Don Ng on Being a Grown-up Church Leader

Rev. Don Ng, pastor of First Chinese Baptist Church in San Francisco, offered a wise and thoughtful perspective on church leadership on yesterday’s teleconference. I appreciated his perspective on time. He said he likes to see his life as well as his ministry as only a part of a larger picture. “I refer to myself as a blip in God’s overall majestic plan, particularly for this church.” His church was founded in 1880. He said, “I happen to be filling the role of pastor. If I think it’s all up to me, it’s quite challenging. Things happened before, and things will happen in the future.” He also referenced the Asian view of time. “Asians tend to see the world like the yin and the yang: things come and things go.”

Regarding the inevitable criticisms and even attacks that can come our way, he acknowledged that “One cannot not take it personally when criticism and opposition and attacks come at you. We remain human beings.” But, he added, “Mature leaders know it’s the office that we hold that is under attack. Initially it’s natural to recognize that it does affect us emotionally, but in time, we see that in fulfilling our role we are called to lay out our vision and purpose,” and there’s a price to be paid for that. He suggested that there’s also a time to back off, and allow other church leaders to find their own views. “It’s not only my agenda.” He added later, “We need to be conscious that we’re not self-made.”

He added, “You play hard if you want to stay in ministry.” He sets his tennis games as if they were church meetings, and does his best not to miss them. He said that if people can see we are fully devoted, they will be comfortable with us taking time off. He suggested that having outside interests not only adds balance, but “it makes you more interesting to your church members.”

The recording of the teleconference is available. E-mail me at, and I’ll send you the link.

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