With the continuous threat of a major outbreak of COVID-19, what can I do to respond?

Last week, during our Metro Manila pastors meeting, Pastor Gilbert Foliente encouraged us from God’s Word. Sharing from Genesis 41, he presented principles we can glean from when the people of God were also faced with a major crisis which at that time was famine.

External threats are beyond our control. Romans 8 describes to us that the “world groans.” There is going to be a new heaven and a new earth. But in the mean time, what can we do?

Egypt, during the time of Joseph, had the threat of famine. The Pharaoh asked Joseph to interpret his dreams. What happened during that time gave us a template on how to respond when crisis hits.


The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon. (Genesis 41:32, NIV)

All that happens in God’s creation does not escape God’s attention. He is sovereign and He is in full control. This means that nothing takes Him by surprise.

Because of this, we can trust that though we may not know what the future holds, we do know Who holds it.

Psalm 33:11-12 says, “The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”


“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:33)

Every one of us are in some form of leadership capacity. We lead teams, families, units, corporations, organizations. At the very least, we lead ourselves. And as we lead, we can influence others positively.

Joseph was placed in charge over all of Egypt. And after that, he led with confidence knowing that it was God that was ultimately leading him. He wasn’t looking for a job. He was just there as a messenger. But God raised him up for His purposes.

In times of crisis, will we be the voice of faith or the voice of fear?
In times of trouble, will we be a beacon of hope or a source of unbelief?

Joseph trusted God to give him wisdom. We can do too.
Wisdom is being able to do the right thing at the right time.
Joseph had discernment.

And discernment is being able to distinguish between two options.
God has the ability to empower us with discernment to make the right decisions.


He was thirty years old when he began serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:46, NLT)

As soon as Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he worked instantaneously. He didn’t take his sweet time. He went for it right away.

When crisis hits and danger is immanent, we need to be decisive and work swiftly because it can mean life or death.

The famine during Joseph’s time wasn’t coming until 7 years after his appointment as Governor. But he went to work right away.


He was thirty years old when he began serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:46, NLT)

As soon as Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, not only did he work immediately, he prepared thoroughly by inspecting the entire land of Egypt. He studied, learned, evaluated, surveyed, supervised, worked. He did all he can to prepare for the famine.

We will believe God for the best.

But we will also prepare for the worst case scenario.
The important thing is to stay connected to the Holy Spirit so that He can give us clear instructions for what we need to do.

At the end of the narrative, we see in Genesis 41:57 that “… all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.” In the midst of crisis, Joseph, who represented the people of God, became a blessing to the world.

As we encounter crises, whether current or future, we can trust God fully, lead confidently, work immediately and prepare thoroughly. And as we do, the people of God, the church can be a blessing to the rest of the world.


When a plant is healthy, it will naturally grow and bear fruit.

I spoke to Jared (not his real name), one of our small group leaders. He spoke to someone in church who stopped going to small group meetings out of the blue. He asked her why. Her response? She felt pressured. Her leader kept telling her, “since you have gone through this class and are done with that retreat, then you need to start your own small group.”

I am super sure that her leader meant well. Her intentions were to see her small group member take leaps of faith in leading someone to Christ. Growth and maturity happen when we lead others. But since she felt she wasn’t ready, she stopped going to her small group because she was afraid she was going to be asked again.

I told Jared this: “We have to remember, when a plant is healthy, it will naturally grow and bear fruit.”

We never see a farmer with a whip on his hand and force the plant or a tree to bear fruit. He does not whip the tree trunk to compel it to bear fruit.

What does he do? He fertilizes. He makes sure there’s ample water supply. He takes out any obstruction from the sun coming through. He does his best to do all he can to keep the plant healthy and remains in an environment of health.

I absolutely appreciate all our small group leaders. They work and labor in the field to bring many to Christ. They sacrifice time and resources. But let us remember that in our zeal to raise leaders, we want to make sure that the people we are leading are first healthy before we launch them out.

Relationship over rules.
People over process.
Health over hype.

What can we do?

