The second day of LoveSingapore Pastors’ Prayer Summit 2024 saw Pastor Benny Ho sharing some mistakes he made in ministry and how he has grown from them.

Pastor Benny started by quipping that pastors and church leaders are often required to make good decisions, yet it takes experience for one to make good decisions — which often comes from making wrong decisions! Pastor Benny’s hope is that sharing his mistakes would lead us to reflect, repent and realign our ministry as we return to God’s Word and God’s wisdom. So let’s hear from the man himself…

1. A lack of security in ministry

PASTOR BENNY HO: When I first started out in full-time ministry in my early 20s, I came with all my insecurities. They were the most evident when I started sharing the pulpit with other preachers whom I deemed more anointed.

I will never forget this incident where I was sharing the pulpit with two other prophetic ministers. The first guy went up, shared some prophecies and gave an altar call, and many responded.

Then it came to my turn to share. Knowing the minister who would be sharing after me, I knew that he would definitely prophesy and give an altar call. I didn’t want to lose out, so I also prophesied and gave an altar call.

But to my horror, no one came!

It was on that day that I learned this truth: we cannot covet another man’s portion and station.

We have to be who God has called us to be. God has called me to be a teacher and not a prophet, and I must be secure in the portion and station that God has given me.

“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:5-6)

In these verses, the psalmist talks about three things: portion, station and season.

I have learned that once we know our portion, God can shift us around in different stations according to the season.

But if we know our portion and our station for this season, we can be secured in our God-given space and be contented in it.

“We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory.” (2 Corinthians 10:13-16)

In this passage, Paul is talking about how we are placed strategically within a particular city, community or territory for the purpose of God.

And within the territory, we will make the greatest impact for the Kingdom of God because we will find favour and have every resource we need to finish the work that God has given to us.

It is only after we have finished working in this field that we may expand to the regions beyond. May God make all of us secure leaders who are secure in our calling and rested in our posture!

2. A lack of clarity in leadership

As I look back at my ministry journey, I realise that the lack of clarity in my leadership has resulted in conflicts and unmet expectations.

Through the heartaches and fractured relationships, I learned that it is better to be clear at the beginning and flexible at the end in leadership.

When I first started out in ministry, I was acting like a people-pleaser and I tried to be everybody’s friend. But I have come to realise that it is impossible to do so in leadership because we often need to make difficult decisions.

We need to be rigorous when it comes to clarifying what the expectations are, what we are accountable for, how we measure success, and even have these things on paper if necessary. This is because we need to do anything possible to reduce potential conflicts.

Pastor Benny’s “Competence-Culture” framework for managing teams.

Clarity is the currency that leadership transacts with. Leaders gain credibility when they have clarity.

Jesus affirms the importance of clarity in leadership when He says, “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit” (Matthew 15:14).

As leaders, we must know where we are going. We must have a clear destination in mind before we invite others to join us on the journey. We must be clear in our purpose, philosophy, processes and practices personally, and we must make it clear to our people corporately.

“A mark of leaders, an attribute that puts them in a position to show the way for others, is that they are better than most at pointing the direction to go. Foresight is the lead the leader has. Once leaders lose this lead and events start to force their hand, they are leaders in name only.” (Robert K. Greenleaf, The Servant as Leader)

However, I have also learned that we need to hold the tension between clarity and certainty. They are two different things.

Effective leaders are often clear but uncertain. We are often clear about where we are going, but not always certain about how to get there.

Clarity is the currency that leadership transacts with. Leaders gain credibility when they have clarity.

When I think about Moses who led the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years, I think he was absolutely clear about where he was leading them (to Canaan), but was uncertain about how they would get there. This is why they had to follow the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21).

This is where every leader learns to wait, to watch, to hear and to obey the Lord. Because ultimately, leadership is a journey of faith. It is not just about planning.

Hence, effective leaders can be bold and humble at the same time. We are bold because we know where we are heading, but we are also humble because we depend on the Holy Spirit to get there.

The goal of leadership is not to eradicate uncertainties, but to navigate them. Uncertainty is where leadership really shines.

3. A lack of courage in decision-making

One of the key things that leaders need is courage. That is why Moses told Joshua repeatedly during their leadership transition to “be strong and of good courage” (Joshua 1:6).

In the context of leadership and ministry, Paul also told Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of love, power and sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

As leaders of the church, courage is essential because we are often required to make decisions that are unpopular and uncomfortable, but are necessary for the greater good of the church.

Without courage, we will only make decisions that solve the symptoms but do not address the root cause.

I believe that courage comes from asking the right questions. It helps us to identify and address the cause and not just the effect. It is about bringing people back to the fundamentals.

A courageous leader has the ability to bring all parties back to the original purpose, to answer the root question of what we are about and why we do what we do. We need to bring people back to the inner compass again and again.

Once we have that, clarity and courage will come to us as leaders. As a result, we will have healthy churches which will lead to a transformed nation.

This is the second article in our coverage of Summit 2024. The next one’s by Pastor EDRIC SNG on winning the youth! Peep the first one here in the meantime!