On the first episode of Salt&Light Family Night this year, panellists with children of varying ages shared what they've learnt about balancing a multitude of commitments. Photo from Pixabay.

Cheng Chek Lim’s first and second children are only 18 months apart in age. When baby number two was not even a month old, she caught a bad cold.

“She was coughing and crying every night,” recalled Chek.

After a busy day at work, he had to help get his elder daughter to bed and then take turns with his wife, Geraldine, to care for the baby.

It was exhausting for the young parents.

Time was what most said stood in the way of them achieving harmony in work, life and ministry.

“I really felt burdened. Why am I so tired? Why do I need to do this? Why can’t they become 18-year-old teenagers overnight or just be independent! I felt so physically worn out.”

His story drew empathy from fellow panellist and father, Rainft Lin, who admitted: “When my son was just two weeks old, we were still struggling to find the best way to take care of him through the night. Waking up at 3am, 4am, and only having a few hours of sleep, that was no joke.

“There’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus – that’s all I can say to myself.”

They were on the panel of 2022’s first episode of Salt&Light Family Night (Jan 25) dealing with the topic of balancing work, ministry and life. 

It was clear that the more than 200 viewers who joined the Zoom session could relate.

When asked in a Slido poll for the one word to describe how they felt about work-life-ministry harmony, the word “challenging” was the most commonly cited one.

The Slido poll for the night showed that most felt achieving work-life-ministry harmony was not easy.

Time was what most said stood in the way of them achieving the harmony in work, life and ministry that they wanted.

That there was an almost equal mix of singles and parents (40% to 60%) was proof that balancing commitments is difficult at any life stage.

In this Slido word cloud, it is evident that the viewers felt time, or the lack of, is the greatest obstacle to work-life-ministry harmony.

Joining Chek on the panel for the night was his wife Geraldine. They both serve in their church’s children’s ministry and in cell group. 

“I really felt burdened. Why am I so tired?”

A stay-home mum, Geraldine is also part of Cru Singapore’s WOW MOM ministry and is involved in school ministry as well. Chek works in the tech sector. Their three children are aged seven, six and four.

Rainft and his wife, Amanda, are working parents with a one-year-old son. They also lead a cell group of youths.

Rounding up the panel was Paul Khoo, a business owner who runs digital agency Raison Media. He serves as a worship leader in church and is actively involved in the nation-wide father’s prayer movement, Elijah7000. Paul is father to three children aged 16, 14 and 10.

Together, the panellists shared how work, ministry and life can be managed through the various stages of life.

Tips for singles

1. Start integration young

Said Paul: “For those of you singles, it’s good to think of how ministry and work can be integrated while you are single so that when you finally have the family layer, you will be able to see a way to do it.

Paul (right) with his wife Joanna (centre) and their children. Photo courtesy of Paul Khoo.

“I had a season of time where I was looking at work-ministry integration and how to facilitate ministry within work.

“When I had to layer on family, (at least) it wasn’t all a crunch, all at the same time.”

“It’s good to think of how ministry and work can be integrated while you are single.” 

Agreed Rainft: “I learnt how to set boundaries and goals while I was younger, before I got married.”

He explained that he saw his life “like an onion where there are many layers”. At the core is the real Rainft.

“The only person who knows the real Rainft is God. I can be free to cry like nobody’s business. Even Amanda hasn’t seen me cry like nobody’s business.

“Then, the next layer would be Amanda, then Nat my son, my family and then my closer friends.

“When I was single, I had no Amanda, I can chiong (power on). Then, at certain transitional points, there will be something I need to give up or take on or reprioritise.”

2. Know your purpose

Knowing what God wants you to do with your life provides a framework to view the various demands on life.

For Rainft, after his son was born, being a good father became his goal.

New parents Rainft and Amanda Lin with their one-year-old son. Photo courtesy of the Lins.

“So, if I get a promotion, I see the promotion as a journey to providing for my family. But the promotion itself is not my goal; my goal is to be a good father.”

3. Pray

Added Paul: “If God is calling me to it the various responsibilities and He has given me all these different things to do, then there must be a way to do it.

