In the early part of my career, I learnt from my seniors that my direct supervisor was the person with the most influence on my career and ranking.
Coming straight out of university, where we were left pretty much on our own to figure out how to score in the examination, it was hard work trying to figure out what the boss in the workplace wanted. It got more difficult when I was either changing roles or bosses every 1 to 2 years.
But after about a decade of chasing after what each new boss wanted, I had an epiphany when I came to realise who my boss really is — God.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Working for the Lord enabled me to consistently behave in a way that reflects my beliefs and values. Trusting in the Lord for my work and career allowed me to rejoice always – giving thanks in all circumstances knowing that He is in control (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
It liberated me from the need to be a people-pleaser. I could treat people sincerely and do what I sincerely believe in (Colossians 3:22).
A SPIRIT OF EXCELLENCE
One of the first things fellow colleagues and supervisors look out for in us is our quality of work.
In a highly connected workplace, we are all dependent on each other for the performance of the work we are responsible for and how it fits into the big picture. However, as Christians, there is the added dimension of Christ in our work.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
We are representatives of Christ at the workplace and our behaviour and actions should be the best that we can achieve to reflect Him working in our lives. Being a good co-worker also opens the doors for us to share about our lives and what is important to us with others.
I had an epiphany when I came to realise who my boss really is — God.
TREAT OTHERS SINCERELY
On the surface, the workplace can be quite a competitive place and some may go by the mantra, the winner takes it all.
However, that attitude only works if you have only one encounter with the other party. A career can be a long journey and there are many encounters with many parties and it is important that we win someone over with our sincerity and admit our mistakes if they are our fault. Our colleagues will appreciate if we look out for their interests as well as ours (Phil 2:3-4).
I attended the retirement dinner of a Christian colleague last year and during the tribute session to her, a fellow colleague shared a quote which stuck with me.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
It is a reminder to me that in the course of our work, not only must we focus on the task at hand, we should take into consideration the feelings/views of others and also strive to reach a solution where everyone can take back something of value. Hopefully, we can leave behind a positive legacy and witness to others.
This article was first published on YCK Chapel’s website and is republished with permission.
I wanted to go into full-time ministry … but I wasn’t called
by Jeremy Mak | 15 August 2018, 2:35 PM
We learn from young as Singaporeans that financial security is the great goal in life.
We are brought up to believe that a good job, fat bank account and a nice house will make our lives fulfilled and complete. Even as Christians, many have been hoodwinked into first looking out for ourselves before looking to venture into spiritual matters.
“What if you need something to fall back on? Don’t be stupid. Who works for the church at such a young age? Go get some ‘real world’ experience in the world first, save up some money!”
I am sure many young people yearning to serve full-time have heard such things before.
For almost a decade now, I have waited and longed for the day when I can serve the Lord in a full-time capacity.
I would sign up for mission conferences, leaders’ conferences, talks and short-term mission trips. I even signed up for Bible school.
But at the end of these things, all I found was closed doors and disappointment.
Desperate, I called out to God, who showed me that I had been chasing my own dreams and convictions instead of leaning into Him and listening to what He desires.
So now at 28, I’m coming back to the place of first love, where my desire is not for the mere works or rewards, but simply sitting at His feet and having Him as my reward.
Intimacy with Christ is far more pleasing to Him than any of our works can ever be.
Young people, do not rush into folly in your youth.
Trust in the Lord to open the way in an opportune time, and begin seeking Christ deeper in the Word. Intimacy with Christ is far more pleasing to Him than any of our works can ever be.
Proverbs 19:2 shows us that zeal without knowledge brings us astray, and it is reemphasised in Romans 10:1-3, where Paul wrote on the zealousness of the Israelites.
Alas, this zeal was not met with the knowledge of Jesus Christ as their Messiah.
Continue to be rooted deeply in the Word, praying and seeking a deeper relationship with Jesus. True worship is in spirit and in truth, and we should not forsake either as we will please God in this way. When the time comes, God will provide both the means and the opened path.
Parents, guide your children in the ways of the Lord – help them seek Him in all they do.
