Author Archive
Andrew David Wong

What My Father Taught Me.

Growing up in a family with an absentee father and a stepmother with half-siblings taught me a lot about parenting. Those early years shaped my understanding of what I wanted as well as what I did not want in a parent. This fostered a strong desire in me to parent my future children well. When my wife and I first got married, I did not want any children for the simple reason that I had no clue about what it meant to take on the role of ‘dad’.

Over the years, however, I have gained a deep understanding of what it means to truly forgive and allow God to heal me from the past. My father made mistakes that we can all learn from and in this, I endeavour to honour him and in turn hope to bring honour to my Heavenly Father.

COURAGE

Anyone can be a father. It takes courage to be a dad.

I read this line when I came across quotes by former US President, Barak Obama. It struck a cord in me because of its poignancy.

My late father had several ‘families’, and that accounted for the 16 children he fathered. With so many children around, whenever anyone required his attention or any situation called for his intervention, they were either shunned or simply brushed aside and sometimes even left for his older children to shoulder.

This reticence to take up the headship of the home is in stark contrast to what we know by way of Jesus’ example – loving the Church till death. Stationing yourself at the forefront of challenges that come your family’s way takes courage and willingness. This role is not for the timid, the nonchalant and the sluggard.

To ponder…

Have you observed a father who leaves all the problems his family has to face to his wife or family to deal with?

If you have, pray for them and be your brother’s keeper wherever possible.

PRESENCE

You have to be present in order to present your time and yourself.

My father was hardly ever around. If he was, it was usually in the evenings at dinner where he would eat, sit in front of the television and leave the house anywhere between half an hour to 2 hours later. Whenever my father was home, he was emotionally detached. There was no bonding with his children or my stepmother and he was completely unaware of anything pertaining to us.

When children under similar situations grow up without guidance, they are often left feeling like they are grasping for air with only themselves to rely on to make sense of life. How much better it would be for any child’s first mentor to be their dad – someone who could impart not just knowledge but life lessons to learn as well?

To ponder…

It has been said that the ceiling of one generation ought to be the floor of the next.

Have we even set the ceiling? And if so, have we set it solidly and high enough?

AFFECTION

Dads, shower your children with your affection so that they may be positively impacted.

Since the bible exhorts husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, it would not be a stretch to say that the fruit(s) of a married couple’s life ought to also be given due affection. Even animals can be seen showing affection to their offspring. As human beings with complex cognition and mental processing capabilities, we really ought to be doing better, shouldn’t we?

When I was a child, I had 2 dogs. The male dog in particular impressed me when he became a father. I was pleasantly surprised and even awed at the time he spent with his puppies, showing them around, playing with them and displaying affection. He even allowed his puppies to eat off his plate of food after they had eaten their own meals, knowing that he would not have enough for himself. Amazing!

CPA

Courageous-Present-Affectionate daddy

This acronym sums up what I believe to be the most important qualities of a dad. I use this to remind myself that only does it take courage to be a dad, I also need to be present and my affection has the ability to make an impact on my children. In other words, being a CPA daddy means being accountable; accountable to God for the mandate He has given to me as a father, accountable to the mother of my child whose heart will ever be tender towards her children and accountable to the child who is a blessing.

Have I been a CPA of a dad? You must ask my dear wife and two darling children!

Andrew David Wong and Joanna have two children, Liesl Ann now a youth, and Benedict Alexander who is still in Urbankidz. They love to spend time as a family trying out different food jaunts, playing board games, cycling, watching movies or just plain chatting and laughing together.

A Lasting Tribute

The 23rd of March 2015 and the week that followed marked an unprecedented series of events in Singapore which will never be repeated, ever – the passing of our nation’s Founding Father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and the accompanying proceedings.

Now that the tears have flowed, the grey skies cleared and the tributes duly given, it is time to move on. Someone remarked, if Mr. Lee could have a say on the affairs surrounding his death and funeral, he might have told us to do away with the sentimentality and get back to building a better Singapore. However, the truth of the matter is, those rites of passing were vitally important for closure – both emotionally and psychologically. What is imperative though is the fact that as a nation, we need to keep moving forward.