1. Sincerely ask how they are spiritually.

Not if they doing ministry. Not if they are serving in church. Not if they are doing good deeds.
Ask if they are growing in their walk with Jesus.

2. Ask the Holy Spirit for discernment when they are ready to lead.

The Holy Spirit will lead us. He will guide us into all truth. If we acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, He will direct our paths. I realize that no one will ever be ready. I wasn’t and I don’t know if I ever will. But there’s a sense of timing and indicators to see if one is okay to be launched.

3. Perform check-ups every so often to see if they are growing and healthy.

Just because one is leading a group, it doesn’t mean he is spiritually invincible. How do I know that? It’s because I am not. I need people to help me, teach me, coach me, disciple me, train me and rebuke me if necessary.

As my pastor, Joey Bonifacio, would often say, “Slow is fast.”
When we hurry the process, we end up slower.
But when we take our time to strengthen and do all we can to see growth and health, then in time, God will launch them to bear fruit.
It’s never about the numbers.
Each one is valuable to God.


In our recent family trip to Melbourne, I met an owner and CEO of his company. He shared with me his experience when he took a business trip to Bali.

Because he had to stay a couple of nights, he booked at a 5-star hotel. He usually stays at the Ritz Carlton hotel, but when he looked at a hotel booking website, this other hotel (which also was a 5-star hotel) had a significant discount so he went ahead and booked a room himself to avail of the savings.

When he got to the hotel in Bali, he found out that his assistant also booked for him. Because of the double booking, he had 2 rooms under his name.

Talking at the guy at the front desk, he asked if there was any way to cancel the other room since he only needs one. The guy said no. Then my CEO friend asked if they could at least give him a couple of breakfast vouchers the next day so that his managers can eat with him during their breakfast meeting. The response? Another “no.” Frustrated, he asked, “Is there anything you can possibly do for me?” The front desk guy shook his head and said, “Sorry there’s nothing we can do.”

That night, my CEO friend went to a banquet he was invited to and met the General Manager of Ritz Carlton Bali. When asked about his experience with where he was staying, my CEO friend started venting his frustration to the Ritz GM. To this, the GM of Ritz said, “I’ll see what I can do.” My friend said, “No need. It’s okay. I was just sharing with you my experience.”

When my friend got back to his hotel room, he was surprised that there was a spread of food and goodies, a couple of bottles of champagne and a couple of breakfast vouchers for his managers. He called the Ritz GM and asked him what he did. The Ritz GM said that he just called the GM of the hotel my friend was staying in and relayed his experience.

My friend asked, “Why did you do that? I appreciate the gesture but why? You’re not getting anything out of this plus this was your competition.”

To this, the Ritz GM replied, “Wherever you are, you are Ritz Carlton family.”


My CEO friend looked at me and said, “Pastor, guess where I will book next time?”

After he told me his story, I had a few takeaways.

1. Serve.

Whether it will directly benefit us or not, just go ahead and serve.

2. Insecurity is unattractive.

The Ritz GM didn’t feel slighted at all when a faithful client tried out another hotel. Sometimes we disconnect and cut off relationships because we feel people seem disloyal.

3. Empower others to serve.

It’s better to make a mistake on the side of serving people rather than serving policies. Remember to share this with your team members. And when they make a mistake by going over the budget or bending over backwards to accommodate when they decide to serve, commend rather than scold

Remember, relationship is more important than the rules. The rules serve the relationship not the other way around. Policies and rules are helpful. But they exist to strengthen and serve the relationships.


A few weeks from now, we are going to have our Couples’ Getaway, a retreat for married couples who want a refresher or even a tune up so their relationship can continue to honor God.

One of our ministry staff called me and asked how to communicate with a couple who was still unmarried and wanted to join the marriage retreat. For obvious reasons, it wouldn’t be wise for them to come along. But I assume that they wanted to strengthen their relationship with God and relationship with one another.

I went ahead and called  Jasmine (not her real name). I asked how long she has been coming to church with her boyfriend. In the conversation, I found out that not only did she want her boyfriend to know Christ, but they were going to get married in a few months.

