Are you a designated survivor?

Sometimes, my wife and I have been known to watch a little TV. Recently, we’ve been into a show called Designated Survivor (click for the trailer). The basic premise is that the least likely candidate to be president suddenly finds himself in the oval office after an act of devastating terrorism. I believe one reason why we like the show is because we see and relate to the struggles our protagonist, Tom Kirkman, goes through. He’s constantly questioning if he’s doing the right thing. And it seems that when something is going well, it’s only a matter of moments before something unexpected hits. At one point, I turned to Jamie and said, “This show is like leadership therapy.” Perhaps, it points to an issue that we all face. Aren’t we all feeling that we’re in the fight of our lives? Don’t we all have days, weeks, sometimes even months, where it seems like one thing after another and we just can’t seem to get a break?

Recently, it does feel a little that way. We’ve been having difficulty in a couple areas of the ministry. There are struggles in the cafe, whether it be figuring out adequate staffing, meeting goals we set out for ourselves at the beginning of the year, or confirming that we’re accomplishing meaningful, impactful ministry. And we’ve been struggling with church ministries. It seems a lot of people are feeling drained and overwhelmed with ministry responsibilities. Across the board, many of our staff are transitioning or preparing to transition within the next year. I’m not trying to be overly dramatic. In fact, I love my life and really am thankful for all the wonderful things I get to experience. Yet, sometimes, I find myself questioning: am I really the person for the job? Is this the right spot? What’s even happening? And will tomorrow be worse? Perhaps, a lot of this is my fault. What could I do differently?

So, I’ve been taking more time to ask these big questions. What’s my calling/purpose/passion? Who are my friends? How am I supposed to accomplish what I’m called to with who’s in my life? A couple things have happened to me in response to this recent line of questioning.

First, I heard an awesome sermon about prioritizing God above all else, because, as the pastor says, “Our priorities are much different when we’re on the front lines. We don’t have time to worry about what’s not important.” Our calling is first and foremost to Him. We must hold on to that fact. Around this time, I recalled my dad’s life verse, “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).

Second, I read an article on frustration. In a nutshell, frustration helps us know a few things: 1) we’re getting close to breakthrough, 2) we still have passion, 3) we’re still in the game, 4) we know what not to do :-), and 5) we can find a better way. The one that stuck out to me most was regarding passion. Our frustrations help us see where our passions are and help us know what we need to press into. Yeah sure, there are struggles. Who doesn’t have struggles and frustrations? And if you have some of these, congratulations, you might just be onto something good (spelt G-o-d).

Finally, a friend encouraged me to read Matthew 6:25-34. It’s that passage that says don’t worry. We usually gloss over that, right? We know not to worry. But do we really? Do I really trust that God has treasures in heaven (6:19-24) that far outweigh anything this world has to offer? Do I really believe that generosity (6:1-4), prayer (6:5-15), and fasting (6:16-18) will make a difference? It seems, then, that this life is pretty straight forward. We put our eyes on Him, seeking His Kingdom and His Righteousness, and in turn he prepares and provides everything we need (6:33). He provides the calling, the season, the anointing, the friends, the ministry strategy, the everything!

What does all this mean for me? It means that even when things frustrate me, lead me to feeling desperate, or to want to quit, if I’m still here, I’m the designated survivor. I’m the one God has chosen for this hour. If that’s true, then with God all things are possible (Mark 9:23). And what does that mean for you? Whatever you’re facing. Even if it seems everyone else is gone, you’re not sure if you are the right person, you’re not sure about much and everything seems to be creeping in on you, tell those lies to stop and remember, you’re God’s chosen designated survivor and He’s going to provide everything you need as you seek Him and His Kingdom!


5Q: Answers to a Decade (or more) of My Organizational Questions

disclosure statement: I was given a copy of this book, 5Q, by Alan Hirsch to give an honest review of it.

It’s 5:30 in the morning and I can’t put this thing down. I’ve planted a church and started a business in Taiwan, a culture which has traditionally been more resistant to the gospel’s work, with around 3% of 23,000,000 people professing faith in Christ. There have been successes in our ministry. Just a few days ago we were recounting what God’s done and noted that 34 people have been baptized since 2012.  and I’ll be one of the first to admit I often feel I have no idea what I’m doing. The reason I couldn’t put this book down is because Hirsch is putting into words feelings I’ve had for nearly a decade (which is a lifetime for a millennial). The premise of Hirsch’s latest work is that Jesus Christ has already given us a blueprint for what leadership, mission, evangelism, care and teaching should look like and how it’s done. He’s calling us to allow the latent seeds of the fivefold gifts, also referred to as APEST or 5Q, Christ gave the church to begin to grow again. APEST, or apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, are five different gifts or ministries that Christ placed in the church as a result of his ascension (Ephesians 4:1-16). He writes, “In it’s simplest form, 5Q is the synergy of a holistic recombination of the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding and teaching (APEST) capacities referred to in Ephesians.” These gifts were given so that we could minister as the body of Christ and ultimately attain to the fullness of Christ. But Hirsch argues the archetypal evidence of APEST predates the establishment of the church and is actually part of the prevenient grace that God established when He created the world. Essentially, understanding and utilizing the fivefold is THE KEY to healthy, thriving organizations across the board whether in business, church or elsewhere.

