Rosalind Tay is a mother, certified life coach, elder in Acts Church, and the director of Mordecai Coaching & Leadership Solutions. It has been a journey of mountains high and valleys low for this inspiring woman who as a young girl asked, “Is there a God out there?” Here, she shares her journey of leaving a thriving corporate career to answer the call of faith, and her thoughts on leadership and coaching.
by Sher Wyn Tan
Growing up a nomad, Rosalind found Jesus in her teens
Rosalind Tay was born in Malacca, but lived a nomadic life as her father managed oil palm plantations and took his family wherever he went. Often surrounded by nature and extended family members who were Taoists, the young Rosalind held a stirring curiosity about the divine.
She wondered about the existence of God, bigger than her and everything she saw and knew. “I’d look at all the trees, the sky. Everything’s so vast and I remember asking myself, is there a God out there?”
One day, her maternal grandfather was healed after a community of Christians prayed for him and both her grandparents gave their lives to Christ. Her mother then began attending church and brought the family along.
It was 11-year-old Rosalind’s first introduction to the Christian faith, but she only felt ready to say the salvation prayer five years later. And even then, her relationship with Jesus didn’t begin to flourish until she came face to face with her desperate need for Him when she turned 18 years old.
A personal encounter opens her eyes
At the time, Rosalind was confused, broken and depressed. A messy relationship was derailing her and life seemed overwhelming. She had questions about her identity and remembers feeling broken and scared.
She couldn’t understand the meaning of life or see what the future held. She felt hopeless. On an especially difficult night, the young woman cried out in desperation.
“God if you’re real, if you’re there, would You show yourself to me? Just let me know You’re there.” She then heard a voice saying, “I’m with you, I got you and it’s going to be okay.”
A strong sense of peace washed over her, giving her the assurance she needed to carry on.
And God followed up. At a 3-week camp (Camp Cameron organised by SUFES) soon after, a God-sent counsellor ministered to her hurts and shame.
Rosalind found a safe space to share her darkest secrets and life challenges. At that camp, she experienced breakthroughs in various areas of her life and emerged restored, healed and with a fresh desire to rediscover God again.
In Penang, she found friends who spurred her on in the faith
Her Christian walk was established during her university years spent at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang. There, she served actively at Excel Point Community Church, and every Sunday the messages ministered to her. It was perfect timing, as her heart was ready to receive all that God had for her.
“God really just had the best in mind. He put me in a place where He knew I would excel. It was probably the best years of my life as a student and in my faith journey,” Rosalind remembers fondly.
How she ended up in Penang was nothing short of divine. Her plan had been to pursue law in Kuala Lumpur, but two weeks before she intended to confirm her entry, an offer to study Accounting at USM Penang dropped into her lap.
Her mother encouraged her to take the offer — since God has opened this door, just go. The ambitious young woman wasn’t pleased with the prospect as she had set her sights on KL, and so headed to Penang with reluctance.
Looking back, her years in Penang were formative and foundational. She found her first community of sisters in Christ who spurred each other on in the faith. It was the first time she enjoyed close friendships; throughout her childhood, she hadn’t stayed long enough in one place to grow any solid relationships. It was also through this sisterhood’s mutual friends that she met her husband.
A thriving career began, but God remained central
Rosalind had always been a bright student and secured a job with Ernst & Young even before graduating. After finishing an extra year with a student exchange program in Finland, she returned to KL in 2005.
Her first step was to find a church to belong to, and one of her sisterhood friends invited her to Acts Church. She was floored by the warmth and connection she found there, and has been rooted there ever since.
While working for Ernst & Young, she studied for her professional papers. Amid late nights, full-day classes on Saturdays, and working overtime and assignments, Rosalind made a commitment to attend church on Sundays. This went on for more than three years.
After finishing her bond, she was headhunted and joined the treasury department of Khazanah Nasional, the sovereign wealth fund of the Malaysian government.
Again, God’s perfect timing was on full display. She had just gotten married and discovered she was pregnant. Her time in Khazanah as a credit analyst gave her the security and work-life balance she needed as she built her young family.
She thrived in Khazanah, but always had the sense that something more awaited. In 2015, the sense became stirring and she felt the urge to accomplish something new.
Things were easier to manage as her daughters were grown, and when the opportunity to pursue an MBA came, she took it. “Initially, my choices were Oxford or Cambridge, but our senior pastor, Pr Kenneth Chin, asked me to consider Edinburgh as it was also on the list,” she says.
Acts Edinburgh had just started at that time, and the idea was that her family could be there to support the church plant. Church planting was not new to Rosalind; three years earlier, her family had helped to pioneer Acts Ampang.
“I was cognizant enough to know I wasn’t going to mess with God’s call.”
