He thought he had a “messy CV”, but God led him to minister in the marketplace all over the world
by Janice Tai // April 14, 2022, 11:40 pm
Jacob (centre) conducting a leadership workshop in 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. All photos courtesy of Jacob Sim.
In the 1990s, Jacob Sim was one busy man.
Even on the weekends, he did not have the luxury to sleep in as he would either be leading a cell group, teaching in Sunday school or serving in the worship team on stage.
“I used to joke that there was no ministry in church I did not serve in, apart from women’s ministry,” said Jacob, now 60, with a smile.
“I was serving so much in church, but my personal life was in pieces. I was definitely not living the abundant life.”
One day, while teaching Bible study to a group of undergraduates and young working adults, a young lady approached him. He was then sharing with them about the abundant life in Christ that awaits all believers.
She had just joined a big consulting firm after graduation, and was stressed out by the demands and pace of work and life.
“What is this abundant life you are talking about? Is it really possible to have one?” she asked him.
“I gave her the textbook answer that Jesus has indeed come to give us an abundant life and it is available to us,” said Jacob.
Her question stuck with him for the next few days. He was greatly disturbed by her question because he knew he was being a hypocrite in teaching the concept, yet not experiencing the reality of it in his own life.
“I was serving so much in church, but my personal life was in pieces. I was definitely not living the abundant life,” he said.
Can we really have abundant life?
Instead, he felt defeated in all areas of his life; his marriage was showing cracks, his public relations career going nowhere and his family, including himself, were constantly falling sick.
“On the outside, I was busy, but I felt dead inside and had no joy,” he admitted.
Desperately he prayed: “God, the abundant life I read about in the Bible surely must exist but I have not met any believer who is experiencing victory and power in their lives. Show me by sending godly men into my life or sending me to them. Either way it doesn’t matter since I am already a living corpse.”
“On the outside, I was busy, but I felt dead inside and had no joy.”
Over the next three months, Jacob indeed met Christians who shared with him testimony after testimony of a God of love and power, making him wonder if that was the same God he knew.
“I had been going to the same dentist for years but he suddenly shared with me how he recently went on a mission trip and prayed for healing for someone. He said that, because of his medical training, he could straightaway ascertain that healing had indeed occurred,” said Jacob.
Jacob was blown away by the account.
Intellectually, he knew his God heals but he had never personally seen nor heard of actual healing taking place till now.
Does God still perform the miracles today that He once did in biblical times?
Around this time, he also met a fellow believer in a training programme that his company had sent him on. The Christian brother volunteered to pray for him, and went on to pray about such personal things in his life that he could not help but blurt out: “How did you know to pray for the very things that were on my heart?”
The brother in Christ just smiled.
These encounters got Jacob thinking: Who is the Holy Spirit? Does God still perform the miracles today that He once did in biblical times?
Shortly afterwards, he received an invitation to a free seminar from the same brother who had prayed for him. When he read the synopsis of the seminar, his hair stood on end. The topics to be covered during the seminar matched the very questions he had been asking God for the past few weeks.
Invitation from heaven
Knowing that it was a divine invitation, Jacob and his wife immediately signed up for the seminar.
When they first stepped into the seminar venue, Jacob was shocked.
It was the first time he was in a Pentecostal charismatic meeting and people were speaking in tongues.
“I grew up in a traditional church which believed in Cessationism, with the Bible being our only authority. How dare these people speak to God in such a manner? I assumed I was in a cult meeting!” said Jacob.
“I didn’t understand what was happening. I told God, ‘If this is from You, I want it, give it to me’.”
He almost wanted to leave, but there was something that kept him there.
“I didn’t understand what was happening. I told God, ‘If this is from You, I want it, give it to me,’” he said.
At that moment, the speaker said: “There is a person here who made a vow to God when he was young, that if God were to call him, he would be willing to serve Him full-time. God is saying to you today to take a step of faith and respond to Him.”
Jacob sat up with a jolt. He had made such a vow in his younger days and had not told anyone except his wife.
Hesitantly, he walked up to the front. By then, he noticed that many others who responded to the altar call had fallen on their backs and were lying on the ground. This is so weird, he thought.
