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Quitting a job without another job lined up was a bad idea even in the best of times. In the midst of a crippling pandemic, it was plain dumb, Peck Sim knew. Yet she heard God telling her to leave her company. Could she trust Him? Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash.

You can leave now. 

I thought I had heard wrongly. It was so sudden. It was such bad timing.

I had been hankering for a job change for a few years. In the 20 years with my company, I moved once – from a journalist after seven years to events producer – and had been in the same job since.

I asked God for the next step, but no answer came.

I was battling frustration and stagnancy. I was not growing professionally, the job had become rote, and my fire had fizzled.

I asked God for the next step, but no answer came.

I started to scout around the job market, but after a futile round of pursuit for jobs, I decided God wanted me to stay and pray for the company.

He brought two other colleagues with the same passion, and we started a weekly prayer meeting in the office. During that season, we saw things shaken, wrongdoing exposed and purged.

However, the dreariness of work was seeping through my soul. Leveraging my storehouse of ideas and extensive connections within the company, I tried to create opportunities for myself – I developed a new project and role for myself, I marketed myself to internal business leaders with job openings – but nothing came to fruition despite my clever schemes and friends in high places.

Pandemic panic

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, my own world crashed.

Events were cancelled; we had to pivot to online events. It was a whole new ballgame with new rules of engagement that had to be learnt on the fly. My globetrotting days at exotic locations and fancy venues were over – I was producing and delivering events at my dining table in Singapore during US hours, European hours and Asian hours, in isolation.

When Covid hit, Peck went from managing events like this, to delivering events from her dining table in Singapore. Photos courtesy of Peck Sim.

I was on autopilot but was coming loose at the seams. I was losing the ability to sleep or think properly and talk right; my body was succumbing to the strain of long, unearthly hours; the non-Christian version of me was emerging.

So, when I heard the voice telling me “You can leave now”, I did not trust it.

By then, Covid-19 was starting to bring the global economy to its knees. People were losing jobs, no one was hiring, I had a mortgage to service, no prospects, no plan.

Quitting a job without another job lined up was a bad idea even in the best of times. In the midst of a crippling pandemic, it was plain dumb.

Like any responsible adult, I brushed the voice aside and chalked it up to physical weariness and mental burnout.

My sheep knows my voice

Yet, that voice would not leave me alone. So I started to pray earnestly for direction.

I was terrified of ending up in the desert if I stayed in a place God had told me to leave; I was also terrified of ending up in a barren land if I went out without a destination.

And I was so sure the prayer altar at work was a mandate from God, so how could I abandon mission? I sought prayer support from my mentors and accountability partners, although I told no one what I was praying about. I wanted to be very sure the answer would be from God and no one else.

I knew immediately it was God speaking to my fearful heart. He was telling me life would be fruitful even in the desert.

One morning, in the midst of a run to clear my congested mind, I was struck by an urgent need to read one of my life verses: You will go out in joy, you will be led forth in peace. (Isaiah 55:12)

I stopped mid-run, clicked through my phone to that verse, and saw the rest of the verse: Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever. (Isaiah 55:13)

I knew immediately it was God speaking to my fearful heart. He was telling me life would be fruitful even in the desert. He would do it for His name’s sake.

Banking on that promise, I decided to quit, but planned to do so in a few months so I would not lose the bonus that was coming soon and the company shares that would be vesting shortly.

But God had other ideas.

His voice went from “You can leave now”, to “You need to leave now.”

After struggling with Him for a few more weeks, I handed in my notice. I decided it was more terrifying to overstay in a place against God’s wishes than to be comfortably supplied with a salary.

Temptation nation

Once I sent in my resignation, temptations to stay started to roll in.

My human resource partner tried to keep me by fighting for a sabbatical for me; my manager tried to make me stay by offering a promotion. Although I rejected the promotion out of sheer fatigue, I would gladly have rescinded my resignation if the sabbatical were approved.

To my surprise and disappointment, my manager shot down the request for a sabbatical. The crushing disappointment of being written off so quickly after 20 years of faithful service mutated very quickly to bitterness.

But God would not let me remain in that toxicity.

In her global role, Peck was travelling to exotic locations and fancy venues.

I was reminded of the story in the Bible of how He had hardened Pharoah’s heart against letting the Israelites leave Egypt so He could show His power. I remembered the story of Jacob, who worked for Laban 20 years and was cheated and wronged. Jacob eventually left not because he was tired, or bitter, or angry, though he felt all of that, but because God told him it was time to go.

My hot anger melted then, and I turned to prayer and blessing for my manager instead.

When I was bidding farewell to my colleagues, another temptation to stay turned up.

My hot anger melted then, and I turned to prayer and blessing for my manager instead.

One of my co-workers directed me to a great job opportunity that offered plenty of room for personal development, a chance to learn new things and work with different people. I was highly recommended for the job, and the hiring manager was keen on taking me.

However, the headcount had not been approved, but I could take back my resignation so I could transfer to the new job when available without losing my bonus and shares. It made total sense. Only a few minutes into entertaining that idea, I was smacked by a force of conviction so powerful I thought it would break me if I resisted it. By that point, nothing could make me stay.

Everyone thought I was crazy.

My manager thought I was insane to give up all that was due to me so close to the finishing line. The colleague and friend who recommended me for the job thought I was out of my mind to pull myself out of the advantaged position of an internal candidate to an external candidate. The hiring manager thought me very peculiar for choosing the illogical over the logical.

I plowed ahead anyway.

He is my very great reward 

So, I left behind the promotion, the bonus, and the shares that were worth a pretty penny. Once I decided to leave it all, the weight of confusion and fear immediately fell off me.

I went out in joy, and with peace, as God had promised, with the assurance I had served well. I had no regrets and was already looking forward to a new thing, whatever the new thing might be.

It was about waiting for the best from God, not just the good.

Just a few weeks after my departure, the headcount for the new job was approved, and the hiring manager offered me the job. During my research for a fair market rate (I had no clue; I had not been in the market for the last 20 years), I found out I had been paid below the rate in the market, as well as below my peers at work. Although my head knew that was to be expected after staying put for so long in one company, my heart was royally riled.

I countered the company’s offer with a bold demand spanning a chasm between our respective expectations – I had to build in room for negotiation but was prepared to walk away if they did not agree to a fair wage. To my surprise, the hiring manager agreed to a number very close to my requirement and above what I would have settled for. I also secured a four-month break before I started.

I knew then why God had insisted I left.

I never knew I was paid below my peers, but He did. He was fighting a battle I did not even know existed. Had I stayed and gotten a promotion, my pay would still not have moved up by the same scale and would still be below the wage band in the company.

Had I transferred laterally as an internal candidate, my wages would not have moved at all. The re-entry into the company as an external candidate took my wages to market level. The adjustment would have covered my loss in bonus and shares in a year or two.

Oswald Chambers said: “The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough.”

I got a much-needed break, and a job that offered plenty of room for personal development. I did not have to abandon the prayer altar at work.

At the end of the day, it was not about the money. It never was.

It was about seeing God face-to-face amid the terrifying call to drop everything. It was about learning to go all in with a God who has no problem moving the cosmos to fulfil His plan for me. It was about waiting for the best from God, not just the good.

Oswald Chambers said: “The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough.”

Some well-meaning friends and colleagues have lamented on my behalf the loss I suffered in the process. I can honestly say I counted that all as junk compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ.

It was truly the best of times amid the worst of times.


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About the author

Peck Sim

Peck Sim is a product manager in an MNC providing information and consultancy services. She loves stories, corny jokes, short runs and long walks. The world is her oyster but Heaven is her home.