Methodist Church

Leadership God’s way

HUMILITY WAS THEoverriding topic of the day at the recent 3rd Methodist Schools’ Student Leadership Conference (MSSLC) which took place at ACS (Barker) on a Saturday in February. In the audience were 300 prefects, student leaders, teachers and principals from nine Methodist schools in Singapore.

The underlying theme in Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup’ s keynote address to the student delegates was:“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

This recurring theme was echoed by the four distinguished panel speakers in the plenary session that followed, entitled “Professional Perspectives – LEAD with PhD” that focused on servant-leadership traits of Listening, Empathy, Approachability, Discipline, Patience, Humility and Determination.

Bishop Dr Wee said that authentic servant leadership was impossible without humility. “Humility is an attitude that we can learn from our competition, and even from our enemies. To nurture such a spirit, we need to look at ourselves as being ‘ small’ , simply because we have a very big God.”

Jared Tang, ACS (Barker): “We can ‘ serve in the mirror or image’ of God by leading with God as the overall priority, being led by Him to lead others.”

At the outset, God gave us the 10 commandments. These were then summed up into two commandments as found in Matthew 22:37–40, and subsequently, summed up into one: Love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:31).

The very heart of God is about others, not about Himself. It is always “other-centred”. We cannot be true servant leaders if we do not look out for our neighbours. Bishop Dr Wee cautioned that while there is nothing wrong with Christian youths being swept away by worship that is God-centred, the only way that we can truly demonstrate our love for God is to love our neighbours.

Just as humility is a spiritual matter, equally so is pride, which is the opposite of humility. Christian leaders will always be tempted by pride. Pride is something that shows itself in the form of mistaken spiritual maturity, intellectual and professional pride, and pride by association, for example due to family heritage, friends, wealth, success and status.

Justin Jeremiah, ACS (Int): “This conference was truly an inspirational experience. I felt that it inspired all of us leaders to go out in the spirit of servitude, be it in our school community or even in society. The Bishop’ s speech on humility was really eye-opening. Very often, many people mistake the position of leadership as one of authority and power. However, we were taught to look at it from a very different perspective. Leadership is a position of servitude to one’ s peers.”

More life lessons on servant-leadership were shared in the subsequent plenary session during which each of the conference’ s distinguished guests generously gave glimpses of their own struggles and life journeys.

Anaesthetist Lim Hsien Jer talked of the time when she was taking her ‘ O’ levels and circumstances required her to care for her baby brother at the same time after her mother fell ill. It was a struggle, but she pulled through, because she let go and allowed God to take control.

Politician Josephine Teo shared: “I prayed the hardest when the Government approached me to enter politics. My children were very young then, and I was comfortable in my work. Finally, the Scripture verse that helped me make up my mind was Matthew 5:16 which requires us to let our light shine before men.

“Taking on a leadership role is about serving others, it is not for oneself. My first few years as a Member of Parliament were not easy. It required me to hear other people’ s concerns, which takes much humility and patience. It required foresight and foresight requires effort. I realised I could not depend on my own strength – what God required me to do was to make sure that my work was good, and then leave everything else to Him.”

Gloria Tan, PLMGS (S): “From the station games to the preparation for our group’ s performance, MSSLC has been a memorable experience. However, it was the dialogue session that impacted me most. Through it I have learnt to recognise God’ s presence and part in my leadership journey, both in and out of school. His unmerited favour and unlimited grace is definitely more than sufficient to carry me through my responsibilities as a leader.”

Venture capitalist Eugene Wong was initially uncertain of God’ s purpose for his life for a long time through his years as student leader, councillor and his army days. He went through the up and down cycles of business, and eventually found his passion in helping entrepreneurs and his vision to list companies.

Mr Wong shared: “I was very quickly sucked into the ways of the world in doing business, like drinking. Eventually this bondage could only be broken by God, and not through my own strength. Today I make sure I have time for others, and for myself and to live in His presence – my ‘ Daddy God’ .”

Former investment banker Richard Seow drew lessons from his love of sports to remind the audience that becoming a leader is not about fulfilling a selfish ambition, it is about serving others.

“My sole purpose of going to school was sports. I chose which university I wanted to go to by the strength of its sports programme. My goal then was to represent Singapore in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. So I persevered and trained very hard. But everything changed in my second year of university.

“I got injured, and that was the end of competitive sports for me. So I shifted my focus to my studies. I became an investment banker for 16 years – I viewed it as a competitive sport, and everything I did then I did it for myself. But God was preparing me all that time. At every point in my career, there were always better people than me. I am the least likely person to be Chairman of the Anglo-Chinese School Board!

“Today I realise that my success in life is measured by how much I can be of service to others and how well we canwork with others. Leadership is a team sport, like rugby. That’ s when we need to work with different people to move forward in life.”

Worthy life lessons, all – and at the end of that Saturday, we believe that participants left with precious nuggets of wisdom that will stand them in good stead as they venture out into the real and ever-changing world.

Christina Stanley is the Editor of Methodist Message.

 Hosted annually by Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) Prefectorial Board
 3rd MSSLC jointly organised with Methodist Girls’ School Student Leadership Board
 Held Saturday February 16, 2013 at ACS (Barker)
 Keynote speaker: Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup
 Distinguished panelists: Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister of State, Finance and Transport; Mr Richard Seow,
 Chairman, Singapore Sports Council and ACS Board of Governors; Dr Lim Hsien Jer, Consultant Anesthetist, Parkway Hospitals and National University Hospital; and Mr Eugene Wong, Founder and Managing Director, Sirius Group
Chairman, Plenary Session: The Rev Paul Nga, Pastor-in-Charge, Faith Methodist Church and Chaplain-in-Charge, Anglo-Chinese Junior College

Mr Peter Tan (far left), Principal of ACS (Barker), and Mrs Shirleen Ong (far right), Principal of MGS, with some members of the panel. They are (from right): Dr Lim Hsien Jer, Mrs Josephine Teo, Bishop Dr Wee Boon Hup, and Mr Eugene Wong. The Rev Paul Nga (second from left) facilitated the panel discussion.
Students were encouraged to pose questions to the panellists regarding their valuable leadership experiences.
“Everything that was taught, played or done had impacted me and inspired me to be a humble servant leader. However, the lessons taught and the games played could not be compared to the bonding that happened between all the Methodist schoo ls.”–Reflection by Johanna Faith Foo, PLMGS (S)