But when the preacher prayed for him, Jacob found himself also falling to the ground.
Upset, he scolded the preacher for pushing him down.
The preacher denied even touching him, but Jacob was convinced he had been pushed.
That day, he found himself on the ground again after being prayed over. This time, he wept like a baby.
Yet he returned to the seminar the next day, where the counsellors explained to him about being slain by the Holy Spirit, and told him to relax if the same thing were to happen to him again.
That day, he found himself on the ground again after being prayed over. This time, he wept like a baby.
“There was a force in my belly which caused me to shake and it went up my body, and my shoulders began shaking. When it reached my face, I began saying something I didn’t understand. It was such a brand new experience for me,” said Jacob.
“After that, I felt a burden just lifted from my shoulders. I had never felt so light before and there was so much joy, serenity and peace,” he added.
In the days that followed his baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1997, he and his wife became hungry and thirsty for God.
With a voracious appetite for all things spiritual, they would go to two or three churches a week to learn more.
Their spiritual growth spiked in those years and Jacob started praying for others with a newfound authority.
Learning to hear God’s voice
When Jacob was teaching in Sunday School one day, a distraught believer approached him for help.
“I prayed for him but didn’t really know how to pray because he was in such distress. I was limited by human words and began asking God how I could be more effective in ministry. I asked Him to give me the gift of prophecy,” said Jacob.
However, he knew he had to learn the basics first of how to hear God’s voice.
After one week, he heard a small whisper that said: “Love.”
After doing his quiet time one day, he asked God to speak and sat in silence to listen. Day after day he did so, but did not hear anything.
After one week, he heard a small whisper that said: “Love.”
“It was just one word and I told God, ‘Come on, I can handle more vocabulary’,” said Jacob, with a grin at the memory.
After another week of sitting in silence, waiting to hear from God, this time he heard a sentence: “I love you.”
He took out a journal and began writing down what God said to him in purple ink. He also used black ink when writing down his own thoughts or rants, and blue ink for his prayers to God.
As weeks and months passed, slowly the text in purple ink grew from sentences to paragraphs and eventually lengthened to pages of conversations with God.
“He is a God who speaks and we can sense Him with other senses as well,” said Jacob.
Career directed by God
As Jacob learnt to hear from the Lord, he began consulting Him in all the decisions in his life, especially big ones such as those involving his career.
In 1989, he had started out as an account representative in one of the largest corporate communications and public relations firm in the world.
“When there was an open door, I would ask God whether to go for the first or second interview, and only when He said go, would I go.”
Shortly afterwards, he became a manager at Jardine Pacific, a multinational company (MNC) that provided maintenance and healthcare services to companies. He helmed training, communication and administrative roles in the MNC.
In 1995, he did accounts and business development for a direct marketing service provider. Three years later, he became a regional business development consultant in one of the world’s largest executive search organisations.
Following this, he worked for a leading American MNC in the manufacturing and telco industry as its human resource director for the Asia-Pacific region.
“These job opportunities came without my seeking them. When there was an open door, I would ask God whether to go for the first or second interview, and only when He said go, would I go,” said Jacob.
“Oftentimes, I wanted to leave a job for another, but God asked me to stay. Other times, I wanted to stay but He would ask me to leave.”
Each time he took on a new job, it was in a different industry altogether. He worried about whether he would be viewed as a job hopper who did not know what he wanted.
“By then I was in my late 40s and I knew jumping around would not look good on my CV. Though I did not understand God’s plans, I trusted God’s voice and obeyed,” he said.
Many times, he would find himself crying at the wheel as he drove home.
He recalled his time as the human resource director for the Asia-Pacific region as the most difficult period in his career.
The learning curve was steep as he was not HR-trained. Returning home after finishing work at 9pm or 11pm at night were common occurrences.
Many times, he would find himself crying at the wheel as he drove home. Again, he did not understand why God had not given the go-ahead for him to leave this job.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he discovered that some of his peers were backstabbing him. Unknown to him, they were poisoning his own staff in order to make him look bad in front of senior management.
Jacob was so tired and unhappy in this job that he prayed: “God, You know I have obeyed You all these years. But I have to leave this job.”
