Work, workers and worship

Work, workers and worship
David Ang with his family

When I was 37, my church asked me if I would consider going into full-time ministry and becoming a pastor. But I knew that it was not God’s calling for me, as I felt that my personality, gifts and passions made me more suited to serve God as laity. (I responded—only half in jest—that if I were to become a church pastor, my parish would suffer a lot!)

From my years in the workforce, I have come to realise that, regardless of their career paths, believers everywhere are able to live out their Christian lives through their acts and words of love. I have seen this in people inside and outside the church community, regardless of their vocations as pastors, church staff or in secular jobs.

And as I studied what really God wants of our lives, I was led to the beginning of the Bible: And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Gen 1:28). God’s desire is for mankind to reign and have dominion over what is in the world. As we are made in His image and of His kind, He wants us to populate the world and represent Him everywhere in it.

The prayer Jesus prayed in Matthew 6:10 reiterates His desire for the earth to be filled with His kingdom as it was in Genesis 1:28. This means that we should worship God through and carry His heart into the corridors of power, workplaces, supermarkets, community clubs, offices, sports hall, etc.

It is on this premise which that I have set out my working ethos articulated in a “1-2-3” guideline: one God, two assignments and three practices.

One God

The God we worship within the church is the same God who is sovereign over the Church, economies, nations, businesses and the entire universe. There is no other authority besides Him and His ways are as important in one domain as another. His desires and rules are the same in church as in the workplaces.

A workplace, office, factory, boardroom or meeting room is not any less sacred than a church sanctuary. Wherever you work, you should behave as you worship God during your Sunday worship, or in your Friday night cell group. God is deeply interested in the government, law and order, material supplies and everything that is essential for people’s lives and livelihood.

Two assignments

  1. Be an ambassador of God

We are instructed to be the “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” (Matt 5:13–14). There needs to be a spiritual cognisance that, because we are of God and have Christ in us, we can relate, work and serve in the flow of God’s ways mirrored in kindness, helpfulness, other-centredness, humility and composure. In that, there is also an absence of overt ambition because we know that it is God who will give promotion and vocational advancement. We do not need to prove ourselves and outshine others, which will distinguish us from those around us in the rat race.

This rested and non-striving personality is what distinguishes a child of God from the rest. This differentiating element is in itself evangelistic as there is something tasteful, attractively different and even beautiful about it. It does not mean that a Christian should be a doormat or a yes-man; this person has the mind of Christ that thinks, decides and acts according to the will of God.

  1. Be an excellent worker.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Col 3:23). While organisations place certain standards on workers, the standard of a Christian is set by what is pleasing unto the Lord. While being in the world, we follow benchmarks of heaven, which are way more noble and refined than those on earth. Beyond just handing over a good piece of work, we hand it over with a posture that reflects God’s nature.

When I left my job as the Regional Managing Director of the world’s leading water company, a country general manager of a subsidiary under my responsibility wrote to me. He told me that I had been the go-to person for any problems because I was always able to find solutions for them. Being excellent in our work and delivering on our commitment is a more essential testimonial of who we are and who we worship than preaching and talking about God. God favoured my stint while I was managing the Southeast Asia region as we were able to raise its profitability to become number two in Asia-Pacific. My company was also known to have a very family-oriented and conducive working environment. Due to our reputation, we saw many applicants from the region and as far away as Europe applying for jobs at our company.

Three Ps to practise daily

  1. Prayer

Praying opens up a channel between God and man that ushers in the presence and will of God. Every Monday morning, the first thing I did was to pray for my company and its people. In prayer, heavenly blessings are translated into earthly ones.

During these prayers, God put certain names of employees in my heart only for me to find out later that they were actually going through work and/or family challenges. In prayer, God also gave me spiritual solutions for business issues. There was once when I was pitching for a major project and negotiations came to a stalemate. During my prayer, God showed me how a simple adjustment in a contentious contract term could make it mutually agreeable.

  1. People

At the heart of all organisations are people of all departments and ranks. When I was Managing Director, God gave me the ability to work with and harness the different expertise of the many people in my company. I tried my best to look after the well-being of my staff and their families.

I once took all the fathers and staff of my company to a DADs for Life conference when I was volunteering for the movement. They were each given door gifts, which included a wrist band. Years later, on the last day of my work with the company, a father-worker showed me the DADs for Life wrist band and told me, “Mr Ang, thank you very much. I remember this conference and it taught me how to be a good father.” Hearing that left me in tears.

  1. Productivity

In honour of God and His calling, we need to ask ourselves how we can do better in our work tomorrow, as compared with today. As I mentioned, we can honour God and evangelise in our workplace by being an excellent employee and have an attitude of constantly wanting to improve. Through the seasons, I have earned the respect of my bosses through the quality of my work, and thus their listening ear on issues of personal life and faith.

Keeping these simple 1-2-3 working guidelines has helped me tremendously in my career and now I have implemented them in the companies that I started.

Dr David Ang is a member of Kum Yan MC. He is Chairman of the CAC Board of Family Life, Chairman of the Methodist Fathers Movement, and serves on the MCS Judicial Council and Discipline Review Commission. / Photo courtesy of Dr David Ang