3 Things Candy Crush Taught Me About Life.

candycrush

It consumes you.

For those of you with the app ominously hanging on your phone screen, Candy Crush has been the cause of your procrastination and the lord of your unaccounted time among other things.

Nevertheless, this game was my constant companion during my recent flight to California. The colorful combinations of candies coupled with the soothing snore of my neighbor, drifted me into a mode of reflection from whence cometh these thoughts.

What did Candy Crush teach me about life? Here are three lessons:

1) Do not underestimate the power of choice.

The objective of the game is to advance each level by revealing the allotted number of hidden objects present in each “candy-scape.” This is done by aligning similar candies alongside each other using single uni-directional strokes (left, right, top, bottom). In a way much similar to Tetris, each stroke has the power to break three candy formations or more depending on resulting alignments. I have a limited number of choices I can make in the game and one stroke can be the difference between a win or a loss.

Every stroke is a choice. I can choose what to move and where to move it. And just like in life, each choice I make – whether for the good or for the bad – has its consequences. Every choice I make in this life can either move me closer to a win or take me farther from it.

The greatest power in the universe is the power of choice. Even God doesn’t mess with it. 

It is so powerful that it even affects the lives of those outside my circle of influence. The game helpfully illustrates this as each stroke could blast candies that are even beyond a three-candy radius resulting in a sweet win or a not-so-sweet loss.

Make your choices carefully. For your choices will make you.

2) The toughest vices are usually the tastiest.

Desserts are the worst.

They are annoying impediments in the map which prevent candies from breaking. More often than not, a certain number of these desserts need to be broken to advance to the next map. The game starts you off with just innocent, scrumptious cupcakes. But as the levels advance in difficulty, the deserts get tastier, and harder to break.

The toughest desserts to break are the tastiest.

Coincidentally, sometimes the things we struggle with most in life are those that are the most appealing to our senses. We tend to struggle with them precisely because they are appealing – grabbing our attention and energies while distracting us from the best possible existence. Someone once mentioned that the things that keep us from living to our fullest potential are not the bad things, but the good things that are not good enough. While desserts are good, they are simply not good enough. The more they capture our senses, the harder it is to part with them.

What are your “desserts?” What are those things that keep you from achieving the best?

3) Success comes rarely to the swift, but surely to the steady.

Candies can be destroyed in more than one way. One way is to align triads of similar candies and break them repeatedly. Another is to resist the temptation of breaking a triad, waiting to align four or more candies to create candy bombs. When strategically partnered with certain candies with a single stroke, these candy bombs can rival the impact of Nagasaki, sending thousands of candies to their sugary graves.  Success is ensured by waiting to create the right explosive.

I wonder how many times I’ve sacrificed long term success to bask in short-term wins.

Impatience, I’ve learned, can be a deadly friend in the pursuit of lasting success. Consistency and grit, on the other hand, can be excellent ones.

What if true success is less about how quickly you reach a milestone and more about how steadily you go from one milestone to the next? This way, the pressure of reaching a larger milestone is relieved by the pleasure of achieving smaller ones, which may eventually lead you to the larger milestone in due time.

Just a few thoughts.

Now excuse me while I get to finishing this level.


 

photocredit: http://media.gamerevolution.com/

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Post #GCSA15: 5 things Adventist Millenials can do after the General Conference

GCSA2015

It. Is. Finished.

Now what?

These are 5 things that you and I can do in light of, and in response to, what has happened.

1) Speak up.

Even Twitter didn’t see it coming – the interactive contribution of SDA millennials across the globe displaying the most effective use of a hashtag I’ve seen till date.

If Twitterverse has told me anything during the past week, it’s this:
Millenials have a voice. And we want to be heard.

So speak up. Raise your voice. Do whatever it takes to shake up the status quo, either in your local congregation or community. Do so in a manner that shows the clearest picture of Jesus.

And lest we forget: Few millennials with a relevant message spoke up once with a passion fueled by the fire in their bones.

Now they are 18 million strong. And growing.

2) Get connected to your local church.

Our current demographics within the Adventist church reveal that we are not the church of tomorrow, but the church of today.  In light of that fact, the gross under-representation of young adult delegation at the GC could evoke in us one of two responses:

1- Express angst and continue to find reasons as to why we should have been better represented, or

2-Ensure our representation in #GCI2020 by getting plugged in now.

This is what Elder Gilbert Cangy, the youth director for the General Conference, had to say when interviewed about the process of becoming a delegate at the General Conference session:

“The General Conference, as an entity, does not choose delegates. The delegates are chosen as close as possible to the local churches. It only makes sense to trust the leaders closest to the local churches to know the individuals who can contribute in a significant way to the (future and direction) of the church (at large). Each division of the world church ensures the credibility of its delegates by “screening” them through the responses of union presidents and local church pastors.”

He later went on to say that when a young adult is faithful to the principles of our faith and is an affirming, empowering voice at the local church level, chances are that he or she will be noticed by other local leaders as someone who has the best interest of the church at heart. After that, it’s only a matter of time till their name is referred for nomination.

