370 students graduated from the 19th intake of CHC’s School of Theology.
Over the weekend of Sep. 14 and 15, 370 students representing 16 nationalities graduated from City Harvest Church's School Of Theology, proudly joining the ranks of the previous 5,937 students worldwide who have done likewise.
The graduation service holds special significance for every student, as they celebrate their achievements and reflect on their 7-month journey of sacrifice, faith and love.
As with previous cohorts, the students conducted many aspects of the graduation service. The air was abuzz with excitement as SOT students and musicians took to the stage to lead the congregation into a time of vibrant praise and worship.
Though it was their first time leading the church in a main service, the worship leaders truly brought down a strong presence of God with their exuberant praise and heart-felt worship.
Thirty one-year-old graduate Anatoly Ivanov from Kazakhstan testified in a video clip of how his life has been changed ever since he obeyed God’s calling to enrol into the theological course. “The biggest impact on my faith is learning how to move in the gifts of the Spirit, which I have not really practiced before. When I return home, I want to bring God’s healing and deliverance back to my city!” said Anatoly.
Elton Lam and his wife, Cecilia from China Hong Kong also shared on stage about the step of faith they took to enroll into SOT together in spite of financial difficulties. Their faith in God was rewarded when Elton’s non-profit organization, which was on the brink bankruptcy, received donations amounting to nearly HK$800,000 just two weeks into the course.
Positional Vs. Relational Leadership
Over that weekend, the church had the honor of having Dr AR Bernard, advisory chairman of CHC deliver the graduation service message on positional versus relational leadership.
Positional leadership is when a leader exerts his influence based on the office he holds, which results in compliance. However, when the rubber meets the road, followers who have been merely complying will tend to display a lack of commitment, explained Bernard.
Jesus Himself demonstrated relational leadership during His ministry on earth; though He had neither army nor government position, He impacted peoples’ lives through exercising relational leadership.
“Personal power connects with people on every level–spiritually, emotionally and motivationally,” said Bernard.
In Scripture, Solomon was a leader who well understood the need to have relational leadership. In 2 Chronicles 1:9-10, Solomon asked God for wisdom to ‘go out and come in’ (meaning to interact) before the people. Solomon already had positional power, but he understood that he would require greater wisdom to develop personal relationships with the people he led.
“Relational leadership moves people forward from compliance to commitment. The foundation of relational leadership is love—unconditional and redemptive love,” explained Bernard.
“You learn some things from the Word, as what God speaks to you, other things through seminaries and conferences, but most of what you will learn is from what people will teach you,” shared Bernard, who spoke out of his personal experiences.
“Relational leadership is the place of power and influence, and this has been demonstrated by Jesus. Though now we know Jesus has all authority, in His time the people did not know. Jesus loved people, and impacted the people through unconditional love. We must love people, in order to be effective in ministry,” said Bernard.
Personal leadership governs with sensitivity to the needs of the people and develops humility, because through relational leadership, the leader sees and understands what people go through. He is not removed from people, but walks closely with them
Having said that, the leader also needs to have discernment in order to manage the spaces people occupy in his life, and to know who to hold close, and who to hold at a distance. Wisdom from God is needed to deal with and lead people, who would be at different stages, levels and spaces.
Bernard went on to talk about ‘3Cs’ that he looks for in a potential leader: character, chemistry and competence. However, one quality that is even more important than these is resilience.
Resilience is the ability to recover from severe crisis, difficult situations and trials. As Bernard puts it, “What is the use of having the three C’s, if one blow of persecution knocks down the leader?’
Resilient leaders display six qualities:
1. Passion for what they believe in
They have a passion for their own life, as well as the lives of others. They live according to the call of God on their lives, and are willing to go the extra mile and undergo suffering and tribulation. They also understand the power of delayed gratification.
Part of developing resilience is in knowing how to forgive. Resilient people do not hold grudges, and they forgive others and themselves, refusing to let past failures and hurts define them. They hold a postitive interpretation of past events and invest the wisdom of it into their future, thus keeping themselves free from bondage.
3. Live in a state of hope
They have an optimistic hope for a better future, believing things will improve. They do not become cynical, but stick to their core of godly values.
