When I was given the role of a storeman in the Republic of Singapore Air Force, I had forgotten my dream of wanting to be an impactful soldier in National Service (NS).

I believed that only officers and sergeants were able to be influential, being in positions to lead and guide. Hence, when it was clear that I could not be an officer, I felt that the ways in which I could glorify God in my service would be limited.

Though I was blessed with a relaxed and fruitful life on the airbase, I wanted to do more. However, though I had forgotten about my dream, God remembered!

Halfway through my life as a storeman, I was suddenly reassigned to be a manpower clerk for my Air Force unit.

It was a big switch from my previous role, and there was much to learn. I had to pick up new duties fast as my senior was leaving shortly to be redeployed elsewhere.

This was the start of a tough journey as I had to manage different areas such as operational duties and welfare for my fellow soldiers. Additionally, to make things more challenging, I was given this role a month before the upcoming audit period.

This resulted in many late nights in the office at camp, staying after hours to complete work and to familiarise myself with my job scope.

For honour and glory to God

Thankfully, I was blessed with my officer-in-charge, a devout Christian who sought to make work as efficient and effective as possible.

As he offered a safe space for honest conversations, I shared with him my areas of doubt at work and had long discussions about our faith.

Through these God-centred conversations, we often talked about how we could improve the processes in our unit and bring glory to God through excellent work.

God was our real boss at work, and I sought to glorify God with my mind set on Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”.

I found favour and blessing as I strived to work excellently for God’s glory. This, in turn, resulted in a successful audit period and propelled my confidence as I adapted well to my role.

During the next few months, I started to ask myself more questions on how I could better my unit. I wanted to continue to glorify God with my time in NS and make it meaningful.

In seeking God’s heart for me, I would spend time in my bunk after work in solitude and prayer.

Through divine appointments and diligence at work, I was able to work with different superiors across departments to help revamp our day-to-day operations. We would work together to streamline processes for greater productivity and upgrade some of our workflows from paper to digital.

With God’s blessing, my efforts were recognised, and I attained various awards within my unit and in the wider body of the RSAF.

It was also during this period, that God presented me with a new challenge.

Simple change, solid impact

One day, as I was doing an organisational chart and writing a report on how to use a new logistics application, I noticed our food menu for the week.

Our menu was as standard as it had always been, but I realised that our food had less variety and was less appetising than the rest of the other airbases.

At that moment, I felt I needed to do something; I wanted to help improve the standard of our food in camp.

Then I felt a prompting from the Holy Spirit: “Cliff, if you are going to do this, then will you do it all for My glory?

“Would you be willing, if change were to come to the camp and no one knows your name?”

I mulled over this for a while and I was brought back to an Awaken Generation song “Jesus I Come” that I sang over myself the day before I enlisted:

I knew that God had given me my position for such a time and this. So, I said yes to the Holy Spirit and proceeded to work with my officer and unit superiors to see what we could do.

With their consultation and enablement, I wrote a respectful email to the person in charge of the food at the airbase.

In my email, I gave honest feedback and detailed recommendations, and offered a consideration to let our soldiers have the option to choose their food.

In the following two weeks, with the help of my officer, the food standard drastically improved.

Our airbases were introduced to two menus that soldiers could choose from. This would be part of the inception of what soldiers throughout the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) today call the Set A and Set B menu.

While I believe that my efforts played a small part in moving what probably was already something that was on the minds of top management in the SAF, I know that I did what I could with what I was given. I stewarded God’s portion for me and humbly served the King.

Fast forward a few months, I found myself in an interview with top leaders for a prestigious RSAF award. The Lord brought me back to my thoughts on needing to be an officer or sergeant to be an impactful soldier in NS.

I realised that through my experience, I did not need a position of leadership to be impactful in NS. We can do great things for the Lord, wherever we’re at, if we have hearts surrendered to Him.

So it was a full circle moment when one of the Enciks asked me this, “You know, Cliff, in NS, we normally give a lot of credit and glory to our officers and sergeants.

“But you have proven to us that even in your role as a clerk, you are able to do so many things. How would you encourage your fellow clerks, storemen and soldiers in similar roles?”

Filled with the Holy Spirit’s empowerment and borrowing a godly idea from 1 Corinthians 12:20-27, I replied, “In the SAF, we have many parts, but we are one body. Just like our body, the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you,’ neither can the head say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you’.

“We all need each other to function, even the parts of the SAF that are less glamorous. If one part does not do our job, then we will suffer. Each part is essential and indispensable.”

Walking out of that interview, I knew that God had shown me the reality of who He is. He had turned my NS story into something so beautiful for His glory.

NS might seem like a daunting period for many youths, but I hope my story inspires you to see it as an amazing period in which God can use you to bless others, all for His glory!

Will you let God shape your story?