After the conversation, I gave her a few suggestions. I told her that a good start is to attend our pre-marriage seminar entitled “Blueprint For Marriage”. Because they wanted to learn how to get started right in their marriage, the seminar would be a great help.

Since I also found out that she wanted her fiancé to know Christ in a greater way, I told her that I would be willing to meet them for coffee or lunch to help them in their journey.

Coming out of that conversation, I explained a few principles with our staff member to share how we can best serve our people in the church and even those outside.


Before saying “no”, it is important to get what is in their hearts. All Jasmine wanted was to get good teaching for their relationship. She also wanted her fiancé to know Christ which is a noble desire.


Rather than saying “no” immediately, find ways to help them consider other options that would achieve similar results in the best possible manner.


After figuring out what is the best route to take during the conversation, serve by going the extra mile. Leadership is more than just influence. It is about serving.

It is critical that we learn to hear people out before saying no and find ways to serve them in the best possible way. We can say no, but not out of policy but out of a desire to serve. The principle is this: “people over policy.”


I was speaking with a professor in one of the top business schools in our city one morning. Our discussion was on how times have changed in terms of leadership.

In the 70’s, 80’s and towards the 90’s, leadership was about STRATEGY, STRUCTURE and SYSTEMS. He came from the hippie generation and because that was the cultural element then, structures and systems were key to lead people who highlighted free expression towards an extreme extent.

But as the millennium shifted, things have changed. Harvard Business Review had an article on the changes in the leadership style that is needed to rally the millennial generation.

As my professor friend emphasized, it’s no longer STRATEGY, STRUCTURES and SYSTEMS but PURPOSE, PEOPLE and PROCESS.

Does this mean systems and structures are not important? Of course not. But what this means is that the way we lead the younger generation has to shift as well.

People over process.

More than top-down leadership, we employ inspirational leadership. More than positional, it is now collaborative.

May God give us wisdom as we lead others in this day and age.


Last week, Dr. Frank Damazio came to Every Nation Manila to teach us on the topic of succession planning and creating a leadership pipeline.

Here are some of the take aways from that seminar.

1. Leadership Pipeline is creating a leadership culture that systematically developed potential leaders, effectively mentoring them into right places at right times to match the growth and expansion of the church.

2. All the leaders you’re going to need are either already in the church or on their way. All you need to do is to find them, train them and launch them.

You may ask, “Why can’t I find them?” You can’t find them because they don’t look like leaders yet.

3. Find the potential leaders that nobody wants and develop them to become leaders others will want to hire.

4. The local church is like a wine skin. Bringing in wine from another wineskin will not only ruin the current wine but may destroy the wineskin. Ask: “Are my leaders drinking wine we didn’t make?”

5. Biblical leadership is a leadership culture that serves. Asking, “What can I do to make you successful?” is a good question to ask.

6. “We cannot be what we want to be by remaining what we are.” – Max Dupree.

We need to discern when to adjust structures and strategies depending on the season the organization is in.

7. Reward character, not talent. Boom!

8. Wise leaders trust faithfulness while unwise leaders trust ‘flashiness.’

Those that benefit the most are those who went through the most.

9. Using “they” instead of “us” undermine leadership. When decisions are made, come out of the meeting as a united team.

10. Empowering leadership doesn’t just “tell” people the decision, they “team” the decision.

It doesn’t do justice that I am summarizing the day and a half seminar with Dr. Frank Damazio into 10 statements but hopefully, you got something out of it.



I saw a post on Instagram by one of my mentors and dear friend, Joey Bonfacio where he was touring the Facebook Asia Headquarters in Singapore. It was a video of looking at a huge interactive screen where you see billions of users that are active in real time. After the caption, he placed a hashtag that caught my attention that said #TheWorldHasChanged.

