Push on. The brothers are waiting.
It’s the summer of 2021… there are 2 more weeks before coming back to Waterloo. It’s going to be a new program, a new cohort, a new living environment and I know life on campus is going to be totally different. For the first time in my 5 years of post-secondary, I subscribed to a religion! I became a born-again Christian and it’s time to meet a whole new group of people, someone recommended something called CCF and as a fairly new believer, I’m very excited.
Acts 2:46 “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts…”
DG was first advertised to me as a program where single-gendered members would gather frequently and live life together. I heard that this would be the place to build some deep/intentional friendships centered around Christ. Accountability, studying Christian literature, and good times were the name of the game, and honestly who wouldn’t want that? It sounded exactly like what I was looking for, this was what I saw when I dove into the scriptures. I joined 2 DG’s separately in the span of 2 terms and they were both amazing. I loved both my leaders and all the members (shoutout to you guys ❤). The cool thing is that even though they were both so different, I could still see the Lord working through those circumstances. The first one was very doctrine and hot topics focused while the second was more relational and trolly. Although the memories were priceless and the joy was surreal, I knew in my heart that my season of joining DGs was coming to an end. To be completely candid, I honestly thought that it may have been time to depart from CCF… but that’s a story for another time ;)
After an extremely tough summer, coming back to Waterloo for Fall 2022, was like a breath of fresh air. Thanks to a grueling 4-month trial, the Lord lifted my vision to things above and my whole perspective on life imploded once again (the first time was when I became a believer.) My one mission coming back to the fall term was to disciple others and I greatly yearned to share my passion and ZEAL for the Lord. The thought of seeing another brother or sister’s eyes light up to the sweetness of Jesus was all the motivation I needed. Sadly, as the days passed by in idleness, Satan established a foothold in my mind. “What right do I have to disciple others? Do you even know enough scripture to guide? Bro, you’ve been a Christian for ONLY 2 years. What qualifications do you even have? Are you good enough?” These were thoughts that bombarded my mental all day. If anyone can relate, I know just how suffocating it can be, trust me.
I was sitting on my couch one night, lifeless and hopeless, staring up at my ceiling. I undeniably needed to get my mind off of things but what could I distract myself with??? Scouring the room my eyes went, and the item that caught my attention was a dusty book my pastor gave me. People close to me know I don’t read, but my eyes were just glued to the book. Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I flipped to the back to check it out and a quote popped out: “If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.” I really do not wish to over-spiritualize things but at that moment, the Lord met me. His Spirit washed over me and a thought popped up: “I know you’re done with joining DG, but what about leading one?” The next day I reached out to TOP G, Keq-E-ang Pan, to discuss the idea of DG leading and the conversation confirmed to me that this was what I was called to pursue. DG leading was the furthest thing I thought I’d ever do but there was no way I could say no when I could see so evidently “the heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9) being fleshed out. After asking for advice from a few others I submitted my will and worries before the throne, quickly typed up my application and out it went.
To be honest, I was extremely nervous about how I would run this DG. I know that it was quite common for DGs to dive into a book in the Bible or go through some Christian literature but this was not the direction I wanted my group to focus on. I understand the importance of biblical literacy but I do not believe this was the core purpose of DG. When evaluating my strengths, biblical knowledge and depth of theology were not the first things that popped into my mind. Hot topics and apologetics also didn’t make the cut, so what was I left with? The one thing I felt sufficient within was my passion for Christ and just how badly I like to bring Him up in every conversation. Through the combination of that and my strong ability to talk/listen, it was decided. What I strived to build was an environment where we few boys could share and walk through some of the ups and downs together. So that was exactly what I did, having conversations and asking questions were my main priority. This may be considered an unorthodox way of running a group but I realized relationship-building was THE most important thing.
So that was just a little bit about what led me to become a DG leader and an inside scoop into the thought process on the direction. Now for some introspection… and encouragement??? I hope you glean something from all this text XD.
