Part of the series ‘Leadership at Large’.

Sarah Kuswadi: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to your current role?

Ruth Lee: I’m one of the youth workers at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Sydney. I studied early childhood education and had always been involved in children’s ministry at church and beach missions. During my uni years I was challenged by godly men and women to think about how I could be serving others with my time and gifts in vocational ministry. I enjoyed working in childcare, so it took a few years to decide to begin a ministry apprenticeship.

It was during my MTS apprenticeship at St Pauls Carlingford that I became a youth leader for the first time—I loved it! I also began SRE teaching, joined a mid-week women’s Bible study group and gave children’s talks.

During college I worked for a parachurch ministry that ran youth events but found myself missing being more involved with local church ministry. In 2014 I became a youth leader at Cornerstone and joined the staff team in 2016 as one of the youth workers. Over time I’ve come to see how my experience of serving in a variety of capacities and with a range of people has been a great blessing in my current role.


Besides Jesus, who is a leader that you find inspiring and why?

I have deep respect for my senior pastor, CS Tang, and have learnt a great deal from him. He’s a uniquely gifted leader who can hold together and lead a large church, with seven congregations, and a large staff team. He can strike a balance between providing you vision and direction while also giving you freedom to lead your ministry area. CS has a deep pastor’s heart. He’ll always give you the time when you need it, loves talking about God’s grace and loves the word of God. He leads by example and conviction and isn’t afraid to step out in faith, particularly when it comes to church planting.

Outside of Cornerstone I’ve had the privilege of serving with a group of incredible women on the EQUIP women’s conference team. These women are a huge encouragement to me— women who lead ministries in their churches, serve faithfully and work hard at teaching the Bible to other women.


What does leadership look like in your current role?

I lead a team of thirty youth leaders with another part-time youth worker, Matt. We run youth group over two campuses, so leadership involves vision setting, team building, crafting the teaching program, and discipling and training leaders.

I’ve learnt how to adapt my approach to leadership as we’ve grown in size. My role has shifted to be more of an overseer rather than leading youth on the ground. I work on the big picture: the structures, strategy, resources, and how I can be championing and equipping our leaders to grow in their character, leadership skills and confidence in God’s word. I miss more direct ministry to youth, but recognise it’s best for the team if I function in a bigger-picture role.


How are you learning about leadership and what has God been teaching you?

I meet up with youth pastors and leaders from other youth groups. There’s still so much for me to learn and grow in; I love learning from other leaders. I have a particular heart to meet up with other female leaders and youth workers.

I’ve always loved admin and organising events. I love the challenge of working out how pieces fit together and planning how things could play out. Over the years, God’s been teaching me that leadership isn’t all about producing the best plans for ministry growth. I can’t will people to grow in their faith or control what happens in their lives. God’s been reminding me he’s the one who’s in control of all things and has a plan that plays out in his perfect timing. He’s been teaching me to trust, be patient with his timing and to walk in faith. Praying for our leaders each week has also been helpful in cultivating this.


Can you tell us something about leadership that has changed for you recently?

Not so much changed, but during this term I’ve been reminded of the importance of shepherding the flock of youth and youth leaders at Cornerstone Youth. It’s not just about the program. Knowing all our youth at both campuses has been a challenge as we’ve grown, but I’ve tried to make a conscious effort to get to know names and faces of each of them and encourage our leaders to do so as well. Knowing that God knows us individually is a good motivation to know and love each of our youth and youth leaders.


Is there a Bible verse that you often come back to for encouragement?

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22–23)