I had coded a perfect algorithm for my life. I had many successful stories around that had pre-tested this code. So, I directly plunged into executing it. It also began to yield the precise output I had programmed it for—finish engineering from a premier institute, complete management studies by 23, begin corporate leadership at 26 and zoom away to glory. This was where I was as a young HR professional working with one of industry’s best. I had put many things together to accomplish my goals. Sleep was strictly restricted to five hours a day to meet my self-set standards. I was gearing up to take my PhD entrance exam in psychology. I had barely seen the sun rise or set in a handful of years, odd shifts that I was working in. In the little time I had during the day, my passion for teaching drove me to be an adjust/visiting faculty with a few Business Management schools. In all this, I had to squeeze in time for God as well (as if he can be squeezed in!). Making time for spiritual disciplines was a guilt-driven herculean task. Going to church on Sunday mornings sounded like a sacrificial offering, since it was the only day left for myself to breathe and yet I chose to give it to the Lord. I made sure there was always a little room for pride and the blissful joy it gives when we humbly flaunt it. A successful corporate professional involved in ministry was quite a tag to carry in the Christian circles. The conservative Christian upbringing pushed me to take Sunday school regularly, the only ministry I could think of on a Sunday morning. We soon started corporate fellowships for employees working in odd shifts and I was proudly sharing the Word there as well. This was quite a balm to my guilt-struck wound.
It was November, 2009. Amidst this whirlwind of corporate responsibilities, teaching management grads and ministry commitments, I had a peculiar invitation come my way. A senior pastor and global missions director with an international organization proposed I dedicate my life exclusively for missions. I had almost dropped dead listening to his invitation. But that very night the Lord spoke to me through Proverbs 22 during my personal time with him. I knew deep down in my heart that God was calling me for his work and I had to make a choice. My dad was perplexed with my idea of quitting work, all the more since I was the only earning member of the family. The next day was Sunday and the preacher spoke from Matthew 6: 24–34, reminding not to take thought of what we shall eat, drink or clothe but to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness. To top it all, we were closing the sermon with my favourite hymn “Great is thy faithfulness”. There was an uproar in my heart, tears kept rolling. I had asked God to minister to me through some specific songs that I desired. That very moment, I had my pastor pick those very songs for congregational singing. I knew the Spirit was ministering to me. The conviction within me only grew stronger by the day and I had finally decided to quit my job. My colleagues found it absurd but I knew I had to follow the Lord. I’ve had a flood of wisdom flowing from believers how foolish this decision was. I found it difficult when the very same people who preached about missions discouraged me for choosing it. Against everyone’s suggestion, I quit my job and joined a missions training programme in Singapore. I returned to India after a year and was involved with serving in a church alongside the senior pastor. Later that year, I married Daisy who quit her job in Mumbai and firmly held her heavenly father’s hand along with mine. I realised the dire need of being equipped in God’s word and joined a bible college to pursue my theological studies. I was later persuaded to also study MTh from SAIACS. Today, I teach at Filadelfia Bible College, training students to be a light to the nations.
Looking back, I now realise I had always been into missions—all that changed was my mission field. My calling had never changed either, it just took me a pinch of wisdom and an ounce of common sense to get that realization. I had always been called to know Him and make Him known! If nothing changed as such from my corporate to ministerial life, then what had really changed? I have changed and I have much more to change! Thanks to the Spirit’s transforming work who never gives up on us even when we have given up on ourselves!
I feel pleasantly delivered from the rat race for power, position and possessions that the corporate world subtly propagates—climbing up the ladder of leadership, negotiating for higher salaries, a constant yearning for pay hikes, maintaining a perceived status and everything that transpired out of it. Standing on such a corporate foundation, giving money to missions work was the noblest ministry I thought I had done. It indeed is undoubtedly noble and sacrificial as well. But I have also come to the realization that it would have been nobler to have given myself to labour in His vineyard than merely giving my two cents. Now being on the other side of the shore, I can firmly say that we have more givers of money than givers of themselves. What we lack in our mission fields is surrendered lives; not sacrificial cents.
Being on the other side of the shore doesn’t necessarily shield you from life’s unpleasant moments. I’ve had my days of challenges and pain, including the death of my oldest daughter. And where was God in all this? Precisely in the centre of it all, walking alongside me.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
- (An excerpt from “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost)