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God is at work

by Abigail Dawes | 17 August 2017, 11:35 AM

Go to work. Get frustrated. Feel like quitting. Receive monthly salary. Don’t quit. Repeat.

As a young professional barely out of university, my existence seemed to be quickly confined to this endless loop.

What had happened to all the dreams I dreamt in university as I sat in lectures? Where was the impact I was supposed to make on the world through my job, the like-minded colleagues I was supposed to have, the patient boss who would mentor me?

The reality I was living out seemed to be the polar opposite of everything I had hoped for.

I had a dream job in mind – but I failed miserably at the interview, so I ended up instead at a firm that my idealistic college self would never have considered applying for. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

I was relieved to be offered a permanent position, but the condition was that I’d have to accept work in an area of law that I truly despised. As the job market for lawyers was so bad, I stayed.

The reality I was living out seemed to be the polar opposite of everything I had hoped for.

It was not long before I turned these frustrations on God. Why had He placed desires for greater things in my heart? Why was the road to becoming a Joseph, Daniel or Esther – purposeful overcomers in their secular realms – smoother and faster for others?

Was I not as special to Him as His other children?

I concluded that God was not interested in my career. He cared about whether I turned up for prayer meetings, cell group and served in the worship team faithfully, but when it came to my workplace, I was on my own.

This conclusion on God’s intentions for my life meant that a line in the sand had been drawn between my spiritual life and work. God’s power was available for one but not the other.

One Sunday, I heard my pastor recount a season in his working life, before he became a full-time minister.

As a young employee, he did not have any influence over policies or directives, and was surrounded by senior officers who operated with a very different set of values from his.

They did things that were not ethical and also persecuted him for standing his ground. But as my pastor began to pray and intercede for his workplace, doing his best at his job as well as church ministry, he began to see changes.

He found favour with his bosses, saw “toxic” colleagues transferred to other departments and started to receive God’s direction for his day-to-day work, which gave him an edge over his peers.

It struck a chord in my heart. I wanted the same for my life – I needed God in my here and now. The God of the desert and the valley, the cloud by day and pillar of fire by night.

The Heavenly Father who gets right in there with you, in the muck and dreariness of life, and in His still small voice whispers hope for each new day and faith for the final prize of life (1 Corinthians 9:24).

From that day, my perspective shifted and my heart opened again.

The Heavenly Father gets right in there with you, in the muck and dreariness of life, and in His still small voice whispers hope for each new day.

I started praying for my bosses and my colleagues. I would get to work early to pray over my office space – declaring that the whole place belonged to God. I would sing over myself the call of God and His desires for my life. I found strength to serve the boss that my colleagues despised.

Was it a struggle? Sure. But I found myself able to do something that I could not even have imagined doing before.

Every piece of work that came my way, whether or not it was my cup of tea, I would undertake with the revelation that I was serving the unseen God behind my boss.

I accepted each piece of work, every interaction with a difficult colleague or superior, as a stepping stone to my destiny.

In the struggle to find meaning in my workplace, I learnt that we don’t always have to be Prime Minister Joseph to have influence (Genesis 41:37-41) – we can be Prisoner Joseph too (Genesis 39:20-23).

The Lord needs change agents in every echelon of the corporate ladder.

You don’t have to do anything super Christian to shift the atmosphere of your workplace. It’s as simple as living out our faith as Jesus taught us to, such as loving those who are difficult and unloveable (Matthew 5:43-48) or lending a hand for a project that will never be credited to you (Matthew 6:1-4).

We can be change agents of the spiritual and physical climate of our workplace. Our colleagues may never expressly say it but they most surely will feel it.

We should also be prepared for opposition wherever we’re placed – but we should only move when the Lord tells us to. Every job change should be a Spirit-led decision, not a frustration-led one.

We can’t delude ourselves into thinking that God only leads us to beds of roses. Remember Joseph’s prison cell, or Daniel’s den of lions.

Why? It’s not about the circumstances we find ourselves in. God is more interested in shaping our character. We can be used only to the extent that we have been moulded – and the marketplace is one of the best places for this to happen.

When David was anointed as the next king of Israel at the age of 16, what ensued was not a straight and easy path up the “corporate ladder”.