By understanding 5Q, we are able to assess the health and capacity of our organizations, churches and businesses included. Hirsch traces biblical foundations, primordial forms and archetypes and ultimately the life of Jesus as the architect and builder of 5Q. Jesus shows us that the patterns of 5Q can be used to understand and assess His ministry as well as his commandments to the church. He outlines the fivefold functionality of the church and society at large. In utilizing 5Q, we have a clear trajectory for how to impart, empower and deploy the greatest move of God the world has ever seen! Hirsch gives numerous accounts of how utilizing 5Q in our organizations will invariably lead to transformation on all levels of society.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  1. It is not coincidental that this breakthrough has come at a time in my life when my spiritual life has never been better–I am experiencing God in a whole new dimension. I find myself spending whole days in prayer and meditation. My prayer life is rich to the point of overflow. In a real way, I believe that 5Q has played a significant role in this sense of overflow. 5Q feels both personal to me, but I also feel its universal significance.
  2. If you want transformational gospel movement–really want it–then you are going to have to unlearn some very ancient churchly habits and be willing to relearn some new–and yet paradoxically more ancient–more authentically biblical ones. You’re a leader; I speak to you as a leader responsible for your generation.
  3. In fact, I hope to show, fivefold-thinking (5Q) reaches into our deepest instincts for ministry by reconnecting the ministry of Christ with the Body of Christ.
  4. Jesus “gave” APEST to the church, distributing it among all the people as he sees fit. It is vital that you, the reader, feel the weight of the grammar that Paul uses to talk about the constitutional givenness of the APEST ministries to the church. The verb form used for “given” (Gk. edothe, the aorist indicative form of didomi) is an aorist indicative, a very resolute verb form perfectly suited for use in constitutions. This is because aorists reflect actions that took place in the past and as such they are once-and-for-all-time events. The effects of the past event are still felt in the present. They are historic in a similar way that the signing of the Declaration of Independence was historic—it will impact America’s self-understanding for all time…Jesus is actually present in the church, and by which he extends his own ministry through us.
  5. Because they operate within a system, each individual APEST function enriches, counterbalances, and “corrects” the particular bias of each of the others.
  6. The good news is that all five functions/callings are like seeds latent in the system. They are already there by virtue of the defining Word of God. This is a liberating idea—all the potential for a tree is actually already in the seed; we don’t need to mess much with that. What we need to do is simply focus on the environment that will allow the seed to flourish.
  7. [M]issional movements are essentially a recovery of the apostolic impulse; prayer and justice movements are manifestations of the prophetic impulse; revivals are an aspect of evangelistic; community and charismatic renewal is a recovery of the pastoral ministry; and theological renewals are largely related to a rediscovery of some lost motif in Scripture.
  8. It is this relationship between high internal resonance and explicit social patterning that this chapter seeks to address. The idea here will be to try to connect the resonance that you should feel in regards to APEST functions and callings with the community in which you are called to express faith.
  9. Giving the answer is always easier than teaching the process…I often say to leaders that we can change our structures in four to eight months, but it takes four to eight years to change our culture.
  10. We see the five marks of the church defined by APEST as follows: missional impact (A), covenant faithfulness (P), gospel proclamation (E), reconciled community (S), deep wisdom (T).

Near the end of the book, Hirsch quotes Peter Berger who notes, “Ideas do not succeed in history by virtue of their truth but by virtue of their relationship to specific social processes,” and as such we are called not only to revel in fun ideas, but to actually begin applying them. Thus, my personal plan to 5Q implementation: do it. In all seriousness, I am indebted to Hirsch and the rest of his team for packaging a biblical, theological treatise on 5Q. For me and my team, we typically think about church in three terms: personal growth, community growth, and missional growth. These are the outworking of pondering Jesus’ Great Commandment (love God, love others) and Great Commission (make disciples in the world). If we are affect the cultural fabric of society, speak truth to power and life to dry bones, plant the seeds of the good news and win souls for Christ, gather God’s sons and daughters, and ensure God’s Truth is passed on correctly, we are in desperate need of 5Q thinking, systems and action. APEST provides an excellent framework, aspects of which we are already integrating. We speak cultural transformation (A), share the good news regularly (E), and teach truth (T), but I have seen how we can and must grow in all areas of APEST and I’m confident with teaching and tools outlined in this book, we are already on the right path.

