Doing good is not about making yourself happier
Rachel Lin // November 29, 2019, 4:42 pm
Rachel Lin started her first social enterprise, matcha5, at 27 years old, but had to shut it down after 1.5 years. She is currently running mori, which employs work-from-home mums in the Philippines through the sale of products such as pursebooks and organisers. Mori is a variant for Moriel, a Hebrew name that means “God teaches”. Rachel has previously shared about her journey as a social entrepreneur on Thir.st.
“Doing good and meaningful things makes one happier.”
Is that really true? May I be really honest here? I have learnt that thoughts like that are self-righteous. I was technically “doing good” with social enterprises like mori, but at some point of time I started having thoughts about why I was helping others and making myself suffer the added stress without pay.
I constantly felt bad towards my mother as she had always wanted our family to break out of our lack of finances. Coming from a low-income family, those hopes were pinned on me. Things were bad enough that during my junior college days, my form teacher and my friend helped to pay off my school fees.
IT’S NOT ABOUT ME, IT’S ABOUT HIM
As I thought about these things, I was reading the book of Job when God corrected me in the most humourous manner.
“Take a long hard look. See those clouds towering above you? If you sin, what difference could that make to God? No matter how much you sin, will it matter to him? Even if you’re good, what would God get out of that? Do you think He’s dependent on your accomplishments? The only ones who care whether you’re good or bad are your family and friends and neighbours. God’s not dependent on your behaviour.” (Job 35:1-8, MSG)
It really made me roll on the floor with laughter – the only ones who care whether you’re good or bad are your family and friends and neighbours! That verse showed me that I had the wrong attitude when it came to doing good.
Don’t take yourself too seriously, take God seriously.
Micah 6:8 (MSG) also spoke to me: “But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what GOD is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbour, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously.”
Yes, do good and be compassionate. But don’t take yourself too seriously, take God seriously. While doing “justice and good works”, one can either become too introspective or too big-headed.
It’s like the story of the Good Samaritan, which precedes the story of Mary and Martha. The latter is the one where Mary chooses the “good portion” of resting at the feet of Jesus.
God never meant for us to be the perfect Good Samaritan because only Jesus is fitting of the title. But let us behold Jesus – taking God seriously, not ourselves – and let the grace in us work itself out as good works.
PEOPLE CAN HARM, BUT ALSO HELP, YOU
My misconceptions were also corrected. I thought that all people who do good are genuine and kind-hearted.
I quickly learnt that some practise unethical methods to account to board members, some simply see it as a quick way to get rich, while others do it to create a false image for themselves as Good Samaritans.
And then there are those whom you wish to help, but they don’t make it easy for you to help. This may all make me sound really naive, but I was really disheartened at one point of time.
There are those who sustain us, and with their love we sustain others… Love empowers us to love others.
There were many hard lessons I had to learn, but I must not deny that the experience has been very precious and sweet too.
There were many people like my husband Joshua, my beloved sisters- and brothers-in-Christ, and friends who have been so selfless in being great pillars of support, both emotionally and practically.
I have learnt that there are those who sustain us, and with their love we sustain others. Not that one is greater than the other, but that love empowers us to love others. This is the very reason why I now deeply believe in community and collaboration.
We’re thankful to God for customers who have been like friends, giving feedback and suggestions to improve our products!
I had lost personal savings in running matcha5 previously, but God’s grace is always sufficient. He provided for me through ex-bosses who graciously gave me ad-hoc market research projects in that time.
With matcha5 making losses, I went back to corporate work in 2017. But I decided to help Mitzi, whom I had met through matcha5, to grow her social enterprise, mori, while holding down a full-time job. In September, however, I was told that my contract could not be extended.
All we can do is to continue to choose to put our quiet trust in Jesus.
We often read of miracles and breakthroughs in the Bible and hear about them in the lives of others. But what happens in the days where nothing seems to be happening? What I’ve learnt is that all we can do is to continue to choose to put our quiet trust in Jesus.
So I’m praying the same thing I prayed two years ago:
I pray that I will not pursue the vision, but I will pursue the presence of Jesus because He is sufficient for me. I have learnt that it doesn’t really matter what I am doing or what I will achieve.
If God doesn’t want me in the place where I am, I would rather not be here. I’d rather be in His court one day, than a thousand years elsewhere.
If I trust that He is a good God who cares about the poor and needy more than I do, then it doesn’t really matter if I am the one who achieves it. He will, and He supplies.
As I seek first His Kingdom and righteousness, all other things will be added unto me. As I delight myself in Him, He grants me the desires of my heart.
Thank you Jesus that You anoint us to be faithful sowers, and You will be the harvester, Amen.
From now until end-December, all Thir.st readers can use this discount code THIRST10 for 10% off your purchases on mori.
THINK + TALK
- What does doing good mean to you?
- What do you make of God’s desires in Micah 6:8?
- How can you begin to fulfill that call right where you are today?