27 August 2014 by Adeline Lum CM-
Which job should I take? Should I change my job? Should I venture into a new industry? As a working adult, we have many questions for our career.
Although we mull over articles and videos on career, we often forget to ask for direction from our Creator, Father God.
“It’s always the leading of the Holy Spirit. You want to know where you should be, you better ask your Creator. Walking with God meant being at the right place, at the right time, and applying the gifting and skills God has for you in that vocation,” said Yaw Chun Soon, Executive Director of Talam Transform Berhad.
As the leader of the SIB KL Workplace Ministry, Yaw shared that everyone needs to understand the Christian worldview about work.
Firstly, we must recognize that every one of us has a specific calling or purpose in life, and that starts from having an ongoing relationship with God. Through our daily walk with Him, we are able to recognize His Voice and follow His leading.
We can also recognize our calling by evaluating ourselves and understand our natural skills sets or talents and passions.
“What is your passion? Somehow, you know it. What makes you wake up every morning? What is the one word that makes you come alive? You look at your purpose, passion, and your potential, that’s where God is guiding you towards your destiny. Job will change but your purpose remains the same,” said Yaw.
Like threads in a tapestry, our calling in life becomes more apparent as we look back. We realized that in the midst of messy threads and knots, God was at work in our lives. And He makes something beautiful out of them, much better than what we have in mind.
But sometimes, we are afraid to try something new and we get stuck in our current position. Our indecisiveness paralyzes us because we are looking for a clear-cut answer from God. We asked God, “If this is the job for me, then grant me this position or this salary.”
The truth is that there is no formula in deciding a job transition. The longstanding time-tested habits of reading the Bible, praying, seeking God, and finding peace—basically having a relationship with God— still works today.
And when we are bold enough to decide, it is easier for God to steer us when we decide to move, like how it is easire to steer a moving car than a stationary one.
“If you want to honor God in your life, you got to trust God that He will direct you back to the right path even when you have make a wrong turn. Do not stay in the paralysis of indecision. Working out your purpose is a journey, not a one-time event. We have a dynamic and not a stagnant God,” said Yaw.
Yaw made his first uncomfortable transition after practicing law for seven years. Handling cases up to the then Supreme Court level, Yaw knew the ropes of his job until he had a job offer from TA Securities Berhad in 1993. And while he thought he would be working in the legal department there, he worked only three months before he was assigned to a management role. In that role, he begun the journey of relearning from ground zero the stockbroking systems, processes and procedures, which were foreign to him (covering areas from dealing, to share settlement, margin accounts, credit control, and compliance).
“Generally, in the first few months, you want to go back to your old job which you are familiar with as the new things require a new mindset and you need to roll up your sleeves and try to understand and work through the whole process. You need a lot of patience, persistence, perseverance, and hard work to stay the course.”
“It’s a humbling process but after that exposure, I had a good overview which assist me to oversee the departments and in making the right decisions. So often the decision is not so clear cut, and I got to ask if I have all right facts before me—what are the benefits, risks and consequences. So, those were all the trainings I went through and there are no short-cuts,” said Yaw.
After two years of training in an entirely new stockbroking industry, Yaw was promoted to General Manager of Botly Securities Sdn Bhd, a sister-company of TA Securities Berhad and eventually became its Executive Director in 1996. He learned and acquired many soft skills from managing people in a corporate setting compared to the independent background he came from in the law firm.
“You develop a lot of soft skills when you run an organization. It was tough. It’s never easy to change. But you need to have a learning culture and want to learn new things.”
“But skills and information, there’s a limit to them. What matters is the application of what you know because life is full of uncertainties and they come to you like a curve ball.”
“When making the right decision, it’s about your experiences because there are so many variables that are out of your control. That is why God has to be involved in it,” said Yaw, who always prayed for wisdom from God.
He shared that when we decided in our heart to follow God, we must be willing to follow His Way. But sometimes, we deceive ourselves by wrapping our personal ambition around God’s ambition.
“Sometimes, we want something so much that we make it look like a God thing. But the truth is that we wrap our ambition around God. We do things our way and make it look like God’s way. So, when thing do not happen our way, we blame Him. Our eyes are focused on the results we want. For example, if you want to buy a Honda Accord, you will see this Honda car all over the road.. We make it look like a God thing but it’s our thing,” said Yaw.
And yes, following God sometimes involves making decision that is uncomfortable and downright risky. Faith is spelt RISK!
After 18 years in TA group, Yaw was already the Executive Director of TA Enterprise Berhad and a director for its subsidiaries. But the Lord prompted him to move on at his prime time in year 2011 into an entirely new industry at 49 years old. During then, one of his children was going to the university and it was the post subprime loan crisis.
“When I was approached for a new job, it doesn’t make sense to move to a new industry in a new start-up company when you are in a secured and comfort zone, but somehow I sensed I got to move. You look at everything, and financially and risk-prospects wise, you should not go. However, I have the peace in my heart though my mind could not make commercial sense of it. I was looking for a challenge but I never expected a shift in the industry and company.
“I don’t expect to retire though the official age of retirement is 60. Once you have a learning attitude, you only move on to do other things. A calling is not a job or just collecting a paycheck to meet monthly needs, but it is reaching your highest potential, which God gave you,” said Yaw.
Putting on the attitude of Jesus is everything. But as a generation that demands immediate results and gratification, we forgot the value of patience, persistence, and perseverance in reaching our destiny.
“You must be prepared to go through the training to understand whether you’re cut for the job. Excellence is basically giving your very best in whatever you do. Marshal all your skills and resources. Be outstanding and good in what you do. When the opportunity comes, pray and make the move. You got to trust God. If you take the wrong path, He will direct you back.”
