Reflections on Leadership

There are many schools of thought about leaders and leadership and 2016 is the year I learned about leadership deeply through my own personal journey, although I did not plan for it or intended to be in a leadership position.

I wrote the following reflection about leadership some time in July:

In a perfect world, there should be a balance between character and competence, but I will prefer character any given day.

I value integrity and humility.  It is difficult to help proud and arrogant people but I have learned the humility can take people far.

I have a discomfort with positions of authority but I am learning leadership.  Authority and leadership are not synonymous.  Simon Sinek says, “People do not follow authority but they follow leaders.”

I believe that I cannot have full control over things, days, people, and life in general because I am divinely called so this leadership journey is something I am figuring out.

I have learned that:

You don’t need minions to be called a leader.  It is not about rank or hierarchy.  Leadership starts with the self, with self-awareness and self-mastery.

Self-mastery is tough.

I have learned that:

My job as a leader is not to raise minions but to raise leaders in the best way they can be.

People are not remembered by their achievements, but how they made an impact in the lives around them.

As the year draws to a close, I go back to the original model of leadership.  And His model is so different from how the world sees leaders and leadership and yet, more and more, people are asking for servant leadership not knowing what it really is all about.  I’d venture to say that if a person wants to be a great leader, then he must be a servant leader.  And to be such, he must know Jesus Christ.  Because 2,000 years from His death and resurrection, countless lives have been changed by His wisdom and works and the works of His followers…if you do not consider that effective leadership, I do not know how else we can call it.

Mark 10 (New Living Translation)

43But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

 

CITIES AT NIGHT

The streets are painted red not from the lights

The cities reek of a stench we cannot bear

Around the corner, screams we choose to unhear

Around the bend, tears we choose to unsee

And we shout KILL KILL KILL

Because we want CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE

We bear the blood on our hands

But lest we forget – we were also bought with blood.

Super Stretch

In 2012, I had made a pledge to our church’s building project.  I finished the pledge in 2014 but even after that, I was moved to pledge anew.  I had known that in order to fulfill this new pledge, I would need to cut back on certain expenses…and yes, it was a very big budget cut on certain items.  There was a time I felt like being tightfisted towards God but the encouragement had always been this faith that God would provide just as He always had, exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ever ask or imagine.

So I entered 2015 trusting that I could not ever outgive God.  By the time our midyear bonus was approaching and while a lot of colleagues had been wondering whether there would additional bonus due to the past year’s company performance, I had the quiet confidence that, indeed, there would be additional bonuses because I held on to this:  If you build the Lord’s house, He will also build yours (paraphrase of Haggai 1:9).

 

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And so, on the day of the announcement, God once again proved Himself faithful to His promises because we did not just receive an additional month but two more months to our usual bonus payout….called a super stretch in our company.  Aptly so, I thought, since it was a period when God also super stretched my faith…asking me to give, to bless others, on both times in amounts I did not ever imagine giving.  But today, I am reminded of an evangelist’s word:  God does not need your tip.  I believe that while I continue to strive for excellence at work, God is also teaching me excellence in giving regardless of my circumstances:

2 Corinthians 8:7  New International Version
But since you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you –see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

2 Corinthians 8:2  New International Version
In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.

 

I remember my small group leader’s words: when you are generous, you are creating a platform for God to bless you.

So I pray that I will continue to learn to excel in this grace of giving…and really, for me to be given grace to do so because without it, my tendency is just to spend it according to how I see fit, and to obey joyfully when God calls me to give because if I seek His kingdom first and His righteousness by doing His will, all these things shall be added unto me.  And this grace I pray for others who seek it also.

Happy Monday, everyone!  Aren’t you glad for the start of a new working week – a week to experience God’s grace so we can excel at work?

Finance 201

At the end of 2013, I wrote about 10 things among the many others I learned during the year and one of those was knowing more about God as provider.  I saw how He provided for the construction of my Nuvali home while still enabling me to pay for its monthly amortizations and fulfill my other obligations.  God did not only provide for my needs but for my other desires too like diving lessons, personal trips, and giving to causes I support.  Indeed, God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20 ESV).  As a friend echoed to me, “hindi mo alam kung paano nagkakasya pero nagkakasya.”

