Whit-choo! That is my improvised spelling and sound of a whip.

Employment is a modern form of slavery, except for the most part where you leave with a paltry salary after tax is calculated from your gross pay.  We are blessed here in the UK that we have a tax-free Personal Allowance of £11k, before we are taxed 20% up to a given salary of £43k. Beyond that limit, the basic tax rate will double to 40% and then some in another tax band. Now you can understand why businesses use tax havens and offshore banking. It is also why senior management celebrate themselves with mega bonuses to counter the higher tax rate of their accumulated earnings.

Nonetheless, we are fortunate compared with other countries like China and Bangladesh, where labour is so cheap because there is an over population of people willing to work for any value. It’s ironic when you see celebrated Western companies like Apple advertising themselves as ‘ethical’ and market concern for the environment and climate change, when in fact their foreign labour work like human droids to mass-produce materials for Western markets to lavish ourselves with pride. We are so spoiled here in the West that we can afford luxuries like over-priced phone contracts on disposable gadgets (a luxury I personally avoid). Gosh, even developed countries like the United States are inwardly poor due to their inconsistent national minimum wage standards and holiday allowance, especially in retail and the catering sector. So much for being ‘United’ as a given nation.

However, it is better to be in a job than being jobless, unless you are retired with a sufficient pension package. Not all countries have generous pension packages like us Brits. Even Hong Kong, a financial hub in East Asia do not offer decent pension packages for the general population of workers, unless you work in the public sector or multinational firms.

Personally, I would like to be on better financial standing, so I can utilise my time for a greater cause that is not focused on myself. It may occur sooner than I think. Deep down, I want to venture out and learn new skills, but because I have a lack of dosh in my personal savings – I am playing each day by ear. Sadly, my spare time is often spent on building up my energy and getting enough sleep ready for the next working day.

A slaughterhouse is typically viewed as an inhumane facility for slaughtering animals. It’s worrying when your workplace resembles that of a slaughterhouse, as your dear colleagues are being axed and chopped left, right and centre. I have never seen anything like this before. I’m not sure if it’s an industry sector thing, or the senior management are entirely blind from their own greed and pride. Whilst the elite are giving themselves ludicrous bonuses of 5 figures, the front-line staff are told to juggle further responsibilities for the same pay.

The real culling seems to be focused on management, which you may think is healthy to an extent, but the organisation now hangs on a shoogly peg, as core teams are supposed to run autonomously without any clear focus or leadership. It also doesn’t help when the core teams are senior in age and fearful in using technology.

Makes sense? Not really. I just never expected to be cast as an extra on an epic blockbuster featuring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. My heart will go on.

You and I know that a walkout from the lowly plebs would disable the senior team, as the latter are unable to manage the wider human concerns of an organisation, only to cater for themselves. It doesn’t help when ten of the dozen second-tier management are managed by women. Is this a sexist comment and/or observation? No, but I know there is no longer equality (never mind common sense) within management.

For the most part of the workforce, folk are able to hopscotch to another job in the same sector, which is good for them. As for me, it is more difficult to follow suit because of our ever-changing skill set and knowledge to sustain ourselves.

Why am I risking myself in this spontaneous reflection?

 

Faith-Driven Patience

My heart longs and waits patiently before I recognise an answer to prayer. I am not one who depends on spiritual voices, although I have heard God’s still voice on three distinct occasions. I didn’t cross-examine these spontaneous personal experiences with Scripture, but I did confide my experience with other believers. I do believe these encounters are of God because of the context that I experienced these divine moments.

I’m not sure it can be practical to cross-examine Scripture when you experience a divine intervention. I can’t imagine Moses cross-examining God’s audible voice when the LORD revealed Himself to Moses from the burning bush. Can you imagine Moses dashing to the local library or temple to look through the scrolls?

Once, I was waiting for an interview outside an empty corridor, as I had applied for a course to study for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). Oh man! That voice was loud and clear. The words were simply ‘You shouldn’t be here.’ I was initially deflated as I was all dressed up for the occasion, but I did experience the peace of God. Even when I was called to sit-in for my interview a few moments later, the questions didn’t even reflect what I had prepared for. I knew afterwards that God was in control.

Another distinct time when I experienced God’s voice was when I sensed a great uneasiness in my Spirit. I couldn’t sleep for weeks and I plucked up the courage to seek counsel in the LORD in prayer. I heard the words, ‘Be prepared’.

The LORD was preparing me to ready myself to lose my part-time job. The moment I found myself being bullied at work and cornered due to internal politics, I knew this moment had come. The several months following up to this incident, I was preparing myself to let go of my job. I knew I had to move on. I even applied for work elsewhere beforehand.

The workplace was a poisoned chalice. So much so, that staff often find themselves in long-term sick leave due to stress or heart-related illnesses. I’ve heard of tragedies of suicide and sudden death. Even my health suffered during the latter years and that was when I fell ill with a perforated appendix. When I was cornered to surrender my job, I did experience peace, purely because I was foretold from what I believe was God’s will for me.

