Becoming a different kind of disciple: ‘Do your work, not for mere pay’
By Christine Samuel
Excitement fills the air as I sit in front of my Sunday school class and we belt out “Deep and Wide” and “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know” in the hamlet called Christian Village, Calcutta, Trinidad and Tobago. My father sits at the back of the sanctuary to ensure law and order. At thirteen, I was the Sunday school teacher and choir coordinator, and later I added youth group leader to my list of involvements. Just a wire fence separated our house and the church, and therefore we had no excuse to miss Sunday service. My childhood life revolved around church, school, and home.
As a young adult I studied finance, because I preferred numbers to writing. Finance took my husband and me, equipped with God’s armour, beyond the borders of Trinidad and all the way to Canada. God’s grace and protection led me throughout the tumultuous years in the world of finance, where power and the bottom line fought to erode my foundation of kindness and service. Working in the concrete jungle of Toronto, using cars and trains seemed to takeover my life. But I stole moments to spend time with my God; my private moments on the train and at my desk were sacred and precious.
My first language is English, but my English was not Canadian. My culture was similar, but not Canadian. As I struggled to find my identity in a new country, my Bible covered in floral gift paper was my cozy blanket. I was determined to succeed, whatever that meant in this strange, cold country I had to now call home. Every step was a risky balancing act to maintain integrity, develop trust, and find my vocation and purpose.
Life got hectic after our kids were born. With no other family in Canada, our support came from church. A new identity was forming in me – with the health and spiritual well-being of my family in my mind. I had many conversations with God, although I did most of the talking. I found a bit of home and peace in teaching Sunday school and choir at church, coming full circle. But life was still unsatisfactory. I yearned for peace and fulfilment.
I began to question the corporate culture that for 24 years had consumed a part of my being. I considered Paul’s words to the Romans: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2). How could this transformation take place while I was constantly fighting to meet deadlines and keep up with motherly tasks? My head was buried in Financial Statements, yet I was unable to store up my assets with Jesus as I should. I sought purpose and questioned myself. With God as my auditor, how would my balance sheet appear on the day of judgment?
The answer and opportunity came in 2016. After a life-changing event, I made the decision to leave the world of finance and become a different kind of disciple of Christ.
I started to spend time in prayer and meditation. During the colder months this happened in my kitchen; and in the summer, in my garden as I tended the plants and enjoyed God’s creation. Every flower looked more beautiful, and every colour, more vibrant. I could hear God’s calling everywhere: in my garden, my home, at church and in every hymn. One day, I opened my heart and responded, saying, “Here I am Lord. I dedicate myself as your servant. Take my hand, and I will follow.”
From that moment, my life felt light and free. I had made a breakthrough. This was my purpose. How then, could I become equipped to share God’s Word? I needed to empty myself, fill up with strong theology, and spread God’s Word.
In 2019, sitting in a class at Knox College’s orientation, I remember feeling intimidated as I saw young faces peeking over their laptops. However, the luncheon reception quickly quelled my insecurities as faculty, staff, and students mingled. Knox, in all its grandeur, felt like home.
Currently finishing my second year of the Master’s of Divinity program at Knox, I am training to be a minister of Word and Sacrament. Despite the program’s rigorousness, I am enjoying this journey. This year I was especially excited to do my Theological Field education practicum, which has allowed me to identify some spiritual gifts and experience the pure joy of serving Christ. I have a new appreciation for evangelism, mission, hymns, contemporary songs, and Christian Education. During my years at Knox, I have learned one has to be open, flexible, and willing to learn and listen. My passion for the gospel has grown, and I am open to go wherever God calls.
Christine Samuel is a Master of Divinity student at Knox College.
Title quotation: “Do your work, not for mere pay, but from a real desire to serve” – 1 Peter 5:2b, Good News Translation.