“Son, what do you want?” he heard the Lord reply.
Jacob was stunned.
He went back and dug deep, examining his abilities, spiritual gifts and all the prophetic words given to him over the years.
“Son, what do you want?”
After some reflection and research, a clear direction emerged.
He was someone who enjoyed building relationships, solving problems and thinking strategically. He also enjoyed speaking, presenting, training and mentoring, and would be happy to do all of it for free.
Jacob realised that a training and consulting role would fit him to a tee.
At that time in 2005, though he was immensely unhappy in his HR job, he was also successful in it. That year, he was promoted two levels up and his salary shot up by 80%.
However, he saw God on the move when he received a call from his boss in the United States, telling him that the company was going through a reorganisation and that he may not like the changes. It was a hint for him to consider leaving the company.
Inwardly Jacob was pleased, as he ached to leave the company. However, he also knew it was not an easy decision – he was the sole breadwinner for his family, including his elderly parents.
Fleece with 10 criteria
“God, now what? Do I really leave this job?
“Maybe it was wrong but I put up a fleece test for God. (Judges 6:36-40) I needed hard, irrefutable evidence from God that I was to quit my job and so I listed out 10 criteria for God to meet before I did so,” said Jacob.
His first criteria? For God to show him 20 verses from the Bible to confirm his imminent departure decision.
“God, now what? Do I really leave this job?”
His second? For three people who did not know about his circumstances to give similar advice.
The third? For him to have a month’s break before starting the next job.
The fourth? For his current company to offer him a farewell compensation package that was above the usual sum given.
And so forth.
Though his requests were bold, God heard them.
Over the next few weeks, instead of 20 verses, God gave Jacob 40 verses about leaving, such as Isaiah 55:12: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace …”.
Instead of three people, five people came up to him seemingly randomly to talk about his job and advised him to leave.
When Jacob saw God going above and beyond meeting the first two criteria, he did not hesitate and tendered his resignation.
When he received his farewell package, yet another of the criteria was fulfilled. HR did not use the usual formula to calculate his payout; he was given far more.
Though his requests were bold, God heard them.
After two or three weeks of enjoying his time as a free man, Jacob began to panic when he remembered that he was still unemployed and, therefore, income-less.
Lo and behold, 30 days after he quit his job, the phone rang. A vendor of a training programme that he previously attended as a participant had been so impressed with his post-programme feedback that they wanted him back – this time as a trainer. That marked another of his 10 criteria being fulfilled, as he had requested a one-month break before his next job.
In the end, Jacob realised that God met all 10 of his criteria, every single one of them.
With that, he confidently started his consulting business in 2006. It was named Kleros, Greek word for “inheritance”. Kleros provides organisational and development solutions to companies.
Though his company does not even have a website, it has flourished over the last 16 years simply through word-of-mouth referrals.
A sample of the global clients Kleros has served include corporations from diverse industries such as Citibank, Shell, Singapore Airlines, Ikea, Phillips, IBM, DHL, Estee Lauder and Manulife.
In Singapore, he has also been engaged as a consultant trainer for various healthcare and educational institutions, as well as many government ministries.
His ability to hear God’s voice has helped his work tremendously.
“Sometimes all I have is a word or sensing; sometimes I have complete strategies in my mind. After a client tells me about his problems, I may start writing or drawing on the whiteboard whatever the Lord shows me. By the time I am done, the entire whiteboard could be filled with flowcharts, solutions and the analysis of the gaps and how to close them,” said Jacob.
Prior to the Covid pandemic, most of his time was spent traveling around the world and impacting leaders globally, including those from such far flung places as Serbia, Africa and Papua New Guinea.
“I was blown away. For a company that doesn’t even have a website, all these have to be from the Lord. Since God was opening doors for me in the commercial space with such reach, I began to think about doing marketplace ministry,” said Jacob.
A different role in the marketplace
“Most employees think of marketplace ministry as starting a prayer group or having lunchtime fellowship at work, and sharing the Gospel when the time is right. But I believe there is more to it,” Jacob said.
