Faith

Bro, it’s not about striving

Calvin Hong, Awaken Generation // November 19, 2020, 8:31 am

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For International Men’s Day, we hung out with Awaken Generation‘s co-founder and head of mentoring, Calvin Hong. He gave us a piercing look into the heart of man as well as some honest words on masculinity, identity and destiny.


When we read the Bible, we say, “Wow, look at Adam and Eve. They sewed fig leaves to cover their sins, to cover their shame and guilt.”

But it hasn’t changed in this century. Today, we still sew fig leaves in the ways we talk about careers, achievements, sports, or how much income or possessions we have.

But who knows the man within? It’s like when you go home after a massive party, you put your head down on the pillow and these thoughts just go through your mind.

Was I rejected? Was I accepted? Was I powerful? 

A lot of men are struggling either to find themselves or to discover who they are meant to be. I think that deep down, every guy, including myself, will always ask a few questions.

  • What am I fighting for?
  • What am I living for?
  • Do I have what it takes to do what I’m born to do?

Psalm 1 tells us of a blessed man “who is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers”.

See, a wise person is like a tree. And how do trees grow? They establish themselves and their roots go deep to find resources.

For us, as human beings, we root ourselves and we get our resources from abiding in God. That’s why Jesus says in John 15, “If you abide in me, and I abide in you, you will bear much fruit.”

I also love this part of Psalm 1: “which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither”.

It’s funny how we talk about leaves, and how everyone’s trying to sew fig leaves, and yet leaves do not need to be put on. They grow naturally.

That is true covering! When you plant yourselves in the living water, you produce fruit that you don’t have to be ashamed of.

You won’t have to find ways to cover yourself up with fig leaves when you have the grace of the Lord in your life.

If we spend all our time worrying, about how much weight we can lift or what is the best job to get to earn a lot of money – where’s the end to that?

And does it promote God, or does it promote yourself? Because if you always promote yourself, you’ll always have to find a way to sustain that yourself.

Instead, ask God to sustain you. Then you won’t have to find ways to cover yourself up with fig leaves anymore, because you’ll have the grace of the Lord in your life.

The psalm goes on to tell us, “In all that he does, he prospers.” And it also reads, “His delight is on the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.” 

So when you meditate on God, you’re not concerned or worried about when you’re going to get the next big thing, because He’s the one that provides for you.

Freed from performance anxiety, I no longer had to pretend

Yet it doesn’t happen overnight.

You see, when I plant a seed, my expectation is that it will grow. But it takes time, it takes a process. It takes nurturing, watering – the faithfulness of watching it grow.

But it will grow.

Often when I counsel or walk with guys, I say, “Don’t look at your neighbour’s backyard and complain that their garden is beautiful while you look at yours and call it a stupid garden.”

The reason why their garden is beautiful, the reason why they have plants growing and it’s become a nice ecosystem, so to speak, it’s because they are tending to their garden.

They are watering their garden, faithful to take the weeds out so that it’s growing.

So my encouragement is this: don’t compare, don’t compete.

Turn to your own garden and say, “God, thank You for giving me this garden here. What can I do to steward it? What am I putting in the ground to ensure that the right nutrients and the right atmosphere to allow the plant to grow to its maximum potential?”

There’s nothing wrong with being good at performing, meeting KPIs and achieving things.

Is my relationship right with God?

But if the motivation is fear, if it’s done out of lack rather than from a place of love or fulfilment and of pleasing the Father, then we’ll always find ourselves pursuing something that only satisfies us only temporarily.

So it’s important to ask yourself, first of all, is my relationship right with God? Not in the way I do church, not in the way or how much I do Christian activities.

Because it’s not about striving. It’s about becoming who you’re meant to be in knowing Him.

Without having a true identity – having that ultimate connection or relationship with the Father – we’re lost.

THINK + TALK

  1. What fuels you? What gets you out of bed every morning?
  2. Is that something that can be taken away? 
  3. Striving and rest. Which do you see more of in your life?
  4. Read John 15. What have you learnt about abiding and identity?