“You do your best and God will take care of the rest. Skills are good to acquire. Experience will come as you take risks. Once you do it, you get new experiences. Some situations are challenging but if you don’t do it, you don’t get experience and expertise. God has to be involved. It’s not how smart you are,” said Yaw.
CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW ABOUT WORK
1. Work is not a curse
Sharing on the Christian Worldview about work, Yaw shared that we tend to look at work as a curse but even before Adam fell into sin, God created work. God took Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And ‘work’ in Hebrew meant ‘avodah’, which is worship. But when Adam sinned, God cursed the ground (not work) with thorns and thistles so that the results would no longer commensurate with the work. Simply put, work becomes tough.
Are we doomed to the curse of unfruitfulness for the rest of our life? Before Jesus was sent to crucifixion, the first time he shed his blood was the placement of the crown of thorns around his forehead at the Praetorium (the seat of government power where the marketplace is). This crown of thorns represents the curse of the thorns and thistles on the ground. And the shedding of blood by Jesus represents the breaking of the curse to bear fruits from our work.
Jesus has redeemed us from the curse by becoming a curse for us, so that the blessings of Abraham can come to us. In other words, Jesus has redeemed our work to be fruitful and satisfying.
2. Fruitfulness does not equal to becoming millionaires
All of us should be fruitful! But Yaw shared that fruitfulness does not necessarily mean being wealthy alone but also being healthy, enjoying good relationship, achieving our purpose and destiny in life, and leaving behind a legacy. The Bible actually holds many promises for us as His Children. But we need to claim these benefits by following God.
“A lot of promises are conditional in the Bible; if you do this, God will do that. But we want the benefits, we don’t want the responsibilities. And in the Abrahamic covenant, God blesses us to bless others.”
“But sometimes, we are like the Dead Sea with inflow and no outflow. We are supposed to be a river, full of life and always flowing in and out.
“We are a generation of quick-fix and formulas. We do this and we get that. But please give the credit to God. God wants our attention and relationship. The long and short of it is that it’s all about God, not us,” said Yaw.
3. God will grant you success when you follow Him
And amongst all people, God has the greatest interest to see you succeed in your life because He has created you and put His image and likeness in you and invested in you with the blood of Jesus Christ. His ‘ROI’ (return-of-investment) is setting up his children for success, by guiding us to do things His Way and in His Time.
“But do you have the desire to succeed in using God’s way and God’s timing without compromising?” said Yaw.
When Jesus was brought by the devil to the top of the mountain, the devil offered Jesus a short-circuit way to reign over all the kingdoms of the world without the pain and agony of the crucifixion by worshipping the devil. The truth is that Jesus will eventually reign over all the kingdoms anyway. But it would come later in God’s timing and God’s way, which involves a painful death by crucifixion and in the process, redeems us and reconciles us to the Father.
4. The meaning of success is fulfilling your destiny to the highest potential
“Do you believe that God can make you a millionaire in a week’s time? Yes to some and no to others. If God can create the universe and own the gold and silver and the cattle on the thousand hills, surely God is able and ready to give you a million dollars instantly if He wants to,” said Yaw.
We are currently living in the culture driven by the Babylonian system, where we believe that success meant being rich and famous. But what is the meaning of success in God’s Kingdom?
Is Mother Teresa considered successful? Though she did not have a big house and she mixed with the rejects of the society, Yaw believed that Mother Teresa is very successful. This is because when she feeds a child, she sees the face of Jesus in every child. Mother Teresa fulfilled her destiny in reaching her highest potential. A humble lady who worked in the gutters with a heart of compassion for the downtrodden and under privileged, Mother Teresa was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace prize.
5. God is using your work to mold you into becoming like Christ
“Sometimes, we are myopic, we look at events and short-term gains. But there’s a greater character and spiritual formation. How do you build that formation in your daily affairs of life? God would use your work to mold and shape you,” said Yaw.
We are first and foremost all full-time priests, though a few are called into the full-time pastoral ministry. God did not make a mistake by placing us in the workplace. A full-time marketplace vocation is not inferior to a full time pastoral ministry vocation. We are all first Christians and are called to different vocations. There are more pre-believers in the workplace than in the church. And so, God called the majority of the believers to spend the majority of their time interacting with the majority of the pre- believers in the workplace. In this manner, God is raising the workplace believers to impact their workplace’s sphere of influence.
He shared about Joseph who was a favored son of his father and brought up in a privileged background. But at 17 years old, he was sold and worked as a slave for 13 years from the pit to Pothipar’s household and the prison, before he returned to the palace and became the prime minister of Egypt. God was with Joseph all the time in a foreign land working under ungodly and difficult employers all these years. The Lord was using all these circumstances to shape and form his character before elevating him to the premiership role. The marketplace is also the place that God use to mold us into becoming the person He wants us to be. And at His opportune time, God will promote you.
In conclusion, everything stems from having an active and vibrant daily relationship with God. From this relationship, you will be able to make wise decisions for your work transition. Build your relationship by spending time with Him by reading the Word and praying. There are no short cuts.
Also, do not be afraid to make mistakes as you learn to discern His Voice. Do not fear failure. Every failure is only a temporary set back and the good Lord will redirect your steps and bring restoration as we trust and obey God in our journey of faith.
Lastly, the Lord intended our work to be enjoyable, fruitful, and satisfying, especially when He has redeemed it with His precious blood from the crown of thorns. As you take a step of faith, God will take a quantum leap and you will find yourself fulfilling His Will for you in your work and your destiny.
The Lord is with you and the Lord establish and bless the work of your hands.
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