At the start of the year, I wrote a post on committing myself to 22 Goals and Resolutions for the year 2022. It was a personal challenge to grow in the important areas of my life, even though I knew by experience that some (if not most) of these resolutions will fall by the wayside.
Nevertheless, it is important to do a regular review of our goals and commitments. If not, I’ll likely forget my list until the end of the year, when I’ll look at it with much regret. I figured that a quarterly review here is just right for me, as some of the actions on my list take weeks or even months to complete.
Let’s take an honest look at how things are going in each of my 5 areas – personal, family, professional, ministry, and blogging. Maybe this will inspire you to review your 2022 resolutions too!
- Live a vibrant relationship with God through daily journaling and prayer.
- Keep a biblical worldview by following our church’s one-year Bible reading plan.
- Maintain a healthy body by exercising at least 3 times a week.
- Build spiritual friendships with 2 to 4 brothers-in-Christ in a 3-2-1 setting.
- Grow as a learner by reading at least 2 books each month.
Journaling: As I review my journal entries for January till March, I realise that I was not able to keep up my daily journaling. Rather, it was more like a weekly thing. I also notice a recurring theme of ‘anxiety – frustration – prayer for deliverance’ in my entries. Journaling is a way for me to resolve the tension I was experiencing as a result of a trigger event. It is quite therapeutic actually, and it helps me to record and reflect upon what that trigger event was, and what my emotions were in response to it. There were also entries of joy and serenity when I found some form of resolution or clarity.
Bible reading: Yes! I’m able to keep up with the Bible reading plan averaging 4 chapters a day! Most of the time, I use the daily commute to listen to the audio Bible from the Gospel in Life app (Apple App Store / Android Play Store) on my phone. It uses the ESV version and it picks up where I left off.
Exercise: I was able to exercise at least 3 times a week. For home exercise, I’m primarily using my trusty TRX and a newly bought treadmill (at S$370 over Shopee!).
Still, nothing beats going for a jog in the park and breathing in fresh, natural air. It also works wonders in lifting up our weary spirits.
Spiritual Friendship: I formed a 3-2-1 spiritual friendship group with 2 of my brothers in church. What’s 3-2-1? It’s basically 3 friends, meeting 2 hours, every 1 month, over a meal. This is a simple yet practical solution proposed by my friend and mentor, Dr Tan Soo-Inn. The purpose is to develop deep friendships so as to encourage one another to follow Jesus more closely.
We managed to meet twice so far – once in March and once in April. Trust takes time to build, and I am thankful that we have built enough trust to share some of our joys and struggles in life. I look forward to a deeper friendship with both of them in the months to come!
Reading: Originally, I planned to read at least 2 books a month. That was too ambitious. But some of the books I’m reading now are worth sharing. Here’s my reading list for the 1st quarter:
|Title||Reason for reading||Status|
|Redeeming Your Time by Jordan Raynor||Grace-driven time management principles for gospel productivity||Done!|
|Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport||Developing a more mindful use of digital devices||Done!|
|ProBlogger by Darren Rowse||Leveling up my competence as a blogger||Done!|
|HBR Guide to Crafting Your Purpose by John Coleman||Useful frameworks in purpose crafting and making work a craft||Done!|
|The Call by Os Guinness||Classic Christian book on calling||Currently reading|
|Getting Things Done by David Allen||Classic time management book||Currently reading|
|The Story of You by Ian Cron||Enneagram book for inner transformation and healing||Currently reading|
|Becoming Us: Using the Enneagram to Create a Thriving Gospel-Centered Marriage by Beth and Jeff McCord||Strengthening marriage through better understanding using the enneagram||Currently reading|
From the reading list, it seems like my mind is all over the place (and to a certain extent, it is!). But I guess the broad themes that emerge are:
- I am becoming more and more convinced that a large part of embracing our calling involves knowing who we are and how we can better manage our time in our vocations.
- Reading about God’s call in all aspects of life, and on personality typing like enneagram (from a gospel-centered perspective), helps me to understand myself and my life purpose better.
- Reading about time management principles helps me to organise my life and work better, so as to be more productive in fulfilling God’s purpose in my life.
- Nurture the faith of our children by having family devotions in the evening (at least 5 times a week).
- Build a stronger marriage with my wife by going on a date at least twice a month.
- Enjoy God’s rest and presence by keeping the Sabbath every week.
- Cultivate the family’s love for nature by visiting a park or nature reserve every week.
I observe that the goals I have set for ‘family’ are measured in quantity, but actually quality is more important.
Family devotions: I must say that I have not been able to keep track of how many times a week we had our family devotions. But I thank God that, for those times we had, our children are willing to participate in Bible reading and sharing.
We are reading through the Psalms in the past quarter, one Psalm per session, and we are approaching Psalm 100. One recurring theme was that God is the righteous Judge who will judge the world in equity. There are also many imprecatory psalms – psalms that invoke judgment, calamity or curses upon the enemies of God. In the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that was taking place during this time, these psalms felt much more closer to home.
Sabbath-keeping is becoming more challenging as school term begins. But I find myself desperately needing it as my mind becomes increasingly fragmented by school demands and needs.
Going to nature: One nature highlight was our family trip to St. John Island and Kusu Island during the March school holiday. For my non-Singaporean friends, Kusu Island means ‘Turtle Island’ in Chinese. It was a wish-fulfillment for my younger son who was mad about turtles.
- Grow as a Senior Teacher by completing the Teacher Leaders’ Programme (TLP) 1 from January to March.