David had to work under and submit to an insecure King Saul, have his kindness repaid with ungratefulness, deal with “office politics”, and prove his worth in leading military missions – for us, it could be unwanted assignments our boss sends our way.

It was only 14 years later that David became King. Before he set foot in the palace of the kings, he had to be moulded in the valley of death.

The path to greatness requires endurance, perseverence, knowing the ways God can work at every step of the process.

Eventually, the work that I had once thought would get me nowhere led me to taking up a position I never dreamed would open up for me – in a government Ministry, practising the type of law that I had dreamt about in those lectures.

Am I the boss now? No. Have I been tapped as the next big thing in law? No. Am I drawing a six-figure salary? No.

But I feel and believe that I have unlocked so much more than just that. More than mere title, prestige or money.

What is the more that you’re searching for?

I am part of the committee of The Vanguard Movement Conference, a half-day conference for young adults who want to know the plan God has for them in their career.

We are just like you. We don’t profess to have it all together, but we are on the same journey, the same struggles, the same crises of identity – but most importantly, we are all sons and daughters of God.

We desire to see God move in even mightier ways in the workplace than what we have already seen.

The Vanguard Movement aims to equip every believer – to bring God into their place of assignment and sphere of influence.

To help you know God’s heart for your future, career and ministry, and shift your perspective on how to be a follower of Christ in the marketplace.

To help you move from survival mode to becoming a movement leader.

From surviving to thriving.

To sign up for The Vanguard Movement or to find out more, please visit their event details page.


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by Hannah Lois Ng | 14 August 2017, 12:27 PM

What would it be like if our world was always day, with no night?

I asked myself this question while on a plane from San Francisco to Singapore – a 16-hour flight, with nearly all of it in daylight because of the time zone differences.

Because I love sunlight so much, I figured I wouldn’t mind having it 24/7. It would filter cheerfully into my office through the glass windows, even at 7pm; and if Singapore’s weather were cooler, after work I could lie on the grass, under a tree, and read a book in the sun.

Without darkness, I might just feel more alive, more cheerful, more hopeful.

But in such a world, I know I would miss having sunrises and sunsets – those precious hours where clouds turn impossibly pink and everything becomes gold. For such glory to exist, day needs to graciously make way to night, and night to day. If either “season” remained forever, we would be robbed of the beautiful transitions between them.

Transitions is a word which brings up mixed feelings. As a youth, each future transition always seemed exciting. In junior college, I looked forward to entering university to pursue a course I liked (where I finally did not have to study Math!). In university, I spent hours and hours dreaming of what I would do once I graduated. Too often, I simply could not wait for the next change to come.

What’s tough in transitions is that we bid farewell to a previous season which can never come back, while ushering in a new season of life.

Ironically, now that I’ve actually started working, I find myself yearning to be back in student life again.

This new season of work has, at times, felt like overwhelming darkness. There are days I wish the “sunlight” of studenthood didn’t have to end, so I wouldn’t need to move out of that carefree season into this period of heavier responsibility.

Then there’s the transition into married life, which I will be making in a year’s time. I’m looking forward to it, yet am sometimes gripped by bouts of anxiety that can completely overtake the anticipation. I know I will miss living with my siblings and parents – what if we drift apart? What if I’m too incapable or too emotional to support my husband well? Too irresponsible to manage my own home?

The looming transition brings spurts of excitement met by other moments of despair, where I’m sometimes tempted to maintain status quo and not get married!

What’s tough in transitions is that we bid farewell to a previous season which can never come back, while ushering in a new season of life. This quote from Elisabeth Elliot aptly captures the mixed feelings of letting go and moving on:

“The growth of all living green things wonderfully represents the process of receiving and relinquishing, gaining and losing, living and dying.

“The seed falls into the ground, dies as the new shoot springs up. There must be a splitting and a breaking in order for a bud to form.  The bud ‘lets go’ when the flower forms. The calyx lets go of the flower. The petals must curl up and die in order for the fruit to form. The fruit falls, splits, relinquishes the seed.  The seed falls into the ground …

“There is no ongoing spiritual life without this process of letting go. At the precise point where we refuse, growth stops.” (Passion and Purity: Learning to bring your love life under Christ’s control, 2002)

One heavenly day, we might experience a place where there is no more letting go and moving on; a period of unending daylight.