Throughout that entire week, countless compliments were lavished upon Mr. Lee. Apart from his accolades, it is fitting to also examine the qualities and characteristics that made Mr. Lee Kuan Yew such a revered leader of a man. He lived an exemplary life, worthy of our contemplative Christian retrospection.

To Have A Vision

To begin with, Mr. Lee had a vision and was by inference, a visionary. For example, he could see in his mind’s eye that Singapore would become a metropolis within 10 years of his proclamation. More importantly, he could anticipate the steps needed to achieve that.

Without the vision of a transformed Singapore we would have been without direction. We can parallel this quality with our understanding of Proverbs 29:18 (NASB): “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law”. If Mr. Lee did not point the way for his team, chaos would inevitably ensue and consequently the team leading the nation would be without control (the Holman Christian Standard Bible used the phrase “the people run wild”). How that scenario of wildness could have panned out is unthinkable.

What’s our vision? Do we have one?

To Share Knowledge

Mr. Lee had knowledge. As one of his grandsons has said, his grandfather is compelling because he makes the listener want to listen to him. His presentations are based on well-researched information and as PM Lee and other parliamentary colleagues have emphasized, Mr. Lee had persuasive powers not based on eloquence but based on his thoroughly thought-out convictions.

While detractors have maligned him as prideful, the phrase ‘knowledge puffs up’ does not apply to him because he releases that knowledge. Knowledge puffs up when it is an end in itself. However, Mr. Lee’s cabinet ministers have attested to the fact that he shared worthwhile articles, life experience and encouraged others to read and think for themselves.

Have we been knowledge hoarders, biblical or otherwise and letting it puff us up?

To Have Courage In Adversity

Mr. Lee also had the courage to face difficulties and adversaries. He reiterated in no uncertain terms that “whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him”. He also declared that as long as he was in charge; no one would be allowed to take down what he has built up. Analogous to that, we read in Deuteronomy 31:6-7 that we are to “be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them; for the Lord your God is the One who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you”.

It is unquestionable that Mr. Lee led his team with sheer grit and doggedness during tumultuous times. It was this courage in adversity that played a significant part in helping them conquer the odds and achieve the dream of a successful Singapore.

Which of our life’s challenges would do well with a dousing of courageousness and tenacity?

To Make Disciples

Mr. Lee was an intentional disciple-maker. We just have to look at the evolving Cabinet he had congregated over the years to see that truth. He had succession plans way before his retirement as PM, and countless have benefitted from his guidance, advice, teaching, rebuke and questions.

Jesus was the supreme intentional disciple-maker. Jesus trained and taught, lived and modeled for his disciples beyond just the 12. Jesus in all will and purpose knew that His mission on earth required disciples to carry on the work. Similarly, Mr. Lee, realized that for the Singapore story and legacy to perpetuate, he must multiply himself.

Have we given of ourselves and multiplied ourselves? To make things a reality, chance is not a good bet. Intentionality is the way forward.

To Love Deeply

Mr. Lee loved and cherished his wife deeply. Reports showed that he made it a point to be by his bedridden wife’s side every evening, reading to her and telling her about the day’s events and his work. It tired him such that he had to take to meditation to help cope with the stress. Undoubtedly from having to deal with world affairs at work and then at home, ‘ministering’ to his wife.

PM Lee also revealed that his father took his mother’s input seriously and painted the picture of a family that he could reminisce with fondness. Another point from PM Lee worthy of mention was the fact that despite his mother mostly running the home front, his father was still the head of the home. This was evident in reports that Mrs. Lee, though every bit as intelligent and capable as her husband, chose to stay out of the limelight and in her own vernacular, recounted partly in jest that as a good Asian wife, she walked 2 steps behind him. Of course it is understood that her point was that of respect.

In Ephesians 5:25 we are taught, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her”. In verse 23, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body”. Mr. Lee loved his wife dearly and gave himself for her to the detriment of his health as he also gave his life in service to our nation. As he himself had said, the most important things to him were his family and his country. Correspondingly, he was head at home and also head of the nation.

Self-check: how have I been to my spouse? Have I kept in line with God’s will, plans and example?