All this tells me that the surest path to becoming a delegate at the GC session always starts at the doors of your local church.

Get involved at your church. Lead a ministry. Be proactive.

3) Be informed

The GC session can be a cure for “denominational myopia.”

 Let me unpack that.

As millennials, we have a high-functioning radar which detects anything from an ugly logo to an inefficient system. Scrutiny and critique can oftentimes be effortless.

So let me be the first to admit that it’s easy for me to get distracted by something that happens to me at church and indiscriminately color my perception of the church at large with a large, hairy, brush – all the while not realizing that I’ve haphazardly colored over some other things as well.

Myopia is simply being hyper-focused on what lies nearest to you that you fail to include the larger context. And I was myopic about my denomination.

Experiencing the GC, albeit for two days, significantly lessened this myopia by exposing me to the larger context of the world church.

Listening to the division reports, interacting with those from other cultures and nations, and seeing God’s activity among them showed me that the ‘church’ is more than just what happens to me in my local church.

The GC reminded me that the ‘church’ is bigger than its issues.  The more I was informed, the less myopic I became. The more I got to know the larger context, the less I reacted to the smaller ones.

What we do is greatly impacted by what we are up against. Therefore the more we are informed about what’s happening in our local congregation, community, and the global Adventist community, the better we are suited to be game changers for the Kingdom.

4) Find a Christ-centered mentor who has your best interest at heart.

Nuff said.

5) Dig deeper into Scripture.

As I was scrolling through my twitter feed on the day of the big vote, I couldn’t help but wonder:

What if millennials were half as engaged and committed to spending time in Scripture as they were on their Twitter feeds?

What would that look like? How would that look like in their personal lives and in the lives of their communities?

Iconic theologian and author A.W Tozer once made this provocative statement:

“Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified.”

Boom. *drops mic*

Friends, we are not just millennials but Seventh-Day Adventist millennials: a special group of people who have been entrusted with the end-time message of a living Savior to be shared with a dying world.
For us to be bold in the world, we need to first be humble before God in the prayer closet. The more we dig deeper into Scripture, the more leverage and arsenal we have along with the adults and leaders of our church.

Our cultural relevancy is largely dependent on our Scriptural fluency. When we are well-versed in Scripture, not only are we able to speak the language of other demographics within our denomination, but we become better influencers of those outside of it.

A lot of hurt and frustration has understandably ensued in light of Wednesday’s vote. I am right there with those who are disappointed. I’m sure those who are at the brink of leaving have legitimate reasons for doing so. If that’s you, my friend, I appeal to you sincerely – We need you and your pain. Some of the biggest turnarounds and movements in history occurred when a small group of people harnessed their collective dissatisfaction in effective and constructive ways. If you want to move forward, these 5 steps maybe a start. If not, hit me up. Let me listen.

These are just 5 things. What are YOU going to do after this session? Please leave a comment in the spaces below!

(pic courtesy of http://www.nadsecretariat.org)

5 Life Lessons I Learnt From Being a Wedding Emcee.

Destination_weddingFebruary 22nd , 2015 was a big day.

My friends Russell and Chloe Lewis said “bye” to bachelorhood while Kevin Wilson almost said “bye” to his sanity.

It was my first stint as a wedding emcee.  And I was terrified.

But after some reflection (and repentance), I realized that not all was lost. It actually turned out to be a fun evening! At any rate, here are some life lessons I learnt from being a wedding emcee. Hopefully you can resonate with them as well.

1) It’s not always about you.
Probably the most important lesson of the experience. The day is about the newlyweds; not the emcee. I can’t recall the number of times where I thought that I was the main event of a team meeting, a ministry, or a classroom discussion. Heck, I still struggle with that!

It’s both terrifying and liberating to realize that it’s not always about you. Terrifying, because you are not in control. Liberating, because you don’t always have to be.

2) Know your role.
If I had not done some research beforehand, I would have gone to the reception dinner thinking that the emcee’s primarily role was to hype the crowd up. Although that was a small part of the role, it certainly was not the heart of it. The main role of an emcee – I found out – is to effectively lead the wedding participants through the program. As the “Master of the Ceremonies” I had to know the schedule in and out to do this. Not rehearse jokes.

What is your role in your area of influence? Is it entertain or explain? Speak up or shut up? Knowing your role alleviates personal pain and defuses public angst.

3) Simple is best.
An inevitable result of knowing the schedule is the simplicity in which it is communicated. I found this out the hard way when I was unsure about certain details of the programming towards the close of the day. As a result, I felt like I was overcomplicating simple directions. When I was aware and prepared, however, I realized that my communication became simpler.

Albert Einstein once quipped, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you haven’t understood it yourself.”

People like simple. Understand it well to make it simple.

4) Be yourself.
The first thing I said to the audience was a joke. It sounded good in my head, but when it came out of my mouth, I could literally hear groans of dejection echoing across the hallway. No one laughed. It was terrible.
Fortunately, I said this only to the first group of guests who had been waiting to get into the reception hall so the damage to my pride was minimal.

Even though it sounded funny to me, it certainly wasn’t something Kevin Wilson would have said. So I gathered myself from the floor, reintroduced myself to all the guests, and decided to be myself.

