Ps Lee Teck Hong (extreme right) with his mother, wife and children. He was on the panel of Salt&Light Family Night to share insights on how men can learn to lead at home. Photo courtesy of Ps Lee Teck Hong.

By his own admission, Pastor Lee Teck Hong did not have a very good childhood. In fact, it was “a little bit painful”. His father was a gambler who did not look after the family.

“He set a negative example that impacted me a lot. I decided very early in life I would not be like him. I would be a much better father, a more responsible father,” said Ps Teck Hong, 60.

When he had a family of his own, he was exactly that to them – a responsible provider.

“I realised there is another part to being a father, the emotional connection.”

“Unfortunately, like most traditional fathers around my generation, when we focus on the breadwinner part of things – hard work is not wrong, it is wonderful – but the influence in the home is not complete, it is lacking in the emotional connection part.”

His children – now aged 30, 26 and 19 – felt the distance.

Said Ps Teck Hong: “There was a period when I was struggling. I was wondering: What did I do wrong? You should be thanking me. Why are you so unhappy and miserable instead?”

It took a tearful encounter with his daughter that made Ps Teck Hong realise that being a good father required more than just “putting food on the table”. His daughter had encountered some challenges and had turned to her grandmother for a listening ear. Ps Teck Hong’s mother encouraged him to listen to his daughter instead.

“My daughter was crying. I was close to tears. For the first time, we had a heart-to-heart talk.

“I realised there is another part to being a father, the emotional connection. You have to do a little more – connecting, playing, talking and understanding them better in terms of their aspirations and struggle,” said Ps Teck Hong.

Meet the panellists

Ps Teck Hong was a panellist on Salt&Light Family Night (September 27) sharing on the topic How can a man be a loving leader at home? A pastor at Bethesda Bedok-Tampines Church (BBTC), he started a ministry for men in the church: Men in BBTC (MiB). He also established the Shanghai and Mongolia chapters of MiB.

“There was a period when I was struggling. I was wondering: What did I do wrong?” 

As a family and men’s ministry advocate, Ps Teck Hong is an Exco member of Christian fathering movement Elijah 7000 as well as a ministry partner and speaker with Global Reachout. In addition, he is a master trainer at The World Needs A Father , and founder and contributing vlogger at Let’s Chat About Fathers (一起谈爸爸).

Also on the panel that night was David Ang and his son Emmanuel. David, 54, is the chairman of the Board of Family Life at the Chinese Annual Conference of The Methodist Church in Singapore. He co-founded Elijah 7000 with Ps Teck Hong.

David is also the founder and CEO of IPGA Pte Ltd which provides professional guardianship of children and youths. He has three children; Emmanuel, a 24-year-old undergraduate at the National University of Singapore (NUS), is his oldest child.

David Ang with Emmanuel (second, left) and the rest of his children and his wife Amy (right). Photo courtesy of David Ang.

Some 240 viewers joined the panel on Salt&Light Family Night. More than a third (37%) were fathers while nearly a quarter (24%) were mums. Singles made up 27% and those married without children were in the minority (12%)

Asked to describe a father’s leadership in the home, “firm” was the word of choice for most viewers. “Loving” was a close second while “sacrificial”, “involved” and authoritative” tied in third place.

The mother’s leadership in the home drew a different response. Most described Mum as “loving”. Coming in second were words like “nurturing”, “sacrificial” and “tiger mum”. The next most popular description was “caring”.

Here are the insights on leadership in the home that were shared at Salt&Light Family Night.

What does biblical leadership at home look like?

1. Guide them to God’s agenda

“God has a plan and an agenda for the different facets of our lives – ourselves, our marriage, our ministry, our work.

“Leadership from a Christian stance is about following God and being an effective conduit to allow God’s agenda to flow through you to the areas of influence you have, be it family, work or ministry,” said David.

2. Have God’s love

When men yield to the Spirit of God and are filled by His Spirit, they become filled with God’s love because God is love. That love should then influence how leadership is carried out, added David.

3. Provide a safe haven

In the Ang household, loving leadership is about providing a safe environment in the home so that every member can grow into the “best form of that God has ordained for them”.

“Children have a lot of pressure outside. The last thing they want is to have pressure, demands, force and high expectations at home.”

This means having a home that is loving and accepting.

“Children have a lot of pressure outside. The last thing they want is to have pressure, demands, force and high expectations at home,” said David.

That love and acceptance begins with the husband and wife.

David and his wife Amy, who have been married 27 years, make it a point not to contradict each other in the presence of their children so as to create a safe home.

4. Lead by example

Drawing from the principles laid out in Ephesians 5, Ps Teck Hong called for mutual submission between husband and wife out of reverence for Christ.

“I tend to look at leadership less from the authority angle and more on influence. While we must proactively lead as fathers and men, we must do so by example.

“We must walk the talk. Children learn more from seeing and observing rather than hearing. So, it is important to be role models.”

5. Tap on complementary strengths

A good leader recognises the importance of optimising different talents.

While David is good with topics like academics, politics and work, Amy is good with issues of the heart. The Ang children know this and go to different parents for different things.

A good leader recognises the importance of optimising different talents.

David tends to encourage his children to test boundaries and “stretch themselves”. Amy watches out for potential dangers to mitigate the risks.

Together, they are able to both help their children explore, while being wise to know when to pull back.

In Ps Teck Hong’s house, everyone knows he is the handyman. Choked toilets and computer problems are his to manage. His wife takes care of the aesthetics.

“Anything that is creative and beautiful to look at is her area.”

That is how they complement each other to lead and serve their family together.

4 pillars of fatherhood, 5 pillars of motherhood

Apart from different strengths, Ps Teck Hong talked about the importance of the different roles of fathers and mothers that shape leadership in the home.

