During my sabbatical from June – August 2016, I reflected deeply over the lessons that God had impressed upon me through the ministry challenges that I had encountered when I responded to the Session’s call to serve as Senior Minister in 2013. I was reminded of Judges 3:1-2:
“These are the nations the Lord left to test all those Israelites who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan (he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience).”
Just as the generation of Israelites who did not experience any of the wars in Canaan were taught warfare by having to fight the Canaanites, so likewise, God placed these ministry challenges to mold and grow my leadership capacity. One of these challenges was a perennial manpower shortage from which I learnt 3 lessons:
1. The manpower shortage led me to attest the distinctive strength of our Presbyterian governance system where Elders and Deacons serve as elected officers of the church. This governance system can cushion any fluctuation of Pastoral Team manpower. Furthermore, the way that the Apostle Paul thanked his friends and co-workers in Romans 16 reminds us that God’s kingdom is built by God’s people. As staff, leaders and congregants, let us press on with God’s kingdom work.
2. The manpower shortage led to my conviction that we need to identify and mentor more home-grown interns for long-term manpower sustainability and succession. We give thanks that we now have 1 seminary student (Adriel) and 3 interns (Aldran, Levene and Marie). We should continue to pray that God will call more people to respond in faith and faithfulness.
3. The manpower shortage led to an even deeper trust and reliance on God’s promise, provision and providence. On this Pentecost Sunday, we are reminded of God’s word to Zerubbabel, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. “What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’” (Zechariah 4:6-7)
These are precious leadership lessons which I would not have the opportunity to learn if we did not face manpower shortage over the past few years. God’s promise, provision and providence are at work – His provision of dependent passes for Mary Chhuani’s family so that she could continue to serve in PSPC and His calling of Eld Kelvin Chen to serve as Associate Minister are some of the most remarkable signs of God’s handiwork in PSPC this year. To God be the glory!