It has indeed changed through the years, decades and centuries. People don’t want TV much these days. It has been replaced by YouTube, Netflix, and other online streaming services. Newspapers have drastically thinned out for people get their news online and even through Twitter. Retail shops have declined in sales for people just buy online these days. (You may add the changes that you see in the comments section below.)

“Over the last five decades or so, we have seen a world unfold that is unlike any we could have imagined, and for which no one could have completely prepared us,” says Neil Cole.

But even in the church world, things are changing.

According to Thom Rainer, researcher and president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, there are eight major changes in the past ten years.

1. TODAY: Smaller worship gatherings.
TEN YEARS AGO: Larger worship gatherings.

– Thousands upon thousands as compared to a comparatively smaller number.

2. TODAY: Smaller church facilities.
TEN YEARS AGO: Larger church facilities.

– Arenas, stadiums, and coliseums as compared to smaller function halls.

3. TODAY: First priority staff person hired: children’s minister
TEN YEARS AGO: First priority staff person hired: worship leader

4. TODAY: Ministry degree optional for church staff members
TEN YEARS AGO: Ministry degree strongly preferred for church staff

5. TODAY: Emphasis on congregational singing
TEN YEARS AGO: Emphasis on performance singing

6. TODAY: Community focus
TEN YEARS AGO: Community myopia

– churches need to reach their “Jerusalem” as they also reach their “Judea, Samaria and the rest of the world.”

7. TODAY: Vital importance of groups
TEN YEARS AGO: Marginal importance of groups

8. TODAY: Church leaders are continuous learners
TEN YEARS AGO: Church leaders “degree and done.”

“In today’s ever-changing world, leaders of healthy churches have intentionally established a discipline of continuous learning.” – Thom Rainer

But some things have not changed – the message (the gospel), the messenger (us), the Mover (the Holy Spirit).

Lord help us to be like the men of Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel had to do. (1 Chronicles 12:32)

Help us, Lord, to hear what the Spirit is saying and keep in step with Him that we may continue to reach many with the gospel for the glory of God.


After wrapping a week of intensive coursework and classes at Wheaton this past week, here are some of the top leadership quotes that rings in my head.
1. If you want everyone to like you, go sell ice cream. (Ed Stetzer)

Not everyone will like you. Leaders will have to make tough calls that may be unpopular.

2. If I can’t lead self well, then I can’t lead others well. (Eric Geiger)

Self-discipline is a highly disregarded aspect of leadership to a certain degree.
Time. Fitness. Finance. Family. Study. Devotions. (You’re welcome to add to the list.)

3. Always prepare people for their next role and not than their current one. (Eric Geiger)

We want to develop a leadership pipeline that will prepare and move people to the greater things that God has for them.

4. Sending an angry email is like peeing in your pants. Feels good for a moment but makes you miserable for a long time. (Ed Stetzer)

As leaders, we have to learn to control our emotions. The greater the leadership, the less the privileges we actually have.

5. “The only person advocating for your time with your family is you.”- Ed Stetzer

Leaders will have to guard their time. And some of the most important moments have to be dedicated to the most important people in your life.

6. Love Jesus more deeply so you can lead his people faithfully. – Ed Stetzer

Ministry has to overflow out of our relationship with Jesus.

7. Competency will take you only as far as your character can sustain you. – Carey Nieuwhof

Many leaders crash and burn not because they are skillful and hardworking but because their character didn’t catch up with their competence.

8. I had to decide to be ferociously organized to be significantly impactful. – Ed Stetzer

Every leader needs to assess what God has called him to do and how God has called him to make an impact. When this is clear, prioritizing will be easier.

9. “You can’t digitize discipleship but tools will enhance discipleship relationships.” – Todd Adkins

With the technology at our fingertips, we can take advantage of the tools God has given us without sacrificing values and principles.

10. Scandals make you lose your position, character issues make you lose people’s trust – Ed Stetzer

Integrity is what will fuel your leadership. Guard it. Take care of it.

11. “You can’t get breakthroughs in the drive thrus.” – Will Mancini

Leaders can not expect changes to happen overnight. It will require hard work, diligence, and endurance.