“So, prayer then becomes a way for Him to guide me to manage the responsibilities.”

Tips for parents

1. Set priorities as a couple

Geraldine decided early on that she wanted to be a stay-home mum when the children came along.

“I’m really appreciative of how she has supported me in my career and made us work as a family.”

“I’m the eldest of five and my mother worked full-time. I could see it was quite hard in terms of family bonding and relationship.”

Family bonding is not just her priority, but Chek’s as well. So, instead of balancing demands, they have divided the workload for better harmony.

Said Geraldine: “Definitely, it has been hard. Sometimes I tell Chek that it would be a lot easier to go back to work than to handle the kids!

“But it was a conscious decision that we made.”

Geraldine and Chek Lim with their daughters. Photo courtesy of the Chengs.

Said Chek, drawing a smile from his wife: “I’m really appreciative of how she has supported me in my career and made us work as a family.”

For the Lins, priorities – church and family – are integrated. They serve together as cell group leaders.

“We have discussed who does what, for instance Rainft takes care more of sharing the Word in the cell group.

“That is how we find balance.”

2. Protect family boundaries

As a working couple, Rainft and Amanda set boundaries to achieve harmony.

“I fully give my son the time I set aside for him.”

Explained Amanda: “At the beginning of the journey, when our child was a baby, he took priority over my work.

“But when I went back after my maternity leave, it took a while, but I got a rhythm going. When I am at work, I am at work.

“Between 6pm and 8pm, I block out that period. That’s when I put my son to sleep. If I have work to do, I do it after that.

“That’s the way I try to be the best mum – I fully give him the time I set aside for him.”

3. Don’t be shy to ask for help

After struggling to care for their newborn with a cold while parenting a toddler, the Chengs decided to get help.

“She shared with me what helped her and what could work in my struggles.”

Geraldine’s sister was roped in.

Reminded Geraldine: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

As a new stay-home mum, she rallied the support of other mums who were on the same journey by reaching out to the homemaker wife of a former colleague.

“She shared with me what helped her and what could work in my struggles. It helped a lot to recalibrate my perspectives.”

4. Reflect & reset during transitions

Work-ministry-life harmony may look different at different stages of life and pausing to “step away and do a complete reset” from time to time is crucial, maintained Paul.

“I have learnt to move according to the grace given the family rather than move at the pace I did when I was single.”

As he moved from singlehood to marriage and then to fatherhood, he has had to “look at roles and responsibilities” and learn to “let go of things that seem good but is not what God called him to do” at certain points in time.

“God has put constraints on the pace I can go based on how fast my family can travel with me.

“I have learnt to move according to the grace given the family rather than move at the pace I did when I was single.”

5. Recharge when you are overwhelmed

When overwhelmed, turn to God for a recharge.

On one occasion, after he had raised his voice at his baby in a moment of frustration, Rainft asked God: “Are you sure I am ready to be a father?”

The reply that came was simple: “I chose you in your capacity right now, not the future you.”

“At that moment, my perspective changed,” said Rainft. “God had chosen me when I was already at my worst. Anything I did after that would always be better.”

“I get my kids to pray for me and with me, as I pray for them and with them.”

The panellists had different ways of catching moments with God in the midst of their busy-ness. Geraldine practises “breath prayers” where she utters short prayers throughout the day as she breathes.

Amanda has ongoing conversations with God “throughout the entire day”. “Sometimes, I stop what I am doing and ask God, ‘How?’”

Paul includes his children in his personal devotions.

“I get my kids to pray for me and with me, as I pray for them and with them. I would share with them what God has been speaking to me and I also ask them what God has been speaking to them.

“It’s more like all of us journeying together.”

This report is Part 2 of the Salt&Light Family Night episode on balancing work, ministry and life. You can read Part 1 here.

A full recording of this episode will be posted on the Salt&Light YouTube channel at the end of the week. You can watch past episodes of Salt&Light Family Night on our YouTube channel here.


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About the author

Christine Leow

Christine believes there is always a story waiting to be told, which led to a career in MediaCorp News. Her idea of a perfect day involves a big mug of tea, a bigger muffin and a good book.