Who would have imagined that the Elected Presidency would become such a hot topic in Singapore? To date, not everyone is convinced if it is necessary to have a reserved election that the next President would be one from the Malay community. Whilst that is still being debated, the discussion has moved to who is a Malay?
And with Mdm Halimah Yacob’s decision to run for the Presidency, a side story emerged – that of Mr Tan Chuan-Jin’s appointment to be the next Speaker of Parliament – surprising many and prompting speculations that the full minister (ex, as of 10 September 2017) has been demoted.
As the House convened today (11 September 2017), Mr Tan was elected as its 10th Speaker. Amidst all the views, comments and criticisms, it is the response of Mr Tan that has not only caught my attention, but also earned my respect.
Please read on to understand what this has to do with Archippus Awakening.
It is open knowledge that Mr Tan is a Christian. This is seen not just through his Facebook posts (often biblically inspired) but also through how he cares and serves. When he was appointed as Minister of Social and Family Development, it was no surprise at all. Where the Christian community was concerned, it was a great testimony of how God positions His people for kingdom influence and impact. Mr Tan would have been, in Seven Mountains parlance, God’s gatekeeper in the Government Gate.
With Mr Tan’s re-assignment to be the Speaker of Parliament, does that mean that we have lost a kingdom gatekeeper then? Has God’s plans been thwarted (as if it is that easy to disrupt the plans of God)? To borrow the words of Mr Tan, “no need to read too much” and “no need to over-interpret LOL”. In the same way Mr Tan told observers not to over-analyse, believers don’t have to always attach a prophetic significance to every cabinet shuffle.
The point is simply this: We are not called to understand everything that happens, but to be faithful in all we have been called to do – our kingdom assignments. We may not have the bigger picture, but the King, whom we serve, does. As soldiers of the Lord’s army, we are to be obedient to the Commander’s order, whatever He assigns and wherever He sends us.
“…Archippus, our fellow soldier…” Philemon 2
My heart was further encouraged by this dear brother-in-Christ as I read “Tan Chuan-Jin: Set to be Speaker” by Toh Yong Chuan in today’s Straits Times (A20, Opinion). Sounding much like the Apostle Paul, Mr Tan said, “There are many different roles and many different pathways that we all have to take. (But) I would say we are all running in the same race. And the end outcome we are all working towards is … you have to make things better for Singaporeans.” Kingdom language, if you ask me.
Commenting as “a soldier at heart”, Mr Tan told the Straits Times, “Throughout my life, I have never bargained or negotiated on where I get posted to. I embrace the opportunities and put in my very best.” That, if you ask me, is Archippian-lingo. In a world that clings to personal rights to choose, this has also affected the way Christians view kingdom assignments. We erroneously think that we can choose what we want or like, rationalising that God will never give us something we don’t enjoy. Or worse, in faith movement teaching, many are taught to declare and get what they want from God. Or even worse, how can God allow a demotion?!
I love the way Toh ended the article: “When Parliament sits today, and a new Speaker takes the chair, Mr Tan will make the most of his new role. Soldiers like him know that they do not always get to pick their battlefields, but they will still fight their best in whatever they are called to do. As the saying goes, you cannot keep a good soldier down.” Amen!
Mr Tan, thank you for showing us all what it means to be a minister, a diakonos, a servant. Even though you are no longer one by title, you remain one at heart, not just for the good of Singapore but for the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. May He enable and empower you in your new role as Speaker of Parliament. In the eyes of many, it may seem to be a step down. Then again, the kingdom of God is not like the kingdoms of this world. God does not need titles or positions to accomplish His purposes. Soldier on for the Lord in this new assignment in your new Area of Operation. Yes, the Lord grant you wisdom, courage and love, and use you powerfully as the Speaker of the House, and also the Speaker for His House.
Thank you for being an encouragement to me, and to many others who consider ourselves Archippuses, fellow soldiers, that we may remain faithful to fulfil all that the Lord has assigned to us.