But stuck in a 9 to 6 corporate job
I first heard the call to full-time ministry when I was 18, but it was only two years later, when I was a missionary student with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) that my heart was fully convicted of God’s call over my life. During my stint there, my heart grew desperate to know this Almighty God, to understand the Bible for what it is, and for everyone around me to know this saviour I’ve found in Jesus Christ. My spirit was awakened to the reality of the sweet presence of the Holy Spirit, and how He moves in equal measure of gentleness and power. I did not know that I could be this overwhelmed by the joys and pains of God’s heart.
My life verse, “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), became even more significant as I decided to answer the call to full-time ministry.
I remember wrestling in prayer and laying my life down at the foot of the cross, again and again, “I will go where You send me, God — to the nations and unreached people groups, the poorest and richest, the marginalised and famous, the ostracised and powerful. As long as they are in need of Jesus Christ, I am ready to lay down my life for the gospel. I am ready to run, with my Bible in hand, wherever You would take me.”
The last things I had in mind were to attain a university degree, work a corporate job, enter into a relationship, and get married. I remember telling God on my last day at YWAM, “God, take me anywhere. But I don’t want to go back to Singapore and become so busy with life that I forget about You. I don’t want to simply find a comfortable job, get married, have kids, and go through the cycle of a typical Singaporean life. God, I want to serve You with my life.”
However, what were the last things on my mind, were the first things on the Lord’s mind for me. Not only did He call me to pursue a degree, but He placed me in a full-time corporate job, and led me onto a journey towards marriage! Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for every blessing the Lord has gifted me — a stable job with favourable bosses, a man who loves me deeply and loves God even more, and even a HDB home to call my own. But beyond receiving these blessings, I know that something within me aches to be used to build the kingdom of God here on earth.
So when I found myself walking this path, I instinctively questioned, “Why am I in Singapore? Why am I working in a corporate job? Why am I not being sent to Bible School, or a mission field, or working in church, or something more…spiritual? God, did You not put it in my heart to be sent out into the world? Am I not good enough for Your work? Did I not hear Your call over my life correctly? When will I be able to do what matters for eternity?”
As I wrestled with these questions, and continued persevering on in prayer, what kept surfacing in my spirit-man and through the words of leaders and pastors were two things: season of preparation, and be faithful with the little.
If you find yourself in this place, may I urge you to consider these great men of the Bible:
Jesus only began his ministry at 30 years old (Luke 3:23), David was a shepherd before he was made king (1 Samuel 16), Elisha was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen before he was made a prophet in Elijah’s place (1 Kings 19), Daniel and Joseph were servants before they were appointed as rulers (Daniel 2 and Genesis 41). You get the gist. All these mighty men of God embraced their seasons of preparation and remained faithful to their task at hand before the Lord called and empowered them for a greater ministry.
As I embraced my season of preparation, confident that the Lord will call me into full-time ministry in the future (near or far), His word has truly been my guiding light. I am reminded daily that I need to let His word and promises become truth and reality in my life, whether I am in ministry or not, and not doubt or question His timing.
Here are some lessons I have learned from the word of God as I walk through this season of my life:
Everything is spiritual
Galatians 5:24–25 (NIV) says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Whether we are in a corporate job or ploughing in the mission field, the reality is, in Christ, we are dead to our flesh, and alive in our spirits. Therefore we no longer live in accordance to our fleshly passions, but in accordance to the Spirit’s will.
We need to live every moment plugged in to the voice of the Holy Spirit, to learn to walk in step with the Spirit. From the way our emails are written at work, to how we speak to our colleagues and bosses, we should lean upon the leading of the Holy Spirit because He is actively counselling and guiding us.
When He finally calls you out of your comfort zone, will you be found listening? Are you walking in step with the Spirit every day, constantly leaning in and hearing His heart beating?
The Lord is The Boss
Is working a corporate job any less meaningful or powerful than full-time in the church? No, of course not. Truth is, everything we do in this life is counted as worship if we choose to live according to the will of the Lord. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
Just as Elisha’s work on the field, and Joseph’s work in the palace, our work in an office is worship onto the Lord. When I feel discouraged at work, the Holy Spirit constantly reminds me that I am working as unto the Lord, and not unto men.
It is in this season of preparation that I see the Lord strengthening and shaping my heart to learn what it looks like to have my eyes fixed heavenward, even when it doesn’t make sense. The devil will find means and ways to cause us to stumble and fall, especially when we are actively plugged in to the works of God, but our faith and focus on the task the Lord has put in our hands must still remain. When we grow tired and weary in ministry, our help and source of strength is our Lord. When ministry seems dry and fruitless, we must remain hopeful and joyful in His faithfulness. It is the Lord Christ we are serving, and He deserves our very best.
Ministry is not about me, it is about God
Everything we have is from God — every hope, dream, and skill are from God. He gives, and He can take away. Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and for him are all things.” The only thing we can and must cling onto is the Father’s will for our lives. As Paul said in Philippians 3:8, everything else, we’ll count as loss.
I’ve learnt that ministry is never about what I want or what I can do, neither is it meant to build my “spiritual ego”. Ministry is not a benchmark of holiness nor a job for spiritual accomplishments. It is not about what I can accomplish in this life, it is simply being passionate about Jesus and walking in obedience to His voice.
Regardless of what we pursue in this life, the ultimate goal is not to please ourselves or to acrue accreditations to our name. Our singular goal is to delight the Father’s heart.
Even as you wait for the Lord to send you forth into full-time ministry, may I urge you to find rest in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The God who has called and chosen you is faithful to fulfil His promise to you.