But on this side of eternity, we are blessed with more sunrises and sunsets – transitions big and small – to walk through. May our eyes be opened to the glory and beauty in each one.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 11)

This article was first published on the Church of our Saviour website and republished with permission. 


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When I didn’t make it into OCS

by Merrick Ho | 11 August 2017, 4:11 PM

When I began my NS journey in 2014, all I cared about was making it into OCS.

Officer Cadet School (OCS) is a path only some soldiers will get to take. It’s a route reserved for soldiers of exceptional performance. Only the most capable get into OCS.

I wanted to get into OCS – I saw it as validation of my abilities. Of me.

So in Basic Military Training, I did my absolute best in everything I was assigned. I thought I performed well when I was put in charge; my superiors seemed to like me, too. Many of my platoonmates told me I was OCS material.

It seemed a foregone conclusion.

I received my posting on the Friday after I finished BMT. It read: Specialist Cadet School. SCS.

My initial reaction was to refresh the Internet page repeatedly – there had to be some mistake! Why was there an “S” instead of an “O”? But no matter how many times I clicked the refresh button, it still read SCS.

I was devastated. I had let myself down. I felt lousy about myself. SCS isn’t a bad posting, but … it just wasn’t OCS. It wasn’t what I wanted.

And when I didn’t get my heart’s desire, I started blaming God for it.

I did my best in all my training, God. I did all I could – why didn’t you give me what I want? Why didn’t things turn out the way I wanted?

I realised I wanted to enter OCS as a mark of my abilities. It was about my personal pride. I yearned for my own glory.

I thought about it for days on end. Was there anything I could’ve done to change this result?

I eventually came to the conclusion that I just had to suck it up. Unlike the outside world, there’s no way to “appeal” into OCS. There was nothing else to be done.

This was the hand I was dealt.

Two months into SCS, we received our vocational postings. I was one of the few to be sent to the Air Force.

The training was more knowledge-intensive, meaning it wasn’t just about the physical training anymore.

As I studied for my vocation, I realised I had a deep interest in the realm of national defence. I decided to apply for a scholarship with the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).

Days and weeks passed without a reply. Frankly, I’d given up on the application.

But after three months, I received the official reply, asking me to come for an interview. I made it through all three rounds of the selection process and was awarded the scholarship.

With the scholarship, I would be able to lighten the financial burdens of my parents, who were already paying my brother’s university fees.

As I reflected in thanksgiving, I realised that what I had in mind for myself was vastly different from what God had in mind for me.

I wanted to enter OCS as a mark of my abilities. It was about my personal pride. I yearned for my own glory.

But God had a better plan – one for His glory.


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What’s killing your kindness?

by Ng Jing Yng | 2 August 2017, 4:58 PM

Ever wondered what motivates you to do good? The key word here is “motivate”. The motivation, the impetus, that adrenaline that keeps you going.

The motivation behind human behaviour has always been a topic that fascinates me. It led me to the study of “behavioural economics”, where I learnt about policymakers tweaking policies to overcome stubborn human inertia.

For instance, to “nudge” couch potatoes to run, pairing them up with a gym goer buddy will help. To “nudge” people to pay their taxes, send them reminder letters emphasising they are the minority 10% who have yet to pay their dues.

As much as behavioural economics have helped to elicit pro-social behaviour, the conundrum that behavioural economists still face is sustainability.

However, as much as behavioural economics have helped to elicit pro-social behaviour, the conundrum that behavioural economists still face is sustainability. Remove the ‘nudge’ – the letters, the gym goer buddy – and human behaviour slips back to status quo.

I can attest to this just as much. I am not a naturally sociable person and I shrink in despair at networking events. But I forced myself to do it because it was part of my job as a reporter, or in actual fact, the fear of missing out on an exclusive story.

I am also not a naturally kind person, but I feel obliged to be kind to someone I dislike in hope that he or she will repay the favour one day.

At the end of it all, it is all about utility, the utility you can get out of someone that drives me to do good. I am guilty of this.

I’ve been reflecting on this over my past year pursuing my graduate degree at Oxford University. Oxford is a most peculiar place. You meet the brightest of minds and the most creative of souls, but it can also make you feel like living in an imaginary utopia sometimes.