- The outcome of the DG DOES NOT determine how faithful you were with what God has given you. I don’t believe I was very faithful and obedient to the responsibility God has placed before me. As the term passed by, my motivation and priority for DG nose-dived. In its conception, I was omega excited and leading was all I thought about. I had so many ideas I wanted to execute but in the end, I wasn’t even faithful enough to meet up 1 on 1 with all of them (sorry boys, that one’s on me). We had a strong ball rolling with accountability and I tried really hard to come up with ways to tackle sin with them, but it became more of a conversational piece than an action step as the months skipped by. Regardless of how I mismanaged God’s DG, He in His loving kindness still worked. I’m extremely happy that I got to see many members grow in areas that were once weak. Almost all of the prayer requests of week one were answered with a solution or with upward progress. God is just tooooooooooo good. As a perfectionist I know how crushing expectations of yourself can be, my advice would be to meditate on the fact that your shortcomings do not put a halt to God’s plan. Think about it this way, through your weakness you get front-row seats to see just how mighty and powerful our God can be. Just… please do not end up glorifying yourself, all glory goes up to the Most High.
- Although God is the only one with the power to change their heart towards sin, I can be the vessel He uses. I’ve only been a Christian for 2 1/2 years and for the first 2, I thought accountability was a complete waste of time. TBH there's still a very small part of me that thinks this way, and the reason is that “if I have absolutely no power and God has it all, He is the one to break the shackle of habitual sin. I have no power to stop someone from lusting (as an example).” A plausible explanation for this mindset could be that I came to the faith during COVID’s prime time. Like… I never even knew accountability was a thing, I just did it with the Lord Himself. There have been multiple occasions where the Lord just one-taps sin out of my life, in an instant (it’s actually super super cool). I would consider myself extremely blessed in this area but this 100% hardened my heart towards other people and their struggles :( BUT… God used the brothers in my life to teach me that YES I HAVE NO POWER, BUT GOD CAN USE MY WORDS AND EFFORTS TO BREAK THEIR CHAINS. This thought completely 180'd my opinion on accountability. He changed my heart from “accountability is legit fake and whoever needs it is pathetic” to “please allow me to be the one to keep you accountable!” So to all those reading out there that want to be the one God works through, please please please never lose faith. Pray fervently and expectantly that He will eliminate sin in your own life and in those that you are praying for. NEVER STOP, do not let Satan win. For future DG leaders, take accountability with utmost respect and urgency. Do not just set up a prayer doc and expect people to use it consistently (cause your boy over here did not even do that as a leader). Something that pastor Paul from KW Redeemer taught me was that relationship-building is the key to accountability. With a strong foundation of friendship, there's no need to do accountability checklists or even a need to hunt them down for prayer items. They will willingly COME TO YOU whenever they need help. Plus… this means that those friendships built over the 4 months would not evaporate into nothingness so easily, isn’t that what we all want as DG attendees and DG leaders?!?! Please continue to push on with prayer, don’t give up on them.
These are the 2 main takeaways I got from my experience as a leader. But before I wrap it up I want to address the shy and introverted individuals that feel called to lead! First off I want to say thank you. Thank you for being obedient and giving it a chance even though every cell in your body may want you to run the opposite way. Thank you for sacrificing your own comfort for the sake of the 4–5 people that God has put in your care. You are a warrior. You may be worried about the social aspect of a DG (and I will touch on this in a bit) but what you have inside is already enough. If you’re a “theology monster”, show your group your love of scripture and guide them. If you’re super passionate about apologetics, maybe start a video series about hot topics! Regardless of your social battery and skills, use what God has placed inside you to maximally glorify Him by leading these folk. This next part may be a bit harsh so please understand that I say everything in love. Social events and garnering participation is on you. There’s no way around it. All the members will look towards you to lead the conversation and to band them together. Your shyness or introversion CANNOT be an excuse to run away from this. So what can you do? Work on it :)))). Work on your social skills and put yourself out there!!!!!!! I get that self-esteem issues or social anxieties are complex, but let’s not allow this to stop us from serving. If Jesus called you to this ministry, He called knowing all that about you. Isn’t that just epic?! You’re loved, if you mess up it’s really not the end of the world, just say a quick “don’t feel” and move on.
Leading has truly been an amazing experience and I really encourage all to join a DG if feasible, trust. To those called to be a DG leader this upcoming term, you freakin got this, actually naw… U don’t completely got this, lest you boast in yourself. The Lord’s gotchu, isn’t that a million times better? Trust in the Lord in all you do and as you continue to walk in His commandments, you can be confident that you are placed exactly where He wants you to be. Love you all, stay safe, and let’s continue to fight the good fight.