Written by Ignatius Law
As I pen down my testimony on my calling to full-time service, Romans 11:34 comes readily to mind: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?”
Being called to give up a career in the secular world to serve God was not what I initially imagined, having come back from my studies in Perth. By God’s grace, I had attended a faithful Bible-believing church over there for 2 years; while there, I had been regularly involved in the church’s activities, from serving in the nursing homes to engaging in city evangelism. The leaders in that church particularly emphasised on cultivating a habit of being active in the Lord’s work. Even something as simple as sweeping the church grounds is also deemed as a service to the Lord. Hence, going to nursing homes and going for evangelism on Sunday were nothing new to me, for these are some of the ways we Christians are expected to remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (cf. Exodus 20:8).
When I came back to Singapore to work after graduation, one of the criteria that I hold on firmly was to forsake not the Sabbath, but to always put worship of God first. Hence, many banking jobs were not available to me as most banks in Singapore are open 7 days a week – all the banks require their interns to work on Sundays to fulfil the quota that is laid out. So, although I have been shortlisted for a number of banking positions, it was very clear to me that this was not God’s will for me. Therefore, I looked elsewhere.
My first job was an insurance agent. At first, I thought this was God’s will for me as it seemed to me that I would be able to attend church services uninterrupted, due to the “flexibility” of the job. However, I quickly found out that it was not so, for my time was not my own but was entirely dependant on my clients’ timing and preferences. Thus not long after, I started the search for a new job. Despite the rather stagnant job market, I thank God that I managed to land an accounting role in a company (situated in the west). However, my job scope requires me to regularly stay back past 6.30pm, so as to balance the accounts. As a result, I skipped a number of prayer meetings to finish my work.
During that time, at the urging of a friend, I signed up for the combined GYF-GYAF retreat held at Pulai Springs, Johor in December 2019. This was despite knowing it would be very hard to request time off from my work (I was still on probation) to attend the retreat. Thank God my request to my boss was granted, and I went ahead cheerfully. At the retreat, a brother “quizzed” me regarding my irregular attendance in prayer meetings. When I shared my difficulties due to my workload, that brother admonished me to “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt 6:33). It dawned on me that missing prayer meetings was becoming much more frequent in my life, and I had better take the initiative to start attending prayer meeting regularly!
For the past few months, Pastor Koshy had been preaching regularly on the burden of the church to have more full-time workers, to have more young adults stepping up to the great responsibility of consecrating their lives to serve God. Being intrigued, I started asking a brother (who is a church staff) about the struggle and difficulties that he faced. He shared with me that serving God was not a mere simple task, but requires one to be committed till the very end of one’s life. For Jesus said unto the people who desired to follow him but was distracted by their own burdens in life, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
To discern whether I have the calling, that brother advised me to pray for God to show me His will. He also shared with me the important presence of two key things: there must be a sincere desire to serve, and there must be a position that is available. By God’s providence, it was around about the same time, I heard of a sister who would be leaving the ministry due to her upcoming marriage and her new responsibilities as a wife.
Now, those who are thinking of following Christ are expected to put in serious thought and consideration. “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish” (Luke 14:28-30). The same principles must be applied to full-time service. So, I sat there and did a spreadsheet, writing each of my concerns down and prayed about them. However, the Lord reminded me that since even the fowls of the air are fed, how much more God will do so to me? I was able to see God’s sovereign Hand working at each point of my life, from providing an internship in Perth even when chances seemed bleak (because of Australia’s protectionist policies) to even providing a second job (which involves accounts) for me.
However, the decision to enter into full-time ministry wasn’t easy. At that time, a shipping company expressed interest in my resume which I had sent out during my job-hunting earlier. I was sorely tempted to gain more experience outside first, before stepping foot into the ministry. Thankfully, I spoke with Pastor, who advised me that there’s no place for double-mindedness in the ministry. Being in the ministry, one has to be steadfast and not wavering in decision-making.
Not long after, when Covid-19 pandemic hits, I was quite fearful that it might be much more difficult even to resign from the company – for instead of the traditional way of personally handing the resignation letter over to my director, I had to do so over an email, not knowing how the other side would react! Thank God that when I explained my decision to want to serve God by serving in my church, she relented and even told me that I did not have to serve my two weeks’ resignation notice!
The first few weeks in the office wasn’t easy because of the need to adapt quickly to the church’s daily operations, and also to handle the impending audit. (Thank God for Sis Joey’s assistance in replying to the auditor’s queries, and also in preparing the documents for submission.)
I would like to end off by sharing a couple of verses from the hymn, ‘Give of your best to the Master’, written by Howard B. Grose:
Give of your best to the Master;
Give Him first place in your heart;
Give Him first place in your service;
Consecrate every part.
Give, and to you will be given;
God His beloved Son gave;
Gratefully seeking to serve Him,
Give Him the best that you have.
May this hymn remind me to constantly give my best to God and do my best for His glory!