The Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church recently celebrated the graduation of its inaugural batch of LeadLab enrollees in Bali, Indonesia, from January 21 to 25.
The church’s Global Leadership Institute (GLI) had launched an extensive leadership and development program, which culminated in this significant event that brought together leaders from various fields of ministry within Adventist organizations and institutions. This journey, under the direction of mentors Eric Baumgartner, Randy Siebold, and Juan R. Prestol-Puesán, emphasized the significance of leadership as a divine gift and a lifetime commitment.
Leadership as a Divine Gift
Prestol-Puesán, former General Conference (GC) treasurer and current GC liaison, delivered a profound message during the graduation, emphasizing that leadership is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Drawing inspiration from 2 Timothy 4:9–11, he stressed that leaders are stewards of this divine gift and that leadership development is a deliberate process of identity construction. Prestol-Puesán highlighted the need for growth among Adventist leaders, encouraging them to grow not only for themselves but also for the benefit of others.
Furthermore, Prestol-Puesán underscored the importance of a sense of calling in Adventist leadership, a calling sustained by the Word of God. He emphasized that this sense of calling should endure throughout a leader’s lifetime, urging leaders not to aggrandize themselves but to remain humble. Additionally, he emphasized the non-negotiable nature of prayer and personal communion with God in the life of an Adventist leader.
A Diverse and Successful Graduating Class
The first batch of LeadLab graduates consisted of 30 leaders who successfully completed the program. The GLI’s LeadLab offered participants an immersive experience that encompassed group activities, personal testimonies, and intensive training. Organized under the leadership of SSD vice president Stephen Salainti, the program aimed to address the unique challenges and responsibilities faced by leaders overseeing a culturally diverse flock of believers.
LeadLab has become a cornerstone for equipping elders, strengthening their moral foundation, and reaffirming their purpose of service, according to Salainti. “LeadLab has touched areas in leadership that need great attention, creating a space where leaders can breathe, rebuild their character, and improve in all aspects of humanity, all in preparation for God's service,” he said.
An Ongoing Journey
Immediately following the graduation ceremony for the first batch of LeadLab graduates, the program welcomed a new cohort of 55 participants from Indonesia and Malaysia. LeadLab 2.0 met from January 28 to February 2 as part of the orientation for the new batch of leaders. This aspiring group will embark on the same training journey with the hope of completing the course within the year. This rapid succession underscores the growing demand for leadership development within the Adventist community, regional church leaders said.
Ian Felicitas, director for the Mission Refocus initiative in the SSD, shared his reflections on social media after the LeadLab graduation. He emphasized the importance of leadership with vision, highlighting that leadership is having God as the ultimate leader. Felicitas stressed the significance of growing with Jesus. “Adventist leadership is a spiritual journey dedicated to personal growth and the spiritual development of others,” he said.