Allow the Lord to partner you in bringing your child into his or her God-given destiny. The worries of this world, especially in a city like Singapore, can choke us of our desire to allow children – and even ourselves – to serve the Kingdom.
However, our Lord has promised to be our Provider as long as we seek Him first (Matthew 6:35). Encourage the young ones to be responsible people, but also pray alongside them for their passion, ready to give your blessing if the Lord does call them into full-time ministry.
My prayer is that the generation of our fathers will partner ours, working together for the good of the Kingdom – that the hearts of parents and children would turn towards each other, serving and glorifying our Lord Jesus Christ together.
No amount of words can encapsulate the feeling I possess in this very moment.
I am joyful that I am at the end of my undergraduate life. But I also feel some degree of regret as there are things I haven’t achieved in university. And there is that amalgamation of anxiousness and excitement as I transit to the next phase of life.
It has been four years in university! This moment seemed so distant. Now a few exams, projects and holidays later, I am facing this reality – 19 years of my life in academia has arrived at a conclusion.
And as it starts to sink in, I wonder if I’m ready.
Somewhat, perhaps. I’ve never believed anyone can ever be 100% ready but I’m confident that university has prepared me to enter the workforce well.
A successful university education may mean stellar grades for some. To others, it might mean a greater sense of career direction or a passport to the next phase. But for me, university was a place where I learned grit, to make friends and network, and grew as a person.
Though I always gave each semester my best shot, I found that my results didn’t always match my effort. Yet I still wanted to glorify and lift God up in my life, even as my GPA was on its way down.
So I learnt grit – to keep on keeping on.
19 years of my life in academia has arrived at a conclusion … I wonder if I’m ready.
I have met so many people here. I’ve reconnected with old friends, I’ve made new ones. Some of them have become a lot closer to me, leaving their footprints on the sands of my heart.
Friendships taught me a lot and showed me new perspectives of companionship. I have learnt to not overshare, and to determine the depth of my friendships. Most aren’t as comfortable at sharing as I am, and that’s OK – I have learnt to respect that.
So God has grown me into a much more emotionally mature person. He has helped me to conquer the fears of my past, surrounded me with good friends and encouraging professors. Jesus really has been with me these last 4 years.
I have learnt to love myself more. I’ve learnt to speak firmly but gently when I feel that people are out of line. More importantly, I have learnt to forgive and to choose each battle carefully.
God has grown me in empathy, to love those who I once thought were unlovable. In humility, I’ve begun to see them in a new light. It means so much to be someone’s confidant and to be able to share heart-to-heart.
All these things would have been out of reach had God not dealt with my insecurities and my past.
I started my university life being so jealous of other people who I thought were smart and good-looking.
I refused to befriend them because I thought poorly of myself. I thought that they had no need for me – people who were in a league of their own. But I forgot that they were also people with real problems too. So God taught me how to care for them and love them too.
God used my story, painful as it was, to give hope to the friends I shared it with. It was worthwhile because He made me a more effective listener and a friend. And God has made me a lot bolder. Now I dare to actually try new things rather than just sit on ideas.
Finding my passion in Him, I’ve become passionate for other things in life like working in sales, volunteering at events, attending camps, and serving in various roles. Through these activities, I learnt what I like and dislike and what I’m good or bad at. Now I have a clearer picture of what I can and want to do in the future as I step into the great unknown.
Jesus really has been with me these last 4 years.
Tomorrow is a winding, narrow road with tall hills and valleys. But I have accepted that challenges are a part of life. Growth is continual and my Lord is eternal.
Recently, I overheard a colleague asking her manager about another staff member.
This staff member had joined six months ago, but my colleague had not seen him around for a while. The manager replied, “He resigned. He was always upset when I tried to correct his mistakes.” I was surprised to hear this because this manager is one of the nicest I have ever met.
The manager’s remarks reminded me of my old attitude toward work. When I first entered the workforce, I was not humble enough to accept corrections. Whenever my manager corrected my mistakes, whether they were big or small, I became defensive and made all kinds of excuses to justify myself. I was afraid of being viewed as careless and incompetent. Instead of learning from my mistakes, I simply stewed over them.