“How well the parents play their part will affect the children all the way to adulthood,” said Ps Teck Hong.

The 4 pillars of fatherhood:

  • Establish moral authority

    Fathers establish core values, map out purposes and mete out discipline.

  • Confer identity

Fathers answer the question “Who am I?” They are the ones who must help their children shape their value systems so that when the children are out in the world, they have what they have been brought up with to “stand them on very solid ground”.

“If you don’t tell your children who they are, there are other sources of information, or misinformation, waiting to tell them.”

Said Ps Teck Hong: “Who am I talks about who I am inside. There are a lot of people outside who want to talk to your child as they grow up, ‘You are this and you are that.’

“So, the parents are competing with many sources of misinformation or information. If you don’t tell your children who they are, there are other people waiting in line to tell them.

“You have the privilege of shaping and moulding your kid, Don’t give up on that important role and release it to other people who probably will not love the kid, will not want the best for the kid.” 

  • Provides security
  • Affirms potential

The 5 pillars of motherhood:

  • Validates her husband

“This is very important. Don’t think that if a father exercises leadership at home, it will be well-received. It is well-received only when the mother validates it,” said Ps Teck Hong.

  • Imparts intimacy
  • Nurtures and cares
  • Maintains family social network

Ps Teck Hong maintained that the mother is the “anointed primary homemaker” though she need not necessarily do this as a stay-home mum.

“She is the one who knows where things are kept, makes the home a warm place, connects with people more than the father.”

How can men learn to lead at home?

1. From mistakes

David grew up with a very busy father who was often not around to model fatherhood for him. Although he wanted to be a good father, David admitted that he did not always know how.

“That was when the Holy Spirit said to me, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’”

At the peak of his career, he was travelling so much that his family life was affected. In August 2008, he returned home after being away for week. The next day, he had to leave for a meeting in church.

Emmanuel, who was then 10, asked his mother: “Why did Daddy abandon me again?”

David then purposed to be the father God had ordained him to be.

He also learnt from mistakes he made in his marriage. After a particularly difficult fight with his wife, David felt remorseful.

“I felt I was in the wrong. Why had I gotten myself into this mess? Why couldn’t I turn things around?” said David.

But he had a word of encouragement for all fathers and husbands: “That was when the Holy Spirit said to me, ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ (Colossians 1:27).

“It’s not too late to change for the better … Your family deserves you to make that effort so that change can take place.” 

“We all have Christ in us and because Christ is in us, we have hope not just for restoration and reparation but for glory as well. God can fix things, bring things not just to normalisation but to glory.”

Ps Teck Hong agreed: “It’s not too late to change for the better. It’s too important not to change whatever situation you are in. It’s too important to not even attempt that. Better late than never.

“Sometimes, it may feel too difficult because you are emotionally charged up. Get support, get help, call someone. Your family deserves you to make that effort so that change can take place so the situation can become better.”

2. From others

David and Ps Teck Hong both said that fellow Christian fathers helped to encourage them and sharpen them in their fathering journey.

“Have brothers who are willing to speak into your life authentically,” said David.

Added Ps Teck Hong: “They are not superdads. They are dads who struggle just like I did. So, we shared our lives, our struggles, our victories. We learnt from one another and from more godly people who are doing much better.”

What family traditions can fathers set in the family?

Instead of giving viewers activities to put into practice as a family, the panellists gave them lasting principles.

1. Prayerfulness

Said David: “I start by going on my knees, by asking God, ‘What do You want me to do? Fill me with Yourself so I can be the body that carries the Spirit of God into this place.’”

In time, said David, God will change you from the inside so that “that will be exhibited on the outside and people will see some change in you”.

2. Love

David began by believing in the power of God’s love. He said that Adam and Eve were so secure and free to be who they were to the point where they could be naked but felt no shame because they had a huge portion of God’s love. That is the kind of freedom that we can have in God.

Raising a family with that measure of love and freedom was a tradition David aimed to have.

3. Time

Emmanuel appreciated how his family prioritised time together. Every Sunday night, the Angs have dinner together.

During a period when both he and his father were so busy that they did not speak to each other for a few weeks, he learnt the importance of “trying to be intentional about creating time”. They decided to set aside half an hour just to chat.

“From the children’s perspective, you’ve got your dad and mum blocked out for this time and you can be completely transparent with them about any happiness you want to share or any struggles you are facing,” said Emmanuel.

The impact of loving leadership at home

Emmanuel had high praise for the positive impact of his father’s leadership on his life. Because of his father’s example, he learnt to set priorities in life.

“We are now burdened with more responsibilities in life – the workforce is getting more competitive, classes are more difficult, we have to juggle more.

Because of his father’s example, he learnt to set priorities in life.

“What is the family’s value? Do you prioritise career or family relationships? Here, the father’s leadership when implemented in the family will really resonate with the children. I’ve been a beneficiary of that.”

The other thing he learnt from his parents’ loving leadership is compassion. Even as a child going out to eat at hawker centres with his family, he saw how his parents always showed care to the marginalised in society such as the cleaning lady or those who washed dishes.

“As children, seeing it, it is embedded within us. I grew up looking out for the little guy in school, at work.”

Authenticity is something else he learnt from his parents.

“People see you in a different light because you are very transparent. There is no false identity and that reaffirms a child’s identity which is very important because as we grow up, there are so many complex facets of life which could cloud our judgement.”

This report is Part 1 of the Salt&Light Family Night episode: How can a man lead loving love in the home? Look out for Part 2 soon.

A full recording of this episode will be available at the end of next week. You can watch past episodes of Salt&Light Family Night on our YouTube channel here.


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About the author

Christine Leow

Christine believes there is always a story waiting to be told, which led to a career in MediaCorp News. Her idea of a perfect day involves a big mug of tea, a bigger muffin and a good book.