Recently while having a conversation with a close relative. This relative asked, “Why don’t you go look for a job teaching in a polytechnic? You are still young, and your skills are still valid. If you don’t work outside in a couple of years, your skills will be redundant.”
Then early this morning, while logging onto Facebook, I chanced upon an ex-surbordinate who is now holds a Director position in her job.
Life often has this way of inundating you with stark reminders how badly you are doing in the eyes of the the world (secularly).
I asked the boy last night, “Do you think mummy should go back to work outside?” His reply was, “Yes, only if when I want you not to be there sometimes, when I feel like doing what I want. But really, no.”
I shared this with boy, “You know so-and-so says that I should go back to work in a company outside, if not I become useless in this world very soon…” The boy’s reply then gave this other perspective. “I think so-and-so only have one to two ticks in the list that God gave to her, while mummy, I think you have at least 10 ticks so far in that list that God gave to you.”
Sometimes, we all need to hear some wisdom from 8 year olds.
So which list are we holding on to? Is it a list that the world gave us, or a list that God gave us? If we really sat down and think about it, the two lists will look quite different from one another.
This post is not so much of a scorecard to show to to the world that ‘I am doing better than you are,’ or to make myself feel better even though I am fully aware that I am not faring well in the world’s standards. Rather it is to communicate a different perspective to how we can see life.
The Checklist according to the World – SG Version
Let’s look at the ‘World’s Scorecard – SG Version’. At 38 years old, I should be;
1. Live in a fairly comfortable home, that I have at least paid up to 40% through my CPF so far. If it is a HDB flat, the home should be fully paid.
2. Have at least 2 children
3. If I have some excess money, I should look at keeping a portfolio of investments, either through a second home (which I can rent out for extra income) or through bonds or stocks and shares. And start saving for retirement.
4. Hold a middle management position in a company, salary should be close to 5 figures at my age. Looking forward to bonuses yearly, and hopefully, moving up to senior management level eventually.
5. Have a car that is below 5 years old, doesn’t matter if I am still paying instalments of close to 1k a month. My household should have a second car, 1 each for the husband and wife.
6. Have the disposable income to spend on travel overseas for family vacations, each time school holidays come around.
7. Have a sub-list, on the number of countries I have managed to visit in my lifetime.
8. Be able to spend on clothes, make-up, invest in consumer electronics for the home. And eat in good restaurants every weekend with the family.
9. Go to church every Sunday, tithe 10% of my income to church.
10. If I have extra time weekly, I will be serving on at least one ministry in church.
11. Be charitable and give to charity organisations, either support a child through Unicef, give to local charities.
12. Or be generous enough to extend financial help to needy friends
13. Ensure that the children have a good education, do well academically to get into good schools and courses in the university. And be able to provide for tuition classes or enrichment classes for the children.
14. Have domestic help at home.
15. Each family member should be covered with an insurance policy.
With the ‘World’s Checklist’, if I am able to put a ‘tick’ next to each of these points, I can be considered ‘doing fairly well’ in the world’s eyes, 不抽吃, 不愁穿 (will not go hungry or naked).
There is nothing wrong with following through all of that for a normal, go-getting and hardworking, contributing member in a society in Singapore. After all, most of us been trained to believe that this is an ideal life to have, living in the country like Singapore. And likely peace, joy and contentment can be assumed to be found, having to tick all 15 points listed in the ‘World’s Check-List’.
But, I cannot imagine having to do the same things over and over again to focus on achieving all these points from the World’s Checklist, for the next 20,30 or 40 years.
A Different Checklist
This is how my list looks like, and since the points are for the here and now, I can put a check on every point!
1. Have a work-at-home job (not necessary in a company) that will allow me to earn some income. I don’t need a status or the world to give me a pat on the back to tell me that I am useful when I am a middle manager at some company.
This job allows me to manage my own time to spend with son and hb. Going down the list, this flexibility of time will be key to achieving all the rest of the other points in my list.
2. I am contented with having 1 child.
3. To be able to spend at least 2 hours of my early morning hours reading the bible and praying, without having to rush in traffic to get to the work place.
4. I do not have to take leave when my child is sick, or when I need to spend time with the family when hb is back in town
5. I can set aside time at least twice weekly to have prayer meetings from 10.30am – 1.30pm. I am available every morning from 9.30am – 1.30pm if ever there is a need to visit anyone to pray together or pray for the sick in the hospital. If there are no prayer opportunities, or prayer meetings, I will be working from home from 10.00am – 6.00p.m. on most days.
6. Not working in company outside, means I spend alot less on clothes and makeup. The boy and I still get to eat good food every weekend at the same places that we frequent weekly, and when hb is back once in 4-8 weeks, we get to visit our favourite restaurants.
7. I have a 7 year old car that has been fully paid by hb recently, so I don’t need to worry about taking public transport.
8. The boy and I have no lack of opportunities of travelling to places that we need to go to. Every school vacation in June and December, we spend 70% of our time out of Singapore. Travelling comes with a different perspective for us. We spend meaningful and quality time with the family, so it doesn’t matter even means spending most of our time in hb’s apartment in Makati City. The other travel opportunities that we have in a year are mostly to spend time with fellow Christian sisters and brothers in Indonesia in fellowship and prayer.
Since all the points in my list are for the here and now. I did not mention about having a home, investments, my child’s education, financials, a career. I am very thrifty person, eat simple food, do not covert after things, have little desire towards luxury goods or experiences. In fact, I think I am a very very blessed person, as I never have to worry about money, food or having a roof over my head.
How about the points about church, tithing and serving in church? I am not a conventional christian, who might even be frowned upon by regular Christians. But I know what God calls each and every one of His children to do is not limited within the church walls.
It will be a great blessing, if the family can eventually have our own home and be able to stay together as a family. But I do not want to focus on just achieving that and missing out on the big picture of things.
Seeing Life through Different Lens
People can judge me if they want for being unwise for not planning for the future, but all I can say is that I see life through a very different set of lens than others.
I am certain that this is the Checklist that revolves around what the God has led me to do at this point of my life. As I progress in my walk with Him, I believe there are more which will be added to this checklist, and I am prepared for the changes that He allows.
I have already missed out giving God the best years of my life in my 20s, so I want to give Him my best years now or whatever that is left of my time and energy. I don’t want to wait till I am in my 50s or 60s, and then leave God with whatever time I have left, after pursuing what I wanted for most of the time in my life.
So even I am look upon as a failure or a loser in the world’s eyes. All I can say is this, I don’t think God sees me the same way as the world does.
Faith is often hobbled by our reluctance to believe God can bring about great changes if He is taken at His word.
So, I take Him at His word when He says this;
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things…
And the continuation of the verse in Matthew 6:33, ‘…and all these things shall be added unto you.”
So like what I told the boy after he shared with me that he thinks “Mummy, I think you have at least 10 ticks so far in that list that God gave to you”. I hope it is so, as my eye is on the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Even if there are 50 points on the Checklist that God has for me, I will be looking at getting as many ticks I can from that Checklist.
If you are a Christian, which Checklist are you using?
If your version of God’s checklist looks very similar to the ‘World’s Checklist’, I would be concerned for you, spiritually. However, if you have already started on a ‘God’s Checklist’, I am very happy for you!
As for others reading this who are keen to build a ‘Checklist’ according to what God has planned for you, but don’t know how to start. Do drop me a mail and I will be glad if I can be of help, to help you start on this ‘God’s Checklist’. To discover the purpose and destiny that God has for you in the days ahead.