For the first 16 years of my life, I lived with little fulfilment and purpose.
Life was simply a long list of to-do’s. Friends were simply there to fill up free time. Extra-curricular activities were for the accomplishments. My parents were strict educators, so excelling academically was something that was expected of my life. I had been raised to do everything to ensure I got my A’s.
If anyone were to ask me what I was passionate about, I’d struggle to answer. Life was about duty – not enjoyment. My free time was spent on doing things that were important, not wasted on trivial things like entertainment.
So I didn’t actually know what I liked. Yet like most young Singaporeans, I was expected to know what I wanted to do with my life. I was enrolled in career guidance classes which emphasised the importance of figuring out your passions to start planning your education route.
They only reminded me of how uncertain and lost I felt: If I didn’t have any particular interest in anything, what was the point of the future anyway?
To cut a long story short, I lived in this haze of boredom until I accepted Christ in my life. For the first time, I found genuine fulfilment in the things I was doing – activities actually had a semblance of purpose now.
Forging friendships became more meaningful in the context of living to love God and those around us. Doing well in school wasn’t just a chore – but a way to honour my parents and develop a spirit of excellence for God’s glory.
Good things. But the passion question still remained.
I eventually reached a point in my life where I needed to make a concrete decision about the future. Upon graduation, I’d hang out with my friends, hearing about their grand plans like which university and job they were applying for.
I didn’t begrudge the excitement for their passions and plans. I just wanted the same for myself: To be passionate about the future.
Passion is more than just enjoying your work or simply having the perfect job. It’s about finding fulfilment and purpose even when hardships come – and troubles will certainly come (John 16:33).
But here’s the thing, while I was anxiously trying to figure out my passions, I failed to realise that God already has a call for us.
Most of us have heard of Jeremiah 29:11 – but I hadn’t yet trusted that He had a plan for me. I knew in my heart everyone is called to do something, but I hadn’t internalised the truth that God’s plans leave no one out – even those without passion just like me.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
That’s one of my favourite verses. But it doesn’t end at the first part – which is the bit people usually quote only. In all things God works for our good – we who have been called according to his purpose.
We have been called according to His purpose. The calling is already there! So really, I was missing out on asking a more important question: “God, what is Your purpose for me?”
I realised I had a warped understanding of what passion was. Common knowledges dictates that life is about landing that dream job: Good pay, friendly colleagues … Great workplace culture. And if my job doesn’t meet those criteria, it’s a push factor to move on.
Perhaps this mindset is a reason is why Singaporeans are more prone to job-hopping. Survey reports show that 34% of Singapore professionals do not intend on staying in their current job for more than a year – the global average is 26%.
But passion is more than just enjoying your work or simply having the perfect job. It’s about finding fulfilment and purpose even when hardships come – and troubles will certainly come (John 16:33).
God, what is Your purpose for me?
It’s not a popular choice, but the most purposeful life you can ever lead is one that’s totally sold out for God’s plans. It’s about finding joy in the work you do for Him – passionately serving Him regardless of what and where.
God intends for His people to have joy and purpose as they serve. If you do not yet see where your passions lie, rest in the fact that you have been called according to His purpose.
Only don’t waste your life: If you spend it as God’s friend, you will become passionate for His purposes.