I would encourage you to pick up a copy of this book and check out additional resources online. The diagrams offered are more than worth the price of admission. Hirsch will offer insights into the fivefold ministry that will shape your ongoing business and ministry endeavors.

Money Ruins Your Performance

You might not believe this, but science shows, some motivators have messed us up. Watch this 10 minute video on the science of motivation and then get back to me!

Three things that science shows motivate us.

Three things that science shows motivate us.

Beyond a certain amount of money (enough to make you stop thinking about it), money doesn’t motivate you. Please, stop worrying so much about money and start worrying about purpose, mastery and autonomy. Find your passion and you’ll have high performance and personal satisfaction!

At Aroma, we want to “help people smell, become and spread the Aroma of Christ.” We are going to change the world and you can be the Aroma, too!

Talent: Discovered or Developed?

Embed from Getty Images

Talent hunters are everywhere. I just saw an article the other day about people going to other groups and companies and trying steal people from their company. Why? Because we want the best in our organizations. No one wants to have their child taught by the worst teacher in school. No one wants to go to a restaurant where they intentionally hire the worst chefs. And no one wants to be a part of something where sub-par talent is the highest expectation we can find.

In a similar fashion, talent developers are everywhere. Companies spend billions on trainings, retreats, reviews, and more. Why? Because we know that we haven’t reached our full potential yet.

As Aroma transitions into a totally new season of growth an expectation, I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit. I’ve also been getting a lot of feedback through onsite and offsite peers, consultants, mentors, fathers and leaders.

We left one 5 hour session asking ourselves this question: Are we discovered or developed?

As a company owner, church pastor, and missions site coordinator, I interact with a lot of people. We’ve constantly prided ourselves on giving people opportunity to grow. And yet some of the most explosive things that have happened come when someone from the outside comes in and offers just a little advice, or makes just the slightest change to a product, SOP or marketing tactic.

So, take a look at your life. Have you been discovered or developed? Do you want to be discovered or developed? Do you want to discover others or develop them? I’d like to take a brief survey of the benefits of both:


  • Discovering talent is costly. You have a lot more interviews. You need to spend time finding the right person. You need a backup plan for when that person leaves you for some place better.
  • Discovering talent is limiting. When you put all of your emphasis on discovering just the right person, you limit yourself to what they bring to the table. This includes their talents, but it also includes their culture, the sum of their beliefs, values and reactions in certain situations. Unfortunately, top talent often know they’re just that.
  • Discovering talent  is explosive. If you find the right person, the right culture match, the right time, etc. you have set yourself up for an explosive time of growth. The right talent discovered and injected can be just like a downed espresso shot. It burns immediately and gets you going quickly.


  • Developing talent is costly. They often underperform and you have to spend countless hours training, explaining, reviewing, and on and on and on. Taking into account the time value of money, you’ll probably lose more investing into that person than you’ll get out of them after they’re 100% ready. Not to mention the outright detrimental things they’ll do to you and your company in the mean time.
  • Developing talent is limiting. Until that person is everything you think they can be, they’re not. Let me repeat that. Until a person is everything you think they can be, they’re not. No matter how much you believe in someone, no matter how many resources you throw at someone, there’s still a journey.  You’re going to bottleneck your organization for a time.
  • Developing talent is explosive. Have you ever been supported? Felt believed in? I remember when my 9th grade band teacher, Mrs. Gallagher yelled at me in front of the whole class. She told me to grow up. After I sat in the corner crying for 20 minutes (literally), she took me into her office and explained how much she cared for me. She told me that there are plenty of students she saw every year who wouldn’t amount to much of anything. But she saw something more in me and wanted me to see it, too. Having someone take the time to invest in you. And being someone who invests you, can make all the difference. At all times in my life, I’ve had people investing in me, and it’s been great!

No matter which side you fall on, you’re still going to have to choose at times. I default to developing. Why? Because I’ve been developed. But, I also see the benefit of discovery. Why? Because I’ve been discovered.

The good news is that both of these are options. You don’t have to do just one. In fact, God has done both in us. In Ephesians 1:4, Paul says we were “chosen before the foundation of the world.” Sounds like a great discovery to me. Esther was chosen for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). There are countless stories, like David and Moses, of people who were discovered and elevated into a position of great opportunity. They nailed it.

Conversely, there are the people who are developed. Paul was definitely the worst, worst choice for a church plant. He was the most anti-Christian person available at the time (Acts 8:1), but then Barnabas (Acts 4:36) and Ananias (Acts 9:10-12) were used to develop him into the author of 13 books of the New Testament.

Which is it: discovered or developed? I say both! God’s much bigger than limited you to one. Get out there and discover someone. Then develop them. Hold them accountable; that is, make them “account for their God-given ability” (Kris Valloton).

