Work

Full-time under 30: Leaving law to answer a different call

Danny Chua // September 19, 2019, 12:42 am

LEAVING LAW TO ANSWER A DIFFERENT CALL COVER

All photos courtesy of writer. Danny and his law friends (left); Danny in ministry

During my time in university and first years of work as a criminal lawyer, I discovered that I really enjoyed the nature of the work. It’s tough for some to believe, but I genuinely loved my legal work!

For starters, God had masterfully orchestrated my job search and placed me in a law firm where the “fit” was good and ideal for both my bosses and me. I found the world of criminal law fascinating and constantly ripe with opportunities to share my faith.

When clients sometimes realised their wrong and found nowhere left to run, there we were as professionals, engaged to help them find a way out of trouble – trouble that wasn’t just legal but, at times, social, emotional, mental and even spiritual.

"So help me God": Wrestling with my calling to the Bar

Interacting with many different people from various broken backgrounds, I had to learn to ask God for wisdom, to see each client is a person, not a project or merely a case (though there definitely were some very challenging ones!).

At the crossroads of their lives, I needed to learn how to help them deal with guilt, face the consequences of their criminality and reconcile with the family they had disappointed, among other things.

Not every experience was joy-inducing, of course. Many times, I had to grapple with the unrepentant and unremorseful. These, however, were nonetheless crucial episodes for my own personal and spiritual growth.

Looking back, God used these experiences to prepare me for where He called me next: full-time in church.

Danny with his parents.

FROM SOLID CERTAINTY TO WASTEFUL RISK

What if you truly enjoy your vocational work when many of your peers don’t?

How can you leave a job you love, one where you can “shine for Christ” and still “serve in Church”?

Why can’t you do both: earn a decent income and still fulfil God’s will for your life?

Isn’t it such a waste? All your legal training?

These were the many questions on my mind about going full-time, but the answer never changed. It was always, “Yes, but…”

As much as I enjoyed work and the unforgettable fellowship with my colleagues, it was really in the ministry of the Word where I found my greatest joy and most fulfilling moments in life.

I felt the deepest joys and the Father’s heart most when proclaiming God’s Word and helping another person understand Jesus Christ more.

Some of us feel the pleasure of God in a dish cooked well, a contract well drafted, a passenger well served or a lesson plan well executed. I felt the deepest joys and the Father’s heart most when proclaiming God’s Word and helping another person understand Jesus Christ more.

During my time in university and early years of working life, I increasingly began to explore the realms of teaching and preaching in church. As I delved deeper into what we called “lay” or non-clerical work, I recalled all the times in my younger years where the Holy Spirit stamped on my heart the unstoppable power of God’s Word.

How do I find my calling in life?

1. Meeting the God of perfect love

I remember learning the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9). When I finally understood what they meant at 19 years old, it was as though Jesus had put a new face to the Living God. Gone was the picture of cold, uncaring sovereignty. No longer was there an omnipotent, everlasting CCTV policing my life to record my wrongs.

I found true intimacy – to be fully known by God along with all my sins and my shame, yet to be fully loved through the blood of Christ. Finally, I could even call God, “Father”. When Jesus showed me the Heavenly Father, my life changed.

The Spirit breathed new life into my heart at the age of 19. I believed and was convinced every Christian needed to know the love of the Father, not some merely abstract “God” who dwelled in unapproachable light.

I had finally found the most liberating truth in all of life and was convinced this would melt hardened hearts of sin and rebellion.

Seeing God as a loving Father

2. Meeting the God of salvation

I remember meditating on this verse:

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)

When our God spoke these words through Isaiah thousands of years ago, He declared them with unshakable certainty. In the last days, when Jesus Christ shines brightly on Zion, the mountain of the Lord (Revelation 21:2), God’s people in Israel and the lost ones of the nations will be drawn to him.

God’s very Word in the flesh (John 1:14), the person of Jesus Christ, would bring the repentance and salvation of billions of people in human history.

The Spirit moved my heart, and I believed and was convinced this was the one key message my world needs to know. Although I was only 19 or 20 at that time, I wondered how I could join this unstoppable mission eventually, somehow.