When Rosalind first joined Khazanah, her husband had just joined full-time ministry. He had studied law, completed two master’s degrees and practised as a lawyer for about three years before realising that law was not his calling.
When the call to serve full-time came, he felt led to take it on. Rosalind didn’t see that coming but told him that she would fully support him. “I was cognizant enough to know that I’m not going to mess with God’s call,” she says simply.
Her approach to God’s call for Edinburgh was the same. It wasn’t easy and it came with its challenges. Her CFO had to fight for her application as her company questioned why she was not taking up her post-graduate degree at a more prestigious university.
At the same time, the wife and mother had doubts about whether she could return to student life after more than a decade. But the biggest challenge was uprooting her family yet again, as they had already moved twice in the past three years.
“I was very at peace at that time, so I told God ‘if You want me to go, You will open the door even though things don’t seem to be in my favour. If You don’t want me to go, You close the door and I’ll also be okay.”
A student of both books and God’s Word
At that point in Rosalind’s life, everything was comfortable and established. There seemed to be no need to trust God or depend on Him for any of her needs. Her faith felt dry; she felt like a nominal Christian despite being an elder in the church.
One day, she prayed, “God, can you give me two things? Firstly a desire for Your Word again; and secondly, the discipline to study Your Word. Otherwise, I’m just going to die [spiritually] on this plateau.”
In that season, her university days came back to mind. Her Penang years had given her solid grounding and she was regularly spending time with the Lord. Her spiritual eyes and ears were open and alert to the Holy Spirit’s leading; she could hear Him speak everywhere.
Rosalind loved and missed being in such a close relationship with God. But she didn’t know how to get back into that sacred space. And then it dawned upon her that Edinburgh may be just where her faith could be revived.
“God was very sweet, I actually got my offer letter dated on my birthday, even though it was given to me much later. I remember thinking, “God, You just know how to pull my heartstrings!”
So in August 2016, her whole family left for Edinburgh. As an MBA student, Rosalind’s classes were intense and she needed to do well because she was on a scholarship. And yet by God’s grace, she made pockets of time to become a student of God’s Word as well.
“It’s not so much the time, but the priority. If I’m going to spend time studying and highlighting books on economics, business administration and more, why am I not doing it for God’s Word?”
Her husband supported her journey all the way by taking on the role of a stay-at-home dad, giving her room for self-development and reestablishing her walk with God.
In September 2017, she finished her degree and returned to a new role in a different department, where she stayed for the next two years. But Rosalind knew her years with the company were drawing to a close.
She just didn’t know God’s next steps for her yet.
“Are you going to trust Me or a paycheck?”
In Edinburgh, Rosalind developed an interest in coaching. It was a buzzword in business schools all over the United States and Europe, and when she came back, she found that Pr Kenneth too had taken an interest in the field.
He had a partner from Singapore who brought in a coach trainer from the US, who introduced the concept of coaching to Rosalind. It excited her, and in 2019 she made the dive headfirst into the world of coaching and training.
An opportunity had arisen to spearhead a partnership with a Singapore-based company, and there were big plans to go regional.
Then, the pandemic hit and in the latter half of 2020, the partnership fell through. Rosalind grappled with shock at first; the path had seemed perfect. But as she spent more time in His presence, she realised that God had been preparing her for the news weeks earlier by ministering to her through His Word.
Assured that a failure in life does not equal her failure as a person, she held onto His peace as she faced many questions. It had been a huge disappointment after choosing to leave her corporate job with its security and perks for a start-up only to have it fall through.
“God was breaking my dependence and reliance on my paycheck, which was very comfortable and secure. He asked me, ‘Are you going to trust Me or are you going to trust a paycheck?’”
As she studied her life so far, she saw clearly how God provided supernaturally every step of the way. Her faith increased and in contentment, she rested knowing that God had never failed her family and would remain faithful always.
The wrong door closes so we can walk through the right one
“For the first time, I finally understood what it meant by, ‘If He calls you to do something, He’ll pay the bills’. The best place is not that I know what’s going to happen or have all the answers. The best place is to know that God’s got me. And I’ve got God. Two ways. So that’s my faith journey, and how I’ve lived until this point.”
Armed with renewed faith, Rosalind’s question became, “So, what’s next God? What do You have in store? If You close this door, what would You open next?”
The answer came several months later in the form of Mordecai Coaching & Leadership Solutions, a training company serving clients like Acts Church, Berjaya, Taylor’s University, Linde and others.
Mordecai was birthed from the belief that leadership is the starting point; it is the core and solution to whatever life brings. Today, Rosalind is a director with Mordecai, inspiring and impacting leaders to be the best they can be.
To be a leader, you must first be a good follower and student
Rosalind is incredibly intentional about how she spends her hours and her days. She guards her daily quiet time with God fervently, approaching Him every morning with humility.