Just A Man

Having said all this, we are reminded that Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is no god. None of us who are sane will have the audacity to claim perfection, not even Mr. Lee himself who acknowledged that he has made some bad mistakes. I can think of no better quote to sum this all up than the following from the writer who wrote in the weekend papers:

“A nation stands humbled by such a lifetime of courage and dedication. The people of Singapore owe a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid, only honored”

This statement reminds me of what was said of Jesus:

“He came to pay a debt He didn’t owe and we owe a debt we can never pay”

In both instances, we can do justice to their lives by honoring them. It has been discussed on social media that while we can honor Mr. Lee by paying tribute in his death, the true tribute is expressed when we as a nation of citizens uphold all that he has done and more.

To Pay A Lasting Tribute

Likewise, to truly honor our Lord Jesus Christ, we know that it is worthless to just pay lip service. The Lord Himself says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matthew 7:21-23). It is poignant to remind ourselves that any true and laudable tribute to our Lord is not expressed just by saying, ‘Lord I love you’ but it is by following His example, working with fellow disciples to establish His will and kingdom on earth.

PM Lee has said that we are lucky to have Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. Bill Clinton alluded to the point that Mr. Lee is not only a gift to the nation but to the world. What a man we have in Lee Kuan Yew, all the battles and labor he bore. If that is true, then what more of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Thank you Mr. Lee…THANK YOU JESUS.

Andrew David Wong is an Occupational Therapist by profession. He serves in both the Men’s & Equipping MInistries in church. Andrew is married to Joanna and they have two beautiful children, Liesl & Benedict.

Intentional Fathering

Every New Year brings with it new plans, new hope and possibly new goals. These apply to me as well and what has been resonating in my heart and mind is that of a renewed hope to do better in my role as a father to my children. Important as they may be, the roles I perform at work and ministry pale in comparison to familial ones.

As I evaluated and reflected on my own performance as a father, I found myself wanting on two fronts. The first is that of decision-making. Strange as it may sound, other fathers may relate to my ‘doing without deciding how well I want to do it’ – we just do. Does that ring a bell? I recall my primary school principal writing this phrase in my report book “Make up your mind to do well”. For some reason, that phrase gripped me, even bothered me, enough for me to ponder over that for years. I oft wondered within myself why she wrote that and if she deemed that I was inconsistent with my school results. Yes, I fluctuated in my results but I was always in the upper 1/3 of the class. Was not that good enough? Apparently not. . .

Even now, especially with tasks and responsibilities that do not have documented KPIs, it is very easy to lull oneself into a cruising mode and not really going anywhere. Towards the end of 2014 when I took stock of what and how I have been with my children, ‘Make up your mind to do well’ surfaced again. This time, it convicted me. I remember a scene from the movie ‘Courageous’ where the lead role resoundingly said that he did not want to be just a good enough father. He wanted to do well. His mind was made up, and I should follow suit.

Secondly, after making up one’s mind to do well, what’s next? Someone once very crudely said that the pathway to destruction (even hell) is paved with good intentions. Intentions which were just that and were never translated into reality. This is where plans, time and action come in. After making up my mind, to make plans, make time, and then to make them happen. This brings to mind ‘Intentional Disciple-making’. Many of us probably have heard of that but what about ‘Intentional Fathering’?

For years, the tendency has been to let things happen, simply flowing along and doing the fathering as the situations came along. But what jolted me to my senses and by whom? By none other than my own children and my wife, who gave feedback. My children were raving about what another father did and I have also witnessed firsthand the engagement and the rapport that came with that process. Not just once but on several occasions. Also, My wife’s mentioning of some other fathers and what they do with their children made me pensive and reflective. I had to make up my mind and act, ultimately for the good of my own children.

We cannot hope for the past for that is already gone. We can only have hope for the future by making up our minds and being intentional in the here and now. I rejoice that we have our Heavenly Father as the ultimate example and role model and that He is also very keenly interested in our fathering. Besides the explicit word in the Bible, the Lord speaks if we hear. Once, I got so mad with my son that I left him to walk to school by himself (school was a 5 minute walk from home). My heart turned away and told myself I could care less about what happened to him on the way. The Lord spoke to me “Set not your heart on His destruction”. I repented and told myself that it will not be repeated. Today, I make up my mind – to do well, to make plans, make time and to act. Fathers, would you join me?

Andrew David Wong is an Occupational Therapist by profession. He serves in both the Men’s & Equipping MInistries in church. Andrew is married to Joanna and they have two beautiful children, Liesl & Benedict.

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