Unsurprisingly, I never received good reviews and often changed jobs as a result. I was always hoping that a new job would treat me better, but I never changed my own stubborn attitude.
Things finally changed when I came to know God personally through a period of trials in my own life. By reading the Bible, I learned how I should behave as a Christian in the workplace.
I was especially impacted by Philippians 2:14-15, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”
… having a humble and teachable spirit is what pleases God.
As I read the verses, I realised that I was always defensive and argumentative whenever my manager brought up my mistakes. How then could I be blameless and pure? How could I be a child of God without fault when my behaviour did not glorify God at all? I became deeply ashamed of my attitude.
On another occasion, I came across Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:12, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” I was reminded again that God values humility. Being defensive when I make mistakes is not an act of humility, and it does not please God. Rather, having a humble and teachable spirit is what pleases God.
Because I am a child of God, I should be displaying these God-pleasing character traits at work.
FORGETTING THE PAST, LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
So I set out to change my work attitude. At first, I was easily discouraged and often felt inferior to others. My bad attitude had cost me 10 years of work. How many promotions or salary increments had I missed because of it?
But soon I realised that dwelling on my past mistakes did me no good. In order to perform better, I had to move on from the past. I cannot undo any of my mistakes, but I can choose to act positively, learn from them and work better.
I also found strength in the biblical accounts of God’s faithfulness to Israel. Though the Israelites had turned away from God again and again, God never gave up on them. Instead, God told them to forget the past and look to the future (Isaiah 43:18, Joel 2:25). Though I have misspent the past 10 years, I can commit my shameful attitude to God, knowing that God will receive me with mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:15-16).
I cannot undo any of my mistakes, but I can choose to act positively, learn from them and work better.
As I dwelt on God’s goodness, I was reminded to serve in my role with all the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God can be praised through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11). I started doing this daily – asking God for strength to make use of every opportunity to honour and serve Him in my job.
After some time, my manager noticed the change in my attitude. She saw that I was keen to learn and be helpful, so she began to entrust me with new projects and more responsibilities. These became opportunities for me to prove myself. With each opportunity, my responsibilities became more challenging, but I committed my work to God each time.
Some days I felt worried about whether I could cope with the additional workload. I would ask God for help, and He became my source of strength and the reason that I could still smile even under immerse pressure.
At the end of the year, it was time for my appraisal. My manager gave me positive feedback about my work performance and mentioned that she was surprised at my change of attitude. It was the first time after working for almost 10 years that I had a good performance review and a reasonable salary increment.
I have learned to put on a kingdom mindset at work.
As children of God, we are more than able to overcome our mistakes. Whenever our bosses point out our mistakes at work, let’s allow their feedback to help us grow so that we can become more competent in our roles, and glorify God through our work.
This article was first published on YMI.today, and is republished with permission.
Full-time under 30: I begged God not to call me to suffer
by Joey Lam | 27 July 2018, 3:15 PM
I may have worked in a missions agency for two years, but the truth is, I never considered missions before that. In fact, I actively avoided full-time ministry as well – because I’m a pastor’s kid.
Growing up in a Christian minister’s household, I’ve seen and experienced the effects of full-time ministry. It is very real – carrying the weight of all the moral expectations placed on you just because you are the pastor’s kid. By God’s grace, I turned out okay.
Many of the rebellious thoughts that I had as a child went like this: “I am a sinner, and I want to live like a sinner too. So stop expecting me to behave like Jesus 24/7, because even pastors are human in their own homes.”
Okay, I digress. But that’s where my full-time story starts.
It was about 4 or 5 years ago; I’d just come back from my overseas exchange. I was making a list of what I wanted to do in life, and the first thing that popped up was “refugee camp volunteer”. I’d always been intrigued by the concept of refugees, having studied migration movements as a political science major.
At that point, I was considering finishing up university before my grades dropped any further. I mentally prepared myself to write a hundred emails to a hundred organisations, hoping at least one would reply.
Two weeks later, volunteers from Open Doors, an organisation that works with the persecuted church, came and shared at my youth ministry. I asked if they had any positions for refugee camp volunteer. They said no, but they knew someone who did.
