I’m Karen, and I work in the Singapore government. I’ve done so for about three and a half years now. Right out of school, I returned home to serve a six-year bond to the Government, which graciously paid for my colleague education. I’ve spent two years in the Treasury, and just over one and a half in the Education Department. It’s been a ride, and contrary to expectations of public service, there’s never a dull day. I’ve been part of pre-school reform in Singapore, major shifts in Singapore’s welfare system, setting up a new university, setting up a new division to strengthen the Government’s engagement with our people in policy-making etc. I’ve also been disappointed by systems, people, institutions, and most of all, myself.
I’ll probably get the chance to write more about how the gospel shapes & redeems Government work, but before that, I wanted to share one thing that has stood out most pertinently to me as I dived straight into the working world – where one is introduced to (to a larger extent than ever before), the messy randomness of life.
Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest?
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
Let us not have too high a view of ourselves and what we can do with our lives (for God, or for ourselves). It is the Lord’s work we are participating in, wherever he has placed us. And what is his command to us? To be humble and contrite in spirit. To tremble at His word. To treasure Him above all else and to move towards greater dependence on him, not greater control of our lives.
I believe that the business of Government is steeped in opportunities to seek justice, to speak for the oppressed, to create conditions for human flourishing & strong relationships, and to seek transparency in how institutions relate to individuals (and vice-versa), just to name a few. I have many examples, and I will find a later date to elaborate. But for now, I want to leave you with Isa 66:1-2. I have lots of hopes and dreams for how things should be in the Government, and I will strive to achieve it. All of us have those ideas in our field of specialty.
But I know that attaining these outcomes is not my primary calling. My primary calling is to sit at his feet in humility and contrition and to do all that he lays out before me for the day. From the mundane of clearing things through the huge bureaucracy, to the opportunities to speak to authority, to the quiet moments where I am at my desk, contemplating how to respond to an email from one of my officers. We live for Him in each moment, not just in the big bold things we do. And he died for us, so that we may live for him.