THE Permanent Secretary of the Public Service Division in the Prime Minister’s Office, Ms Lim Soo Hoon, was named Her World’s “Woman Of The Year” on March 6, 2007.
Ms Lim, who worships at Barker Road Methodist Church with her family, is a mother of two teenage boys. Older son Samuel, now 17, was diagnosed with cancer of the lymphatic system in 2004.
In July 2006, Ms Lim published a book, Sam: A Mother’s Journey Of Faith. Her generosity of spirit in sharing those two very difficult years inspired many. We reproduce here excerpts from her acceptance speech.
‘TWO weeks after I told Her World that I would accept the award, we found out that Sam has a relapse. His cancer has returned but we thank God that the tumour is localised, at the old place, in his thymus gland. Sam had a surgery about a month ago to remove the tumour but unfortunately not all could be removed. Sam is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment and further down the road, will be having a stem cell transplant using stem cells from Russell, his younger brother. My husband and both my sons, whom I am very proud of, are here with me tonight.
As a Christian, I am taught to “be joyful always; to pray continually; to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will” for me (1 Ths 16-18). I am also taught not to be “anxious about anything but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, (to) present our requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Ph 4:6-7).
Indeed, notwithstanding Sam’s recent relapse, God has granted my family and I much peace. Sam himself is very much at peace, still living life normally and we are greatly encouraged by that. We have learned that when we trust and obey God and do His will, He will give us many reasons to be thankful for. Yes, even with our new trial, our new journey of faith, there is much my family and I are thankful for.
And this award tonight has given me the opportunity to reflect on the many blessings in my life and for thanksgiving.
God knows my strengths for He is the one who has blessed me with them. He also knows where I am lacking and ensures that I am well supported there. I have a husband who besides being the handyman in the house, happily does the grocery shopping – I know nothing about where to get the value for money stuff – he does. I have a younger sister who lives with my family and is like a surrogate mother to my sons whenever I or my husband are away. I have a faithful and reliable domestic help who has chosen to work with my family for the past 18 years. I am deeply thankful that I have a large but close knit extended family who is always there to love, laugh and cry with me. I feel very blessed to have friends, some of whom are here tonight, who will stay with me through thick and thin, where at times no word needs to be spoken for their presence is comfort enough.
I have been very blessed in my career as well, not just in the kinds of challenges and opportunities I have been exposed to, but in the relationships that have been formed over time. I am very thankful for the many good bosses, mentors and colleagues in my life, many of whom have become firm friends. If not for their care, compassion and unstinting support when my son fell ill two years ago, and even now, I would have found it almost impossible to work.
Throughout my life, I have taken on and am still taking on many roles. But of all my roles, the one that I treasure most is that of being a mother. Motherhood has given me the deepest pain yet the greatest joy; the most tears yet the most laughs; humility yet pride. And most of all, it has allowed me to get to know my God so much more, beginning with Sam’s battle against cancer in September 2004. So I thank God for giving me this opportunity to be a mother to my two wonderful boys.
There is a story in the Bible about a man who before going on his journey, entrusted his three servants with his money. To one, he gave five talents of his money, to another two talents and to the last, one talent, each according to his ability. When he returned, the one who was given five talents said he had put them to good use and gained the master another five. So also the one who was given two talents; he gained two more, but the one who was given one talent, simply hid the money as he was afraid of losing it.
When the master returned, this last servant thought his master would be happy. But his master was furious because he had not made good use of the talent that was given to him. The master expected him to be a steward, not a mere custodian of his talent.
I have been in the Civil Service for almost 26 years. I love what I do and I am very proud to be a member of the Singapore Civil Service. I used to tell my colleagues that as civil servants, we are custodians of the public funds that have been entrusted to us, but I am wrong.
Like the Biblical story that I have just shared with you, we are to be more than custodians, especially if we are at senior positions – we are to be stewards, with a responsibility to protect, nurture and growing what has been entrusted to us.
When I first became a Christian nine years ago, one of the first things I learned was that we are all God’s children. My sons are also God’s children. My husband and I are but only stewards of our boys, looking after them on God’s behalf.
I pray often that we have been good stewards of our children. I think we are not doing too badly because I know my boys are walking right with God. And I know that so long as they walk right with God, they will multiply the blessings God has given them and bless others in turn.
Whether as a career woman or a mother or any other role that I have taken on, I pray regularly that I will be a blessing rather than a burden to whoever God has put me in touch with each day of my life.
My God has given me much. And as the Bible says, from anyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:48). I pray I will do justice to this award you have given me.
I have been conferred this award but I think this award is for all the women who are blessed with the faith, the peace, the strength and the tenacity to overcome whatever adversity they may face.’