- Build stronger relationships with my students in all my form and subject classes, and the Boys’ Brigade CCA.
- Mentor other teachers to grow together in our teaching competency, specifically differentiated instruction in assessment, and e-Pedagogy.
- Deepen my craft as a Chinese Language teacher, by reading up on research literature and exchanging best practices with other teachers.
- Practice self-leadership and self-management by using Todoist and Evernote as my ‘go-to’ commitment tracking system.
Professional development: The TLP 1 course was finally completed! It was a good time of learning and reflection on my role as a Senior Teacher. One of the key highlights was the friendships that were forged with teachers from different schools. There was much exchange of ideas, resources, and words of encouragement. We are now working on our capstone projects in our various groups and will be meeting up in person this July/August for a grand presentation to round up the course. Looking forward!
New form class: I am amazed at the warm reception from my new form class. They have a very positive attitude towards learning and are very supportive of one another. My other co-form teacher had been with them for the past 4 years, and she had built a very strong and nurturing class culture with them. This level of teacher-student relationship (TSR) is awe-inspiring for me, and I have so much to learn from her.
Personal productivity: Recently, I activated my Todoist pro to act as my go-to task management system. I found that I can apply the Getting Things Done (GTD) system relatively easily on this app. Basically, I started by doing a ‘brain dump’ of all the tasks I can think of, big or small, work or personal, into the Inbox. Then, I sorted them out into different categories or ‘Projects’, and gave a timeline for tasks that are time-sensitive. Finally, I review all my project lists on a weekly basis – what is known as the Weekly Review.
I find that this method of task management helps me to keep track of the ongoing tasks and projects at hand, as well as ideas that I plan to act upon in the future (the Someday/Maybe List). However, being a novice I can get overwhelmed by the sheer number of items on my list, and spend more time managing them than actually doing them!
If you’re a GTD expert, please share your thoughts with me. I’d love to get better at getting things done!
- Be a servant-leader to my brothers and sisters in church, loving them through faithful and self-giving service as a deacon.
- Preach gospel-centred and Christ-exalting sermons on the pulpit as a lay preacher.
- Exhort the young people to ‘think Christianly’ about real-life issues through holding monthly talks at the Young People Fellowship.
- Develop the church website through forming a collaborative website team.
Lay Preaching: This quarter, I have the privilege of preaching 2 sermons in my church. The first one was on “Knowing God – Remember Your Creator” (Ecclesiastes 12:1-8) on 9 Jan 2022. The act of ‘remembering’ our Creator God is not a passive mental activity, but an active trusting and obeying of His provision and commands. As fallen sinners, we seek pleasure in temporal things. We can only find true fulfilment by returning to God our Creator through Jesus Christ, who alone has truly trusted and obeyed God.
The other one was on “Seven Sayings on the Cross – Why Have You Forsaken Me?” on 27 March 2022. I preached from the same passage in Mark 15:33-39, but with a clearer focus on the central idea: because Jesus was forsaken for our sake, we can be forgiven.
Young People Ministry: For the young people, I prepared a 1-hour talk on smartphone addiction, titled “Stuck to the Phone”. The preparation process challenged me to reflect on my own smartphone usage. I had to confess to them that I too am a ‘recovering smartphone addict’, and that we all need a supportive community filled with God’s grace to help ween us from our addiction.
These were the highlights of the quarter. However, in recent days I was reflecting on whether in all my buysness, I had neglected my relationship with God. It is easy to equate doing things for God with loving God. I pray that I may serve Him from a heart that loves Him, and not put up a pretense of spirituality.
- Align all future blog content and activities to the mission of ‘inspiring readers to discover and embrace their calling’.
- Create quality content that inspire and edify my readers, by posting once a fortnight.
- Network with other like-minded bloggers and explore guest posting.
- Interview at least one person every 2 months to look at how people embrace their calling in various ways.
Some of these goals are ongoing, such as (19) and (21), so I’ll review them by the end of the year. It was the quantitative goals (20, 22) that I’m struggling to keep up!
Interview: I am happy to have the chance to interview Mr. Jacob Tan, one of my fellow TLP1 coursemates and a brother-in-Christ. It was a fruitful conversation as we explore how we live out our faith in the real world, inspiring our students and community to love and steward the creation that God gave us.
One more mystery interviewee coming up in May!
Blog Posting: Frankly, I feel quite a bit of writer’s guilt when I could not keep to my intended blogging frequency of once a fortnight.
What’s holding me back these few weeks was the transition back to school in mid-March. After an entire day of attendance taking, lesson planning, delivery, marking, meetings, and admin work, I have very little headspace by the end of the day to write anything intelligible, let alone to publish a blog post. Even this post took me 2 weeks to write!
But I want to press on.
What keeps me going is – this is precisely the kind of need I set out to meet through my blog: How do we embrace a life of calling and purpose above the hectic day-to-day busyness?
Yes, I fully intend to fulfill my calling through the primary work of a teacher that God has called me. But it seems, to my mind at least, that if I give up my routine of blogging, I am allowing the demands of the job to consume me so much that I have no room for creativity, purpose, and joy in how I live.
Drop me a word of encouragement while you’re here, ya?
How are you doing with your new year’s resolutions?
Don’t feel guilty if you have forgotten about it! One thing I’ve learned is that our minds are not wired to remember so many things. We need systems and routines to help us keep track of the commitments we made. A quarterly review is one way of tracking.
Any words of encouragement for me? Share your thoughts in the comments below! If you have your own new year resolutions, you may also share them here so that we can keep each other accountable!