Saturday, 28 May 2011

When I Run, I Feel God’s Pleasure

The Corporate Services Group at Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

In the movie, "Chariots of Fire", Eric LIddell in explaining to his sister why he wants to run in the Olympics said, “Jenny, when I run, I feel God’s pleasure”. My friend, Benjamin Ng noted Eric Liddell's statement with this comment, “What a change it will make in our lives and what an impact God will make in our society when we can say that we feel God’s pleasure when we work”.
At 60 years old, I decided to resign my job as Director of the Defence Medical and Environmental Research Institute (DMERI) and take on the challenge of a Chief Operating Officer of the new and third medical school in Singapore, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

I felt that by God’s grace the mission to establish DMERI has largely been accomplished. It is time to be of service to the country once again and help start up the new school which will see its first intake of students in 2013.

People asked me why I made the switch. My reply is every job is a God sent vocation. To be of service to church, society, friends and country is a calling and privilege and, like Eric Lidell, I feel God’s pleasure at work. The Bible puts it more directly as in Col 3:23-24 “ Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Jesus Christ you are serving”.

About a year ago, I was interviewing several candidates for the post of CEO of the Dover Park Hospice. As usual towards the end, I asked one interviewee what questions has she got for the interviewers. She asked, “What is expected from me on the job?” I answered without any hesitation, “Servant-Leadership”.

When working in a hospice, from the CEO to the kitchen maid, one will need such an attitude of dedicated service. The patients need attention for their every need, even for feeding, staff needs counseling and families need comfort. The leader in a hospice needs an attitude and action of a servant; not to lord over others but to serve.

We have just experienced a very exciting general election. It was described as a watershed election. There was a groundswell expectancy of the electorate for politicians who will serve the people and not just their own interest, the party’s platform nor the government’s agendas.

Last week in the papers it was reported that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in introducing his cabinet said, “Politics is not a job or a career promotion. It is a calling to serve the larger good of Singapore”. Yesterday, 28 May 2011, the papers reported that PM in a “rules of prudence” letter to the PAP MPs reminded of their responsibility to uphold the spirit of service to the people and work hard on their behalf.

Would one lose the competitive edge with such an attitude?

Well, in Philippians 2:5-7, it is written, “We are encouraged to have the same mindset as Christ. He did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant".

This Christian ethos of “Humility in Service” was dramatically demonstrated by Jesus Christ who took a basin of water and with a towel wiped the feet of the disciples.

Jesus’ example with the basin and towel is not only for the spiritual service of the church, the mission field or the monastery but for the everyday tasks in busy world at the market and work places.

In the phrase, 'Humility in Service.' the Greek word for 'humility' is literally translated 'lowliness of the mind'. How we treat other people depend entirely on how we think of them and how we evaluate them. In our mind’s evaluation of our subordinates, our bosses, our colleagues we are to count them better than ourselves. This means to place a value of others as being more important than ourselves, to consider their dignity and worth. Humility is the attitude, mindset and basis for all our relationship building, our collegiality at the workplace.

Humility begins with the mind but it continues into conduct and service, that is to say, humility is 'action-able'. Jesus took action to serve us as noted in Phil 2:7 “by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself". Scripture described six actions that Jesus took

• He emptied himself,
• He became a servant
• He was made in human likeliness
• He humbled himself
• He became obedient
• He died on the cross

After winning the men's 400m gold medal at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, Eric Liddell followed in his parents' footsteps and served as a missionary to China from 1925 to 1943. He served in Tianjin and Xiaozhang. He was interned during the Japanese occupation of China and died in 1945 just five months before liberation. In 2008 near the time of the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese authorities revealed to his family that Liddell had refused an opportunity to leave the camp and instead gave up his place for freedom to a pregnant woman.

Serving like a servant at our workplaces; is this possible? It becomes possible when we realise that it is not just our colleagues or bosses whom we serve but God. Like Eric, we hope to feel God’s pleasure. In 1991, a memorial headstone in Eric's memory was unveiled at the former concentration camp in Weifang and on it is inscribed, "They shall mount up with wings as eagle, they shall run and not be weary." Isaiah 40:3



Lewis Lee said...

An Inspirational Piece

Jennifer Lee said...

Hi Lionel

Thank you for reminding me once again of the need for a positive attitude towards both secular work and our service to God, family etc.
It was also very timely. I just did a Children Church's session for GOGS's kidz in Mar. We showed snippets of the film "Chariots of Fire" to teach the lesson about Sabbath.
After watching the movie 3 times to select a 20 min clip, the contents of the film are still fresh in my mind.

Lifang said...

Thanks for sharing. It is so easy to forget what we are first called to be and to do when we run by the systems of this world. Oftentimes, when I choose to serve others, I got misunderstood to be "too afraid to say no", or "trying to please". But in the end, when I focus on God and submit to the fact that I have served for Christ's sake, whether the human appreciation comes or not, and whether my actions get misjudged or not, don't really matter anymore. I can be rested in knowing He has given me much more than I can ever give, it is my privilege to serve as my King has served, and He holds my future in His hand. And He is God, ever rigtheous, ever true, ever loving, ever victorious. He is enough.