Attention! Pastors & Lay Leaders!

A really "good" book I have read recently is Robert Clinton's The Making of a Leader (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1988), 272pp.

Let me begin by defining "good." It does not necessarily mean "enjoyable," because Robert Clinton is not enjoyable reading. The book is peppered with technical terms entirely of Clinton's design. In other words, in order to describe what he has discovered in his research on leadership, he almost develops a new language to explain what he has found - things like "process items," "boundary events," "gift-mix," ad infinitum! But once you get past the terminology (either by ignoring it, or checking it in the glossary), the book is full of nuggets of insights on Christian leadership.
The Making of a Leader is a "good" book for me because it is an affirmation of what I have always suspected. But because nobody told me, and because nobody has written about it, I could not understand my own struggles, and therefore for many years I remained miserable as I stoically prodded on in Christian ministry and leadership. Now that I am almost "semi-retired," it is at least a vindication of my suspicions that my problems are the most common heritage of all leaders! For younger leaders navigating the treacherous waters of Christian leadership, take heart! A life-buoy is coming your way!
What were some of the problems I faced then in Christian ministry, that I see Clinton's book now addressing? Well, for a start, I looked like a religious job-hopper! In the 15 years of my professional life as a minister, I have served in five churches across three denominations! I have often asked myself, why can't I have a stable career, perhaps like John Stott's - peacefully pastoring one church in his entire life-time and writing fabulous books?! In all those 15 years, I had my share of conflicts. I made mistakes (many of them); I upset people (still do!); often I felt "stuck"; I don't always like those in authority over me, and often have felt betrayed by those whose support I counted on. Sounds familiar?
Clinton's book addresses all of these issues, and more. But it is not essentially a problem-solving text. Despite the title, The Making of a Leader is not a story about any leader. It is a book about how God shapes leaders. And it is a book whose concepts are helpful for those struggling to understand what Christian leadership is about.
For example, there is the idea of a "time-line." God works according to a psycho-spiritual clock if you like, pretty much like how we think of a "biological clock." At certain moments in your life when God decides you are ready, you are launched into a certain "phase" that propels you in a certain direction in God's development programme for you. It is not always possible to figure out God's "scheme." From hindsight, I can see that God in His sovereignty moves me across five churches in a way I would not have agreed to had I been given the choice! God works in mysterious ways.
"Time-line" is only one idea, but a pretty big idea. And there are many others. Things like "ministry conflicts" (quarrelling with co-workers: "unspiritual" you say?) and "leadership backlash" (when your supporters betray you) can be part and parcel of God's training programme for you. So is "isolation": when nobody cares about you!
Gruesome? Not really. There are tips in the book on things like "gift-discovery": how to identify your spiritual gift, based on the "like attracts like" principle. How does it work? Well, read the book for yourself! (What do you expect a book review to do - give you all the answers?!)
And to conclude, there are enticing bits in there that are slightly provocative and controversial, like: "being right is sometimes less important than maintaining a positive relationship"! Did he say that? Yes, and it's on page 106! And there are also tips on how to "finish well," which is something not many Christian leaders do (including book reviewers!). Well, what are you waiting for? Get started!

(Review by Ng Seng Chuan)

The speaker at last week's chapel (Jan 9) was Dr Douglas Milne. The message was based on the text of John 14:6 - "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
Dr Milne began with a brief survey of the background to the text, pointing out that this was the penultimate saying in the "I am" sayings of Jesus - a collection which offers us a unique glimpse of who Jesus really was. And hence the question we are invited to consider: "What does Jesus mean for us?"
It is clear that Jesus was saying something special about Himself. Using the "I am" formula was itself a declaration of identity with God. From this, it follows that the sixth "I am" saying was therefore a part of the divine self-revelation. What does it say to us?
The "way" hints at Isaiah 53:6. Like wayward sheep, we have wandered far from God. And the way back is the way of the cross, and yet the way that leads to rejection for Jesus was ironically for us the way that restores us to fellowship with God.
How might one know? We live in a world that offers us a multiplicity of truths, including religious truth. What makes the truth about God that Jesus offers different is simply the awareness that when we look at Jesus, we look upon the face of God.
And this is life: the life that Jesus offers - an eternity in the presence of God. People seek life in terms of health and physical well-being. What Jesus offers is an unending journey of discovery which is truly life itself (John 17:3).
Dr Milne ended his exposition with the recital of a poem by Don Carson, which succinctly sums up the thrust of the text - that here stands One far greater than all of our perceptions and aspirations.
Chapel was appropriately concluded with the singing of G.D. Doane's "Thou Art the Way." And as the speaker wished for his listeners to find in Jesus the way, the truth and the life, so might the writer of these notes wish for the readers what is spelt out in the final stanza of that hymn:

Thou art the Way, the Truth, the Life;
Grant us that Way to know,
That Truth to keep, that Life to win
Whose joys eternal flow.

Chapel speaker for this week (16 Jan) will be our guest lecturer Dr Douglas Milne. If you missed the opportunity to hear him speak at Chapel last week, join us this Wednesday at Room 302 at 12 noon.

  1. Welcome Dr Douglas Milne to BGST! We are privileged to have you conducting two courses, Bioethics (38 registrants) and Christian Ethics (45 registrants). Thank God for the enthusiasm generated by the students as Dr Milne laid the biblical foundations before going on to deal with ethical issues on the basis of a model for ethical decision-making.

  2. BGST Fund Raising Garage Sale will be held on 18, 19, 25 & 26 Jan from 9am to 10pm at 40 Bloxhome Drive. Do come & support us!

  3. All are invited to join us in celebrating our 11th Convocation& Thanksgiving Service on 19 January2002. Dr Douglas Milne will deliver the Convocation Address entitled: "What is Man in the Biotech Century?". Reception will begin punctually at 6pm in the Fellowship Hall. Let us know if you are coming (for catering purposes). The graduands comprise 8 Dip CS, 1 MCS, and 3 M Div. We will announce their names next week.

Wishing you God's blessings on your Birthday!

Miss Jasmine Yong  01/14
Miss Chow Lye Kuan  01/15
Mr Jeremy Bung  01/16
Mr Er Sung Kheng  01/17
Dr Lee Shu Woan  01/17
Dn John Chew Poon Sian 01/20


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This page is updated on 15 Jan 2002.
Oct 2000