I was listening to a podcast and this guy defined authenticity as giving up who you think should be for who you really are.

Floored me. Hope you resonate with that as much as I do.

5) Affirm yourself.
I don’t about you but it’s easy for me to focus on the negatives and get bogged down by the things that did not go well. But since last week I’ve been trying this new thing of verbally affirming myself. On my way home from the reception, I congratulated myself for a job well done and it felt great.

Kevin Wilson needs to hear Kevin Wilson say good things to him more often. I realized that one affirmation from Kevin Wilson in front of the mirror packed more punch than a dozen from others.

As a result of affirming and appreciating who I am irrespective of others’ opinions about me, I have found it increasingly easy to affirm and appreciate others irrespective of my opinions about them!

Those are some of the takeaways from the experience. Which lesson did you resonate with? Leave a comment below!

Three Things Ministry Leaders Can Learn From the Pope.

pope-francis3
Is there anything worth learning from those who don’t share your beliefs?

If your answer is no, then read no longer. You will not like this post.

But if you are like me, you’ll probably be open enough to observe and evaluate what others are saying yet not too open that your brains fall off.

“Papa Francis” has been making some serious headlines over the past few weeks. This is not new for the charismatic leader who has been on the spotlight since his induction as the Shepherd of the universal Church more than two years ago.

Pope Francis is known by many people for many things. But over the last two weeks, he was known by the people of the Philippines and Sri Lanka as a leader who was worth listening to. His pastoral spirit, atypical of most Popes, was clearly evident in his dealings with those who were weathered by years of climatic and political storms.

Once I heard that the Pope went to Sri Lanka earlier this month – the place of my heritage – I was all ears.

After some reflection and evaluation, these are just three things I think current ministry leaders can learn from the Pontiff’s recent dealings.

 1) HIS MESSAGE OF RECONCILIATION 

The theme of Pope Francis’ homilies to the south-Asians was the need for reconciliation. To a crowd of over half a million Sri Lankans, including over an estimated 1000 men and women disabled from the civil wars which ravaged the country, Pope Francis’ wish was for “all people to find…inspiration and strength to build a future of reconciliation, justice and peace for all..”

I’m reminded of the apostle Paul who had a similar thrust to his message in the second letter to the Corinthians.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.. –
2 Corinthians 5

Paul makes it clear that our message is one of reconciliation. Even though the impetus for the Pontiff’s message was more sociopolitical than theological, leaders may do well to recognize that reconciliation is to be the theme of their Christian ministry.

As ministry leaders, are we seeking to reconcile people to themselves and their Savior?
Are we striving to break walls of strife and prejudice to facilitate that?
The world needs to hear this message and the Pope seems to be doing a decent job at letting ‘em know.

2) HIS MINISTRY OF PRESENCE.

When the Filipinos dealt with the aftermath of typhoon Hagupit and needed a voice of comfort and cheer, the Pope was there. When the people of Sri Lanka needed encouragement to move toward a future of peace and solidarity, the Pope was there. When the Koreans mourned the loss of the victims of the MV Sewol ferry disaster and were struggling with socio-political strife, the Pope was there.

During this year alone, the Pontiff has scheduled visits to 7 countries spanning 4 different continents and unscheduled visits to 3 more countries.

He doesn’t have to do that. But he does.

Regardless of his motives and intentions, the incontrovertible truth is that the Pope was on location when no one else was. The ministry of presence, exemplified by this Pope, is arguably one the most underrated, under-utilized aspects of ministry. The saying still rings true: people don’t care how much you know till they know how much you care. If the Pope himself can put it on his agenda to travel half-way across world to visit my country, which has a Catholic population of a mere 7%, you and I can do well to visit the members of my our church or ministry groups.

3) HIS ABILITY TO DIALOGUE WITH THE ‘OTHER.’

On one occasion during his apostolic visit to Sri Lanka, the Pontiff spoke to an auditorium filled with Buddhist, Hindu, Evangelical, as well as Catholic leaders of the country. His message, predictably, was one of reconciliation and solidarity. Yet what fascinated me about this event wasn’t so much the content of his sermon as it was the candor in which he spoke.

The Pope was honest and uncompromising in his faith, yet tactful and considerate in his approach.

The more I follow his conversations with those who are not part of his flock, the more I am irked at myself.

As a ministry leader on a college campus, I wonder why I, at times, hesitate to interact with those who don’t believe what I believe. I also wonder why I don’t display tact when I do interact with them.
I’ll get off my soap-box and admit that, if you’re like me, there’s a thing or two we can learn from the Pope about interacting with our brothers and sisters from other tribes.
Are there common points that we can share and celebrate?
Can we engage in loving dialogue and live out our theology?
Do we have a message to share and ears to listen?
I think so.

While I may not endorse everything that the Pontiff is saying or doing, I have to admit:
I like this guy.
His message of reconciliation, ministry of presence, and ability to dialogue with those who don’t share his beliefs are some traits that I want to inculcate in my own ministry.

 What about you? What resonates with you? Anything you want to add?
Fire away below!