Resilient leaders hold a strong belief that they can achieve the future they are hoping for.
5. Ability to encourage themselves
The uncanny ability to encourage themselves lie within resilient leaders. They recognize that one cannot always wait for encouragers to pick them up, because these people might never appear.
Drawing scriptural reference to the example of King David, Bernard taught that David encouraged himself when he was completely surrounded with people who hated him.
“All leaders must go through seasons of supernatural dependence on God Himself,” said Bernard. “The measure of a man is not where he stands in comfort, but where he stands in tribulation.”
6. Accept the reality that they need others
There are also seasons in a leader’s life when they need other people to come along and support their vision. Resilient leaders walk in humility because they understand they are a part of something much greater than themselves.
As the service drew to a close, Bernard gave the graduating cohort a final exhortation, asking them to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might!”
Wrapping up the graduation ceremony, the students performed a special song-and-dance item with a cover of Leona Lewis’ ‘Footprints In The Sand,’ with the lyrics speaking of how CHC’s leaders have paved the way for others to follow. As the graduates head back to their various countries and churches, they themselves will be leaving their footprints in the sand for the next generation.
Congratulations to the graduates of SOT 2013!
Every year, awards are given out to students who have displayed exemplary performance. The categories are:
The award recognizes students who have attended every single lesson, service and meeting required, and have not taken a single day of sick leave.
Twenty-two students received the award this year. Award winner Lee Xin Yi Michelle, 24, assistant manager shared, “I feel really happy that my perseverance has paid off. It is by the grace of God that I received this award, as I had to juggle between school, work and ministry. Though it wasn’t easy, I was determined not to miss anything so as to experience the fullness of SOT!”
This award is given to the student who has shown great courage in the face of difficulties.
Sim Boon Juan, 25, an administrative facilities assistant, tells City News, “This win is truly by the grace of God and the Holy Spirit’s work in my life. I had fear and doubt during many moments, such as in the mock cell group, preaching test and mission trips, but the Holy Spirit helped me.
“One of the most important lessons I learned at SOT is to be in right relationship with godly, positive and encouraging people. I used to be a negative person, and always feel defeated. However, my SOT team mates helped me tremendously by believing in me, encouraging me and praying for me when I was sick.”
This award is presented to the student who has consistently demonstrated a great willingness to serve, going the extra mile to serve beyond the required three hours weekly.
Indonesian Elisheba Natali Soetopo, 23, bagged the award. She had served in the music ministry, led praise and worship for cell group and zone meetings, helped at Children’s Church, ushered during weekend services, and served in the Indonesian service. “I am so honoured, humbled, and excited to receive this award. I am motivated to stay true in my serving, with a pure heart, good attitude and excellence,” shared Soetopo.
Team 1 bagged the award this year, and it is easy to see why. Team leader Samantha Teo shared their story,
“Our team comprised members from six different nations, aged 18 to 51. We started a ‘buddy system’ so that we could get to know each other better. Soon, we came to love and give without expecting anything in return. We were all committed to go the extra mile for each other’s needs, and we served the other teams as well. We ran the same vision and purpose as CHC: loving God wholeheartedly, and loving people fervently. We faced obstacles as a team, and have since grown from 20 separate puzzle pieces into a big family piece!”
This award goes to the student who has displayed the best conduct overall, and has been voted by the student body.
Winner Elton Lam, 50, shared his thoughts with City News.
“First of all, I would like to give praise and glory to our Father God in heaven! Without His mercy and care these seven months, my wife Cecilia and I would not have been able to go through all the challenges. In SOT, a complete picture of the Cultural Mandate had been introduced to me. It is an affirmation for me that what I have been doing is on the right track. SOT has given me a desire to read and understand God’s Word more. Most importantly, I treasure the relationships we have built here.”
Best Academic Award
Part-time student Tan Qin Ying Grace, 22, shared about her win, “I feel shocked and unexpected, but at the same time really elated and honored to receive this award. I am really humbled by it. My success is really attributed to God's grace, and of course I did study, and did my best with each paper and assignment.”