Often Zhan

2 minute read

This was an advice that was given to me by a friend, a mentor, and a colleague who I deeply respect: RY. I’m going to pass this advice along to you.

Christ said that he has come to bring life and life to the full. If you are a Christian, you should be living a full life. Yes, we should try to balance our schedules. But before we have that mentality, we need to have the perspective that we should have fulfillment in every area of our life. When serving our family, we should having the mentality of being full. In our workplace, we should be having the mentality of pursuing it fully. In our ministry, we should be pursuing it fully. Our goal is to have fullness of life.

When working in teams, we often have to find common grounds. Yet that’s not always true for us as an individual. Usually when we have a common ground, it is the lowest common denominator. It is not to fulfill everyone’s desires, but it is to accommodate. It is a way for people to move forward as a team. You need to figure out what are the things that you will not give into and what your are willing to ber. For me, if my Ministry takes away from my family (my responsibilities as a loving son or to my loving hopefully soon-to-be wife) then I will not be a part of it. If these responsibilities take away from my job as a teacher then I will not be a part of it. These are my personal convictions, and you should have those personal boundaries around your life too. So I encourage you to live a full life in all areas. Remember, this fullness in life can only happen through Christ.

I pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit, you will be more like Christ. I pray that God will bless you, and you will use that blessing to be a blessing to others and make a deep and lasting impact to anyone and everyone that you meet.

- Often

3 minute read

I don’t know about you, but I had to learn how to have deep conversation by listening to others. I remember sitting on the sidelines listening while others had deep conversations. Sometimes, there would be long uncomfortable pauses, silent moments of deep reflection.

After several weeks of listening, at some point, I decided to put in my oar by responding to a salient point and contributing my own perspective.

I later realized that these nights of heavy words were rarely impromptu. One time, one of my friends Willie shouted into a kitchen full of people, “If anyone wants to have a deep conversation, meet me in the living room right now!”

It wasn’t until years later that I made the commitment with Spencer to intentionally set aside time after Friday night fellowship to just talk with compassion, openness, and contemplative silence in mind. And so we did. We set aside time around once a month to have deep conversation after fellowship. We talked about what we were going through. We talked about our lives with intentional intimacy and somber contemplation. We talked in low hushed voices with the privacy and closeness of two friends who trusted each other completely.

And yet, we shared openly. Younger friends sat in the sidelines and listened as we poured out our souls. We showed by example how to appreciate those frequent long drawn-out silences instead of filling that empty space with quick-witted humor and clever comebacks; we showed how to allow space for others to speak without interruption; how to not just hear the content of their words but feel the emotional weight of their heart; how to fully put oneself in someone else’s shoes and begin truly love that person in the present moment.

As life frequently does, God directed Spencer and I in different directions. Yet even now, I still want to fulfill our commitment to have deep conversations. I’ve come to slowly accept that these moments are rarely spontaneous. An environment that encourages deep conversations need to be fostered. We need to set aside time with intentionality to bear out our hearts and our souls to someone else. And these conversations can never happen unless the other person wants the same.

I encourage you, whoever you are, to make the commitment to have deep conversations with someone else; to find someone who you trust and say, “I want to have a deep conversation with you.” I know that asking will feel weird, but I assure you that you and your friend will become better people because of it.

Also, I encourage you to have deep intimate conversations with others nearby. The only way for the next generation to learn how to have a deep conversation is by being in the midst of one. If we can agree on one thing, I hope it is that the skill of having deep conversation that touches the soul of everyone involved is severely lacking in this world.

- Often

Often Zhan

1 minute read

Teaching is difficult. I could put in a lot less effort, but there is something about being a part of a child’s learning that drives me to become a better teacher.

To be honest, being a primary school teacher is very strange. It’s like being the boss of employees who enthusiastically and desperately want to work and improve.

My students think I am awesome. A superhero. The Bee’s knees.

The teacher’s role is critical for in the mental, physical, and socio-emotional growth of their students. I am honored to be a part of this process.

They look up to me with such intensity and trust that I don’t want to let them down. I want to become the person that my students think I am.

Often Zhan

1 minute read

With all that has been happening recently… Hong Kong protests… Push for Trump Impeachment… school shootings, I have to constantly remind myself that the world is an amazing and beautiful place. Call me an optimist, but I truly believe that there is more good that is happening in the world than bad.

We should appreciated what we have but also strive for a better future. To begin, our first step is to have gratitude. We should set aside time to write down all the things that we are blessed with. If those blessings are things, we should set aside time to take care of them. Clean them, repair them, and treat them with the respect that we’ve neglected to give them. If they are people who are still alive, we should thank them personally for how they have impacted us. Even if what they did inconsequential to their eyes, their actions should be recognized and appreciated. Lastly, pay it forward. Small acts of kindness from us can mean the whole world to others. God has blessed us so that we can be a blessing to others. Let’s keep that spirit of love, hope, and compassion that’s been given to us alive by sharing it to others.

– Often