To him, Jesus’ command to go and disciple the nations means, not just sending people to discipleship classes in church, but also sharing Kingdom principles in life and work with pre-believers, whether in decision making, communication or other work matters. Baptism means not only a physical immersion in water but also saturating people with the fullness of His love, presence and nature.
With these beliefs, he now goes into each training workshop and consulting session with a different preparation and mindset.
One hour before his workshop begins, his ministry begins. He sanctifies the conference hall and prays for each participant on the name list. Instrumental worship music plays in the background.
Though all his modules and slides are all nicely planned out, he has learnt to flow with the Spirit. Sometimes he receives a prompting to share a particular idea, concept or testimony, and he obeys immediately even though the topic may be meant for Day 2 or 3 of the seminar.
“It usually pays to obey. You know you have struck a deep chord when you see the participants tearing up even though the topic is on a work topic like leadership, sales or conflict resolution,” said Jacob.
Often, those who are impacted by the session stay back during break time or after the workshop to speak to him. They consult him both professionally and personally and Jacob often ends up not only advising them, but also praying for them.
For instance, there was a female manager from an aviation engineering firm in Singapore who went up to him to ask for some job advice. While he was sharing his professional take on the matter, he was also picking things up in the Spirit.
“Many pre-believers come up to me at the next module to ask to be prayed for again.”
He told her: “There is something else I sense. Three months ago, your boss gave you a project. It was not your KPI or within your job scope but your boss said you were the best person for the project. So, you accepted this extra work and worked overtime on it. Yet when the project succeeded, your boss did not credit you for it. Now you are disengaged at work, because you are angry and bitter at the injustice done to you.”
The manager’s eyes turned red and tears started to roll down her face.
Jacob went on to share more details with her until she could not help but ask him how he knew.
That gave him the opportunity to share the love of Christ with her and to pray for her.
“I haven’t encountered anyone who would say no to being prayed for. Many pre-believers come up to me at the next module the following month to ask to be prayed for again because something good happened in between. When my workshop ends, they often ask whether they can pray for themselves like I did for them and I would share with them that they can if they have a relationship with God,” said Jacob.
Though he is a commercial consultant and trainer, his customers sometimes seek his advice on personal issues – even divorce and adultery – and he ministers to them when he is led to.
“For years, I didn’t know how my ministry in the marketplace would be different from others. But I grew in confidence and authority when God and a prophet affirmed that I am indeed a minister in the marketplace and my customers are my church congregation,” said Jacob.
His perfect plan
On hindsight, he realises that his many career changes were part of God’s plan in orchestrating his exposure to different industries and jobs.
“I marvel that what looked like a messy CV was actually God building my foundation.”
“Every time I changed jobs, there were always two common denominators: The industry would change and the job role would change. All these would come in handy for my work as a consultant that requires me to have deep knowledge and expertise in various industries,” said Jacob.
“As I have done both frontline and backend jobs before, I am at ease with coming up with the big picture planning of designing a sales programme yet I am also familiar with the day-to-day operational handling details on the ground.
“I marvel that what looked like a messy CV was actually God building my foundation so that I could find my niche as a consultant later on.”
No experience went to waste. From his past experience of unpleasant corporate politicking, he has designed a module on workplace politics that he delivered to employees of a prominent bank here. From his past struggles of determining his career path, he developed a career transition programme for employees from the armed forces who wished to move on to the private sector.
The abundant life Jacob was looking for when he was in his 30s has indeed come to pass. Apart from the fulfilment of being a minister in the marketplace, he and his wife have also seen breakthroughs in their marriage and health over the decades.
The couple had clung on to promises from the Lord when his wife had difficulty conceiving after having their first child. It was only 12 years after their first child that his wife had their second, and 16 years after their first child that she had her third at the age of 44.
Today, Jacob continues to be faithful in his work in the marketplace and in the mission field. He has served in missions in India, Nepal and China.
“Nobody knows who Jacob Sim is, and I don’t even have a website. But God has used this nobody to minister in the marketplace all over the world. I am just a son doing his Father’s business.”
IF YOU LIKED THIS, READ:
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The district judge who followed God’s call to leave the bench and change the practice of family law
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