12. Scarcity brings clarity.
We don’t have a lot, we end up focusing on what’s really necessary.



Conflict is a part of life.
You will be misunderstood.
Someone will get offended.
I will say something foolish.
You will forget a deadline that causes a business disaster.
(Add your examples here.)

I love what Marshall Shelly said,

Often we think, “If I just ignore the problem, it might go away.” However, most problems that require confrontation do not go away. They are infections: if we ignore them, they get worse. Soon that nagging pain in one toe becomes blood poisoning.

Mark Gerzon’s article on the Harvard Business Review, he says that to resolve a conflict, first decide: Is it hot or cold?

This is how he distinguished the two:

Hot conflict is when one or more parties are highly emotional and doing one or more of the following: speaking loudly or shouting; being physically aggressive, wild or threatening; using language that is incendiary; appearing out of control and potentially explosive.

Cold conflict is when one or more parties seem to be suppressing emotions, or actually appear “unemotional,” and are doing one or more of the following: muttering under their breath or pursing their lips; being physically withdrawn or controlled; turning away or otherwise deflecting contact; remaining silent or speaking in a tone that is passively aggressive; appearing shut down or somehow frozen.

If the conflict is hot: You don’t want to bring participants in a hot conflict together in the same room without settings ground rules that are strong enough to contain the potentially explosive energy.

If the conflict is cold: You can usually go ahead and bring the participants or stakeholders in the conflict together, engaging them in constructive communication. That dialogue, if properly facilitated, should “warm up” the conflict enough so that it can begin to thaw out and start the process of transformation.

Chuck Lawless, Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC suggests that we need to ask some questions when dealing with conflict. Allow me to share some of the questions he lists down to help us determine how much energy we are to devote to the issue at hand.

1. Will this issue matter a year from now?
2. How many people are truly opposed?
3. What does the Bible say?
4. Do I need to involve others in my decision-making process?
5. What’s the worst thing that can happen here, and can I live with that possibility?
6. Can I put this fire out with a squirt gun (or even a bucket)?
7. Have I prayed about my response?

But however you may approach the conflict, remember what Paul the apostle said in Ephesians 4:3, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

May the Lord give us the wisdom to keep the unity for it is good and pleasant for God’s people to dwell in unity. (Psalm 133)



Yesterday’s class with Dr. Ed Stetzer started with the topic of self-leadership. This is how he defined it: the ability to nurture and harness one’s own passion, abilities, emotions and leadership capacity in decision-making.

“Great leaders begin with self-awareness and move to self-management, then proceed to other-awareness culminating to other-management. It is not linear but an interactive effect among all four factors.” (John Ng)

Why is self-leadership so important?

1. It appreciates others.

When you truly know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, you will appreciate others.

2. It prevents derailment.

Many hotshots and rising starts self-destruct and never achieve their early potential because of the lack of self-leadership.

3. It ensures long-term success.

Great leaders have a long-term perspective on life and success. They are not here for the short-term but for the long haul.

4. It leaves a legacy.

All leaders leave legacies. The question is if it’s a good or bad one. They leave their imprint on the organization through their beliefs, values, and attitudes.

Now about time valuing time, Carey Nieuwhoff who guested in our class with Dr. Ed gives us 7 Signs People Don’t Value Their Time:

1. You don’t have a plan before the week begins.
2. You have no regular rhythm to your day or work week.
3. You haven’t decided the kinds of people you are going to spend most of your meetings with and therefore try to squeeze in almost every request.
4. You haven’t figured out a graceful and polite way to say no to meetings and project requests that don’t fit your criteria.
5. You habitually show up late or miss appointments.
6. You enter into conversations and meetings without a goal or clear purpose in mind.
7. You spend two hours at your desk but have accomplished nothing (except Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Google searches)

I fail miserably as I read the list.

I love what Dr. Ed said,

“I had to decide to be ferociously organized so that I can be significantly impactful.”

That statement was dropped like a huge brick on my chest.

May the Lord help us to steward our time and talent well for the Kingdom and for His glory.