What encourages you most as a pastor?
Pastor Melissa Quah, Faith Community Baptist Church
What really encourages me most as a pastor is to see “possibilities realised.” I love baking. Other than it being therapeutic (to me!), I like that something tasty can be created out of common ingredients. It is like seeing the possibilities in the eggs, sugar, and flour being realised in the final product.
Whenever I face difficult people or situations, I will take a step back and ask God to show me the possibilities in that situation — in that person’s life and even in my own life. That process of journeying with God, knowing what is upon His heart and seeing Him move hearts — despite what we see with our physical eyes — encourages me. It is an affirmation that God is with me and I am on the right track in being His vessel to fulfil His purposes.
Pastoring people has its challenges, discouragements and disappointments. But all it takes for me is to see that person take even a step towards growth in the Lord, and somehow it makes every effort and every heartache worth it. That is why I am always looking out for that transformation, however small it may be. I believe that that seed of possibility realised is what fuels my faith to keep believing and my passion to keep going.
God is creative. When we work in partnership with Him, He can create and realise amazing things out of that.
What is one assumption people have about being a pastor?
Pastor Guo Fen, Queenstown Baptist Church
For me, the assumption is that pastors can answer all of one’s life questions.
“Pastor, we have a new friend. She’d like her son to join our young adult fellowship, can I link her up with you?”
Of course, I said, “Yes, sure!” As a pastor, I love to connect with new people.
So I was connected with this lady and she started to share her burdens and concerns about her husband’s and son’s walk with God, as well as her worries for one of her friends, who struggles with her mental health and possibly needs counselling. She suggested that I meet her friend.
Even though I didn’t mind meeting her friend, deep down in my heart, I was apprehensive about it. I wasn’t sure if I could be of good help as I am not a trained counsellor. But we met, nonetheless. We spent two hours sitting in the garden, talking about her life. She showed me her arms, which are filled with scars. She told me she used to cut herself, as it helped her to release her emotional pain.
She asked, “Why is my life filled with ‘bad luck’?” To be honest, I did not have an easy answer for her. Instead of answering her question, I asked, “Can I pray for you?” Because I know that only Jesus can heal and mend her brokenness.
Pastors do not have answers to all of life’s questions, and we do not have
it all sorted out. Many times, I find myself simply being a companion to my brothers and sisters in Christ as they journey through difficult life stages and circumstances. We walk with them, listen to them, and pray with and for them.
What is your biggest struggle as a pastor?
Pastor Wencong, Ang Mo Kio Presbyterian Church
I would say spiritual integrity. Christians (especially pastors) know just what to say and how to behave to appear spiritual. We preach, teach, and guide others in the faith, but can fail to be ministered to by God. Reading the Bible becomes ‘work’ as we prepare a sermon for the congregation. Praying to God becomes something we say only in the presence of other Christians. We lose our integrity when we ask another Christian to read and pray and fail to do so for ourselves.
This has been a real challenge for me, because much of a pastor’s ministry is public, whether it is in a small group or in front of the whole congregation. So when people ask me what a pastor does, I often tell them that the most important thing I have to do as a pastor is to do my quiet time and pray.
First Timothy 4:16 says: “Keep a close watch on yourself and the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing; you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (ESV)
This will be an ongoing struggle as a pastor to keep watch of myself and my teaching — ensuring that it is aligned with the Gospel that I profess, and keeping my faith a personal one as I serve in the public ministry.
What do you wish you knew before you became a pastor?
Pastor Rachel, Hope City Church
I’m not sure if “knowing more” would have helped — it may have even deterred me from pastoring! As a pastor, you see all aspects of human experience, including the good, bad, and the ugly. Honestly though, I do love ministering in God’s kingdom; it’s the best thing in the world. We get to serve God and His people on a full-time basis. The dreams of serving God with creativity, innovation, journeying with people through their ups and downs, making a difference across generations, stepping out in the gifts of the Spirit and being stretched, yet feeling satisfied after… what could be better?
Yet with all the dreams and ideals, I suppose I wish I had known that I needed an experienced mentor who could walk me through the valleys of unmet expectation and stinging arrows of betrayal and disappointments. That really would have given meaning to my many heartbreaks and tears. As I was literally thrown into ministry (think sink or swim), having someone who could have absorbed the blows of leadership and be my shield and support for managing the never-ending expectations from all generations would have strengthened my foundation. Leadership is tough for anyone, let alone a young female pastor. I also wish I had known the importance of my identity in Christ, as it would have made a world of a difference. But even if I never had such a mentor, nor the perfect situation, I have One who is more than enough; a saviour who cares so much for me!