28 Mar 2015 by Esperanza Ng CM –
“If this was a men’s conference, we would be talking about how to be more loving or caring, but since this is a women’s conference, that’s not really an issue, is it?”
Across the hall of four hundred women, heads bobbed in agreement.
As women, we have been wired to be caring, loving, nurturing, giving—the list goes on. Problems arise, however, when we begin to lose ourselves in the midst of all that loving and giving, and before we know it, we have succumbed to frustration, which builds up into resentment until POOF! The phrase “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” becomes a reality.
Essential 15 was a day-and-a-half, all women’s conference that was held at DUMC (Damansara Utama Methodist Church) this past weekend. Recognizing that women everywhere often go through similar struggles, and going along with how DUMC is now placing an emphasis on discipleship, this Women to Women (W2W) conference was a platform for women from all walks and stations of life to come together, learn together, and be encouraged by one another.
Themed “Ready? Get Set. Go!”, the main Scriptural references came from Matthew 25: The Parable of the Ten Virgins, and the Parable of the Talents.
Plenary 01: Ready? was delivered by Stella Hoh, in which she posed the question, “Women, are you Ready?” By dividing her session into three P’s: Purpose, Process, and Pay-off, Stella talked about how, like the 5 Virgins who brought extra oil with them to wait for their bridegroom, we need to be ready for our Bridegroom’s arrival and how we should be investing not just in the wedding, but the entire marriage.
In other words, while we await Christ’s second coming, it is important that we are not just waiting for His return, but that we are continually thinking about and investing in eternity with Him.
In order to do this, we must first recognize our purpose for Jesus, and to live a full life. What does living a full life entail? Nothing more than simply giving your best in everything you do. Some of us may have just ONE task in our entire life. Question is, are we willing? Do we know what that one thing is? While some people have big and lofty callings for their life, others have small and simple ones. Whether big or small, the important part is that it is done to the best of your abilities and with a right attitude.
Stella then shared the story of Susanna Wesley. Susanna was a woman who gave birth to 19 children. While she may not seem like much more than a woman who went through incredible amounts of labor pains, she “is known as the Mother of Methodism… because two of her sons, John Wesley and Charles Wesley, as children consciously or unconsciously will, applied the example and teachings and circumstances of their home life.” (Susanna Wesley Biography)
Once we have discovered our purpose, we have to go through a process that includes being far-sighted, doing business un-usual, and making sacrifices. This process is living out that purpose. It is life itself. As women with specific callings, it is essential to be able to look beyond the present—to look beyond this lifetime, and to consider how every action we take can and will affect eternity with Christ.
Knowing our calling also requires us to go beyond the norm—to live radically for Christ—to not conform to this world, but to allow God to transform us for His glory. And of course, living a radical life for Jesus will result in having to make sacrifices. We may often have to give up our earthly desires, but we know that when we do, Christ will turn our desires around to line up with His. We also know that anything and everything we give up for God will be rewarded with the Pay-off.
What is this Pay-off? It is the crown of glory. It is knowing that you lived a full-life. It is fulfilling your purpose during your time here on earth. With that, Stella ended her session by asking the question, “Is knowing God’s purpose for you and fulfilling it important to you?” She then encouraged the women to take time to discover that calling, so that they may live full lives, because “Life is short. The end is not far. It’s not about happiness; it’s about joy. It’s all worth it.”
In Plenary 02: Get Set., Susan Leong challenged the women to use their God given talents to serve Him. “God wants to quicken us,” she said, “to give us a sense of urgency.” His second coming is near, and when we see Him face to face, He will expect us to give an account of all the things He has entrusted to us.
She then broke down the Parable of the Talents into three parts and how they relate to us. (1) Receiving the Talents. Talents, in this case, can come in all forms and shapes. It could be spiritual gifts, it could be time, it could be money, resources, etc. As the master, it is completely up to God to give us whatever and however much He wills.
Just as the master gave 5 talents to the first servant, 2 talents to the second servant, and only 1 talent to the third servant, some of us have been given multiple abilities while others only have one. Nevertheless, although we are given different abilities, we are equally accountable to God. The master was just as pleased with the second servant who doubled his 2 talents, as he was with the first servant who doubled his 5 talents. “God does not expect us to produce the same result as our neighbor,” Susan said.
So even though the first servant had 10 talents and the second servant only 4 talents, in the master’s sight, they had both been good stewards of what he entrusted to them because they had both given their best. It was with the third servant who did nothing with his 1 talent, that the master was furious. Similarly for us, “When we don’t use our talents, we settle into complacency and before we know it, we will be rendered useless for God.”
(2) Realizing our talents. Susan brought up an important point by asking, “How do we view God?” She went on to say that our attitude towards God determines our approach to the talents we have been given. While the first and second servant went out immediately to trade their talents, the third servant went and buried his. He later reveals in his excuse, that he did not hold his master in high regard and never did. There was no part of him that had any desire to serve or please his master in the first place.
In the same way, our service to God is a reflection of our love and gratitude to Him. When we utilize our gifts that He has given to us, we do so with the pleasure of knowing that He will be happy with us, just like the master was with the first and second servant. On the flip side, like the third servant, we will have no desire to please God if we do not even think that He is worthy of all our devotion. Susan reminded the women that talents are like seeds. In order for them to grow, they must first be put to use, and then nurtured.
(3) Releasing our talents. Finally, our talents are not for our own consumption. They need to be deployed. Once again, Susan reminded the women of the need to live with a sense of urgency, as the end is near, and God will demand an account of all who profess to follow Him. In closing, she told the story of Edward Kimball.
A simple Sunday school teacher, Edward noticed that one of his students had fallen asleep in his class and so decided to pay him a visit later. He eventually led that sleepy young man to Christ, and that young man happened to be DL Moody. Through his ministry that led to other ministries, a young Billy Graham prayed to accept Jesus into his heart, and millions of people have been reached with the gospel through his teachings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYRqxzYFBQk). Susan also had everyone listen to the song, “Find us Faithful” by Steve Green, and then gave an alter call for anyone who wanted to say, “I don’t want to waste anymore time. I don’t want to be lazy.”
After lunch, 9 different workshops were available for the women to attend, according to their interests, to aid in finding their calling. The workshop topics ranged from leadership, mentoring, and nutrition to hormonal changes in women.
Day 2 of the conference was centered on the call to Go! A forum was held with a panel made up of three very different women: Margaret Loy, Caryn Manivanan, and Amy Nga. Through a series of questions and the variety of answers given from these women’s different points of views and experiences, the session addressed ways to practically live out God’s calling for our lives while balancing a career and family. The underlying conclusion at the end of it all is that there is no set formula. Whether you’re married, single, or not sure, God has called us to be faithful. Not perfect, but faithful. Live it out. Keep going and going, keep getting ready, keep getting set, keep going. It’s not a one-time thing.
The conference was concluded with a Q&A session answered by the forum and plenary speakers, and the women were once again admonished to live out their full potential for Christ without falling into the trap of getting burned out. “It is not about doing more, but BEING more!”
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NOTE: Photos 1 (Participants) and 2 (Stella Hoh) kindly contributed by Damansara Utama Methodist Church.