Take my class for example: I have peers who played a key role in political revolutions, stood alongside presidents in electoral campaigns or are living in exile because they stood for democracy in their countries.

Nevertheless, during gatherings, there was never once we recalled an individual and his or her great public speaking skills or amazing econometric capabilities. Instead, it was kindness – kindness to others was the common theme that ran through our conversations when we spoke about others who touched our lives this past year.

Kindness don’t always come intuitively to us. Pride, selfishness and a whole string of other sins stand in the way. I’m not sure what keeps my peers going but it was God’s love that eventually won me over.

I learnt to be kind not because I expect a favour in return. I learnt to seek out the lonely because God came as I was trudging through my darkest times. God’s love inspires me to keep the momentum going.

“I kept looking at ‘what’s next, what’s next’ … but all this while, I forgot to look up.”

During my second term in Oxford, I was trapped emotionally and physically. The readings kept piling up and internally, I kept fighting against an overwhelming sense of inadequacy as I continuously held myself up against my peers. I was looking for something, someone to validate my worth. It was a relentless search that trapped me a vicious cycle.

Liberation finally came through an evangelical session. I wasn’t planning to go initially due to piles of readings waiting in my room but something in me said to go for the first 15 minutes. I went and stayed on for two hours.

The passage shared was Luke 15: 3-6. 

“Then Jesus told them this parable: ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’” (Luke 15: 3-6)

The speaker spoke about his law career, having worked his way up from a poor town to Oxford University and earning his name in the law fraternity by winning lawsuits after lawsuits. But then he said: “I kept looking at ‘what’s next, what’s next’ … but all this while, I forgot to look up.”

Likewise, I was looking at the next essay, next reading, next distinction, everything but up to God. Despite this, He came looking for me. I can go on telling of the multiple occasions He came looking for me – when I was down in the pits, when I slipped into sin and even when I rebel.

God’s unfailing love for an undeserving me is my motivation. His love gives me the impetus and provides me with the adrenaline to do good.

This is how I now find myself writing this piece in Kenya, where I’m currently doing my internship at an NGO dealing in children’s welfare. I strive to do good. Even when it means going out of my comfort zone or overcoming my stubborn inertia.

As Eric Liddell said: “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

When I do good, I feel God’s pleasure.


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Unemployed, in debt – and learning how to trust Him

by Melody Elizabeth Goh | 1 August 2017, 4:38 PM

I grew up in a loving and pampered environment. That’s great while you’re a kid – but bad when you’re an adult.

I had to grow up, become a more mature me. But to do that, I needed to experience hardship.

After I graduated, I felt the Lord calling me to step out of the boat and walk on the water. I didn’t know what that meant, but it didn’t take me long enough to realise what it truly meant: I was about to enter into a desert season. I was about to learn what it means to have full reliance and focus on the Father.

I officially started looking for a job, armed with my Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Finance. I applied for position after position, went for multiple interviews but to no avail.

I had to grow up, become a more mature me. But to do that, I needed to experience hardship.

A friend encouraged me to become an Uber driver. It was tedious and I could not cover the rental of the car – I couldn’t work the long hours required to do so. I then decided to get relief drivers to help cover my costs, including a couple who took the car on weekdays. But that only made things worse; the couple did not use the car to work, and were unable to cover the rental cost, so the amount they owed me kept piling up.

My reserves were depleting quickly. It was getting harder for me, financially, physically, emotionally and mentally. My dad agreed to help ease my burdens a little, but I was still deeply troubled and distressed. I found myself crying every day.

In my desperation, I made a decision I would truly regret, with a heavy price to pay. I fell victim to a scam that promised me a sum of money per telephone line that I signed up for. But I got played out, leaving me with to pay the monthly subscriptions and termination fees. It was a substantial cost, especially when I was still unemployed.

Soon enough, I caved in and fell into depression.

Throughout all this, I kept asking: Where was God?

Where was the God who called me out? Surely, He would not abandon me?

No, I learnt, He wouldn’t – and He didn’t. It was in this season that God was drawing me closer to Him.

God humbled my heart and gave me a revelation – that I really am nothing without Him. Everything I can boast of, I only have by the grace and empowerment of God, and therefore He alone deserves all the glory.

