Raising up and stepping down in the Grace of the Lord

Raymond Suen 
MDiv 1986
Consulting Pastor of the Christian & Missionary Alliance Shatin Church


There is a time to raise up and a time to step down in life, God made everything beautiful in His time. Having served at the church for 25 years by the time I retired from the position of Senior Pastor at the age of 60, and before retirement I had decided to pass on the baton. I prayed and asked the Lord to prepare a successor for us. Even if the deacons wished me to carry on my ministry for a few more years, I knew the time has come. On one hand, my physical and mental strength was not as good as I used to be, the ministry should be taken over by a younger pastor who is more energetic. On the other hand, if I further delayed my retirement plan, it would not help my successor get off to a good start.

We give thanks to the Lord for providing Rev Yam Man-yi to take over my responsibilities, so that I could be able to step down and became the church’s Consulting Pastor. I would not take it for granted when I could continue to serve at the church after retirement, as this requires my successor to be broad-minded, without feeling my stay would be a threat to her. I also have to learn how to step down during this change of role. As The Lord has prepared this new position for me, with a thankful heart I embarked on this new journey.

“Stepping down” is a good spiritual exercise. I was so used to the leadership role on the stage, now I wonder if I can take a bow and step down joyfully. John the Baptist is a good example to me, “The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3: 29-30, NIV) John could step down with joy without envying Jesus’ reputation because he knew exactly what his role and mission would be from the very beginning. He was not Christ, the straps of whose scandals he was not worthy to untie. His mission was to prepare the hearts for Christ! Therefore, when everybody followed Jesus, John reckoned it as a fulfillment of his mission! Can I view myself in the same way today? Can I view my leadership as a senior pastor of this church had been fulfilled so that passing on the baton would be my joy?

Looking back, I am so grateful to have Rev Yam Man-yi and Rev Wong Ka-fai, who have taken over the leadership as Senior Pastor successively. They have done a better job in many aspects such as leading the team of pastors and deacons as well as the whole church. By the grace of God, I served my generation in spite of my limitations and weaknesses. In order to step down in joy, recognizing my identity and mission is one thing, establishing my self-worth and security in Christ is another. No comparison with others would be necessary, nor do I need to strive to prove my contributions and the need of being remembered. With a focus on teaching and pastoring, I have an agreement with my church that I do not need to be involved in any administrative duties. The quantity of work has reduced, and I accepted it with gladness. Whenever I see the younger generation and the newcomers in our church, whom I am not familiar with, seeking help from other pastors, I remind myself to be grateful, because this is the true meaning of “passing on the baton”!

In fact, without stepping down, how would there be raising up? Having stepped down from the responsibility of a leadership position, I have more space and feel less stressful. As I feel more relaxed and at ease, my heart becomes more sensitive and open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I desire to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my daily life. I have more time on meditation of the Scripture, prayers and readings, apart from Bible study for the sake of sermon preparation. I am also able to spend more time to chat with brothers and sisters, be attentive to their sharing, and to respond and pray for them under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I am more available to respond to the guidance of the Lord to the “new ministry” that He planned for me, such as mentoring the young pastors. This is the “raising up”, to a deeper relationship with the Lord and other people. For me, to be able to enjoy life and continue to serve at this chapter of my life is both the grace of the Lord and my fulfillment!

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