While 2013 was drawing to a close, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that more sacrifices in the area of finances would have to be made in 2014.  I wondered what that could mean because I had thought that I had sacrificed enough – fewer travels, eating out less, and being more conscious of my budget generally.  Of course, in God’s perfect wisdom, I did learn a lot about my finances and ultimately, myself and my character this year – that while He provides, my part is to be a responsible steward of His blessings; after all, they are still His, I am just a manager.  After all, everything I have now is not by luck, chance, or my own effort but by His love and favor.  When blessings are seen this way, it can make one humble and so, grateful and responsible.  For this year, I can categorize the lessons in three areas:

1.  Minimalism

A friend put a label to what I have been practising albeit on and off for several years now.  It really is all about knowing that I have practically everything I need to live.  I do not need a lot or many of the same item – tea cup collection? This friend asked me, “akala ko minimalism, eh bakit kelangan mo ng maraming tea cups?  San mo ilalagay yan?”  Watch collection?  My father asked me, “ilan ba ang kamay mo?”…am I not thankful for these wise reminders that helped me be consistent in practising minimalism?!  I opened my bag and oh wow, why do I have so many pens in a bag?  What about that flashlight?

The rule is to buy or retain only the ones that are useful, necessary, and beautiful.  Buti na lang parang lalaki ako mag-isip in decorating/styling my home that I bought mostly functional items; very few are ornamental stuff.  Alright, I conceded one corner for my mother who put in flowers and a plate. 🙂

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The rug could be done away with but it appealed to my interior styling interest plus, it falls under the “beautiful” 🙂 It also serves a purpose – I like walking barefoot so, there…

I learned that I do not need a lot of shoes or bags or clothes.  I just need a few quality ones (parang friendship!).  When it comes to these purchases, the general rule is to buy only when I have something to throw or give away.  And the purchases do not need to be high-end brands because there are reasonably-priced brands that are also of very good quality. Plus, I will not feel bad roughing it up with my shoes or bag because I like walking and I do not like changing bags a lot so I take whatever I have from Rockwell to Divisoria!  On a deeper level, in a world that increasingly values material possessions and judges someone by his looks, possessions, or achievements, I choose not to conform. I choose to not be defined by brands because what is seen is transient but the ones that are unseen are what matter most.  My confidence is not in who I wear but in who I serve – God Almighty.

In 2011, I adopted a lesson I learned from a friend and continues to be a guide to this day – to invest in experiences rather than in material possessions.  So, I have since climbed mountains and done spelunking, parasailing, flying trapeze, and practical shooting; studied scuba diving, water color painting, and creative writing; and strengthened my relationships with family and people who encourage and inspire me over new food discoveries!  Of course, I also invest in my health and retirement.

2.  Delayed gratification

I have been avoiding the sale seasons at the malls because the SALE sign tells you that you NEED an item NOW so you need to buy it NOW, when you don’t.  Some things can wait because my budget can be used for the real necessities now.  Of course, if there is a legitimate need for an item, I say go to the mall sale!  I actually wait for the sale season when I am eyeing an item or I go to Dapitan or Mandaue Foam (yes, most of my purchases lately were for the home).  I realized that when I desired to make wise purchases, God led me to the right places at the right time.  A friend actually taught me to pray for where to buy an item from when entering a mall to avoid unnecessary purchases…and it works!  It certainly works!  The yellow rug in the picture above, for instance, was bought from a souvenir store in Baguio when I went there in early December.  It cost me Php1,100 after my mother haggled skillfully.  It can be machine washed.  In November, I had seen a smaller rug in a mall, priced Php3,000+ after a 50% discount if I remember correctly.  One needs to use a vacuum to maintain it; they also did not have my preferred color.  If I did not wait, I could have spent Php2,000 more and would have been stuck with a rug I did not really like and would be difficult to maintain.

