I went to the CUHK Barber Shop for my hair cut two weeks ago. The barber remarked, “Your hair is getting thick, is your stress reduced now?” Being caught in a sudden I didn’t know how to answer his question. After pondering for a few seconds I responded, “Of course not.” He continued his question, “So that means you are used to it?” I queried myself about the phrase “used to.” Am I really used to it?
I still remembered the same barber asked me a similar question more than a year ago, “Your hair is getting thin. Are you feeling very stressful recently?” I said, “Yes.” It was the beginning of 2014 when the selection of new School Director was in progress. I realized the “stress” that the barber had mentioned was actually about this—am I really suitable for the position? Why didn’t I firmly reject the recommendation of my colleagues last year? Frankly speaking, I was not worried about whether I could pass the selection, but I was puzzled of what to do if I would really be appointed? I would rather the Theological Council rejected me, so my burden could be relieved.
It recalled my memory of the selection process. On the 18th of December in 2013, I attended the public forum at the Chapel of the Divinity School, for the first time as a candidate of the new School Director. I then took up the interview by the Theological Council on the 4th of April in 2014. On the 22nd of April an appointment letter from the Vice-Chancellor of the University was sent to me. My three-year term of service hence got started from the 1st of August. There was a drastic change to my life thereafter. A student sent me a text message at the beginning of this month to comfort me after my “suffering” for a year. The word “suffering” is absolutely true to me. Time flies. The first year of my term has eventually been accomplished. I still remembered I had shared with my students the feeling of working as a School Director right after the end of the first semester in 2014/15 academic year. If a year is regarded as two semesters, my three-year term of service consists of totally six. So I regarded my term as having six courses of “chemotherapy treatment.” I told my student I was grateful of completing the first treatment...
I am now taking the hope that my new life would begin after the six courses of “chemotherapy treatment,” so I keep on counting down when currently one sixth of the treatment course has already been done then it will soon come to one third. I know some friends who had taken chemotherapy treatment. They told me they had to encounter and adapt to all the side effects. The meaning of “adapt” is indeed pushing one to accept or tolerate it, and to learn how to survive simultaneously. If what they described is the case, I would say it is an adaption and I believe the motivation to adapt is “hope” which gives people strength and courage to overcome their hardship.
Certainly, I would like to give thanks to all the companions and colleagues who have been helping me throughout this year. Firstly, I am thankful of our teaching staff. Our School practices share governance with its faculty. Many duties are indeed borne by different teachers but the change of leadership implied that their workloads are also increasing. Besides, my heartfelt thanks are given to the office administrative staff. They execute their duties and projects on the existing track, which keeps every task in a good order. Thank you my Lord, for giving the Divinity School these obedient servants. If I did not make any great mistake, it was only because of their coexistence and help. I am grateful of having the trust of Theological Council members, the support from denominations and churches as well as the encouragement from all students and alumni. More importantly I would like to thank Rev. Prof. Lo Lung-kwong, the retired School Director, who is willing to stay here as an Adjunct Professor for two years. Time flies—one year has gone. The new team has to confront the change, learn to take up the tasks and seek for renovation. I am truly thankful of the solid foundation laid down by Rev. Lo for the sake of our School.
Many friends asked me about how I felt after being the School Director for a year. I usually replied I still need to learn as I have not yet adapted. During the following two years, we need to deliberate what to do and how to cope with the current changes, and take up future challenges for better development in the long run. Facing up to the radical change in the Hong Kong society and church, as well as in CUHK, we need to prepare well at the moment in order to meet the future challenges. To be honest, the burden of personnel, administration and finance is not light, which is actually the source of my stress. May Lord grant us wisdom and provide us with whatever we need.
I tried my best to keep doing research and writings in the past year. Participating and presenting my paper into seven academic conferences were absolutely out of my expectation (All these outputs were not brand new researches but only based on my previous research works). I sincerely thank Jesus Christ our Lord for that. I won’t say I can get a balance between administration, teaching and research because it is ridiculous and impossible when there are so many tension and responsibilities. There is no doubt for making one’s choice due to the constraint of limited time. Therefore, my other jobs accumulated whenever I was working hard on my research; vice versa, I had to put down my writing work while I was performing my duty as School Director. I have scheduled some tasks to be handled in the first year but they were temporarily held because of some unexpected incidents. Besides, my teaching workload was adjusted to a greater extent last year as I taught three courses jointly with another teacher while there were actually four courses offered under my name. Still, I was in a bigger debt to my family... This was how I accomplished my first term which was full of tension. I was looking back and forth and considering one but neglecting the other.
In July and August, I tried to write down and consolidate all the “debts” in a list. This article was also one of the unfinished tasks. So I could delete it after submitting this article. When I look back the long list, I could only be thankful. The new academic year will commence very soon and tons of work is coming to me. I know I can only rely upon the Lord’s grace and follow Him to creep forward.
Eleven years ago, I still remembered it was on the 15th of August when I moved to the staff quarter of Chung Chi College with my family and a new chapter in my life began. As years go by, I am getting into the middle age of fifty. I think of a Confucius quote, “At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven” (The Analects, Book II: Wei Chang). I clearly know the path of my ministry and I promise the Lord to dedicate three years to the Divinity School. Meanwhile, I think of another quote of Confucius which is “There are three things which the jun zi (Gentleman) guards against,” and “when he is young. . .he should guard against lust; when he is strong. . . he should guard against strife; when he is old. . . he should guard against covetousness” (The Analects, Book XVI: Ji Shi). As a scholar, receiving the Lord’s mercy and grace, I am not worthy of the position I held. I only yearn for the expiration of my term of service, so I can be myself and go back to my original work, which are all I want.
According to the University’s guidelines, I can apply for a sabbatical leave two years later while my three-year term of service will also expire at that time. I pray for the mercy of the Lord and may He prepare the way for me. This is my sincere prayer, Amen!
19th August, 2015
(Translated by Caly Fung, proofread by Helen Ng)