It was too late for an internship elsewhere, and I didn’t want to waste my last summer. After some discussion with the director, I found myself serving in Indonesia for two months as a media relations person. Thankfully, I’d learnt how to film and edit videos just a few months before – God’s timing is surely perfect!
After two months, I came back and was asked by a staff volunteer to do some video recordings of various testimonies. I said okay, as long as he was willing to wait one year. I should have known one year wasn’t too long to wait for a 66-year-old man.
I pleaded with God: “God, You’ve called others to go full time. To suffer for You. We’ll bless them. Just don’t call me.”
After I completing my honours year in the end, I thought to myself – what is the rush to go work? I decided to take a 6-month break. In the meantime, I would honour that promise and volunteer with Interserve to make some videos before I entered the marketplace.
During my time at Interserve, the team would meet once a week for prayer to intercede for the field workers in our ministry. At some point, I thought to myself, “If I’m going to be spending three hours a week praying for these workers, I might as well get to really know them.”
That was when God opened up my heart – He even knows the little things we’re thinking!
A few months down the road, the personnel director spoke with me again. Having seen my enthusiasm for the work, she shared with me, “I have thoughts of making you a local staff.”
The immediate response in my head was “No! Don’t call me to suffer! There is no money working in a missions agency!”
I pleaded with God: “God, You’ve called others to go full time. To suffer for You. We’ll bless them. Just don’t call me.” You must remember that I’d spent my life hearing stories of suffering in full-time ministry from my own father.
In hindsight, this was the real conflict: I was passionate about the work, but I detested the pay. To be fair, ministry work oftentimes feels like free labour, to the point that I might as well get paid to do all that work. But at the same time, the pay was so measly in my eyes.
One night, I lay in bed praying. My heart was racing as I said to God, “Okay God … Your work is honourable work, so I believe You’ll give me honourable pay. How about the market rate?”
His response was simple and immediate: “So you want to surrender conditionally?
Then, “It’s okay, Joey. Whether you choose to surrender or not, I’ve surrendered My Son for you unconditionally.”
When He said that, it was like knife piercing through my heart; and I could do nothing but concede: “Okay lah, You win.”
I woke up in the morning, thinking I had to be crazy for committing myself to full-time ministry and a life of irregular income. Because there I was: Chinese, male, upper middle-class family, fresh graduate from a local university. Everyone else like me would have been looking for an office job with good pay and fixed working hours.
And this was also my worry – which girl would want to marry me at this rate? What if I never got married because of this?
Then there was the biggest hurdle to cross: I couldn’t wrap my head around how I could one day buy a house with such a low and irregular income. At that point, I would be receiving a monthly pay of less than $1,000, something that eroded my sense of worth and stability.
But it also showed where I had always placed my trust.
He has given me His only Son – precious collateral for His promise to always provide for me.
So I said to God, “God, I know You are a loving and caring Father. But help me make the jump. I can’t add up the numbers … How will I ever earn enough to buy a house? Please send aid. Thanks.”
As I was walking home that day, He suddenly spoke. “Why must you buy a house?”
I was stunned. Before I could recover from the shock, He followed up with the next question: “Where did you get this idea?”
I sheepishly replied, “Social Studies textbook?”
His firm but loving reply came again, this time from Luke 9:58: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”
I wanted to stop being Christian for all of five seconds then, just so I wouldn’t have to acknowledge that verse.
But deep inside, I knew. I knew that He is indeed a loving and caring Father who will provide for all my needs – whether I could see it now or not. He has given me His only Son – precious collateral for His promise to me. To us. There is no reason not to trust Him.
In writing this, I have experienced His grace and provision so many times over the past few years. But that’s a whole other story.
But here’s a few spoilers: My girlfriend – yes, I’m now attached! – told me it was exactly because I was working in a missions agency that she agreed to go out with me. I also recently got ballot number 44 for my BTO on first try.
God provides differently for each of His children, but He is a caring Father who is sure to provide. He has already provided His only Son; there is nothing else He can give that will surpass that.
Jesus is indeed our greatest inheritance, as we are His. (Ephesians 1:18)