I came to church in 2017 when my classmate, Owen invited me. Growing up, my family focused a lot on academics and skills and I believed that I needed these to be seen as worthy. My mom often emphasized that I should get a B grade and above for all my subjects and would often compare me with my siblings as well. I saw this as unhealthy comparison and the pressure given from my mum was very overwhelming. For my PSLE, I scored below expectations and my mum told me to use it as a 'wake up call' and study harder in secondary school.
In secondary school, I studied harder so I could prove my worth to my mum. Though I did well in some subjects such as Biology and Chemistry, my mum brushed it off and told me not to be complacent even when I thought I wasn't. She would nitpick on subjects I couldn't ace in such as A Math and Chinese. This led me to have doubts about myself as I thought I had to be good at everything before I am appreciated and valued. At that point, I felt unworthy. Consequently, these hurts from academics caused me to doubt my gifts. Even when friends told me I was gifted in areas of my life, I never took it as truth because I had high expectations of myself and played the comparison game.
Needless to say, comparison also followed me into the area of serving in church. When I auditioned for the Worship band as an electric guitarist last year, I often had negative thoughts of doubt, such as "They don't need me", "I'll never make it" or "Wow, I really suck". Even in lifegroup, whether I served in Icebreakers or Hospitality, I questioned my abilities and wondered if I was meant to be in those ministries. During this period, I did not notice the burdens I carried.
To gain more validation for myself, I served in more areas at a larger capacity. At one point, I was even serving in every ministry the lifegroup had, alongside with Cafe and Worship Ministry in church. However, that did not work out. I constantly felt tired and drained, and I didn't realise it showed on my face until everyone around me started to ask if I was okay. I remembered that once, someone asked me: "If God took away all your ministries suddenly, how would you feel?" At that point, I knew that I was not serving to build His Kingdom, but to feed my own pride. I was functioning on auto-pilot the entire time, and all I did was not a privilege, but a routine. I needed change.
That change happened when I started to uncover lies which has accumulated in my heart during discipleship sessions. I had to replace these lies with truths like, "God made me who I am", "God never makes mistakes", and "God is faithful". I also opened up to some of my lifegroup members regarding this area and they were very supportive and affirmed me whenever possible.
Through these constant reminders, I gradually believed that God has blessed everyone with different individualized gifts and abilities, including myself.
This year, shortly after Chinese New Year, my then small group leader, Cleo asked if I wanted to start a Food Ministry in the lifegroup. I didn’t know it yet, but that was the start of my journey in learning to be able to appreciate myself and believing that He indeed gives me good gifts. I wasn’t going to serve food to validate myself, but I just served with a heart to want to build His Kingdom. With the little I had, I blessed others so that they can come to lifegroup with a full stomach ready to hear and receive the Word of God.
When people came up and appreciated me, I saw the impact which was made in their lives. Just as Pastor Daniel Cheo shared last week in the closing of the Culture of The House series, it only takes one person to impact the world for Christ. I was eager to carry the right heart of serving. I now knew God is my strength and my provider, and I didn’t need to prove myself to get validation.
I grew in knowing the little I do, can be an impact to someone. I also grew to learn that I was accepted, valued and my identity is based on who God made me to be. I am simply a child of God who is still growing and learning.
God has created each of us to bring impact to our world. When we serve with a cheerful and willing heart, God can use it no matter big or small to, build His body. God equips each and every one of us differently and none of us are left without gifts.