My Leadership Journey
- No Pain, No Gain - The Path of Discipline (1984-1986)
- Don't Miss the Boat - The Pursuit for Growth (1987-1991)
- The Anointing of Elijah – The Pace-setter’s Legacy (1991-1992)
Just as Elisha met Elijah and received the latter’s legacy and anointing (1 Kings 17 - 2 Kings 2), I met a pacesetter in 1991 who put me on the accelerated path to leadership in the church.
This person is VL, an NUS 3rd year arts student whose cell I joined in March 1991. God’s hand was evident in our meeting because she received a prompting from God that a male leader would rise up from her cell group days before she met me.
VL impacted my life greatly in this period of time. She asked me to join a camp committee for an NUS-ministry in June, which only leaders were involved in. Through that committee, I suddenly became acquainted with almost all 140 of the NUS ministry members. I suddenly became very adept and experienced with the workings of the NUS ministry. As a pacesetter, she knew the right time to empower me. She did it very quickly, accelerating and intensifying my leadership growth and impact. Through it all I became more focused and driven.
These are the 4 phases of empowerment that I went through.
1. May to June 1991 – Phase: “I Do, You See”
2. July to November 1991 – Phase: “I Do, You Do”
3. December 1991 to February 1992 – Phase: “You Do, I See”
4. March to April 1992 – Phase: “You Do, I Don't See”
1. “I Do, You See”
The first phase (May to July 1991) is characterised by “a gentle whisper”. In 1 Kings 19:9-13, God spoke to Elijah in a cave. The Lord told Elijah to stand on the mountain in His presence, because the Lord was about to pass by. But the Lord was not in the great powerful wind that tore through the mountains, nor in the earthquake that proceeded, or even in the fire. He was in the final gentle whisper. God isn’t always associated with what is grand and titanic. Conversely, His presence may be experienced in the subtle - in the way VL impacted me. Even if she introduced life-changing events into my life, it would be in her little daily suggestions and prodding that she helped to fine-tune and soften my leadership approach. This was especially important because I had just completed 2.5 years of military service, where the no-nonsense approach worked best.
2. “I Do, You Do”
The second phase spanned 4 months, from August to November 1991. Although in March 1991 I already knew that I would become a leader, it was only in August when I was officially challenged to take up a leadership position. However, this was a gargantuan move for me. It was not just about being committed to one single cell group. To me, taking up leadership must be processed in the light of a lifetime commitment. There would be no halfway house for me. I put in much thought and prayer before finally agreeing in November. I caught VL's total dedication to serve others, as we journey strongly together to give our lives. Whatever she did to others, I imitated her.
3. “You Do, I See”
The third phase, from December 1991 to February 1992, can be characterised by this statement, “Rising up among peers, and one can live differently from the world.”
At this point, some of my cell members were a few years my senior. Nevertheless I was inspired by VL’s example. I realised that living a Godly life by His word would transform a person. It would foster respect among peers and even amongst people who are older. With Godly wisdom, there is no age limit. This was what I saw in VL, and I decided to heed the example of my pacesetter by doggedly living a life for God. I started mentoring people who were older than myself. In this third phase, I rose up amongst my peers. The more I lived by the Word of God, the greater influence I had on others. I even managed to teach the entire Bible to my cell group in this short period of time.
In 1 Kings 18:22-40, the God of Elijah was pit against Baal, who had 450 prophets. Baal’s prophets failed to ignite the altar. This prompted taunting, that Baal was probably “deep in thought”, or “busy” or “travelling”. Baal seemed “deep in thought” because he wasn’t omniscient. He was busy because he was not omnipotent. If he was unavailable because he was travelling, it showed that he wasn’t omnipresent. But the God of Elijah possesses all three qualities! This God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.
Elijah evinced the power of God by calling down fire onto a wet altar, which none of Baal's 450 prophets could do. Elijah summoned 12 stones, each representing one of the tribes of Israel's government. Elijah further asked for jars of water to fully drench the altar. Then, he stepped forward to pray. Elijah had utmost trust that God would prevail because he knew he was serving God. It was not for personal vanity that he was doing so. There was nary a hesitation or worry.
Like Elijah, VL lived differently from her peers. She trusted that the God of Elijah would empower me. She was willing to sit under the teaching I conducted for others in this phrase of 'You Do, I see', watching and observing as I did.
4. “You Do, I Don't See”
In 2 Kings 2:8-14, the analogy of a young man transforming into a father figure is described by Elisha’s transition after Elijah left him. A young man relies on his father for most things, even if he is keen to learn and experiment. But ultimately, there will come a time when he must cast off the cloak of protection and provision to assume the reins, when the father figure departs. All young men must become independent eventually. Like Elisha, VL graduated one day.
Her legacy to me comprised of two things:
First, she passed on the “integrity of word and action”. In 1 Kings 17:10-24, when Elijah revived the sick son of the woman who fed him, Elijah assured the woman with his words (food provided) and actions (healing provided) that her son would be saved. It is this integration in Elijah's words and action that I admire, and this was found in VL. To reach out to the unreached people groups, she lived the life they lived, side by side with them - even transforming her appearance to assimilate with them!
Secondly, she released life through the prophetic. VL left Singapore to serve the unreached, but before she left, she revealed to me that by doing so, she would be paving the path for me. This would enable me to lead the people of the nations one day. This prophetic word is extremely powerful as I have been doing exactly what she said, over the next 2 decades in her absence!
In the next personal article, we shall discover the 4 Blessings from the Elijah-Elisha experience.
Note: It is so amazing that as I was intending to post this article this week, I met VL last week; our previous meet up was about a decade ago!