On Business Metrics (An Introduction)

As I’ve gotten more and more involved in the business world (media publications and marketing specialist as well as helping to develop new business lines for the English school I used to work for and starting The Aroma), I’ve read and been challenged a lot in defining success.

The basic idea is to move the ball down the field. We want success. The issue is, however, that what we measure is what we give attention to, and what we give attention to is what we care about. Essentially, metrics can begin to define an entire company. For centuries business has lived in the pretext of profit motive – if you’re making more than you’re spending, you’re successful.

1) For many organizations specific numbers like the following may be measured on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.

  • Revenue VS Expenditures
  • Financial ratios
  • CAC (Cost of Customer Acquisition)
  • Marketing Budget
  • Ratio of LTV to CAC (Lifetime Value to Customer Acquisition)
  • 15 Marketing Metrics: Brand Awareness, Test Drive, Churn, CSAT, Take Rate, Profit, NPV, IRR, Payback, Customer Value, CPC, TCR, ROA, Bounce, WOM

2) But sadly, many of these metrics miss social impact, which is important in itself, but becoming increasingly important as customers are looking for added value and social responsibility. So, a number of key words have started to appear in our vernacular. That is, business as mission and social entrepreneurship have started to make an impact on the thinking of those who are measuring. They may use metrics like the following.

3) Another step in the process of metrics measurement happens when believers realize the calling on their lives to execute a kingdom business or life with Heaven in their business. All of this is still quite fresh, but there are some metrics we can begin to discern as we live out the principles of Scripture in connection with the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

Over the course of the coming weeks and months, I will be addressing different metrics and systems I’ve come across attempting to define these three points: 1) traditional metrics, 2) social metrics, 3) Kingdom metrics.

沒關係,下次付好了 (No Problem, you can pay next time)

The other day I went to the breakfast shop across the street from our house to pick up breakfast. I grabbed just enough cash to get what I wanted and out Mochi (my dog) and I went.

However, after I put my order in, I realized that I hadn’t brought enough. I quickly apologized to the staff and asked to get less than what I ordered. What happened next surprised me.

She told me I could come back later and pay the next time I grabbed breakfast. It was, to be honest, the type of great customer service that just makes you want to go back there all the time.

It was also a genius business move on her part. She knows I’ll come back and puts an urgency on me to get back there sooner than I would have normally chosen to go.

Well played, Lady at the breakfast shop, well played.

Are you “Restless?” (中文版)

Sbrocca’s book on “entering your personal promised land” is filled to the brim, dare I say overflowing, with practical systems for aligning yourself with what God is doing in your life.

The miracle part of this book review starts all the way back in February 2013. I signed up for the “Heaven in Business” conference hosted by Bethel. The plan was to listen to the speakers and begin praying for Heaven in Business including the work I was doing for an English school at the time as well as my primary ministry/business focus: The Aroma.

Rick Sbrocca’s session detailed one part of the book and gave away free copies. So I chased down the organizer of the event via email and found out they were actually willing to ship it to me.

Wait four months. Nothing.

I reopened my conversation with them and a second copy of the book was sent my way (both copies were sent for free). I received the book and in it was a handwritten letter from Rick himself with a prayer just for me. I’m not sure if he does this for everyone, but it sure made me special. A highly successful businessman (his current firm went from $4,000,000US to $16,000,000US within a couple of years, I believe) taking the time and energy to connect with me personally was touching. Not to mention the $18 shipping charge they paid out of pocket as well.

All that to say, there was something genuine about this book from the beginning. Now, when I say it’s full of systems, I have to admit that I’ve not done all of them yet. I feel working through the book more slowly is better than trying to rush through it all so that I could say I finished reading it. I’ve not read the whole thing yet, but I wanted to encourage you to try to get ahold of a copy yourself.

Sbrocca is a powerful storyteller and begins with a chapter that carves out a story of a prodigal.

He moves on to outline the following:

  • The 7 R’s of Rest
  • The 7 F’s of Freedom
  • The 7 V’s of Victory
  • The 7 C’s of Champion

Each of these systems, if on their own, would be enough to keep me metricising my life for months to come.  Needless to say, I’ll be in this book for a while.  Each section has lots of anecdotal help along with room for personal reflection and even space to write out thoughts.  It’s really more of a workbook.

So far, my favorite piece to work through was an acronym he created called “PAUSE.”  He uses this to maintain a close watch on his inner life so as to maintain perpetual connection to the lifesource, his relationship with Father God. The idea is to be measuring and to continually be aware of what’s happening.

Restless Book Cover


我覺得這本書最奇妙的事要從2013年2月講起,那時我參加了一個由貝索舉辦的 “天國的事業”講座,那時打算聽聽他會講什麼和為我的 “天國的事業”禱告,我那時除了在學校教英文還有我主要的傳道重心/事業:馨香堂







  • 七種寧靜

  • 七種自由

  • 七種勝利

  • 七種冠軍