Daniel recounts God’s faithfulness amid workplace pressures and the struggle of balancing various commitments.
by Daniel Lau
For many, the marketplace can perhaps be described as a battlefield. Amid uncompromising demands, office politics and countless temptations, this is a place where spiritual battles are fought, and only by God’s strength, won.
Spiritual Challenges in the Marketplace Christians in the workplace face an uphill task of authentic worship in the face of abounding temptations. Just as Satan tempted our Lord Jesus Christ in the wilderness with the display of the “kingdoms of the world and their splendour” (Matt 4:8), in the wilderness of the marketplace, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16) are often just a thought away.
Our problem is further compounded by how the “heart is deceitful above all things” (Jer 17:9). In all honesty, we are often blind to our secret idols. But what we fear, worry, get frustrated and fight over reveal the focus of our worship.
Furthermore, in the age of instantaneous communication, it is not uncommon to be overwhelmed by the sheer requirements of work. Everything seems to be crying out for our urgent attention and our occupations somehow become our preoccupation. To “be still and know our God” (Ps 46:10) is a major struggle.
God’s Grace Through The Journey Our ever faithful God alone empowers us to live out a fruitful, Spirit-led life. Left by ourselves, we can “do nothing” (John 15:5). Having worked in the public sector for over 15 years, my experience is no exception.
During my earlier working years, the desire to succeed in my career was often a strong motivation. Because I had taken a scholarship, there was constant pressure to perform. While I attempted to avoid direct and more obvious sins such as deception and backstabbing, the temptation to be driven by promotions and my bosses’ approval was very real. At the same time, the weariness of balancing multiple responsibilities for work, family and church, coupled with raising four children on a single income, often meant busyness with little time for deep devotions with God.
However, God worked in many ways to sustain me, bringing timely encouragement through various people in my working life so that I may not “be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Heb 3:13). Looking back, the regular close support of workplace brothers and sisters was indeed a breath of fresh air in an otherwise spiritually barren worklife. I wish to thank Kwee Wah (SWS) who invited me to my first fellowship meeting while I was working at the Housing & Development Board (HDB).
As I moved to other public agencies, God brought other divine interventions. While I was working at the Agency of Science, Technology & Research (A*STAR), I had the opportunity to meet and partner with a bunch of committed workplace believers. This informal Christian workplace network brought much spiritual nourishment and we even had the wonderful privilege of running workplace Alpha Courses. For the introductory session, we had a turnout of almost a hundred guests and colleagues. This first Alpha Course eventually led to the formation of the One-North Christian Fellowship (OCF), from which various workplace cellgroups were eventually started.
To deepen my fellowship with God, I also began to spend time alone with Him regularly during lunch time. The practice of solitude in the midst of busyness has helped me tremendously, bringing spiritual strength, joy and insight especially in times of stress and difficulty.
Looking back, I thank God for strengthening me throughout this journey, as well as the opportunity to co-labour with Him in reaching out to the lost. Let us continue to look upon God to sustain us to lead productive and fruitful lives in the marketplace.