3. Meeting the God of transformation

I remember reading the words of Martin Luther: “I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing … the Word did everything.” When the radical reformer spoke these words centuries ago, he had absolute confidence that Jesus’ gospel would change the world forever.

Indeed, Christ did at that Reformation, and He still does – He continues to regenerate lifeless hearts and make all things new even today.

On the Reformation: Why should I care what happened 500 years ago?

Reading about the earthshaking revival birthed at the Reformation, the Spirit moved my heart once more. I believed and was convinced the gospel movement was the greatest movement there could ever be.

While it wouldn’t be a walk in the park following Jesus, the faithful fathers of biblical times and church history proved there could be lasting fruit and eternal joy in doing so!

WHO WILL ANSWER THE CALL?

We walk away from the Bible and church history on a confident high sometimes but may nevertheless feel sceptical that Jesus is doing revolutionary work in Singapore.

Yet, He really is and I believe that with all my heart. As a generation of seniors age, they do so in a nation of peace where the gospel can grow and reach them – and it must. We urgently need Christian workers to train and equip our churches to reach this generation in their heart languages.

At the same time, with two to three generations of middle-age adults facing a spectrum of deep emptiness from millennial burnout to religious disillusionment in the increasingly demanding Singapore machine, isn’t it up to us to show them the living hope of the Cross?

Danny and his colleagues at the LCF dinner in 2017.

When our youth and children reach adulthood, many will possibly enter it with full-blown addictions and significant mental health issues like never before – won’t they need the Son who sets us free?

An overwhelming majority of Singaporean Christians genuinely believe Jesus died only for their welfare and prosperity in this lifetime.

I’m also reminded by a pastor who recently shared that though our national statistics reflect a not insignificant “Christian” population, an overwhelming majority genuinely believe Jesus died only for their welfare and prosperity in this lifetime. A considerable fraction of those who identify as “Christian” don’t even trust in the death of Christ alone to save them.

Yet, we’re just scratching the surface – the complexities of sensational issues the Singapore Church faces in navigating society and the world that hates her can sometimes leave us discouraged and crushed. More than ever, we urgently need Christian workers to lift up the church and centre them on the ancient truths.

Having said that, I hope you can see the harvest is increasingly plentiful. Please don’t overlook the fact, however, that while the labourers are few, Christ is calling an increasing number of men and women to the frontlines of full-time gospel work! Would you take the risk as well?

Full-time under 30: Discerning His calling in every season

A REAL RISK BUT A SURE JOY

I haven’t read too much of Pastor John Piper lately, as I had in my younger days, but some of the words in one of his smallest publications really convicted me recently.

In the book Risk is Right, Piper reminded me of this: “Faith in (God’s) promises frees us to risk and to find in our own experience that it is better to lose our life than to waste it.”

“Therefore, it is right to risk for the cause of Christ. It is right to engage the enemy and say, ‘May the Lord do what seems good to him.’ It is right to serve the people of God, and say, ‘If I perish, I perish!’ It is right to stand before the fiery furnace of affliction and refuse to bow down to the gods of this world.

“At the end of every other road – secure and risk free – we will put our face in our hands and say, ‘I’ve wasted it!’ But at the end of the road of risk, taken in reliance on the blood-bought promises of God, there will be fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.”

What’s a big risk for a sure joy?

On Joy: The darkest depths of despair, and the dangerous duty of delight

All things considered, I understand perfectly that making life choices like this remains difficult in the face of the gospel truths we know.

If you’re someone seriously considering full-time Christian work now, I pray that our Father will provide for you a supportive and nurturing church community as He has kindly given to me. A community that will help you count the risk but also cement your joy repeatedly in Jesus Christ and his inevitable, unstoppable return and reign.

And of course, I’d love to have a chat with you if you’re keen. In the meantime, keep allowing the Spirit to equip for service you in ways you’ll never imagine in the workplace.

Danny Chua is a 28-year-old full-time Christian worker at a local Bible-Presbyterian Church. After graduating from NUS, he spent some years as a criminal lawyer at Kalco Law LLC, where God taught him to walk with the broken and speak for those who have no voice.

THINK + TALK

  1. How do you feel about a full-time calling?
  2. Do you feel that going full-time is a wasteful risk?
  3. How has God wired you and your experiences to serve His purposes?
  4. What risks are you willing to take for God?