with spectacular programs, vibrant ministry and receiving unquestioned worldwide adoration, but at the same time, you refuse to accept responsibility, face the music, own up to your mistakes, apologize to those you have left out in the cold and who had given the best years of their life for you (and their hard earned savings), and deal with and admit to your brokenness instead of anaesthetizing it for a last-minute sprint before September comes to garner even more attention and adulation to yourself.

The list can go on. But the point is that we are all work in progress as long as we are still on this side of heaven. And for those who refuse to admit to that, or refuse to accept responsibility for their failings, they might just become stumbling blocks for those who are trying to progress in their own faith journey. Cheerz.