“Every day I wake up in the morning, the first thing I say is, “Wow, God, You gave me life today, thank You that I’m alive today. Thank You for my salvation, thank You for breath and for this body that’s moving. There’s so much to be thankful for.”
Following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who spent early mornings in solitude and prayer, is the first step to being a good leader, maintains Rosalind. “To be a good leader, one must first be a good follower,” she says.
She consecrates the first fruits of her breath every day by reading God’s word from her physical Bible, praying on her knees for names God brings to mind, worshipping and journaling.
She carefully guards this space, because she knows if she doesn’t, her day will be off. Another practice she holds is to ignore her phone’s notifications until she’s in her car on the way to work.
The second key to leadership, Rosalind says, is to become a student. And the best leader to study is Jesus.
Study how Jesus interacted with His disciples and the masses. Analyse how He spent time with God, by Himself and in reflection. Discover how He understood authority, and how He taught and lived out biblical principles in a fallen world.
When you take on the lenses of a student, the whole world becomes an interesting place. “I’m studying great leaders, how they’ve done it, how I’ve not done it. I study preachers on a Sunday, what I like, what I don’t like, what I will take with me,” she shares.
We also need to study ourselves. Understand our own giftings, our strengths, what we are susceptible to and what our weaknesses are. Study that and learn from the people around us. Every time they meet us, do they go away happier or demotivated? Study how different ways of communication can be effective in drawing out responses from others.
In all of life, God is the master coach
Today, Rosalind’s work mostly involves writing curriculum and delivering corporate training for Mordecai. She is also a personal life coach. “I can see myself doing this for the next 15-20 years, for as long as God gives me breath,” she says enthusiastically.
She sees coaching as a ministry of being God’s voice and being part of a transformation of people’s beliefs and mindsets. In leadership and management schools, things have pivoted from the top-down, directive approach to more of a coaching style.
“As a coach, the approach is: I know you have something to offer, but you’re not maximising your fullest potential. I want to draw the best out of you.”
For Rosalind, God is the master coach. Good coaching involves listening well, being present, and asking powerful questions – much like God when Adam and Eve sinned.
“God asked, “Where are you?” Or when Jesus was trying to reveal Himself to His disciples, He asked, “Who do people say I am? Who do you say I am?” Jesus wasn’t about giving the answers. He wanted to extract from people what’s already in them.”
A good coach acts as a mirror and safe space
Rosalind shares two marks of a good coach:
- A coach comes in and becomes one’s reflection. Unbiased, objective, but also having one’s best interest at heart. A coach says, “This is what I observed, what do you think about it? Are you being kind/fair to yourself? Did you know that you raised your eyebrows when you said that?” At the end of the sharing of a problem, a broken relationship, comes an action space, “What will you do about it?”
- A coach holds a safe space for people to talk about things without judgement and comes in to support, encourage, and help people reframe perspectives, as we all have blindspots – be it bias, prejudice, or narrow mindsets. Someone may think his/her life is a mess, but after verbally processing it, he/she may realise that it doesn’t look so bad after laying it out.
For example, if someone confides that he/she doesn’t know how to deal with their disrespectful subordinates, a coach is not there to give a five-step solution, but to explore what the person’s own solutions are.
A coach would ask, “What do you want out of this relationship? How do you see this person? It’s going deeper into the mindset and belief system of a person. It depends on where the person is standing right now, and where he/she came from, that will determine how they see things. Because ultimately coaching seeks to transform a person, by discovering the mindsets that drive the behaviours, and then making a change from there.
A renewed life: leaving the good-choice for the God-choice
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Here, ‘renewing’ means something old has to leave in order for something new to come in. Our mind is finite, and we need to change and align it according to God’s truth, not the world’s ways.
Before she holds a coaching session for her client, she prays for God to lead the conversation. “It’s going where the Spirit is leading the conversation because that’s the one that will ultimately lead them to their breakthrough,” she shares.
The most rewarding moment for this passionate coach is when people get their aha moment through a pivotal question. When their mindsets and beliefs are transformed, you can see their perspective, language and life change. She also believes that leadership is servanthood, and that coaching is part of service.
For Rosalind, the corporate world was a good-choice, but being a part of Mordecai has been a God-choice.
The years have revealed how God has prepared her for this field; her personality strengths, spiritual gifts and confirmation from others have confirmed that she’s in the right place in this season of life. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece being what she wants to do, what she’s passionate about and her purpose in life.
It’s also a step-by-step process, with God leading the way. As she forges ahead, Rosalind Tay hopes to see every person experience more of God and receive their breakthrough. She desires to see people excited and passionate about His Word, His Ways and His Kingdom as she guides them into their purpose and destiny.
All photos provided by Rosalind Tay.