So rather than be crushed by the circumstances, my faith in Him was deeply strengthened. I learnt to trust and obey, for there is no other way – not if I wanted to get out of this desert season. It was hard for me but I had to. I had to crucify my flesh.

I learnt to praise God in all circumstances. It was more of Him and less of me.

This desert season was not what I wanted, but it was what I needed – to go through a process of refining through the fire of trial, and redefining my perspective of the Father. Where He used to be a God who seemed so distant, He became to me a Father who is so loving, and who desires to walk me through every storm. I learnt what it means when He said that He will never leave me nor forsake me.

I learnt to praise God in all circumstances. It was more of Him and less of me.

What I was going through – it wasn’t because God didn’t love me, but because God does love me – enough to work on me, to refine me, to purify my heart.

The process of being refined is painful, but it is needful. It draws us closer to God, and allows Him to show His everlasting love. Adversity pushes us to rely on God, rather than our own strength.

“So that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)


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Do worldly successes define you?

by Daniel Lee | 25 July 2017, 10:56 PM

How would you feel if you were one — or all — of the following: A medical student, Employee of the Year, and/or a millionaire? Would being any of these things change the way you feel about yourself?

Often we dream of having these successful titles to define us; successes give us something to feel good about. But if what we succeed in determines who we are, does it mean we are a failure when we fail to achieve something?

Think about it: If we base our lives on what can be changed, then the foundation of our lives is not stable. Once the foundation shifts, our lives would also be shaken.

If our identity is decided by our successes, then it is also determined by our failures.

If our identity is decided by our successes, then it is also determined by our failures. Hence, the solution is to not find our self-worth in either.

This isn’t about ignoring what we have or have not accomplished. Rather, it’s about placing our value as a person on what is eternal.

God is the one who created us, and the One in whom we find the deepest measure of fulfilment and pleasure. When we base our self-worth and self-esteem on the unchangeable Word of God — when we believe who God says we are — then the foundation of our lives would be securely grounded on the Rock that is higher (Psalm 61:2).


And what does God say about us? He says that as Christians, our truest identity is in His Son, Jesus. We are children of God (John 1:12Ephesians 1:5) who are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10).

And because we are hidden with Christ (Colossians 3:3), we are free forever from condemnation (Romans 8:1-2) and can never be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35).

Not only that, we are now called to be Spirit-filled witnesses of Jesus because each of us is a temple in which the Holy Spirit lives (1 Corinthians 3:16).

God calls us His co-workers in His kingdom (Mark 16:202 Corinthians 6:1) and we are seated with Jesus in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6).


In light of our new identity in Jesus, we can see our achievements in the proper perspective. Yes, achievements are part of us, but they are not us.

In God’s kingdom, success is being able to boast that we understand and know the Lord (Jeremiah 9:24) and becoming more and more conformed to the image of His Son. We do this by worshipping and beholding Him daily (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Yes, achievements are part of us, but they are not us.

However, if we choose to worship and behold something other than God, we will also be transformed in its image. The Bible tells us that those who worship idols will become like them (Psalm 115:4-8Psalm 135:15-18).

Therefore, what we worship decides our identity. Ask yourself what the most important thing in your life is, and you will know what you truly worship. If there is something that you cherish more than God, then that thing has become an idol to you.


Also, what we do will constantly change, but who we are never will. When we understand that it is who we are, and not what we do, that ultimately matters, we can learn how to rest in God’s presence.

We should lose ourselves not in doing, but in being in Him and becoming like Him.


Ultimately, resting in Jesus means surrendering all we have to Him.

That can sound like a frightening thing because it means we have to release control over who we are. But Jesus is not really the Lord of our lives if He isn’t the Lord over every single part of our lives, including our identity.

And so we stand firm on our identity in Him, safely let go and let Him take over. Because He is a good and trustworthy God who will never fail us.

©2016 Whole Life. All rights reserved.
Did you find the read helpful? If you would like to receive regular news and encouragement for your faith + family, click here to subscribe. This article was first published on and republished with permission.


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Article list

God is at work

Do you face each new season in life with anticipation or anxiety?

When I didn’t make it into OCS

What’s killing your kindness?

Unemployed, in debt – and learning how to trust Him

Do worldly successes define you?