Pastoral Perspectives

Leadership Transition

Many of us live through different transitions in life. I’ve served long enough to know that transition affects people regardless of their situation in life. A Hebrew word that has the meaning of transition or ‘cross over’ is used to describe the translation of Enoch into heaven and that of the children of Israel crossing the Jordan as Joshua became their new spiritual leader following the death of Moses.

Leadership transitions are precipitated by changes in leadership in church or business organizations. It may sounds tragic when we try to understand what happened to the generations after Joshua. The Bible tells us that after the death of Joshua, he was survived by a team of elders who had been with him when God called him to take over Moses. The trouble began after the last of those elders died. The Bible says that the children of Israel departed from the ways of God. History showed that some leadership transitions resulted in the moral failures of those in esteemed positions of leadership.

I’m thankful to the leadership of True Way that we take the renewal of leadership seriously. We pray that God will not only bring people from within us to leadership but we also look actively for people across two generations to come on board to serve. We face a widening gap between the demand for leadership and the supply of leaders ready to take on the challenge to be on the cutting edge. Surveys tell us that making a leadership transition is among life’s most difficult personal challenges.  Man may plan but God is in charge of succession because God is fulfilling His purposes through His chosen leaders. In the case of Moses, God knew when Moses had completed his task and that a new leader was required for the next stage of entering and taking the Promised Land. To successfully complete the next step, God had given specific instructions as to how the Israelites were to train and prepare the next generation of leaders (Deuteronomy 6:6–9; 20–25) and this is what the True Way is also doing. Moses knew that he would die and not enter the Promised Land because God told him so. Not many leaders are given this kind of advance warning. Yet all leaders will eventually leave their positions for one reason or another. The wise leader realizes that he will step down one day and will pass on the leadership when it is time.

I’m glad that it was intentional for me to step down and make way for renewal just about the time I was called into True Way some 12 years ago. God have blessed us with a bountiful harvest of members answering the call to full time ministry in 2005. In one of our retreats, the leadership put up names of people that we would pray into ministries. From the 5 who responded to serve, it was an initial challenge for the leadership to consider taking in all to serve in True Way. In fact, we struggled over whether we have the financial ability to have all on board. Looking back, I’m glad we took the challenge seriously and God have not failed us in the last 12 years through your support and prayers for the leadership and pastoral team.

By now, most of you would have already known that I’ve stepped down as the senior pastor of True Way since May 2013 when I was re-elected as the associate minister while Rev Lee Kien Seng will be nominated for election as the new senior pastor in our coming ECM. It is my prayers that you will all give him and his family the support, prayers and loving care that you’ve given me over the last 12 years.

Maybe you might be wondering what will I be doing then. If you have noticed that over the last 12 years, I’ve doubled up in many capacities and roles along serving you as the senior pastor. I have been serving as the regional director of Child Evangelism Fellowship in the Asia Pacific, as chaplain on the Board of Presbyterian High School and also as the moderator of the English Presbytery. I quitted my regional responsibility with CEF (Asia Pacific) when I was elected as the moderator of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church in Singapore and since then I had served another term as the moderator of the English Presbytery. Now I am still serving as the vice moderator of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church in Singapore, besides sitting in various Boards and going away for short mission trips.

God is good and I am glad that all these roles were carried out wholeheartedly. How did I manage it? By God’s grace I am blessed with a “Proverbs 31” wife and this frees me from many domestic issues. I am also blessed with children who have not given me much headache “yet”. And not forgetting the leaders in True Way who gave me a “free-hand” to run the affairs of the church and of course a good pastoral team and all your understanding, without which I don’t think I can do much.

What’s in the future? I’ve been elected for a term of 4 years as the associate minister, I’ll still be on the Pastoral team but would likely be spending a lot more time in the missions field pending acceptance by CEF International headquarters to serve in the “Pro-Word” ministry – the preaching and teaching arm of CEF International HQ. Do pray for me and with me in this time of transition. It is my prayers that when succession is handled according to biblical principles, it can launch True Way into the next phase of God’s purposes. To God Be The Glory!