Exchanging entitlement for obedience
In the past week, a Financial Times article about millennials trended on social media. Lucy Kellaway asserts that these youths — born between the years 1982 and 2004 — cannot be blamed for quitting their jobs as they are facing the “widest gap between expectations and reality that the professional world has ever seen.” Whilst job advertisements had promised them a challenging work environment surrounded by innovative thinkers, many junior staff have found themselves executing boring and menial tasks.
As I prepare to enter the workforce, I have realised that finding a meaningful job is of utmost importance to me. It has to align closely with my passions and life purpose. I am looking for a job that allows me to impact lives, contribute meaningfully to society, maximise the gifts that God has blessed me with, and challenge me to grow holistically. Oh, and one that pays me well.
Reflecting upon Kellaway’s article, I wondered, “Have I, myself, been set up for a major disappointment?” In schools, career guidance mentors encourage us to pursue our passion and hone our strengths. In church, we are exhorted to follow the will of God and to be His ambassador wherever He divinely places us. At home, my parents want me to be able to raise my future family well. Among my friends, it’s all about the pay, position, and progression.
Will my job help me fulfill my life’s destiny, pay me well enough, grant me prestige among my peers, and enable me to support my future family? These considerations swarm my mind as I trawl through the job market. Faced with these seemingly competing concerns, the advice that cuts through the fog is to “pray about it” and be “led by God.” However, this was easier said than done.
I found myself outlining my criteria in a job whilst I prayed, as if I were giving God a list of requests. I also wondered how exactly God would lead me. Would He do so in an obvious manner, like a direct word of knowledge, or would He use His still, small voice to gently prod me along?
As I prayed, worry also built up within me: I was worried that I would not be able to find a job that fits all my criteria, that I would not be able to afford the ideal life I had in mind, and that many of my peers would do far better than I would do.
It then struck me that I was in a privileged position. The fact that I had myriad options to consider instead of simply taking on any form of employment due to academic or financial limitations was something to be thankful for. A sense of entitlement also crept into my belief system: I had worked hard for my degree and I had served God in church, hence I felt entitled to a well-paying and meaningful job.
As the Chinese saying goes, “生在福中不知福” (one who lives in the folds of blessing is often unaware of it), I was guilty of being oblivious to the blessings in my life. In the same vein, Benny Prasad recently reflected on how the enjoyment of luxurious in-flight business class service could lead to entitlement. He learnt to “treat blessings as surprise gifts from God” and not “covet or crave for them.” God had reminded him of his humble beginnings and how much God had blessed him through the years.
I certainly don’t want to take His grace for granted. Pastor Greg Simas comments that “to the extent that we fall into an entitlement trap we become more deserving in our own eyes and God’s grace gets less and less amazing in our estimation.”
After collecting my less-than-stellar A-level results, God comforted me with Psalm 32 (NIV), assuring me that He is my hiding place and that He would instruct and teach me in the way I should go. In the past six years, there have been moments where I doubted the choices I had made — my choice of major in university, my choice of ministry, and the relationships I have chosen to invest into. Yet, through each of these challenges, God has faithfully guided me by affirming or cautioning against the decisions made.
Today, as I stand at yet another crossroad where I have to make a significant decision, I trust that God will continue to be faithful to me. The advice for me to prayerfully be led by God has rung true. I have chosen to trust that God will keep His promise: “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8 NLT). I will willingly throw out my list of criteria to follow the path He has set for me. I may not know how He will lead me, but I have resolved to be obedient to Him every step of the way.