READ: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24)

“The PSLE is finally here!” I thought to myself as I dropped my son off at school this week. Like many other parents in Singapore, I felt as if I was the one taking the Primary School Leaving Examinations that all Primary 6 pupils sit for, to determine which secondary school they enter. The pressure to excel is so great that it’s common to hear parents say things like:

“I’ve decided to take a year off work. It’s my daughter’s PSLE year.”

“We’ve cancelled our March holiday plans. My son’s PSLE is in September.”

“I have no headspace to think right now. Can I get back to you after our PSLE?”

How does a Christian parent survive (and thrive) under this pressure?

It has been an instructive year for me. I have come to realise that diligent studying is pleasing to God. Colossians 3:23 says: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” while Proverbs 13:4 reminds us: “The desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”

I have also come to realise that the heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9) and can lead us astray. This has been my key struggle: Have I been encouraging my son to be diligent for God’s glory? Or, for my glory—to feed my pride, which is my sense of what I think I deserve; and to ease my fear that my son won’t be able to live up to the world’s standards?

Repeatedly, I’ve had to cry out like the Psalmist did: “Search me, O God, and know my heart… See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). Difficult and drawn-out situations that we cannot perfectly control often bring us to our knees to plead with the Lord for help. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The moments when we surrender our pride and fear are the exact moments when we experience the mercy and grace of God. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Psalm 86:16). He strengthens us in our times of need, giving us a peace that transcends all understanding and that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

I have discovered what PSLE really stands for. It stands for: “Positive Spiritual Learning Experience”. Through this PSLE, I have been given the opportunity to search my heart, surrender, and simply, rest in Him. Over and over again.

Don’t we all need more “PSLE”s in our lives?

Father, I surrender my pride and fear regarding my family. Fill me with your mercy and grace, and allow me to be an instrument of mercy and grace to them. May I rest in You every day, even during difficult times.

Search my heart, O Lord, as I surrender my pride and fear to you.

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About the Author: Run Wan-Lau