Ps Tan Hui Ru

Time for Disciple-making

Singapore is a very busy place to live in. It feels like everyone, even children, have their calendars chock-full of events – things to do, places to be. And it just seems that if there isn’t a “serious” item on the agenda for that time slot, it’s up for grabs for something else. There’s a lot of competition for our time, but how do we prioritise what we spend our time on?

An easy way to decide is to see if the time spent is “useful” – do we learn something, do we have responsibilities to carry out, does it spark joy in us … in other words, we ask ourselves what benefit we gain from spending our time in this way. But “usefulness” is not all there is, because when “usefulness” or “benefit to ourselves” is our metric for deciding how we spend our time, a lot of other parts of our lives suffer.

In particular our relationships suffer because time spent building relationships often does not look “useful”, particularly when these are not relationships you build for the purpose of future transactions. But these are still connections that matter, and they feed into everything else that we do. For example, when we don’t spend time nurturing these relationships, we find it awkward to share what we are really thinking and feeling, and struggling with at our Bible study sessions, Sunday School classes, and in any business meetings.  When we don’t spend time nurturing these relationships, including for our children, then we don’t have friends in church who are able to support us spiritually, and neither do our children.

People need to spend time together to build relationships, and this time may not look “useful” to us at first glance. “Useful” time is often structured in nature; it allows us to learn about each other in specific ways, but “non-useful”, unstructured time allows us to learn about the whole person, to understand how the other person thinks and feels.

We need to spend time together, we need to prioritise time together. And that includes “useful” and “non-useful” time, structured and unstructured time, serious time and play time. Without this time together, the work of disciple-making cannot happen, because how do you speak into the life of another person when you don’t really know him or her? Disciple-making isn’t just about doing Bible studies with another person, it’s also about knowing the other person including his/her struggles and thinking, and then speaking God’s Word into their lives. We need to know each other in entirety for that, and to know each other in entirety, we need to spend time together.

May God grant each of us the wisdom to prioritise our time in 2024.