How I fought temptations at work with godly truths
Woo Jia Qian // October 11, 2021, 3:19 pm
I have been working in the banking industry for slightly more than four years, and I spent 14 months in manufacturing before that.
I’m thankful for God’s provision, grace and love thus far, but when I reflect on my corporate experiences, I realise that there have been numerous temptations that I faced along the way.
In this article, I want to share how I managed to counter these temptations with His Word, which is aptly called the “sword of the spirit” in the full armour of God!
Unreasonable requests, overwhelming expectations… the list goes on.
In my line of work, meeting business requirements for projects is already challenging enough, but sometimes new requirements get added while project timelines remain unchanged.
Other times, additional project requirements are only mentioned after product delivery, which makes it seem as though I have done a bad job.
In such situations, it is always so tempting to take revenge at the slightest opportunity, such as thinking of how to tekan (put stress or pressure on) that person and make things difficult the next time we work together.
But I know I would feel really guilty if I go on to act on such displeasing thoughts.
Sometimes we also have the tendency to self-victimise, and our perception of how others treat us may be biased or prejudiced. In other words, it may very well be a case of taking things too personally.
The fact is, Jesus calls us to show love even to those who are difficult to love.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)
Yes, there should still be a time and place to be assertive. We should be discerning of what is right and wrong, and what is reasonable and unreasonable. We should also speak up if needed.
Going back to my earlier example, I would have asked about the relevance of new requirements and explain that it is only reasonable that project timelines get extended. If needed, I would also highlight that there was no prior mention of the newly raised requirements.
Regardless, we should never let revenge take root in our hearts. Revenge is certainly not something on God’s heart!
Ever thought to yourself: Nope, I’m not going to do more sai kang (menial work) that comes without visibility?
I may be a software engineer, but I am also expected to clear paperwork before every round of software release.
I admit that it may be tempting to “arrow” the paperwork to someone else. After all, time spent on paperwork hardly translates to meaningful work.
However, I try to avoid thinking that I should be freed of such administrative responsibilities and someone else should be hired to handle them.
In times like these, I recall how Jesus washed His disciples’ feet even though He is God and King. And I remind myself that I should never view myself as being too “high class” for menial work.
Understandably, everyone has expectations, and it is not surprising that one will consider quitting if every single minute on the job is spent on menial work.
However, we should also understand that is not possible for us to be exempted from menial work in any profession. In a forum letter to The Straits Times some years ago, I wrote that PMETs must reflect if their expectations are reasonable.
I explained that there are occasions when the best person to handle the administrative work is the professional himself, and in reality it is not practical to delegate every aspect of one’s administrative workload.
Of course, it is reasonable for PMETs to expect to be involved in more value-adding work. We should also try to automate menial work whenever possible.
But my point is that such work still has to be done, and it is always important to examine the condition of our heart to see if it pleases God.
God’s Word tells us to labour in godly obedience, therefore we should not idolise man’s applause or only desire to do what is visible.
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
Obey them not only to win their favour when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free. (Ephesians 6:5-8)
Knowing the truths from God’s Word is so important. Even Jesus rebuked the devil with the Word when tempted by him (Matthew 4:1-11).
After reflecting on my corporate experiences, I have also personally come to appreciate the value of the Bible even more.
Beyond using the Word to overcome temptation, let’s also aim to extend the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to those at work.
This is what my I believe ministry is about, including ministry at the marketplace.
THINK + TALK
- Are you growing in godliness at work?
- What temptations do you face at work? How can you counter these with truths from God’s Word?
- Do you believe that times of stretching can also mean you are being moulded? What areas are you being shaped in?