Sale-Sign

 

The more I delay buying certain items, the more time I have to reflect whether I really need them or not.  There were items I had delayed buying and I had them nevertheless as gifts from relatives and friends (like bags and wallets that I wished for but could not find the right design or budget for…but God knew the desires of my heart and provided them anyway because “even before a word in on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether” Psalm 139:4).  There were also other items that I found at a good price after having waited some time.  On the other hand, there were items that I bought on impulse which turned out to be unwise purchases.  I learned that Jesus Christ being the Wonderful Counselor that He is (Isaiah 9:6) can also be depended on in this area.  If there is a voice inside me telling me to delay, then do so.  Better things will come my way.

3.  Generosity

Long before I learned about the biblical foundations of generosity, my parents modeled it to us.  My parents wisely gave to people and organizations even when they themselves had their own and our family’s needs to think of.  I joke that our family has become a manufacturer of jobs so we could help others earn even a little to provide for themselves and their families.  But true to God’s promise that whoever refreshes others will himself be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25), the harvest of refreshing that comes to recent memory is the funeral of my father.  Dying in the Philippines is expensive – the cost can run up to almost a hundred thousand pesos but we were richly provided for in many ways – we received financial provision through my brother’s company, through the generosity of relatives and other people, and we also received the gift of quality time from our friends, colleagues, relatives, and the people my parents had helped.  My brothers had friends who accompanied them to wherever they needed to go to fix my father’s funeral and that to me is really, really special because you cannot take back time.  And up to this day, I am grateful to the people who braved the trip to Tondo, Manila to be with us during that time.

Now, my journey from being kuripot to generous (though I still have a long way to go) has been a rather difficult journey. There was a time that I practised faulty generosity; it was both painful and foolish.  I learned that in the process of helping others, I should also teach them to pray and depend on God who is the ultimate provider.  I was told to beware that I might be replacing God’s role as provider in their lives.  A pastor told me, “lend her an amount that you can forego if she cannot pay it back and for the rest, teach her to pray to God for the provision.”  I learned that while it is in God’s heart for us to be generous, it should also be done with discernment as a way of stewarding God’s resources wisely.

It would be difficult to write about generosity to others without writing about generosity to God.  I and friends attest that when we withheld on tithing for some reason or another, we found it more difficult to manage our finances.  There was a lack when we thought we would have more.  But when we gave cheerfully, provision came.  Truly, in obedience, there is fullness of blessings. God does not need our money; it is His anyway.  He does not need our small change; the whole world and everything in it is His but for me, it is a question of obedience out of love for God who gave His Son to die for me on the cross so I can have eternal life in heaven.

I have this verse that I am reflecting on:

Hebrews 13:15-16 English Standard Version (ESV)

15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

My prayer is that we will learn more and more to be a good steward of God’s blessings and that this will well up in right generosity to God and to others.

Have a truly blessed 2015!

Of Curses and Blessings

When I became a Christian, one of the lessons that served as an eye-opener for me was the lesson on generational curses.  I have personally seen cases of adultery, pregnancies before marriage, and even poverty persist from generation to generation.  We often think that health problems, relational and family dysfunctions, sexual issues or sins, and even financial difficulties are “inherited,” “mana-mana” and sadly, we settle with having them – there is no escape, “yan talaga ang kapalaran, eh,”  “minana mo na yang sakit na yan,” “ganyan sya, dahil ganyan ang magulang nya”…But while it is true that many of the curses or problems we have now may be due to what our ancestors (grandparents, parents…) did, it is also true that in Jesus, there is victory over these curses!

Listen to Derek Prince…after having listened to this, I threw away stuff that I otherwise thought were harmless!  Oh, the occult can mask themselves in harmless objects!

El Hogar, Please Don’t Go!

The thought of El Hogar being demolished infuriated me.  Read news item here.

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I had the privilege of going to Europe two years ago and what I found amazing was how historical buildings stand along modern ones in the middle of the city.  When I went to the museums, they had abundant artifacts that I ran out of camera memory because there were just so many pictures to take…a far cry from what I saw in Fort Santiago weeks after I had arrived from Europe.

Someone once said that perhaps our nation is the way it is because we are a forgetful nation.  We forget the sins of the people from the past and elect them as present leaders.  And just as we forget the sins of the past, we also tend to forget the glory of the past by demolishing historical buildings left and right.  Remember Jai Alai on Taft Avenue?