Admittedly, I was nervous of the future, as I didn’t know where the LORD would call me to work and serve. I soon learned that the LORD used this opportunity to help me recuperate in my health, which helped tremendously. Due to my part-time contract, I never qualified for the ridiculous 6-month sick time. Instead, I only had a few weeks after my major operation and perhaps another week after I developed adhesion and MRSA. I still had an open wound when I returned to work. I lost so much during this period including a job, poor grades at seminary, and a long-distance relationship with a friend from the States, but I came to learn of God’s grace, which was sufficient for me to lean on Him as my strength and tower.

Another occasion was when I buried myself in prayer seeking deliverance from a financial situation. Again, the words were loud and clear. I heard the following words, ‘I will bless you with great abundance, more than what you’ve asked for.’ I also couldn’t believe that my answer to prayer with regards to my own stupidity unfolded to a real-time miracle.

Lastly, I have once smelt what I can only describe as the presence of God during prayer time at seminary school. It was a pleasant rosary smell that lasted long enough for me to breathe in the distinct fragrance through my nostrils (despite having a cold at the time), and then the smell disappeared.

Curiously, the experience encouraged me to finish my last year of my studies at seminary and rest my literal body, mind and Spirit afterwards. I struggled to complete the course because of the liberal teachings. We spent more time learning about Christ through human knowledge from theology books than the Holy Scriptures that I personally struggle how seminary is a worthy tool to learning one’s call to pastoral ministry. It seems these days a call to pastoral ministry is down to your exclusive Christian-only experience and who you know for links and references. Character is outside the window, and we as the body of Christ are at fault too, as we look towards our pastor like an inspirational leader, as opposed to seeing Christ alone as our LORD and Saviour. Sadly, we live in a celebrity culture.

 

Pressing Forward

It can be argued that I’ve heard God’s voice during times of trouble, or in places where I shouldn’t be. Upon learning of this Kingdom-focus vision around 8 years ago *God-incidentally* during seminary, I have yet to hear any audible voice or Scriptural Word directly related to this vision. References to Biblical themes on God’s love, discipleship, mission, fruits of the Spirit, and social justice – yes, but not a soundly obvious answer. I’m not sure if this is a positive or negative thing. Perhaps I am being blinded by doubt in the LORD!

The only hint that I sense is living on the path that is leading me to the Great Commission as it were. The LORD has allowed me to experience and grow a thicker skin, where I have experienced countless incidents of rejection in a short period of time. My health is at a level of renewed confidence that I can declare as restored. I know the LORD has been shaping and pruning my character and attitude towards others, which hurts, but I’m thankful to have experienced the seasons of personal growth in the LORD.

I’m also aware the LORD has been guiding my current path to experience paid and voluntary placements and learning more about people and the sensitivities of our world. People are lost and needy. I can see why a social enterprise based on customer servicing would be appealing to the greater mass, especially when we are so fed up with the lack of personable attitudes and interactions of everyday life. The same outcome where no doubt a select number of your friends on Facebook are championing through a personalised profile on social media, but really, we should be fishing for men and making disciples. That can only be achieved by forming communities and building sustainable relationships.

I even saw a generously-paid job with a household name Christian ministry where one is paid to be a web training evangelist. Despite the initial appeal, I didn’t apply for the job. People need relationships not more technology. And yes, I even have issues with churches spending stupid money on branding and marketing, as a means of replacing word-of-mouth communication and face-to-face human interaction. Let us please return back to the basics.

I feel like Shigeru Miyamoto in expressing my conceptual thinking in what I perceive as a trivial matter. The reality is corporate giants don’t care about you, they care about profits – and they will utilise the laws of the land to convince you of their ‘ethical’ and ‘equality’ standing within society. Satan doesn’t care about you, only the LORD God cares about us that He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins. The LORD knows us so much that He knows the hairs on your head and even before you are born in your mother’s womb.

So yeah, I still haven’t identified a specific answer to prayer about this vocational venture. I know the odd folk have been praying for me behind the scenes, and yes, I am keen to struggle in my sanity and life to stick out like a sore thumb to pursue this, despite my brain telling me to drop all ambitions and settle down. Maybe it’s a good thing that I cannot identify any ‘signs’ as it were.

I have recently tallied £6k in the bag worth of personal savings, and I’m still resisting in buying shiny toys for myself. I’m still not distracted by entertainment, though lately, I wish I can kill off Twitter. Too much content on the Timeline, despite limiting myself to select channels to share worthy news.

Edit: At the time of writing, that £6k is now £1.2k less as my parents have finally agreed terms on dig money that is actually a very generous offer. I knew this time would come as Dad is unable to secure paid work and Dad is pushing with the so-called home improvement (even though I don’t believe it is God’s will), hence my desire to invest in his time on future aspirations. Nonetheless, I willingly decided to pay a year’s worth of dig money in one go, which surprised my parents as they expressed immediate fluster due to my now uncertain job (despite signing a ‘permanent’ contract), but it allows me to reset my savings counter and plan ahead.

Which reminds me… this month being April, I should start to consider applying for any grants for this Kingdom-focus vision and see if I qualify, even though God’s wallet is boundless.

~Richard